Dubrovnik – Croatia
After leaving Bosnia, Dubrovnik was around an hour further in the car. We passed what seemed to be like a hundred stands full of beautiful citrus fruits and home-made jars of pickled fruits and vegetables. We ended up stopping on the way back at one of them, but unfortunately we had only bought hand luggage on Ryan Air so we weren’t able to buy anything. Many sold honey with the honeycomb included!
We arrived in Dubrovnik and after a few delays due to our GPS leading us astray again, we soon made it to our apartment. It was about a ten-minute walk down into the old town – but it was steps the whole way down. I felt like we were getting a pretty good workout in each time we went down to the old town!
The old town was absolutely beautiful – the city is surrounded by walls that were used again in modern history when war broke out in 1991. The town folk headed into the fortress and defended the town from within. There were many nooks and crannies and beautiful market squares full of restaurants and bars. The vibe was awesome – it was vibrant and young feeling, while still having something for everyone. Everyone seemed a little giddy from the romanticism of it all. There were the typical party groups on their Contiki tours from Australia and New Zealand, but also more mature groups, probably coming from the cruise ships.
The food in Dubrovnik was great. As you would imagine, there was a lot of seafood and it all appeared to be fresh. I actually tried mussels for the first time in Dubrovnik (I know – my seafood palate isn’t established yet!) and they were actually not that bad. I’ll have to try them again sometime. I would say that the prices were a little higher than the rest of Croatia, we found that if we bought whatever we wanted then it would be about $50 for a couple – so about the standard for a normal western European city. There were places to eat for much cheaper. We found an awesome pizza place that had the most delicious vegetarian pizza I’ve ever had, loaded with fresh capsicum and arugula. A slice was about $4 and was a meal in itself.
One of the ‘nooks’ I was talking about earlier happened to lead us out through the walks and onto a rocky area that fell off into the ocean. There was a bar out there and everyone was sitting out on the rocks watching the sun go down. Can I mention, magical?! Unfortunately, I seemed to be really delicious to the local mosquitos and ended up completely covered in them out there. Note to readers: bring mosquito repellent to Dubrovnik if you are visiting at the end of summer! We were there at the end of September.
The weather while we were there was absolutely stunning. It was sunny during the day and as the sun went down, the weather was perfectly ambient – not cold enough to need a cardigan until much later, but not hot enough to be completely uncomfortable. The sunsets were beautiful every night also. Croatia really knows how to put on a display of beauty at the end of the day!
The one major thing I wanted to do while we were there was climb the walls. It was a little exhausting in the heat, and we did do it on a Saturday when there were a couple of cruise ships in town, but it was an absolutely stunning way to see the old town in all of its beauty. The houses and apartments all had their beautiful terra cotta roofs, packed in amongst each other. The old town is car-free, so it was cool looking down on all of the walking paths polished down by the many centuries of foot traffic. I would definitely recommend climbing the city walls, but it is physically tough. There were a couple of cafes to stop at along the way for refreshments or to take a break if needed, and even an art shop or two! After climbing the city walls, the ten-minute walk back up to the apartment was a little more tough than the previous day – haha.
I had seen some beautiful photographs of Montenegro, so it naturally had to be visited while we were so close. We did a tour through Cheap Dubrovnik Tours and we had a private driver for the four of us. He took us across a kind of dodgy border crossing up in the mountains that only cars can go through and we were in Montenegro within about 45 minutes.
If the country of Montenegro doesn’t sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. It was part of the former Yugoslavia, and became part of a country union called ‘Serbia and Montenegro’ as recently as 2003. It wasn’t until 2006, a mere ten years ago, that Montenegro declared independence. Our tour guide provided us with a few interesting facts. The country adopted the euro as it’s legal currency, even though it is not a European Union country yet. It hasn’t had many of its roads updated since it left Yugoslavia, hence they’re quite bad quality and driving times can be long. It also appears as though Russia is trying to exercise influence from the Trojan horse effect – by buying up a lot of real estate and gaining citizenship. Some estimates are that around 10% of the population are Russian, which is at odds with it trying to gain membership in the European Union and NATO.
There was a lot of natural beauty in the country. We stopped first in a small town on the harbour and found a stunning place to enjoy a drink at and a small snack. We soaked up the views across the harbour for an hour or so and enjoyed some ice cream in the town.
The Bay of Kotor was impressive with its natural fjords. The food we ate was good and Nick was happy to finally be able to eat his stuffed squids! Unfortunately, the chicken in the risotto I ate was a little raw and I didn’t realise it until too far through it. I was so worried I was going to end up with food poisoning like in Vienna a couple of years ago, but thankfully it all worked out ok!
In Kotor there is a wall surrounding the city that goes all the way up to the top of the mountain. We ended up doing the city walk up to the halfway point that has a church that looks out over the bay. It was beautiful and well worth the slightly dodgy paths up to it. I do love that part about many of our travels in Europe. Just like in New Zealand, safety is up to the individual. If you’re dumb enough to go toppling over the edge of a wall that has fallen down, then it’s probably your fault. Still, if it’s raining, I wouldn’t recommend the wall walk!
Kotor’s old town was similar to Dubrovnik’s on a smaller scale. It was full of eclectic looking shops and knick knacks for purchase. We ended up finding a bar that our tour guide pointed out after our walk. It was a shop that all benefits go to a local charity and it has disabled people working in it. Beers were about $1.25 each and it seemed as though all the Australians had discovered the beauty of this place! We enjoyed a couple before heading back to Dubrovnik and witnessed a beautiful sunset on the drive back through.
We left Nick’s parents in Dubrovnik as they were heading on to Rome after our time in Croatia. We drove back up to an hour away from Zadar Airport to a town called Sibenik and enjoyed a night in a beautiful hotel to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. It was called the D-Resort and it was absolutely stunning, I would highly recommend a stay just to enjoy the comforts. We watched the sunset while eating in their hotel restaurant and listened to live music – the singers were excellent. The rest of the night was spent in our room enjoying our last few hours with the summer temperatures before returning to Germany the next morning.
Overall, our time in the Adriatic was awesome. Unfortunately, our time was a little short everywhere except Dubrovnik, but we were able to get a taste of everywhere and ultimately had longer in each place than any cruise would have had. Our passports now also have some interesting looking stamps in them!
I am a blog behind at the moment, so next up will cover our trip to Poland last month!
E noho rā