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Sunday, June 3, 2012

2 days in Dubrovnik, Croatia

I visit at least one new place every year and this year, it is Dubrovnik, Croatia – Jewel of the Adriatic.  From London, Sangs and I got tickets on one of the discount airlines for just about $160 round trip!  We rented an adorable little 4th floor apartment in Old Town, with a pastry shop right downstairs.  Whenever I have a choice, I go for vacation rentals or bed and breakfasts over traditional hotels any day and would eagerly give up the concierge and room service for more space and a more homely feel.

Outside the city wall - Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is like a postcard.  Really.  You could point your camera in just about any direction and get a shot that is postcard appropriate.  Sangs and I used this as an opportunity to engage in impromptu mini photo shoots all over town.  Celebrities, in our own minds, and maybe that of the elderly tourists that seem to make up about 90% of all the people we ran into. That would explain why there were random people from Turkey following me around to have their photos taken with me.  Either that or they’ve never seen a 5’10” brown skin girl before.  I’d like to think it’s the former. 

Day 1: Old Town is fairly small.  In the morning, we hiked the wall that surrounds the city.  Ok, maybe hiking is a bit of an exaggeration, but the leisurely walk did take us several hours, again, mainly because we stopped at every corner to take photos.  Then it was time for lunch.  Now, there are stairs everywhere in Dubrovnik.  Seriously, everywhere!  We climbed several hundreds or something like that, just to get to lunch!  It was worth it.  Lady Pi Pi had great food, great views and was by far the best food that we had in Dubrovnik.  Most other places had the same uninspiring Italian food.  Then came the moment we had been waiting for – gelato!  Since we got in the night before, that was all we talked about. But we thought it would taste even better if we delayed the pleasure.  It was good, but definitely not as good as the gelato that we had the following day.  My choice – extra dark chocolate and Whiskey cream.  Divine. For days after, I talked about Whiskey cream.  Maybe because it reminded me of Rum and Raisin ice cream that is so popular in the part of the world that I come from?  After lunch, we explored Old Town, stopping in spectacular corners to just sit and take it all in.  We hung out on the beach and watched the sunbathers.  That evening, we sat on the steps of a church to listen to the most beautiful music that came seeped through the cracks of the door.  It was a classical music performance that we were too cheap to pay the cover charge for, but later realized that it would have been well worth it. 

Day 2 – We left the apartment as early as we possibly could, which worked out to be around 10 a.m. We ate and headed to the harbor to catch the ferry to Lokrum.  We did not know what to expect.  One of the online reviews spoke of a place with a rundown monastery and a poor excuse for a botanical garden.  What we saw instead, was an island paradise inhabited by peacocks, surrounded by crystal clear water and very few other people in sight.   We wandered around aimlessly.  “Wandered aimlessly” because we had no maps and the island had many forks in the road, but no signs. We even wandered unto the nudist beach without realizing that non-nudes were not allowed. In this case, there was a sign, we took a photo of the sign, but fail to absorb what it was communicating to us. It worked out, since we left before anyone could demand that we strip.  We stumbled on to Mrtvo More (Dead Sea) Lake and got lost in its beauty.  Only the growling of our stomachs jarred us back to reality, sending us on a quest for food.  Why were we not as organized as those suntanned 20-something year old boys who had to foresight to pack a picnic lunch?  We found sustenance at the island’s main restaurant and ate in almost complete silence as we were way too hungry to attempt to formulate a sensible conversation.  Then, once we were recharged, we were good to go!  1-hour photo shoot at the old monastery.  For a second, guilt set in as we realized that we were reveling in one of the 7 deadly sins at a former place of holiness.  That feeling was fleeting.  After all, I’m not sure that anyone appreciated the beauty of the place as much as we did.  We were willing to climb over rubble to explore rooms that I am sure were out of bounds to snoopers. 

After the monastery, we walked and walked and eventually found our way to the fort at the very top of the island.  Breathtaking views.  Well worth trudging through rocks in our inappropriate footwear.  After Lokrum, we made our way back to Dubrovnik, had more ice cream, took the cable car to the most stunning vistas, basked in a sunset at the incredible Buza Cafe, and had dinner at an awful restaurant with bad food and a “cover charge”.  By this time, it was late, we hung out for a bit, then headed back to the apartment to get some rest before our early flight the next day.

Dead Sea Lake

At Lokrum Monastary

Buza Cafe nestled on the rocks

Red Roofs

Old Town from above

Banje Beach

climbing the rocks at Dead Sea Lake

peacock on Lokrum

lonely boat

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