Friday, 10 May 2013

Exploring Dubrovnik's walled Old Town

After a seemingly never-ending winter, April had finally arrived in the UK with snow still fluttering around on the brisk, damp air. The skewed weather system, caused by a weather front in the wrong position, was affecting the whole of Europe. Including Croatia, where we'd optimistically booked an Easter break a few months earlier in search of some spring sun.

Alas, the forecast wasn't looking great, and we arrived in Dubrovnik to rain showers (which still didn't stop us from grabbing gelato on the way to our hostel, however...). Although the rain came down in earnest during our first night, the skies cleared the following morning and despite not being as warm as usual for the time of year, we could feel the cold finally leaving our bones.

Dubrovnik is an incredibly beautiful city, and I wasn't surprised to hear that the streets are packed with visitors during the peak summer months. Thankfully, the prolonged winter appeared to have kept crowds at bay, and we were able to wander the narrow roads and waterside paths freely. We were staying inside the old town, a labyrinth of steep alleys and tightly-packed houses encased within thick, imposing stone walls. Knee-jarring steps fanned out from the central streets, rising higher to reveal stunning churches, supporting arches and more cats than I've ever seen in one place before. The muted stone glowed in patches of sunlight, everything topped off with distinctive red brick roofs.

We were keen to make the most of the blue skies, and made our way towards the entrance of the walls, seeking an even loftier view. Lasting a good couple of hours (depending on how many times you stop), the complete circuit of the walls is worth every penny and a definite 'must-do' when visiting the city. We alternated between looking out at waves crashing against the stone, the water a rich turquoise, and turning inwards to a second sea, this time of red brick and tall bell towers. The small details were most captivating - houses that seemed to be held up by very little, bronze figurines striking the hour, small guard towers and wafting music from a music school below.

We came back down just as a brief shower started, taking refuge in a nearby cafe for a much-needed lunch before setting out once more to a small fortress just outside of the city walls boasting lovely views both along the coastline and towards the city, a fresh cone of gelato firmly in hand.


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