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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

Dalmatian Coast Day 2

Exploring Dubrovnik

The heat had changed my plans. Originally I’d be getting up at 05:00 to go for a 16 mile run; which back home would take around two hours. Here, in this heat, I decided it’d take too long if I could even manage it. Instead I decided I’d be better off keeping it to about an hour, going slowly, and seeing what I could manage.

In that time I ran from the hotel to the Old Town, through the Pile Gate and along Stradun. It was quite a contrast to the previous day, but there were still quite a few people around. Some were workers, cleaning up ready for another day of millions of tourists, and others were early-rising tourists with the same idea as me - getting photographs without too many people in them.

Stradun in the early morning

The run was hard work, and I walked many times. By the time the hour was up I’d been to the old town, taken photographs, and ran passed the hotel to the suspension bridge. It was going to be another scorcher of a day.

After breakfast, the tour group leader met us in the lobby at 08:30 to take us to the city wall. He gave us each a Dubrovnik card which would give us free entry into places, discounts in others, and free use of the buses for the next twenty-four hours.

The morning sun was a little cooler than we’d had so far, but not by much - we could feel a slight breeze from atop the wall. We took our time, and most of the group went on ahead with Vlad. One, Marion - a government employee from New York City, went at our pace. In the days that would follow she'd become friends with my sister, and would stick with us for most of the tour.

Rooftops of Old Town

Photography stops were very frequent - there was a lot to see, especially when we passed places such as the Dominican Monastery. It was mostly a sea of orange-red roofing tiles with the occasional church poking through. In my mind, this was Kings Landing we were looking at - the main city in the Game of Thrones series.

There are places where you have to climb stairs, and places where you descend them as the city wall follows the contours of the land. Every now and then you come across a tower that you can either pass straight along, or climb. In my case I went up each and everyone, not wanting to miss anything. Lindsay would wait for me in the shade since she’s not that keen on heights.

Once we passed the last exit of the wall we were committed to completing the loop - you can only walk along it in one direction. Not long after this the sun started to get warmer; but fortunately along this southern section there are places to stop and get drinks.

Looking down on the fountain

When we were off the wall we looked around the Dubrovnik Cathedral swiftly, and then the cultural museum in the Rector’s Palace. They have photographs showing the aftermath of bombings in 1991 - the place seemed familiar, yet different. For Game of Thrones fans, they’d recognise the courtyard and steps as being the location where Daenerys met the Spice King of Qarth.

The next stop was just across the road in the Church of Saint Blaise. This one was too humid for me, so I walked in, took a photograph, and more or less walked straight back out. I was sure the exterior had been used in Game of Thrones - it seemed familiar, but couldn’t figure out why.

I also wanted to see the Dominican Monastery, but Marion had already been there - so she went off shopping whilst I went with Lindsay. It was the only entrance fee we had to pay that day due to the card we'd been given - HRK30 each didn't seem too bad. It was so quiet inside that we were able to look around and take photographs within ten minutes.

Monastery interior

As we were a little ahead of schedule we sat outside the Sponza Palace to have lunch. When Marion rejoined us, we continued our tour of the Old Town starting with the St. Saviour Church and Franciscan Monastery. This monastery was very similar to the other, but here they once acted as a pharmacy so has a few different items on display.

Leaving Old Town behind us, we wondered if it’d be the last time we’d set foot there. It was however time to look around Fort Lovrijenac. This is Kings Landing’s Red Keep to Thrones fans, and only a fifteen minute walk from the Pile Gate.

Once inside we just had to show them our ticket for the city wall as it’s included in the price. Of course though, our entry was part of the Dubrovnik Card.

Lindsay was unsure if she’d make it to the top of the fortress but pushed herself to go up to the top first as from there on she’d be descending so would find it easier. At the top there are a few cannons placed around the edges, but not much else other than a view of the west harbour where people were kayaking. As it happened, even that harbour was from Game of Thrones - it was where Cersei said her final goodbye to her daughter, Myrcella. I’d have to take a photograph afterwards.

Fort Lovrijenac

Each level of the fortress offered similar shots of the harbour and Adriatic Sea. Whilst taking photographs I lost my sister for a while - she said she was heading to the stairs so I said I’d see her downstairs. When I got down she was nowhere to be found. I shouted a few times but got no reply. I couldn’t believe we’d been in the country for a little over twenty-four hours and I’d already lost her. I thought if we got seperated she’d have the sense to wait somewhere obvious where we’d have to pass each other - such as the entrance. She wasn’t there.

Ten minutes later I gave up looking for her on the ground floor, and was imaging her to be very upset with me. However, there she was on the same floor I’d left her, but sitting on the steps out of view.

We said goodbye to Marion once again as we left the fortress so we could head back to the hotel to relax, and cool down before dinner. Our plan was to meet up again at 18:00, so after a couple of hours we decided we’d walk over to the suspension bridge - or at least see how close we could get to it before the heat became too much.

Dubrovnik suspension bridge in greyscale

By 17:00 we’d walked underneath the bridge, and has passed one of the massive cruise liners that was in town. Apparently when these arrive they can cause the number of people in the Old Town to swell by over a million for the hours these ships are about.

Even with the overcast clouds the heat was still too much. Our plan now was to either go into Old Town for food which would have the advantage of letting us see the town after dark, or to stay local which had the advantage of not needing to worry about bus time tables.

I think the lure of pizza in the Old Town was too much - we hopped on the next bus and wandered around the alleyways until we found a pizzeria named Mirakul. If it hadn’t been for the good selection of pizzas, I think the large fan they had blowing over the tables would have been temptation enough.

We sat and ate pizza for the next hour, then wandered around the nearby area looking for things to photograph. Our farthest point was the Ploce Gate where guards stood watch in traditional garments. As we tried to photograph them amongst the bustle, gunpowder blasts went off in the harbour. I think this may have been to signal the sunset.

Stradun at night

Stradun was still busy after sundown; if anything it had become busier than it was an hour before. I suspect a lot of people wanted to see the lights reflecting off the polished paving stones. I can’t say I blame them - I wanted to photograph the same.

This brought our hasty tour of Dubrovnik to an end; but what a time it had been. There was constantly something around to be seen. In the morning we’d be taking a bus then a ferry to reach Korčula - could that be as good?