I’d heard so many positive things about Croatia – both during this trip as well as from friends and family that have travelled there before. I must admit my expectations were high even after some recent advice that Dubrovnik in particular was quite touristy and expensive. But I didn’t quite comprehend the magnitude and downplayed it somewhat as I thought visiting late September (which was well outside peak season) would be nice and relaxed.
I have been so accustomed to paying between AUD $10-$20 per night for hostels in eastern European cities that I was almost outraged to see prices in Dubrovnik hovering around the AUD$40-$50 mark. Regardless, I decided to spoil myself somewhat with a very basic single room in a private lodging as getting woken at all hours in hostel dorms was starting to wear thin on me. Private lodgings are essentially the main form of ‘non-hotel’ type accommodation in Croatia, where the locals rent out rooms in their houses and apartments.
My bus from Kotor to Dubrovnik lasted about 4 hours with a couple of border crossings. I felt really bad for a Korean guy I was travelling with whom realised at the first border crossing (about 2 hours out of Kotor) that he had left his passport at the hostel and that was the end of his bus ride – not sure what happened to the poor guy.
As the bus started to approach Dubrovnik I started to get really excited with the stunning views of the old town, it looked so beautiful and the sun was shining so brightly. I was really looking forward to just chilling out in the sun and enjoying the scenery.
When the bus finally arrived at the main bus station, I literally put one foot outside the door of the bus and was bombarded by old Croatian ladies putting pictures of their apartments in my face and trying to sell their room – I was totally not expecting that and found it quite funny actually. It was then when the penny dropped and I knew this was not going to be as relaxed as expected.
I caught a local bus to my accommodation in old town. During the 15 minute journey all I could hear was the sound of Aussie accents on the bus, it almost felt like home. Whilst I have bumped into fellow Aussie’s pretty much everywhere I have travelled, Dubrovnik seemed to have far more than recent cities I have visited.
As I only had 2 nights in Dubrovnik, I headed straight into old town after checking into my room. As I approached the Pile Gate entrance to Old Town I really wanted to just stand and admire the beauty of it but couldn’t as I had to dodge the masses of tourists swarming around the place.
I walked around old town through Placa Stradum the main thoroughfare with a whole heap of cute little alleys coming off it. I also walked around the marina at the Lokrum end of old town and saw a few people swimming in the rock pools outside the city walls.
By this stage I was a little thirsty and decided to get a drink at Cafe Buža – a place I had read about as a must visit when in Dubrovnik. The tables and chairs are set out on the ocean side of a cliff and the beers are served in bottles and plastic cups. Even though the drinks are massively over-priced, the view was amazing and it was awesome to escape the crowds.
After my drink, I walked the famous 2km City Walls which surround Dubrovnik. The history of the City Walls was to protect from the enemy – the views from the walls are spectacular. It’s also another great way to escape the hordes of tourists in Old Town.
On day 2, I did some research on which beach to visit as I really wanted something with few crowds, local and clean. I was able to achieve most expectations with a beautiful little beach called Sveti Jakov Beach. After walking about 3.5km’s to get there I was surprised to see it looked exactly as pictured on the internet – and practically deserted! There were only a few locals on the beach and the single cafe/bar was now shut since the end of the peak season. It really was great to swim and sunbath with the beach exclusively to me.
Dubrovnik is definitely a city you should put on your itinerary if you intend on visiting Europe. It really is beautiful and the Old Town in particular is worth seeing. If there is a time when it is less overrun by tourists then try to visit then, otherwise keep your trip short and see more of what Croatia has to offer – stay tuned for my next update on Zadar.