Apologies in advance for another long post!
Dubrovnik has been a topic of conversation since we got to Croatia. We had all heard it was a great place and we have several Game of Thrones fans in our group. What we hadn’t realized was just how far it was from Split. There’s both a bus and ferry available, but they take 4-6 hours so it seemed a weekend trip was our only option. However, all of our weekends were already full with other activities, so it didn’t seem likely that Dubrovnik would happen this trip.
But then we looked into the seaplane. European Coastal Airlines just launched this route a few months ago and it takes 45 minutes to fly to Dubrovnik. And it’s a freaking seaplane! It’s definitely more expensive, but we figured any other mode of transportation would require us to stay the night in Dubrovnik, which would basically negate the cost difference. And again, it’s a freaking seaplane!
So Catherine, Jillian, Sarah and I booked a one-way ticket and decided to simply take the ferry back – making for a long day, but enabling us to check out Dubrovnik.
We had to be down at the ports, checked in by 7:30am so it was an early morning wake-up after our epic sailing trip the day before. But we were all excited so I don’t think any of us minded too much. We enjoyed an Americano while watching two seaplanes come into the dock. They looked tiny compared to the huge ferries next to them and the pilot would signal and talk to the men on the dock through his open window.
An American couple got into this seaplane and took off very quickly for either a private tour or a private flight – fancy, fancy. They checked in with us and when asked for their passport, they shook their heads. When asked for a license they shook their heads again. Rather than get turned away, the receptionist simply told them to make sure they brought some kind of identification next time and checked them in. Only in Croatia. And only Americans.
Our florescent companion is from Greece, accompanying his 9-year-old son to a tennis tournament in Dubrovnik. Apparently he’s the top U10 tennis player in Greece and is hoping to play at Indian Wells. For you Southern California tennis players, check out Chris Spyrou next year!
The flight was so cool! (transportation mode #1) Takeoff was incredibly smooth and it actually took me a few seconds to realize we were already airborne. The views were spectacular, alternating between Croatia’s coastline and flying over the islands. It was a little hazy, the windows cast reflections and the propellers were in the way, so the pictures aren’t the best.
We were all a little bummed that we didn’t land in the water; we flew into the Dubrovnik airport, had to take a bus to the terminal (transportation mode #2) then an Uber into the city (transportation mode #3). We were clued in by Katelyn and Chet to walk the city wall early in the morning before the crowds and heat. So we bought our tickets and did the grand walk.
The buildings are spectacular and bordered by the blue Adriatic, it’s no wonder they film so much of Game of Thrones here. All of the red roofs in Dubrovnik are much nicer than in Split. Apparently, during the Homeland War in the 90s, the Yugoslav People’s Army tried to siege Dubrovnik and bombarded the city, hitting Old Town particularly hard. They had to repair most of the buildings in Dubrovnik post-war, so for being so old, the town looks very well preserved.
We were soaked with sweat, par-for-the-course in Croatia at this point, so we found our way to Buza Bar, a café bar built into the rocks, overlooking the sea that we had all heard about before. Can’t say any of us were very impressed – it wasn’t as picturesque as we were hoping, it was hot, no shade, no water, no restrooms, horrible service, overpriced and bad drinks.
One of the few places in Croatia where the pictures are better than in person.
Still sweating, and now starving, we headed to the top of Old Town for lunch at Lady Pi-Pi, a restaurant recommended to both Catherine and Jillian. Luckily, this one didn’t disappoint. It had a great view of the city, a lovely (shaded!) terrace and good food and wine.
Post-lunch, we made our way to the cable car (transportation mode #4). Upon arriving at the top of the hill, we realized quickly that this was a complete tourist trap. $18 for a 3-minute ride in a cable car, where you are packed in like sardines and every lookout point has an obscured view of the city. The views were about the same as from the highest point on the city wall.
We did, however, see a few people hop the wall and walk out to a nicer viewpoint. Given Croatia’s lax rules, we followed suit and Catherine got some excellent pictures of us. So we’ll chalk this up to a very expensive picture opp.
At this point, we all just wanted to escape the crowds and heat, neither of which are options in Dubrovnik. We walked to Banje Beach, which was equally as crowded but at least we were able to sit under an umbrella at a café. Granted, we paid for it with another overpriced drink – a warm Coke Zero. Just what I wanted when I was overheated!
We stopped at a Konzum to stock up on snacks before hailing a taxi (transportation mode #5) to the ferry ports. Sitting down on the ferry (transportation mode #6), we were all thinking the 5 hour trip home wouldn’t be too bad – we had leather(ish) seats, a table and could walk onto the deck if we needed some fresh air.
False. The seats gave us all permanent back problems and the deck was perfectly positioned behind the ferries’ exhaust pipes, so we were engulfed with smoke every time we went outside. We did, however, get to see a few cute island towns every time we picked up more passengers.
All-in-all, I’m very glad we went to Dubrovnik, but I’ll probably never go back. It’s so overrun with tourists so you pay for everything, it’s all overpriced and there are crowds everywhere. It did, however, make us all appreciate Split that much more. Split is a very livable tourist town – the locals and tourists coexist together so you never feel like you’re at Disneyland and it’s always easy to find a respite from the crowds.