Dubrovnik to Rome.

Thursday 11th October

Cathedral bells are not helpful when you have trouble sleeping. Last night I heard the 1am, 2am, 3 am and 4 am tolls and got into quite a state fearing I’d hear the 5 am one. Thankfully, I slipped back into a slumber and slept until the 7 am toll.

Mark slept poorly too but we managed to fit in a final walk around the Old Town before our 10 am AirBnB check out. Our flight was not until 5 pm though so we were checking our bags in at the Cable Car station, 200 m down the road, and going to explore a bit further until our 2 pm transport to the airport.

The Cable Car station, as well as being the base stop for the Cable Car ride to the top of the mountain, is also a small transport hub for buses, taxis and airport transfers.

The Cable Car up to Mount Srd, 412 meters high, takes a couple of minutes and costs $15 AUD for a return ticket but is worth it to capture the glorious view over Dubrovnik.

This part of the mountain is also the site of Fort Imperial, a Napoleonic fort built between 1806-1816. This Fort also became a significant strategic Fortress during the 91-95 war and now holds a museum dedicated to the Homeland war. We spent about an hour there looking through the 6 rooms containing information about the war and some great photography showing before and after shots of various scenes from Dubrovnik. There is also a great film on continuous loop showing BBC-style media coverage of the war on the worst day of the Dubrovnik assault, 6th December 1991. The small museum is well worth a visit.

There is a lovely terraced restaurant at the Cable Car station that has also has spectacular views over Dubrovnik and so we stopped off there for a coffee before our descent.

We still had some time to kill before our airport transfer so we visited the old Franciscan Monastery, near Pile Gate. This Monastery was started in 1317 but took centuries to build and the attached Church was destroyed in the 1667 earthquake but subsequently rebuilt. The main claim to fame for this venue seems to be that it houses one of the three oldest pharmacies the world, the oldest in Europe, as the Monks were mixing their potions here back in 1317.

There is a beautiful cloister, painted with magnificent frescos, and this encloses a lovely garden that offers a little piece of serenity within the busy Old Town. There is also a display of the Monks original glassware used in their pharmaceutical practice. Entry cost is 30 Kuna, about $6 AUD and it only takes about 20 minutes to visit.

We decided to head to the old Port area for lunch, to kill our last hour, and enjoyed a sandwich and a beer whilst looking out over all the activity in this busy tourist part of the Old Town. After that, we walked back up to the Cable car station to retrieve our luggage and to wait for our taxi driver. He’d quoted us 500 Kuna; $100 AUD, for the round trip which was money for jam considering it’s only a 20 min drive each way and our full day trip out to Mostar, with a driver and guide, was only cost $120!

We’d enjoyed our time in Dubrovnik, it’s hard not to with the magnificent surroundings, but the overwhelming dominance of tourism in the Old Town was a bit of a drawback and something we consider their local government needs to address before it is too late. We were looking forward to Rome, as even with all the tourist focus there, it is still a living city.

There are places I’d happily return to in Croatia; Split, Zadar and Sibenik for example, but I’ve seen and experienced enough of Dubrovnik.

10 pm update: we made it to our lovely apartment and ducked out for a quick late-night snack. Photos tomorrow.

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