The landing in Dubrovnik was a rough one. Although our AirBnb host, Kieran, went out of his way to arrange for a driver from the ferry terminal (the driver’s name is Drago and he’s the man), and we were whisked to our new home painlessly, we were tired, hungry and cracked out after the late night in Hvar. It didn’t help that we arrived at night, which never gets a stay off on the right foot.
“finally at the place people actually know!” d.
“I hate arriving at night. I should’ve seen this all coming.” a.
To make matters worse, the wifi in the apartment wasn’t working so essentially (in our minds) we were cut off civilization in what felt (in the moment) like a scary, desolate neighborhood. We tried to remind ourselves that humanity survived for tens of thousands of years without WiFi, but it didn’t help allay the unease. Putting our best feet forward, and reminding ourselves how excited we were to be in the famed citadel of Dubrovnik, we took matters into our own hands.
Cautiously, we headed down the dim, winding staircases that cascade down the hills around the city center, hoping to find food to replenish our souls an WiFi to check in with family. It could’ve been our dismal mental state, but for being the biggest city we’d been in since we left New York, and being a Saturday night, the whole town seemed eerily desolate. Once we got down to the Old Town, restaurant after restaurant literally closed shop as we walked up. Eventually we found a kind shop owner who agreed to stay open and feed us, as well as a cafe with WiFi for the needed communications, before dragging our asses back up the endless stairs to our apartment.
“not the best start, but I can’t wait to see Dubrovnik in the day light!” d.
“I was sure we were dying of starvation that first night.” a.
BACK home, we wearily got ready to sleep off Hvar and restart our moods. As we turned on the A/C to get rid of the summer night heat, flicked on a light or two, suddenly there was an electric SNAP! The place went dark. Breaker blown. No electricity, no hot water, no A/C, no WiFi, and all at our probably most grumpy and exhausted point in the entire trip. The thought of trekking back down to civilization in the hopes to find something open with WiFi to text our host was out of the question, so we resigned ourselves to try and drift off in the angry, sweaty darkness.
THE next day there was still no power, still no WiFi and our devices were dead anyway so we were basically the modern day version of castaways. We marched back down to the city center in search of power plugs and WiFi signal to try and figure out what we were going to do.
Kieran, our AirBnB host, blew any unhappiness waaaaaay out of the water. He called me right away via WhatsApp, and apologized profusely for the experience. He said, “its way more than you need”, but offered the apartment above our studio for the rest of our stay.
All we had to do was kill some time and he’d get everything in order.
We hesitate to dwell so much about a seemingly negative beginning to the time in Dubrovnik, but it serves only to highlight how fucking awesome Kieran’s fix to the problem, and the rest of our stay, ended up being. Point being, never let a bump in the road knock you off course…or maybe more important, just enjoy the hang time and new route.
Always, always, always enjoy the detours.
Heres a link to the studio hosted by Kieran. Studio Ravello
THE veil of inconvenience lifted, we grabbed a gut busting sendvič (literally “sandwich”; flat, round with a variety of fillings), and began to take in the world renowned walled city of Dubrovnik.
Killing time in the Old Town is pretty easy.
OUR first stop was the iconic walk on top of the ancient walls. Starting in the 9th century AD and fortified through the 15th century, the walls still exude protection. Until the 1991 and ’92 bombardment by the Montenegrin Army the place was virtually indestructible. And even the modern bombing could not destroy the citadel. In the afternoon summer heat we had the place to ourselves, and after reading about how packed these vistas can be we’d totally recommend beating the crowds by not “beating the crowds”.
Pro tip: Tourist hordes hate heat, so prepare accordingly, don’t be a pussy and embrace the warmth. You’ll be rewarded with near solitude and a great tan.
AFTER we climbed back up the hill to change our apartment, we first entered “The Villa”. The Villa was fucking sick, not many other ways to say it. 4 or 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a dope kitchen, wrap around balcony overlooking the Adriatic sea forever in all directions…”more than you need” was the understatement of the fucking century.
We were giddy with excitement, running around from room to room, trying to figure out what we’d even do with all this space. The Villa became the center of our Dubrovnik world, and immediately changed our perspective from scared on the outskirts to rich locals on top of the world. Sensational sunset dinners, idyllic breakfasts over the sapphire sea, sunbathing au natural; it was definitely something we could get used to.
“is this how being rich feels like?? ahhh…villa life! this is the perfect example of how something really bad can turn into something amazing!” d.
“We did the sites, but my favorite memories will be those pršut wrapped figs, local cheese and cabbage salad with peaches we made at ‘home’ and washed down with a bottle of malvažija.” a.
Here’s a link to the villa hosted by Kieran. Villa Ravello
WHEN we weren’t enjoying the Villa de Dufords we spent the next few days taking in all the highlights of Dubrovnik. The Old Town and it’s ancient churches and buildings are fascinating and well preserved. The historic fortification deserves it’s world renown status. Here are a few of our off the beaten trail highlights.
OUR first full day in the villa we made another divine breakfast, and took the cable car from Old Town to the top of Mt. Srd for some spectacular views of Dubrovnik, the Adriatic and the surrounding islands.
BACK at sea level, we sought out the popular Cafe Buža. There are two versions of the place, one a tad swankier than the other, but both entrances are hidden in the furthest reaches of Old Town’s back alleys. We enjoyed the late afternoon sun, had a few cold beers and watched the crazy kids jumping off the cliffs around us. The perfect spot for the happiest of Happy Hour.
ANOTHER gem we stumbled across one night after dinner was Soul Cafe. Great night spot with live jazz pianist echoing smooth tunes in the alley, Buster Keaton films projected on the back wall, and a devilish rakija selection. Soul Caffe reminded us that Dubrovnik isn’t just a set piece from the past, but a living city with a thriving art scene.
WE got there late in the afternoon, but Lokrum Island is a quick ferry ride across from the main port so we managed to check it out. It’s a peaceful island escape from Dubrovnik proper…unless your afraid of rabbits and peacocks (like one of us turned out to be…) which seem to be everywhere. We had heard that the large island is an oasis for hiking and getting away from the relative hustle of Dubrovnik, but we just had time for a dip before the last ferry back to the mainland.
Lockrum Island Peacock
“welcome the island of terror…” d.
“I was sure we were dying of starvation that first night.” a.
OUR last night in Dubrovnik we got sushi at a outdoor restaurant called Bota. Admittedly , not a very “local” meal as our last in Croatia, but we were craving it, it was delicious, and the location amid the medieval walls was evocative. Plus it was fresh local fish for the most part, so the quality was world class. Great, friendly service from our server named Stephan was the icing on the cake, and we’d definitely recommend a few rolls here next time you’re in Dubrovnik.
AT the time of this writing our time in Croatia was 7 months ago (sorry…the procrastination is real), looking back at our journals and photos is exhilarating to this day. Even back then our time in Venice felt like a totally different trip, almost a different life. It’s crazy to think that that’s were this trip started. We were comfortable and fluid in our Croatian life now, and as we got ready to leave Dubrovnik we realized how used to it we had become. The experiences, food and adventures we’d had from Poreč to Dubrovnik were new and unique. Croatia weaves itself into our thoughts and conversations daily, even approaching a year later. It’s an enchanting corner of the world and we hope our pointers and observations help you check it out when you can.
So it was time to leave Croatia behind, but ahead of us was the unknown of Montenegro. Daniela had friends in Budva, so we decided to finish our trip in a country we knew very little about but were intrigued to explore. It turned out to be the absolute shit.
Next stop Kotor Bay in the land of the Black Mountain.