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Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, a town where the tourist population outnumbers the local population. The infinite number of cruise ships lining the coast were a bit of a turn-off. We could see straight away we were not going to get a car park anywhere near town, so we drove on until we found a campsite. The campsite didn't quite look open yet and there were only two other vans in the park. The manager said we could stay for €10 a night, which was a steal. Unfortunately they didn't have a washing machine and we desperately needed some clean clothes, so we spent the next hour washing clothes by hand. We are very grateful for the advances in clothes-washing technology we usually have access to. 

After this ordeal it was too late to head into town, so we opted for a walk to the beach instead. As it wasn't well signposted we picked an overgrown path that we thought was in the general direction of where we wanted to go. Well, we made it to the water but all we found was a pebble beach, surrounded by deserted hotels, run down beach bars and zero people. It was an eerie place. The buildings hadn't been occupied for years, possibly decades, and there was broken glass, graffiti, rubble and bullet holes everywhere. They looked like beautiful buildings, set in a prime location, but at some stage they fell into disrepair and no one had made the effort to change that. It sort of felt like walking into a war zone after the war had finished. Creepy.

We waited half an hour at the bus stop the next morning to head into Dubrovnik. What is the point of timetables if they don't stick to them? On a positive note the driver announced the stop for the old town, which was handy because there was no indication that we were anywhere near the old town. And that was because we weren't; we had to walk down hundreds of steps to reach the entrance.

The one thing every tourist has to do is complete a self-guided walking tour along the city walls, supposedly the best in the world. We were able to walk the whole way around and we had to agree that it was fantastic, although there were about a billion steps (I don't know how all the oldies did it). Half of the walk was along the stunning coastline, and from every side we were looking over a sea of red roofs in the old town. Many people live inside the walls and we had unobstructed views straight into their backyards, which was kind of strange. It took us forever to make it all the way around, as I kept stopping every 50 metres to take another photo.

Once we were back at ground level we wandered through the laneways that made up old town, crossing off all the must-sees, window shopping (although we did buy six books, in English, for a €13 – bargain) and eating. The walls of the buildings were all white (of course) and we couldn't see the red roofs at all - it felt like we were in a completely different town from what we saw above. The Irish pub had a refreshingly dry cider on tap and a not-so-palatable beer (according to Danny). There was a lot to like about Dubrovnik.

 

We did wander over to the new town but found it was mostly residential, so we scrapped that idea fairly quickly. 

To get back to the van we walked back up the hundreds of steps to where the bus dropped us off (I swear no one in Dubrovnik owns a stair-master – the whole town is a stair-master). However, when we looked at the bus map, it showed that the bus returned a different way to the way we came in, and we couldn't see the number for our bus on the bus stop. We decided to walk along the road towards the caravan park, thinking we would eventually hit one of our bus stops. Not one of our smarter moves. We walked for over an hour before seeing our bus number and by that stage we were close enough to the campsite to keep walking. So we walked the whole way, roughly 10 kilometres, back to our van. At least it was mainly along the coast (although high up on a cliff) and we were presented with sensational views back over Dubrovnik. We felt our efforts deserved to be rewarded, so we detoured via a supermarket and picked up cheese, oven chips with aioli and Croatian white wine - not as good as Slovenian white wine, but it hit the spot nicely.