The Pearl of the Adriatic (& All Of Europe)

Traveling to Dubrovnik was a bit of an after thought for me. Moving to London with a roundtrip ticket, a short stay visa, and plans to be Stateside by the time the New Year rolled around, it wasn’t until I was on my way back to Heathrow did Dubrovnik squeeze it’s way onto my list of cities to visit.

From cobblestone streets to clay red rooftops, Dubrovnik holds onto the medieval flare that many Western European hotspots have lost on their way in competing for tourist’s attention. Practically running to Banje beach after arriving on the first flight from London to Dubrovnik & throwing our bags at an Old Town apartment, it didn’t take long for me to  realize that Dubrovnik was way more than just a Game of Thrones fan base with a beautiful view.

Shortly after accidentally ordering $100 worth of fresh shrimp at the Banje restaurant (I never quite caught on to the kuna/dollar conversion rate), and roasting under the Croatian sun among the locals, we made our way back to the citadel walls. Only stopping for the local jewlery stands and take away mojitos before venturing out to find dinner, we stumbled upon on our first of many meals at the Oyster & Sushi Bar.

Traveling in a duo biased for any beach town or oyster special, day two began with the determination to tear ourselves away from beautiful Banje to explore the medieval history of Dubrovnik.

Wandering through the countless alleys and hidden hidaways of Dalmatian cuisine and culture, we feasted the afternoon away on pršut pizzas & crni rižot. Walking our lunch off on a tour of the city’s walls,  it wasn’t long until we wound up at the infamous Buza Bar. Etched into the side of the Old Town fortress, Buza Bar offers simple drinks, lively crowds, and the most breathtaking view.

Retiring ourselves from the ancient walls and heartbreaking history for the city’s most notable resturant, we arrived at Restaurant 360 just in time for a Croatian sunset dinner. With tables set between the breaks in the citadel walls of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, 360 hosts the finest food with a side of medieval charm I never knew my dinner was missing.

And of course you can’t visit the Pearl of the Adriatic without exploring the local islands that surround it. Lucky enough to tour the Croatian islands as a belated birthday present, our bottomless boat tour included visits to the islands of Šipan, Lopud, &  Kolocep. Dining with locals and aimlessly hiking along streets we couldn’t pronounce, I learned it is often hard to truly dive into another culture until you are out of city centre with the picture book menus & color coded maps, and instead are using charades as your main form of communication.

The last day  in beautiful Dubrovnik was spent racing tour groups to the cable cars and taste testing Croatian pastry shops. Grabbing a cherry strudel and boarding a teetering  orange car, it wasn’t long until we were looking at the walled city from 400 meters above on Mt Std. Exploring the Museum of Croatian Independence and brunching at the Panorama Restaurant, we sadly journeyed back down to the fortress, grabbed our bags, and headed for the airport.

While taste testing crêpes down the Champs Elysees & chatting with Brits over fish & chips are memorable, it is the quirky cities with the far away islands and unromantic languages that are often the most inviting. I never imagined traveling to places like Ivalo, Lisbon, or Burano, but among these and Dubrovnik, I’ve learned that you really can never judge a book (or a city) by it’s cover.


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