National Geographic : 1928 Jan
DALMATIAN DAYS Thousand Islands and call it a day's work !" Even Maine's shores are rivaled in their zigzag conformation by those of Dal matia. While a direct course along the Yugoslav littoral measures 300 sea miles, the indented length of that coast is almost three times as long. As for the man sized job of counting Dalmatia's islands, that has been simplified by ignoring in significant islets and putting the archi pelago's units at 6oo and its area at 2,000 square miles. A CLEAN SWEEP OF AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN PLACE NAMES Our map presented other difficulties. The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) has made a clean sweep of former Austro-Hungarian place names in favor of their Slav equivalents.* Like the out-of-luck American tourist who wouldn't stop off at "Praha" because he wanted to get on to Prague, we often needed a bilingual key to ascertain where we were. So we compiled a list of Yugo slav place names, bracketing their prewar equivalents, as follows: Lake Bled (Vel deser See), Lake Bohinj (Wocheiner See), Zagreb (Agram), Zadar (Zara), Sibenik (Sebenico), Trogir (Trau), Solin (Salona), Split (Spalato), Gruz (Gravosa), Dubrovnik (Ragusa), Kotor (Cattaro). As neither railroad nor motor trail spans the Yugoslav coast, we took that oldest and most appropriate of routes, the sea lane, to rediscover those shores whose maritime fame antedated England's by centuries. From among luxurious liners more modest steamers, and fleets of sail ing craft, one may choose one's traveling style along what is one of the best-served littorals in south European waters. As Susak fell astern, Italy disappeared behind islands, to remain invisible through out our entire voyage. With an archi pelago barring the open sea and with the Velebit's barren heights rising behind the narrow coast, it seemed as if we were navigating a succession of blue, flawlessly calm lagoons. "Good-bye, Europe !" said the ex-consul, waving a hand toward Italy. He added, * See, also, "The Whirlpool of the Balkans," by George Higgins Moses in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for February, 1921. "Small wonder that, with mountains bar ring the east and an archipelago barring the west, Dalmatia has always been a de batable land or halfway house, where ra cially speaking, Europe and Asia meet."* Certainly, the more one sees of Dal matia, the more one feels himself to be, while not exactly out of Europe, yet somehow among the fringes of the Orient. I recalled that this "debatable land" had once been disputed by Rome's eastern and western empires; that Islam's armies were here confronted by Christianity's outposts; that here had been the meeting ground of Latin and Slav; that to-day Dalmatia is still the borderland of the Catholic and the Greek Orthodox faiths. Now and then we touched port in some deep-set bay with its hill-perched town let-often an almost streetless clump of vine-clad houses-which had dug its heels into the Velebit and held on while as yet Venice was unheard of. Yet the specter of the lagoon republic, medieval Dal matia's protectress, still haunts every nook and corner of the Yugoslav coast. Once we even found a bit of junked antiquity mortared into a peasant's house wall. It was a big carving of St. Mark's imperious, Bible-brandishing lion which, regrettably, had been almost obliterated by successive coats of green paint. The pro prietor claimed that living with that old carved lion had finally got on his nerves. He wasn't certain about green lions, but at least, he said, it was a cheery color. A TOWN IN MOURNING FOR FIVE HUNDRED YEARS At the pleasantly informal seaside re sort of Crkvenica we were astonished to find the town in mourning. Every native woman was clothed in black, and grand mothers sat knitting things of the same funereal hue. Had the bora, that fearful "wind of the dead," taken toll among the local fishing fleet? We questioned a sub dued, rather henpecked-looking native. Sadly he replied: "It's for the Frankopan family. Much beloved, kicked out of the country, some of them executed. And the women have worn mourning ever since. No, they never let go, our womenfolk don't-I'm a *See, also, "East of the Adriatic," by Ken neth McKenzie in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for December, 1912.