Dubrovnik, Croatia

The bus ride from Mostar was beautiful. And, I sat on the wrong side. I got up once to take some photos since the bus wasn’t full. If you are going south, sit on the right, going north, sit on the left.

Now, I’m staring at the view, which is the picture below, and I can’t help feel an enormous sense of happiness with a strong urge to laugh.

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I’m in Dubrovnik, Croatia and it’s beautiful. People have told me Split is equally as nice, maybe better, but for now, Dubrovnik is unbelievable.

According to my friend, whom I’m going to call SC because she’s originally from Croatia, but I met her in Spain, I did come at the right time. The sun was shinning and it was warm enough that I didn’t need any coat.

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Actually, for the walking I did, I would have been fine in shorts! It’s also hard to imagine this beautiful place, which was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in the 80s, as devastated by the war in the 90s.

I went to the Homeland Museum near Imperial Fort/Fort Imperial and saw some photos that were taken during the war….the wall, which is the most famous, was burning and pieces were missing.

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There was a school group visiting at the same time. They were not alive when the war happened as they appeared to be 8. The boys were fascinated by the guns and boys and girls were running around laughing. It was an interesting juxtaposition. To see a joyful new generation around these images especially since SC told she couldn’t go with me to the museum since to her it’s a memory not history, which I totally understand.

But at the same time, I wondered how much the children really understood what happened to their city and their families when they were taking pictures of the amo and guns.

There is a cable car that brings you to the top, but I decided to hike it. It was a pleasant hike. The view kept getting better and better as I ventured up. It’s very rocky, however, and I slipped a few times coming down.

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The fort has history along with that of the 90s. It was built in honor of Napoleon. The museum told a brief history of the fort and the city- that it was under French rule then the Austrian- Hungarian Hapsburg rule (see previous post on Vienna).

Old town, within the old city walls is very beautiful as well. There’s small side streets and mini squares throughout. I can see why Game of Thrones picked this place to film. SC pointed some film spots to me as we walked around. She also told me of where all the postcard photos are taken and I went over there as well. There/Here is where I am writing this.

Times like these is when I realize that I’m in Europe and that I’m traveling. Sometimes you get lulled into this travel mode and you don’t appreciate what you are doing. Here, it is hard to believe I am here.

All I have heard about Croatia is that it’s beautiful. Which is certainly true and I do like being one of the few tourist here. Summer must be so crowded and unpleasant. Now, I can fully appreciate the view and the sights.

SC’S friend asked me what I thought of Croatia since other Europeans have these pre-conceived notion that they are backward or something. As much as I am sad to not know much of their history, I am also glad because in this way, I don’t have any notions besides what I am currently experiencing.

“You don’t get that reaction, do you?” She asked me. I shook my head.

SC’S friends are confused on how we are friends. They would start talking to me in Croatian then SC would tell them I don’t speak it.

“She’s American?”

SC would always have to explain that we met in Spain 5 years ago. It’s funny because she was my age when we met.

Last year, to increase tourism in the winter months, they city started having its own Christmas markets. It’s definitely not as big as the other cities I went to, but it is still nice.

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My first night, we got pulled pork sandwiches from a stall. Yes, this is American, but it was interesting to try in a different country. It was pretty authentic, down to the Cole slaw on top. My second day I had a more traditional dish, eaten before Christmas. It was fish and potatoes with slices of bread. This was delicious.

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Dubrovnik is a small town. Everything is very walkable. If you just want to see it and be done, a day here is fine. However, I’m really glad I have a friend to visit as it makes me “live” here. I can take my time walking around and sit and take in the view while she is at work.

I’m glad Game of Thrones films here because it shows the world a beautiful place and increases tourism to this city; however, there is more to here than the show. And if tourists could come over a big period like April through October, the locals would appreciate it as most tourists come June through August and it is very packed.

Dubrovnik is Croatia’s most expensive or one of the most expensive cities. It only increases in Summer. There are few things that are still more expensive than other places now in Winter, so I can’t imagine what Summer prices would look like.

The wall, the biggest tourist attraction, is also very expensive. It’s about 20 dollars. After doing the fort and seeing the other view, I didn’t really feel like paying to walk around the walls. I had 2 great free views of the whole city, not just parts, which is what the wall would have given me.

(The following was written in Split, after Dubrovnik)

One day SC and I took a day trip to Montenegro (see next post). It was unplanned on my part as I wanted to focus on Croatia, but it was still a lovely surprise. I now want to go back to see the rest of the country!

I was tempted to keep going South, to stay with the warmth, but I have plans for the holidays North so North I am going.

My last night in Dubrovnik I spent it with SC’s friends. It was a lot of fun watching them enjoy themselves as it was a birthday celebration. They were singing songs in Croatian and getting very passionate about it. I wished I knew what the songs meant, but I still felt joy from it because they were so happy.

Another friend is a professional chef and he cooked us dinner and it was incredible. We didn’t think we were going to eat a lot because we had a huge lunch (see Montenegro post), but we still ate quite a bit! Delicious!

My stay in Dubrovnik was incredible and though it was winter with not much to do, I really enjoyed my time as there were definitely less tourist! I could take my time wandering around and enjoying. Also, the weather was superb!

More pictures at: flickr.com/myopenpassport

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