A Jewel of the Adriatic

Although we’d been planning a fair portion of our trip in advance from, so I knew our departure and arrival time for our Monarch Airways flight from Gatwick to Dubrovnik (with its UNESCO listed Old Town), it wasn’t until we flew across the Alps with the Sun almost ready to set, that I really began to fully comprehend how small Europe is and how compact it is for travel.

The snow capped Alps

The snow capped Alps

The other unforseen advantage (and at times disadvantage, as I’ve seen so few sunrises/sunsets) of a European summer, is the length of the days.

My fellow travellers have always spoken of the beauty of this place, so it was added quite early to our Europe 2013 itinerary.

Our flight from London’s Gatwick airport didn’t see us land until round 8.30pm, so by the time we’d cleared customs, collected our luggage and boarded a bus to Dubrovnik, we didn’t reach the main gate of the Old town until around 9-9.30ish.

The place looked stunning on the approach (strategically placed lighting lit the walls and towers up magnificently) and it was also a hive of activity. People were seriously everywhere! So it was through this splendour and into a crowd of people and maze of streets that I was trying to attempt to navigate us to our lodging.

Several narrow laneways and a couple of flights of stairs later, I was pretty sure we were there… despite the name on the street not matching the address we had! If you can cast your mind back a few posts, you’ll recall my navigation debacle to Kingston Upon Thames, so I was understandably nervous here.

Dubrovnik's maze-like streets

Dubrovnik’s maze-like streets

A knock on the door… no answer. Another knock… still nothing. I try the door and it opens easily. Hearing a TV, I explore further with another knock and check the next room. TV’s on, nobody seems to be home. Luckily we had brought some contact details with us, so we tried the phone number. No response. By this time I was starting to worry where I’d brought us, so I hatched the plan to knock on a house next door and check we were indeed at the correct address.

A young teenage boy quizzically answered the door, and hearing my plight promptly informed me we were on the correct street, and calling “Goran, Goran!”, led us straight back to the door we’d been knocking on! Still no answer, so he tried calling him. This elusive Goran did not answer.

It was well and truly after 10pm by now and we were still to eat dinner, but did definitely not want to haul our packs around with us. Our new young friend said not to worry, wait here and Goran will return soon.

So with no other option open to us, we sat and waited… and waited. Eventually 3 English people came up this laneways stairs towards us, stopping at the very door at which we waited. It turns out they’re also staying here, but when they left for dinner over 3 hours ago, our host was already well and truly sozzled. With some further investigations, it was discovered Goran was in fact passed out, and only with some gentle prodding did he eventually rouse (as though to give our drunken claim credence, her literally didn’t know what day it was, telling us our booking wasn’t until the 21st, tomorrow. As the calendar would have it, it was the 21st)

Had it been colder, had it been later or had we waited longer, it may not have been so, but we actually found the whole affair to be pretty funny. Our discovery that Dubrovnik really is a city that stays up late (at least in summer), also meant that we had time aplenty for a stroll, a beer and a bite before bed.

A quiet beer on the Stradun

A quiet beer on the Stradun

An early rise gave us the chance to not only beat the heat, but also the crowds (we hoped), so after a breakfast of Bruschetta we wandered around until 9pm when the city walls were opened for us to walk (so we’d read). As we got to the walls we noticed a few people already ascending the steps and noticed a sign advising that they were open from 8am.

Still, no harm done and we were glad we began the walk along the 2km walls when we did. Even at that early hour it was extremely hot, and I found myself searching for shade whenever it presented itself. It really is a beautiful circuit though, with some incredible views to behold.

Gazing up the Stradun from the walls ner the Pile Gate

Gazing up the Stradun from the walls ner the Pile Gate

Whichever direction one looks, the view was sensational. Old historic buildings on one side with their distinctive terracotta tiled roofs (if you look carefully it is quite easy to see the old tiles and the new, those replaced after the city was bombed by the Serbians back in 1991) and the beautiful blue Adriatic Sea on the other.

Look to the right…

Blue and calm: The Adriatic

Blue and calm: The Adriatic

…and to the left.

Terracotta tiles

Terracotta tiles

As the mercury soared, so too did our gaze as above the town lies the heights of Mount Srđ. We toyed with the idea of walking to the top, but instead opted for the funicular (this cable car was destroyed during the war, and only re-opened recently), purchasing however, only a 1 way ticket.

Our rationale was it would put the onus on us to at the very least, walk back down the mountain after taking in the views.

And what views they were! Giving us views up and down the coast, gazing immediately down the mountain you could also see the gorgeous Old Town, as well as the new Dubrovnik and surrounds.

Strolling down the mountain

Strolling down the mountain

Circumventing the old fort, we began our descent which despite the heat, was a beautiful walk and one that allowed us some respite from the crowds as apart from 2 locals working away in the heat , we only encountered one person attempting the ascent.

Our reward at the end? A quick dip in the Adriatic, a few beers and a gorgeous seafood dinner (it only seemed fitting given our surrounds).

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