After a relatively eventless travel day yesterday (Vancouver to Frankfurt, 4 hour layover including beer and pretzels, Frankfurt to Dubrovnik) we arrived at our apartment in the heart of the old town at around 1800hrs. Our apartment is mercifully air conditioned and surprisingly quiet, as all around it restaurants, markets and tchotchke shops are bustling.
This is actually our 2nd time in Dubrovnik. We originally came in 2014 during our Balkan odyssey where things went awry mere days into the trip, as on day 2 in Sarajevo Pa tripped on a low post and shattered his elbow into a bajillion pieces. After 5 days in a Bosnian hospital, 2 surgeries and a bunch of steel in his arm, Pa met up with us in Dubrovnik, only getting to spend half a day there and drowning his sorrows in spaghetti after eating only what can be described as gruel at the hospital. Obviously, we wanted to recreate our memories of the city.
This morning we wanted to get up and out to not only beat the heat early, but also beat some of the crowds – Dubrovnik’s popularity has skyrocketed since it was burned to crisp by some dragon lady in some show (I’m kidding. I know it’s called King’s Landing in Game of Thrones). We had a delicious and leisurely breakfast on the main stradun, enjoying some French toad while listening to American rockabilly before we started to amble around.
We wandered out to the water, clear and emerald green and turquoise, where boat tour operators hawked their business and bikini-clad twenty-somethings headed for the cliffs.
We walked as far as the path would allow before we turned back, seeking shade against the already oppressive sun. Even by 11am, most people were sporting sweat-soaked spots on their shirts.
One of the cooler spots in the old town is a place called Buža, or “Hole”, because you quite literally have to crawl through a hole in the city walls to get there. Once through the hole you climb down stone stairs to a bar, shaded by bamboo and clinging to the rocks overlooking the Adriatic. The view is spectacular, and although the drinks are expensive, you’re really paying for the experience. Because we were there relatively early, we grabbed a good table facing the sea and enjoyed a few beers (and a Fanta for Ma).
Leaving Buža we noticed the town was busier (cruise ships had moored) and the sun was hotter. Me, and already ghostly white person, had started to pink about a half an hour in the sun.
We wandered around back alleys and passageways until we came upon the Spanish Steps. The steps are a beautiful grand staircase that connect the upper part of the old town to the main level, and I think I heard the words “shame walk” a dozen times – these stairs are prominently featured in an episode of Game of Thrones where Cersei takes her walk of shame (I don’t know the story behind it, I’ve never watched the show). Tour guides were scattered about the steps, all holding up pictures of Lena Headey in her questionable pixie cut.
Ma and I decided that we should continue our travel tradition and pick up some fridge magnets (and me some postcards for some choice friends), so we walked up one of the main market streets, mottled with shops selling jewellery, lavender goods, licensed Game of Thrones merchandise, and typical souvenirs. By this time the streets were packed, everyone bumping elbows and jostling each other to get around. We took respite in an ice cream shop that we had noticed the night before, as it had a line up out the front door. I had a lemon pie ice cream and could see what all the hubbub was about.
Sweaty, sun-weary and jet lagged, we decided to head back to our apartment for a brief siesta in order to cool down and take a bit of a snooze.
About 2 hours later we were ready to get sweaty again, so we went to the main stradun, grabbed an outdoor table at a restaurant and sipped lemon beers while we watched the people go by. Soon, it was dinner time so we made for a large square where we ate spaghetti and roast chicken before retiring for the night.