After we said goodbye to Central Europe on Sunday, we boarded another flight and headed east to a country that has only been on our bucket list for a short time: Croatia. We didn’t know much about the coastal country before we left, other than it was once a part of Yugoslavia, but my friend, Amanda, had raved about it so we kept our eyes peeled for a cheap deal to get to Dubrovnik. When I heard Dubrovnik was also the backdrop for the set of one of our guilty pleasures, Game of Thrones, it was easy to pull the trigger when we found a good fare on Austrian air!
Let’s just say that Dubrovnik is easily the most stunning place we have come to so far. On a toasty and delayed airport shuttle bus, with two cranky travelers, our trip was off to a rocky start! But our worries quickly subsided as we drove along a winding, narrow highway with one of the most incredible coastline views of the Adriatic Sea! After about twenty minutes of bumping along, we caught sight of the picturesque Old City, surrounded by castle-like walls, and we were very excited about our home for the next five nights!
We rented a small apartment within the city walls in a building that was built in the 1600’s. The Old City of Dubrovnik used to be called Ragusa, and has been in existence in some shape or form, since the early seventh century! Walking around the narrow cobblestone streets, with the old buildings in the backdrop, it feels a bit like being in a fairy tale, as long as you don’t trip over one of the million tourists crowding the streets! And we were told this was low season; friendly warning to all future travelers.
Too lazy to take an educational tour, we did a bit of research on old faithful, Wikipedia, and set off to explore the next day. We decided to skip the entrance fee for a 3-minute cable car ride in exchange for a 90-minute hike up to the top of the nearby “mountain” to capture the best panoramic views of the city. After we got a bit lost when trying to find the entrance to the trail (Croatian highways do NOT have sidewalks…quite terrifying!) we luckily ran into some kind Canadians with a map in hand. Following their lead, we found the trail and enjoyed their company as we climbed to the top. As you can see, the climb was well worth the effort!
That afternoon, on a recommendation from just about anyone who has ever been here before, we did the city walls walk. Basically, you pay about ten bucks to walk the circumference of the city and see it from all sides. From above you get a great view of everything and realized this would be a great location for a serious game of capture the flag; sans other tourists of course! We were again too lazy to follow a tour guide and simply enjoyed the sights. As much as their broken English would allow, we befriended two Asian women in front of us and took many a picture for them along the way. We concluded our first full day with a trip to the market and enjoyed a home cooked meal for the first night in a while.
The beautiful thing about this destination is its proximity to two other countries: Montenegro and Bosnia. Curiosity being our main driver, and the promise of new passport stamps equally appealing, we booked tours to both countries for the subsequent days and will update you soon with our tales from these destinations!