Long before mere mortals inhabited ancient Greece, there was a great struggle for power between the Titans and their descendants, the Olympian gods. Upon their glorious victory, the three Olympian brothers—Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades—split the realms of the universe between them, as the Titans were imprisoned in Tartarus. But Gaia, the great goddess of Earth and mother of the Titans, was incensed by the defeat of her children and called on their siblings, the Giants, to rise up in revolt.
As we sat at the water’s edge in Mykonos, crisping in the sun and waiting for our lunch to arrive, our waiter asked the inevitable question. “So, where else in Greece will you be traveling?” It was Katherine’s turn to answer. “We’ve already been to Athens and Santorini, and from here we go to Folegandros for a few days.” “Folegandros?” the waiter asked, outwardly amused. “I’ve never been there, but it’s …” He let out a small laugh. “… extreme.”
Sometime around 1600 B.C., the southern Aegean Sea was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. As ancient Thera ejected nearly 24 cubic miles of ash and debris, the sea flooded into the caldera of the collapsed island volcano, forming a great bay more than 1,300 feet deep. But towering above the water’s surface, portions of the volcanic rim remained—including a small crescent of rock that would become one of the most beloved islands in Greece.
As a late winter snowstorm barreled toward Washington, D.C., this week, my seasonally depressed thoughts turned to the Mediterranean climate of Croatia, whose island residents enjoy up to 2,800 hours of sunshine each year. It certainly isn’t fair to the rest of us, but it helps explain why the Dalmatian Archipelago is quickly becoming one of the world’s most desirable vacation destinations.
Today, it is known as The Pearl of the Adriatic. But in 1991, as the Croatian War for Independence raged through the region, life in Dubrovnik was anything but beautiful.