Our ferry arrived very early in Dubrovnik, seven o'clock
in the AM. Having slept on the ground we didn't have the most amazing sleep ever, but it was better than the last ferry where we'd decided to sleep outside until we got too cold at 2am
. We got off the ferry as most people do; quick as we could. As we walked to the terminal there were many people on the other side of the port fence trying to sell rooms, something we've learned is not uncommon, and not shady a long as you have an idea as to prices. We booked ahead having had so much trouble on the Côte d'Azur, and started the walk to the hostel which was actually in an area called Lapad. Having taken photos with directions we were on the way quickly and with confidence. We stopped at a bank machine and used a credit card to withdraw cash as our Canadian bit cards have apparently stopped working in Europe in the last two years. Having not had breakfast we kept our eyes open and spied a fruit stand. Stalking up to it we pounced before the poor thing knew what had hit it. We bought some bananas and strawberries (they kindly broke our 200KN note for the 17KN bill, getting change from one of the ladies purse because there till didn't carry that much so early in the day).
Finding the hostel wasn't too hard, but the house numbering system works very differently from home; at least it did on this street, I can't be certain it's the same on every street. House number one was the first on our left and it counted up on the left looping back at the other end of the street So the the highest number was the first on our right; making it rather confusing to start. Savo welcomed us despite the early hour and told us what we needed to know about the hostel and showed us where our room would be even though we couldn't go in since it was a shared dorm and everyone was still sleeping. We left our bags and wandered into the old town.
Since it was our first day there we decided to use it for recon. We'd seen signs for the Dubrovnik Card and were playing with the idea of getting some. Our main purpose had been to come and sit on beaches and enjoy the sun so we didn't want to lock ourselves into seeing a bunch of things if we could go to the beach instead. We walked the 25 minutes or so from Lapad into the Old Town. It was a busy place already by 9 am
; it seemed a lot of tour buses were there already. With foregaters a plenty, we inquired about perhaps doing a kayak tour around the walls.
Walking in the main gate really gave us a feel for how most people saw the Old Town. Walk in, see the fountain, walks the walls, go down the main street to the harbour, maybe a little time for wandering around some of the streets. We started wandering the small back alleys just to get away from the crowds. We found restaurants that were out of the way, cafes on the outside of the wall; nothing really hidden though since you could see most of it from the wall walk. We did chance upon a sneaky entrance to the wall where you didn't have to pay to go on the wall, not very far, but it gave a great view of the harbour. There were cats everywhere as well. We thought they were just hanging out outside, but the reality is they were all strays. They seemed healthy, despite being small, and some people obviously left food out for them. We also found some local basketball courts, that seemed out of place, but gave a great view over the town. The caretaker, nice guy named Givo, chatted with us about the old town and how they had found a foundry/blacksmiths while excavating. When Dan asked about how many people lived in the old town he mentioned that most people were selling houses and buildings to foreigners since you could get upwards of €4000/m^3 and maintaining a place was expensive (replacing the red tile roof, about €20,000). They're were definitely a lot of accommodations, and what must have been holiday homes.
Figuring it would be expensive to eat lunch there we headed back towards the hostel to a place that had "The best kebabs in town". We stopped there and the owners and their daughter were. Since we were the only ones there we chatted with them for quite a while. When we asked, they let us know that there really wasn't a restaurant that wouldn't have English (one of Dan's measures for one authentically local) on the menu. We also learned that day cares/homes really weren't a concept in Dubrovnik, but according to them, there would be demand (looking for a working holiday Claudia??).
Things to know about Croatia
- everything is cash Kuna and Euro are typically equally accepted
- shop around for deals on tours, competition is healthy.
- being that foregaters are typically from the region, it's not so bad giving them your custom.
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