The Pearl of the Adriactic ~ Dubrovnik

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Travel with Karen | 0 comments

The Pearl of the Adriactic ~ Dubrovnik

This trip was an adventure for me. I haven’t traveled solo since before I was married, when I trekked through England, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal at the age of 27.  I wasn’t sure what to expect since the language was so different.  I expected my greatest challenge to be driving (I confess I was nervous about it, especially with plans to drive the length of the country from Dubrovnik to capital Zagreb, island hopping and car ferrying in between, a new adventure in itself.)  The drive was easy, relaxed and scenic along the coast. The only part that was a bit much was the 3.5-mile long Sveti Rok Tunnel passing through the Velebit Mountain – I’m not claustrophobic, thank goodness, but I was relieved to finally see the “light at the end of the tunnel!”

The picturesque walled Old Town of Dubrovnik and island of Lokrum (on the right).  Two-thirds of the historic town was damaged during during the bombardment of 1991-92 during the Croatian War of Independence from former Yugoslavia.  It was the only coastal city to be pulled into the violent fighting.  The bright orange roofs indicate the buildings that have been newly restored.

 dalmatian coast
Wild fennel growing out of the rocks with a view of Dubrovnik from a distance.  The Dalmatian Coast resembles the French Riviera as it might have been 60 years ago.

Visit Dubrovnik for its breathtaking beauty, but don’t expect a terribly authentic experience ~ or great food (a disappointment for me!)  Like Venice, Dubrovnik is a beauty that is beginning to feel artificial – whose sole viability has become tourism – even more apparent now that many locals have moved out of the old town in order to rent their restored home to tourists (the owner of my pension estimates that only 1,000 locals remain in the old town).  As the town is small enough to get quickly overrun by the influx of daily cruise ships, it is best visited outside of peak season (avoid June-August).

Still, there are some worthy highlights.  The main “must do” is to walk the walls – allow about 1.5 hours or so to linger and take photos, and go early or late in the day as it really heats up.
Dubrovnik2  Known in ancient times as Ragusa, Dubrovnik was once made of two towns ~ a rocky island inhabited by the Romans, separated by a canal, and a village on the mainland inhabited by the Slavs who came down from the North.  In the middles ages, the whole became part of the Venetian Empire.

 cloister pillars Dubrovnik
The Franciscan Monastery has the most beautiful cloister that I’ve ever seen.  The capital atop each of the Romanesque-Gothic double pillars has a unique carving.

 cloister interior DubrovnikBeing allowed access to the inside garden of the cloister was a special treat.

Another highlight was the monastery’s medieval pharmacy, dating from 1317.  The monastery operates a 100-year old pharmacy that still serves citizens today (effectively maintaining the oldest continually operating pharmacy in the world).  Unfortunately, taking photos was not allowed.

 prawn risotto dubrovnik
Risotto with seafood and squid with its ink at Konoba Dalmatino, one of the best traditional restaurants in the Old Town (second favorite was Nishta, the vegetarian alternative with excellent fare)

  mount srd
The cable car to the summit of Mount Srd provides spectacular views in all directions.

 sunset adriatic
Sunset walk on the way down from Mount Srd.