The day started way too early as I had to catch a 7:40 AM ferry to Dubrovnik. I made my final trip down the main alleyway of the Old City being pretty much the only person around, which was a nice change of pace from the throngs of tourists that would soon descend. Since I had already purchased my ticket in advance, I was able to board immediately, which was a good thing as the ferry was quickly filling up, allowing me to get a primo seat for my long arse legs.
The ferry would be making several stops to various islands but still get into Dubrovnik at noon, faster than if I had taken a bus directly there.
First up was the island of Brac, which is a big wine producer for Croatia. Not too many takers for this one on board though.
Next up was Hvar, aka Party Island. It’s often used as a hub for those island hopping so many people left and came on board with this one. This would have been one of my destinations too if time had allowed.
The influx of passengers allowed me to get an even better seat at the front of the boat. And I also took the opportunity to check out the rear once we had reach full cruising speed.
The next two islands before Dubrovnik, quite frankly, weren’t that interesting plus the rough seas made me less inclined to snap any photos. Finally, we reached the port of Dubrovnik, which is a few miles away from the Walled City, so this was a more modern introduction to the city.
My Airbnb host had told me her father Ivo would meet me at the port to take me over to the Walled City. Sure enough, a friendly older man greeted me, and we started the drive over the hill. A few minutes later, I literally gasped when I saw the view and had him pull over to capture it. Holy shit.
Since the apartment was actually within the Walled City, we had to park outside of it and then walk. A selling point of the place was that there was no stairs to get to it and while this was true, getting there for the first time meant going down these.
I got the quick rundown of the apartment (small but comfy), dropped my bags and headed out to explore this wondrous city.
When I was in Split, I had seen an advertisement for a sushi place that also had a branch in Dubrovnik. I was intrigued as to what exactly that entailed so I walked outside of the walls and down to the marina.
It turned out to be a bit more difficult to find than expected but eventually I found it tucked away in a corner. The menu was simple but featured locally caught seafood in traditional sushi style. I decided to get an assortment of items including Amberjack (a common white fish found in the Adriatic) and a tempura fried local Oyster, which are some of the largest in the world. I also had salmon, which wasn’t local but delivered fresh from Norway so close enough. All of it was very fresh and quite delicious.
After lunch, I continued my exploration of the Walled City, eventually ending up at the famous Pile Gate.
With walls over 100 feet high and massive imposing fortifications, it was clear why the Old City had been such a key stronghold for various empires. After a bit more wandering, I headed back to my place for a quick nap and recovery… which turned in a couple of hours so by the time I dragged myself out of bed, it was dinner time.
The weather had gotten quite chilly, and I was regretting not having an additional layer but assumed I would just sit inside. My destination was only a couple of blocks away at a classic Croatian restaurant Ivo had recommended, Rozario.
Unfortunately, it turned out the entire inside room had been taken over by a high school tour group for their goodbye dinner so the only table was outside. There was a heat lamp but of course that didn’t work. Still, nothing a good class of Pivac Mali barrique couldn’t cure and soon I was fine. It was also amusing to hear each one of the students being forced to stand up and say what they learned on the trip. That brought back a lot of memories.
Although I initially thought of continuing my seafood odyssey, my server suggested I have the pork medallions with gnocchi and truffle sauce. Sold.
The pork was a bit tough for my tastes but the truffle sauce, which was a mix of black and white truffles, was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was so good I asked for a 2nd serving, using bread to sop up as much as I could. I tried to decode the recipe with the server who got noticeably nervous as I listed off the ingredients so I stopped to preserve the mystery – not like I could replicate it anyway.
I initially wanted to try the Croatian creme caramel but of course it had all gone to the tour group. My server suggested the flourless almond and orange cake “gluten free” he proudly announced. Since I was once again cold, I paired this with a local (as in the owner makes it) walnut brandy, which is apparently a Dubrovnik tradition. Both were quite good.
I left the restaurant and walked a couple of blocks over to check out the Stradun (the main drag) all lit up.
It had been a very long day so retreated back to my place, with the faint echoing of the guitar duo a couple of blocks away. Thankfully my white noise machine made quick work of that. Tomorrow I would continue my wandering in the Old City and experience a bit of high culture by catching a classic musical performance. I was just getting started with my Dubrovnik adventures.