Since our last day would be pretty packed, I thought we might as well head into the Old town for the day. This time our Airbnb was about a 15-20 minute walk from the main town but it wasn’t a bad walk and it was so much more affordable and easy to park a car. Once we got in the city we walked around and eventually found ourselves at the cable car to go up to the Fort Imperial that overlooks the city. I
Views along the outside of the wall near Pile Gate.
The Pile Gate Entrance
Just inside the gate there is this massive water fountain ( of drinking water!! So awesome right?!)
More exploring… The street I KNOW was used in part of the Walk of Shame.
The other entrance to the old city near the marina.
It’s a quick (packed with no AC so thank heavens) ride up to the top and has magnificent views! We walked around the top as much as we could and explored the fort (which was falling apart and not much to see) before heading back down to find some lunch.
Views looking North of Dubrovnik. Croatia has over 1000 islands along it’s coast!
The old town with a cable car making it’s way up. Also the Island of Lokrum which we kayaked around the next day.
Looking to the South of Dubrovnik toward Montenegro.
The fort Imperial which is instrumental in defending Dubrovnik from nearby countries. There was also another museum/ exhibit on Croatia’s fight for Independence (in a war we would soon learn was quite recent…) however our stomach’s were growling and we were ready to find somewhere to chow down.
Heading back into town after the Cable car.. Notice the Game of Thrones store sign on the right… We would be visiting that sure enough later.
We also popped into a church and curiously found this exhibit? near the entrance. There is a Saint (or Mary?) tucked back in there as it resembled a cave and went quite far back in there. I wish I knew the reasoning for this as it was quite interesting.
Again for lunch/dinner we got some delicious pizza (making this our 2nd most expensive meal of the trip) and meandered around before deciding to just head back to the apartment. As we were wandering we noticed a nice little sitting area with benches on the coast so we walked down and saw another stair case that seemed to lead down to some cool swimming area on the rocks. As it turned out that particular stair case DID NOT lead down and the stairs disappeared making it quite a difficult climb so back up we went. BUT just as I was about to give up hope, we noticed an gap at the far end of this bench area with a legit stair case. (I still think the other one which is a lot more obvious when you go down, is there to act as a decoy) So we climbed on down and sure enough there was a great little cement slab where people could lay out while others cliff jumped on the close by rocks and just swam in the ocean.
The sun-setting on the most perfect swimming spot.
See the people swimming in there? Aww ya I was one of them 😀
I eventually worked up some courage to do the smallest of jumps but the water felt AMAZING. Even though the sun was going down, the water wasn’t cold at all and it felt great to wash away all the sweat from the day. I probably swam around for an hour of so before I could tell Braden was getting bored (he hadn’t prepared and worn his swimming trunks so he was just waiting on me) so I climbed out and we continued the walk to the apartment so I could shower and we could go to bed. All in all a great day highlighted by finding one of the best swimming spots of the whole trip.
Day 14: Our last adventure day. We woke up and got some delicious pastries from the bakery next door as we headed down into town. At 10 we met just outside the Pile gate with our tour group to begin a 3 hour Game Of Thrones Walking Tour. Our guide was so cute and fun so she really made the tour for us! We started with a lovely climb up to the Fort Lovrijenac, which starred in many scenes as the Red Keep.
We wandered around the main interior square and she had photos of the place in the show to compare what was used from reality and what was added through CGI. Surprisingly a lot of it really was real and the CGI was used more decoratively in these scenes. We also learned a little about the history of the Fort. One of my favorite notes was that when the Croats began building the fort, they had only 3 months until the Venetians were set to arrive with materials to build their OWN fort in that same spot. By stroke of genius. the builders first built up the outer wall facing the sea so when the Venetian army was set to arrive to build their fort, they were very surprised to see a “fort” standing in its place. Thus they returned to Venice without staying in Dubrovnik as planned.
Listening to my tour guide through my audio device.
The top of the fort provided easily my favorite view of the city with the ocean surrounding.
Compare with the photo below which was taken from a scene in the movie. They really didn’t have to add much to these scenes CGI wise!
Compare with photo below for comparison with show: that same rock that;s behind me!
After the fort we climbed down some different steps and into the smaller bay of Dubrovnik (where all the kayaks leave from) and learned about the filming a few scenes there, again comparing the photos from the show to reality.
Then onto the Pile gate, the city walls, etc… It was fun walking through the town and learning of how filming proceeds when they must close whole sections of the town to anyone but locals.This is just inside the Pile Gate..
We unfortunately did not go into the Rector’s Palace as part of our tour but we did get to glimpse in at this beautiful building. To switch it up from the Game Of Thrones tour, here’s a bit of history:
Dubrovnik used to be governed by a Rector who would govern only for 1 month before the city would vote for a new one and in this way they hoped to avoid corruption. While the Rector governed, he would not leave this palace at all ( not even to see his family) as his foremost responsibility was seeing to, well, governing. (Maybe another way they kept them from being corrupt lol) The palace is home to a museum now though which in hind site I wish we had had time to explore as it seems pretty interesting.
Annddd back to the GOT tour, it was also a filming location. They even kept that bust statue.
I was also ecstatic to learn I was right about which sections they used in filming the Walk of Shame! Booya! The tour covered our admittance to the city walls so we got to climb along the South end of the city. BOY IT WAS HOT! It was about 1 when we finished and despite really wanting to walk the entire wall… I also really wanted to swim.
Walking the city walls.
Taken around the outside of the most “castle-y” part of the walls. Also where they filmed a scene.. compare below.
Looking down on the Pile Gate Entrance.
While walking the city walls, you do pass this rather humbling area that just serves as even more proof of the recent war and damage it caused to the city.
So we said goodbye to our tour group and started the walk back to the apartment so I could double check our tour time for kayaking later and we could grab lunch from the bakery again. (This time we got some yummy ham and cheese rolls plus a pizza pouch thing)
Then we had some options of beaches, but I really just wanted to swim in the same spot from the day before so we headed back there for a couple hours. This time Braden wore his suit so he could swim as well!
The water felt PERFECT! It was so refreshing (not even cold!) and it was so much more clear with the sun on it than it was in the evening. (you could see tons of fish swimming around beneath you) Braden and I both did a fair bit of jumping from the rocks and I worked my way up to the biggest one even! Around 3:30 we walked back to town to get ready for our 2nd tour of the day.
We found out then that we actually had until almost 5 so we killed time by visiting the “official” Game Of Thrones merch store. They had an “Iron Throne” you could sit in for a photo op if you purchased something in the store. I decided on a mug (unfortunately a 35 dollar mug) but we also got a free magnet ! so worth it right? Photo op = priceless. Then we headed back to the Pile Gate to await our tour. I killed some more time swinging on this really cool swing set just below the gate.
Finally our time arrived and we redeemed our voucher, stripped down to our bathing suits, donned some attractive life vests, and took a crash course in tandem kayaking. While this was one of the tours I was honestly most excited for, I didn’t realize just how difficult it was going to be. This was probably the most heated and irritated time of our whole trip Braden and I were. Mostly because he was in the back where most of the steering seemed to happen and being in sync when I’m a crazy perfectionist constantly trying to “steer” a certain course I see, would be challenging. But beyond just steering, it was hard work! And we went way out to this cave area, plus around the bay so it was close to 2 hours of constant paddling with little breaks put in here and there. The experience was definitely cool however as nothing really can compare to sitting in a little boat outside the grand Old city walls of Dubrovnik. When we weren’t killing ourselves paddling, it was really rather peaceful.
The cave we paddled to was a great picnic spot and we got to swim! WHICH it was a little chilly as this was the evening sunset tour and we didn’t have any sun to warm us up. I made the most of it however and watched a couple people jump from a really high cliff, all the while anxiously trying to decide if I had the balls to do it or not. ( I didn’t, and when I discovered they provided snorkels which I could’ve been using I realized I really had NOT been making the most of our time lol) After about 45 min in the cave we paddled out close to the island of Lokrum. Here we were given the option of the long hard route going around the other side (an hour of constant paddling) or the easy route just staying on the side we were on and making our way back to the city. (about 35 minutes of paddling) I bet you can guess which one we chose. yep the hard one. JK! the easy one and thank goodness!
Leaving behind the large cave where we swam and headed to the Island Lokrum.
The sunset on the city walls from the water. So Stunning!
Trying to get us both in the shot. hahaha
It was cool even still though cause I doubt the other side of the island really looked all that different, and we got a lot of chill time hanging out with our guide, floating and listening to her stories about the town. And even more so interesting learning about the recent (somewhat) battle for independence Croatia went through in the early 90s. We’d been hearing and seeing exhibits about the war in different areas we went. (i.e. inside the Pile gate there’s a map of the destruction that was done to Dubrovnik alone when Montenegro attacked) but we hadn’t really heard much from other people with the passion this tour guide had. It’s hard to convey what we felt considering I never really learned about this war in school and it had such a big impact on the country we were visiting.
Anyways so glad we took the easier route cause not only was it less work, but we got cool stories. Plus we actually got to sit and enjoy the sunset on the water from our spot just outside the city walls which was really really neat. Once we paddled in, we through back on our clothes (even though I was dripping wet from all that vigorous paddling and waves…) and we walked back into town for just a little bit to explore it at night. They were celebrating independence days and in the main square they had music pumping and different colored lights shining on the old buildings. Tons of people were dancing and hanging around so that was a really cool experience. We got some gelato and walked around the quieter marina and had a laugh about how seriously FULL all the restaurants and cafes were at 9:30 at night… like what?!? It’s bed time! And then we headed back home on our 15 minute walk, again getting a kick at the constant stream of people walking into town at 10…??? All in all it was a great last day of adventure and even though it was hot, crowded, and a little on the pricey side, Dubrovnik was easily one of my favorite cities to visit.
Anddd since I didn’t really get any pictures from the travel days here’s the remaining 2 days of our trip:
Day 15: The journey home: And so we began our long journey home that would take over 2 days. We didn’t necessarily wake up crazy early, but we were up and ready to hit the road. We were delayed only a little by a nice chat with our host as she made us Turkish coffee, gave us some rather interesting fruits (it was good but the texture was weird so I could really only eat one….) and then I think she gave us some sort of Grappa (an alcohol) we couldn’t really understand her other than her saying it was good for you and she took a shot herself. It was some strong stuff! She has a really nice balcony that she likes to chat with her visitors over and since we didn’t stay for long the day before, we spent a little extra talking about her family and our travels… as much as we could with the language barrier. Then we grabbed a few more snacks for the road from the bakery and we were on our way.
The drive as a whole, took FOREVER. We had quite a bit of traffic in the narrow coastal highway to get back to Split area (again crossing through the Border control stations of Bosnia for that 15 Km stretch of road) Even once on the large highway we hit a big slow down that took forever. To make matters worse, there were so many people traveling the gas stations were a MESS! The most inefficient way to pump gas ever. We’d noticed it before, but you REALLY notice it when you are stuck behind 3 cars to get gas and each time the person fills up, then has to go inside and wait in ANOTHER line to pay and the person behind them at the pump can’t start filling up until it’s paid! So ridiculous! We spent 45 minutes at one gas station alone just to get gas, a snack, and use the restroom. Anyways again thankful for Braden driving the whole way as it allowed me to pretty much read the whole way back and not get frustrated about these things. We stopped on last time in Slovenia before crossing into Italy for gas and dinner. (one last ham and mushroom pizza!) and then we were on the final stretch (the technically 4th country of the day driving through lol) The weather got dark and crazy fast! It poured down rain and there was tons of lightning around us on the highway. Not to mention the insane Italian drivers… it was a little scary. BUT we made it in one piece back to the Venice airport where the last struggle bus arrived. We went to one gas station to top off: it was closed and there’s wasn’t a way to auto pay. We went to a 2nd gas station: it was closed. BUT it had a place to pay outside (still raining by the way) it took us forever to sort out how to use it (even though it claimed to have “English” instructions.. it really didnt. Another family was there and revealed the “secret” you have to pay first here. Oh? ok. So we inserted a 10 euro bank note and did it give us gas? NO it didn’t even tell us anything more, just ate it without any messages or anything. (my guess in hindsight is that it was a pump and then pay, however the people who had visited these stations before us had pumped and driven off… no surprise there since how else are they going to stop you?” so we returned to the airport frustrated and angry only to learn we had to pay 30 euro fee for returning it a 3/4 tank instead of full! (even though I explained we really had tried!) So even more ticked off and frustrated we waited for our shuttle over to our place for the night. (again in hindsight.. keep the car until the next morning and you can get gas.UGH!)
Our host was awesome though getting us from the airport and the airbnb was this cool renovated Villa. We had the “Heart” room since we were on our honeymoon which was pretty nice! The shower was the coolest part as it had a cool blue lighting, you could play music, and you could change the water stream to be side jets or a waterfall top. Unfortunately though sleeping was hard as the AC unit was incredibly loud so I had a hard time sleeping but Braden was hot so he wanted it on. Finally I won out and got to turn it off cause he wasn’t going to be able to sleep with me moving about anyways. (Plus I also realized the next morning I was covered in some weird little bites.. don’t think they were bed bugs since Braden didn’t get bitten and it went mostly after my left arm which probably wasn’t covered… but still weird)
Day 16: Up and at em for the final day. We had a complimentary breakfast that was already provided in the room. (seriously genius, all hotels should do this now) then we caught a taxi back to the airport around 8:30 for our flight out around 11:30. It didn’t really take us long to check in at all so we had time to peruse the Venice airport (small though it was) we had plenty of time to relax on top of that. Then it was the first flight back to Toronto and I felt sick a majority of the time on this one so that was rough. In Toronto we had a little over an hour so we got some burgers (hoping that would even out my stomach issues and it did help a little to have legit food)Our flight from here unfortunately got delayed a couple times getting us in over an hour later than expected but we were home! and it felt good! Braden’s dad came to get us and dropped us off and after another 30+ hour day with no sleep, it didn’t take long for us to find the bed.