It’s a wonderful feeling stepping through the gates of Dubrovnik and going back in time by a couple of hundred years. If I go back again it will still impress. It was 11 o’clock by the time I arrived, there weren’t many people about, the Main Street was quiet, and the orange lights were reflecting on the shiny white floor. I’d never experienced anything like it and I was completely and utterly astounded.
Dubrovnik is full of steps. On both sides of the main street the slope descends steeply upwards, making the need for steps an absolute necessity. There are many small streets darting off upwards, the buildings on either side are tall and narrow; my hostel was one of these, right at the top – it was painful to walk up with a heavy rucksack – but that’s the price you pay when you want to stay within the old town walls! (Some reviewers of the hostel complained that the rooms were small and there were too many steps… But. That. Is. Dubrovnik. Completely ignorant!) And it was completely worth it – right in with the action, and getting fitter every day with all the hiking up stairs, it was fantastic.
Despite the somewhat questionable weather throughout my stay in Dubrovnik, it didn’t dappen my spirits and I thoroughly enjoyed everything that the delightful place had to offer.
Dubrovnik’s City Walls
For the first few hours of day one the sun shone stupendously and it was rather hot! I walked along the city walls, enjoying the amazing views over the orange roof tops, the crystal clear sea and the glorious clear blue skies. However, this changed within minutes and the grey clouds descended bringing rain for the rest of my stay. Despite this somewhat miserble weather, as a Brit I tried to not let it dampen my spirits – we’re meant to be used to it! I continued to marvel at the brilliant view over the unique town of Dubrovnik, safely contained within its impressive walls for hundreds of years – it really is astonishing.
Whilst ambling along enjoying my own company, I was suddenly ambushed by a group of Japanese ladies who were, stereotypically, part of a tour group. They asked me for a photograph and I prepared myself to take their camera and snap a photo, but oh no….they all lined up beside me and their friend took a group photo – with me as the star. It was completely surreal, I felt famous for a few minutes, and they kept wanting more! For the rest of the way round the city walls I couldn’t escape them, they kept talking to me, smiling and asking for more photos… I was quite amused by it all, but it did give me a little insight into the life of a filmstar and OMGoodness it would not be fun at all. I’m hoping it was only because of my ginger hair and not because they mistook me for someone famous or Ron Weasley, my twin. I can just imagine it now – my face plastered all around Tokyo and the headline “Lucky tourists come face to face with their Harry Potter hero, Ron Weasley…”
After finally managing to lose the Japanese tourists, and a few falls on the slippery main street; (it turns out that flip flops ARE NOT appropriate footwear for when it rains in Dubrovnik – it turns into a sort of ice rink, and yes, I DID fall over on my bum. Oh well, at least the Japanese ladies didn’t see and so fortunately didn’t taint my amazing image in front of them. Phew!) I headed for cover and enjoyed a nice hot coffee and some lunch.
A quick dip in the ocean
In the afternoon I decided to catch the boat to the small island just off the mainland, opposite Dubrovnik. The sun decided to make an appearance just as we were leaving the shore, and it made for fabulous views of the city. On arrival at the island I hopped off and went for a wander around – there’s a botanical garden, the ruins of a fort and an old monastery, apparently Game of Thrones was also filmed here as well as in Dubrovnik (and it’s easy to see why) – it’s a pretty little island, with great places to relax on its shores. I managed to find a secluded spot where I stripped off and headed in for a quick swim (don’t worry, even though I was quite alone I couldn’t bring myself to skinny dip!). It was absolutely glorious; incredibly clear water, still quite warm and no one else around… magical.
For the rest of my stay the weather was rather wet and stormy. But this didn’t dampen my spirits – I still loved the place! I met some fantastic people in my hostel – even though it was out of season, the hostel was rather full and it was brilliant! We headed out for drinks for every evening, it was great to chat, chill and have fun with people from all over the world. I met up with my Canadian friend Julie for a drink whilst watching the amazing sunset from a balcony facing out to sea – it was wonderful. We also shared dinner on another night with two guys – from England and Canada respectively – and this is when I tried my first ever oyster, it took me a while to build up the courage to swallow the thing, but it wasn’t too bad… It was a welcome change from my stay in Budapest to spend time with, and to talk to people over dinner. Rob, the British guy, was holidaying for a week in Croatia, it was great to meet someone British (as most people had been Australian, American or Canadian), and we ended up journeying onwards to Split, and Hvar together – it was great to travel with someone to these places, as it was off season and it seemed like we were the only tourists!
Despite the rain it was a great feeling just wandering around the tiny Dubrovnik streets and purposefully getting lost amongst them. Rob and I spent our last day in Dubrovnik exploring, getting wet, and drinking lots of coffee. On our last evening we fetched Adam, the Canadian guy from our hostel, grabbed a couple of beers and headed to a perfect spot along the city walls to watch the sunset over the sea. Watching the sky change from blue, to purple, orange, yellow and red, was fabulous; the reflection on the choppy sea and the castle walls looming above us, only added to the amazing spectacle. We managed to take loads of pictures and to experience most of the sunset until the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down. Needless to say, we got absolutely drenched – but it was well and truly worth it.
I didn’t bother to check out any of the museums Dubrovnik has to offer, instead I preferred to walk around the city and soak up the atmosphere of the place. Maybe the rain was a welcome addition, because it meant that the hundreds of tourists that the huge cruise ships dumped in Dubrovnik everyday, disappeared for the most part. I can imagine that in the height of summer the place must be teeming with annoying tourists – all just wanting to spend a day taking photos and eating ridiculously expensive pizza at ludicrously overpriced and tacky restaurants. Sadly Dubrovnik has become a tourist trap, and it’s not hard to see why – it’s a well preserved medieval city – but despite this, it is fabulous. Once you’ve managed to escape people and got lost amongst its tiny stepped streets, you really get to experience the place and imagine what it must’ve been like for the original inhabitants.
A few words from my last night
I’m sitting on a bench on the city walls overlooking the harbour. There’s no one else here, the tourists from the ships have left and it’s like I’m in a whole other world. Dubrovnik is lit up; I can see the city walls, the church towers and the magnificent houses towering high above the harbour. It’s nothing like I have ever experienced before, I feel like I’ve stepped back in time 500 years. I’m imagining what this would have been like for the citizens of Dubrovnik when it was a thriving city protecting themselves from possible war – it probably looked exactly the same. The same sound of the sea, the wind weaving through the leaves on the tree above me, the tinkling of the boats below me, rustling of the flag on the mast, and the Church bells chiming all over because it’s now 9pm. The fresh sea air, the high white city walls and the reflective marble floor – it’s a treasure trove and I already can’t wait to visit again.