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Europe 2022: Dubrovnik, Croatia

In order to get from Split to Dubrovnik, we had a few options including a ferry, bus, or hiring a private driver. The first two were during the day, so we would lose a half day making the ~3.5 hour drive so we elected to hire a driver for about $250. The driver picked us up about 5 minutes from our hostel and we hit the road!

The drive was uneventful, but I think it would have been beautiful during the day. We had debated renting a car, but read that there was a brief border crossing that lasted about 2 miles and did not want to deal with that. Over the past 2 months, however, Croatia opened a bridge connecting its two halves so there was no border crossing required!

We arrived in Dubrovnik just before midnight, which was somewhat stressful as I had been trying to get in touch with the hostel all day to tell them we were arriving late and needed to get an after hours check in. No one answered my email and a phone number was not listed. I googled a number and it was for someone that had not worked there in 5 years! I finally got in touch with the hostel and it turns out that they got my email, but never confirmed receipt!

Dubrovnik is a walled city and our hostel was one of the few hostels in the walls of the city, so we were dropped off at one of the city’s gates and were tasked with finding the hostel (Kings Landing Hostel). Upon entering the city, I realized that the number of stairs I had heard there were was definitely not an exaggeration! We climbed down about 30 stairs to a landing that our hostel was on. When we arrived, I called the number provided. After a few tries, we finally got in touch with the owner who gave us a code to the front door and instructions on how to get to our room. We had booked a 4 person private room, but wound up in a shared room which was up 3 flights of stairs. The hostel was quite strange, but we eventually made it up the stairs and immediately went to bed. Only one person came in the middle of the night and left before we woke up, so it wasn’t the end of the world. The following morning, I spoke with the owner who moved us to the private room we booked which was thankfully on the entry floor for the hostel!

In the morning, we headed down about 60 stairs to the main part of town and realized how amazing the hostel location was! It was literally 5 minutes from everything!

We grabbed a late breakfast / early lunch at a Mexican restaurant before exploring the city by ourselves. I was amazed by how walkable the city was – you could go from one end to another in less than 10 minutes.

After walking around a bit, we decided to do a walk around the city walls which looked quite intimidating. Once climbing up a relatively steep staircase, we knew it was worth it. The views were stunning – both of the water and the town itself. We were literally in the middle of Kings Landing from Game of Thrones! Supposedly, there are 1,100 steps on the city walls, but it didn’t feel like that much at all. We took our time and just enjoyed the views at every turn we took. At various points along the wall, there were places to stop for water, orange juice or alcohol. We made three stops – 2 for water and 1 for the best and most refreshing fresh squeezed OJ I have ever had.

At one point, we came across an intense view of what we think was a water polo championship match being played in between some of the docks! The match was loud and the fans were into it, some of them had colored smoke devices which made the match quite a spectacle.

After the 2 kilometer trip around the walls we reluctantly headed down the stairs back to street level, I think we could have stayed up there another few hours!

We then headed towards the Adriatic Sea part of the city and went to a bar overlooking the water. It was a no frills bar with a great view of the water and cliff jumpers – a relaxing way to spend time before dinner!

After the bar, we went back to our hostel to change for dinner which was just outside of the city walls and had an amazing view of the sunset! The restaurant was a steakhouse and the food was delicious. After dinner, we headed back to our hostel and crashed for the night. I was relieved to only have to climb the steps outside of the hostel and not the 3 flights of steps in the hostel as well.

We woke up the following morning and went to a breakfast that we had reservations for. When we walked out of the restaurant’s back door towards the table, we were greeted by yet another beautiful view. The restaurant was below the city walls overlooking the water. It was beyond picturesque!

After breakfast, we went across the town to meet up with a walking tour. Our guide was amazing and gave us the history of the city – from when the city walls were built to an invasion they had to fend off from Yugoslavia in 1993. It was wild to think that it happened in my lifetime, but it took until 2008 for all the houses to be restored!

We learned about how the city prioritized the state over the church, even in it’s architecture as the city hall was the tallest building!

After our tour was over, we went to the “Shame Steps” from Game of Thrones where we, of course, took a video of me doing a shame walk and also had a very kitchy cocktail with a Game of Thrones theme (it was terrible – haha)!

We then went back to our hostel to change before heading down to water for our 2.5 hour sunset kayaking tour to an island off the coast of the city to go swimming and a beach off the coast of the mainland for a light dinner. The highlight was watching the sunset on the way back over the city of Dubrovnik or, if you have an imagination, Kings Landing. It was surreal. They served some well deserved wine when we got back to the mainland as the kayaking was quite the workout – there were quite choppy waters we had to navigate!

We headed back to our hostel to shower before going to the main strip of the city to share a few appetizers and relax before heading to our final night club of the trop, the Culture Club. We only wanted to check it out, so we spent less than an hour there. It was more approachable than the clubs in Ibiza, but still a lot of fun! It also meant that we went to 4 of the top 22 clubs in the world in the time span of a week!

The following morning, we slept in until checkout at 11AM, grabbed lunch, and went to check out some of the sights that our tour guide recommended we visit including a few churches and a monastery with the oldest still running pharmacy in the world! We also did some final shopping for Game of Thrones souvenirs and had our picture taken on the “Iron Throne”.

We then met up with our Game of Thrones tour, which was something I was most looking forward to. Our tour guide was being filmed for a documentary so, unfortunately, she seemed to be more interested in showing off for the camera than giving a true tour. She spent a lot of time talking about her passion and love for the books and the show instead of what we were looking for – how the show was filmed, where it was filmed, etc. She did show us some locations including Lokrum Castle where scenes like the map room and “power is power” were filmed. We also saw, from afar, where the House of the Undying and the Blue Wedding were filmed before ending up on the Shame Steps. We needed to leave early to catch our flight as the tour was running over by 15 minutes.

We easily made it to the airport, checked in and relaxed before our flight to Istanbul!

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