Here is a rule right now about Dubrovnik- if you ever come here you have to stay at Dubrovnik Backpackers Club whether you particularly want to or not. The reason for this is while most hostels in the Bulkans are family run the family at DBC puts these to shame- the dad offered me a welcome shot of homemade honey liquor the second I was in the door, the mom kept offering me cake and nagging me to find my shoes, and the four-year-old daughter decided she was fascinated with me and asking me to watch her play with a hula-hoop. Trust me, this is the place to stay!
For hundreds of years this was the heart of the Republic of Dubrovnik, which is one of the nicest Renaissance towns you can find outside Florence. It is also reminiscent of Florence in the fact that it ties for the “most crowded tourist attraction” award due to all the daytripping cruise boats, probably because the old city is so compact.
This is the most popular tourist thing to do in Dubrovnik- climb the city walls! Back in the day when the city was one of the most popular trading ports along the Adriatic the tax to enter the city was one stone and ten eggs, the stone for obvious reasons and the eggs to help hold the stones together. The resulting walls are the most complete and thickest ones you will find in Europe, wrapping 2km around the Old Town and so sturdy the Serbs shelled them for eight months in the Yugoslav Wars and hardly damaged the walls. Frankly one of the lessons you learn while visiting this town is you don’t mess with Dubrovnik!
View of the heavily-touristed street from the top of the city walls. Yes, I was not making the hordes of tourists thing up…
The city walls make up a 2km circuit. The problem with walking this is every single view you see is so beautiful and so perfect that you will take ten million pictures.
By the way, when you look at Dubrovnik all the buildings with bright orange tiles are ones that were destroyed by the Serbian forces in the war; the faded orange tiles are the original. Bright orange definitely dominates, and what is even more disturbing is realizing how the old town was relatively untouched compared to the razed surroundings.
The fluttering Croatian flag, which I include here for one interesting reason- I’ve seen a lot of flags on this trip but most are done in the same exact proportions, but the Croatian flag is the first exception I’ve seen to this rule of thumb. The flag is longer than the height would otherwise imply, which makes it flutter extra-pleasantly in the breeze.
When the city wall walk was done, time for lunch! This pan is filled with- drum roll- fried and salted sardines, which are to be eaten with the bread and olive oil. Turns out fried sardines are really delicious, even if you don’t want to think hard about what bits are included when you pop a whole sardine in your mouth.
Entertainingly, the fish restaurant is the first one I’ve been to patrolled by several cats. They enterprisingly know you’re not going to finish all your fish, and wouldn’t it be a great to cut a deal with someone so the fish doesn’t go to waste?
Hilariously there was a sign saying “do not feed the pigeons” but regarding cats there was no mention, so this fella got a nice number of sardines to feast on.
Last, Dubrovnik by night which is completely different compared to daytime because all the cruise boats are gone. My favorite place was hidden- you need to walk on the road between the wall and the ocean to a literal hole in the wall with a sign that says “cold drinks,” walk through it and you’ll find a terrace overlooking the ocean filled with locals a bit miffed that you found their secret. (No, I can’t give you a better description just because the old town is a warren of roads with no names, and the best things are discovered by chance.) Sitting on a terrace with the walls of Dubrovnik behind you, moonlit ocean before you… I promise, there is no better way to end the day.