“Those who seek paradise on Earth should come see Dubrovnik”–George Bernard Shaw
My shoulders are burning under my shirt after being seared by the sunshine reflecting off of the Adriatic Sea. I’m sitting in London’s Stansted Airport waiting to board my flight to Barcelona and all I can think about is how wonderful my trip to Dubrovnik was.
Truthfully I’m struggling to figure out how to start this update so I guess I’ll just dive right into it.
For as a great of a trip it was, it started off as a nightmare. I flew out of Gatwick to Dubrovnik on Monarch airlines which is basically just a budget airline like RyanAir and EasyJet. I was sitting at the gate getting ready to board the plane when we were told by the staff that boarding would be delayed by a half hour as there seemed to be a small technical problem with the plane. Fast forward 16 hours through a one night stay at the Premier Inn and an ungodly early wake up and our flight finally left the UK and was heading towards Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Simply the put the ‘minor delay’ turned out to be a major delay. I’d rather not dwell on it though.
The first thing I noticed about Dubrovnik was the natural beauty of the area. The weather was gorgeous, especially when considering I was coming from the UK where summer has been stubbornly slow to arrive. The Adriatic Sea is blessed with some of the clearest and bluest water I’ve ever seen. I would think that even the turquoise waters of the Caribbean do not stack up to the warm waters of the Adriatic. The first time we walked down to Dubrovnik’s harbor we were amazed that you could see right to the bottom of the water. It was the type of water that is so clear that it makes it difficult to judge the depth of it. I’m starting to jump ahead now and I haven’t yet clarified who the ‘we’ is in this story.
I stayed at the Dubrovnik Backpacker’s Club, which is owned by an incredibly friendly and generous Croatian family, and they were kind enough to pick me up from the airport to spare me the cost of a taxi ride into the city center. As I quickly discovered, I was not the only one enjoying the ride into Dubrovnik and I quickly became introduced to Ben (UK) and David (Australia). About halfway through our trip to the hostel we realized that our plans for Dubrovnik were virtually the same. We all had the same arrival and departure day and knew we had to make the most out of our brief time in Dubrovnik. Therefore, the two of them were kind enough to invite along with them to explore the city immediately after we checked into the hostel. I’d like to talk about the family that ran the hostel a little bit because they were truly generous and hospitable. As I mentioned earlier, the backpacker’s club is run by a pleasant family. The mother was responsible for the cooking and cleaning, the brothers managed the all important Wifi and planned excursions around and outside Dubrovnik, while the father seemed to be the manager.
Moving on, after we checked in and were given an excessively thorough lecture on all of the important sights and routes present on the map that was given to us, David, Ben and I took the bus to the Old City. We quickly realized that Croatia was blessed with some other natural beauties that had nothing to do with the environment. We ate, drank and then quickly walked throughout the Old City all while being mesmerized by how picturesque the city is. I felt like one of those stereotypical tourists frantically snapping photons of everything on every street, but really the city just leant itself to an abundance of pictures.
The first major thing we did during our first day was take the cable car up to the top of the mountain that overlooked the city. The views of course were spectacular. It was well worth the small admission charge (£7.5=1 Kuna) and we probably spent about an hour up there walking around and remarking at how awesome the views were. Typical tourist stuff I suppose.
We had heard from some fellow travelers about ‘the sunset bar’ that was a supposed must-see. Whether or not it was the one they were referring to, we found a bar just outside the city wall, situated on top of boulders overlooking the sea that was perfect for some late afternoon drinks.
I’m going to have to gloss over some of the details of this trip because this post will quickly turn into me just repeating how beautiful I thought the city was. So moving right along, the second day we had booked a sea kayaking journey with some local tour guides. Again it wasn’t really too expensive and it included lunch and the itinerary was actually exactly what we were looking for. The trek took us out for about 3 hours and we ate lunch on a beach/cave that would’ve otherwise been inaccessible from the road. Again, truly beautiful. We were also awarded the opportunity to do some snorkeling and see if there were any ‘nasties’ underneath the clear blue water.
Later that day we did walked along the city walls, which is an absolute must-do if you’re ever given the chance to visit Dubrovnik. Terrific views of the Old City and surrounding area in a 2 km loop. For those of you who are at all familiar with ‘Game of Thrones’ the city walls of Dubrovnik double as the city walls for King’s Landing. And to be sure, there were certainly more than a few nerds (including myself) that were almost more impressed with the Game of Thrones connection than any of the other facts about the city. One woman I saw was sporting a Game of Thrones World Tour t-shirt. I thought it was a bit much.
One of the downsides about my visit to Dubrovnik was that it wasn’t quite prime season to visit the city. Normally this wouldn’t bother me so much but as David, Ben and I soon realized, Dubrovnik was crawling with senior citizens and there weren’t too many young people visiting Dubrovnik at the time. So we had to make our own fun at night.
For our second and last night in Dubrovnik, we walked down to a local convenience store and after heeding the advice of a local (“you want this one”) we bought about a liter’s worth of beer each and strolled down to the harbor to find a bench and drink. I don’t know how much time was spent down at the harbor but it was one of the more enjoyable experiences of the trip. We joked that we were living the high life drinking a 1/2 liter of beer from a plastic bottle, on a bench, in eastern Europe on a Tuesday night. Just as everyone plans to do.
When I first sat down to start this post I didn’t want it to be a summary of my trip. I was hoping for something a little more insightful and reflective. But I’ve got what I’ve got. I’m sure after I conclude my travels to Barcelona, Bilbao/San Sebastian and Florence I’ll be in a more reflective and giddy mood. Right now I just want to make sure I successfully make it to my hostel after I arrive in Girona. Stupid RyanAir doesn’t offer flights right into Barcelona so I’ll have to catch a bus to Barca from Girona airport. The next blog update will talk about the success of failure of that journey.