Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic

Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic

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We were both very excited to visit Dubrovnik. I had wanted to visit Croatia when we traveled to Europe in 2009 but we didn’t have time to make the trip. We also had seen great pictures of the Old Town when we were doing our research for our honeymoon. Originally we wanted to see Split, the waterfalls of Krka National Park, and Dubrovnik but we had to narrow it down to Dubrovnik due to time constraints. Old Town Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the town's name is derived from dubrava, which means "oak grove." Although Dubrovnik was demilitarized in the 1970s to protect it from war, in 1991, after the break-up of Yugoslavia, it was besieged by the Serb and Montenegrin soldiers gathered in the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) for seven months and suffered significant damage from shelling. It has recovered mightily since then and George Bernard Shaw, enchanted by this beautiful city, said “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik.”

The bus ride from Kotor to Dubrovnik was supposed to take about 2 hours but we had a couple of passport checks along the way that took a while to get through, especially 2 of the guys on the bus seemed to be getting extra attention but we weren’t sure where they were from. We took an Uber to our place in Dubrovnik which has a great view of the Mediterranean but is not really close to any shops or restaurants. We walked 30 minutes to a grocery store to pick up some things, made dinner, then went to bed.

View from the City Walls

Our first day was a beautiful, sunny day and we went down to explore Old Town. Diem got bit by a bug or spider on her foot and it was hard for her to walk so we didn’t want to do too much today but felt it would be worth it to walk the city walls. The tickets are 120 Kuna (~$20 USD). The wall completely surrounds Old Town and you can get some amazing views of the city and the coast. Old Town Dubrovnik is featured as King’s Landing in Game of Thrones which Diem and I are both huge fans of. Additionally, parts of Star Wars: Episode VIII were filmed in Dubrovnik in March 2016. As opposed to the GOT sites that we saw in Ireland, walking around the city walls and Old Town, you really feel like you are in King’s Landing and are a part of the show. Scenes and landmarks from the show easily come to mind and come to life as you look around. The Red Keep, the harbor, the streets are just like how they are in the show. Along some parts of the wall there are little restaurants and cafes with amazing views of the town and/or the coast but they are a bit expensive and we didn’t stop for them. It took us about an hour to cover the whole circumference, walking slowly and taking a lot of pictures. It was a lot of fun and very beautiful but it was also a lot of walking and Diem’s foot was hurting her so we picked up some groceries and made our way back. 

View from Fort Imperial

On our second day we took the cable car up to the top of Fort Imperial which has a nice view of Dubrovnik old town and the coast. The cable car cost 120 Kuna roundtrip and 70 Croatian Kuna for one way. You can also hike up to the top from Old Town which takes about 45 minutes but we were wearing sandals and didn’t want to do it today. You can rent dune buggies, visit the city Museum, and hike around while up at the top of the Fort. There is also a very expensive restaurant with a great view of the city but we didn’t have time or money to do any of those so after a few pictures, we went back down.

We next walked down to the area between the city walls and the Red Keep (Fort Lawrence). The pier down there is where Petyr Baelish and Sansa talk when leaving Kings Landing and Fort Lawrence is prominently displayed in episodes of GOT. The entrance fee into the Fort is included in the City Wall ticket but we didn’t figure that out until today so we didn’t go in. We next went to the Old Town harbor because we wanted to take one of the hour long panoramic cruises around Lokrum island. There are a number of different boats you can go on: glass bottom, submarine, pirate ship, high-speed, etc. We chose the pirate ship and only had a couple other people with us on our tour. The trip cost 10 euro or 75 Kuna. The boat stopped for about 10-15 minutes into the tour and the captain let us get in the water and swim. I got in and Diem took pictures since she didn’t bring her swimsuit. On the other side of the island there was a nude beach which was a not so pleasant surprise. The view of the island from boat isn’t all that great so if you’re going just to see the island, you may be disappointed. You get some good views of the Old Town from the boat but the best part for me was actually getting in the water which was really clear and a perfect temperature. After the tour we just went to get groceries for dinner and the next day and then went back to the apartment.

Left: Swimming in the Mediterranean; Right: View from the boat

The next day was a rainy day in Dubrovnik so we took a rest day. I was really disappointed because Dubrovnik was actually hosting its first ever aquathon in Old Town. I signed up for the race the day before because there was still a couple spots open. But when we woke up and saw it was raining I was worried that the swim would be cancelled and didn’t want to put Diem through another one of my races in the rain. Instead, we went down to the beach by the Airbnb for a bit but it was too cold to get in the water so we went back and watched a lot of Sons of Anarchy, the Ryder Cup, Football, and worked on our blogs.

On our final day, our Airbnb host was really nice and let us stay past regular checkout since they didn’t have anyone coming. We spent the day watching SOA and left the apartment at 7 PM to catch the 10:30 PM ferry to Bari, Italy. We got stuck for a bit outside in the rain on the way to the ferry. We paid for a private cabin on the ferry so that we could get some sleep but the ferry ride was not too comfortable and the waves crashing on the boat were really loud in our cabin and I probably got only one or two hours of sleep.

Sunset from our balcony

Dubrovnik was really spectacular. It is basically a bigger version of Kotor. It has a lot more going on around the city than Kotor but it is definitely more expensive. The views of the city are amazing from pretty much anywhere. We would love to come back to Croatia to visit the places we didn’t get to see. We’ve also heard good things about Yacht Week but we may be getting too old for that. We actually didn’t eat out at all while we were in Dubrovnik so I can’t really say anything about the food there but Dubrovnik is worth the visit, especially for you GOT fans.

See the full gallery of Dubrovnik here: Dubrovnik, Croatia.

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Paul is a lawyer taking a mid-career break focused on capturing all his adventures during his yearlong honeymoon around the world.

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