Dubrovnik, Croatia

[June 2017]

Flying to Dubrovnik

On the last day of school, I went straight from work to the airport… I don’t know why I always do that to myself… I flew with Turkish Airlines directly into Dubrovnik. The airport is small, passport control was quick, and the Atlas Shuttle Bus was waiting to take us into the city (40 kuna). You can choose to be dropped right outside the city walls or at the main bus station.

Accommodation

Even the hostel dorms can be a bit pricey in Dubrovnik. I stayed outside the city walls, maybe 30 minutes by foot, at My Way Hostel. It’s just over 1km from the main bus station. Five nights cost about $140. My room had 3 bunk beds (6 beds), it was perfectly comfortable, and the hostel as a whole was quiet. It did not, however, serve breakfast. There was a kitchen to prepare your own food.

I think it was a great price for the area if you are traveling alone, but if you are traveling with friends I’m sure it would be possible to rent a room in a family pension for a fair price, if not cheaper.

Nearby is Tommy Supermarket, a little bakery called Pekara Rusica, and a pizza place called La Luna. Pekara Rusica was delicious. I became a regular. While I did treat myself to some nice dinners in the city, staying outside of the center, like anywhere, certainly saved some pennies.

Transportation

There is a bus that comes near the hostel (15 kuna one-way) to take you into the city, but I walked it faster than the bus travelled due to the congestion around the city walls. The bus that goes back to the hostel takes a different route, leaving you to climb a bunch of stairs (cause you know… Dubrovnik…). I decided I may as well walk the whole way.

Day 1:

First, I took the cable car up Mount Srd (80 kuno one-way).

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I walked out of the viewing center, took a left, and followed the path in the direction that the ATVs travel. There was a stunning view of the Elaphiti Islands.

On the way back to the viewing center there is a path off to the right that goes down towards the Old Town. As you descend, there are plenty of clear views for pictures of the Old Town and the Elaphiti Islands. This was an easy walk, but it is a rocky path, so be sure to wear proper walking shoes.

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I walked in and around town. I topped off my water bottle at Small Onofrio’s Fountain and rehydrated as I wandered through the alleys chock-full of souvenir shops, restaurants, and ice cream stands. I turned right at Onofrio’s Fountain, walked up the steps and sat inside the cathedral.

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I walked straight across the square and followed the sign pointing right that said, “Cool Drinks with a View” or something to that nature. That led to Cafe Buza where they served water, juice, beer, and wine. The view of Lokrum Island was fantastic and it was fun to watch people kayak and jump off the cliffs. I just stumbled upon this place, but I think it is a pretty popular spot. Highly recommended.

I made my way back to the Pile Gate and followed the water up to Fort Lawrence. It cost 50 konu to enter. The fort itself is unremarkable, but the views are outstanding. Don’t miss it!

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And it only gets better! As you go higher, you can see the mountains beyond Lokrum Island. There were three terraces. I personally felt that the best views were from the first terrace rather than the top. I settled in on a stone structure in the shade and soaked it all in.

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Between this and the view from Mount Srd, I didn’t feel like I had missed anything when I didn’t manage to walk the city walls during my stay in Dubrovnik. I had skipped it on Day 1 and arrived too late on Day 2. I met a couple from Australia on Day 2 who had come in on a cruise. After their swim they only had a few hours to explore. I said, “I haven’t done the walls yet, but honestly, I recommend the view from Fort Lawrence.” I know the walls are on every to-do list in the world, and I heard they were great fun, so I hope they enjoyed the fort as much as I did.

When I exited the fort, I veered left and followed the green into Gradac Park. As I walked, I noticed a water polo court below. This was Dance Beach. Remember that “beach” in Croatia does not necessarily mean sand. It means anywhere that you can jump into the water. This was a rocky area with flat surfaces carved out for lounging. There were ladders to assist with getting in and out of the water as well.

I made myself at home, thrilled to cool off in the water after a hot morning. I still had hours to go until sunset, but I decided to wait it out anyway. Dance Beach, however, is not an ideal sunset spot as there is another peninsula directly ahead. There weren’t many colors in the sky that evening, but I’m sure Dubrovnik has its share of breathtaking sunsets.

Sunset Tip: There is a “Day and Night” cable car ticket so that you can go up Mount Srd twice at a discount. I bet you could catch a nice sunset from up there! Someone told me that the highest tower of the city wall is also a great spot, but the entrance closes at 7:30. I don’t know if that is the last entrance time or if that is when they start shooing people out, but the sunset wasn’t until 8:30 when I was there, so… Worth asking.

Day 2:

I wanted to start my day with Lokrum Island, but when I walked over to the boat and ferry dock in Old Town, I noticed that people were walking along the outside of the walls (towards the island). I decided to follow them. There was a great spot to swim with ladders and showers. I laid out my towel and rotated between sun and water as I chatted with the couple from Australia that I mentioned above.

While I was sitting there I was reminded how nice it is to have a flexible schedule while traveling.

Next stop: Lokrum Island. The ferry was a bit more than I expected it to be (120 konu return). That same distance would have cost me about 1 USD in Turkey. I walked up “The Path of Paradise” towards the fort first where you encounter another view of Dubrovnik. I had initially scoffed at the idea of going to another fort, but it was definitely worth the hot walk.

I walked back the direction I came to visit the Dead Sea and the monastery complex. There were peacocks and bunnies everywhere! The peacocks were especially chatty that day.

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I walked up to where I saw some people jumping into the Dead Sea. From there I saw a stunning rocky area where people were cliff jumping and swimming. After a hot walk to and from the fort, that water was calling my name. I walked back down towards the Dead Sea and around the bar to where a path leads to said area appropriately titled “Rocks” on the map.

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Sadly, the last boat back to the city is at 7pm. I’m sure the sunset from Lokrum would have been lovely. I would have gladly stayed till 9:30pm. Heck, I would have even camped overnight on those rocks.

When I got back to Old Town, I hunted down an ice cream place called Dolce Vita and restaurant Azur. Both were in the Rick Steves guidebook that someone had shown me, as well as FrankAboutCroatia. Azur is an Asian fusion restaurant. I got meatballs that just seemed to get hotter the longer I ate them. I had to top it off with some tapioca pudding to cool down. Prices were reasonable for a dine in restaurant. Service and food were great.

Day 3:

Day 3 was a day trip into Montenegro (blog post and review to follow). I met a fellow teacher named Ryan from the USA. We decided to go out for dinner together back in Dubrovnik. We walked around Old Town for a bit trying to find a nice meal within our means. We stumbled upon Bistro Revelin overlooking the Old Town harbour. The food was OUTSTANDING! Ryan and I still dream about the tuna…

Walk like you are going to the harbour, but hang a left. You’ll go up a ramp of sorts. It’ll be on your right. Amazing.

Day 4:

Day 4 was a day trip into Bosnia and Herzegovina (blog post and review to follow). I didn’t do anything when I got back to Dubrovnik that night.

Day 5:

My hostel arranged for me to go diving with Blue Planet. If you decide to go diving with them, bring cash. Despite being attached to a large hotel, they do not accept cards.

This was my first time diving since getting my Open Water Certificate in February. When we were setting up my weight belt, I told them what I had used in Dahab, so we set everything up the same way. I was definitely over weighted. When I got in the water and deflated my BCD, I went down so fast! I’m glad that water wasn’t that deep there… I had a really hard time controlling my buoyancy for a good part of the first dive. Between our first and second dive, I should have taken weights off my belt.

Lesson learned: The Adriatic Sea isn’t nearly as salty as the Red Sea.

I really enjoyed the other divers in the group. From helping me get my wet suit on (always a production) to adjusting my BCD and belt in the water, they were kind, helpful, and encouraging. My dive instructor wasn’t my favorite person in the world, but I can’t imagine beginning level divers are their favorite people either.

Of the two dives that day I enjoyed the first one the most. We made our way through a tunnel and up into the Dead Sea to give the swimmers a little scare. It was neat to have rocky walls on either side of me and to experience the temperature changes that caused my vision to blur a moment. There were schools of fish and cannonballs from the war as well.

Our second dive was just a short distance away to a set of three islands called Small Reef. This dive was shorter and less interesting, and neither dive had the colors of the Red Sea, but they were both good practice nonetheless.

I don’t have an underwater camera yet, and frankly I need to focus on my diving still, so I don’t have any pictures. I met a couple that were diving up the cost, though. They posted some pictures on their Facebook page.

After my dive, I returned to my hostel, cleaned up, and walked down to the harbour to catch a boat to Mjlet Island where I enjoyed the next couple days. If I had given myself one more day in Dubrovnik I would have added a boat trip to the Elaphiti Islands. I had such a great time in here that I could see myself returning another summer, so I’ll tackle the Elaphiti Islands then.

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