The city of Dubrovnik is composed of two unique parts – the Old City, a relatively small and dense cluster of stone buildings surrounded completely by ancient city walls, and the “main” new city, which sprawls across one side of a steep mountain for several kilometers along the coast. Although the main reason everyone comes to Dubrovnik is for the Old City, personally I found the new city to be quite enjoyable as well.
Because of its perch on the face of such a steep mountain, the main vehicular roads through Dubrovnik run laterally, traversing their way slowly upwards. This works fine for cars, but would take ages by foot if you had to walk back and forth for miles just to access your home straight above you – so the roads are supplemented by countless little walking paths which allow pedestrians to climb directly to any point in the city, via thousands and thousands of stairs.
The results of such an unusual urban layout are twofold: stunning ocean views from almost anywhere more than a block or so inland, and almost instantly sweat-soaked clothing as you huff and puff your way “up” the face of the city. Fine for a quick visit, but I can imagine it would start to feel quite tedious after not too long, having to climb a near-vertical mountain to get anywhere at all. Even a trip to the nearest ATM – no more than 300 (horizontal) meters from my doorstep – always meant changing into a tanktop and climbing probably two hundred very steep steps, lest I stink up yet another clean article of clothing.
Anyway, after checking into my room and charging up my phone for an hour or so I headed down the mountain, along the coast, and towards the Old City.
Passing through the Pile gate, beyond the walls, and into the old city actually gave me goosebumps – for the second time on this trip (the first was when I laid my eyes on the Eiffel Tower in Paris). Touristy as it was, the effect that such a place has on your senses is undeniable. It reminded me in many ways of Jerusalem, both because of the style and the colors – tightly packed pedestrian corridors in an ancient, cream-colored, walled-in city.
The biggest difference between the two – and undoubtedly the reason for Dubrovnik’s popularity – became apparent the moment I ascended the walls themselves. With crystal-blue waters on one side, a towering green mountain on the other, and an ancient waterfront bastion unfolding below you, Dubrovnik is truly a sight you won’t soon forget.
After walking the circumference of the walls, strolling down the main promenade and zig-zagging along the thin, sandstone backstreets I proceeded to the old city harbor and caught a quick 15-minute boat to nearby Lokrum Island.
Moments after stepping off the boat I saw something else I’d never seen before: loads of wild peacocks. And they weren’t afraid of people at all! You could literally walk right up to them and look them straight in the eye – they didn’t so much as flinch, until you actually tried to touch them.
Unfortunately by the time I reached the island a massively thick cloud layer had blown in, which kindof spoiled the ‘lush island paradise’ feeling – though I suppose I should be grateful that at least it wasn’t raining (as the forecast had predicted). I strolled around the island, hopped from rock to rock along its craggy coast, stopped by the ruins of an old benedictine monastery and botanical garden, and caught the next boat back to the mainland one hour later.
Though I’d hoped to go for a quick swim, the clouds had brought with them a chilly breeze so I figured I’d better hold out for the next peek of sunshine. Lokrum Island was mostly mostly empty anyway, and while a quiet rock-beach maybe fun with a travel companion or two, it’s not really my cup of tea when traveling alone. Give me a busy, social, sandy beach any day 🙂
Once back on the mainland I returned to a small oldstyle barbershop I’d noticed earlier that day – since I’d been planning/wanting/trying to get a haircut for the past week or so, figured I’d pop in and finally get it handled.
This guy was NOT interested in doing what I wanted, just in rushing through it as quickly as possible. No matter what I said or did, he just continued hacking away as if I were some sort of mannequin.
Mental note: only get haircuts from young people, never fat old men in oldstyle barbershops.
Upon getting home and seeing how uneven of a job he did, I was seriously pissed – and actually had to get out my own scissors to straighten it out a bit, just so I wouldn’t look completely ridiculous 😥