Ah, Dubrovnik —where the water is turquoise, the sun is blazing, and behemoth cruise ships are docked off of the coast.
I had a great time in Dubrovnik and it is definitely gorgeous (and fun), but it also seems to be the easiest Croatian coastal town to reach, and is swarming with tourists. My cousin Mia, her boyfriend Kreso and I arrived on a hot day a few weeks after tourist season ends in September. The funny thing, no one told the tourists. We pulled up where we thought the apartment was on the main street and the owner came out to meet us. He jumped in the car and told Kreso how to find the parking space, which was at the top of the hill. We then carried our stuff down more than fifty stairs to the apartment. The wave of grumpiness almost washed over me until I looked out from the veranda at the ocean and thought – okay, it’s worth it. The apartment was central and comfortable with only about twenty stairs between us and the main street, where in less than five minutes I could have coffee, food, adult beverages, post cards and whatever else I might want.
Dubrovnik old town is the centerpiece and where we spent all of our time. The city is a late medieval walled-in town with grand outdoor plazas, water fountains, shopping, restaurants, music, churches, nightlife, historical tours and spectacular views. The best views are from the top of the Revelin Fortress, but that hike is not for the faint of heart. If you do not like heights or heat, I do not recommend climbing to the top because once you start it is almost impossible to turn around. Mia and I went early the second morning and the heat was almost unbearable. The upshot – about half way through they have a stand where you can purchase bottled water for about $4.00. I recommend you bring some. Once we reached the top, it was amazing and well worth the climb.
When we were ready to leave Dubrovnik, Kreso was kind enough to climb the fifty stairs to get the car as Mia and I dragged the luggage down twenty stairs, again, well worth the effort.
Our last city along the coast was Zadar in the northern region, which I hope to revisit on my next trip to Croatia. Mia packed in as much as she could into my first visit, but we really only had the late afternoon through the next morning roam around.
We dropped off our stuff at the apartment in the main market and headed out to explore the city. This area is full of Romanesque style buildings and many outdoor areas perfect for socializing, shopping and dining. We went to the museum of ancient glass (Muzej antičkog stakla), which was amazing. The pieces date from the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD. These unique objects have been discovered in sites in Zadar and other coastal areas.
We walked along the old town peninsula and wound up at The Sea Organ, the world’s first pipe organ played by the sea. We sat on the stone steps and beneath us, 35 pipes played chords using the sea to push the air. A few feet away, another art project titled ‘A salute to the sun’ by the architect Nikola Bašić, consists of three hundred multi-layer glass panels set on the same level as the quay paving, in the form of a circle having a diameter of 22 meters. Beneath the conducting glass panels are photovoltaic solar modules providing symbolic communication with nature and change depending on whether it is night or day.
The morning we were leaving, Mia wanted to take me to a café where I could drink my espresso with a view. We headed up to the top of the walled-in city where you can enjoy a coffee or other drink and the best view surrounded by ancient architecture.
Next, off to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia.