Day 18: LAST DAY IN HRVATSKA
At 7:45am we awoke. Last night’s sleep was a little interrupted because it was very windy last night. A lot of shutters were moving around and even banging from time to time. The bathroom door was making creeking noises and it was almost as if someone was inside the apartment with us. Needless to say, it was easy to envision how horry moies get their inspiration.
We spent most of the morning just tidying up and letting Julie do whatever it is she had to do for her travel client. So it wasn’t until after 10:15am did we finally get out of the apartment to do some more sightseeing.
Almost immediately, we made a beeline through the thoroughfare to the Stradun and through to the Pile Gate. There, we forked over the 140Kn for the both of us and proceeded to go up the stairs to the ramparts of Old Dubrovnik.
The scene was bustling both down at the Stradun and the fountain area as well as on the city walls. And since we had gotten a fairly late start to the day, the heat of the sun from this clear day was also starting to make its presence known to us.
We also looked towards the fortress, which was fronted by gorgeous blue-green waters. Now this was the Mediterranean colored waters we’ve come to expect while being in these parts of the Adriatic. I guess the clear weather here helped a lot.
Come to think of it, this might be the clearest day we’ve had since coming to Croatia. So we’re glad it finally showed up on our last day in Hrvatska (Croatia in Croatian) though I certainly would’ve appreciated it if this weather persisted when we were in Plitvice.
Our walk continued in a counterclockwise direction along the city walls. This was the side bordering on the Adriatic, and it yielded some views and juxtaposition of subjects that kind of reminded me of the way we were photographing Oia in Santorini, Greece. I guess this would be fitting since we think of Dubrovnik as Croatia’s Santorini (and Split as Croatia’s Mykonos).
At about 12:10pm, we were closer to our apartment in which we took a quick breather for a bathroom break before resuming the wall walk.
Now, we had to climb more stairs as this part of the wall was on a more elevated part of the city. However, this part of the wall was also narrower and yielded nice views of the towers higher up the hill (the most prominent one on the northwest side of the walls I think was called the Minceta Tower) as well as the hordes of tourists leaving the harbor to eat on their cruise ships.
As it was very high noon on a clear, still hot day, we were still roasting on the city walls as we snapped photo after photo finding it hard to resist the views of the ref-roofed city as we looked inwards and the shimmering Adriatic Sea as we looked outwards.
By now we were on the north side strolling along the city walls overlooking the parking area. And it was here that we noticed car parks without the hassle of feeding the meter each time (kind of like the way we did the parking situation in Split). I’m sure it was still 10Kn per hour, but at least we wouldn’t have to keep feeding the meter maid the way we’ve been doing yesterday and still have to do again tonight at 7:30pm.
I guess there’s always that woulda coulda shoulda moment, but we’ll just stick out what we’ve been doing especially since we were much closer to the city walls than the other car park (though not by much, and it was a little flatter).
After climbing up to the highest tower (the Minceta Tower) along the wall, it was hot and sweaty and we worked up quite a sweat. So at 12:45pm, we concluded our morning circuit of the city walls and walked back down into the Stradun area.
The very first thing we did was to go for some gelatos. I found a flavor I liked in Biscotto, and I think I’ll get it again except in all biscotto instead of a combo with vanilla. Julie didn’t like her fruity gelatos and she still preferred her Greek experience (or even reaching back further into her memories of Italy and even La Boca District in Buenos Aires, Argentina).
We then snacked on some doner kebab which was served with the same dough as cevapi. It turned out that we learned that cevapi was also a Turkish creation and not necessarily uniquely Croatian. Still, they seemed popular amongst the locals.
After having our brief lunch sampler, we then walked outside the Ploce Gate (to the northeast) and out towards the area where there was this beach that we noticed while touring the city wall. Now it wasn’t anything like the beaches we’ve come to know, but it was still popular as plenty of people were busy sun bathing. We also got some shots (albeit a little against the sun) of Dubrovnik’s Old Town walls from here.
As we made our way out of the gate, I engaged in a brief chat with a local from Dubrovnik who was also wielding a fancy Canon DSLR. He told me that he wrote a book that was coming out in 7 days about the City of Dubrovnik. And being an author myself, I knew how difficult it was to put one out. So I wished him luck and we continued on our ways.
Then, we stopped and chilled out in the shade (while watching some locals hitchhiking comfortably – I guess locals know each other in these parts).
At 2:45pm, we were back at the apartment again. This time, nobody napped. We were just taking a short refuge from the hot sunny day before getting our second wind and touring more of the town including some re-visits of the City Wall as well as the fortress outside the old town (since it’s part of our admission). Indeed, we had to savor every last bit of this full day (our last) in Hrvatska.
At 4pm, Julie and I headed back into town. We had a little more unfinished business in terms of making full use of our ticket to see the city walls (namely that fortress outside of the Old Town). So at first we went back up to the city wall right at the Pile Gate. But before we went up, the guy checking tickets stopped us. Apparently, we weren’t supposed to re-visit the same area twice. And I guess our ticket was already scanned at this spot earlier this morning.
Julie managed to tell the guy we were just going up to take the fountain (which we were). And so the guy relented. And after taking our photos (which weren’t as impressive as I had thought), we hastily headed back down to the bottom and then out the gate.
At 5:05pm, we went to the Lovrenjac (Fortress), which was just outside the Old Dubrovnik town. There were more stairs to go up, but at least it was very quiet as it seemed most of the day trippers from cruises were done for the day.
And while we were up there, we took what photos we could of the sea-facing side of the city walls of Dubrovnik (since they had favorable lighting in the afternoon). We also noticed an as-yet completed cable car going up to the top of the hill. That was when a British guy who overheard us told us that they were about to open the cable car in about 10 days. He said he walked up there and got commanding views of the city. Obviously being short on time and energy, there was no way we were going to do that.
At 6pm, we returned to the city where we walked around the narrow alleyways looking for a place to have dinner later on. Eventually, we found this Irish Pub called the Gaffe Cafe where they actually served hummus! It was the first time on the Mediterranean part of the trip that we saw hummus being served (which was a big surprise to us in Greece since it was nowhere to be found). And we ended up finding it in Dubrovnik, Croatia of all places.
Nonetheless, we snacked on the food at the pub (trying to tolerate the smoke despite it being a no-smoking area) and were pleasantly surprised by it. Plus, it was probably one of the healthier hummus’ we’ve had as we dipped cucumbers, tomatoes, or carrot sticks instead of chips or pita bread.
At 6:30pm, we once again returned to the apartment to take yet another quick break. But it was almost time to feed the meter maid again one last time.
So at 7:15pm, we set out back into town, back up the stairs, out the gate (turning down soft touts in the process), and finally feeding the meter for another 13 hours. So the next expiration time is now about 8:49am, which should be sufficient for us to get all packed, lug the stuff back to the car, and get going on our way to some signature overlooks of Dubrovnik on the way to the airport.
Well for starters, it turned out that the seafood was fresh, the bruschetta we got was flavorful, and they even gave us garlic bread on the house. The service was also unexpectedly very good (we had been used to being forgotten about in most places we’ve been to on this trip), and we thought this was a nice bookend to our culinary experiences in Croatia.
At 9:15pm, we returned to the apartment for good. Now, it was time to get cleaned up (our skins were very sticky with a combo of sunscreen and dirt) and packed for tomorrow where we transition from Hrvatska to Switzerland…
The next day, we basically checked out of the comfy apartment in Dubrovnik at around 8:30am. Then, we lugged the luggage back up the stairs to the gate by our parked car. I managed to take a shorter (with fewer steps) was instead of the thoroughfare leading to the Esprit Shop on the Stradun.
We then drove out of town taking in a few panoramic viewpoints looking back at the city of Dubrovnik and the fortressed walls of its Old Town. By about 10am, we arrived at the airport, which was small yet clean. And from there we left the clear and hot weather in Dubrovnik and were on our way to Switzerland where we expected the weather to be a bit less sunnier…