This is the fourth visit I have made to visit family in Slovenia. The last visit, seven years ago, was to see my grandmother before she passed on. Thankfully Birch and Allegra got a chance to meet her then: even though they were young at the time they do have a few memories of her. On the trip this year, I wanted to make sure that we all got down to Dubrovnik. I have always heard a lot about the walled city but never made the time to go. Well this time we did! We drove along the Croatian coast in our new, new car. We packed the car with all of our belongings and we are on our way. It is a little nerve racking in the beginning knowing the recent history with our new, new car. As we drive off . . .
a little voice in the back of my head is saying, "Will the car make it, will the car make it?" After about an hour of driving that voice stopped and the car ran like a gem. Again, I am grateful the car broke down when it did!!
The drive along the coast is absolutely spectacular. It is very similar to the sea to sky highway from Vancouver to Whistler, only longer. The road winds along, hugging the coastline presenting us with endless views of the brilliant blue Adriatic Ocean on one side and the bare scrubby mountains on the other. As we wind and twist along we are constantly taking in the panoramas before us. We slowly make our way to Dubrovnik with a few stops on the way down.
The first stop was at a campsite just south of Rijeka. This is our first attempt with all of us sleeping in the car which I will refer to as Hotel Daihatsu. Allegra and I slept in the back, while Birch and Carolyn slept in the front seats. We got ourselves comfortable and cozy with our blankets. I hardly slept in the back and Carolyn said she was cold and uncomfortable. I asked the kids how they slept and they were a little more enthusiastic but the general concensus was that Hotel Daihatsu is only a good last resort Hotel.
What I enjoy most about travelling in our own vehicle is the freedom we have, deciding on the fly where we want to go and how we will get there. Before arriving in Dubrovnik we stop at a small town called Karlobad, a beach side stop and finally we get to our destination.
We arrived at the outskirts of Dubrovnik in the early afternoon which allowed us to stop at a number of Bread and Breakfasts along the way to inquire about accomodation and price. Luckily it is not the busy time of year and most places are available at reasonable prices and we choose a wonderful B & B six kilometres out of Dubrovnik proper in a small inlet by the sea. We settle in and enjoy beautiful views while sipping an afternoon tea on the back balcony overlooking the water below. The owner wisely suggests that we drive into Dubrovnik late in the afternoon because two large cruise ships have arrived that morning and the walled city is overflowing with the cruise ship crowds that leave late in the afternoon to board their respective ships and continue on their way.
Following this advice we arrive into Dubrovnik in the late afternoon, it is a little windier and it looks like a storm is brewing but the crowds are definitely diminished and we begin to explore this ancient town. Dubrovnik is a world class city. It is surrounded by a huge wall that runs about two kilometres around its perimeter and you have to enter through one of the few large gates to gain access into its centre. There is a main cobblestoned avenue that runs from the east gate to the west gate surrounded by old buildings and cathedrals with red tiled roofs. Spectacular.
We spent three days exploring a few museums, churches and walking along the perimeter atop the wall. We really enjoyed our time here and on the final afternoon Birch and I climb the neighbouring hillside to a large fort above Dubrovnik which gave us more spectacular views of the city and sea below.
We met a fellow whose family has lived in the same house for 750 years! He was quite upset that his 20-something son wanted to move. I can see both points of view.