Dubrovnik to Korcula Island

Korcula Travel Blog

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We stayed in Dubrovnik for 4 nights. I loved Dubrovnik – the grand buildings, marble streets, huge fortified city walls, and beautiful sea below.

We celebrated Hugh’s 3rd birthday there. We didn’t manage to find a proper birthday cake, but found some little individual chocolate cakes for all of us (not Freya though!). Hughie was pretty chuffed that he had some pressies to open and we were making a big fuss of him. This was the first birthday where he really got it, and I think he liked it!

Dubrovnik is so beautiful and as a result was a very popular tourist spot. There are a lot of cruise ship passengers there during the day. It was crazy really, but like anywhere really touristy, it is like that for a good reason. It was heavily bombed in the 1990s but fast forward to now, everything is repaired and the tourists are back in droves. To get photos of the town without dozens of tourists in the shot, Cameron got up early to take them before they arrived.

At night the town is a bit quieter on the whole, but Dubrovnik is right on the backpacker circuit and our apartment was above a small Taverna that seemed to be a popular drinking spot at night. I’m not sure if it was there, but we could hear a lot of aussie accents yelling and screaming out songs. It was pretty warm so our windows were wide open. The landlady mentioned that it may get a bit noisy at night ‘with all the young people’ and said that if we shut the windows we wouldn’t hear it. But it didn’t bother us that much so we left them open. I still get up several times a night for Freya and one morning at around 2am I heard this woman appear at our alley and yell “I’M LOOKING FOR MY HUSBAND” I’m not sure if she found him, but she received hoots of laughter anyway. Heaven help him when she did. She didn’t sound happy!

As with a lot of tourist spots, you can actually easily escape the crowds if you just step off the main drag for a while, even if it’s only one street back. We explored the back alleys, going up and down the steep stairs, finding little shops, and lots of apartments. There seemed to be a lot of residents in the old town, so it’s nice that it wasn’t all given over to tourists.

Walking the city walls was a highlight. The walls are entire unlike a lot of other places where they only remain in parts. They are pretty impressive, and we had great views over the roof tops of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic sea below.
Hugh quite enjoyed the trip as it was like a big castle to him. He liked going inside the little watchtowers and climbing on the cannons.

We read that after all the bombings when 2/3 roofs were damaged, there was a lot of difficulty finding matching tiles to repair them. For a city as old as Dubrovnik, it was obvious that wherever they were sourced from originally would probably no longer be around. A lot of thought was put into it, and the powers that be settled on a red tile which was the closest match available, but it clashes badly with the original ones.. They are a lot brighter and look pretty perfect still, unlike the more muted and mossy original tiles. It will take many more years for them to get worn and dirty enough to blend in and look authentic, but I guess they never asked to be bombed to pieces. From the city walls we could clearly see which roofs were new and which were old.

Another day we went just outside the city walls to the massive fort just across the bay. It was so close to Dubrovnik old town, but there was nobody there but us! We could look across and see the hoards, but it was very peaceful and a stunning view.

We left Dubrovnik and caught one of the huge ferries to Korcula Island, 4 hours north. We stayed in the Korcula old town, which was a real gem. It is also a walled town, with cobblestone streets, narrow alleys, churches and squares. It was an impressive sight seeing it from the ferry. It is often referred to as a mini Dubrovnik, and we agreed. It had the same grandeur, but almost on a miniature scale. It was almost like you were in a medieval fairy tale. You could walk from one side to the other in around 5 minutes. Marco Polo was apparently born there, and you could tell that at some stage there was a lot of money in this town. There was a lot of ornate stone carvings around doorways and windows and a very grand staircase leading up to the town and another one leading through one of the city gates. There were remains of old mansions, that were now unused, their doorways bricked in (or stoned in) years ago. Sunset was beautiful and there were a couple of cocktail bars overlooking the ocean. It was pretty low key though as Korcula wasn’t really busy. There were enough people around for it to certainly not be dead, but there weren’t the crowds of Dubrovnik. Tables lined the waterfront for a sublime setting for dinner.

On one of the days we set off to walk to some villages further around the island. Hugh was running ahead holding one of his Thomas trains and fell over, straight on his face, and landed I think, on a small sharp rock. The thud was horrendeous, and so was the scream. I almost didn’t want to look, but we did and he had blood running out of a deep gash on his forehead. Poor baby.
We were worried about more serious consequences of such a knock to the head, but thankfully he didn’t show any signs of these (luckily Cameron knew what they were).
However his gash was wide and deep and it looked like it needed some stitches (Cameron said later that he thought it could have almost been down to the skull ugh) We didn’t have a car however and the hospital was on another part of the island. The lady we rented our apartment from worked in the art gallery underneath it and offered to drive us to the hospital but it wouldn’t be for a few hours until she finished work. We were going to take her up on her offer (though could only imagine how Hugh would handle having stitches put in). However we went to the pharmacy in an attempt to see if they had some of the special paediatric ‘glue’ that is often used for kids instead of them having to undergo the trauma of stitches. It was a long shot and they didn’t have it, but they did have some steristrips. We bought them and were able to pull the wound edges together to hold them in place for it to heal. He has been sporting Winnie the Pooh bandaids on his forehead ever since (he’s not usually that much of a fan but seems to think they’re pretty cool).

It took a long time for him to calm down, but an icecream worked wonders. He was sitting down on one of the steps, eating away in earnest and probably wondering why we were watching him like a hawk. After several hours we felt relieved that he was going to be ok. He’s going to have a scar, but hopefully a bit thinner than it would have been. At least he got it somewhere exotic I guess.

After 3 nights on Korcula island, we caught a catamaran further north to Split, and picked up our hire car. Somehow we ended up with some sort of van that looks like we should be delivering flowers, but looks aside it’s pretty comfortable and there’s room for all of our luggage. The boot of the car we had in Montenegro could only fit one of our bags, the other one had to be squashed in the back seat between Hugh and Freya.

We headed north and into the countryside of Croatia where we were visiting the World Heritage Listed Plitvice Lakes. We had booked what appeared to be a hotel on a website, but when we got there, we realised it was one of the many Sobe’s in the area. To make a living, many Croatians rent out rooms in their houses, and along the roadside you see dozens of signs that say Sobe (which means room). The lady of the house didn’t seem to be expecting us, but had a room available all the same. It was pretty basic, but spotlessly clean, though I didn’t get any interior design ideas from it for decorating our house! It wasn’t as cheap as you would expect, but the Plitvice Lakes are Croatia’s number 1 tourist attraction, so the people in this area have it pretty good, and seem to earn a decent living out of the tourists. From what I could gather, the owners lived in a little outhouse around the back, and they set up 4 rooms upstairs – a triple with a bathroom which we had, and 3 doubles with shared bathroom. By the end of the day, I’m pretty sure all of the rooms were taken.
Anyway, we went to the Plitvice Lakes the next day and they were just stunning. The water was an aquamarine blue. The high mineral content in the water builds up and terraces form and in turn waterfalls form over them. Waterfalls big and small were everywhere. It was well set up with boardwalks over the water. You decide which set route you want to take depending on how much time you have or how much of the lakes system you want to cover. We took route C which was estimated to take 4-6 hours and covered the lower, middle and upper lake systems. It didn’t take that long for us though, and Hugh was walking a lot of the way, and we stopped several times for snacks, feeds for Freya and then for lunch. I think though that the estimations are made to allow for summer. July and August sees the lakes absolutely packed with visitors and I can imagine you would be moving at a snails pace on those boardwalks. There was one section where we were stuck in amongst a tour group of Italian ladies and there was no way really to get past. The boardwalk had water on either side so you wouldn’t want to squeeze past in case you fell in, and you really just had to wait for them all to take their photos, stand and look at what they had taken, and then shuffle on, two abreast.

During the war in the 1990s, the Serbian side took over the Plitvice Lakes as an army base. The Croatians finally got it back several years later but found that although the natural beauty remained intact, all of the infrastructure was totally gutted. The 3 hotels within the park and all of the facilities, wrecked. All has been totally restored now though, but professional de miners were needed to remove landmines throughout the park even into the late 90’s.

The Lonely Planet recommended a 3 day stay in the area but we couldn’t really see why. The lakes were stunning, but on one long day, we pretty much had them covered. We weren’t sure what more there was to see if we went back the following day. We’d already committed ourselves to the lady with the Sobe though, and finding a room big enough for all of us somewhere else on the spot would have been too hard anyway, so we stayed on and drove up to a pretty town near Zagreb called Samobor the next day. We drove through some rural areas, and unlike the more prosperous coast, life seemed a lot more grim out there. The produce put outside the houses to sell seemed only to be potatoes, and we drove past run down houses and derelict factories with blown out windows. Life is tough for people in these parts, especially since there is little for tourists (and therefore the tourist $) out there. Many people live below the poverty line. It was fairly grim and depressing- not helped by the grey weather that day, but we’re glad we saw the other side.

That ended our stay in Croatia. There were some beautiful, just stunningly sublime parts, particularly the Adriatic coast, but there is so much to see and many more gorgeous islands to visit. We will definitely need another trip some day.

The next day we travelled north and crossed the border into Slovenia. What a beautiful country, but I’ll save that for next time.

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85 km (53 miles) traveled
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photo by: EmEm