This is not necessarily a list of the best things of Dubrovnik, nor is it in any particular order. These are just 10 of the most memorable bits and pieces about an absolutely gorgeous destination.
Steps. There are steps everywhere in Dubrovnik – the place is effectively built entirely along the side of a mountain after all. They’re tiring, sure; but the steps add so much to the city. Steep and winding paths, a new and spectacular view every few paces, peaceful cliffside neighbourhoods, and a chance to laugh at lazy people who can’t handle the excess exercise (short of a taxi, there’s no real alternative to getting about).
Rock Palace Apartments. We decided to look for a place via Air Bnb and came across this fella, Zlatan, and his Rock Palace. Our apartment was named Ziggy and was decked out in Bowie posters, transfers and album paraphernalia. The place was simple but great and had one heck of a balcony view; perfect for some brewskies and a chill. Until the rain rolled in.
“Have you seen the horses?” This is the question asked to us by Zlaton when we asked what was being filmed in the city centre. Us: “What’s being filmed down there?” Z: “Ooh, have you seen the horses?” Us: “Yep” Z: “The horses? The ones inside the walls?” (he was pretty stoked about the horses) Us: “Yes…” Z: “Do you know the show Game of Thrones?” Us: “Yes!” (pretty stoked ourselves at this moment) Z: “It’s not Game of Thrones. It’s Borgia, a show about…….” Us: … (what a set up) Even though it wasn’t Game of Thrones (and even though I couldn’t find and high-five Peter Dinklage), it was pretty fun to have characters roaming around the streets in their full ancient getup.
Atmospheric Rain. We came to Dubrovnik from Pula, where we were told “it almost never rains in Dubrovnik and when it does it doesn’t last.” Well if that is the truth then we managed to score the city’s only six days of annual rainfall. Storms arrived and died as frequently as characters on Game of Thrones; but because it wasn’t actually cold and we could watch the ocean from up high, we were treated to a series of pretty special weather performances, complete with major light shifts, rolling skies and oncoming sheets of water. The rough weather also contributed to my next item…
Mega Waves. Dubrovnik is a walled city that sits on the edge of the sea. It’s high, old and an obvious period and/or period location. The storms added an element to its charm, however, by introducing some seriously rough sea action, with waves bashing and smashing the walls as the water tried to breach King’s Landing. Er, I mean, the city centre. Sure, special effects might create such an illusion on TV; but that’s nothing compared to the truly dark and gloomy atmosphere we had our fair share of. These last two items are also the complete opposite of what you expect in Dubrovnik, so I kind of feel like we lucked out in some kind of twisted way.
Walls. Like the steps and unlike the bad weather, Dubrovnik’s walls are one of its permanent attractions. The trail along the top of the walls, which leads around the entirety of Dubrovnik’s old town, is actually much higher than you first expect. There is some fantastic perspective as you walk around ocean side, as you see just how high up you are and how fortified the place is. And while you’re up there look at the repair work they’ve pulled off – a demonstration of just how mean and relentless the ocean can get.
Cats. The unbelievable amount of cats is kind of incredible – I think they run the joint. From the city walls, looking down into abandoned properties you can see that the cats are opportunists: they’ve moved in and they even hold meetings and the occasional gang brawl. I followed one particular feline along a kind of wharf. At first I thought she was stupid, as cats don’t dig the water and there was nowhere else to go but for a swim. The cat had an insider tip, though. She knew that just over the edge where my eyes could not yet spot there were three fishermen at work. Strolling ever so casually to the end, the cat planted herself next to her new best friend and waited. Not so silly after all. Another example of feline fearlessness was this little beauty, just casually chillin’ beneath a backyard guillotine:
“Where are my dragons?” Disappointed at the lack of Thrones filming, we decided we could at least pretend like we were in the fantasy series and find the key spots around town, like the place where Joffrey was an ass, the stairs where the people talked about what an ass Joffrey is, the tower in which Tyrion lamented about what an ass his inbred nephew is, and the place where Calisi’s dragons tore Joffrey’s nads off and threw him into the ocean before breathing fire down upon the surface and actually boiling him to death (I’m sure that’s going to happen – you’ll see the very spot yourself if you visit Dubrovnik).
Mountain Goats. On our last day in Dubrovnik, we decided to hike our way up the cliff hill to the fort. Short, steep and rocky switchbacks through the woods quickly opened up to muuuch longer, but equally steep progressive paths that made the funicular look so much more appealing than a “casual hike.” But on the way down, we made some new friends! A herd of mountain goats were making their way down hill as well, skipping between rocks and chomping on the shrubbery. These guys were a totally mismatched crew and pretty chilled out by our presence, which allowed Colin to acquaint himself with his own kind.
Low Season. It rained a heap, lots of places were closed and the boats weren’t operating, but boy did Dubrovnik hold its charm. In the summer the place is swarming with tourists and heat can be ridiculous, so I was glad to avoid that. We practically had the place to ourselves. The old town was quiet and relaxed and we could come and go between the storms without a hint of stress, enjoying the sights at our own pace. It may not be the ideal picture of southern Croatia, but I sure as heck would recommend it.