Dubrovnik, Croatia | June 2012

After a week of work in London, I extended my stay over the weekend and visited Dubrovnik since I’d always heard a lot of good things about it. Arrived on Saturday afternoon. The bus ride from the airport, above the cliffs dropping down to the deep blue sea gave a tantalizing glimpse of what lay ahead. A walled fortress city set against an azure sky under a bright blue sky. Dubrovnik Old Town really does look like something out of a fairy tale, beginning with the imposing stone walls that encircle it.

After checking into the hotel, I went exploring. The main area in Old Town (Placa Stradun and surrounding areas) were blindingly white with the sun beating down on the white stones everywhere. Dubrovnik gets a lot of cruise ship tourists in the summer, and that day was no different.

Old Town

Due to the crowds, I quickly left the city and climbed the streets in the hills about the city.

Leaving Old Town

There was a beach just outside the city walls. While it looked more “gravelly” than sandy, it seemed quite popular still.

The waters of the Adriatic Sea were some of the clearest and bluest I’ve ever seen. Just dazzling and jaw-dropping.

As I climbed higher, I could see more of Dubrovnik in one view. Blue skies, blue waters, bright orange roofs, surrounded by green trees and all kinds of colourful flowers under a hot summer sun — it was like something out of a tourism brochure.

After a while I came back into Old Town and explored the many side streets. Once I got away from the main streets, the tourist crowds really died down and I had whole streets to myself.

One of the popular activities in Dubrovnik is walking the Old Town walls that encircle the city. Being a popular attraction, it is best avoided during the middle of the day. I went about an hour before closing time, as the sun was setting.

Panoramic views from the city walls
Twilight over Dubrovnik
Sailing the Adriatic
Day’s end
Saw some cool cliff-diving from the walls

I usually try to get at least one twilight “skyline” shot of wherever I go. This time was no different, and I found a spot along the winding road east of Old Town. I did have to wait quite a bit for it to get dark enough and the city lights to come on.

Sunset over Dubrovnik

After a late dinner, I slept in the next morning. There was a Steve McCurry exhibition going on at the local art museum, so while waiting for it to open, I did some more random exploring.

Roof-top terrace at the hotel, Stari Grad

The McCurry exhibit was fantastic. While most famous for his Afghan Girl photograph, his whole body of work is pretty much amazing. He has not only a great eye, but a keen sense of timing. For some of the shots it seems like he must have waited hours or even days for just the right elements to come together at the right moment. If you get the chance to see his work at a museum/exhibition, I highly recommend it. Exhibited properly, the images have quite a different impact from seeing them on a computer screen.

After the exhibit I walked over to the harbour to bask in the sun.

Great view of the sheer rise of Dubrovnik’s walls
Behemoth of a cruise ship in the distance
Out for a midday sail
Fresh shrimp risotto, a good book, and a seat by the water – life is good
Every now and then there are reminders of the war

After a late lunch I tackled Mount Srd, the hill that rises behind Dubrovnik. There’s a cable car that goes from Old Town all the way to the top, but I wanted to walk it to get some views along the way. First was a stiff climb up steep stairs to the top of the city/bottom of the hill. After a bit of confusion about where the foot-trail started (it’s unmarked on the other side of a highway), I got on the hiking trail — the path was quite easy, not too steep. It started out in a forest but soon came out of the covers. The hot Mediterranean sun beating down on the hillside without any shade made me work.  The main thing to watch out for were the nettles along the path edges at ankle height — very prickly! But the views, oh the views! In fact, once I got to the top, I realized that the views were much better from the trail than from the top — with the gondola cables and towers, the view from the top was not so nice. I was glad I’d hiked instead of ridden the gondola.

On the trail, getting passed by the gondola
But the views were grand
Dubrovnik in all its glory, from Mt. Srd

There’s a cafe at the top thankfully, so I was able to refill my water bottle for the easy walk down.

The next morning I had to leave. Dubrovnik is often called the jewel of the Adriatic, and this short trip was enough to show me why. It is truly a spectacular place.  The Old Town is small enough to fall in love with over a weekend. With more time, an exploration of the surrounding towns, countryside, and islands is a must.

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