22nd September 2016
21st- 22nd September
As our sojourn here has been curtailed due to the campsite/prices, we have to pack in as much as we can. We last passed this way in 1987 when it was still communist and our cruise ship gave us an afternoon to explore on our own with dire warnings to behave. I've told the story so many times of how difficult it was spend the 30,000 dinars or something that I had received in London for my £5 which in 1987 I deemed would be enough to buy 2 coffees (in fact 2 coffees and 2 cakes cost 2000 wotsits leaving me with 28000 to get rid of in 2 hours....but you've all heard the story......)
So up with the sun and bus to town, about 15 mins, and very pretty it all was. Most buses terminate at entrance to walled city, along with coaches and cruise line shuttles so chaos reigns. The city already has a traffic problem, never having been built to accommodate the motor car and is now like Venice, sinking under the daily influx of tourists. The area is a riot of booths selling a million and one types of tour,visit,excursion,experience and adventure and you have to run the gauntlet of being accosted just to get to the tourist office. We have seen audio guides advertised and expect the tourist office to hire them, but the empty office is explained when we are told to go back outside and find a booth.....private enterprise is alive and well and encouraged in the former Socialist Republic of Croatia. We battle through the hordes and find a nice young lady who obliges with 2 Sony MP3 players, a map and explicit instructions for the 2 tours included in the 60kuna price( £7.50each)...a tour of the city walls which completely encircle the old town and a tour of the old town.
We head through the gates and gain access to the city walls (another 120 kuna or £15 each ). The audio guide is good, very informative and lots of background info on the historical setting. The complete circuit takes about 2.5hrs with much climbing up and down steps.....no disabled concessions here. The crowds are immense and the sun is hot enough to keep me on water rather than beer. Completing the tour, we buy excellent sandwiches and eat them sitting on the harbour wall in the shade. We attack the town in the afternoon, the audio guide again doing a sterling job...the section on the Serbo- Croat war and the 1991 siege of Dubrovnik is superb and details the shelling of the city and the destruction of many monuments, all of which have subsequently been rebuilt and restored. We are exhausted by 5pm and I have to have a beer....a beer and a soft drink for the lady cost £9. It's not a cheap city but it's lovely. The same 500ml bottle of beer costs 90p in the camp shop so I have 2 when we get back...
Next dawns just as bright and sunny and we have decided to walk into the city as there are interesting things to see on the way and the tomtom shows the walking route as a mere 4 kms and it takes about 45 mins and is very pleasant . As we have done the cultural / historical bit, today is just about wandering up and down the narrow streets and passages and soak in the whole thing. I love it. 30 years ago we never saw any of this....there were no shops or restaurants....now it is wall to wall mass marketing and tourism on a huge scale but the fabric of the old town is completely unspoilt. ...nothing has been allowed to be developed so all the facades are untainted with shop signs or advertising, those are all in the windows or doorways so as you look down the street you see the buildings as they have been for hundreds of years. Love it. Looking for a cache we discover a bar on the rocks under the city walls which has a view to die for.....people queue to get a seat, and the same beer and soft drink costs another £9.
We have lunch in excellent street of a thousand restaurants which only costs an arm and not the leg and spend hours walking around in the afternoon.
Are tired so get the bus back to campsite.....overloaded buses are a fact of life it seems, car parking is more a case of abandoning your vehicle wherever there's an inch of pavement
We feel we've done Dubrovnik, I'd certainly return, even in a hotel.