Dubrovnik Croatia 5 to 8 July 2013

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July 9th 2013
Published: July 11th 2013
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Dubrovnik Croatia 5 to 8 July 2013

We drove up from Kotor and passed through the border of Coatia with no problems – although it took ½ hr to be ‘checked-out’ of Montenegro. The police on the Croatia side hardly looked at our passports, and of course, no stamping of passports was done. We later learned that 4 days before we crossed the border, Montenegro had officially entered the EU so the Montenegro customs/police officials were not sure of the new rules, hence the hold up of getting out of the country.

We arrived in Dubrovnik at about 4.30pm and found Camping Solitudo which was 10 minutes from Old Town called Grand. It was a big park with beautiful facilities. Once settled in we caught a bus into Grand to soak up the atmosphere.

And wow, Dubrovnik was a really lovely town and summed up by a proud local who Tom spoke to during one of our bus trips, who thanked Tom for saying his city was a beautiful city. With the Grand and the new parts, our interests were easily inspired. We could see the new parts of the city was influenced by the Mediterranean theme. The Grand was the best Grand we had seen on this trip (and we have seen many!).

Walking around the walled Grand there was a great deal of evidence that a lot of parts of the town were new. In 1991, 2000 enemy shells fell on the Grand during the “Siege of Dubrovnik” but we could see no evidence of damage, other than the very white, new stonework and the clean orange-red roof tiles.

Croatia’s economy relies very heavily on tourism so the repair of Grand was rapid. There are strict laws on discrete advertising and the way the commercial use of the town is carried out so that visitors ‘feel’ the history of the town.

There is a main street down the middle with a clock tower at the end and narrow streets running off its side. When walking down the narrow street, occasionally they would break out to a court yard. There are a number of churches inside the town, all of different sizes and styles.

We could certainly see the Baroque influence in the town planning and styles of buildings and we learned that after the disastrous earthquake of 1667, it was rebuilt in this style.

On our 1st night in Grand, we found a restaurant that had lovely fish dishes. The food and wine was lovely and was probably the most expensive meal we have had since we left home. The camping site was also the most expensive yet so I guess we have left the less developed countries!

It was fantastic seeing the Grand at night. Window lights and spotlights as well as street lights reflecting on the white stone walls and the red-orange tiled roves looked fantastic. There were restaurants in every streets and alley way and if it wasn’t restaurants it was shops with tourist ‘stuff’.

Once walking through the main gate of Grand, we saw the large circular solid Onofrio’s water fountain with multiple spouts….and the water was quite cool for drinking.

The next morning we bused around to the Port where all the ferries and cruise ships depart. We ended up booking a day cruise for the next day (as we were too late to go) to 3 of the Elaphite islands. After having the obligatory coffee on the Port, I bused it back into Grand and walked around the top of the wall of Grand while Tom went back to the Camper and later met me in Grand. He then did 2/3rds of the walk along the wall while I looked around the town more, visiting all of the churches and walking up and down narrow streets. I even visited the oldest synagogue in Europe which is located in the heart of Grand. The synagogue was established in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1652 and is still in use today.

Once Tom finished the walk around the top of the wall, a very cold local beer was on the list – beautiful, although I must confess, I had an iced coffee while Tom enjoyed his beer.

As we had bought a 24 hour bus ticket we decided to catch one of the local buses to see where it went. As all the buses come to Grand we caught the 1st one that came along and drove for about 45 minutes. We saw many of the outer suburbs, new and not so new, expensive and not so expensive houses. Many of the houses have the red-orange tiled roves with the mountains as a back-drop.

We went back to the Camper for dinner and then went back into Grand to see one of the performances that were being held as part of the Summer Arts Festival. The events we had to choose from was an opera or the Dubrovnik Chamber Trio. We chose the latter. It was held in the small old Domino Church. The Trio was 3 girls playing the flute, bassoon and piano. The pianist also played the cembalo which gave some of the pieces of music a medieval sound. The whole experience was very relaxing.

The next day was the boat cruise. We decided to take our bikes so that we could ride around the largest island which was Lopud. The trip started at 10.00am and there were about 20 people on the trip. We met a girl from Sydney who was now traveling by herself for 7 weeks around Europe, as well as a couple who were living on the Isle of Man (she was a local but he was from Romania). We learned a lot about the Isle of Man, including about its terrible weather (year-round rain, fog and 10 degrees in summer) and we also learned the poor economic state that Romania was still in.

It was a fun day which also included a beautiful fish dish, plenty of drinks, good company and spectacular scenery. We also visited Sipan and Kolocep Islands, spending 45 minutes and 30 minutes respectively on these islands. We stayed 3 hours on Lopud which is the biggest Island of the 3. Croatia has over 1000 islands along its coast so there is plenty to choose from.

While cycling across Lopud Island, Tom had a blow out. He had to walk the last 100 metres. We had a beautiful swim and then went to the seaside restaurant for drinks and nibbles. A couple from Toronto (now Paris and soon to be Sydney to do his MBA) sat at our table. It was a great conversation we had with them, exchanging contact details and swapping travel stories.

One of the many wonderful things about traveling is meeting such interesting people.

We docked back at the Dubrovnik Port at about 5.00pm. We said our goodbyes to our new friends and poor Tom then had to walk his bike back to ‘home’ which took him 30 minutes. I had showered and washed my clothes by the time he got back.

That night we spent getting diaries/blogs up to date and getting ready for an early departure the next day. We were off the Bosnia-Herzegovina to briefly visit Mostar before coming back to Croatia.

We would highly recommend Dubrovnik as a holiday destination.

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