Sunday 11 November 2018

Notes from a Travel Journal: Dubrovnik

During the Easter break from school, my partner Pete and I spent a week exploring the delights of Dubrovnik and Montenegro.  Dubrovnik was a city that was new to us both but which everyone seems to say is fantastic. They weren't wrong, and we spent a lovely couple of nights in the Old Town enjoying this beautiful part of the city. So here are a few highlights from my travel journal for this trip.

We arrived in Dubrovnik after a 3:00am start, an obscenely early breakfast and a flight across Europe through which Pete dozed more successfully than I did. We caught a bus to the Old Town and watched as the coastline appeared and the city walls swung into view. We had arrived!

Dubrovnik's charm struck me immediately; cobbled tiny streets striking up and down the coastal cliffs, houses leaning together, clustering under red roofs occasionally giving way in haphazard fashion to wider avenues and open squares. We ducked down a small alley which transformed into a staircase and made it to our lovely hotel at the tail end of lunchtime. Our room was great and I could lean out of the window up high in the rooftops and peer up and down the street and catch the sights and sounds and goings-on of the old town. It was magical.

The sun was shining and it was warm; I changed into a dress, no tights, and Pete donned shorts and we set out for an afternoon adventure! However, we seemed to have mis-timed things a bit: the cable car was closed due to high wind. Which was confusing as it was warm and the air was still, but the cable car man insisted it was too windy at the top of the mountains.

So we explored a little, and visited the Franciscan Monastery and Pharmacy. Built in the 14th centenary, and then subsequently knocked down and and rebuilt in the face of war and earthquakes, it was very peaceful. We peered at various relics and admired the murals, wandering the cloisters. 

The air began to get chilly and there was a spot or two of rain. Not what we were dressed for. But no worries, we continued undeterred and went to get an ice cream. The threat of rain turned into a drizzle and we sauntered through the old town enjoying ever-so-slightly damp ice cream and pondering our next move. Most things were closing for the evening but we weren’t ready for dinner yet. And we were definitely no longer dressed right; cold and drizzly hadn’t really been a factor earlier.

Only one thing for it: head back to the hotel for a nap and a hot shower and head out again later. Perfect!

Some research indicated a wine bar nearby, so feeling refreshed (albeit a bit sleepy) we ventured forth again. I tried a flight of three Croatian wines and Pete opted for beer. Still staying awake, we clambered up and down steps and alleyways until we came across a restaurant we liked the look of, and enjoyed a really delicious dinner.

But we were both so ready to fall asleep once we got back!

Then next morning, we got up bright and early to explore the city walls; the lady at our hotel had advised doing this before the tour buses and cruise ships arrive and flood the place with tourists. And that turned out to be an excellent recommendation.

The city walls encircling old Dubrovnik are impressive: solid, thick, massive and strangely beautifully-built ramparts enclose the little area within, filled with a delicate tumble of terracotta-roofed houses, all made of the same pale stone. The sun jumped in and out behind the clouds, sparkling off the sea as we clambered up and down steps, admiring the views across the rooftops or over the ocean. We certainly earned our breakfast.

Having made the most of our day, we started the evening with a couple of drinks at a little bar, which made surprisingly good Caipirinhas! With a couple of those behind me, we wandered out into the city to find a restaurant. This turned out to be my favourite meal of the whole trip, at a tiny place Pete found on Trip Adviser.

Strolling the streets of Dubrovnik at night was such a treat. The tourists are mostly gone and stepping into little alleys feels a bit like going back in time. You can go up and down steps and round corners, suddenly finding yourself in a hidden square or a wider street with the golden light from restaurant doorways spilling out and the cheerful noise of diners enjoying a meal al fresco. The air was fresh and as night enveloped the old town, it was very peaceful.

Our restaurant claimed to serve a fusion of Asian and Croatian dishes - CroAsian if you will. I admit it sounds dubious, but they gave us a table outside with blankets to put round our shoulders just to keep the edge of a chill away, and we ordered.

We shared some fantastic tacos to start, rich with spices and chillies, chicken and chorizo and smothered in a delicious sauce. Then I opted for zucchini and amaranth balls in a curry sauce, partly because I didn’t know what amaranth was and partly because I sort of hoped it might be like arancini. Well: nailed it. It was amazing, crispy balls with melty middles, a delicious curry sauce with definite Thai influences and I gobbled it up like no one's business. Along with another cocktail. Seemed rude not to. An amazing dinner, and a perfect evening in old Dubrovnik.

Our final morning in Dubrovnik dawned bright and sunny and we packed up our hand-luggage-only possessions and wandered through the old town one last time. It was quiet, the ferry crowds and tour buses not having yet arrived and the sunlight gleamed off cobbles and slabs worn smooth over time by many feet. The old town was bright and light, cheerful in its farewell and we sauntered through the enormous arch of the walls to leave, strolling down to a natural harbour, dominated by the imposing and majestic walls and keeps, and protected and hidden by vast rocky outcrops.

We slid into seats at a harbour-side restaurant enjoying the view, the sunshine, the sound of the waves. Seagulls wheeled around and peered curiously at our breakfast when it arrived. It was a lovely golden morning with wonderful company and a fantastic aspect.

Kisses xxx

P.S. This blog post is part of my November travel series; I'm spending the month documenting some of the trips I've taken this year, sharing extracts from my travel journal and my photos. My aim is to do this for each day in November as a personal challenge, to get photos and words put together and record some of my favourite experiences from the year. As the weather turns chilly, it's a lovely feeling to curl up in doors and reminisce about travels past, and plot travels for the future.


  1. It does indeed look lovely, my parents were huge fans of Dubrovnik. I think it might be a destination more suited to just The Brainy One and me (in my dreams) ...

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  3. The transport that is available as cars is affordable generally.