MY DUBROVNIK ADVENTURES BEFORE THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION
My posting of the aerial view of Dubrovnik on Jan 27, 2016 evidently elicited a lot of memories in people who had been there themselves. It also had the same effect on me.
Here are some photos of yours truly (ALTZAR) taken in that beautiful medieval city in the summer of 1963. I was then traveling – no, scratch that… bumming around – with four of my high school buddies. We had no money, no hotel reservations, virtually no luggage… just a lust for adventure. We were the Five Musketeers without muskets but loaded with spunk and ingenuity.
One way I made some money, for example, was by making bets with German tourists on daring deeds. Like doing the high cliff dives you see below. Or by swimming butterfly-style across the bay you see in the background of that shot. And so on…
Meanwhile, that little stubble you see above was my first and only effort of growing a beard. I never did it again because it used to freak some people out – platinum blonde hair and a black beard. They thought I had dyed one or the other. 🙂
There was another fascinating story that unfolded that summer in Dubrovnik which may be worth telling in the form of a short story. My working title for it is “GAY AND SEXY SUMMER.” Here it goes…
FIVE MUSKETEERS’ GAY & SEXY SUMMER OF 1963
It was a long hot summer, the summer of 1963. Just like the popular 1960s TV series of the same title based on the novel The Hamlet by William Faulkner, the short story “Barn Burning”, and the 1958 film of the same name. Except that my summer of 1963 unfolded on the Adriatic coast of Yugoslavia rather than in the sizzling interior of Mississippi. And it was not based on anything else but the whim and caprice of five teenage boys.
Striking Out with Girls
We, the Five Musketeers without a musket, as we might have appeared to those who encountered us during our summertime Adriatic adventures, were out for a good time. We were hoping to achieve that especially with girls. But we were all greenhorns. And jocks. Which means awkward and clumsy. None of us knew how to seduce a girl.
It didn’t help much that we had no money and no accommodation and only a backpack each to our name. So we stumbled from one chance meeting to another up and down the Adriatic coast without making a score. But then our luck changed..
On an August afternoon, we boarded a ship in Makarska which was sailing for Dubrovnik, a beautiful medieval city about 100 miles southeast of Makarska. Our luck changed when we met a group of teenage German girls on board. They seemed similarly on a prowl to find some boys with whom to have a good time.
Since I spoke German fluently at the time, I had to do most of the talking in both languages. But after awhile, I got tired of translating back and forth, and let everybody fend for themselves.
By the time we docked in Dubrovnik, we had made a group date with the German girls. We were all to meet the next night at the fountain in the center of the city (like the one I am drinking from in the above picture).
Sleeping at the Bottom of Drained Pool
As I said, we had no planned accommodation. For most of that summer – being both long and hot – we slept under the open sky using our backpacks for pillows. That night, we actually ended up shacking up at the bottom of an empty pool. Just before dawn, however, we were roused by the sound of gushing water.
“What the fuck…” one Musketeer yelled, waking up the rest of us. “Somebody is filling the pool.”
We hightailed out of there in a hurry. We spent the day on a nearby beach, where I tried to make some money by making bets with German tourists on daring deeds. Like doing the high cliff dives. Or by swimming butterfly-style across the bay you see in the background of my cliff diving shot.
And then it was time for our evening date.
Our Group Date Gets an Unexpected Twist
We got there first. It was a balmy summer night with lots of people around. We sat down on the warm stones around the fountain to watch the world go around and wait for the German girls to show up.
As always, there was one among us for whom the glass is always half empty.
“Bet they won’t come,” one of Musketeers prophesied.
He was wrong. The girls did show up. But much later.
Before that, we were approached by two “older guys” from Belgrade. They were actually in their mid-20s, like the twosome in the picture below. But to us teenagers they looked like “older guys.”
When they introduced themselves, they told us they were the “primo ballerino dancers” at the Belgrade Ballet company. Being green and innocent, we thought nothing of it and continued to make small talk with them.
Then out of the blue, they invited us to go sailing with them the next day. Well, to us, the five starving and nearly penniless students, that was like being invited to a Buckingham Palace reception. Of course, we accepted and fixed the time to meet them at the harbor the next morning. They left.
When we later met with our German dates, we also invited the girls to come sailing with us. Like us, they jumped at the opportunity.
Sailing to Lokrum Island
When we got to the harbor the next morning, our two sailing hosts were already aboard their yacht. When they saw that our entourage included girls, I could see a frown of disappointment on their faces.
They were cool about it, though. They said nothing out loud. So with all of us aboard, we pushed off from the dock and headed out to the island of Lokrum, a short distance from Dubrovnik (see below).
After docking and tying up the boat in this small harbor, we all walked across the island to the other side that faces the ocean. We made camp atop of one of the cliffs and spent the day laying in the sun and chatting. The two ballerinos were pleasant company and made no fuss about having to put up with a bunch of noisy girls they had not invited.
After baking in the sun for a while, most people wanted to go swimming. The cool ocean water – crystal clear and deep azure blue – looked very inviting. Alas, the only way in was to jump or dive off the high cliffs.
I can’t be sure anymore. But my best guess would be about 30 ft or so (see the picture of the Lokrum cliffs with the kayaks above).
Whether to show off for the girls or because I was a daredevil back then, I decided not to just jump but to dive into the ocean from atop the cliff (like that guy in the far left picture diving off a Lokrum cliff). For comparison, also take a look at the people jumping off the 40-ft cliffs at the South Point of the Big Island (right shot).
I survived it obviously, or else you would not be reading these lines. But my swimsuit did not. It split in two upon impact with the ocean.
“Get me another swimsuit,” I yelled to my buddies up top. “Bloody cheap communist production,” I muttered under my breath.
Fortunately, the German girls did not speak Serbian. So they were clueless about what had happened. But the two Belgrade ballerinos perked up at the opportunity to see a naked butt even for a moment. They ran to the edge of the cliff to find me in moderate distress in my birthday suit. One of them quickly produced an extra swimsuit and threw it down to me. That saved the day and my naked butt.
Later, as we were sailing back to Dubrovnik, the two ballerinos tried to hit on me and my bearded pal (right). I don’t know if our beards had anything to do with it – we were the only ones wearing a beard – but in my case, they were complimenting me on my legs.
It was only then that the penny dropped and I realized they were gay. Duh! See what I mean by greenhorns?
I also felt weird and uncomfortable receiving compliments on my legs. I felt like an exhibit in a meat market. That’s also when I first understood how women must feel like when they are complimented on their various body parts without any attraction to the person hitting on them.
In the end, nothing happened. We all disembarked at the port of Dubrovnik and went on our separate merry ways. But that day stayed forever etched in my memory as the day I grew up and broke out of my teenage greenhorn shell.
But that’s not yet the end of the story. There is also a story behind the story…
EPILOGUE – STORY BEHIND THE STORY IN GERMAN CLASS
Fast-forwarding from Dubrovnik to our first week back in school. I was a senior.I had already shaved off my beard before the school started. My four other traveling buddies, the Adriatic Musketeers, were all juniors. So nobody in my class knew anything about what had happened during our summer vacation. They found out soon enough…
Our German teacher was an older lady, probably in her early 60s by then. Since I spoke perfect German, I was her star pupil. She would call on me to say or do something whenever she needed to impress someone, the principal or a visitor.
One such visitor who showed up during that first week of school was a young and sexy woman. She was introduced to us by our teacher as the “inspector.” Guess the visitor’s job was to rate the teacher.
The pretty brunette with Elizabeth Taylor-like blue eyes took a seat at the back of the room, and proceeded to observe the class. We, the boys, on the other hand, proceeded to observe her. More like stare at her. And she felt it, too, and did not seem to mind 🙂
On that particular day, our teacher decided to be brave and ask each of us to get up and tell the class in German what we did during our summer vacation. After all, we were all seniors and thus should have been proficient enough in the foreign language we had been taking for 8 years.
After a couple of kids struggled with their vacation stories, liberally mixing German and Serbian like spaghetti and meatballs, the teacher turned to me with a big smile on her face.
“And what about you, Bob? Why don’t you tell us what you did during your summer vacation?”
I am sure that the teacher expected a flowery story in Hochdeutch (I was told back then by my native German friends that I spoke with a Hannover Hochdeutch accent – which is sort of like Queen’s or BBC English in English. It took nearly 50 years for me to find out why. But that’s a different story).
But what our German teacher got instead was a shock of her life that jolted her right out of her comfy chair.
I basically told my Dubrovnik GAY & SEXY SUMMER story exactly as I had now done it in English. The beautiful inspector in the back of the room was rolling with laughter at each saucy turn of phrase. So did my classmates who were proficient enough in German to follow the story. Not to be left out, the rest laughed, too, though with some delay, and without knowing why. Herd mentality…
The only person who did not find my story funny was our German teacher. She looked like Angela Merkel in that photo on the right. She was embarrassed with all this talk of sex and nudity. After all, it was still 1963 and the flower children had not blossomed as yet. The sexual revolution was yet to begin. Or had I just fired one of the opening shots in it with my Dubrovnik story? 🙂
“Oh Bob…” was all the stunned teacher could muster afterward. 🙂