Pearl of the Adriatic.
PC and I spent 5 sun drenched days in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and I’m still sighing dreamily when I think about the trip. While Dubrovnik’s main drag lives up to its tourist choked reputation, there is more than enough fresh air, clear waters and hidden pathways to ensure you maintain your holiday sanity, and fall madly in love with the place.
Situated on Croatia’s southern coastline, Dubrovnik is surrounded with beautiful Adriatic waters and lush islands. However, the city’s most striking feature is the massive city wall which has protected the city since the middle ages. I could hardly believe the place was real as we drove toward it.
The bus from the airport dropped us off right at the Pile gate, the entrance to the old city of Dubrovnik.
We stayed inside the old city in an apartment. This is definitely the way to go. Climbing up into the city to find your little apartment makes you feel like a local, plus, you’ll get a quick introduction to the wild neighborhood cats. Apart from its abundance of delicious seafood, even more delicious wine and amazing swimming spots, the place has an abundance of wild kitties. PC theorizes that the cats are used by the older residents to control the rodent population. I don’t know about that. I just know there’s lots of cats.
After checking in, and grabbing a bit to eat, we took a walk around on top of the city walls.
After our tour, we found a little bar for refreshments. Directly above the water, this place is perched on the rocks on the edge of the city, just outside of a little door in the walls.
We returned to this place a couple of nights later. Creeping down some rock steps, we found a deserted ledge and shared some duty free champagne we had snuck in. It felt simultaneously adult and adolescent.
The next day, we joined one of the popular island hopping boats in the harbor.
This boat took us to the Elaphite islands Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud. Each was lovelier than the next. We got in some hiking and swimming. Which reminds me of two other things besides cats that Dubrovnik has in abundance: speedos and Australians. Well instead of speedos let’s say “minimal coverage swimwear”. Whether it was men in budgy smugglers, or 60 year-old overweight ladies in bright red bikinis- skin was in.
And bloody Australians. Everywhere we went in Dubrovnik we heard/saw Aussies. PC dubbed it “Little Australia”. For such a small country (population-wise), they sure get out. Of course, their culture allows for travel more than say…oh…the “US of get two weeks of vacation a year A”.
Back to the boat…
They fed us some delicious fish. Speaking of fish, I think I had seafood every single day: squid, octopus, local fish, mussels…nom.
That evening we strolled around admiring the romantic lighting, and charming side streets. You look up any little street, and it’s like fairy tale passage. However, stairs dominate the place, so the mobility challenged might reconsider a trip here. Scrambling on rocks, and rambling up staircases is all part of the fun.
In our wanderings, we came across a folklore dance and music performance. Much to my surprise, PC suggested we grab a seat and enjoy the show.
The next day, we found a local beach on the mainland. Then (as requested by a friend) we took our obligatory “I’m on vacation” photo.
I could not get over that this is where we were swimming.
I’ll have you know, I’m actually quite proud of the amount of swimming I did on this trip. See, I’m sort of scared of water. Ironic for a California girl. But the water in California is cold, there are creatures, and, being the “strong” swimmer that I am, there’s the ever present chance of drowning. Anyways, I swam a lot on this trip. I even jumped off a rock into the water. Drowning and creatures be damned!
That evening, we opted for a sunset trip up the gondola to the top of Mount Srd.
Watching the sky change colors, the stars come out, and the city light up was so…uhhh i sense I’m nauseating you. It was beautiful.
At the top of Mount Srd is a fortress. Transformed into a museum, the fortress documents the horror of 1991-1995. Declaring itself an autonomous nation with the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Croatia soon found itself the target of aggression from Serbia which hoped to incorporate Croatia in a greater Serbian state.
Believing that Dubrovnik’s location and status as a UNESCO world heritage site would keep it safe from bombing, Croatians were soon horrified when the city saw bombs rain down in 1991. While the international community looked on, the city of Dubrovnik endured violence and destruction. The scars of this war are still evident on the walls and buildings in the old city. While the Croatians ultimately won this conflict, this exhibit is a sobering and important reminder of the country’s complicated history.
The final day we spent swimming around the walls, perusing the Rector’s palace ( lots of cool exhibits and prison cells!), and forgetting that we had to check out of our apartment. yeesh. That was dumb. At 1 pm, we opened the door to “our” apartment, preparing to pack and shower only to find a young American couple had moved in. Crap. We quickly figured out where our stuff was, hung out at a cafe all salty and sweaty, and waited for our bus to take us to the airport. After our mistake with the apartment, we began to worry that maybe we’d miss the bus, or maybe it’d be all full.
We had the bus to ourselves, which made it all the more awkward when someone rear ended the bus leaving our driver furious and cursing. Anyways, we made it, cruised through the most relaxed airport security I’ve ever seen, and ended up back in Berlin. However, after five days of gorgeous sunny days, Berlin had the audacity to be gray and rainy. Rude.
Back in Berlin, it’s been a return to aggressive physical therapy for PC, and the bureaucratic fun that is getting a work permit for me.
Can’t complain. We had five days of magic. I realize how silly that sounds, but seriously, just look at this place. I defy you to tell me it’s not magical.
Till next time Croatia…
And Happy Fourth America!