Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Elaphite Islands

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June 25, 2009

Today, we departed Luca and made our way to the island of Lopud for an onboard lunch before sailing on for a planned dockage in Dubrovnik Thursday evening. Sipan and Lopud are part of the Elaphite Islands, named for a Greek word meaning “deer.” Yvonne & I felt strangely at home here .
Lopud is another small community on a small Dalmatian coast island, rife with charm, atmosphere and history. ‘All things that make this part of the world so attractive. But as we sailed into the harbor, we were struck by a seemingly blatant contrast, pictured above. To our left was a 15th century church and monastery; to our right, a spanking new 200 room hotel. A 600 year time warp. With apologies to Dickens, I felt as if I were seeing the ghosts of Croatia past & future. I claimed the moral high ground of righteous indignation at this modern intrusion into pristine past.
After lunch, we went ashore for a little sightseeing. We visited a small art shop, where I saw something that gave me pause and seriously punctured my architectural high mindedness. Prominently displayed with paintings of the town and its churches, were several paintings of the new hotel!
Then it occurred to me that my perception of this hotel and that of Lopud’s inhabitants were completely opposite. I saw this as a needless modern intrusion into Croatia’s charm; they saw it as progress, pride and opportunity. After all, I suppose charm, atmosphere and history only gets you so far when your objective is to put beans on the table.
So Lopud’s challenge is the age-old challenge of balancing growth and opportunity while preserving that which makes the growth and opportunity possible. I wish them well.

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