We were so excited as we boarded the ferry from Korcula on our way to Dubrovnik. The boat was packed, but we managed to slide into some first class seats for the journey. So many friends told us how much they loved this place and we were eager to see what they had been talking about. When the ferry pulled into port a little after noon, we were starving for lunch with about a 30-40 minute walk ahead of us. We eventually stopped at a small pizza joint about 10 minutes from the hostel then climbed the rest of the way to check in. The hostel was extremely basic, with a tiny room and a small shared kitchen for the 4 guest rooms (it had only the bare essentials, like one pot, few utensils and so on, but what else more can you expect for $26 a night?). The family was kind and did their best with what they had, but definitely a budget place.
Since we arrived mid-day, we still had time to head into Old Town to check it out. It was a good 40 minute walk to the gates of the old city, downhill from the hostel. Once there, we began to wander the small streets just as the crowds of tourists were leaving for their cruise ships. (We quickly learned that this is one of the busiest cruise ship destinations in Croatia).
At the recommendation of a few friends we made our way to Buza, a cliff side bar right on the edge of the city. Here we could see travelers as well as locals soaking in the warm air and even taking a cool dip in the sea. The brave ones were even leaping from the rocks into the water…of course we were some of the brave ones! We relaxed at one of the seaside tables waiting for sunset, a great first day in Dubrovnik. On the way home we grabbed a few groceries to keep everything on budget and went to bed early hoping to beat the crowds in the morning to walk the city walls.
We awoke to an early alarm, scrambled to get everything together including a small breakfast then scurried down to the Old Town. We were one of the first to arrive at the gates around 8am and soon had our ticket to the city walls. We had hoped to beat the crowds, but we were definitely not the only ones there. From the moment we arrived, there was a steady stream of people behind us as we slowly made our way around. With the early morning sun coming across the city at an angle, it took a little creativity to get some of our best photos. Without the camera though, the views were absolutely stunning and cannot be missed. After circling the city we finally made a stop for a much needed cappuccino at Buza.
By the time we finished our morning coffee, the crowds were taking over. We could barely get out of Buza without nearly pushing our way up the narrow stairs and onto the small city streets. Knowing that we had seen most everything we wanted in the Old Town, it was time to get out of the city walls. Ok, yes this sounds a bit exaggerated, but after coming from the quaint village of Korcula, we weren’t ready to be surrounded by so many people. I’ll say our expectations were a bit off from the get-go. Anyway, we saw all we wanted and decided to book a daytrip out of Dubrovnik to Mostar, Bosnia at one of the travel kiosks before heading back to our hostel.
Once back “home” we were exhausted. We thought about walking to some of the beaches in the newer parts of Dubrovnik, but ended up taking a little time to ourselves…AKA nearly 3 hour nap (maybe its call 3 hour sleep when its for that long). Once we woke up we had one more thing we wanted to do. The plan was to pack a small picnic and hike to the top of Mt. Srd to enjoy the sunset views from the top. With a small bag packed (my usual red backpack, that never leaves my side), we followed the trail as it zig-zagged up the mountain. (The hike up during the daylight hours wasn’t too bad, but don’t forget a flashlight or headlamp for the hike down in the dark). We were able to find a nice space to spread out with a perfect picnic spread. We certainly learned how to picnic while in NYC!
Sitting on the mountain top with my one and only was surely one of the most romantic moments of our trip…now I understand why our friends loved this place so much. Once the sun dipped behind the islands scattered in the distance and into the sea, we cautiously made our way back down the mountain with our trusty iPhone flashlights guiding the way.
The next morning, we met our driver for the day at the Lena’s Pizzeria to head off on our day trip to Mostar, Bosnia which would make a handful of other stops along the way. When he arrived at the pizza joint, I noticed the front seats were open and Whitney and I jumped in riding shotgun for the rest of the day! Our first stop along the way was the Kravice waterfalls. This expansive waterfall spreads 60-70 yards wide for a beautiful backdrop. We only had a few minutes to explore, but still took advantage of the moment by bravely jumping into the frigid waters. (We didn’t make it to the beach in Dubrovnik, so this was our next best option).
Afterward we cruised into Medjurgorje. This village has become a place of catholic pilgrimages ever since six children reported seeing visions of the Virgin Mary in 1981. The centerpiece of the village is St. James Church that now has hundreds of rows of pews spread around the perimeter of the church building allowing worshipers traveling from far away to participate in mass. I had never heard of this place, but apparently it draws tour busses from all over as the world so city is growing exponentially.
Anyway, on we went to our main destination for the day, Mostar, Bosnia. Mostar is an interesting city in the Herzegovina region of the country that has faced quite a history of religious battles with the most recent being in the 1990s. Simply stated, the city is separated by a river with the Muslims on one side and Christians on the other. As events have taken place in history, there has been violent outbreaks to the point of war where neighbors are shooting back and forth over the river. Many buildings lie dormant with remnants of gunfire and bombings from not too long ago. Today, however, the small streets seem lively, markets spread along the main tourist areas and restaurants invite customers all around. We even stopped at one of the places our driver recommended for lunch and were quite pleased with our meal. We spent the next couple hours trying to get the best pictures of the well-known Old Mostar Bridge that was most recently the featured location of the Red-Bull Diving Competition.
We left Mostar that afternoon having checked off another country on our list of travels for the long drive back to Dubrovnik. We had one more stop to make along the way at Počitelj, a tiny village that is now nearly abandoned with only had a few residents remaining. We slowly passed through the few streets and then climbed to the top of the remains of buildings to look out over the valley.
Our time in Dubrovnik was short, but we felt we saw most everything we wanted. The Old Town was at least as beautiful as our friends had described, however, it’s clear we were not too excited about the crowds. If just for a couple days, it’s definitely worth a visit. Mostar, Bosnia was never on our list (actually, I think I was told to avoid Bosnia all together by someone), but we are glad we made the trip. It’s hard to imagine the history of fighting with one’s neighbors as has occurred here so many times in the past.
Our next adventure will take us to Zagreb for a trip to Plitvice Lakes before jetting off to Nepal for a completely new experience!