Observations of Dubrovnik

Posted: April 8th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: ATW Updates | No Comments »


In winter, unless your vacation intention is for some peace and quiet, Dubrovnik (and Croatia in general) is not a prime place for tourists.  I mean, there’s low season in places like Istanbul when the prices are cheaper and the crowds less, and then there’s low season in Croatia which is basically as dead as it gets.  The nightclubs are closed, most of the restaurants are closed, half the museums are closed, and many day trips and tours don’t get going again until April.  In fact, the manager of the property we rented actually spent a good majority of his time with us alternately apologizing for the deadness of Croatia around this time of year and asking us why we were here in Croatia at this time of the year anyways. 

Rick and I happen to enjoy peace and quiet, which is a  very good thing since we spent 50% of our days in Dubrovnik indoors due to rather violent thunderstorms.  There’s a certain comfort to be had when one is inside, heater on, internet blazing fast, a hot cup of tea and a hot spouse by one’s side, while the windows rattle with the force of wind and rain outside.  I spent the majority of time catching up on TV shows, writing short stories, editing an old novel, reading books & blogs, cooking, and napping.  Rick watched videos on cars, philosophical debates, engineering discussions, trivia gameshows, video game speedruns, and an innumerable amount of mathematical explanations for infinite series summations (you’ll have to ask him to explain further, if curious) along with reading books and taking on an online programming class on the side.  Utter bliss, I tell you.  We have entirely too many hobbies between the two of us, but we’d probably do quite well as a team for most trivia gameshows provided there’s no time pressure. 

The other 50% of the time, we wandered around the Old City of Dubrovnik, utterly beautiful, the sort of city one pictures when imagining an European city with its stone walls and red-tiled roofs.  It’s a place where every corner is a photo opportunity and every angle is striking, where even the alleyways are picturesque.  Walking along its stone streets, I imagined the buildings of the city bursting into song "I feel pretty, oh so pretty!  I feel pretty and witty and bright!"  Though we may not have “done” as much, we didn’t feel the loss.  Dubrovnik’s own landscape is enough on its own.  Others seem to feel the same as us, since the Borgias were filming in the city at the same time (plus I know Game of Thrones film here also).  The fur-lined wagons, draped pennants, richly decorated horses, and the extras swishing around in decadent garb certainly added to the atmosphere.


However, we did manage to check a few things off our list, thanks to the Dubrovnik Card which is quite low-priced if you do every single thing listed on the card, rather easy to do in 3 days  (162HRK if purchased online; HIGHLY recommended for the discount & easy to pick up at the tourist information center). It includes the Dubrovnik City Walls, Rupe Ethnographic Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Dulčić-Masle-Pulitika Gallery, the Marin Drzic House, the Rector’s Palace, a Fine Arts Gallery, and public transportation. 


The Dubrovnik Card makes up most of its cost simply through the Dubrovnik City Walls. It’s a long hike, but not difficult.  We spent a good 3 hours traversing the entire length, but that was mostly due to our incessant picture-taking and our dawdling pace.  You will get the BEST views both of the city and the ocean. 

Plus, if you have the City Walls ticket, you can also visit the Fort Lovrijenac for free. If you face the drawbridge, there’s a set of stairs on your left, which lead down into a small children’s playground.  Cross past that to the edge where the ocean waves crash against a stone beach.  There are benches there where we whiled away many a hour.  On the right, facing the water, you’ll see a small path that curves away.  Walk along there, past the piers with the fishermen with their long spindly poles. You’ll eventually see stairs leading up a large hill (don’t worry, it’s rather obvious).  The stairs are the tough part, but with each flight we completed, we were rewarded with new gorgeous perspectives of Dubrovnik.  Climb until there are no more stairs.  Flash your City Walls ticket, and you’ll get to spend another hour or so exploring a wonderful stone fortress.  I think there’s another easier way to get here, but I think this way is definitely the most scenic.  Plus, it felt like we were on an exploration adventure.  IMGP6835edit

While we enjoyed all the museums, most are quite small, in narrow four-story houses.  In fact, the entire first floor of the Ethnographic museum was empty due to renovation.  Our favorite of all of the museums was the Dulčić-Masle-Pulitika Gallery. This tiny gallery is quite a gem, not so much for the art it contains, but the passionate employees they have working for them.  The art is gorgeous, of course, the first floor containing the work of 3 Croatian artists (the name of the gallery), the second floor containing the work of a guest artist.  But, the art took on a whole new dimension when the girl managing the gallery explained the similarities and differences between the artists, the stories behind some of the characters inhabiting the paintings, as well as how the artist’s personal history changed the way they approached the art.  It reminded me to not just focus on the art, but the connections art has to history, time’s influences, and to the artist themselves. 

Another hidden gem is the small free museum near the Rector’s palace, a memorial to those who lost their lives during the conflicts between Serbia and Croatia and into Bosnia fought from 1991-1995.  There are small memorials around the city of this time, and there are still places that look bombed out.  For me, it has a special meaning.  When I was young, I read a book called “Zlata’s Diary”.  It was the diary of a young girl in Sarajevo, Bosnia during this time of conflict.  I read it over and over again, a little girl reading about this other little girl on the other side of the world.  To me, it was more real than Anne Frank, because Anne Frank was “history”, but Zlata was someone very near my age.  So, in that plain room, I looked at the black-and-white faces of young men, in their twenties and thirties, and thought of how tragic war was. 


In the Old City itself, there’s an air of waiting, of renewal.  There are constant repairs and renovation going on wherever you look.  We wandered the gardens of the Franciscan Monastery and tried out the funny-looking balancing stone nearby with its googly-carved eyes and deceptive slippery nature.  Rick almost smashed his face into the wall while attempting this feat, so beware of your own teeth.  And when the sky grew dark with approaching evening or angry storm clouds, we’d hide away again in our cozy apartment, content to rest and wait awhile also. 


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