I believe travelling to Croatia is a right of passage for most Australians. Realising Kings Landing is filmed in Dubrovnik reignited my need to travel to this Croatian city. Game of Thrones has put this beautiful Dalmatian coast on the map even more so.
My flight landed mid morning into Dubrovnik. I booked a shuttle coach from the airport down to the tiny city below. The bus ride was scenic with cliffs on the right and the gorgeous sea on the left. Seeing the Old City from high up was breath taking. I could imagine Tyrion Lannister walking along those walls giving orders for the Battle at Blackwater.
There was only one stop in the old city so I disembarked. Thanks to offline google maps I found my route to the tiny laneway that hid the guesthouse I had booked. The pathways weren’t very wide, which meant having to step out onto the road quite a lot. That, while travelling uphill dragging a suitcase was quite the challenge. I found the laneway but struggled to find the house number. After accidentally walking into some private yards I did eventually find the right one, thankfully I didn’t cop any verbal abuse. I checked into a private room with a shared bathroom, all about that frugal travel life.
I was quite annoyed by the time I settled in my room. I was hot and sticky and hungry. After a cold shower I headed downhill in the direction I had just come from. I ducked into a cocktail bar and asked the barman if they served any nibbles to which his abrupt reply was ‘do our tables look like we serve food.’ In my hangry state I thought it extremely rude, most bars will serve snacks. I decided I wasn’t going to go back there at all. Screw them, I’d spend my Euros elsewhere getting tipsy. I moved on to another bar which did serve food. The prices were a little higher than anticipated, and with this being my final stop on my European adventure having already travelled for almost three weeks, I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu. House white and a chicken caeser salad. I did not regret the salad at all. The chicken and bacon were so succulent and the salad dressing divine. I could feel my hips expanding as I sat there. In between mouthfuls I had to put up with questioning from my waiter curious to know why I was travelling alone.
It was a struggle to move on but I needed to stock up on fluids for the next three nights. I crossed the road to get bottles of water, snacks and apple juice to ensure my sugar didn’t drop too low. I trekked back uphill to my room. Thankfully there was a mini fridge in my room. The owner had mentioned that if I continued to climb the stairs right to the top I’d get excellent views of the ocean. And then if I trekked down the cliffs I’d be able to access the beach. She wasn’t lying. The views were absolutely incredible. I made my way down to the beach. Being a cliff edge the beach was quite rocky, no sands. I’d definitely be coming back to get a few shades darker. On the way back up the cliff edge I had to stop half way for a rest. The heat was causing some dizziness . Once I did get back to my room I decided on just resting for what remained of the day.
I woke up late the next morning. Sun already blistering. On my way down to the Old City I stopped by the bar from the previous night and ordered a croissant and tea. The waiter recognised me and with some very direct questions tried to gauge if I was single. He even had a go at the Aussie accent, explaining that so many of us travel through he was now used to the way we spoke. I laughed it off.
I made my way into the City Walls and walked around the markets and up and down many stairs and around to the port. I could picture the GoT cast walking the Old City, Cersei’s famous words “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” The views were spectacular. I couldn’t believe the views could get better, but they did. There was a staircase outside the City Walls that lead to a higher vantage point. It took me 4 rest stops to get to the top, purely due to the heat. But once I reached the top it was completely worth it. I overcame my state of delirium and took in the sights for quite a while.
I needed to see these sights in the night time so I headed back to my room for a nap. En route I stopped by a bakery and picked up a beef pastry which I promptly enhaled. The afternoon nap was welcomed promptly. I woke a few hours later and freshened up for my evening city viewing. Dubrovnik looked beautiful at night, but I preferred the stunning city by day. I followed the City Walls admiring the old architecture. On my way back to the guesthouse I decided to treat myself to a seafood dish. I stopped at a fancy looking restaurant and ordered a seafood risotto with a shot of aperol. I knew I’d spend the next and final day on a tight budget but the meal was absolutely worth it. I burnt off the calories waddling back uphill to my room.
Early next morning I made my way back to the bakery from the previous day and bought myself another beef pastry. I then made my way to the rocky beach from my first day and found myself a flat rock to chill on. There were a group of toned men perched on another rock practising their diving skills into the water. A view with a show. I eventually did make my way into the crystal clear water. After a while I headed back to my rock for some sun bathing.
Eventually I made my way back to my room for a shower, then on I went to meander the City Walls one last time. I had my final €85. I spent €45 on a boat trip around the city coast which was absolutely worth it. It was beautiful to see the city from this view. We sailed to the beach I had been earlier, around some of the smaller islands viewing fish through the glass bottom of the boat. We circled back heading towards the port passing by some of the old buildings still showing bomb shell damage from the civil war back in the 90’s. The captain imparted a lot of the local history, the American tourists being the most curious. An hour later we had arrived back to our starting point.
I sat on one of the benches along the pier watching tourist boats go in and out as the sun set on my last night in Dubrovnik. With the last of my funds I headed to one of the seafront restaurants for a salad and wine. With dissatisfaction I headed on back to my room to pack up my stuff.
I woke up early to see my inquisitive waiter and bid him farewell. Before I did I lined my belly with a delicious omelette and washed it down with a strong cup of tea. And with that I strolled back to the guesthouse for my final 2 hours before check out. I took full advantage of the wifi and aircon, sipping on what was left of my apple juice.
10am came and I handed my keys back to the owner. I dragged my suitcase up the flight of stairs that stood outside the Old City Walls. I lost count of the number of times I had to stop for a rest. The heat and the weightt drained me. By the time I got to the airport coach stop I was ready for a shower, food and nap. It was around 12pm when I reached the airport. Only 10 hours to go before my flight departed.
Waiting in airports is boring. Especially when you’re heading home with a few euros in your wallet. The wifi was limited to 2 hours so I had to use it wisely. My ipod had half battery. I people watched for as long as I could before I gave into the wifi. Once that ran out I found a cafe where I could order a sandwich and coffee for a couple of euro and charge my phone. I resigned to more people watching. I eavesdropped many stories but the best one was a young couple who looked to be travelling together for the first time. He’d forgotten to book the shuttle transfer. She lost it. Where was the popcorn? I always think the best way to test your relationship, to really know if they are the one, is to travel together. In this instance the issue could’ve been easily solved by booking one of the shuttle companies that departed every 10 minutes. I am sure those who had noticed the couple had also realised the easy solution. We could’ve been good samaritans and pointed this out, but there was some pleasure in watching the simple solution literally pass them by again and again. This was a scenario of turning a molehill into a mountain, with lots of shouting.
I eventually tore myself away from the young couple’s dilemma as I had just remembered to purchase some postcards. Some people buy shot glasses, others tacky souvenirs, however when I travel I buy postcards. There’s something old fashioned and romantic about going through postcards of where you’ve been.
The check in counter finally opened 3 hours before the flight departure. I promplty checked in wanting to rid myself of this suitcase. Once I was at the gate I bought myself one last meal, another sandwich and bottle of water to last me the flight. We eventually boarded and took off around 10pm. I plugged my ipod into my ears and slept. The next time I woke was due to turbulence as we started our descent into London Luton airport just after midnight. And that readers, marked the end to my European adventure.