The view of the medieval city walls was quite different to how it had looked the day before, when they’d walked its perimeter over several hours, taking in, from above, the maze of narrow cobbled alleyways within. The old town had suffered its fair share of conflict over the centuries, not least of which the bombardment in the early 90s, when over two-thirds of the historic town’s buildings were hit by artillery during the break up of Yugoslavia. It took a UNESCO led initiative to reconstruct the town back to its former splendour, its turbulent history sand-blasted out of the stone, topped with new terracotta tiles adorning the roofs.
However for the first time in history, the city walls had themselves received over one hundred direct hits, and from their new vantage point, the scars were there to see.
The opportunity to see the city from the sea was too good to miss, despite the reservations of her girlfriend who had envisaged a rather more relaxing break in the sun. So, it was not without some trepidation (neither of them having even set foot in a canoe before), they took to the water, under the watchful eye of their tour guide and the rest of the group, far younger and rather intrigued by the sight of two women who should have known better giggling their way out into the bay, struggling to control the direction of their unruly kayak.
Once they’d fathomed how to synchronise their strokes, they’d settled into an easy rhythm, unwilling to admit to their aching backs and knees, sore arms and sunburnt faces tingling with the salty spray. It wasn’t for the faint hearted, and 3 hours in, paddling against the current, getting back to the safety of the harbour was no mean feat for even experienced kayakers. And wet didn’t even begin to describe the state of their underwear – perhaps wet suits would have been a better idea! But they did it, and did not embarrass themselves by floating unchecked towards the horizon (it happened) or falling overboard (that happened too)!
And they managed to keep up with the kids! So, in the end, it’s all about perspective! Like the town wall, they might have been showing signs of having been around for a while, but they’d lived to fight another day!