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Thursday, 21 April 2016

BACKPACKING EUROPE: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik


Monday 4th May, 2015

It was 4:15am when my alarm went off. I didn't want to get out of bed but as the bus was leaving at 5:30am, we couldn't miss it otherwise, the next bus would be too late and I really didn't fancy getting to Dubrovnik at night. So as I reluctantly crawled out of bed, thinking of excuses to get back in, we packed up and got ready to leave Vela Luka.

I felt a mix of emotions when we left, I was really sad but also excited to sleep for the entire four hour journey, and I was excited for Dubrovnik of course.
I awoke just as the sun was rising, the bus was making its way down the hill and towards the town of Korcula, which looked magnificent from above. The closer we got, the more I wanted to jump off the bus and explore. "Why didn't we come here before!" Was all I kept repeating to myself.

We boarded a ferry in Korcula to the mainland, which only took twenty minutes and then it was a two and a half hour bus journey to Dubrovnik so I decided to go back to sleep. I wanted to be refreshed and bright eyed for when we got there so I sprawled myself out across the backseat and took another nap (I'm pretty rubbish at staying awake for long journeys, I either get travel sick or sleepy).

Old Town, Dubrovnik


We arrived in Dubrovnik at around 9:30am. The sun was bright, the sky was blue and Croatia looked as beautiful as ever. It was a 25 minute walk from the bus station to the centre so we decided to walk, which was a little painful actually. My backpack felt so much more heavier than it did before (probably because I hadn't carried it around for a few days) and it was so bloody hot that I almost gave up (I'm just unfit and exaggerating). A quarter of the way there we decided to get the bus but after waiting at the stop for 20 minutes or so Jack and I both thought, 'Fuck this, let's carry on walking.' This part obviously ends with the bus going straight passed us immediately after because well, duh?

After walking down a really long road that took forever and a day (half an hour) and dodging traffic at a busy crossroad, we had finally made it to the centre. The city walls stood before us, tall and uninterrupted, encircling the entire old town. As we pushed our way through tour groups and locals, I only hoped that it was quieter inside, especially as we had been lugging around heavy backpacks and walking for like 45 minutes or some shit. I was not ready to deal with crowds of people just yet.

As we walked through the castle gates, I was taken back at how amazing and medieval it looked. I blocked the streams of tourists out of my minds eye and zoomed into the architecture, and it almost felt like we had gone back in time. We were surrounded by ancient, white stone walls, towers and forts, it felt like we were walking through Gondor (I had been awake since 4:00am after all).

Walking along Stradun, Dubrovnik





We were staying at Hostel Ana, which was literally right in the heart of Dubrovnik and a few steps from the famous, main street of the old town, Stradun. Ragib, a guy running the hostel whilst the owner was away, welcomed us in with turkish coffee and a gorgeous doggie named Lou. Ragib was a very interesting person, he had peculiar tendencies but a kind heart. He was very friendly and really seemed to enjoy helping people. As we sipped coffee and had cuddles with Lou, Ragib recommended that we visit the city walls of Dubrovnik (also featured in Games of Thrones) so after a quick shower and a change of clothes, Jack and I headed out the discover Dubrovnik and it's well-preserved history.

We paid a small entrance fee of 50 Kuna (approx. £50/€7) and began our two hour walk. It took us double the time though, as we decided to go slow and enjoy the moment for as long as we could. Also, it was the best view of the city that we had. You could see everything throughout the entire journey; the bold, blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, the island of Lokrum in the distance, a fort perched above at the top of green rolling hills, with orange rooftops paving the journey back down into the centre. It was so spectacular that I didn't want to come down. I could of stayed up there forever, losing myself in the distant horizon and the world beyond.

View of the Old Town from the city walls of Dubrovnik













When we eventually finished adventuring along the castle walls, we wandered around the enchanting town and along the harbour. The town was very impressive, full of lavish baroque churches and gothic monuments, I could of explored for hours but Jack and I were both hungry so we decided to go and make dinner.

As we made our way back, we were sidetracked by a gentleman selling excursions to the the Elafiti Islands for 30 Euros each (which I really recommend by the way). I was really hoping to hop along these islands whilst we were in Croatia, as they looked so magical on the internet and the boat trip was totally worth it, especially because it included drinks all day (including alcohol), a fresh seafood meal and a visit to three of the islands. Perfect!

Beautiful door way, Old Town of Dubrovnik








Maze-like cobbled side streets, Dubrovnik Old Town
Dinner was pretty shit. Frozen pizza and buttery pasta. We were trying to stick to our daily budget and as we had just paid 30 Euros for a boat trip, we were having a cheap night tonight. So Jack and I washed down the tasteless carbs with a few beers and headed out again to check out the nightlife. 

Dubrovnik was quite lively at night. The maze-like side streets had come to life, candle light now decorated the long and narrow paths. The restaurants were full of people and laughter, and on almost every corner was a local musician or an entertainer. I really liked it, it felt like I was on holiday. Jack and I stopped at a bar on the harbour for a drink. It was cheaper than every other restaurant we had passed so far and it also had an excellent view so we stayed for a glass of wine and some people watching. As time passed by and the day came to an end, we decided to go back to our hostel and say goodnight to Dubrovnik.

A quiter town centre in the morning, Dubrovnik
The harbour in Dubrovnik
A very random statue in Old Town, Dubrovnik 
Monday 5th May, 2015

Jack and I awoke early and checked out of the hostel, as we wanted to see the Old Town before the crowds took over. It was even more beautiful than yesterday and the fact that there were hardly any people around made everything more enjoyable. After breakfast at a cheaper restaurant outside of the old town, Jack and I headed off for our boat trip to the Elafiti Islands.

Want more? Click here to read my post on the Elaphite Islands.



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