Ah, Dubrovnik. It’s chaotic, busy, crowded, has some of the worst streets in the world and finding parking is impossible, but it’s most definitely the shiniest jewel in Croatia’s gem-filled crown. As we drove over the magnificent Franjo Tuđman Bridge, we noticed the Cunard Line’s newest darling, the Queen Victoria docked just below. Which was a sign that we shouldn’t rush to do anything touristy ‘cos everywhere would be clogged with cruise passengers. Apparently in the ‘off season’, Dubrovnik limits the number of cruise passengers to 8000 per day! We couldn’t find any numbers for this time of the year, which is most definitely ‘peak season’. Of course, there are plenty of other tourists too, and on average they spend 3x the amount as cruise passengers, so limiting them in favour of other tourists is probably a good thing.
We spent the night before last in the lovely Zakono campground at Brijesta, a little fishing village on the peninsula to the west of Dubrovnik. As we drove there, we could see the town of Neum in Bosnia. We can’t take the car into Bosnia, so we had to take a car ferry from Ploce to Trpanj to avoid the 8kms of Bosnian coastline. The ferry trip took an hour, but the whole exercise took us an extra day. Olive trees flourish in this part of the country, and at the campground there was one really, really old tree whose original tree has died, but now 5 well-established suckers are growing from it, all with good crops of fruit. Also – figs, pomegranates and citrus do really well here. Just like home.
As we drove the 70 or so kms to Dubrovnik, we noticed a wall going up the hill and around the village of Ston, which is 50 kms west of the city. We stopped for a look and read the 14 lines of text about it in our Lonely Planet Guide. This wall was as important as the Great Wall of China, but hardly gets a mention! I’m sure in 5 years it will be on everyone’s must-see list. Built in 1333, 5.5km long, with 40 towers and 5 forts, it is one of the longest fortifications in Europe. Ston was, and still is, an important salt-producing town. Repairs are being made along the wall, and the old town inside is not quite as charming as Zadar and Trogir, but still interesting and lovely to wander around, and there were plenty of (mostly local) tourists and a few tour buses there.
We’re spending a couple of nights in Dubrovnik and doing the Airbnb apartment thing again – here. Lovely apartment, best we’ve stayed in here, but finding it was right up there with one of our worst Airbnb experiences ever. Because we have a car, we filter accommodation on Arbnb to only show places with ‘Free parking on premises’. Not only did this place not have any free parking, the nearest place to park the car is on a street that is about 200 metres and at least 65 steps down the hill. Even then, it’s almost impossible to find a park. Our GPS took us to the nearest street above the apartment, which is narrow, steep, windy and has been subsequently described by our host as ‘the worst street in the world’. Great, it would have been really good to know that before Greg tried to park the car on it. The amazing Greg did manage to park the car, even though it’s left-hand drive and quite a bit bigger than most cars on the roads here.
Then finding the place, which has no numbering on it, and was down a tiny steep narrow lane that was more than 120 steps – I gave up counting at 50 steps, about a third of the way down. I stopped a local woman to ask her where the street was, and she had to do a Google maps search on her phone to find it! By the time we actually met the owner, we were all hot and unhappy – me, Greg and the owner (because we had kept him waiting because we couldn’t find the place because it wasn’t marked!). Anyway, the owner has given us his parking space in a parking garage while we’re here, we’ve calmed down and everybody is happy again.I’m going to write a separate post about how to find this place in the hope that search engines pick it up and it might save other guests the hassles we had.
So after all that, we spent the afternoon around the apartment, with a couple of trips to the car to get more things and Greg went for a walk down to main street by the dock to suss out public transport and visit the local supermarket. We caught a local bus to Old Town at around 6.30pm, walked across the drawbridge and through Pile Gate, wandered along the crowded main street and headed up a side street to the Cable Car. We managed to time our trip so that we were at the top, at Mt Srd to watch the sun set just before 7.30pm, with a beautiful view of the Adriatic Sea, and the islands and peninsula west of Dubrovnik, plus the coastline east of the city. And that magnificent city itself below us – the old walled city with its walls, forts, churches and terracotta rooftops, the city outside the walls, yachts and other boats on the water and the Queen Victoria heading south to Greece.
Then back to the apartment for a late dinner with a couple of glasses of grasevina – a Croatian white wine. We’re planning on walking the walls around the Old City today. Forecast is for a top temp of 29C, and it’s a bit cloudy but no rain forecast. Should be good.
more photos on the photo album page here