Unforgettable Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Travel Blog

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Historic center of Dubrovnik at sunset

When we visited Dubrovnik in May, 2017, it was our second visit there but we were hoping for a much more fulfilling visit this time -- we weren’t disappointed! Historic Dubrovnik is an extremely beautiful city occupying a spectacular location on the Adriatic Sea. It's gleaming sandstone Stradun, terracotta tile roofs, steeples, magnificent high walls, and architectural highlights are reason enough to make me want to return time and time again. 

Before arriving in Dubrovnik for the evening, we had spent the earlier part of the day visiting Kotor and Perast in Montenegro. We had a somewhat shorter than usual border crossing into Croatia, and had time for a stop on a road high above the walled city of Dubrovnik for some photos as the sun was going down.

View from our Valamar Lacroma Hotel room balcony
From this vantage point we went directly to our hotel, the "Valamar Lacroma," located in the Babin Kuk section of Dubrovnik where we would spend two nights. This sprawling modern hotel was certainly a welcome respite at this point in our day, and we were surprised to find that our 3rd-floor room, though a long walk from the lobby and dining facilities, was well furnished AND had a nice balcony and a partial sea view!

Our luggage was very late in arriving to our room, so we could only freshen up a bit before making our way down to the Lacroma Buffet Show-Cooking Restaurant where our dinner was included for that evening. The food offered here was not only delicious but the choices were seemingly endless – this was not an assembly-line production buffet as nearly all buffet stations featured one or more chefs preparing fresh food on the spot.

Needless to say, it was quite the feast. It was difficult to make choices because everything offered was tempting. Dinner was even more fun because our funny and fantastic guide, Edo Poljarevic, sat at the table with several of us from the tour group.

The next morning we were up early for our included buffet breakfast in the same restaurant as the previous evening. It was going to be another beautiful sunny day and shortly we were being whisked to the waterfront plaza (near Sky Bar night club) outside of Dubrovnik’s Pile Gate where we would meet our excellent local guide, Goran, for a walking tour of this amazingly well preserved 7th-century city once known as the “Republic of Ragusa.

Goran began with an explanation of the components represented in Croatia’s flag then continued with an overview of the history of Dubrovnik from its early settlements, changes of authority between the Romans, Venetians, Ottomans and even the French.

Goran, our local guide
It became known as the maritime Republic of Ragusa about the mid-14th century, but the Slavic name of Dubrovnik is the one used today. Goran went to include information on the Dubrovnik of today and its more recent history of the war for Croatian independence (1991 – 1995) from the former Yugoslavia; within the city’s ancient walls, some of which still show evidence of bullet marks, etc.

We entered the old city through the Pile Gate, arriving at the foot of the limestone-paved “Stradun” or placa which is historic Dubrovnik’s main street and a pedestrian-only esplanade worn smooth from the footsteps of people over hundreds of years.

The "Stradun" taken from the city walls
Even today many people still live within the city walls but the sight of hanging laundry or other sign of daily life come as a surprise.

All along the Stradun you’ll find interesting shops, cafes, and alleyways and alcoves, passages and plazas which are delightful. You almost forget that people still live in many of the buildings in this historic center. Toward the end of the Stradun and off to the right are the most important sites to be found on the Stradun or close to it -- Onofrio's Fountain, Orlando’s Column, the Franciscan Monastery, the former Convent of St. Claire (a 13th-century orphanage), the Sponza Palace, the Church of St. Blaise, the Bell/Clock tower, Ploce Gate, small Onofrio's Fountain, and the Rector's Palace. We toured two of these places: the Dubrovnik Cathedral with its fascinating Treasury Room, and the Franciscan Monastery.

Following our guided tour, we had the rest of the afternoon free and began looking for a lunch spot.

Art Renaissance Restaurant Italianate interior with vaulted ceiling
We almost ignored the tout on the Stradun, but for some strange reason felt compelled to try the place he was advertising. Good thing I followed my instinct because the terrific little restaurant hidden away on one of the tiny streets off the Stradun, the “Art Renaissance Restaurant,” was a real find! While the food was certainly good, it was the Italianate interior of the restaurant and the delicate paintings on the vaulted ceilings and medallion portraits which very much surprised us.  Dining outside is also a treat here – white tablecloths and wine glasses topping little tables set on the cobblestone passage just outside under stone arches couldn’t be more atmospheric in daylight and romantic at night.

Determined not to miss the chance a second time, the rest of our afternoon was spent climbing and enjoying the panoramic view from the ancient walls of Dubrovnik – not easy at this age but so worth it!! The first access point to the walls is to the left and not too far inside the Pile Gate.

Al fresco seating at Art Renaissance Restaurant
  The first time we visited Dubrovnik, the fee to walk the walls was about US $10; in May, 2017, the fee had increased greatly and was 150 Kuna ea. or about US $21 ea.!!

As we walked and climbed the walls we thought we might be caught in afternoon showers, but finally the sun made a lasting appearance and the temperature was very hot and humid. Oddly enough we found several small cafes and a bar or two on top of the walls which would be nice to stop at, but we decided to keep on as doing the entire circuit of walls is 2 kilometers (about 1.25 miles) and would take us a considerable amount of time and effort – easy enough for us on level surfaces but with the intense sun and heat, me carrying a fairly heavy backpack, plus the uneven surfaces, lots of climbing, not to mention age, it was likely to take us about 2 hrs.

We caught a local bus No. 6 ( 12 Kuna ea.

Architectural detail of columns lining Franciscan Monastery's courtyard
= approx. US $1.90 ea.) back to Babin Kuk where our hotel was located while enjoying more of Dubrovnik from the windows of the bus; interesting-looking cafes, neighborhoods, apartment blocks, and shady streets which look to be much more recent editions to Dubrovnik. I think it was at this point that I came to feel that Dubrovnik would be an interesting place to live -- of course this opinion was based solely on what I could see from the bus window. 

After a nap and a cool shower, we enjoyed just sitting on our room balcony taking in the sea view.  We made the decision that having dinner at the hotel was all we could muster the energy for that evening, but the evening was made infinitely better when we were invited to share a small anniversary dinner with a couple from our tour group – so thoughtful and such a great way to spend our last  evening in Dubrovnik.

Fort of St. Lawrence

The next morning we would bid a fond farewell to Dubrovnik and make our way across the border into and out of a tiny slice of land belonging to Bosnia-Hercegovina, then cross another border back into Croatis. Our lunch stop for the day was in the lovely Croatian Riviera town of Makarska and we would end the day in yet another World Heritage Listed site, the ancient city of Split.

Toonsarah says:
You make me want to return to Dubrovnik! We had a day trip there when we stayed at Makarska (where I note you stopped for lunch!) but that was back in the late 1980s
Posted on: Sep 20, 2017
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Historic center of Dubrovnik at su…
Historic center of Dubrovnik at s…
View from our Valamar Lacroma Hote…
View from our Valamar Lacroma Hot…
Goran, our local guide
Goran, our local guide
The Stradun taken from the city …
The "Stradun" taken from the city…
Art Renaissance Restaurant Italian…
Art Renaissance Restaurant Italia…
Al fresco seating at Art Renaissan…
Al fresco seating at Art Renaissa…
Architectural detail of columns li…
Architectural detail of columns l…
Fort of St. Lawrence
Fort of St. Lawrence
Central historic Dubrovnik as seen…
Central historic Dubrovnik as see…
Onofrios Fountain
Onofrio's Fountain
Courtyard in Franciscan Monastery
Courtyard in Franciscan Monastery
Living within the historic walls o…
Living within the historic walls …
Tour boat approaching Marina and P…
Tour boat approaching Marina and …
Lookout in the city walls
Lookout in the city walls
Portrait medallions in Art Renaiss…
Portrait medallions in Art Renais…
Dubrovnik Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Art Renaissance Restaurant
Tucked away from the Stradun in a quiet passage, the Art Renaissance Restaurant lives up to its name through its Italianate d├ęcor and ambiance. We wo… read entire review
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photo by: Vikram