After relaxing on the “beaches” of Krk (concrete slabs between rocks!), Jason and I made the long drive down to Dubrovnik. It’s about seven hours south of Krk and requires driving through Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite my best efforts, the Bosnian border patrol agents had no interest in stamping my passport. So now I have a couple Croatian stamps but none from Bosnia. You’ll just have to take my word that we drove through there! I also took some pictures with Jason’s camera but we were driving so they didn’t pass his “should I edit this photo” test.
After a very long drive we finally made it to Dubrovnik, one of the ten best-preserved walled cities in the world, and home to Kings Landing in Game of Thrones (the Red Palace is actually somewhere else though – oh the things people do for television!). We had made reservations the night before inside the walled city but I never received the email from the hotel with access instructions since my phone didn’t have cell service and only worked when connected to WiFi. Our directions ended once we reached the city walls. Which was convenient since traffic within the walls is limited to police/public safety/ambulances and delivery trucks, but not so good since we had heavy bags and nowhere to park for more than an hour or two. We found some parking on the street, packed up everything from the car and entered the walled city. It immediately became clear why cars weren’t allowed in this gate since the road went straight down about 50 steep stairs. We wandered around a little bit until someone finally pointed us toward the our hotel’s front door. It was locked with a sign on the door stating “will be back in 20 minutes – call if you are here to check in.” We waited a while until it became clear that the proprietor was not coming back in 20 minutes and then tried to call using Jason’s phone. It wouldn’t connect. We started to panic since it was getting later (6:30 pm) and we had only paid for one hour of parking. Finally I put $5 worth of credit on my Skype account and was able to get ahold of the woman that ran the hotel.
Once she made it back to the hotel, she told us the hotel was full so we’d be staying at the hotel’s annex. She pulled out a map and circled where we were, where the annex was, and where all the good places to eat were located. Then she and her daughter gave us a nice walking tour of the city between the hotel and the annex. The annex turned out to be a shared apartment where we had our own room but shared a bathroom with another room. The shared bathroom wasn’t a problem, but both nights we stayed there we had very loud neighbors. The first night, one neighbor came home very late with a girl, enjoyed his female company while his friend rang the buzzer to be let in for a solid 20 minutes until the first neighbor finished and told his friend he had just been in the bathroom. And they were American so we could understand every word…
Since we were exhausted, and since it had received rave reviews from the hotel proprietress, we went next door to our apartment to eat at Taj Mahal. This the first time either of us had ever tried Serbian food and it was so delicious. We started out with house white wine and a meat and cheese platter. We followed that up turkey stuffed with more meat and cheese wrapped in phyllo dough (me) and ćevapčići (“meat fingers” in pita for Jason) and finished off the meal with baklava. So delicious!! And we were lucky we like to eat “early” since they were turning people away who didn’t have reservations by the time we were walking home.
The next morning we slept in more than normal (7:30 am), since we had been woken up multiple times by our neighbors, and were at the entrance to the city walls when they opened at 8am. For a small fee we were able to walk entirely around the old city walls. We had them pretty much to ourselves thanks to the early hour and were able to get some really good pictures as a result. After walking the walls we headed back down to street level for breakfast on the main town square. Since we aren’t the type to just sit still, Jason and I decided to head out of the city to find a good view of Kings Landing. We started up the street that went uphill south of the city and the views just kept getting better and better, so we just kept walking until we finally encountered an almost abandoned hotel. We took some pictures and headed back down towards the city.
The day was starting to get really hot, and the beaches on the shoreline below us looked so tempting. When we encountered a sidewalk that seemed to go down to the river, we decided to follow it until we either came to a beach or a sign/gate stating the rest of the sidewalk was private property. Luckily we didn’t encounter any barriers before the beach! The only problem was we weren’t planning on swimming so we didn’t have our bathing suits with us. Again, we were lucky. In Europe all manner of “bathing” attire (or lack of it) is acceptable so we just stripped down to our skivvies and jumped in the water. We spent over an hour swimming and relaxing, enjoying our almost private beach! Soon our stomachs started growling though so we packed up and headed back into the city.
After a lunch of octopus and tuna at Marco Polo Restaurant and a nice midday nap, we decided it was time to find a place for dinner. The hotel proprietress had raved about a restaurant called Lady PiPi but stated that you need to get there early because they didn’t take reservations and the line frequently wrapped around the street. We got there right as the restaurant opened for dinner and were able to claim a table overlooking the rest of the walled city. We started with white house wine and a huge bowl of mussels. followed with another whole sea bass (fire roasted for me) and a shrimp platter (Jason), and finished with a banana-nutella “pancake” (aka crepe). I’d say this was the best meal of the whole trip but that’s hard to back up since almost every meal was delicious but different from the one before it.
During dinner we made plans to wake up early and hike to the top of Mt Srd before checking out of the hotel and driving to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Jason was a little grumbly about waking up so early and a little skeptical about finding the trail, especially once I guided us to walk along the main road into/out of town! Luckily my sense of direction is pretty good and I was able to find the trail, which climbs about 1,000 ft in 1.3 miles. At the turn for each switchback there is a plaque dedicated to a Station of the Cross, which culminates with a large cross at the top of the mountain. Unfortunately it was pretty much impossible to get a picture with the gigantic cross watching over the city, so you’ll just need to travel to Dubrovnik to see it for yourself! If you are less inclined to human-powered movement, you can also drive to the top of the mountain or take the gondola from just outside the walled city. At the top there’s a nice patio with a restaurant and bar, both of which were closed when were up there at 7am!
After a light breakfast, a stop at the daily farmers market for peaches and strawberries, and checking out of our room, we pointed our car north towards Plitvice Lakes National Park. Dubrovnik was an amazing place to visit. The people were friendly, the food was absolutely delicious, and it doesn’t have a Disney World feeling to it yet (although there are a couple stores selling Game of Thrones gear). If you go, definitely stay in the old city. It’s a little gimmicky but worth the experience. Leave me a comment if you have any questions!