Let's start by saying that Croatia is amazing. Now I'm sure you can see the picture above this, and what you are looking at is a view from the range of mountains along the coastline, looking down at the city of Dubrovnik.
Croatia feels like a country that is rapidly making its way towards being a first-world country. They have pretty much been accepted into the EU and will be fully into it by 2013. However, we still had to use their currency while we were there. It's always annoying to have to use a different minor currency since you have to make a special effort to think of how much you're going to spend, as you don't want to be getting too much and not too little either, as there's always the conversion fees to kinda worry about.
Dubrovnik is not the biggest city in Croatia, nor the capital, but it is by far the most beautiful. It was built as a maritime trade town, with pretty good defenses against pirates and armies that might try take it over because of it's good position and wealthy trade routes. In fact, in 1991 it was besieged for 8 months by Serbians. We were actually given a tour of the city by a woman who was a little girl living in Dubrovnik during the time. A lot of the city was destroyed during the siege, but the Serbs didn't take over the city. The city was restored afterward to pretty much how it was before.
There is a wall all the way round the city, and I walked on the wall around the entire city in about an hour and a half, and was given some great views of both the city and the surrounding area. We didn't actually stay inside the city walls, it being a tiny city accommodation is of course very expensive. But we did stay within walking distance so all was merry. You can't get cars or bikes into the city, there are only a few entrances and there's always a healthy stream of people going in and out.
Our first night we went to a club and had cocktail buckets that were pretty good and pretty decently priced. The night wasn't too eventful, unless you count Brett making friends with a Croat gang, shouting them drinks all night and getting in a gang fight with some other gang as eventful. Myself on the other hand, I was trying to talk to some French girls that couldn't speak a word of English. My French is definitely not good enough to sustain any kind of conversation.
The next day we had a 9am tour of the city. There's a cool clock tower which is interesting because the clock chimes every hour on the hour, and 3 minutes after as well. The reason for this is that the tower is used as a meeting place for people going on dates. Croats are usually known to be on time, and so the idea is that if the person you are waiting for hasn't arrived by the second chime, then they aren't coming and you've just been stood-up. Here's the clock tower.
Here's one of the entrances to the city.
Because there isn't a whole lot of space in the buildings, stairways are very small and so the only way to get furniture inside is to hoist it up through the windows. Note in this picture the hooks and eyelets at the windows.
An interesting fact: the kitchen is always on the top floor. This is so if there's a fire you won't die in your sleep. Another interesting fact: all the stairways have bricks down the railings so that you can't see anyone's ankles if you are looking up from below. In the past, a woman's ankles were regarded as the most sexy feature. When women went up or down stairs they of course needed to lift their dresses. A simple counter measure for the naughty ankle-oglers.
Like I said before, the wall afforded me some good views.
After walking around all morning I paused for a quick kebab and then rejoined the Contiki group on our private cruise boat!
We spent the rest of the afternoon cruising around to the nearby islands. The water was magnificent, warm, and not too salty (you could open your eyes under water).
We stopped twice, once to jump off the boat for a great swim, and once for a great seafood lunch at a great little island restaurant we found. I had the Croatian specialty: black rice (along with plenty other things) which is rice with the ink of squid. It gives it a great flavour!
Sea urchins! Lots of them!
When we returned back to Dubrovnik we freshened up and then walked up to the gondola that takes you up the mountain behind Dubrovnik. And what could we see? Well, plenty.
And a great sunset.
We headed back down into town and decided we hadn't had enough of this amazing seafood, so went to a rather nice restaurant and I ordered the seafood mix. Delicious.
The rest of the night was spent drinking plenty of wine, and socialising, and merrymaking. What a day! The next morning we were traveling up to the north of Croatia, to Zagreb (the capital). I was feeling quite seedy since I don't usually drink wine all night.
And that folks, is Dubrovnik. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed remembering all the great times. If you're ever looking for an awesome place to holiday in Europe, this should be at the top of your list.