So as I covered in some depth in my last post, the whole point of me originally visiting Trebinje was to visit Dubrovnik and today that finally happened. The owners of the hostel put myself and Edmund in touch with a local guy - Svaki Dan - who works in Dubrovnik but lives here in Trebinje so he commutes most days. He charges a small fee for transportation (we're talking less than £2 each way!) and pretty much guarantees you a whole day before taking you back when his shift finishes. My kind of businessman...
We departed Trebinje at 08:45 which should see us clear customs and enter Dubrovnik around 09.30 we were told - except that would never happen...
About half way through our drive into the mountains and on route to the border crossing, we would see the weather conditions change from a few raindrops to a full- blown storm. I mean to the point where Svaki Dan was uncomfortable in driving any further and instead chose to turn around. Unsurprisingly we were all singing from the same hymn sheet here as I was totally unprepared for rainy conditions, let alone a mini monsoon! He said if the weather improves later on that he will swap shift and will head back later so could give us a lift. Thankfully for us it did clear up and at around 4pm, we departed again for Dubrovnik with our fingers crossed and by 4.45pm we had this time around, made it.
How much do you lot know about Dubrovnik?
Other than its name, its well-known walls and its relationship to Game of Thrones, I knew nothing else, not a thing. It was Edmund that enlightened me from travellers he met in Mostar that Dubrovnik was an 'in one day' kinda city which surprised me. Still, I remained open-minded and was more than open to the idea of coming back the next day also if I felt the city had more to offer me.
But it didn't. As nice as it is here, there really isn't that much to do. Though this wasn't a bad thing for us considering we were slightly constrained by time so time to crack on then. Naturally the two most popular tourist attraction don't come for free; walking the walls and taking a cable car to the top of Mount Srd. You can walk to the top of the mountain but that's a three hour round-trip so no thank you!
You can of course take a number of boat related excursions and activities if that is your thing and you have the budget. Whilst I wanted to be frugal on this part of my journey, I also didn't want to leave the city having not done as much as I could so felt I was in a bit of a catch22. After some deliberation, Edmund and I decided that we would pay for one of the two main tourist attractions and so we decided to walk inside the old city and explore it before making our decision.
Fast forward a couple of hours later and our minds we were made up in the simplest of ways as we had realised that we had already done what a lot of people come here to do - walk inside the city and simply enjoy its atmosphere. To clarify, walking within the ancient UNESCO protected city is free. What you get with the 'paid for' option is that you walk the outermost edges of the fortified city from a vantage point looking down into the old town. Tourist exploitation at its best in my opinion...
Considering the cable car option would almost certainly provide superior views to the walls, this for us was a no-brainer. Voila, decision made so up we went at a cost of 10 GBP return.
How incredible does this city (and one of its countless islands) look from up here!
So as you can probably tell, were we extremely pleased with our decision. We stayed up here for nearly an hour and it would have been longer if hadn't started to get dark towards the end of our time so down we came and had a final wander inside the city.
Looking back we really felt that coming into town later on in the afternoon really worked out well as spending a full 9 or 12 hours here might have been a little long for us. Instead then, we benefited from the temperature being a pleasant mid 20s along with a cool breeze and also the tourists were dying off. Whilst it was still busy, it wasn't super-crowded and of course we got to see this impressive city at sunset which felt a little magical as others up here would testify too. There were couples looking to great photos of one another with Croatian islands in the background whilst others took to the more romantic option having brought their own picnic and music. Nice. This backs up an over-riding feeling I recall having earlier on in the day; that it would nice to be here with a partner. All day I observed couples holding hands, sitting in one of the plethora of restaurants with a glass of vino and eating delicious looking plates of sea-food living the high life.
So folks that is how you can optimise a visit to Dubrovnik, especially if frugality is an objective of yours. If you plan on walking the heights of the city walls too, you can still head on down early afternoon and you'll have more than enough hours everything you want before the Sun sets late evening. Furthermore, if you don't mind paying Western prices (which most of you good, honest hard- working people won't), then why not treat yourself to a night here too before moving on and up the rest of the Dalmatian coast in the direction of either Makarska or the better known city of Split.
I'll see you there shortly as its finally time to leave the unforgettable country of Bosnia and Herzegovina.