Trip Log: Dubrovnik, Croatia, 10/9–10/12

Croatia is very popular with tourists, especially the Dalmatian Coast, anchored at the south by Dubrovnik. There are more pictures on the Dubrovnik page, including ones showing the great view from our room.

 Old Town

Old Town

I can't understate how popular Dubrovnik is with tourists. We were there just after peak tourist season and there were literally dozens of tour groups each day, even the day it was raining most of the morning.

 Dubrovnik - crowded Strada

Dubrovnik - crowded Strada

You can get a sense of how many people were there during the day in the picture of The Strada, the main street through Dubrovnik's Old Town. Now imagine people packed even tighter, even filing up the space between the crowd and where I was standing to take the picture. Wall-to-wall people, that's Dubrovnik during tourist season. Naturally we saw tours in all sorts of languages. They came in by bus and by cruise ship.

Old Town is set up like a city in a fortress, since that's essentially how it was designed. The highlight of touring Old Town is walking along the tops of these walls, during which you can imagine sentries doing the same. You can look onto the sea just as lookouts would, and peer through the slits used by archers.

I also found the Fort of St. Lawrence interesting. It's across a small bay from Old Town and was also designed with defense in mind. As high as the Old Town walls are, the fort is even higher (the panorama above was shot from the level on the Fort which is towards the sea). You can still see piles of stone canon balls on the top levels.

When you walk the walls, admission to the fort is included. Alternatively, you can pay admission at the fort and use those tickets towards the price of the higher admission of the wall walk. We ended up doing the latter, but for some reason the guy selling the wall walk tickets refunded our fort admission, gave us wall walk tickets, and said we were good. We kept trying to give him money, but he kept telling us we were all set. Huh.

As you walk along the wall, there are many long sets of steps and it's especially difficult when the weather is hot. Not surprisingly, concession stands are strategically placed at the ends of long stairs and at prime vista points. You naturally pay a higher price than down in the city.

We experienced a wide range of weather during our three nights. The first night was quite warm, as was the following day. The next evening started out a little cooler, but during the night it started to rain, then pour. It eventually turned into a thunderstorm as intense as we've seen (rivaling one in Spokane when we ended up stopping the car because we couldn't see). The rain eased up mid-morning, and it was a nice afternoon, even though it started getting blustery in the evening. More rain that night, but not quite as much as the night before.

 Bell tower

Bell tower

Old Town has a bell tower which chimes not only on the hour (even in the middle of the night) but also at three minutes after. In addition, other bells ring throughout the day, sometimes with a single ring, sometimes with ten or fifteen. Imagine hearing a single ring in the middle of the night, but a little later hearing eleven rings, then another eleven a few minutes later. One gets used to only trusting the time if you hear that second set of chimes.

 St. Sebastian Church

St. Sebastian Church

There are many churches within the walls. This set of stairs is part of the St. Sebastian Church, which abuts the Dominican Monastery. Others we saw were the Franciscan Monastery, St. Blaise Church, the Dubrovnik Cathedral, Serbian Orthodox Church, and the city's Synagogue. There were even more which we didn't get a chance to see.

The restaurants in Old Town mostly seemed to be either seafood or pizza/pasta. One night we shared a seafood risotto which was very tasty, and cost about $12. It was plenty of food for us, although the dishes seem to be just the entrée, no matter what the cuisine.

We also enjoyed the various bakeries we tried. The pastries tended to be not as sweet as you would get in the U.S., which was fine. There were many coffee shops, but we didn't end up going there. The single food item with the most vendors was ice cream (sladoled), which is somewhat like gelato, but not quite as heavy (as if it were churned enough to incorporate a bit more air). There were places where you could stand and see several ice cream vendors. The tourists really like the ice cream, although it was a bit odd to see so many people carrying cones at 10am.

After the third night, we left just before sunrise to head to the bus station, where we were to catch a ride to our next destination, Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.