We had visited Dubrovnik in 2016, but we enjoyed another visit to this picturesque town. Our hotel this visit was the Hotel Kompas which was located in the same area as the Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel where we had stayed before. This hotel had a smaller pool, but it was very close to a wonderful boardwalk and lots of restaurants, the beach, and two bus stops. The resort area is about 20 minutes by bus into town, but it gives you access to pools, the beach, and more restaurants.
We arrived fairly late in the evening so, after a quick dip in the pool, we walked to dinner at El Pulpo, a seafood restaurant that we had found using TripAdvisor. What should have been a quick walk based on the map, became a long, but scenic one, due to difficulty in following the directions. However, when we finally found the restaurant, dinner was delicious with four types of fish bruschetta, fried sardines, and good Croatian wine. After dinner we walked along the boardwalk, enjoyed the beautiful views, and then turned in early to be ready for a busy day in the beautiful Old Town.
In the Old Town, our first stop is always the fountain to fill our water bottles with cold water, especially necessary when walking the walls.
Because we spent several days in Dubrovnik, we purchased a Dubrovnik card that gives entry to the walls, the nearby fort, and many museums. You can purchase the card online at a discount or on site. (http://www.dubrovnikcard.com/) To decide what is best for you, just add up the costs for what you plan to do and compare them to the cost of the card. The card allows admission to the walls, the nearby Fort, many museums, and unlimited usage of the bus system which is very easy to use.
In the Old Town, our first stop is always the fountain to fill our water bottles with cold water, especially necessary when walking the walls. The wall walk gives a beautiful view of the city, the nearby fort, and the mountains. Supposedly you can walk the walls in less than one hour, but it's hard to pass up the many photo ops along the way. Wear good shoes, take water, and don’t forget your camera!
We also hiked to the top of Fort Lovrijenac which gave more beautiful views, something that Dubrovnik, and Croatia in general, is not lacking! We also took a tour of the Old Town. The streets are crowded when large cruise ships are in port, so bring your patience. The main street becomes wall-to-wall tourists at mid-day. Our tour included a stop at the Old Pharmacy, one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe. The building itself is interesting since it was founded in 1317 in a Franciscan monastery.
This trip we saw where once had been an orphanage with a revolving window. Unwed women would leave their babies in the window and turn it so no one would see the mothers’ faces and so implicate the father, often their aristocratic employers. We also visited the War Photo museum that had moving pictures from the Croatian siege. The exhibit changes frequently, so there is always something new to see.
We found the juice and beer cafe, Glam, where we had eaten on our previous visit and again used it for my smoothie and Randy's craft beer fixes along with some traditional American tuna fish and grilled cheese sandwiches, a welcome break from heavy fare.
Underneath the beauty there are still many reminders of war, destruction, and death. In October 1991, the former Yugoslav (Serbia) army put Dubrovnik under siege after Croatia proclaimed its independence. The siege lasted until May 1992. Thankfully, the majority of the Old Town Buildings remain, although the pockmarks are reminders of their past.
Game of Throne memorabilia was everywhere. Guides held pictures of the show against the landscape, every souvenir imaginable was available, and stores featured GoT experiences where visitors could dress up and get their pictures taken.
We finally got reservations at Oyster & Sushi Bar Bota for a fantastic dinner. The oysters are from Mali Ston Bay. This bay is the last place where the "Queen of oysters" (Ostrea edulis) still grows according to the restaurant's website. Everything was fresh that day and tasted it. The tuna, amberjack, salmon, and shrimp carpaccio were some of the best we have ever tasted and service by Ivan was equally great. We searched, and finally asked for directions to find it, but the experience was definitely worth it.
And as nighttime settles and cruise ships depart, Dubrovnik once more becomes "the Pearl of the Adriatic" and a perfect place to wander about. (If possible, visit in the off season and stay overnight to take advantage of Dubrovnik when it is less crowded.)