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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dobrodošli do Hrvatski! - Welcome to Dubrovnik, Croatia

Looking back at my trip to Croatia this summer will forever bring a smile to my face.  It was everything I expected it to be and more.  With that I will delve in my two weeks of adventure on the southern coast starting with my first two days in Dubrovnik.  Check back to see posts from the remainder of my trip next week.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I have to give some mad props to Aer Lingus for a very easy flight to Croatia by way of a Dublin layover.  The plane was roomy, clean and the food was surprisingly tasty.  Upon arrival at the Dubrovnik airport we decided to take the shuttle into the Old City for about 35 kuna which drops you off at the main gate.  From there it was a somewhat grueling, uphill walk to our hostel, Fresh Sheets, which is the only hostel within the Old City.  The directions to get there were pretty funny including referencing this sign -

 

Even just this walk through the town shows how small and adorable it is.

 

Turns out that by booking the "two person private room" you actually get put in a nice room in the apartment near the hostel.  It had AC, a comfortable bed and a shared bathroom that was really nice.  It was REALLY hot too so the AC was a welcome relief.  The hostel itself is nice but I highly recommend doing the apartment instead for the AC alone.

 

We only had two nights in Dubrovnik and had arrived early in the city so we figured we should do a little sightseeing (couldn't hurt with getting the jetlag under control too).  So we decided to walk the city walls which surround the Old City.  The walls run uninterrupted all the way around the city (over 6,000 ft) and are really high along the ocean side (over 80 ft).  Most of what you see today was built between the 12-17th centuries and is actually once of the largest and most complete fortifications in Europe today which is REALLY cool.


The ticket to get up there is 70 kuna per person but this also gets you into the fortress and a couple other attractions so make sure to ask.  It's only good for a 24 hour period so buy the ticket when you know you'll have 24 hours to spend at all this places.  We didn't so I felt like our ticket was a little wasted!  The walk along the walls also introduced us to Cafe Buza where you can cliff jump from just below the restaurant.


We decided to make a stop for some beer with limon to get out of the heat.  Once we'd quenched our thirst we headed to Taj Mahal for dinner (recommended by the hostel as a cheap, tasty place to eat).  The restaurant may have an Indian name but the food was Bosnian... and delicious.  I ordered the rump steak because it had a ridiculous name.  It was also ridiculously good.  I couldn't begin to describe it other than if a steak and a hamburger had a baby so I just took a picture instead.



We also had peppers filled with goat cheese which were also really good.

 

This is also where we learned our first Croatian word - "Hvala" which means "Thank you."

Post dinner drinks occurred at Gaffe Irish bar and some other bars up the street.  All of them were pretty terrible so we left and went to bed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

We were up nice and early to catch our tour  bus for our trip to the Elaphiti Islands which include Sipan, Kolocep, and Lopud.  I think we spent about 250 kuna each on the tour which lasted all day and gave you time to see Sipan and Kolocep and then really spend some time on the sandy beaches of Lopud.  This was the only sandy beach I saw my entire time in Croatia.  They don't mention that it's a COASTLINE not so much a BEACHLINE.  The beaches are really just rocks that border water.  Keep that in mind and bring some aqua shoes.

 

The boat itself was adorable and wooden and filled with an assortment of ages.  We immediately made table mates with two Kiwis from Wellington, New Zealand - Straw Hat and Pelty.  Pelty was so named because his friends had kindly shaved the back of his head into a mini mohawk with one long strip of hair in the middle that reminded me of an animal pelt.  Straw Hat's nickname seems more obvious.


Thanks to the abundance of free, unlimited wine the four of us eventually turned this lovely family boat ride into a booze cruise complete with boat diving from the top level into the refreshing salty sea.  Granted you should first determine where the entrance back on to the boat is before jumping.  We had a time of it trying to pull Lil Sass up the wrong side of the boat which resulted in her almost healed knee wound reopening and a plethora of massive bruises forming down one side of her torso.

 

They also serve you lunch as part of the cruise.  I highly recommend avoiding the fish option like the plague and sticking to the chicken.  Also if you make friends with Joe, the captain, he will sneak you extra cookies - "Fancy a biscuit?"  Turns out you should never steal a table from a table of Russians though.  I kept on eye on them for the rest of the cruise in case they got rowdy.

We returned from the cruise pleasantly jolly and dug into some pizza which looking back at the picture of it I instantly regret eating.  We then hit one of the other bars on the cliffs near Cafe Buza where they had live music (and unfortunately no bathroom).

  

Turns out Dubrovnik CAN be cool.  However, I'm still ready to head out on the rest of our adventure tomorrow.

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