Visiting Dubrovnik has been near perfection. I know that sounds a bit extreme, but it is true. This paradise in the Adriatic Sea has been relaxing, beautiful and affordable. Although often mobbed by cruise passengers during the day, being here during the off season has thinned the crowds and made this an idyllic experience.
I would have been truly happy just sitting on the terrace looking out at the passing boats, kayakers and swimmers, but there are plenty of activities to occupy our time away from the apartment. Having already walked the city’s walls and explored much of what is housed inside Old Town, we thought today we should venture out onto the water. Dubrovnik has a plethora of water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking and island hopping tours. Because we have very little time here, we didn’t want to spend the whole day dedicated to one activity such as a three island tour, so we opted for a 50-minute cruise along the shore of Dubrovnik which also goes around a nearby island turned national park. It seems each time we turn a corner or get another perspective on the city, the views are even more beautiful. As we cruised the shoreline, we glimpsed people taking a dip in the sea or enjoying a drink at bars just outside the city walls. Sailing around the island, we saw caves begging for exploration and natural private shelves in the rock where people could sunbathe wearing nothing but a little SPF. We neared the shore and spotted a group of kayakers jumping from a cliff into the beautiful blue water. All around us people radiated happiness and relaxation. After spending ten days constantly on the go in Turkey, our friends Jack and Jon were thrilled to end their vacation in this way.
After sailing the high seas, we decided we couldn’t let our last day pass without heading to our favorite bar one more time. As a bar (drinks, service, music), Cafe Bar Bard is relatively average, really. Nothing out of the ordinary. And yet this is probably the most extraordinary bar I’ve been to. Chairs settle on rocks, while people lay around in swimsuits, occasionally jumping in for a swim. However, it is the view which makes this place so wonderful. Save a few boats and a nearby island, there is nothing but wide-open sea as far as the eye can see. As it turned darker with clouds, Jon kept taking photo after photo amazed at how the sky kept changing its shape and form, each time a bit more beautiful.
It is not only the natural beauty that entrances visitors to Dubrovnik. The city itself has white marble streets and buildings making it seem like something from a movie set or a painting. The marble literally sparkles at night and we all wonder if it secretly gets buffed when no one is around. It certainly has marks of age and wear from pedestrians trampling on it for centuries, but considering the age of the construction, it is remarkable how well it has held its beauty. The perfect setting for any wedding, we were not surprised when we saw two wedding couples getting photos and celebrating their nuptials. Our Air BnB host, Boris, informed us that getting married in Dubrovnik has become quite popular and people come from all over the world to say “I do” in this beautiful place. Of course, this has not always been the case. Boris also shared stories about the war in 1991 when Croatia was attacked by the Yugoslav People’s Army. He was here in Dubrovnik during a three month siege with no water, electricity or other resources. Boris watched the Old Town get bombed and saw the fortress at the top of the hill be destroyed. The same fortress where, just last night, we watched a gorgeous sunset. He spoke of this time with lingering amazement and recalled foraging the town gardens for food and spending $40 for 2 eggs to give his mother so she would not starve. Knowing Dubrovnik was actively engaged in war 20 years ago makes it even more remarkable that it has restored itself to a beautiful marvel.
For our final night, we wanted to have a slow evening filled with wine, food and friends. After getting kicked out of one restaurant because we were only going to order drinks, we combed through the menus trying to ignore the barrage of “barkers” trying to entice us to eat in their establishment. We finally chose one and started our evening. After finishing a bottle of wine, we decided on some appetizers. The friendly staff and tempting food at the next table convinced us to stay for dinner rather than moving on to another option. We are glad we did. The food was good, not great, but the atmosphere was warm and inviting. Our server brought us delicious bread with “Dalmatian” Sauce which is not made from cute, spotted dogs but rather a combination of olive oil, parsley and garlic. Yum. We were even offered blankets as the evening chilled and the rain began to set in. A nice long meal with drinks and dishes slowly being served in a great setting. All in all, it was a perfect end to a perfect day in this perfect city.
Now we must say goodbye to our friends as they head back home to real life. It was really wonderful to spend time with Jack; it was like having a little piece of home here with us in Croatia. Tomorrow, we board our return flight to Zagreb then grab the overnight train to Munich, Germany. Time is moving so quickly and we are trying to savor every moment. Luckily, we have no shortage of beautiful photographs to help us recall our experiences here and elsewhere.