Dubrovnik – one traveler’s tips
Friday, June 15, 2012
Basics – Dubrovnik is on the southern Dalmatian coast of Croatia. The airport is a 25 minute cab ride from the old walled city, and the bus station, where numerous inter-city lines stop, is a 10 minute ride. Accommodations range from luxury hotels such as Pucic Palace, the Hotel Excelsior and the Hilton Imperial, to Fresh Sheets, a small hostel run by the owners of the laundromat (see below). We had no direct experience with a hotel, though, as we stayed in a private apartment. That’s a popular option and you will see many signs for rooms and apartments all over the city. Be aware, though, that the old city can be noisy, as chatter from outdoor cafes filters up the narrow stone alleys into the rooms above. You may want to keep the windows closed, at least until the cafes and bars close for the night. For very nice and clean rooms near Stradun, the main street, contact email@example.com.
Guide – Take a private guided tour. You’ll learn infinitely more about the history and the culture than you could from a book. A good guide will focus on details that you’d overlook, and you’ll see things in a new way. One of the best guides in the city is Tom Matana. Tom is deeply knowledgeable about Dubrovnik history and he’s busy, so you’ll want to reserve him in advance – firstname.lastname@example.org.
The view – Walk the old city walls. You’ll be able to imagine Dubrovnik when it was the independent republic called Ragusa. (Fun fact – Ragusa was one of the first countries to recognize the United States when it declared its independence.) On the walk, you’ll see evidence of Dubrovnik’s shelling during the Homeland War, the conflict that accompanied the disintegration of Yugoslavia, 1992 – 1995. Bright orange roof tiles are replacements for aged tiles that were destroyed, and collapsed walls still await repair. There is no better view of Dubrovnik than from up high. Allow yourself at least two and preferably three hours to walk the walls and visit the Lovrijenac Fort, outside the Pile Gate (included in the price of the ticket). And wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen. (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/95)
Art – Walk outside the Ploce Gate and up the hill to the Museum of Modern Art, a stone mansion overlooking the sea. The exhibit changes periodically (we saw three floors of photographs of Steve McCurry), but the second floor terrace is a constant showcase of Croatian sculpture. Also, inside the city walls is a small annex gallery showing three Dubrovnik artists of the 20th century (Pulitika, Dulcic and Masle). (http://www.ugdubrovnik.hr)
Food – Eat pizza at Oliva (on Lucarica) featuring a thin, crispy crust with a variety of toppings. Or eat at the sister restaurant, Oliva Gourmet, located next door, where pasta, grilled fish and meats are offered, along with a variety of vegetables and salads (http://www.pizza-oliva.com/pizzeria/location.html – website for both).
Grab a sandwich at Subito (on Siroka) or at the sandwich bar (on Lucarica) or Skola (on Antuninska). All offer an excellent quick meal, made with fresh ingredients. The sandwich bar has a bench in the alley where you can perch, and the other two have both indoor and outdoor seating. Don’t be put off by Subito’s slick appearance. I’m told it’s owned by the man who owns the nearby Proto restaurant (see below) and they share ingredients.
For more upscale eating, go to Komarda, outside the Ploce Gate, overlooking the old harbor. (http://komarda.hr/) Or try Proto, a fish restaurant (on Sikora) where you can sit outside on the roof terrace. (http://www.esculaprestaurants.com)
Laundry – Wash your clothes at the only self-service laundromat in town – Sanje and Rosie’s – just outside the Ploce Gate. It’s spotlessly clean and the machines work well. There’s wi-fi, or if you want a coffee or a beer, there’s a café nearby. (http://www.dubrovniklaundry.com)
Walk – Venture outside the Pile Gate, up the hill along Branitelja Dubrovnika. Wander in the lovely residential district on your right and admire the view of the sea on your left. You can get some exercise and get away from the crowds as you enjoy a part of greater “everyday” Dubrovnik.