Having arrived in Dubrovnik on 14th September we immediately took a look around and enjoyed a cracking sunset down by the Copacabana Beach. A good start. Our site at Camping Solitudo was within a few miles of the city, close to bus routes and just a 10 min walk down to the beach. A hop skip and jump back into the Adriatic. To be honest, not the best of beaches, mainly rocky to access the water and far too much bass music from local bars for us old folk..!
Site was a hefty 285Kn per day (£33) but the facilities were pretty good and the pitch ok. The main selling point was the proximity to Dubrovnik. We were holding out for the big visits to the Old Town until we were joined by Michelle’s sister Trina on 18th. We did spend our time checking out the buses and the local area including some pretty quirky beach bars. We also took the opportunity to confirm the availability and efficiency of the local Uber taxis. A quick shopping trip did the trick as it saved us a long walk uphill with heavy bags. Worked fine.
Ruby is way too big to use for general local travel. And of course travelling by public transport is a great way to engage with the local/tourist community. So on the 18th we took one bus into Dubrovnik Old Town then a second bus direct into the airport to meet Trina. Despite a 20 minute delay to her departure she still arrived early from Bristol and the sisters got to have a long overdue hug. Aaaah. Then a very efficient Uber trip back to the campsite. Taxi drivers are always a good source of local information however by the time we had reached Camp Solitudo we were fully appraised of the political and financial situation within Croatia..! Non stop talking all the way….
222 Kuna (£26) was good value for 15 miles despite the earache ..!
So the next day the three of us took off to explore Dubrovnik Old Town. My wonderful assistant managed to find a multi venue City Ticket for 300Kn (£35) each. 9 different venues and 6 bus journeys made this great value particularly as the walk round the wall should have been 250Kn alone.
So in brief we visited Dubrovnik three days at different times. We walked – had lunch – visited- had dinner- walked had a drink- repeat. You get the idea. A bloody lovely place.
Sorry about all the photos but at every turn there is yet another beautiful view. And, of course, those of you ‘Game of Thrones’ fans will know there are many, many areas that we recognised from the big screen.
And any Viking fans may be aware of the location too. They were actually filming the third Netflix season of Halvalla all round small pockets of the town whilst we tourists hovered round corners.
It is a very busy town but did not seem too overcrowded (until a cruise ship full of Americans turned up! – (other nationalities are available..!)). Walking round the walls is a ‘must do’ event. 2.5km around the entire town gives great views of the interior and of the Adriatic on three sides assisted with beautiful hot sunny weather. An evening hoist up the cable car high above the city is also a pretty incredible place to watch a sunset over the town. Pity we arrived about 5 minutes too late….! What sun….? To be fair Trina skipped off round the mountainside, jumped onto a goat track and managed to catch a glimpse and a photo or two before it was gone…
So all too soon and Trina was leaving back to the UK. We had managed to keep her presence quiet on the campsite thus saving ourselves 400Kn (£44) in fees in the process.. Shhhhh…!
We decided that we would also move on from the Solitudo campsite so took the opportunity to take Trina back to the airport in Ruby. Fond farewells were bid as the slightly suntanned Trina headed back to colder climes and we moved on again.
Our next spot (22nd Sept) turned out to be a cracker. For different reasons. Solitudo meant lots of access to Dubrovnik with public transport and proximity to shops and amenities. Camping Kate (yes, I know..) was the next location, further along the coast at Mlini. By chance we managed to set up on a sunny (morning) pitch and soon walked off down to the beaches. 262 steps down to the beach was fun…. Getting back up later in the day was less so!. However after trying each of the several beach areas we identified well with the Sheraton hotel beach front. The hotel staff (as in many places) like to suggest that they own the beach and try to deter non-guests from visiting. However we dodged the ‘bouncers’ and spent many a good hour/day catching up with our tans. The beach was a little pebbly but that means we don’t have loads of sand being carried back to Ruby at the end of the day.! The swimming was glorious, the water warm and crystal clear with restaurants and bars around. Not a bad way to spend four days. In addition the Sheraton Hotel also had paddle boards available to hire for just 75Kn (£8) for an hour. And as I am such an expert (ha!!) after my maiden trial in Tittisee I wanted to show off my skills to the watching beach dudes. I managed to do well with several trips between the boats, round the bay. Standing, sitting, drifting and chilling before heading casually back to shore for a classic dismount onto the beach……. except…that I hit the pebbles too hard, side-on and fell off, face-planting the beach and rolling into the sea…! Cool…. Dick..!
We had a ferry booked for the 26th from Dubrovnik to Bari in Italy so were kinda just killing time. In one of those really relaxing, chilling, wonderful, killing time ways. Camping Kate was 146 Kn (£17) per night and was pretty good. Still amazingly busy for late September. The staff were surprised too – they were hoping to go off for their autumn break but people kept arriving.!
Anyway our Croatia experience was now over after three weeks. What do we think.? Well we really love it. The weather is cracking the vast majority of the time. The scenery is terrific and the beaches were definitely some of the best. Well to be honest it was more to do with the crystal clear turquoise warm sea really. We must have plunged in and out dozens of times over those three weeks. Couple of things that were disappointing were… most of the locals were pretty miserable and unhelpful. Always seemed distant and disinterested. However after visiting the Yugoslav war museum in Dubrovnik you can understand it really. They are only 25 years away from some pretty horrific war episodes across the whole of former Yugoslavia. Also the food… we were amazed. We were unable to find fresh fish anywhere during our travels. Even the fish market in Dubrovnik had only one swordfish, a few dozen sad-looking whitebait and one tiny Nemo. (Made that last bit up!). When I looked across the huge market hall and gave a Yorkshire questioning shrug the market lady simply said ‘Bad Weather’ and pointed outside…! In addition the fruit and veg was cheap to buy and looked tired. Within two days it just went off. All the time. Any store/market/stall. It seemed very strange. ‘Is this because they don’t use preservatives like we do at home and in the rest of Europe’ we asked ourselves….. Discuss.. But overall we loved Croatia again and we will be back.
26th Sept and our ferry was due for a 9pm overnight sailing from Dubrovnik to Bari in Italy. We had some hours to kill after leaving Camping Kate so headed to an area alongside the posh Sheraton hotel in nearby Kupari. Well what a shocker. Turns out that this little bay used to be a high class resort for the Croatian Military Officers in the late 1990s. When the Yugoslav wars started the Serbians shelled and shot-up the hotels making them unusable. They have not been restored still. There are several hotels still intact and but completely derelict, covered with graffiti and overgrown weeds. Pretty spectacular surprisingly. More so because it was now a wet, overcast day. Once again the movie folk were in town starting to clear things out and add some character for what appears to be some kind of war movie.
So, on arrival at the Dubrovnik ferry port several hours early we were kept entertained. The whole boarding setup is laughable really. No organisation, no health and safety and no expectation of getting to Italy without swimming!. This was a full size RORO (roll on -roll off) ferry for cars and lorries. So entertaining watching the huge artic lorries having to reverse up the steep, wet ramp in the dark. Not sure why they couldn’t drive straight in and turn in the huge interior but they ‘maybe’ knew what they were doing…! It was funny though. Lorry’s wheel-spinning alongside foot passengers on the ramp whilst staff wandered around smoking and laughing. The Jadrolinija ferry was even older than me and had clearly been across the Adriatic thousands of times. It cost a huge amount for the trip of 3262 Kn (£380) which was a shock to us. For some reason we had only considered this to be a small jump across the sea. It is in fact rather a long way and rather expensive because of Ruby’s size. Much cheaper than driving all the way round I suppose.. So, after laughing about the shenanigans with loading the trucks is was our turn. We were the first non-lorry to board. ‘Ok, go now. Reverse onto the ship’ he says to me. ‘What..!’- ‘Really’. Well no pressure then. I mean, the ramp was quite wide, and yes a bit wet, but then we also had to reverse all the way to the back and squeeze between several artics and the ship bulkheads. Ouch!. To be fair the staff were very professional at this point and guided us all in with fine margins. Couldn’t get out of the doors without pulling all our stomachs in though..
Surprisingly thecrossing was calm and we both slept well in our aged, rusty, en-suite cabin and woke to a brilliant sunrise as we arrived at Bari on 27th September. Very rare for us to view a sunrise. Almost all of our trips and home life are on the west coasts. Never get involved in those early rising sunrise things. But hey this was pretty special. Welcome to Italy..
Did you Know..The Republic of Ragusa (former Italian/Latin name for Dubrovnik) was a maritime republic that existed from 1358 to 1808. It reached its commercial peak in the 15th and the 16th centuries, before being conquered by Napoleon’s French Empire and annexed by the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy in 1808. It had a population of about 30,000 people, out of whom approximately 5,000 lived within the city walls that still stand today. Dubrovnik has suffered greatly from excess visitors (over 1.4million in 2019) and has recently reduced the number of cruise ships drastically in order to preserve the city.