After our biking tour with Women Tours and our adventures in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Krka National Park, we headed to the city of kings: Dubrovnik. A three hour drive south, following the freeway along the Adriatic Sea, unforgettable.
Upon arriving into the city of Dubrovnik, with some help from our Croatian GPS and our stellar Air B&B host, Nicolina, we made it to Old Town. It was like something out of a fairy-tale; a castle by the sea, surrounded by sailboats and blue water. There were people everywhere, and parking would have been a nightmare if not for the help of Nicolina and her father helping us find easier (and cheaper) parking. They both carried our bags down the steep stone stairs to this BEAUTIFUL little apartment with a balcony on the edge of the Old City with a signature and antique green front door.
Nicolina sat down with us and showed us all of her favorite places to go in the city. She told us where the locally owned restaurants were, where the ferry for Locrum Island was, and even gave us some fresh fruit. She was spectacular! After Nicolina left and we had some time to settle into our place, we headed out the door and down the steps into the city of kings.
We entered the promenade! My senses were overwhelmed; so many people in the streets, smells of fresh seafood filled my nostrils, the sun rested gently on my now tan skin, I hear the birds and the sounds of people talking and laughing all around, I was in awe. I was surrounded by the ancient city: it’s stone walls, the churches, fountains, statues, and the clock-tower. It was paradise.
We didn’t have much time to explore the city, but made it a good way around and then decided to eat at one of the restaurants that Nicolina recommended to us: Rozarios. We sat down at an outdoor table next to a small church. I ordered Punjene gljive s gorgonzolom (Stuffed Mushrooms with Gorgonzola Cheese) and Buzara od musla (Bouzzara-style mussels). Oh. My. Gosh. I would eat like this forever if I could, the food here in Croatia was SO ridiculously good.
After dinner we were all feeling very full, and the sun hadn’t gone just yet, so we headed down towards the water to watch the sunset. When we got down to the harbor, there was a man fishing. Each time he would catch a fish, he would place it into a small bucket next to him. His activities had not gone unnoticed by the local community of “dalmatian” cats, whom would sneak up to the bucket, and try and snatch a fish. This one succeeded, and after eating his fill, licked his paws.
We enjoyed the rest of our night on the balcony of the apartment, drinking some Croatian wine and people watching from our amazing Old Town spot.
It was day two in Old Town, and it was the first full day we had in Dubrovnik. We wanted to see as much of the city as we could. After preparing a simple breakfast of bread and fruit that my mom acquired at the local market that morning, we headed to see the City Walls. It was a gorgeous blue-bird day which couldn’t have made our views of the wall and the Old City any better! We walked around most of the wall, but didn’t do the entire thing due to the crowds and the heat!
After seeing the wall and exploring a bit more of the city, we headed toward the Dubrovnik Cable Car so that we could go to the Museum of the Homeland War. It was just a five minute walk from out apartment over to the ticket counter and the cable car. It was a really quick ride up and oh man did we love the views at the top!
After admiring the view for a while, we headed toward the Homeland War Museum. I decided that the best way to describe the museum was to reference the website of the museum. Below is the excerpt from their main page:
After the aggression of Serbia and Montenegro on the Dubrovnik area and the Republic of Croatia in 1991, and the ending of the Homeland War, the Museum of Contemporary History, with the support of the city of Dubrovnik, associated with Dubrovnik defenders and with associations that stemmed from the Homeland War considerably enriched its collections with material from the Homeland War, while the systematic study and presentation of this material gave rise to sixteen thematic exhibitions.
The museum material is kept in the Collection of Documents, the Collection of Materials for Memoirs, the Collection of Three Dimensional Objects and the Collection of Photographs and Negatives.
In Fort Imperial on Srđ hill, the exhibition Dubrovnik in the Homeland War 1991-1995 is on display. During the Homeland war, the fort was the first line of defense of Dubrovnik and housed the Command HQ of the 163rd Dubrovnik Brigade of the Croatian Army, becoming a symbol for the heroic defense of the city.
Original documents, art and documentary photographs from the Homeland War, armaments, mines and explosives, items of materiel, wartime flags of the units, authentic photographs and video material are on display (Museum Dubrovnik).
The work in the museum was sad, as any museum depicting a war would be. The most thought provoking part of it for me was an exhibit called “The Faces of War.” The following was written at the entrance to the exhibit, and gave background information to what the content of the exhibit was and what it meant for the Croatian people.
To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the decisive military and police action code-named Operation Storm, as well as Victory and National Thanksgiving Day and Croatian Veterans Day on the 5th of August, this summer the Croatian History Museum has organized an exhibition of Croatian war photography under the title “The Faces of War.” The photographs encompass the period of 1991 to 1995, presenting events from Croatia’s Homeland War. This exhibition, held with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Culture and the City of Zagreb, is a continuation of the Museum’s many years of efforts to cover the Homeland War. The exhibition presents approximately 200 photographs in classical enlargements and the same number in multimedia formats from the Museum’s own Collection of Photographs, Films and Negatives, and from similar institutions an the private collections of wartime photographers.
We then headed back to Old Town for some food and to explore the shops! My favorite shop was Game of Thrones themed (shocking I know). We browsed a bit and bought some souvenirs, and I even had a moment to sit upon the Iron Throne and see Tyrion Lannister (too bad he wasn’t real)!
After all of our adventures this day, it was getting late and once again time for some Dalmatian seafood! Sadly, I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant we went too, but oh I can remember that their seafood medley was straight from heaven and included scampi, octopus, scallops and fresh fish.
After filling our bellies to the brim once again, it was a walk around the Old City to enjoy live music in the promenade and then head to bed for some well earned rest.
It was now our final day in Croatia before we headed toward the doom and gloom of Dublin, Ireland. Seeing as it was out last day in the sun, we wanted to spend as much time outside as possible. This meant taking the ferry to Lokrum Island. Only a 10 minute ferry ride from the old city, it was a must see destination for us.
Upon arriving on the island, we walked past a couple of shops; some selling souvenirs and others selling adult beverages and food. There were maps all over the the island, marking the trails and your current location. Ironically, we spent most of our time on the island getting lost! There were some beautifully preserved churches and we did find the world famous Botanical Garden!
After meandering through the gardens, we headed back toward where we thought a good place to sunbathe would be. While lost and circling the island, we found an abandoned fortress, some ancient art, some supersized rabbits, and PEACOCKS (the famous residents of the island)!
After about an hour of getting lost and walking around the rocky island in the wrong shoes, we FINALLY found a place to lay in the sun. It may have been on the rocks, and overlooked a nudest beach (nudest rock section? ahaha), but it was perfect. The next hour or so was spent lounging in the sun, swimming for the last time in the Adriatic Sea, and absorbing the last of the Croatian sun.
After our time in the, sun, it was back to the Old City for our final night. After a shower and a change into some cute clothes, we headed out on the town for the final night. We walked through the streets, looked a local wares being sold, and even found quite a few local artists selling their art in the streets.
For our last Croatian sunset, we decided to go to a place with an unmatched view and reputation, Buza Bar.The bar setting is seriously UNREAL. You walk through this tiny “hole in the wall” and find yourself on the outside of the wall. The whole bar is resting on the rocks outside the wall, and many young men and women spend the evening purchasing drinks and cliff diving!
We ordered our cocktails, found a seat on the busy stairs and watched the sun set over the Adriatic. As the final light from the sun was setting, a ship sailed past the sunset, creating a beautiful silhouette, and the perfect end to our Croatian adventure.
“Museum Dubrovnik in Homeland War.” Museum Dubrovnik in Homeland War. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.