I’m still in love with Italy but we were completely blown away by Croatia and will plan to return soon on our next vacation. Croatia has it all; history, great architecture, mountains, lakes, miles of coastline and over 1300 islands to explore. Its breathtakingly beautiful from Plitvice lakes and Krka National Park in its interior to its many islands, our favorite was the celebrity hot spot of Hvar.
Here is a video on our tour of Dubrovnik, just click on the photo below. The story and photos continue after…..
Croatia’s crowning jewel is the Old city of Dubrovnik on its most southern tip, bordered by Bosnia on one side which you must travel through to get here and Montenegro on the other. The city is a popular cruise ship destination made a little more famous by the HBO hit series Game of Thrones as the set for King’s Landing and many other locations. I wouldn’t want to be here though in the height of the summer tourist season as it was already busy and hot. We had one or two cruise ships in port but in the summer there can be six of them with over 3000 passengers each inundating the area. Ideally, I would return in September or early October when the sea is still warm for swimming but the crowds have started to thin.
We had a perfectly situated apartment in the hills overlooking the city with a promenade of restaurants, cafes and shops just below that lead to the beach with only a 10-minute bus ride to the old city. Our Airbnb owners left two delicious bottles of homemade liquors for us, one made from Walnut and the other cherry which we enjoyed from our balcony with a beautiful view of the surrounding hills and city below. On our first two days from our home base while we still had a car we took day trips to Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kotor, Montenegro. After our day trips we returned the car as you don’t really want one for Dubrovnik (don’t even think about driving to the old city, its chaotic and no parking) the bus is much more convenient.
On our third day we finally got to go and explore the old city of Dubrovnik after returning our rental car to the airport where we paid one of their drivers to shuttle us to the old city. There are two gates to enter the old city and we started from the ‘Pile’ entrance which was close to our bus stop, pushing our way through the throngs of tourists on a busy Saturday morning but once in it started to disperse in a more tolerable manner. We totally enjoyed the day just wandering through the ancient center, it is a very large area with some incredible architecture, ancient churches and buildings to explore that could keep you busy for a day. We sat in the middle of the piazza with some local beers in hand watching tourists from all ends of the earth enjoying their holidays, mob like tourist groups making their disorganized way through the square.
On our fourth day we headed back into the old city and walked through to the harbor where we bought tickets and hopped on a boat for a 20-minute ride to the adjacent island of Lokrum. Boats leave every hour and we wished we had planned for an earlier start as the last boat returns at six, you can’t stay on the island and there was so much more to see that we felt we had missed. The weather was incredible so we planned to have a beach day spending most of the afternoon lounging and enjoying the scenery with a few brisk dips in the sea. Later in the day we walked a bit of the island on our way back to the boat dock and found the Dead Sea Lake, a land locked lake that’s feed by the sea and you can swim buoyantly in its high salinity waters. We found some areas that were used for filming Game of Thrones, the botanical gardens, peacocks covering the island,some cafes and restaurants nestled in paradise that would have been good spots to lull away the day. There is lots to do here so arrive early and conquer it all. On the way home, back in Dubrovnik we stopped at a restaurant called Tutto Bene for some great burgers and a beer. Beach, Burger and Beer we decided was the formula for a perfect day.
For our fifth day we had signed up at the old city entrance for a Kayak trip that started just outside the walls touring around Lokrum and the old city, a detour into one of the grotto’s and a stop for lunch and a swim on one of the popular beach areas only accessible by boat. We were the oldest farts on the tour, most were in their twenties and our fat asses made it necessary to paddle hard to keep up with the group but we managed to stay in the front of the pack the whole trip. We were sore the next day though and could barely lift our wine glasses, it was a hard day at the office but we loved every minute of it. After returning to the old center I went to walk the wall while Janet did some shopping and managed to do the entire wall in a little over an hour. There is a 150 Kuna charge/about $30 CDN to enter the wall, a hefty fee to pay but many were doing it and after debating with myself I decided to joined in. It did offer some incredible views and photo ops from above so I was glad I went, I could have been done it at a much more leisurely pace but ran through to meet up with Janet at a specific time. You can find many places for a cocktail, lunch or a gelato on top of the wall, its almost a city of its own in the sky.
Our last day we got packed at a leisurely pace and early in the afternoon headed to the airport, our Croatia journey had come to an end and we were so thankful we had planned our month in this incredible country that we will be sure to return too. After three months of Schengen Exile we could finally come back to Italy where we were excited to be meeting our friends for a 9 day trip together. We would meet in Rome for a few days, then travel to Naples by train where we picked up a rental car and headed to the Amalfi coast for 5 adventuresome days in this beautiful part of the country.
If you’d like more pics here is a link to the ‘Dubrovnik’ photo gallery.