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Dec 03 2013

Was I Dazzled by Dubrovnik?

I was sitting at the bus station in Split wondering where to go next because my #raileu trip had finally ended.  I had a few choices: Mostar in Bosnia, Kotor in Montenegro, or stay in Croatia and go as far as Dubrovnik.  I definitely wanted to go to Mostar and Kotor at some point but, as it was a last minute decision to move on, I would have to wait for a few hours before getting a bus to those destinations.  That would mean arriving late.  As I hadn’t booked any accommodation in advance, I wasn’t keen to do that.  I had never been to Dubrovnik but I wasn’t particularly keen because, although I had heard great things about it, I was looking for somewhere quiet to work and relax for a few days after the busy time I had had on my InterRail trip.  However, the longer I waited and watched buses heading to Dubrovnik, the more appealing it actually looked.  In the end, I thought, ‘What the hell!’, so I booked a ticket and boarded the next bus to Dubrovnik.  Well, someone had told me it was scenic journey and I could at least see what it was like for myself.

I have to say, the journey from Split to Dubrovnik was spectacular so it was worth it for the bus journey alone.

Bus journey from Split-Dubrovnik

When I arrived in the bus station, I had no idea where I was in relation to the Old Town.  I overheard some other travellers saying that they had to get a bus to the Old Town so I went to the nearby Tabac and bought a single bus ticket, hoping that I would find somewhere to stay near or in the Old Town.  I hopped on the next bus and got off at the last stop, as I had been told by the lady at the Tabac stall.  Immediately in front of me was the walled Old Town.

A local woman approached me, offering a room.  I rarely take the first offer of a room because I like to wander around and get a feel for the place so I thanked her and said I would walk around.  Then, a rep for a tour company started talking to me and said that it would be more expensive to stay in the Old Town and busy and that I would be better to look outside of it.  That turned out to be very good advice, particularly the busy bit.  So, with no idea of where I could get WiFi, I started walking around, looking for some accommodation signs.  I saw a sign and followed it down some steps.  I was about to knock on the door when a woman, who was walking past, stopped and said, ‘Sobe?’, which means room.  Being an awkward kind of person, I wanted to know if she had WiFi because, in order to do any work, I needed WiFi.   Obviously, my miming skills still require a lot of work because she couldn’t understand what I was trying to ask.  A man, in his early twenties, who happened to be walking by at that moment came to the rescue.  The lady said something to him and he asked me, in English, what I was trying to say.  I told him that I was trying to find out if she had WiFi.  Apparently, she didn’t but then she called to someone in the house opposite.  A woman came out of the house and gestured for me to enter.  She said, in English, ‘I have a room’.  I asked if she had WiFi and she nodded.  I looked at the accommodation, which was a twin room with a shared bathroom, and I decided to take it.  It wasn’t as cheap as I was expecting but the lady was lovely, it was in a quiet location close to the Old Town, but it was the view that really sealed the deal…

Steps away from where I stayed

After I had settled in, it was getting dark so I decided to head off into the Old Town and wander around so I could take some photos, get orientated, and find a place to eat.

Dubrovnik is really beautiful at night because it lights up what is predominantly a white walled town, which is located on the stunning Adriatic coast.

Dubrovnik at night

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Dubrovnik… but I did, kind of.  The first evening I was there, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  But, it was fairly quiet.  There were other tourists/travellers but it was easy to wander around and soak up the atmosphere.  It is centred around tourists but I loved the cobbled streets, the white stonework, and the way it is illuminated at night.  It’s quite magical, it oozes character, and sophistication, and I found it very romantic.  There are so many side streets, like this one, some of which have places to eat and drink.

Dubrovnik side street restaurant

I was struck by the size of the Old Town.  It isn’t huge but it was much bigger than I thought it would be.  I needed to investigate it further the next day.

As there wasn’t a kitchen I could use where I was staying and brekkie wasn’t an option, I had to brave the crowds in the morning.  I have to say, I wasn’t quite expecting the number of people that descended upon the Old Town.  There were coach loads of people being herded into the Old Town.  In fact, there were so many that they have actually devised a one-way system to control the vast numbers of people trying to get in and out of the main entrance to the Old Town in the morning.  I was gobsmacked, so much so, that it got me to rethink my initial idea of it being romantic.  Could it be romantic and magical when there are so many darn people?

Well, I wasn’t there in the height of season but I think so, yes.  It was a beautiful day and I wandered down to the harbour.  There was a bride with a couple of bridesmaids about to board a boat on her way to get married.  I loved that idea.

Bridal party setting sail

 The only thing with getting married in Dubrovnik is, the brides must end up in so many unknown people’s holiday snaps and videos.  Somehow, I don’t think they mind.  In fact, I think they quite like it.  It’s like being a celeb for the day.

So, apart from the beauty of the Old town at night and sailing off to your wedding venue, is there anything else that made it feel romantic?  Well, yes, the spectacular views you get from the walking the wall.  Like this one …

Dubrovnik Old City Wall Walk

 The woman I was renting the room off kept talking about the beach nearby.  She said that I should go as she had been that morning.  In the end, I thought I may as well as it was such a hot day and it was very close to where I was staying.  When I found it, I realised that there were mainly locals and just a few foreigners, like me.

Dubrovnik 'beach'

That proved to be a great way to mingle with the locals and get away from the throngs of day tourists.  I went for a refreshing dip, relaxed, and then I was perked up and ready to go again.

I’m really glad I went to Dubrovnik.  It would have been a shame to miss it because I was kind of dazzled by Dubrovnik.  The Old Town is so beautiful – it’s buildings, the small cobbled streets, and its location.  When you see it now, it’s hard to believe that over half the buildings were damaged during the conflict in the early 1990s.  The problem is that it is very touristy and I don’t think I’ve been to a place that has had so many tourists in a relatively small place at one time, especially in the morning.  That does kind of dampen the magic a bit but it wasn’t too much of a problem after I got over the initial shock.

So, was I dazzled by Dubrovnik?  Well, yes, I suppose you could say, I was.

Location

I have located Split and Dubrovnik on the map, just in case you are interested in taking the bus or driving down.  It really is a spectacular journey!

Have your say

Have you been to Dubrovnik?  If so, were you dazzled by it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

4 comments

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  1. Contented Traveller

    You were definitely dazzled; the frazzled was just to get you in the mood. Looks a stunning place. Bloody tourists!

  2. Helen King

    Loved Dubrovnik…. stylish and fascinating, but keep out of the old city between 11 and 5 in high season. The huge cruise ships arrive each day and offload thousands of tourists into this tight knit area. Don’t be put off though, it really is worth a visit, and at night the narrow alleyways, dimly lit walkways are something to be seen! It’s photographers heaven!

  3. Yes, I was dazzled by Dubrovnik even though there were so many day tourists. It’s a beautiful place, so I can understand why so many people visit.

    Thanks for getting in touch!

    Best wishes, Teresa.

  4. independenttravelhelp.com

    Ah, you were dazzled rather than frazzled by Dubrovnik as well! Yes, I agree with staying out of the Old Town in the morning, for sure, whatever time of year you visit. The afternoon was fine when I was there in late September. It gets dark earlier at that time of year so it’s best not to wait until 5pm.

    Thanks for getting in touch, Helen.

    Best wishes,

    Teresa.

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