Been hearing rave reviews about Croatia since last year. My first thought was… where is Croatia exactly? Right. So it’s in Europe. It’s close to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it was in the news quite for quite a bit in the 90s because of the Bosnian war. I’ve been reassured that it is safe. I hadn’t prepared for this trip much either, as I left the planning in the capable hands of my travel companions, Eva and Tin. I must say. Croatia’s a beautiful country. My impressions of Dubrovnik… It’s like Greece, and Italy, and Prague. But cleaner. Also, there’s apparently some magic going on in the Adriatic. Because seafood kicks ass.
Here are my Top 10s for Dubrovnik…
(10) The High and Low Views
Old Town’s pretty amazing. Our first touristic view of Dubrovnik were atop these stairs leading down to Stradun, the main street. We were clicking away with our cameras. It’s a bit of a chore climbing up (a workout actually!) and although the view coming down was pretty awesome, it wasn’t safe to be doing anything else apart from concentrating on NOT falling. I also liked how the hanging street lamps also had the names of the store printed on them.
(9) Open market at Gunduliceva Poljana
This was such a nice find, while I was aimlessly wandering and killing time. The open market sold lots of fresh veggies and classic Croatian treats (figs, orange peel, olive, truffle, the local grapa, tea, etc). I kind of wish I held out a little longer for this place before I got my take-home treats. Their goods were a little cheaper. The vendors are pretty friendly too. I was sales-talked into buying special salt (I got one with rosemary and another in red wine flavour) in test tubes. Hmm. Actually, maybe I should rename this one to… Croatian Treats in general. The Dalmatian blend tea I got from another store is fab.
(8) Treating Yourself to a Gelato
Although Italy has dibs on the best gelato in the world, Dubrovnik has quite a nice selection of these frozen treats. It’s hard not to be tempted by the mounds of colourful gelato on display along the main streets by the the harbour. There’s something about warm weather and the salty sea air which makes the human brain crave for ice cream.
I was only visiting Dubrovnik over the weekend, so the only island I was able to visit was Lokrum. It’s a 20 minute boat ride from the Dubrovnik dock. Booking boat rides isn’t difficult either as there are a couple of concessionaires by the dock. We were greeted by a company of peacocks! They roam freely in the island. There was an old Benedictine Monastery in the island which was mildly interesting. The greens and ocean view were quite nice and relaxing. On a side note, I do have an excuse to return to Croatia! I hear the Elaphite Islands are also worth exploring.
(6) Fighting the moody Adriatic current
I’m not one who’s scared of the open water. So when we left the Old Town port for Lokrum on our rented small-to-medium motorised boat, I regarded the buoyancy of our vehicle as normal. I’ve been on a couple of boat rides before, and this should be a piece of cake, I was thinking to myself. A piece of cake it was not! The Adriatic seemed to have a temperament vastly contrasting the tranquil blue sky! I think the word we were fighting not to say out loud was ‘capsize’. I found some reassurance in the fact that our boatman and his trusty companion were calm. Nonchalant even. Eva’s survival instincts were front and center (she instinctively told our non-English speaking boatmen to return to shore, to which I said, ‘Everything will be alright.’ So we carried on). We were practically kissing the ground when we docked safely in Lokrum. Exciting? Yes. Scary? Hellz ya.
(5) Terrific Squid in Lokrum
This warrants a separate entry. There are only two places on this island where you could buy food. The cafe close to the dock, and this quiet restaurant near the monastery. It seemed like that sort of place where food is likely to be mediocre. And the grilled squid?? Pretty awesome. I had the fish, and this was Tin’s plate. I’m glad she shared some of her squid. It was perfectly cooked. Soft and not chewy. This plate is miles away from the usual squid I get back home. It kinda makes me think about how we cook seafood back home. I mean, the Philippines is a group of islands, so seafood is more than abundant. I think we may tend to overcook them. Anyway! I digress.
(4) Stradun, Dubrovnik’s Main Street
This was taken from the Ancient City Walls and offers a nice view of Stradun, Old Town’s main street. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the medieval town is. It is pristine! I thought the street was made of marble, but apparently it’s limestone (Gracias Wikipedia!). Everyone who comes here will find themselves in Stradun (or the Placa). It is sort of the center of most things. There were shops left and right which sold souvenirs, gelato, and fab Croatian treats (truffled what-have-you’s, olive oil, and many others).
(3) Wine Tasting at D’Vino
I trust Tripadvisor. I really do. So D’Vino, this small wine shop sitting on a top spot of restaurants in Dubrovnik, certainly merits a visit. Because my flight back to London was in the afternoon (and there was a bus ride to the airport), I was doing wine tasting before noon. The lady who entertained me spoke English very well and explained where in Croatia the three samples come from. The grape (Dingac) was the same, but the areas where they grew were different. They were all very nice! She also fixed me this great plate of meet and cheese. Sufficed to say, I was a very happy girl at 12nn.
(2) Best Grilled Prawns at Proto
Our AirBnB lady recommended Proto, a seafood restaurant in the middle of Old Town. Most of the travel guides I downloaded also mentioned Proto. While there is an abundance of seafood places in Dubrovnik, I was very curious about Proto. And when I dug into my fisherman’s platter, I understood why Proto’s on their list. I had. The best. Grilled prawns. Here. No fancy sauces. No fancy ingredients. Just fresh and natural sweetness. The prawns were tender and oh. So. Good. I was closing my eyes whilst savouring it. I probably said a few expletives as well.
(1) Walking the City Walls
The view of the red terracotta roofs is most glorious in the Ancient City Wall walk. I reckon it was almost 2 kilometers, the entire walk. There’s a beautiful angle of the Old Town, every few meters or so. We went just before sundown and light was perfect for pictures. It wasn’t too warm, and this time of year (April) wasn’t too crowded either. Beautiful.