Our sailing trip in September ended in Dubrovnik, so we bid adieu to our yacht and returned to the life of landlubbers. (It actually took me about 2 days to not feel the sensation of bobbing on the waves anymore) We caught a look at Dubrovnik from it's best side as we sailed around the old port before heading to the marina. It certainly is a stunning sight!
The city dates back to sometime around the 7th or 8th century. It flourished as an independent empire from the 14th to 19th centuries, before being conquered by Napoleon (that guy was everywhere). Sadly, Dubrovnik was also involved in the Yugoslavian War and was under siege for 7 months in 1991. The past damages were obvious as we looked at the roof tops of the city from the city walls - All the brighter terracotta roofs were the replacements after the bombing. Dubrovnik has always been a popular tourist destination. The Stadrun (the main street in Old Town) is packed with people each day as soon as the cruise ships land (usually around 10am). Some days there can be 4 or 5 ships there at once and we were told that there are about 2000 passengers on each one!
There is lots of ice cream to be found in Dubrovnik, I'd say I probably indulged twice a day...hey, I was on holiday, right? We found our favourite ice cream at Dolce Vita, a short distance up a side street off the Stadrun.
The medieval fortress walls are spectacular, and it's a must-do to walk the perimeter while visiting Dubrovnik. It cost about 70 kuna to enter and the gates open at 8am (during the season we were visiting in, anyways). I would totally recommend starting your walk at 8, I know it's early, but we practically had the walls to ourselves. A real bous in such a popular tourist and cruise ship destination!
Walking the walls is thirsty work (even when you start early). After we climbed down from the walls we glimpsed a hand-painted sign attached to the inside of the wall that caught our attention "cold drinks with the most beautiful view". We followed the arrows through a hole in the wall then down a staircase to café Buža - a tiny terraced café perched on the rocks below the city walls, above the sparkling blue Adriatic. With an ice-cold bottle of Schweppes Bitter Lemon? Heavenly.
Later that day we had lunch at Konoba Dalmatino, a traditional-style restaurant tucked into the narrow back streets of Old Town. I ordered the octopus salad and was delighted with the dish. The octopus had good texture and was surrounded by tomatoes, onion, garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. The flavours were bright and clear - the dish was un-fussy and delicious in it's simplicity.
The sign and my guide book agreed - this was restaurant worth trying
Another great thing to do in Dubrovnik is to ride the cable car up to the top of Mount Srd. The round-trip ride cost about 80 kuna. We timed it perfectly so that we were riding up the mountain just as the sun was sinking towards the sea. We got some great viewing spots just before the sun went down in a fiery blaze. It was great to see all the little islands dotting the horizon, we could pick out a few we had visited or sailed past in the previous days.
After our ride back down the mountain we strolled around Old Town looking for a place for dinner. There are a lot of touristy restaurants in Dubrovnik, especially in Old Town, but the atmosphere was worth it for our last night in town. We found a place called Renaissance Cuisine Mediterranee and ate in a charming stone alley way. Our bread course came with a bit of tuna salad - a great way to start the meal. I ordered fettuccine with shrimp & olive tomato sauce topped with roasted lamb. It was just okay - my pasta was undercooked, but like I said, eating in Old Town is about the atmosphere - not the quality of the food.
The next morning we headed into Bosnia-Herzegovina for a few days, but our flight back to Amsterdam was leaving from Dubrovnik, so we had one more morning there. We spent our time wandering the streets and taking in the peacefulness of the city before the cruise ships descended. The little markets set up the squares were great - we picked up candied almonds, sugared orange peel and dried figs. We also found a few pastries to munch on for breakfast before heading to the airport.
Creepy ice-cream cone statue.
The market was set up every morning in the square.
I couldn't resist this photo - this little guy staring longingly into the bucher shop
I'm a messy cook AND a messy eater
Overall, we had a lot of fun exploring Dubrovnik. It's a great city to spend a few days in - be ready for major hustle & bustle if you head there in the summer, but if you're there in the shoulder season like we were it's not too crazy and still nice and summery. It's a beautiful city and it's not hard to see why so many people love it.