Dubrovnik, Croatia truly has it all. Sparkling, clear waters. An ancient walled city. Beautiful people. And of course exorbitant prices.
We arrived here on the 17th after three days of transit by train and bus. Never fun, but we made the best of it. We spent four hours on an outdoor train platform near Vienna in the wee hours of the morning, but with our camping gear at hand we passed the time by making coffee and chatting with our new Swiss friend Stephanie.
After the 10 hour train ride we rested for one day in a campsite in Zagreb, Croatia before taking an 11 hour overnight bus to reach Dubrovnik. We pulled into the Dubrovnik station at 6am, loaded our bikes, brushed past the aggressive hotel touts and taxi drivers, and rode off into the sunrise toward the city’s campground. We set up our tent and slept for a few hours before cleaning ourselves up and riding into town to meet our friend Sean. Finding each other in the city at an undetermined time and in an unspecific place seemed daunting, but just as we locked up our bikes and began walking into the old walled town we walked right into Sean! We spent the next couple of days exploring the city, sampling the fresh seafood, and relaxing on the beaches.
The old town of Dubrovnik is eye-poppingly beautiful. Gorgeous ancient buildings and streets that are actually made of marble. It really is one of the most magical places we have seen in Europe.
Tiny cafes are perched on the walls of the city overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
Sean rented a car so one day we made a day trip down the coast to another ancient walled city: Kotor, Montenegro. Kotor sits at the end of a massive fjord.
A crumbling fortress overlooks the city and of course we had to climb to the top.
Before leaving Montenegro we took advantage of the more reasonable prices and went on a shopping spree to stock up on important things like 2-liter bottles of beer and the famous local cherry brandy
The next day we made another day trip, this time to the tip of a peninsula north of Dubrovnik that’s known for its beaches. The roads were narrow and windy and the drive took longer than expected. I felt sick during the whole drive and just 10 km shy of our goal city lost my battle with motion sickness and demanded Sean pull over at the closest possible opportunity. He did, I barfed, and then we carried on to the beautiful city of Orebic where we lounged on the beach reading for a few hours.
On the way home we stopped for dinner at a popular looking restaurant where we all ordered the house specialty: veal fillets. They were delicious! Sean ordered the herbal brandy which tasted like rubbing alcohol and herbal perfume. We each took a sip and then abandoned the rest. For dessert we were intrigued by the local specialty called “Macaroni Cake”. We couldn’t imagine what this was going to be like - a cake actually made from pasta seemed far fetched. Turns out the dessert was very faithful to its name - it was pie crust filled with cooked macaroni noodles that had been tossed in a chocolate sauce, then compressed into a pie shape and chilled. Sean said it reminded him of a million little fish mouths gaping up at him. As soon as he said that I realized he was exactly right and I lost my appetite for the strange dessert. It was definitely a very entertaining meal.
Now for the sticker shock. A campsite in Dubrovnik runs about 140 kuna (~$US28). A 0.25L beer at a seaside cafe is 28 kuna (~$US5.60) and internet access is 25 kuna (~$US5) per hour! A dramatic step up from the rest of Eastern Europe. The crowds here are also amazing. The city feels at least as crowded as Prague. If it really is busier here in July and August, I think it would be unbearable.
Tomorrow we head north along the coastal islands via a combination of ferry and bicycle.