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Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

When I see my cat run I’m expecting another Dubrovnik earthquake

Written by  May 01, 2022

Shake, baby, shake!  That wasn't fun at all. It wasn't my first experience of an earthquake in Dubrovnik, but it certainly was the strongest one I have ever felt.

I was just getting ready for bed, it was around 11.00 last Friday evening and it was one of those still, warm Spring nights that make you dream of the warmer summer nights ahead. The air was so silent that you could probably have heard a pin drop in front of my house.

“Shall we go to bed?” I asked my pets, for as I was home alone I was, of course, talking to the dogs and cat most of the day. And then in a flash the cat bolted across the living room and straight out the open back door. Strange. There were no sounds of a cat fight somewhere. “What’s wrong with her?” I thought.

It was then that I heard a distant rumble.

It sounded like thunder, but with the bass turned up to maximum. And then the thunder hit! It felt like a train was crashing through my front room. The tranquil night air had been transformed into the jangle of picture frames, the crashing of books and the clunk as ornaments hit the floor. “It was as if the house was walking, rather clumsily as if with a limp from one foot to the next,” I explained to a friend after the event.

It was a sleepless start to the weekend as several aftershocks reminded us that it wasn’t over just yet.

Like I said this wasn’t my first earthquake, I’ve lost count of the number I’ve felt. Anything under 4 magnitude is a light ripple in your coffee. This was closer to six and would turn espresso into cappuccino. And it went on and on.




My dog, well one dog had his tail between his legs and was making for the open door. I followed quickly behind. Fortunately, I live next to a large olive grove and green fields, and this was the best place to be. The other dog isn’t the youngest and slept like a baby unaware of the rock n roll.

I don’t want to imagine what it must have felt like in a taller block of flats. Penthouse, no thank you!

Now to get some context into this shake, the 2020 earthquake that caused sustainable damage in Zagreb was 5.3 magnitude. And the one that caused massive damage in Albania in 2019 was 6.4 and killed 51 people. Our latest tremor was in between those two. It wasn’t fun at all.

Strangely, one of the countries with the most earthquakes on an annual basis is the UK. Yes, hard to believe. The Brits have up to 300 earthquakes a year. Or almost one every day. Did I ever feel one? Never. The vast majority wouldn’t even cause a ripple in a cup of tea let alone cause shelves to fall off the wall. This latest Dubrovnik one was felt in Austria and Italy.

And the thousands of tourists in the city (and yes, many, many contacted me) will have a memento from their holiday that they certainly didn’t expect. Imagine the conversations when they get home. “How was Dubrovnik?” – “Bumpy.” – “What you mean the flight?” – “No, the city!”

So standing in the darkness with a shaking dog and a shaking house I was acutely aware of just how small we all are. Mother Nature is monumental and we are tiny. And she let us know that on Earth Day this year, now how fitting is that.

“The Earth moved on Earth Day. A reminder that we must respect nature, for she is more powerful than any of us,” said a friend to me.

April is the month to avoid Dubrovnik. 1667 massive earthquake destroys the entire Old City – date 6th of April. 312 years later in 1979 the strongest earthquake ever to hit the city – date 15th of April. 43 years later I found myself in my pyjamas in a field – date 22nd of April. There is just something about the Easter period.

I didn’t see my cat again until well into the following morning. How do cats sense earthquakes? I’ve no idea. But the next time I see her, which I hope isn’t for a long, long time, doing her Usain Bolt impression and charging out the door I am going to follow. 

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