Trying to Ring them Bells, or Two Days in Dubrovnik
Please forgive my absence from the blogosphere. I’ve been dealing with a difficult personal situation that puts travel, points, and blogging in their proper perspective. But I’m hoping to catch up and churn out posts from my August trip to Croatia this week.
Dubrovnik has long had a reputation of being a gorgeous waterfront escape, with a rich and historic old town. Unfortunately, that reputation has gotten out, and, at least in August while I was there, Dubrovnik’s Old Town resembled the Coliseum in Rome, or the Parthenon in Athens – wall to wall tourists. The city is still beautiful, though.
The Old Town itself is very small, and very walkable. I did a walk around the entire area in about 15 minutes in the afternoon after arriving. Even the smaller side streets were non-navigable, as tourists from Europe and several German cruise ship excursions flooded the streets, with their shops of overpriced tourist shlock and underwhelming pizza places.
On my second day, I woke up early and headed directly to the City’s most notable attraction – the walk along the City walls. There were really stupendous views, though few of my pictures came out due to the crowds of tourists. Traffic often came to a complete standstill due to picturetaking that had to be done at the narrowest point of the walkway. Also, it was hot, with a super strong sun, meaning that after the 30 minute walk, it was time for me to shower and change into a dry shirt.
I was able to see a few more of the sights in Dubrovnik, though some of the more interesting ones were outside the Old Town and didn’t seem worth the schlep. There was a very small Jewish museum and synagogue, which took about ten minutes to explore.
After seeing all there was to see on day 2, I decided I’d take the 15-minute ferry to Lokrum, one of the larger islands off the coast, only about 2000 feet from the port of Dubrovnik. The island is pretty heavily wooded, and has a botanical garden, hiking areas, and several beaches. My research suggested that the beaches weren’t that great, as they were pretty rocky, but it is the most accessible for an afternoon excursion.
Lokrum has a gay beach, so as a gay person, I figured I’d go there. The path to the “FKK”, initials from German used to denote nude beach, was pretty well marked. And the directions to get to the gay part were “keep walking.” Now, when people said the beach was rocky, I thought that meant big pebbles in the sand. Not quite. Instead, the “beach” was a cliff, with people parking themselves on towels on various ledges. In my flip flops, this was not an easy adventure, but I found the gay area, which had maybe a dozen people. Most hilarious were the tour boats of Japanese tourists that came by and pointed, laughed, and gawked at the beach. After 30 minutes reading in complete discomfort, I gave up, and tried to head to another part of the island. Alas, I could not find my way out, and ended up having a panic attack, stuck on a rock, with my leg bleeding, before some strapping Brits came along and gave me a boost from above. From there, I got lost in the woods, before finally emerging on a marked path, where I found a chicken.
I ended up then sitting for a bit with my book and a beer at a tiny little bar/cafe, before heading back to the ferry.
In Dubrovnik for the evening, I had a mediocre dinner at a touristy restaurant, but in a gorgeous location. Then it was back to the Hilton for a good night’s rest before my early morning departure.
In all, I recommend Dubrovnik if you are going to be just relaxing and taking in the view, and not in August. Rent a villa and a car, or stay outside the City and use the well- If you’re like me and like going to places where there’s stuff to do, though, it might not be worth the trip.