After almost a day of traveling – 3 flights to be exact – we finally got to Dubrovnik, Croatia! Getting there was a little bit chaotic, well sort of. As you may have read my earlier post on my planning: I redeemed 60,000 United miles for an open jaw and a free stopover round trip ticket which covered Boston to Zagreb, Zagreb to Marseille, and then Milan back to Boston. We flew out of Boston at 11:45 pm which I really liked about the timing so I could sleep through most of the flight. Turkish Airlines’ in flight food were the best I ever had of any airlines I flew so far! We were given a fancy menu, hot towel, and a kit consisted of slippers, comfort socks, eye shade, dental kit, ear plugs, and lip balm!
Dinner was served by not a flight attendant but a chef….we flew economy!
They also offered fresh baked breads wow! We both chose the prime beef burger and it was actually tasted good!
Before we landed, we were served scramble eggs and then landed Istanbul, Turkey the next day at 4:25 pm.
Landing at Istanbul, Turkey (one day, we’ll explore this city):
The whole experience with Turkish Airlines was absolutely wonderful. However, Istanbul Airport was the opposite! The flight info displays were mounted right in the middle of the busy walk way (what a bad design) so tons of people stood there to check flight status and blocked the way! Not only that, we walked to the assigned gate and found no display of the flight number and destination at the gate at all! Many passengers looked lost and two times someone came to us and asked if this is the gate to xxx. At that point, we weren’t sure as well! My husband walked to the hall again and found out our gate has been reassigned urg!!! Not until half an hour before boarding the display at the gate finally display the flight info! Even worst…..boarding was delayed and it took so long since they don’t board by group and those of you who have been to Europe, you’ll noticed that people started to line up before boarding and at least a few individuals will cut the line!!! There are no such thing as priority boarding for family traveling with kids! At the end our flight was delayed by 45 minutes!! At that point, I was getting nervous because I booked a connecting flight but on different airline – Croatia Airlines from Zagreb to Dubrovnik at 9:10 PM. The flight suppose to land at 7:25 pm so we should have almost 2 hours for the connection….need to go through passport control and recheck our baggage. But with 45 minutes delay, we were worried that we might not make it and it’s the last flight out to Dubrovnik! After we get through passport control, we ran to the counter and there was a long line. I asked the people in front of us if they could let us go first because we need to catch the flight. People were so nice and let us go first and then we found out that they are in the same flight – 70 of them! It turned out the flight was delayed by an hour…..not sure if I can say we are lucky or not. 70 of them are from the same church and they are taking a trip together, while waiting for our delayed flight, they sing and the atmosphere was immediately filled with joy! Gorgeous sunset from Zagreb Airport:
Zagreb Airport offered free wifi but only for 15 minutes, I treasured this time and sent an email to Ivana of Rooms Raic (we booked through booking.com 8 months in advanced, the house has 6 rooms and they sold out fast due to high ratings and perfect view) to let her know of our flight delay and inform our arranged transfer service. We landed Dubrovnik at 11 pm instead of 10 pm 🙁 Once we walked out of the terminal, we spotted a guy holding a sign with my husband’s name and walked us to the car – a Mercedes! I had absolutely no luck with arranged transfer service – the drivers didn’t show up when we landed in Oia, Santorini and in Moorea, French Polynesia! We got a comfortable ride right to the entrance of the house – up at Ploce area for the best view of the old town. It cost 65 euros round trip and worth every penny of it because there are like 200 steps up to the house and impossible to find the house by ourselves at night! Ivana met us at the front of the house and showed us our room which is quite small but I was attracted by the balcony. Here is the view from the balcony – it was magical at night!
Even though it was almost a full day of transportation to get to Dubrovnik, we dug out the tripod and took night photos for like half an hour!
Our room…is very cramp and the bed wasn’t too comfortable – it’s actually two single bed mattresses.
The bathroom is clean but small as well – whenever I make a turn while showering, my hands will hit the knob and shut off the water!
I was prepared for the late arrival so I packed instant noodles and the house has a kitchen that we can use! There’s a water boiling pot, just what we need! After we ate our “dinner”, we went to sleep; it was a long day for us!
I set the alarm at 8 am since we have the full day staying in Dubrovnik to explore its old town. The room doesn’t include breakfast but we got buns for the long flight that we didn’t even eat one since we were filled by the in-flight food! We had two mini bottles of water from Turkish Airlines as well. We walked out to the balcony to enjoy our breakfast with the million dollar view! The kitchen and the sliding doors to the balcony! There are two rooms with direct access to the balcony but 8 months in advanced still not early enough for those two rooms!
The view from our balcony – Dubrovnik morning:
The best timing for photos is around noon time when the sun shines directly from above to bring out the turquoise color water! After breakfast, we got our tripod again and took photos of us two to share with our friends and family 🙂
Panorama from the balcony:
I heard there are ferries to get to that island where it’s very peaceful and quiet as oppose to the busy Dubrovnik. We only had two full days in Dubrovnik so didn’t have time to go there.
Ivana came and filled out our information and I paid in cash…..she accepts cash only but can pay in Euros! I asked her for short cuts getting down to the Old Town and she pointed us the direction. We got ready and headed out….stairs there they come!
Walking straight down of course weren’t bad at all, it took like 10 minutes, but going back up is a totally different story! Down two flights of stairs, there’s a supermarket, very convenient for breakfast items and drinks.
We kept walking down and saw a sign to the beach and we followed it. I have seen pictures of it but it’s nicer than in pictures!!! The shades of turquoise and blue, the orange roof tops, and the fortress as the backdrop made it unique!
We spent quite some time to ensure we get the photos we wanted!
One of hubby’s photographer’s pose haha!
It’s a postcard perfect beach at every angle! We continued our walk to the Old Town and of course took photos along the walk.
We walked into the Old Town through Ploce Gate:
Its drawbridge, I felt like walking through it traveled back to time!
Immediately after the gate, there were souvenir stands, they accept both Croatian Kunas or Euros, I guess it’s a main port of call for cruise ships so they accept Euros.
The Old Town is not that big but yet have enough for us to take photos of the whole day!
It’s main street or Stradun:
The Old Town was packed with tourists and it was a day only with one cruise ship at port!
The smaller side streets are occupied with tables from restaurants:
Before we got too deep into exploring the charming town, first thing to be taken care of was getting Croatian Kunas from the bank and it was a Saturday so need to do it first thing! We were told by the driver that banks offer the best exchange rate. We found one on the main street:
I went in and exchanged $100 USD to Croatian Kunas; the change rate was like 1 to 6.6 so I got 660 Kunas. I always carry a copy of our passports and good thing I did because to exchange money in the bank, they’ll need your passport to fill out the form. Right after I got Kunas, we went in the little convenient store next to the bank for cold drinks, prices weren’t bad at all…8 Kunas for a bottle of peach iced-tea, other soft drinks are 10 Kunas. We decided to check out souvenir shops, have lunch, and then go up to the city walls.
More side streets filled with tables, on the background you’ll see flights of stairs! Many rooms inside the Old Town are up those stairs so either way you stay inside of town or outside, you can’t escape from those stairs 🙂
Drinkable water that you can refill your water bottle, stay hydrated, it’s hot in the summer!
More souvenir shops on its back streets where we found one shop selling unique handmade arts:
The owner only let me took one picture and I picked this…guess what is this….
It’s the shop’s ceiling! She said spaces in Dubrovnik is expensive so she needs to be creative!
Stuff she sells are expensive but unique and beautiful. We couldn’t resist and bought a hand-painted in pink flowers ceramic clock that cost around 40 Euros! Now I think of it, it’s expensive LOL! She accepts credit card so swipe and out of the shop! Then, another colorful glass shop! How can I resist not to get one??? But I saw the same thing over at the pier for the same price. Those are much more affordable!
I picked the pink-purple vase for 7 Euros only!
Continue walking, we passed by a church, no photo inside though!
It happened to be a food market that day!!!
Most stands sell this dried orange peel mixed with sugar, I tried out one, it was good but orange is not my favorite fruit!
More old architectures of the Old Town:
It was time for lunch and I picked Dalmatino Konoba (Miha Pracata 6) but the map we had from the airport didn’t mark every single street so urg! I go with my instinct and happened to be on that street, how lucky! There it is:
We ordered steamed mussels with white wine sauce as appetizer, it cooked almost perfectly and the sauce was so familiar. After a few sips, I figured it out, it tasted like calm chowder but less creamy and thick! It was the best mussels we had in Croatia!
The wet wipes, isn’t that cute?
We also ordered the fish soup to try it out; we noticed that Croatians must love fish soups, almost every single menu we saw have fish soup!
It wasn’t as good as the fish soup we had in Oia, Santorini, it was much lighter.
For main course, I ordered the grilled squid and shrimp skewers, I love grilled Mediterranean seafood! It was very fresh and nicely grilled – it’s not salty at all unlike other seafood grills.
Hubby ordered a steak – medium rare – and it was cooked perfectly! The steak quality was excellent as well! The sauce on the other hand was way too strong and cover the natural flavor of the steak so after we tried once, we didn’t dip it again.
Our table at the restaurant hallway – pretty interesting!
We were very satisfied with food quality but it’s an expensive lunch (lunch and dinner menu are the same and same price). Our lunch came to 384 Kunas around $56 at credit card exchange rate of 6.8 but it was worth it!
After our yummy lunch, we finally walk up to the city walls. Admission is 100 Kunas per person and they do take credit card. Be sure to have a full bottle of water before heading up in the afternoon time and bring sunscreen!
Yes, there are more stairs to get up to the city walls haha!
With rewarding views like this – the main street of Old Town Dubrovnik!
Weather was perfect when we were there on June 28th with the clouds I asked for, I haven’t see that since then through the trip 🙁
I compared this city walls to the one in Avila, Spain and Dubrovnik’s is more beautiful. We were able to walk the whole loop and with the views of its beautiful town and the sea (Avila doesn’t have the sea)!
Looking down to Pile Gate and the building on the back is the Hilton Dubrovnik Hotel. I had thought of staying there but wanted the view from the top so I chose up at Ploce instead!
Street artist inside the walls:
Some towers require to walk up narrow stairs.
From the “window” of one of the tower, isn’t it amazing?
The bright orange roof tops really hurt my eyes LOL!
One tiny tower can barely fit me 🙂
One thing I love about Dubrovnik’s city walls is that it’s one way direction (yes, I am talking about you, Plitvice Lakes National Park!) so less traffic that we can wait a bit for people to pass and have time to take plenty of photos!
The ocean cliff where the old town was built, amazing with how people back in the days can build those!
The first quarter of the city wall is the most picturesque where we spent majority of the time stopping and taking photos!
There are some ruins that you can view from the city walls:
Walled city by the sea – absolutely beautiful!
Hubby compared Dubrovnik with Rhodes, Greece where that is also a walled city close by the sea. We both agreed that Dubrovnik is nicer because we are able to walk on its city wall (Rhodes’ can’t) and the street inside the Old Town looked nicer and more organize.
Panorama of the sea, the city walls, and its Old Town enclosed by the walls:
It’s so beautiful!
Walked to the 2nd quarter of the way, it’s very close to residents’ houses, some like they do have access to the city walls!
This person’s house also use as a souvenir shop and cafe right on the city walls!
And a basketball court too! You can see people’s daily life in the Old Town!
The middle section of the loop wasn’t as picturesque as the beginning and last section.
The old church bells on the back reminded me of Santorini!
View of the marina/pier from the window:
We spotted a cute looking ship! There are many companies for sailing trips, parasailing, and even pirate ship tours!
The marina of Dubrovnik:
Up on the city walls has the best view of it 🙂
Another of hubby’s photographer’s pose:
This is where we took some photos this morning but the view looking down at it is has a different feel!
Close ups of the roof tiles:
Some roof tiles are pretty new as you may aware that Croatia had its independence war just over 20 years ago from 1991 to 1995! Dubrovnik was attacked and estimated more than 50% of its buildings were damaged! It’s very hard to believe that a beautiful place like this was in war 20 years ago. I hope Dubrovnik can preserve its beauty for generations to come to experience this beautiful place!
The orange roof tops – every single one is different, it’s awesome!
I stopped every corner to take a photo!!!
We completed the whole loop in 2.5 hours! We continued our exploration of the Old Town and more photos:
The Old Town is very clean but be careful when rain, the stone on the floor can be slippery!
There are many cats in the town taking naps in shaded areas!
We sat on the marina area to rest a little and saw the pirate ship just came back!
Every corner seems like there’s a Pirate Candy Shop!
Very cute puppets from one of the shop window!
Time flew by and it’s already dinner time – restaurants usually open at 7 for dinner. We walked to Bistro San Francesco (Vetraniceva 8) but it was closed 🙁 Without backup plan, we walked around and whenever we spotted a Trip Advisor sticker, we’ll have dinner there! We ended up with Tezoro near the main street.
Free starter, bread with some fish wrapped around olive:
Mussels in tomato sauce – not as good as the one we had during lunch and majority of the mussels were overcooked!
I had the shrimp pasta, it was just okay, nothing special about it!
Hubby had the rib eye steak – not as good as the one we had in lunch in both the flavor and the quality of the steak:
It’s definitely a more “touristy” feel restaurant. Dinner total 433 Kunas ~$63.
After dinner, we walked back in order to catch the sunset from our balcony. We passed by the beach again and as you can see how the angle of the light affects the colors:
We stopped by the supermarket just right outside of the Ploce Gate to get juice and drinks, prices are surprisingly low consider it’s right outside of the Old Town! A big bottle of soda or fruit juice cost around $2! Hubby carried two big bottles of drinks up the stairs. On the second flight of stairs, we took a break lol!
OMG…more to go!
Hubby asked me “are you taking me on a diet trip?” LOL! Sorry hun but I hope it’s worth it for the views! Entrance to the house:
Summer in Europe – sun sets at around 9 PM!!! We got back around 8 and wait. Hubby fell asleep which he claimed as power nap. I checked every few minutes and clouds were covering the horizon, not a good sign for sunset! At the end, there wasn’t a pretty sunset I hoped for so no sunset photos! Wifi in our room is bad, keep disconnecting and can’t even load a video! I had to walk out to the kitchen to check emails and surf the web. I checked the weather for tomorrow – 60% rain yikes! I booked a day trip to Mostar so fingers crossed for good weather!
That was our first full day of vacation and were already amazed by the beauty of Dubrovnik! Can’t wait to explore more of Croatia! Oh I forgot to mention one important thing, Croatians speak fluent English – we were very surprised! Everywhere we go to and even old ladies speak some English….wait till you hear our stories in Provence, France you’ll see why we said that 🙂 We definitely recommended Dubrovnik and one can’t miss activity – its city walls! We didn’t take the cable car up because I think the view directly from the top is not as beautiful as from our balcony were we have a top-side view of it. Also in terms of photography, we only carried our wide angle 16-35 mm and my zoom 24-70 mm lens so if we are way up there, we wouldn’t able to capture the town as close as if we are from our balcony. Stay tuned for more trip reports 🙂