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Posts Tagged ‘Dubrovnik’

It’s winter – cold, snowy, and grey – and I am longing for the return of patio season. After six months or more cooped up inside, nothing feels better than to spend time outdoors and restaurant patios here in town are packed full of people on warm summer nights. I love a good patio, and Dubrovnik was the ultimate place to hang out outdoors with a coffee or gelato and soak up the sun. But Dubrovnik at night is the main reason I hope with all my heart to go back and visit again.

We had spent almost a full day driving down the coast of Croatia and arrived in Dubrovnik in late afternoon. After settling into our rooms and cleaning up, we headed out towards the old walled city to find somewhere to eat. It had fallen dark at this point, and we could see a part of it, all lit up and looking gorgeous, out our window. It’s always very exciting to arrive at a new place and discover its charms, but I swear when we walked through the gates and into main square, I was blown away. I felt as if I had stepped into a fairytale world.

The city has a long and storied history, and between earthquakes and wars, it’s amazing that so much of it is still preserved. The stone streets are worn smooth from years of pedestrian traffic, and the architecture is typically Old Word, classic with ornate touches, all topped with those iconic red tile roofs. Hanging from every building are electric lamps shaped like lanterns that give off a bright warm glow.

For me, coming from a much newer city with not many buildings older than the 1930s and asphalt streets which are flooded with fluorescent lights, the effect was breathtaking. Great effort has obviously been made by the city’s caretakers not only to preserve this piece of history, but to ensure that it still has life. People still live and work and hang out within these walls, much as they did 500 years ago – some things have changed, of course, but the rhythm of life continues on in Dubrovnik. A modern city has sprouted and spread out around the walls, but the heart definitely still beats within.

And so we found a place to rest, drink a little wine, and have a bite to eat – the only soundtrack was the chatter around us. It was a perfect evening, and though we could not wait to explore the city the next day, nothing could quite top our first glance of the square, glowing and full of history and magic.

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I think we can all agree – the best moments are never planned, they just happen.

A few years ago, I accompanied some friends on a trip to Croatia. The last few days were spent in Dubrovnik, and we had rented a three-bedroom flat for the eight of us about a ten-minute walk from the old walled city. Our landlord, a long-time resident of the city, graciously took us on a walking tour our first morning there. We bought him lunch to say thank you, and before we all split up, he offered to take us out on his sailboat the next day. What a treat!

We could not have been luckier: in addition to being an avid sailor, he was also a semi-regular tour guide. We toured around the Dubrovnik harbour, listening to all the stories and history he shared with us. Between the walking tour the day before and that morning’s sail, we had been spoiled: we booked a tour with a professional company for the “wall walk” along the walls of the city later that day, and all later agreed it could not compare to our time with Maro. He was blunt, colourful and knew so many interesting facts about the city, particularly with regard to the siege of the city that occurred about 15 years prior.

This was the colour of the water around the dock. This shot was taken from the edge of the dock, looking straight down.

After sailing for a while, he anchored the boat in a bay so we could go swimming. He took his snorkel and fins and went octopus hunting while we, one by one, jumped into the clear blue sea. As I bobbed around in the water and looked down, it seemed as though I could reach down and touch the sea floor, but after diving underwater, it became apparent how deep the water was where we were. As someone who grew up swimming in the cold, murky lakes of Ontario, I was mesmerized by the crystal-clear water in Croatia.

I lay on my back for a while, floating, drifting, soaking in the sunshine. It was an absolutely perfect moment: relaxing, peaceful, and one I could have lived in for a while. There were a few “sun-kissed” red cheeks and shoulders by the time we pulled anchor and sailed back to the docks, but it was so worth it!

The sail that morning stood out for many of us as a highlight, if not the highlight, of our trip – and to think, it happened all by chance.

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