WordPress reverted to my previous save, without the pictures. Here’s the post, with the pictures!
It’s nearly two months to the day that Mike and I returned from a two-week sojourn through Croatia and Italy. The original plan was to meet up with a group of friends in Rome and then saunter down the Italian coast to my good friend Carmela’s lovely guest house in Coccorino for a week. As Mike and I were booking the tickets for that vacation, we thought to ourselves, “If we’re gonna be in the area…” and promptly booked our flights a week early so we could check out Dubrovnik, Croatia.
What a decision that was! Plus, we had a layover in Copenhagen, Denmark en route to Dubrovnik where I bumped into Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau (who plays Jaime Lannister on “Game of Thrones”). Aw, man, Europe has everything!
Without further ado, here are five reasons you absolutely need to visit Dubrovnik, Croatia on your next European vacation. (And stay tuned for a recap of Italy, which I’ll hopefully be able to put together sometime before 2015).
1. It’s insanely gorgeous.
This cannot be underscored enough. Dubrovnik is the prettiest European city I’ve ever been to. Take your Paris and your Rome and just CAN IT. The Old Town juts out into the Adriatic Sea, enclosed by ancient fortified walls. Its rooftops are a mish-mash cluster of bright poppy-hued tiles.
To get inside the Old Town, you enter through one of the historic city gates, which are essentially giant drawbridges. Sounds “Game of Throne”-y, eh? Well, that’s because Dubrovnik is where they film King’s Landing. Nerd boner!
Once inside the city walls, tiny alleyways and twisting staircases lead you to the city center. You pass by hole-in-the-wall restaurants, laundry hanging from a line strung up between two buildings, and lots of sconces.
The ambiance is insanely charming, to the point where I kept commenting to Mike that this just couldn’t be real.
2. Everyone speaks English and yet, there are very few American tourists (so far…)
Roughly 5 million people speak Croatian, so the Croats know they’ve gotta learn a few other languages if they want to converse with literally anyone else in the entire world. Without exception, every Croatian person we encountered was friendly and spoke fluent English.
Of course, we learned several Croatian phrases and tried to use them at length, but most Croats smiled and kept talking in English, as if to say, “We get it, you looked at your Rick Steves’ handbook. But I’m fluent in English, so…”
One unusual thing we kept noticing was that visitors from other European countries (like Norway or Denmark) would use English to converse with the Croats, so Mike and I could understand most of the conversations around us! We didn’t run into a single American in Croatia, and only two groups of Canadians.
3. You can easily go on day trips to other neighboring countries.
One day, we hopped on a bus and headed to Mostar, a city in Bosnia and Hercegovinia that was all but destroyed in the Yugoslav War of the early ’90s. It was humbling and very eye-opening to tour a place that was ravaged by war in my own lifetime.
Another day, we rented a car and drove ourselves across the border to Montenegro. YOU GUYS. It was stunning. We stopped in the adorable mountain town of Perast, and then strolled through Kotor in the Bay of the Kotor. Then we did a mountain drive on a windy road along the coast of Montenegro.
4. It’s cheap.
This sounds very obnoxiously American, but let me just say: on that layover in Copenhagen, Mike and I grabbed a pizza and two beers and the bill was somewhere in the ball park of 60 euro, or $75 USD. I about lost my everlovin’ mind.
But Croats still use the Kuna, which currently has an exchange rate of 6 Kuna to 1 USD. It was like traveling in Europe circa 1998! Our money went far.
5. It’s the perfect mix of historical sights, charming ambiance, and sprawling beaches.
This vacation defied categorization. We spent two days at the beach, a day touring the historic Old Town, and nearly every night having a beer or a good meal in a charming square. Dubrovnik has a little bit of something for everyone.