I arrived in Dubrovnik after 22 hours of travel, and then waited at the world's most boring airport for Terri to arrive 1.5 hrs later so we could share a car into the city.
Dubrovnik is mostly situated on the side of a steep mountain-y/cliff-side (particularly the part we were staying in; Ploce; located above the Old City) leading down to the Adriatic Sea. This means that there are a lot of stairs. And when I say a lot, I really mean a LOT. Particularly if you've been sedentary sitting in a safari vehicle and then lounging at the lovah's resort for the past 3 weeks. Our apartment was at the top of a large (LARGE) amount of stairs, looking down over the old city of Dubrovnik. Downside: STAIRS. Plus side: AMAZING View. There were so many stairs though, that we strategically tried to plan our days around one trip down and one trip up per day. This only failed us once. The first day. It was a bad planning mistake that we made sure not to repeat.
We arrived late Thursday evening. First night (after thankfully having our bags carried up said stairs by our lovely hosts), and then enjoying some fantastic beers on the balcony enjoying the amazing view; we traipsed down to the old city for dinner at the pizzeria Oliva. This was a fantastic recommendation from Matt, who had been to Croatia the previous year.
I was sadly in need of laundry. This necessitated the aforementioned 2 trips up the hill. Silly laundry. In between figuring out the machines (read directions very carefully...) we had breakfast and went to the local market in the old city. After this we decided that we would partake in the siesta tradition and veg out at the apartment for the afternoon before venturing back down to the old city. We had a snack, and then went for a wander on the city walls. The old city is a walled city. Nerd alert - the city is actually where King's Landing in HBO's game of thrones is filmed. While wandering the walls, we attempted to copy the other tourists and their artistic photo shoots (almost every single one of these shots has since been deleted I fear - we have learned that we end up looking like we are not artistic at all, and just that we like to hump stone walls when we attempt these shots). We also scoped out a really cool bar on the cliffs overlooking the sea, that we managed to find after the wall walk. We had lovely lemon beers and were chatted up by some elderly US tourists. Being chatted up by elderly travellers would be a repeat theme for us.
After cliffside drinks, we had sushi and oysters at a restaurant in the city. It was difficult to curb our Canadian girl tendencies and not order ALL the sushi on the menu though!
Day 2: Saturday
One of the things that I really wanted to do in Croatia was go sailing. Since we a)didn't plan anything in advance, b) didn't want to go on a booze cruise on a pirate ship where you don't actually sail (I know though - you're second guessing the no booze cruise aspect??), and c) apparently don't really like hanging out with other people; we decided to charter a sailboat for the day. The 36' sailboat came with skipper Srjdan (the most handsome man in Croatia) and his dad Goran. The trip was to the three Elephiti islands (I can't remember all their names) and basically whatever we wanted to do. Again, we didn't plan, so relied on our skipper's knowledge. The bad thing was that is was a cloudy and rainy day. The first island stop was spent hiding in a coffee shop and purchasing a super cheap umbrella. We decided that we needed to swim in a new body of water, regardless of the rain, which was pretty much the best decision of the day. The water temp was actually as warm as the outside temp; plus this was T's first time swimming off a sailboat. Best part of the day really. It cleared up long enough for us to sail, have a fantastic fresh fish dinner on the second island (where the waiter helped us by removing all the bones from our whole sea bass!) and have a wander along the promenade of the third island. All in all a super good day!
Since it was a crazy downpour when we got back to the city, we ended up ordering pizza back to the apartment and drinking the rest our our boat beers.
Day 3: Sunday
So again, no planning... and we decided we wanted to do a wine tour! The night before we managed to sneak the last 2 open spots on a wine and food tour of the Plesjic (sp?) Peninsula with the highly knowledgeable and esteemed Mario. (We later found out the other's on the tour had booked 8 months prior). (We also found out that all of the other 6 people on the your were Canadian; and that 4 of them were from Calgary. Super small world!).
The tour was amazing and included:
- oyster farm and wine tasting near the town of Ston. Apparently this is the clearest water in the Adriatic and why the oysters are so amazing from here. We had oysters pulled from the water and shucked in front of us at 10 am. Best way to start the day. They were super fresh and delicious.
- stops and wine tastings at 2 small family owned vineyards. There was also olive oil and local wine and cheese. Much wine was purchased.
- a drive through the Dingac vineyards (most important vineyards in Croatia) - 17 owners own parcels of land along this cliffside vineyard that produces these famous grapes that some of the most prominent Croatian wines are made from.
- during the Communist times local winemakers could not make wine and sell it commercially; they had to sell grapes to gov't coop who made and sold the wine, and this sent many families out of the wine making business. Since then however, many families are getting back into the wine making commercially, having kept their lands but not making wine for commercial sale.
- stop at a local wine bar for a wine and cheese tasting. This was amazing. By this time we have had at least 15 wines. And maybe some liqueurs. Most of us are tipsy.
- back to Ston for an amazing seafood lunch. There were many things I cannot even name. All of which were delicious. And also the (apparently; news to me) famous black risotto; so called due to squid ink that gives it it's color. Sort of strange, but really tasty. And of course more wine with dinner.
- Ston is well known for it oysters and salt. It has the largest amount of free standing stone walls after China, which were built to protect the salt factory and salt shipping port. Back in the day 1lb of Salt was worth 1 lb of silver, so was super important to the economy.
We were a little tired (and pre-hungover) when we got home, but had made reservations at the top rated restaurant on trip advisor (Panturel) and managed to rally. Good thing we did, as we decided to see if we could put our wine and food pairing skills to the test. We made our own three course meal with wine pairings with amazing results.
Day 4: Monday
We were worried about rainy weather again, but decided to brave a trip to the island of Lokrum. The island is only a 15 boat ride away from the old city. Once there we staked out some spots on a not super comfortable rock platform for some swimming and sunning in a protected swimming hole called the Dead Sea (sea water fills it through an inlet). We lounged, drank some beer and watched the local peacocks before heading back to the old city for snacks, wine and a bit of wandering.
We were still a little tired from the previous long day and late night and had a wine, cheese and olive oil dinner at the apartment with some goods our tour.
Day 5: Tuesday
This was T's last day. There had been a crazy storm overnight but the morning dawned clear so we headed down to Banje Beach to sun and think about kayaking. It was still really windy though, so we decided against the kayaking and just swam and sunned in the really overpriced beach chairs in front of a super pretentious beach club. T had to leave at 2:30 so we climbed back up the giant hill one last time.
I had a 4:30 am airport pickup, so just spent the afternoon sunbathing and finishing off our wine on the balcony, and then managed to stuff all my clothes and wine goodies into my backpack one last time. The bag is a little heavier for the trip home and I'm hoping I've managed to out my packing talents to good use so I don't have any broken bottles when I get back to Calgary.
Thanks for reading; and I'm as surprised as y'all that I managed to blog about the entire thing!