Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Croatia: Dubrovnik - Nice at night

I was so looking forward to our visit to Dubrovnik, the third port on our seven day Adriatic cruise.  It was supposed to be the star of the show, the pearl of the Adriatic, the jewel of the Mediterranean.  Shaw was quoted: "those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and find it".  Unfortunately,  we arrived at the same time as several thousand other tourists that literally swarmed the old town.  It was my first experience of a place that became the victim of its own success, and unfortunately, not my last on this trip.  When we visited Cinque Terre a week later, the scenario was repeated - people everywhere, there was no let up.  And this was not even high season!  The culprit - giant cruise ships that dumped thousands of passengers on land at the same time.
All looked fine on the pier...

Wall to wall people in town
What to do but to make the best of it - head for high ground - tried to go where there may possibly be fewer people, for example, up on the city wall because the entrance was hard to find, there was a fee, people only allowed to go one way, some people could not climb the stairs, etc..  That turned out to be a smart move.  While there was still a continuous stream of people on the wall, we could look beyond them, above the old town, above the crowds, at the stunning red roofs and the magnificent views of the sea around the wall. It was also a much better way to get a sense of the city.  The higher we went, the thinner the crowd.

Looking down on the main street crowds from the wall
Onofrio's fountain where people washed their grapes and pigeons their feathers

Views along the city wall

Single file in some spots (how did I manage not to have any bodies in my photo??!)

The views were worth the 2km hike along the wall

View of the harbour - St. John's fort on the right with a Maritime Museum on two floors - the Maritime Museum entrance was included in the ticket for the wall

Minceta Tower, the highest point on the wall and an important symbol of the city's freedom

From that point, it's downhill all the way - a quick hike into the town for lunch in one of the many restaurants in the alleys.  For more on our lunch, visit Foodsparks.

Someone having fun with an interesting portal
No wonder the buildings were so clean and well-kept - they were continuously being restored...
St. Blaise Church right in the middle of town - I love the unique modernist Stations of the Cross in here
Outside the Rector's Palace, now the Cultural History Museum - worth visiting for both its architecture and the content
The gorgeous courtyard inside the Rector's Palace
The touching photo of the young water carrier during the Siege of Dubronik in the Croatian War  was for me the most memorable piece in the museum

There wasn't enough daylight hours to see the entire city but we did make it up to the cable car stop at the top of the hill.  

Taking the cable car ride to the top of Srd hill

The crucifix at the top of Srd, which was the site of fierce fighting during the siege of Dubrovnik.- the hill was a source of inspiration for the people under siege

Time for a drink while waiting for the sun to go down

Rewarded by a spectacular sunset and the chance to experience Dubrovnik after dark...

We could see our small boat lit up in the evening light

Coming back down from the top of the hill, we walked through the old town once again, this time without the crowds, the city walls gently lit by street lamps, a guitarist playing on the bridge - this was the way Dubrovnik was supposed to be.  I heaved a sigh of relief - glad we stayed to see this - I will be back!

I have to return, if not to find Paradise, at least to enjoy dinner by moonlight under these ancient arcades at the waterfront...

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