by Carmen Allan-Petale
Dubrovnik captivates you as soon as you walk over the drawbridge and through an archway within the fortress of the city walls.
It feels as though you are stepping back in time to the Middle Ages, with its cobbled streets, absence of cars and houses built out of crumbling brick. However, it’s much cleaner than it would’ve been back then, and this was one of the reasons why we loved it. It has just as much, if not more, charm than the picturesque cities of Paris or Venice, and is also without the dirt or the beggars.
The people are very friendly too and, unlike places like Italy or Spain where they charge you to sit down or for bread you never ordered, hospitable and willing you to have a good time.
At Moskar we feasted on a seafood platter which cost about £30 for the two of us and consisted of mussels, prawns, linguini, white fish, sardines and more. Dave enjoyed it washed down with some local Croatian beer and I sipped on white wine.
Although its name suggests otherwise, Taj Mahal is actually a Bosnian restaurant and for the first time in our lives we ate Bosnian food. It was delightful, as the Bosnians seem to be big on their meats and so we had chevapis, which are like little sausages, as well as the meat stew, stuffed aubergines and a Greek salad that had its own twist – it was served with egg.
Aside from fattening yourself up at one of the many Dubrovnik restaurants, there are a lot of things to see and do in the quaint town that has a population of just 1,000 locals.
We started by visiting the city walls, which are the longest city walls in Europe that are still intact. Once you are on the walls you can look down at a sea of terracotta roofs and peek into some of the gardens that run alongside the skirtings of the fortress. Although parts of the walls were destroyed when Yugoslavia seized the city in the early ‘90s, they have been rebuilt to blend seamlessly into the original fortress which was constructed between the 12th and 17th centuries.
You can walk the entire walls, which are around 2km long and as high as 25m in some parts, in about two hours although it took us longer because we stopped off for a drink at a juice bar and visited the maritime museum along the way.
The maritime museum details the city’s rich shipping history, with its golden years being during the 16th century when it rivalled Venice, and before the city’s earthquake in 1667 in which almost the entire city was destroyed and 5,000 people killed. The exhibit covers two floors and is worthwhile visiting if you purchase the Dubrovnik 24 hour card which includes entrance to most of the town’s museums for about £14.
Walking along the city walls can work up a sweat and one of the best ways to cool down is to find the hole in the walls behind the cathedral which leads to cliffs of which to jump off into the bright blue sea. We weren’t so daring and only jumped off the lowest of the rocks, while some of the local kids were climbing up the cliffs which had to have been about 15m high and catapulting themselves from there. Crazy.
Dubrovnik is both a romantic town and one that is busy in both the day and in the evenings, when clubs and jazz bars come to life with outdoor music booming across the square next to the cathedral.
It’s a city that has something for everyone and will no doubt entrap you in its charm when you visit too.