Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dubrovnik, Croatia

A few weeks ago, a few of my closest school friends and I flew to Dubrovnik for a week of sunshine and exploring. This was my second visit to Croatia, having been to Zagreb (briefly) and Split during my Interrail trip a few summers ago, so I had very high hopes for the trip indeed!

We stayed just outside the Old Town which is a teeny trinket of historic wonderfulness, encased in mighty, protective walls. The streets are narrow, steep and maze-like. It doesn't take very long to walk from one side to the other so although we did some exploring each day, a week was a long time to spend here. Part of the reason Dubrovnik was so appealing was its blend of history, sightseeing, sea and potential to see other places. Look out for my post in a couple of days about our trip to the Elaphite Islands :)

The main street in Dubrovnik is called Stradun and it was amazing how busy this place was day and night. All the little maze-like alleyways will lead back to Stradun eventually so we spent a lot of time walking up and down here. There was the Dubrovnik Summer Festival on during our week there so some nights we were entertained by music in the main square you can see in the photo above. Another night we spent an hour or so at a lovely little outdoor jazz bar called Troubador where we listened to live jazz music (no way!). Even though there is so much going on around this place (especially as it is in the corner of a main square filled with other bars), it still felt like you were tucked away in a musical wonderland as the band were lovely. It made me really want to get back into music and since I have been home I have made a conscious effort to practise piano and teach myself the ukelele every couple of days or so.

The photo above makes me giggle. It was taken on our first night in Dubrovnik, when we went for a wander in the port. We had only arrived a couple of hours earlier but at some point between the start and the end of this photo being taken, Emma lost a flip-flop to the sea! We hadn't even realised until she went to put them on (she had taken them off because who doesn't love walking barefoot on holiday?!) and a passer-by pointed at the tide as it gobbled up her shoe! Before this photo, we had been lying on the pier in pitch black darkness, staring up at the stars and counting our blessings.

We spent an afternoon by these rocks, jumping into the water and swimming happily.

The water was so cold for about 20 seconds and then it was lovely and the perfect way to cool down in the Croatian sun.

There were hundreds of cats everywhere. I loved how they sat around looking like they owned the place. One night, however, we were walking back to our apartment which is situated at the top of a very long flight of very steep steps, only to be greeted by the screeches of a gang of cats. It looked like two of them had got into a fight as one had taken a clawful of fur off the other one! We were genuinely a bit worried about disturbing them as they were menacingly stood outside our front door, their eyes transfixed on one another. Now I don't know about you but I have no idea what the etiquette is in this sort of situation. Do you tap one on the shoulder and utter "Move along, lads"? We were hardly going to offer them a cup of tea and a chance to talk it out! Luckily, a couple of American girls staying in the villa opposite decided they wanted to document the terrifying situation (they were safe in the sanctuary of their balcony, I should add - unlike us, fully exposed to the feline drama and afraid for our lives) and as their camera flashed, the cats ran away. Phewwwww. It has made me look at cats in a very different way now. You forget that they aren't supposed to be domesticated.

We had our own kitchen in our accommodation so cooked most nights but the meal above is one we had at a restaurant we found in a travel guide. Eating out in Dubrovnik is generally fairly pricey but we felt it necessary to sample the local seafood. I tried grilled squid at this restaurant which was actually very good value. It is a shame that most places in the Old Town are overpriced but I suppose this is a corollary of it being so touristy. I hadn't actually realised how touristy Dubrovnik is. I had wrongly assumed and hoped that it would be like Split where a few years ago I had the pleasure of eating dinner with some friendly locals, sharing stories about the world and hearing about their experiences in the war.

This is Banje beach, the main beach accessible from the Old Town. Luckily for us it was only a 5-10 minute walk from where we were staying (downhill...definitely not on the way back up!) so we went there nearly every day to relax. There is a San Tropez style beach club there called EastWest which hires out sun-loungers, umbrellas and beds, and has a restaurant and bar, as well as a club in the evenings. We just used it for the parasols and toilets... There are lots of things that you can do on this beach, despite its small size. I had been eyeing up the parasailing trips all week and am determined to do this next time I get the chance to! What we did get to do, however, was sea kayaking!

This was probably my favourite thing that we did all week as it was just an incredible feeling being out in the middle of the water with stunning views of the Old Town, beach and Lokrum island. The island had magnificent caves with purple rocks which we paddled into in our kayaks. The island is really, really green and we were told that there are lots of peacocks and yet another nudist beach! It was certainly a surprise stumbling across that as we paddled around to the side of the island which faces towards nothingness.

Our guide told us a lot about the history of Dubrovnik. I find it fascinating that Croatia has only been Croatia for about 20 years. That's younger than me!

After circling Lokrum, we paddled to a little bay/cave which can only be accessed from the water, so we actually had the whole beach to ourselves. Here I tried snorkelling for the first time. I eventually got used to the breathing technique but can't say I loved hearing myself breathe underwater. I feel like breathing is the most natural of all actions so to be made aware of it in an unfamiliar surrounding panics me slightly. It was pretty cool to see the underwater world though. We had done a fair bit of swimming in the sea and had seen the odd fish here and there but up until the snorkelling I hadn't realised how many fish we had been swimming with the whole time! I felt bad that we took up so much space in their home.

Our kayaking trip lasted three hours and we were shattered by the end of it. This sunset was the perfect way to end the trip, however. It all happened so quickly! By the time I had got the camera out, the sun had pretty much melted away.

We loved, loved, lovvvvveeeeeedddddddd Croatia and hope it isn't too long before we can go back :)
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  1. Anonymous11:25 am

    I was in Dubrovnik this time last year! It's so, so gorgeous - I'm very jealous! Beautiful pictures, Bella xx

    1. Thank you, Bella :) Dubrovnik is really beautiful, I agree. What was our favourite thing about it? Hope you had a lovely time there too xx

  2. Wow this place looks gorgeous!!
    looks like y'all had fun :)
    lovely blog xx

  3. Croatia is fun. Always Loved that place specially when you sailing.

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