October 24 – 26, 2015
It is not a coincidence that Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old red roofs and city walls of the Old Town were already visible from the plain, while we landed into the setting sun. A short bus ride away brought us to the Old Town, where we had a delicious hearty dinner at Nishta, one of the rare vegetarian restaurants (more about them here). The Old Town is a walled fortress containing medieval churches, museums, shops and living quarters, all connected by narrow alleys and pedestrian ways, with cars being a distant memory.
The main walking street Stradun bustles with tourists, shops and restaurants, even on the cusp of the off-season; but if you verge just a few blocks left or right you’ll find yourself in more lonely parts. Steep alleys are covered in flourishing greens and colorful laundry hanging to dry from lines on every house front – even playgrounds!
Each of my mornings and evenings in the Hotel Excelsior, located just outside the city walls, was remarkable – so if you have some extra dough to spend on those hours of the day, then I recommend booking this five star hotel. For us normal three-star types the breakfast buffet was almost overwhelming; warm and cold, sweet and savory, crunchy and creamy… Ideally before and afterwards, was “wellness time”: sunbathing, swimming in the open sea, followed by some warm time in the sauna or jacuzzi. Yes, you can literally jump off the hotel’s back porch into the clear, salty Adriatic Sea and swim with schools of cute fish, not to mention a passing celebrity.
If you don’t mind a little paddling, I recommend the three hour (7,5km loop) guided kayak tour around Lokrum, the “Island of love”, which is right across Dubrovnik’s coast.
We learned a lot about Dubrovnik’s history, like that the city walls were originally built to ward of waves – not warriors – and women had to bring eggs to bind the stones (that the men had to bring) which form the city walls. The tour included a little lunch and time to snorkel in an isolated coastal cove.
Another highlight was the walk along the city walls. See the clutter of red roofs from above, watch a filming crew in the deep canyons guiding the flow of pedestrians (aka Game of Thrones backdrop), or find this basketball. – Seeing this I imagined, what a sport with an “L” shaped field would be like… Why has nobody invented that yet?
But back to the city walk… in between there’s a little hole in the wall café that sells fresh juices and smoothies. Even in the middle of fall the weather called out for a cool, refreshing drink.
Dubrovnik was a huge highlight of my trip. Looking back, I definitely could of spent a few more days here – to tour the island of Lokrum and walk to the top of Srdj (the hill on the outskirts of town) for a scenic view of the bay.