Only a few steps inside the old Croatian coastal city of Trogir is a medieval maze of narrow streets that once helped to thwart enemy attacks. People living here now somehow accommodate their lives and front porches to a newer sort of invasion — hordes of tourists tromping through, every day of every long summer.
These sketches, done in pen, colored pencil, and watercolor, are from my visit last fall to Republika Hrvatska, as it’s called in Hrvatski. My visit stretched through a warm, soft autumn of the kind known in the United States as Indian summer. In Croatia it's known as Grandmother’s summer.
Trying to capture travel sights and impressions in a sketchbook often leads to further adventures in itself, but there’s just as much pleasure in the viewing as in the doing. A side trip into neighboring Montenegro ended at a low stone wall. Plunking down on its inviting surface, I drew not only what was there — the old, sand-colored church and fortification — but what might well have been there, given a slightly different view or a parallel universe.
Part of Turanje was destroyed by shelling during Croatia's War of Independence in the early 1990s. It was later decreed that the ruins would remain as they are, as a memorial and a reminder of war’s brutal destructiveness.
The Croatian coast has enticed people for millennia. Despite the earthquakes and storms that can savage the area, wealthy people have for centuries built fine summer mansions along its shores. Some of these handsome old structures have survived, and big new estates, along with smaller houses, continue to pop up here and there. No wonder — it's a beautiful land.
On the road in Croatia,