So just over two weeks ago, 47 of us jetted off from Birmingham Airport to Dubrovnik, for this year's September Pilgrimage, or, as one pilgrim put it "holiday with a spiritual dimension". Frequent visitors will know that this group - whose membership changes every year - has been visiting places now since 1990. Recent destinations include Rome, the Holy Land, Krakow, Provence and Assisi/Tuscany.
We were based for our week at the Hotel Albatros in Cavtat, between Dubrovnik and the airport. It's pronounced "tsav-tat", but quickly became "satnav" for some of the group! The hotel is the two large buildings just left and below the centre of the photo above. Cavtat turned out to be a beautiful spot in its own right, situated on the neck of a headland between two bays, on one of which was situated our hotel. We were to celebrate the last two of our daily Masses - the heart of our pilgrimage - in its parish church, St Nicholas, and a smaller church Our Lady of the Snow.
I was really impressed by the local area - blue sea, striking cliffs, scattered islands. Croatia was of course a part of the former Yugoslavia until the fall of Communism/Socialism in 1989, which led to the violence of the wars in the early and mid-1990s. It is mainly Catholic, and Dubrovnik is at the far bottom end of Croatia's strange boomerang shape. For much of its history the city was an independent republic, rather like Venice, under which it spent another large part of its history. I'll share some of what happened during the week over the next few postings...watch this space. Meanwhile here is a dramatic aerial view of the walled Old City of Dubrovnik, heavily damaged in the 1990s but now restored.