A beautiful medieval city by the Adriatic Sea...

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November 6th 2016
Published: May 29th 2017
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Since our catamaran back to Split was cancelled, we had to get to Stari Grad and catch the ferry from there. The sea was really rough once again so no wonder there was nothing leaving the port that day. In the dead season there weren’t too many buses going in that direction at all but thankfully we knew about the cancellation the previous day already, so had a chance to check our connections. First we stopped at the bakery to pick up a few snacks and as we were leaving, I was so preoccupied with sipping my coffee that I didn't even notice the big wave crashing into the path... I felt the cold water straight away though and jumped like a lunatic. A little too late... feet soaked up to the ankles! Ah well... What can you do? It was quite funny actually – weren't we laughing at some people getting their feet wet exactly the same way the day before? Karma!

It was a short drive to Stari Grad, or rather to the ferry port than Stari Grad itself, as it was located a couple kilometres before town. We still had over an hour before our ferry was due for departure, so Grant went for a walk with Millie to make sure she caught her morning nap, while I went to get some coffee – I just love how we ‘share’ responsibilities... 😉 I sat inside some cafe bar as it was a bit too cold to sit on the terrace, got my large coffee, which as usual was not large at all, connected to wifi, was finally ready to do some blogging and... What was that? Was someone smoking inside? I looked around and the other costumers weren't smoking at all, strange... Then I looked at the bar and it was the waiter sitting there and smoking away! Are you for real? That was a first for sure! I guess we would be waiting for the ferry outside then... They started letting people in half an hour before so it wasn't too long of a wait anyway... We were surprised to see the actual escalator on the ferry, talking about making it convenient for the passengers! The ferry looked quite big from the shore but seemed even larger once we were onboard, with free wifi and lots of space for Millie to roam around - it wasn't too bad at all!

We could definitely feel the rough seas during the ferry ride, as simply couldn’t keep the balance when walking at all, zig-zagging all the way. Probably not the best place for Millie to practice her walking skills after all but she didn’t seem to mind though. It took us 2 hours to get to Split and by the end of the journey I was quite happy not to be bouncing around anymore... I think that journey might have put me off an idea of a cruise even more! Off to the bus station, got the tickets, some food and we were ready to head further south. That is until we were told by the bus driver that we needed a ticket for Millie as well. Was she getting her own seat also? No, she wasn’t... Anyway... They said it was mostly for insurance reasons and it was only 20percent of the full price, so not a big deal, just a surprise as so far we haven't paid for her on any buses yet.

And then we were off... Some parts of the drive were really full on – basically driving 10cm from the edge of the cliff and then a 100metre drop! Pretty scary but very scenic for sure! Then the rain came and the journey got slightly more tiring... Millie didn't seem to be too impressed about our attempts at entertaining her at all – books, songs, nursery rhymes, toys – nothing seemed to be working at all... and there are only so many snacks that you can give her... Thankfully at Ploce a young girl sat behind us and the problem was solved, Millie found a new travel companion. The girl seemed to have enjoyed the interaction as well so all worked out very well. Then there were the two border crossings – into Bosnia & Herzegovina and back again to Croatia and soon after we were in Dubrovnik already...

First thing that greeted us in this town were two gigantic cruise ships! We hoped it wouldn’t be too crowded... Thankfully it was only drizzling when we got off the bus. We took a local bus and were in the Old Town in no time at all, then a short walk through the Pile Gate into Stradun, the main street and we got to our apartment – perfect location! This time the apartment was a bit more expensive but still only EUR45 a night for a 2-bed apartment in the middle of the Old Town (EUR250 per night in the season!). After the previous accommodation we needed a bit of an upgrade though. We were pretty tired after the whole day journey, so just grabbed some burgers from the nearby Burger Tiger, pretty good actually! and called it a day... Crossed our fingers the weather wouldn't be too bad for the next few days...

Since Millie basically passed out before 8pm, I knew it was going to be an early morning start for us. Still I think I had the best sleep in days, if not weeks as it was basically the first night (quite possibly since Copenhagen) which Millie basically slept through - she did wake up for a moment but it took more or less 5 seconds of patting her back and she went back to sleep again. Hopefully that was a sign of things to come? So we got up just after 6am nice and fresh, played with Millie for a while, took a hot shower in a spacious and most importantly clean and not leaking bathroom, gave Millie some porridge and were ready to start exploring. Grant said he saw a piece of blue sky through the window so we wasted no time getting out of the apartment, after all the forecast was totally opposite – thunderstorms and cloudy most of the day with more rain in the afternoon? Leaving the house just after 8am first we went to check out the Old Port – sea was pretty rough and quite a lot of trash made its way onto the shores the night before... besides that a very nice spot, we went for a little walk around St John's Fortress... I have to say that I was freaking out a bit with the waves crashing onto the pavement but in the end no dramas... we survived! 😉

After that a quick visit to the bakery to get some sausage rolls - 15HRK per one? Wow! Pricey around here for sure! So the sky wasn't actually all blue when we were leaving the house but it was actually quite warm and what's more important it wasn't raining - straight to the city walls we went then! Better make the best of the weather! We were slightly shocked about the entrance fee to the walls - 120HRK per person! But then we probably would've regretted it being in Dubrovnik and not walking its walls, so with a much lighter wallet we got the tickets after all. And we joined a big group of Japanese tourists queuing in front of us - hardly anyone around and yet we have to encounter a crowd! They moved up the stairs quicker than expected so it wasn't too bad after all. We thought we would just pass them by somehow... It turned out to be a bit more difficult than planned as almost every single one of them stopped next to us either trying to take picture of Millie or interact with her. The sun was on its way out now, so we didn't mind, on the contrary – enjoying the weather with such a celebrity baby we quite possibly were the proudest parents we could ever be at that moment. 😊

We slowly made our way through the walls, taking lots of pictures along the way. I was absolutely amazed how well preserved the walls were - along the walls you could see a few sites that were basically in ruins, but some of them have already been transformed into archaeological sites, so quite likely they were on their way to restoration as well. Seeing the beautiful rooftops was another thing entirely - all sorts of shades of red, some very faded, falling almost into golden colour, absolutely stunning! And the older the rooftops the more character they had! I was surprised to see so many new tiles on the roofs but then it all made sense... The city looks so peaceful now - during the off-season at least - once again it's hard to believe that not so long ago it had been a war zone... During the siege of Dubrovnik over 50% of buildings in the Old Town were damaged and close to 300 people lost their lives defending the town...

We took our time walking through the wall. We were slightly terrified at times seeing how narrow the passage was and how low the part we were walking on was - no leaning over it for sure! Were there any kids allowed on the wall actually (except the ones strapped to you that is)? We haven't seen any, but not sure if I'd like to see any hyper 10-year-olds running around there... I got a cup of a very overpriced coffee, 25HRK for 3 sips! and felt quite guilty about buying it later on, as not only it was disappointing but expensive as well... Might be time to do a bit of a coffee detox if the prices will continue like this actually... Grant thought about a beer but 45HRK per bottle seemed slightly ridiculous to say the least (not to mention that it was only 10am!) but as it turned out later on that was the actual price of beer in Dubrovnik! Not only on the wall, but all around actually! I guess we would just visit supermarkets more often from now on then... 😉

After we got off the wall, we just continued walking around the Old Town passing by our apartment to leave some clothes behind as it became really warm actually! As we were walking through Stradun some guy basically almost shoved a menu in our faces - that was a definite first in Croatia. And what a persistent guy he was - even as we said 'no thanks', he didn't stop talking and followed us for a good few steps... Creepy! We walked up the stairs to the Fort Lovrijenac only to realise that we could've used our city walls tickets here as well, unfortunately they stayed with our clothes in the apartment... The guy at the ticket counter said we could come back another day with the tickets but once again having weather forecast in mind, we decided to fork out the extra 60HRK for the both of us to visit the Fort straight away... Ah well... We would save money on beers at least. 😉 We made sure we got our money’s worth as we spent quite a bit of time there. The sun was shining, there was no one around, we had a beautiful view and Millie had a lot of space to practice her walking... And we had two cold beers in the backpack – perfect!

After that we went back to the apartment again, this time to pick up some clothes as with the sun behind the clouds it got colder straight away. As we were getting closer to the apartment, the same guy showed up again, waving menu in his hand... Really? In the apartment we had a little surprise as the host left us some fresh apple pies, how about that? That's a first for sure! Attention to detail, that's what I like. 😊 I googled some places to eat to see if there was anything affordable around and guess what? The first thing that came up was a warning from other travel bloggers about those pushy guys with menus on Stradun – they basically said to avoid them and not to eat there as the place - Bistro Gusti, had a reputation of ripping customers off by adding some non-existent items to their bill! Not that we were planning to eat there at all, but now seeing these guys was something else altogether! Now we knew what they were really up to... Just sad that in the city like Dubrovnik, where the number of tourists and prices are generally much higher than in other places we’ve been to so far, people do things like that... A real shame!

The last hours of the daylight we spent wandering around some lesser known streets of the Old Town, going up and down more and more steps. So many stray cats everywhere, it's simply unbelievable! Dinner very un-Croatian... what can I say we simply couldn't resist the smell of Indian food from the nearby restaurant - take away though... why spending money on drinks in a restaurant when we had a free bottle of wine and dessert from the hosts in the apartment?

Millie woke up some time after 3am and rather than going back to sleep after bottle, she decided to roll around, slap me and pull my hair for the next hour or so... and finally around 6am decided she had enough of sleep anyhow... I was feeling pretty much wrecked... It was raining so at least I had an excuse to take my time getting up though. As soon as it stopped raining after 9am we crawled out of our apartment. We had no plan as usual so just decided to head out of the Old Town this time. Through the east gate, towards the beach, off we went! First stop bakery of course to get some food into our bellies. It was literally the first bakery outside the gate and the pastries were half the price! We bought some 'burek', I saw the signs everywhere before, so it was about time we tried some. Apparently it comes originally from Turkey but arrived to these regions in the 15th century, so I guess they have a bit of a tradition going on here as well. I saw a few signs specifically advertising Bosnian 'burek' and apparently that's the one you should get as it's meant to be the best one. I didn’t feel like eating meat though so took the spinach one instead and I probably should've tried the meaty Bosnian burek as I wasn’t impressed with mine at all. Very hard pastry and quite greasy as well... Maybe I'll try the proper one when we are in Bosnia again, as for now think I might just stick to my sandwiches and sausage rolls or sweet pastries of course!

We walked by the beach, amazed to see the waves crashing into the shore again. We passed by a lone fisherman standing in between the waves and I wondered if he was really feeling so secure with water splashing all around him... Isn’t fishing meant to be peaceful? That didn’t look peaceful at all... As we were walking up the streets to check out some views of the Old Town, we passed quite a few apartments for rent on the way. I remembered looking online at some of them before and even though they weren't too far away from the Old Town, getting to them would’ve been a bit of a nightmare – climbing gazillion steps every time... Felt even happier with our choice of accommodation! I was also amazed to see so many citrus trees full of fruit all around! Can't believe that nobody was picking it up... No fruit would go to waste at my parents' home for sure! When we came to Elblag, cherries were just getting ready to eat and before we knew it we were picking them by kilos from the tree and eating them in these amounts too... every single apple, plum or whatever other fruit my parents had growing in their garden would be used somehow, either eaten fresh, or in many other forms - my mum would make all sorts of jams and compotes while my dad would use the fruit for making booze of course... Therefore seeing all this fruit simply rotting on the trees was slightly disappointing... So wasteful...

Later on we just walked around the Old Town, up and down some steps of course, passing by Stradun and the two annoying guys from Gusti Bistro trying to convince us to come to their restaurant again... I was wondering whether they would ever get it that we weren't interested at all... and guess what? They did in the end... After the 10th time we walked there, they actually only smiled at us... Later on we went to check out the park across from the Fort. There surely was a nice view of the Fort from there, but that would be about it... It looked as if some people were coming all the way up here to dump their trash... Seeing there were plenty of bins around, why would anyone choose to dump their stuff in the bushes was beyond my comprehension...

After walking the same streets in the Old Town again, we decided to call it a day early, got some bread, cheese and salami for dinner. As much as we wanted to try some local delicacies, Dubrovnik's restaurants were simply way too pricey for us! And seeing that most of them looked pretty much empty all the time, you'd think they'd have some off-season discounts at least... wishful thinking I guess... Bottle of wine and some cold snacks would do just fine!

It looked like Millie gave us a bit of a false hope with sleeping the whole night before as that night it was back to normal - she woke up, stood up in her cot and soon after it was 'mammmmmmaaaaa'! As much as I love to hear that, at that hour it was slightly less appreciated... 😉 So we were back to the usual routine – I take her to bed, give her a bottle and then too tired to rock her back to sleep and make numerous efforts to put her back to her cot, I simply leave her in bed and we fall asleep together... lots of cuddles in between so I guess it makes up for waking up in the middle of the night though!

Rather than walking the same streets in the Old Town again, we decided to check out some coastline that day. We looked at the map and saw Babin Kuk neighbourhood had some pathways along the shore, sounded like a plan then! It was a beautiful day again, slightly chilly but nothing but blue skies again... Grant was of course the only person around in shorts - crazzzzy! The walking trail along the shore was actually very pleasant, we could only imagine how busy it must be during the summer... lots of little private stairs and shaded areas on the rocks. They looked quite remote now, but were most likely overcrowded during the season... Lots of restaurants along the way as well. Once we reached the big hotels, the path suddenly stopped and at some point we even had to walk through the construction site! Nobody seemed to be paying attention that a couple with a pram wanted to walk through, the cranes simply kept on working... Since they were blocking the main road, there was no way we were turning back though! Eventually one of the builders acknowledged our presence and let us through... Pheeew...

So we continued on, passing by some small sandy beaches along the way. As we were walking back along the shore towards the Old Town again, we noticed more and more boats docked at various wharfs - some of the wharfs have definitely seen better days... Having a boat was a way to go around here it would seem. Even though the sea was much calmer that day, its level was pretty high and a part of the walking trail was covered by the waves. I tried to make it in between the waves not to get my feet wet... well... it obviously didn't work, feet soaked up to the ankles again... Grant made it in one piece of course, waterproof shoes might have helped a bit... We really enjoyed our stroll around the peninsula and once we got to the Old Town we decided to just chill somewhere and soak up some sun - what better place to do that than the little pier at the back of St John's fortress... Some older extravagantly dressed woman asked Grant to take some photos of her on her iPad, next moment she was getting close to the edge of the pier waiting for the waves to crash onto it and leaning dangerously close over it. Once she started jumping that was it for me... Enough excitement for one day.

So that was it for Dubrovnik, we really enjoyed our time here. We probably would've enjoyed it even more if the prices, especially in the restaurants were a bit lower... I still wanted to try that black risotto somewhere... Eventually we were going to get back in Croatia again, so maybe I'd have a chance to try it then? For now we were heading a bit further south. It was time to put a new country on my map... Next stop: Kotor, Montenegro!

Additional photos below
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3rd June 2017
Beautiful streets of the Old Town of Dubrovnik

Love this street
Scenic Dubrovnik

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