Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Croatia chapter Dubrovnik and Southern Dalmatia has to say about Dubrovnik:
Pile Gate - The natural starting point to any visit to Dubrovnik, this fabulous city gate was built in 1537. While crossing the drawbridge, imagine that this was once lifted every evening, the gate closed and the key handed to the rector. Notice the statue of St Blaise, the city’s patron saint, set in a niche over the Renaissance arch.
After passing through the outer gate you’ll come to an inner gate dating from 1460, and soon after you’ll be struck by the gorgeous view of the main street, Placa, or as it’s commonly known, Stradun, Dubrovnik’s pedestrian promenade.
Onofrio Fountain - One of Dubrovnik’s most famous landmarks, this large fountain was built in 1438 as part of a water-supply system that involved bringing water from a well 12km away. Originally the fountain was adorned with sculpture, but it was heavily damaged in the 1667 earthquake and only sixteen carved masks remain, with water dribbling from their mouths into a drainage pool.
Orlando’s Column - Luza Square?? once served as a marketplace, and the stone column – carved in 1417 and featuring the image of a medieval knight – used to be the spot where edicts, festivities and public verdicts were announced. The knight’s forearm was the official linear measure of the Republic – the ell of Dubrovnik (51.1cm).
War Photo Unlimited - An immensely powerful experience, this gallery features intensely compelling exhibitions curated by New Zealand photojournalist Wade Goddard, who worked in the Balkans in the 1990s. Its declared intention is to ‘expose the myth of war...to let people see war as it is, raw, venal, frightening, by focusing on how war inflicts injustices on innocents and combatants alike’. There’s a permanent exhibition on the upper floor devoted to the wars in Yugoslavia, but the changing exhibitions cover a multitude of conflicts.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We booked a week-long stay at an AirBnB apartment in Dubrovnik because we knew we’d need some time to adjust to the difference in time and to stop feeling so jet-lagged. When we looked at the weather forecast for the city just before leaving Los Angeles, we could see a big storm brewing, with heavy rain predicted for at least one day, and then nothing but sunshine for at least three days after that.
We didn’t worry about the weather because we knew we’d be happy to stay indoors during the storm, waking up at odd hours of the day and night. The last of our three flights from LA didn’t arrive until 11:00pm so we stayed in a hotel recommended by our AirBnB host; it was right next door to the apartment building. We took it pretty easy the first day, but made our first excursion into the Old City on our second day in order to get a glimpse before the storm arrived.
We decided to walk from the port area where we were staying after we were told it would take about a half hour, but we dawdled so much it took us a full hour before the terracotta rooftops of the walled city came into view. It did not disappoint! However, once we walked down the countless steps to reach Pile Gate, we were taken aback by the throngs of cruise ship tourists bunched in groups everywhere we looked.
Though we had heard how popular Dubrovnik has become in recent years, especially since many episodes of the world-famous ‘Game of Thrones’ series were filmed there, we still couldn’t believe our eyes. The crowds are so constant that the city has been forced to put up ropes to separate those entering from those departing at the Pile Gate. They even have arrows to direct visitors to walk on the right as they cross the drawbridge.
I prefer to have as few people as possible in my photos, so I held my camera aloft and snapped my first photo of the city walls high above everyone’s head. The benches around the distinctive Onofrio Fountain just inside the gate were filled to capacity, so we just walked on and took a quick detour off the main street hoping to find things a little less jam-packed. It was better, but not by much.
We walked across the width of the Old City and bailed out the Ploče Gate at the eastern side. We were pleased to find buses just outside the gate that would take us back to our peaceful neighbourhood with just a quick change at the Pile Gate.
As luck would have it, the storm reach Dubrovnik late in the evening and though there was heavy rain throughout much of the night; that was all the rain we saw during our entire stay. We ended up extended our booking for one more night because we weren’t quite ready to move on to Montenegro.
Over the course of the remaining days we were in and out of the Old City and I took photos of things that we wanted to remember. We didn’t visit any of the museums because they seemed to be too crowded for our taste but we did take in the War Photo Unlimited exhibition, and came away quite moved by it.
We found the best times to visit the Old City was late in the afternoons once the cruise ship passengers had returned to their ships and the streets were relatively quiet. There are literally hundreds of small apartments that are rented out to visitors within the city walls, and just outside, so there are always others around to keep the shops, cafés and restaurants busy.
I just can’t imagine what the summer is like along the Adriatic, and in Dubrovnik especially with the hoards of tourists and the temperatures in the 40Cs. Yes, the beaches provide some relief from the soaring temperatures, but I’ll take 25C and the occasional storm in the autumn any day.