Awwwww Dubrovnik…. Beautiful Dubrovnik!
Much like Turkey, I did not know anything about Croatia before stepping foot in the country, but I think it is safe to say that this was one of my most favourite stops along the entire trip. Because we didn’t know very much about Dubrovnik, we didn’t plan for anything other than wondering all day long!
Dubrovnik is a city on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia and is one of the most prominent tourist destinations on the Adriatic Sea (did you know that??). The city itself is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dubrovnik has seen its fair share of disasters, namely an earthquake that severely damaged the city in 1667, and an armed conflict (called the Siege of Dubrovnik) as part of the Croatian War of Independence in 1991. The area was invaded by the Yugoslav People’s Army in order to conquer the city. The battle lasted three months and ended with a Croatian counterattack in early 1992. The city suffered incredible damage. Of the 824 heritage buildings in the Old Town, 563 (or 68.33%) had been hit by projectiles in 1991 and 1992. Nine buildings were completely destroyed by fire. In 1993, the Institute for the Rehabilitation of Dubrovnik and UNESCO estimated the total cost for restoring public, private and religious buildings, streets, squares, fountains, ramparts, gates, and bridges at US$9,657,578. By the end of 1999, over $7,000,000 had been spent on restoration. Walking around the town today, you would have no idea of the conflict this city has suffered, nor would you recognize that almost 70% of the buildings were damaged or destroyed just 22 years ago.
To enter the Old Town of Dubrovnik, one must pass under the enormous defensive wall. Dubrovnik is a remarkably well-preserved example of a late-medieval walled city, with a regular street layout. We made a note to make sure we walked the perimeter of the wall, but first we had to find a currency exchange… Euros to Kuna for the day!
The first thing that struck me as we walked into the town was the incredible shine of the streets. It looked as if they polish the street stones every night to give it the pristine, gleaming look I was seeing. Can you imagine how many people have walked these streets since the 7th Century to make these stones so immaculate? After exchanging some money we decided to get lost in the narrow passages, and to attempt to climb the thousands of stairs we found. If a Stairmaster could somehow be turned into a town, that town would definitely be Dubrovnik! The one thing that I absolutely loved about this town was the feeling of home that I felt. We found a young girl rollerblading along the smooth cobblestones while feeding the pigeons, we stumbled upon a local farmers market, and we came across many older men a women sitting on benches enjoying the sites of their town. So heartwarming and lovely!
Finally we decided it was time to hike up the steep stairs and start the 1.94 km walk around the top of the wall. It cost us both a whopping 70kn each, mind you, that was only about $12.50 Canadian! (We had a joke going that we each paid 6 dollars to use a Dubrovnik bathroom, but it was really only a dollar or 6kn)! Throughout the wall walk we went through a series of forts, towers and bastions. The views were incredible. We looked out over the Adriatic Sea, and then over the clay tile roof tops within the walled city. I loved seeing the Croatian women hanging their clothes out of the windows to dry. It reminded me that this is a community, much like the one we live in, although I must say, I’d move there in a heartbeat!
After our almost 2km hike, we found the Dubrovnik Cable Car! We still had plenty of time to spare, so decided to take the ride up to the top of the hill overlooking the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea! Once at the top we found a little restaurant so we sat down for a late lunch and enjoyed the views!
I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of this town. I have no idea why I had never really heard of this immaculate place, but I do plan to return and stay for a lot longer! Our day seemed to fly by. When we came back down the cable car, we slowly made our way back to the ship, of course stopping for some ice cream and more pictures along the way.
Our ship was a 15 minute bus ride out of town. After spending a day surrounded by so much history, it was rather funny to find such a modern looking bridge! Once on the boat, we set sail for our final destination – Venice, Italy!