So, back on Day 3, I tried to start what I thought would be a habit during the trip, a jog through the streets of Rome in the morning. Once I got to Egypt, I realized continuing this wouldn’t be a good idea, due to the uneven sidewalks, bad drivers and searing early morning heat. So, today, I decided to add something exciting to my Strava Map by doing a run to the other side of the Old Town!
No major surprises like in Rome, basically a retread of the sights I saw before, though I did get to take in the city from a different angle once I got to Banje Beach which, at 8:30 in the morning, was already starting to fill up. In fact, the Old Town itself was already moderately busy, a sign of what was to come today and, I’m sure, everyday.
The entire distance covered was about 6.4 kilometres, and I definitely was not going for speed, as I stopped a few times to take pictures and videos, but it was a good way to get some exercise to start the day.
Except that this whole day was basically a lot of exercise.
After having breakfast nearby, I made my way back to the Old Town and headed towards the Cable Car to get a good view of the city. I decided I’d take the car up, grabbing an extra ticket for the Homeland War Museum, and then walk down the mountain into the Old Town.
So, for those who don’t know much about FitBit, it sets a Step Goal everyday of 10000 steps. Due to the run, I was within a thousand of that by the time I got to the top of the cable car. The views were great, and actually better from the War Museum (so buy a ticket), which taught me more about Croatian history than anything I heard from a Game of Thrones tour, as it details the entire Siege of Dubrovnik in 1991, and how Dubrovnik fought back against “the aggressors” from Serbia and Montenegro. This would be my first deep dive back into the breakup of Yugoslavia, which I remember as a kid, and it would continue later.
But first, DOWN THE MOUNTAIN!!! It was a long one, it was a beautiful one, it was a hot one, as the midday temperatures had already hit and you had no choice but to sweat. I saw a few people starting the hike up and wanted to give them a preemptive congratulations before they made it to the top, and extra props if they were doing the whole (what would have been) two hour hike up and down. Finally, after weaving through some local streets, following a postman, and crossing what might account for a highway, I was back in the Old Town.
First stop was a place called War Photo Limited, which has a permanent display on the End of Yugoslavia, and an exhibition on the ground floor detailing the Kosovo War. It also features photos from wars around the world, from Syria to Sierra Leone, the Congo to Nepal, and it is one of the most amazing, sobering photo exhibitions I’ve ever been in. It shows the suffering people go through without being exploitive, gives description that are as unbiased as they can possibly be, and there are a few pictures that just stop you in your tracks. The most noteworthy thing about the exhibit is that it’s detailing almost thirty years of war from around the world, and you look at all of it, and you think “We’re not learning anything.” Ethnic cleansing, tribalism, refugees… It’s all an ongoing cycle, and a sad one at that, and even though we’re, statistically, living in the most peaceful time on our planet, in a way, that makes it even more impactful. Definitely a must see in Dubrovnik, pay the extra 50 kuna.
After War Photo, I decided to blow through a few of the sites on the Dubrovnik Card, checking out the Rector’s Palace, which, SURPRISE, was featured in a scene from Game of Thrones, and the Galerija Dulcic-Masle-Pulitka, showcasing works of famous Dubrovnik artists. I did a wander through the Dubrovnik Cathedral before making my way to the harbor to check out my swimming spot for the the day, the island of Lokrum.
The Lokrum Nature Reserve is just a short boat ride away from Dubrovnik, and totally worth seeing. I could totally see how people could spend a day here, strolling between various beaches, to the “Dead Sea”, a pool with mineral rich waters, or up to the top of the old fort to get beautiful views of the Adriatic. There’s an old Monastery, monuments, and a plethora of rabbits and peacocks wandering the island freely, as well as some beautiful birds and turtles. Sometimes, you’ll be around a lot of people and, others, you’ll be wandering peacefully on your own. The Adriatic is just wonderful to swim in and, bear with me here, might be the tastiest sea I’ve ever swam in. The hiking and swimming were a perfect combination as the steps went up.
Once I was back in the Old Town, I grabbed an ice cream and a bus ride to the station to pick up my ticket for Mostar in a couple of days, as the step count just kept on creeping up. Had to do laundry, which involved a 20 minute walk to a laundromat, where I had an interesting, if somewhat infuriating, conversation with a German tourist about how expensive Dubrovnik is.
Look, Dubrovnik isn’t cheap. The walls of the Old Town are arguably one of the most iconic sights in Europe, and when you factor in Game of Thrones and, now, the Last Jedi being filmed here, you’re adding tourists who may never have considered this beautiful UNESCO site. Pretty much everything you read about this place tells you it’s the most expensive place in Croatia. It’s a walled Venice without canals, beautiful, but at this point, run for the tourists. The fact that I hear the names “Cersei” or “Tyrion” more than I hear the name Ragusa, or about the Venetians, or Yugoslavia, tells you who they’re catering to. And, yes, in a way, that’s pretty sad.
Dubrovnik is beautiful. To skip it because it’s expensive, to get actively mad at how expensive it is like this guy was, is just a little bit ignorant. Maybe it’s more of a day trip for some from Montenegro, or a stop on a cruise (also part of the problem), but it’s worth a look. And you’re going to pay more to see it. You’re going to pay a premium to see a lot of things in the world. Don’t get mad because you can’t get up the walls for free.
As I’m finishing typing this, I’m looking at my FitBit. I’ve taken 39086 steps, walked 31 kilometres, 142 steps, and burned 5688 calories. It’s been a monster day. A big, beautiful, monster of a day.
Tomorrow, I’m heading to a small town for some swimming and walking. Kind of what I thought what today would be. Think I’m going to skip the morning jog.