Croatia

Disappointing Dubrovnik

Back in Croatia after a great time exploring Bosnia, I chose to explore one of the most famous cities in Eastern Europe, Dubrovnik. Situated close to Mlini where I was staying, it was only a short ride of the public bus from my hotel. My favourite part about travelling along the Dubrovnik Riviera has to be the views of the islands and ocean, especially the views of the old town from above.

I thought I had done a great thing, forcing my photographer to get up nice and early, to beat the crowds visiting the walled city. Rookie mistake number 1.

Getting to the Pile Gate and main entrance of the walled city for 10 am, I joined a giant queue to enter. Sadly this gate is the bus tours drop off point and also the walking tour tout hub. If I had known better, I would have got off the bus at the bus station and entered Dubrovnik old town through the back gate. It was a hard decision, but I really wanted to enjoy the views from above, so chose to walk down to the gate.

Upon entering Dubrovnik old town, I was greeted by rookie mistake number 2. I had visited on the same day as a cruise liner and it’s 3000 passengers (surprisingly I hadn’t seen the huge boat bobbing in the ocean as we drove along the coastline). Angry and sad, my photographer took me to a small cafe Poklisar Restoran for an ice cream. I chose to take my ice cream to a seat along the wall, so I could enjoy the view of the boats in the harbour. It’s a beautiful view with the old buildings and mountains surrounding, not often I say that a view really changed my opinion of Dubrovnik.

As I wasn’t able to walk along the wall, I get very anxious in crowds, I decided to walk along the side to the porporela for the views of Lokrum and Dubrovnik which were beautiful. Heading back into the town, I chose to avoid the stradun (main street) as much as possible because it was so busy I could barely walk. Instead, I chose to lose myself in the picturesque cobbled streets, away from the main bulk of tourists visiting.

I know I moan a lot about the crowds but I couldn’t miss a chance to walk up the steps where Cersei did the nudie walk of shame. Away from the crowds, lies a totally different side of Dubrovnik. It is full of steps, but very quaint so worth visiting, best part is, you can’t get lost as all of the smaller streets seem to lead to the main stradun.

Asking one of the locals for directions

At the top of the streets I found a great and rather unique perspective of the old town peeping through the narrow streets. There are not many locals living within the walled town but it was nice to see the one who are going about daily life. I have never seen washing lines going across the streets, I think I would be scared in case my clothes flew away! Older ladies were sitting in the shade crocheting and embroidering tablecloths, a common sight in Eastern Europe which I simply love seeing.

Game of Thrones was partly filmed here and now the crowds flock in their hundreds just to say they’ve been to Kings Landing. So I’ve put together a few tips for Adventursaurus’ planning a visit to Dubrovnik.

  1. Visit out of season, Southern Croatia has quite mild winters so you can visit out of season without having any worries about snowy weather.
  2. Get to the wall for opening to avoid the crowds. It opens at 8 am, by 10 am you basically just queue the whole way round. I made this mistake and had to miss out completely (sob).
  3. Be prepared to climb lots of steps. Croatia is very hilly. The main streets and harbour of the walled city are relatively flat, but sadly wheelchairs and walking aides won’t be able to wander about the smaller alleys.
  4. Enter the town through one of the less popular gates, so you don’t get touts persuading you to join a (really pointless) walking tour. The revelin bridge is a very picturesque way to enter Dubrovnik and has my personal favourite view of Dubrovnik.
  5. Eat outside of the old town to save money and have a nicer view of the old town.

After seeing the rugged beauty of Mostar, I was disappointed and a little disheartened with Dubrovnik. A once majestic walled city seems to have sold its soul to little tourist shops selling Game of Thrones tat. After being such a lucky Adventursaurus in Bosnia and seeing the incandescent beauty of Mostar, I think I was upset to see the old town had been totally rebuilt so the remnants of the war were nothing more than a fading memory. Dubrovnik really is an incredibly beautiful place and is perfect for anyone who enjoys photography. But, as I said in a previous post, for an insight into the real history of Dubrovnik, humans should visit Kupari for a real unabashed insight into Croatia’s tragic past. Sadly, in the summer months, Dubrovnik plays on the endless Game of Thrones walking tours and tat shops, hiding the true beauty of this enigmatic walled town.

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