Dubrovnik is known as The Pearl of the Adriatic Sea. Its beauty entrances each viewer, like a siren at sea, making one never want to leave its city walls. Majestic buildings of white proudly stand tall, encompassing the beautiful village. The blue sea calmly rests next to the fortress walls. Grand arches and dignified architecture decorate the buildings as vast and long walkways lead to open courtyards. Multiple alleyways, perpendicular to the main walkways and courtyards, secretly lead away and uphill amongst knobby steps while green ivy drapes overhead like Mother Earth's hair itself. The alleyways are shaded and quiet where residents live. Tourists relax at outdoor cafes and restaurants, gelato shops, and beautiful fountains with steps. The sea and its pebble beach, sprinkled with small boats, also attract tourists.
As I'm talking Dubrovnik up, I have to be honest that I did not enjoy my time there so much. I see the potential it has and I understand that I should return, but differently, and enjoy it much more. While traveling, sometimes you just hit a wrong place/wrong time situation.
I visited in the dead of summer.
It's. So. Hot. The city is encompassed by large, reflective walls and the sun sat above mercilessly beating down on me. I barely felt a breeze on my sticky, shiny face the entire time I was there. I only stayed in Old Town for about 2 hours and by the time I left I was drenched in sweat. I did not want to see everything, including the 2 most important things to see, which were the city walls and the beaches. I had enough and left.
You must understand that Dubrovnik is probably the most popular tourist destination for Croatia. I could barely walk a straight line without a crowd of tourists bumping into me. I was constantly weaving through people. That mixed with a really hot day was not fun.
I was not prepared for the price. Dubrovnik is extremely expensive. I was hitting a point in my travels where I went from frugal to miserly. My funds were dwindling and the cost of food, tours, beer, and accommodation made me feel a bit overwhelmed.
I was alone.
Now, I'm solo traveling Europe and being alone is actually one of the coolest things I've ever done. However, I would have given anything to be with my girlfriends, family, or boyfriend. The city seemed so romantic to me, adorned with fancy seafood restaurants, boats, beaches, and wine. Its beauty and family-oriented/couple-oriented crowd made me feel a bit sad. It wasn't a place where I could walk into a bar and start up a conversation with a bunch of random people. Everyone was already in a group. Usually I don't mind but the beauty and romance of the city made me feel a bit bummed to be there alone. *sigh*
I had 2 days here but only spent a few hours in the Old City. I went at the wrong time of day. I woke up and hopped on my bus to head to Old City. It was the middle of the day and too hot and bright to function. I truly wished I had waited until the evening and then went to the Old City. I left the city and didn't want to return for a better time of day due to the bus being about 15 minutes long and full of grumpy, pushy people. I chilled at my hostel for the rest of the day instead. I was exhausted.
There you have it! Go to Dubrovnik but don't do it like I did.
I made some rookie mistakes but I know that the city can be a wonderful place to visit. I would love to visit again with friends! Hear that friends? Let's plan something!
On my second day instead of returning to Old Town with nothing to do but sweat and spend money, I decided to pay 35 euros for a cruise to the Elaphite Islands off Dubrovnik. It included unlimited wine and a fresh fish meal for lunch. We stopped at 3 islands to swim and drink. It was an amazing deal and beautiful cruise. I barely took any photos because it rained the first half of the cruise. However, enjoy the few yet beautiful images of the sea below! The water was so blue and clear that I could have mistaken it for a pool of blue curacao.
Next time I visit Dubrovnik I will:
Visit in Spring or Fall
See the beach
Save more money and enjoy a seafood dish with wine
Walk the fortress walls
Take more and better photographs
What is funny is between Mostar, Bosnia and Dubrovnik, Croatia, these two places have been my least favorite cities I have visited. They were the two most important places for me to visit, too! Don't ever let expectations lead you too much and don't ever turn down other options because you never know where you will end up and what you will come to love. I had no plans to visit Sarajevo and I have been here for 2 weeks because I love it so much. I had no plans to visit Serbia and I am headed there tomorrow. It's funny how the best plans are when there are no plans!