My bucket list pretty much consists of places I want to go. I don’t have lofty goals such as “writing an Oscar winning script” or “climb Mt Everest”… but I do want to see as much of the world as possible. The more places I go, the more places I want to see. Now I can say there are a few places that aren’t on my list, mostly due to safety concerns (think Iraq) or extreme cold (think Antarctica). But I must confess that Croatia was not on my list. In fact, I actually wasn’t motivated or excited about going so I didn’t give it much thought until it was time to pack.
Getting to Dubrovnik from the Pacific Northwest is no easy feat. I flew across country to Dulles then on to Frankfurt before arriving in Dubrovnik some 26 hours later. (Don’t even get me started on the 6+ hour layover in DC!) The only upside to this was landing at 17:00 which meant by the time I arrived at the resort, checked in and unpacked, I could collapse. Typically, I land in Europe in the morning making it a very long day to stay awake in order to adjust to the time change. Thankfully, I avoided the whole immigration/customs in Frankfurt and Dubrovnik is so small (and it was off-season) it was easy to sail through in a matter of minutes. After boarding the bus, we were on our way to the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Dubrovnik Sun Gardens, a mere 10 kilometers north of the old city. It was quite a ride, alongside the coast and mountains, often steep and windy, just what a person who suffers from motion sickness likes to avoid. (And I must admit, I thought about what it would be like to careen off the side of the mountain more than once.) But it was a stunning view, coming around the bend to see the sun setting on the old, walled city of Dubrovnik. Suddenly, I was happy to be there and hoped that the work part would pass quickly so I could get to the vacation part.
Thursday evening was my first opportunity to go into Dubrovnik. After the final day of the work part, my colleagues and I decided it was time to venture outside the resort for a much deserved good meal. The hotel recommended and made reservations for me and five of my comrades. As I was perusing the menu, the waiter brought over a rather large, smelly platter full of ugly fish. I turned up my nose and looked down at my menu deciding seafood was not an option this particular evening. Or so I thought. Apparently, when I tuned out the rest of the table talk I failed to realize that they ordered for the table. Yeah, that is so not going to happen. I’ll take that steak, thank you very much. Luckily for the waiter, he got his happy butt back to our table to take MY order. After dinner, we had about 40ish minutes to meander around the area before the resort shuttle came to whisk us back along the narrow, windy road. The white stones were bright under the lights and made me glad that I came and had 3 days of free time to roam around.
Checking out of the hotel Friday morning was not fun. For the first time ever, my card was declined. Now, I knew the billed was paid; I wasn’t over the limit so it had to be something else. After 30 minutes on the phone, the AMEX guy figured out what the issue was on the hotel’s end and I was free to go. I’m pretty sure the 20+ people behind me clapped as I left the reception area to head towards back to the Old City.
I had rented an apartment inside the walls. There is virtually one hotel within the walls and it was way outside my budget. The other options would involve a long walk and/or a bus or taxi ride. Of course, this became part of the adventure.
Things I was grateful for… the apartment owner met me at the Polcè Gate and carried my suitcase through the maze of narrow, cobbled streets and stone steps. As we walked, he shared the history of his home and recommended restaurants and places to visit. Once we arrived at the tiny apartment, he gave me the nickel tour then handed me the keys. Being anxious to get going, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door.
My intention that afternoon was to get acclimated and grab some food. After finding pizza (remember – I don’t like experimenting with food), I decided to head back and unpack. From the plaza, I knew I had to go half way up the stairs, down a ways, turn left, make another left, then right. I knew exactly where I needed to be and found my “street” (I use this term somewhat loosely because it is really the size of a sidewalk with lots of steps). So I proceed up the street and realize I don’t quite remember which door is mine. There are multiple green doors, and no numbers. I did recall seeing a Trip Advisor sticker but didn’t see one. I hesitate and walk back down. I’m positive this is the right street. There is the bench we passed. I go back up and back down. Twice. Finally, an older man yells down at me. I hadn’t noticed him sitting on a balcony over the street. Turns out he really didn’t speak English but he did seem amused with my predicament. Glad someone was laughing. It certainly wasn’t me. Finally, I decide to walk further up the steps and alas, there is my green door with the Trip Advisor sticker. It was much further up than I thought. It is so rare that I don’t pay attention to details and I certainly paid the price the next morning. Note to self: spend more time on the stair master at the gym.
Overall, I really liked Dubrovnik. It didn’t capture my heart the way Prague did, but I did enjoy my weekend. I’m not sold on the apartment thing but it was probably a good thing for me to “rough” it for a change. My biggest issue was the very small hot water tank (think military shower), tiny shower and dampness. The location, however, was awesome and made the little things tolerable. I think that you really only need a weekend to see what you need to see in Dubrovnik. I was more than ready to head out on Monday afternoon, especially after waking up to a torrential downpour that created a waterfall to cascade down the stone street that left me wondering how I would manage to carry my suitcase down all those steps to outside the city walls where I would have to pay a small fortune to get a taxi to the airport. (Wow, long run on sentence. Good thing this isn’t being graded!)
Can I just mention that I went an entire week sans Starbucks? Reality – eight days, 17 hours, 15 minutes (give or take). If I didn’t think I was addicted before, I can definitely state categorically that I am. Addicted to Starbucks. Again, sue me. All I know is I was never more excited to get off a plane, grab my bag and get my coffee. I exited customs in Munich and opened my trusty Starbucks app to locate the nearest store. Fortunately, I was virtually on top of it. I look to the right and there she was, the green goddess of coffee. I ordered my drink, taking care to speak slowly and carefully so that it was made right. I didn’t want to wait again should it be wrong. Since I was the only customer, she chatted with me as she rang me up. She said I sounded like a true coffee connoisseur; if she only knew. Well, she probably figured it out when I came back 10 minutes later to order another one. “Did you drop it?” she asked. Umm, no. I drank it. After getting my second fix, I headed out to catch the shuttle. Holy mother of … , it is … freezing out here. Nothing like a 40 degree temperature to make you feel alive. I’m so not ready for winter. It certainly doesn’t help that I drink my coffee cold.
Turns out I really like the Munich airport. So much easier to deal with than Frankfurt… I must remember this for future travel. I was excited to get home, if only for four days before I was headed out again for another 10 days and another adventure.