Sorry for the delay in posting about our days in Dubrovnik, but while our apartment has been fantastic, the internet connection has been weak at best not allowing me to successfully upload my pictures for the blog. Plus there is so much to do and see here even if the connection was better I’m not sure I would have had time to write about it. I’ve heard so many great things about Dubrovnik I am happy to add my positive comments to all the others. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan which I’m not, you will recognize so much of the area I am told. In fact we talked to a number of tourists that were signed up for the many different Game of Thrones tours you could go on, and there was no lack of merchandise to purchase. Dubrovnik deserves its nickname “The Pearl of the Adriatic” and it truly looks like a fairy tale.
The city of Dubrovnik was built in the 1300’s and the walls still stand intact today even after all its been through - most recently the war from 1991 to 1995. Our apartment was about a 5 minute walk from Old Town down AND up at least 150 steps. While the Old Town is awesome the whole area along the extremely long Croatian coastline is gorgeous. On one side the spectacular blue Adriatic Sea and the other a beautiful rocky mountainous mass that seems to go forever. The drive from Split on the bus was long but so pretty.
Old Town is traffic free and while not really very large it seems big because there are so many tiny alleyways, squares, churches, museums, shops and cafes. The enormous wall that surrounds the city actually has a walkway on top and that’s one of the main attractions to see and do. I had read that it was best to start the walk right when it opens at 8 AM to avoid as much of the crowd as possible and also the heat which can be stifling mid day. I dragged Julie out of bed so we could grab coffee and a croissant and get to it. She told me she hated me but she did get up and we accomplished our goal. By the time we finished people were pouring in as cruise ships dock and transport masses of people in for the day.
I won’t attempt to explain the war that Croatia was involved in from 1991 to 1995, but just say that being there and seeing how they have rebuilt the city in a relatively short period of time after the enormous amount of damage that was done is truly remarkable. I have a huge amount of respect for what they have been through and their spirit to fight for their country and maintain their independence. It is estimated that two thirds of the beautiful tile roofs in Old Town were destroyed in the war, so when you look out from the walls into the city you can easily see the new and the old. A constant reminder of what happened.
It takes at least an hour to walk the entire wall - longer if it’s crowded and you stop and take pictures, but awesome. There are three entry points where you can purchase tickets and your ticket is good for one time around the wall. We did the Rick Steve’s walking tour where he points out the major historical sites. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Rick Steve’s!
There are a few places on the wall where you can get a cool drink or bite to eat so we stopped about halfway through and got these delicious fruit smoothies with 6 different fruits and veggies. And looking down from the wall on the sea side you see two amazing bars - Buza I and Buza II. So we added that to our list of things to do - if we could find them!
Another “must see” site is Mount Srd which sits high above the Old Town. This is a fortress that was built by Napoleon in 1810 and had a cable car added in the 20th century to take visitors to the top easily. When the war broke out in 1991 Mount Srd became crucial in the defense of Dubrovnik. It was the only high land the locals were able to hold, and was badly shelled and damaged and the cable car destroyed. The cable car has been rebuilt and 95% of people use it to get to the top. To see the site and also the spectacular view of Dubrovnik, but as usual we figure why take the easy way. There is a switchback trail that was used to supple the fortress during the war that’s pretty steep and shade less so not highly recommended. In fact when we inquired repeatedly as to how to find the trailhead we were told by no less than 10 people that it was a terrible trail and not to do it. So of course we were determined to do it! Finding the trailhead was really the hardest part. We had to walk up at least 200 stairs to get to the highway it was off of, and then walk along a busy highway and look for the entrance. Once we accomplished that we felt like we were home free. It took about an hour to get to the top and the view was spectacular. We also visited the museum inside the fortress and saw the special exhibit on the war and the destruction of the city. Having just been inside the beautiful city it was really chilling. There was a film showing with actual footage of the more than 3000 bombings along with commentary from the BBC. The sun was going down and we didn’t want to navigate the trail in the dark so headed down. It only took about 20 minutes to get down. We definitely accomplished our step goal for the day!
We had some really great meals too, but I’ll post more on that later. Lots of fresh fish! Next post will be about our day trip into Bosnia so check back soon for that!