Up the Down Staircase in Dubrovnik
Let me just remind you I was in a boot.
We arrived in Dubrovnik late — like after midnight. It was rough on some folks, and another airport nap was in order.
Again, I had arranged transportation, so again we had someone waiting there to whisk us away. Again: we were immensely grateful. We each had carry-ons and checked bags, and Dubrovnik, like Split, is an ancient area with no cars allowed. We were dropped off at the Pile gate (pronounced pee-lah: the city is walled, which we will get to later), and basically walked across a drawbridge to enter the amazing city. If we hadn’t had our guide we would NEVER have found our way. Dubrovnik is a warren of alleys and stairwells. How many stairs? According to a study, there are 5,423 steps in Dubrovnik. On a daily basis we essentially SLAYED the Fitbit.
The city reminded me a bit of San Francisco, with steep staircases instead of streets. And the little shops and residences tucked into every square inch reminded me of that as well. Upon arrival, we wandered down the Stradun, an awe-inspiring marble main street, with centuries old buildings rising on either side (featured on lists worldwide as a street you have to walk before you die). It was about 1am, and people were celebrating life. In a weird way, it reminded me of Vegas — but like under the Venetian on the Strip, where it’s so cool but it’s fake. This was real. It was like everything Disneyland, Epcot and Vegas wish they could be.
Our VRBO host had a porter with him, who skillfully took all three of our checked pieces of luggage and disappeared into the night. Somehow he made it to the apartment before us — and our luggage was waiting. The apartment had two beds and one bath, like our last place, but oh my the terrace! And the windows and the steps we climbed hinted at what the view would be like in the morning. And oh. Oh wow. Take a peek at the VRBO listing here and see what I mean: https://www.vrbo.com/868272ha?unitId=1211599
When we woke, here were the views we saw out the windows:
Sunday, our first full day in Dubrovnik. We wandered a little bit, finding some pastries on which to nosh, and getting a general lay of the land.
Then Singer Girl wanted to hit the beach — of course. Again: no sandy beaches nearby, but this walled city is right on the Adriatic, and there are two famous “beaches” cut into the wall: Buza 1 and Buza 2. We wandered a few minutes from our apartment (which itself is built into the ancient wall) and climbed down precarious stairs to find a flat section of rock. I relaxed (and watched lizards cavort) while my travelling companions took to the water.
After a nap and a shower, it was off to the famed cable car of Dubrovnik. We sailed to the top, and the view was spectacular. How did we not know more aout this incredible place? The Adriatic was dotted with islands, and the orange roofed houses of the walled city below us just radiated charm.
We had another fun activity planned, but first it was time to absorb some more “recent” history.
Some background: the Soviet block dissoved in the late 80s, which was in the long run a good thing. But in the short term, it meant countries had to find ther way again. The communist country of Yugoslavia fell apart in 1990 when Croatia declared its independence. A new war broke out. In 1991, the Yugoslav army attacked Dubrovnik, which had been thought safe due to its coastal location. But it was an important seaport, and the city ended up being under attack and isolated for seven months until international peace talks settled things.
Beside the incredible view at the top of the mountain, there is a great museum about the war and the siege. It is hard to separate the breathtaking landscape from the bullet hole riddled fort at the top. During our time in Dubrovnik, we met many people wo lived through the siege, being evacuated to refugee camps as children. It was sobering.
After we were through with the museum, we made a radical shift: we were going to drive dune buggies. Actually, HWSNBN and Singer Girl drove: I was a passenger. It was so fun — and we were nice and mud splattered by the end. But along the way we got to see an amazing sunset!
Afterwards we went to dinner, then climbed up and down the many stairs to our apartment, ready to rest up for a full day of guided tours in the morning!