I’d had my eye on Dubrovnik for a while, but the cost always seemed outrageously expensive.
Having saved up for a couple of months, I decided I could afford it, so got everything booked.
Dubrovnik is part of Croatia, has an average temperature of 29oc and is featured extensively in game of thrones (if you were expecting a more traditional summary of the country, you should remember your at johnsunter.com 🙂
We had some difficulties finding accommodation initially.
On hostel world there were rooms but didn’t seem to be an address of a specific hostel. We eventually found somewhere.
Determined not to waste a minute of the trip, we jumped out of our taxi and headed for our accommodation.
We wandered around an alleyway, pressed the doorbell and nothing happened. We continued walking and a guy about 25 introduced himself and asked us to follow him.
He took us to a small studio flat and said we’d be staying here for our first night and somewhere else for the rest of the trip.
We put our bags down and headed out for the evening.
The Citadel at night. There are few places in the modern world that capture the atmosphere of a medieval town so well.
The Strada is the main walkway through the town.
It’s a lot quieter than I expected, and as we explore the back streets, we find this nice pub where we have a couple of drinks.
Then off home for a good nights rest.
Up first thing, and some nice breakfast at a cafe near our accommodation.
Sightseeing in the daylight this time, we come up on the Onofria fountain.
And the town hall, which now contains a museum.
On the other end of the town, is the harbour.
We wandered around for a bit more, as the weather was fantastic.
After wandering around and orienting ourselves to our new home, we stopped for a few drinks in the shade.
Ok so we’ve got 3 more nights and 4 days here, time to plan out our adventure in more detail.
We assembled our guidebooks, various leaflets and notebook, and set about planning our itinerary.
We’d spend the rest of Friday exploring, and that evening attend a walking tour about the siege of Dubrovnik and the war
Saturday we’d do the 3 Islands tour, Sunday go to Mostar, Monday visit Montenegro and on Tuesday see anything we’d missed, before flying home.
Altogether, 3 pints of lager put to excellent use.
That evening we attended the war stories walking tour, which had been advertised all over the city.
I’ll be honest. I thought the walking tour would have things like “in this doorway…”.
Instead, a girl (who I think was called Naomi, but Glenn and I can’t remember for sure) met us at the arranged spot, with a few other people, and walked us around the city.
I have to say, that the tour was all about the politics of how the war started, which didn’t interest me (I can find that out, on the internet).
Let me say, straight away, that I’m not coy or clever about war (the things I’ve seen while travelling around the world have shocked me, and I’ve never gotten used to them even after repeated exposure).
That said, I wanted to hear first hand, what it was like to live in Dubrovnik during the siege. What did people eat ?, did they have to put blankets over the windows while the room was lit with a candle ?
Instead, none of that, but a fairly biased account (but then in that region, it would be a challenge to find one that wasn’t biased) from someone who had been 5 years old during the war, and had been sent away by her relatives !.
It ended with a visit to the memorial to people who had died in the war. It was a very moving experience, and a video presentation (one of many I’d see during my trip) told the story of the war.
One thing that I distinctly remembered, was our guide talking about relations with neighbouring countries, and on 2 occasions, people who were passers by in the museum, coming over and challenging her on it, based on their experiences.
I’d heard enough, so headed out for some refreshment. Glenn has more patience than me, so stayed to the end, and we met up in the Gaff Irish bar and listened to an Irish band (who were actually from Switzerland, but really good anyway).
The next day, were up, picked up by mini bus and taken to the harbour to begin our 3 Islands tour.
The Elaphite Islands we’d visit were Kolocep, Sipan and lopud.
Our boat was quite comfortable and had cooking facilities onboard for our complimentary lunch, to come later.
We all boarded and got comfortable.
I want to say loads of exciting things about the trip, but the reality was we sat relaxing in the sunshine on a really comfortable boat. Just the antidote for what had recently been quite difficult and stressful times.
The ocean was crystal clear and you could see the fish just by looking over the side.
We arrive at an Island called Lopud.
The Sun bay is located on the other side of the Island. We could walk, but hey, were on holiday so we hire a golf cart and driver to take us.
A few people I’ve read reviews of, said the beaches were boring.
I felt the complete the opposite. Because it was quiet, because nobody went there, they were beautiful and peaceful
More Island and complimentary lunch, which didn’t blow me away.
At one point, we found this beautiful ocean side restaurant and had a couple of nice beers.
Then we set sail for home.
In our new accommodation, it was obviously the home of an elderly couple.
Glenn had the bedroom and I was in the living room which had a bed in it.
I found out later, that in the summer, a lot of local residents move in with family members outside the city. In 6 weeks, they can make enough money to manage for the year.
Ok, so now to the fun part.
One evening, were walking back to our accommodation.
right near where were staying are these cliffs near the Lovrijenac.
Glenn suggest wander around the shallow edge of the water, and sitting in the doorway, while he takes a picture of me.
I decided not to, but something felt strangely familiar about the whole place.
Back home in the UK and I review various episodes of Game of Thrones.
Episode 2, Season 2, the search for the kings bastards.
The scene happens in exactly the same spot near we were standing (I could tell from the unique shape of the doorway).
We went on 2 day tours to Mostar and Montenegro.
An interesting thing happened on the Montenegro tour. The guy sat in front of Glenn was chatting about an amazing luxury hotel from the communist era that had been abandoned. It was just outside Dubrovnik and you could wander around it.
Glenn was hooked. I wasn’t sure, but it sounded too interesting not to give it a try. After getting directions from a few locals, it was 2 miles out of town (and turned out to be the highlight of the trip for me).
Glenn standing in the entrance to the Belvadere hotel.
During the war, officers had been stationed here and it had suffered sustained bombing.
But you can see from this picture of the pool just how luxurious it must have been.
Wandering around, its hard to capture with a few photo’s just how big the site was.
It featured its own beach, is own harbour, tennis courts and just about everything you’d expect to find in a Los Vegas hotel.
Wandering around inside was like a modern day Indiana Jones experience.
Exploring the accommodation.
You could see how big the private balcony/forecourt was for just one room.
Inside one of the many derelict bars and restaurants.
I found a menu typed on a typewriter with a individual date of 1985.
Looking around further I found this insignia jacket one of the waiters would have worn.
Obviously people were trying to get some scrap value from the place.
Glenn described this as the place where baths go to die 🙂
Finally, this area, a five aside football stadium with terraces.
With the help of a bit of CGI, this is where the duel between the Mountain and Oberon took place in Game of Thrones.
Just a few hour left now, so we explore the city walls.
I live in Chester, so city’s with wall’s aren’t new to me.
What was amazing was the size and scale.
We walked around the entire wall (I was a bit surprised that you had to pay) then Glenn and I went back to the Irish bar for a quick drink, picked up our bags and then headed for the taxi to take us home.
Another fab trip over with some really surprising highlights.