ex-Marine (husband, Steve) and I hopped onto the 9:30a boat from Cavtat to Dubrovnik for a 40-minute ride to the Old Harbor. The boat was almost filled with people staying at the all-inclusive Iberostar Albatros. How did I know? We are past guests of Iberostar “all-inclusive” Hotels on the Rivera Maya coastline of Mexico. All-inclusive guests wear a wrist band which shows personnel you are entitled to all meals and unlimited drinks. (Loved those pina coladas until I found out there were 644 calories in each drink!)
From the Ploce Harbor Gate to the Pile Gate at the other end of Dubrovnik couldn’t have been more than three blocks or 500 meters with, fortunately, foot traffic only inside the old city. Entrance into Dubrovnik by the Ploce Harbor Gate is the most dramatic way to enter Dubrovnik in Travels With Sheila’s opinion. This section is drop-dead unbelievable as your boat quietly glides in on the smooth waters while old walls and fortifications surround the harbor. Maritime trade routes existed here even before the Roman Empire.
There are two harbors. One in Gruz where the majority of cruise ships dock and the picturesque Old City Harbor (Gradska luka) near the Ploce gates.
The Old Town is barely a square kilometer of narrow streets and alleyways packed with tourists. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, Dubrovnik was built on maritime trade and became the only Adriatic city-state in the Middle Ages to rival Venice.
Knowing that the Explore group had a guided day tour scheduled, we didn’t pay much attention to what was “important” and instead just walked up and down the streets beginning in the outdoor, Old Town Fruit Market in Gundulic’s Square. The stairs leading up behind the square had a “Spanish Steps” feel to them and definitely made a good place for tired tourists to rest. Take it from me. There is nothing to buy! Prices are outrageous and merchants don’t even attempt to bargain because there is so much tourism. Think… souvenirs or jewelry. The one jewelry item that did interest me hung in shop windows throughout town. Round, silver looking balls on chains, in all sizes with different decorations. I haven’t a clue what they were called, represented, cost or why plentiful amounts were seen in Dubrovnik windows since shopkeepers were too busy to talk to me.
A short walk down the broad Stradun (Placa), the central street of Dubrovnik with a brief exploration of the peripendicular streets and alleys that radiate off one side. We just happened to mosey into an ice cream store that turned out to be one of the recommended places by Dubrovnik In Your Pocket. Look for Dolce Vita and see if you too agree with us that it was very yummy.
There are several maps and informational signs on the wall at the Pile Gate. One shows the extent of bomb damage in 1991-1992. Another has color-coded sightseeing routes for tourists that last from 30 minutes to 3-1/2 hours.
A fast drink of water from Big Onofrio’s Fountain from one of the 16 taps. The fountain is the end point of an aqueduct that carries water from almost 12 kilometers/7 miles away and was completed in 1438; water is drinkable. Take a rest on the ledge and steps surrounding it and people-watch.
Let’s move along…