As an avid Game of Thrones fan I’m sure you can understand the excitement I had for going to Dubrovnik. Tom had never seen the programme but had read all the books and so we had an equal amount of love for the series. So when I got diagnosed with keratoconus at the beginning of 2017 I had the joy of the ever looming knowledge that I had a letter on its way to me saying that I needed to have an operation on my eyeballs (yes my actual eyeballs). And so to give me something to take my mind off it, my mother and I looked for a good holiday deal for Tom and myself. Dubrovnik looked ideal with its history and culture alongside glorious blue waters, beaches and warm weather. We ventured out at the beginning of May just before my birthday and just before my op. We flew with Monarch airlines from Gatwick airport as unfortunately there wasn’t a flight from Bristol at the time (it came about a month later though, sod’s law eh?). We flew into Dubrovnik airport which was about a 20 min drive out of the main town.
We stayed in a little villa/hotel called villa Gloria which was run by a sweet lady that spoke perfect English. It had a balcony for every room that looked out over the beautiful gardens of the villa and on to the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic Ocean. It was just outside the old town walls making it slightly cheaper and quieter find it HERE
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky when we woke up. We walked down to the old town and were greeted with a beautiful big gateway that led into the walls. It really was like stepping into a time machine. The water in the harbour was teaming with little fish, tiny little black ones no bigger then 3 cms in length. As we wandered around the harbour we saw a little lady surrounded by about 10 cats who was catching fish with la little pole and some bread on the end, then feeding them to the cats. We made our way to the other end of town and as we dropped down the other side of the old walls we were immediately faced with somewhere I recognised. For those who watch GoT, we were looking out over Black Water Bay. It’s an odd feeling recognising somewhere you’ve never been before, but I genuinely felt as though I knew where I was. We sat there for about an hour in the sun with our feet in the cool water. Trying to photograph the little fish swimming about kept us entertained for a fair while.
Little did we know that the first day of glorious sunshine was going to be the last for a while. The following day when we were supposed to go kayaking we got there to discover that it was called off as the water was too choppy. As it was quite an overcast day we decided to do the city wall walk instead. The view over the city was pretty spectacular. Inside the city you navigate a maze of little alleyways and staircases but on the walls you overlook the entire madness below and feel so serene up above it all. The terracotta roofs span for a good while no matter what direction you look at them from and it's a pretty cool view.
About a third of the way along the walls you come across Minceta Tower, a big round tower that you can climb. For the GoT fans this tower also features in quite a exciting part of the programme. If you climb the tower you get an even better view across the city but it also makes you feel like some sort of mediaeval King/Queen surveying their kingdom. Just down from the tower you come to the ideal view up the Strandan, a perfect photo opportunity. The wall walk isn’t for the faint hearted as it’s quite long with a fair few stairs and uneven floors.
Our hotel owner warned us when we arrived that if we wanted to tackle it then we were to take plenty of water and suncream. It also may not be one for anyone afraid of heights as further into the walk you stand on sections of the walls where on one side is a high drop into the city and the other is off a cliff on to jagged rocks and into the ocean. The walls feel safe and their barriers come up to about my chest hight (I’m 5’ft6”) so I didn’t feel uncomfortable but it was a pretty big drop. There are no stopping points on the walls until you are about two thirds of the way through the walk, there is then a couple of cafes offering drinks, light food and ice cream.
We woke up on the next morning to slightly nicer whether so we decided to go kayaking. Once everyone had been briefed and had their life jackets on we paddled out of the bay (Blackwater) and headed out around the city walls. It made me feel so insignificant on this little kayak next to these ginormous castle walls. They took us all the way round the walls of the old city and over to a little beach in a cave that was only accessible by water. Here we stopped and they got out the snorkelling gear. This is the first time I had snorkelled anywhere other than here in the UK and so it was delightful to actually be able to see where I was going and watch all the inquisitive little fish. We then hopped back on the kayaks and paddled out around Lokrum and then back into the bay.
After some food and a nap we decided to jump on the ferry over to Lokrum. You can by a ticket on the main port and hop on the next boat. They run on the hour from early morning to early evening however the last boat back was at 6:15 and no one is allowed to stay overnight on the island. While kayaking the guide had told us some stories about the island and a curse laid on it centuries ago. You can read about it HERE. Anyone that stayed the night was known to die not long after and so we weren’t tempted to skip the last ferry home.
The Island was beautiful. On one end there is a nudist “beach” (more like some flat rocks) and there are signs warning you but not until you are already pretty much there so just be warned. Near by there is a lagoon, a botanical garden run by the university and of course the monastery which I believe (for you GoT fans) there is the real iron throne that you can sit in and have a photo taken. I’m a little heart broken that I didn’t find this out until we had already left the country. The island itself is covered in rabbits and peacocks. I’d never seen a peacock showing his feathers before but after about 5 minuets on the island I had seen about 10. It was beautiful. The animals are really tame and do come to you if you sit still. I had one peacock so close that when he was panning his feathers he was stroking them across my legs. I like to joke the he was trying to seduce me because the amount of attention he was giving me was crazy.
That evening we had planned on going out out as it was a Friday night and we ended up stumbling across a cute little jazz bar serving great food and cocktails with a live band outside. So we ended up sat there snuggled under a blanket for a few hours. It was a lovely atmosphere and the staff were really sweet. Neither of us for the life of us can remember what it was called, but I do remember it is just off the main street and it is near the steps that the ‘Shame’ scene from GoT is filmed. Plus it's the only place we saw/heard that had a full band so it should be pretty easy to find; just follow the music.
The follow morning we woke up to torrential rain and a thunder storm. The rain had us googling things we could do that were inside and under cover. After much deliberation we decided to go to the aquarium. If you google Dubrovnik aquarium then you’ll be hit with a list of bad reviews saying it’s small and dark and there isn’t much to look at. When you enter you get given a leaflet saying that this isn’t your typical over the top aquarium with huge tanks and tunnels; it was much closer to home.
All the species in the aquarium were animals that you would find in Croatia and the Adriatic. I actually found it quite interesting. Yes it was small and dark but it was really informative and Tom and I ended up staying in there for about 2 hours reading all the information on offer as well as looking at the animals. Eventually the rain cleared and we decided we were going to explore Fort Lovrijenac (Lawrence) which sits atop the cliff outside of the city wall.
Exploring Fort Lovrijenac was really interesting. You have to climb a fair few stairs to get to it and there is a fair few more once you’re in. For those Game of Thrones fans, the fort is the location of many scenes, most famously the ‘power is power’ scene between Little Finger and Cerci (WATCH HERE). But for those of you not bothered about the TV program it is a nice piece of history to explore.
It covers a few floors and it provides some beautiful views along the coast and across the city. The sun had come out by the time we had gotten up there and the angular shape of the fort cast some really nice shadows. With it sitting so high on a cliff it gave some beautiful views of the ocean and the city from a different perspective.
Tom and I have a thing where we make a promise that at least one meal of the holiday will be a posh one where we put on a nice shirt and try not to worry about the price (obviously within reason) and pretend to be sophisticated for the evening. For our posh meal in Dubrovnik we headed down to the Banje Beach Club. It wasn’t really much of a beach club, more of a bar with some tables outside but the menu seemed pretty nice. The food that evening was the best I have tasted in a while. But even the tastiest food couldn't take away from the glorious sunset we had that evening.
The following day we decided (Tom decided and I just got dragged along) to climb the mountain behind the city. There is a track that leads all the way up the mountain or you can jump on the cable car. Either way I strongly advise you go to the top as it provided me with the most beautiful view I had ever seen. Still to this day it stays in my mind as it was absolutely breathtaking. We managed to time it perfectly and got to the top in time for the sunset. At the top there is an old war museum in the fort filled with information on the war in Dubrovnik in 1995. If that sort of thing interests you it is definitely worth a visit. If you do go inside you can climb the stairs to the roof for the best view.
We few out following day. After watching a thunder storm from the balcony the sky cleared and the most glorious day formed. We sat on the beach and made the most of our last few hours in Croatia. Dubrovnik is beautiful and although I wouldn’t rush back, I definitely would advise a visit. It provides good food, history, glorious weather, warm waters and nice beaches. What more do you need?! I will however jump at the opportunity to visit Croatia again. Any takers for coming with me?