For ages now, Rory and I have been idly discussing going away somewhere. Then, one hungover Saturday evening a couple of weeks ago, we decided to just bite the bullet and book some cheap flights. Ten days later we were on our way to Gatwick for a 4-day trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Aren’t spontaneous hangover decisions the best?
After a LOT of deliberating over hotel choices, we had eventually settled on the Hotel Zagreb, which is situated on the Lapad peninsula just outside the Old City part of Dubrovnik itself. This turned out to be a great decision: great location on a nice little strip with lots of bars and restaurants and a beach at the end, and a short and easy bus ride away from Old Town. We were greeted on Wednesday night by a porter waiting outside for us, and although the room was quite basic, it had everything we needed and a nice big comfy bed which is all we were asking for really. The staff were all super friendly and helpful, the restaurant and surrounding gardens were super pretty – no complaints at all in the hotel department, and I’d recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re on a bit of a budget!
Anyway, I’ve been sidetracked already. After grabbing an ice cream – blueberry flavour for me, YUM – and having a little wander around in the dark, we pretty much headed straight for bed on Wednesday night so we could be fresh for adventuring. Thursday morning, we were up bright and early to hop on a bus with a mix of other tourists and local university students, and headed for Old Town. Our first port of call was the City Walls, which you pay 100 kuna each (about £12) to go up and walk around the whole city, which affords some pretty spectacular views both of the city confines and of its surrounds. It is definitely well worth the money!
When we booked our trip, we had assumed it would be hot and sunny at the beginning of summer in Croatia. However, our obsessive checking of the weather forecast told us it wasn’t to be, and so we weren’t surprised when it was cloudy and a little drizzly. However, the gross weather didn’t take away from the gorgeousness that is Dubrovnik Old Town AT ALL. It is beautiful: an ancient walled city right on the seafront, with ominous looking mountains behind it. Game of Thrones fans will know that it is the city used to film Kings Landing (I don’t watch it so this means nothing to me but everyone and their mother has told me so) and it definitely has that theatric, movie-dramatic feel about it – especially with the cloudy grey backdrop.
As the walls go all the way around, you know, the city, you go from peering into local residents’ gardens (bizarre) to looking out over the harbor and the Adriatic sea all in a matter of seconds. There are a LOT of great photos to be taken – I took literally hundreds just that morning!
My only problem with the Old Town and its walls was the fact that so many other people seemed to be allowed there. I’m joking, kind of, but seriously – there were a LOT of big tour groups there, never mind the other regular tourists, and I imagine that in the heat of high summer, when the walls are packed, it can be a bit of a nightmare. That said, it didn’t put me off at all, and there were times when Rory and I had sections to explore all to ourselves that were just perfect. And everyone is free to go at their own pace, so if you’re stuck behind anyone really frustrating, it’s easy to speed up a bit and skip ahead!
Anyway, as it turned out the city walls were a great starting point, because from the ground, the city is a bit of a maze. We got down off the walls and headed in search of food – there are SO many restaurants hidden away down all the different streets that it’s near impossible to know which was tourist traps and which are the hidden gems, but we were very happy with our late-lunch choice of the Oliva Pizzeria (even if our “light lunch” turned into a whole pizza each…).
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring as many side streets as we could – which proved more difficult than we imagined, and somehow we kept ending up on the same 2 streets. Like I said, a total maze. We still saw a lot though!
As evening began to draw in, we found ourself in the old harbor area and grabbed an ice cream each – apple pie for yours truly, which was DELICIOUS. Then we perched ourselves with a seafront view and watched the world go by for a couple of hours.
That evening we had dinner at a restaurant near our hotel called Konakova. They had no prawns which is all I wanted, but they did have a litre of wine for 100 kuna and some really good fish, so we left happy and ready for more exploring!