“CLOSED” read the sign taped to the door of the Rector’s Palace. The Venetian-Gothic landmark, one of the most famous sights in Dubrovnik, was under renovation. The treasury of the nearby Cathedral of the Assumption was also closed for renovations, as was the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, a short walk from the Old City’s Ploče Gate. Fed up, I returned to Villa Dubrovnik, feeling that the day had been more or less wasted.
But I’d forgotten what a joy it can be to waste a day while traveling! After a snack and a cocktail on the terrace of the bar, I gathered my sunglasses, sunscreen and novel and decamped to the hotel’s “beach,” an attractive assemblage of polygonal concrete platforms painted white and furnished with loungers. With the verdant island of Lokrum to my left and the historic center of Dubrovnik to my right, I listened to the lapping of the sea, sank into my book and actually relaxed for a moment.
I must admit that after a couple of hours, I began hoping that the rest of Dubrovnik’s sights were closed as well. Sightseeing is a major reason why we travel, of course, but when “must-see” attractions are closed, it can be a blessing in disguise. I’ll never forget that afternoon by the Adriatic.
The next time you find yourself in Rome, Paris or Prague in high season, I suggest pretending that the Sistine Chapel, the “Mona Lisa” and the Prague Castle are off-limits to visitors. You’ll miss an iconic attraction, yes, but you may end up having a lot more fun.