Last night I returned home from Dubrovnik, Croatia from what was one of my favorite vacations of my life. I have never seen anything like the city before. An entire town surrounded on all sides by massive stone walls. It really feels like you are living in a medieval city that has been untouched for thousands of years. Over the walls, giant cliffs jut out a hundred feet below. Waves of beautiful turquoise and blue crash into the rocks below. It truly is a sight to behold. Outside of the walls stands a mountain truly protecting this city by the sea. It makes sense this city hasn’t been destroyed as you look at the magnificent fortress in front and mountains in back. Walking down the steep steps and open promenade bring you back to the time of the romans and you can really get a sense of how people lived back in the day. It is no wonder Game of Thrones is filmed here as I’m not sure there is another place on Earth quite like it. Below is the play-by-play of my favorite weekend so far.
I booked this trip on day 2 of being in Croatia as my grandma, LoLo, said it was her favorite city and that I had to go visit. I didn’t know much about it but I found the biggest Airbnb I could and booked it. I’m not sure I even knew 12 of my fellow remotes at the time but I knew that space would fill up. In total, I think 30-35 of us made the trek which made the experience that much better. On Thursday morning, we all piled into a bus and headed south for the 3 hour drive ahead. The entire ride snaked along the Croatian coast and I saw some of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen from a car. Huge rock cliffs, green islands, blue-turquoise water, little towns, houses with orange roofs and boats in harbors. Croatia really is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. A small piece of Bosnia and Herzegovina juts out into the sea so we stopped at a rest stop so we could all add it to our country list. I now think I’ve almost visited as many countries during this past month than I had my entire life before (7). We get into town around 2pm and are met by our Airbnb host, Ivica. He is extremely friendly and welcoming, a theme I am seeing from the Croatian people. He said his family has owned this house for many generations and it is located within the castle walls at the very top of the city. The house is beautiful and although small, comfortably fit 12 of us.
We set out to get lost in the city in search for food. Taking a left out of our house, we encounter extremely steep steps down to the main street. At the bottom of the hill, the city opens up into its main promenade, a wide long street that takes horizontally from end to end of the city. The cool thing about Dubrovnik is that there are no cars within the walls so it really reminds you of being back in time. We found a spot that served mussels and oysters and we sat down for lunch. After lunch, some people went back to work for a few hours before dinner. I set out with Yun to explore a bit more. What we found was one of the most picturesque bars I have ever been to. Situated just outside and below the walls, a tiny bar looks out into the Adriatic sea. The beautiful island of Lokrum is straight ahead and we have a beer and watch the sunset. Its an amazing 360 view as behind you are the tall castle walls and in front is beautiful water, boats slowly drifting by and the most beautiful sunset I have seen. Since it isn’t tourist season yet, it wasn’t really that crowded so we were able to really soak it all in. We set off to go home and check email and get ready for dinner. Yun somehow managed to book us a private room for 25 of us for dinner. Dinner was amazing. The food was good, the wine was flowing and the company was great. While logistically difficult, eating dinner in big groups is always a good experience and something that the Remote Year community helps foster. After dinner, we head to a local Irish pub and call it a night
The next morning we head to explore the walls in the morning. You can walk around the entire city on the tops of the walls, exploring archer holes and other alcoves within the wall before coming to the top at the south of the city. On top of the walls, looking out to the sea and fortress and down the cliffs into the ocean is truly a surreal experience. I can’t say I’ve experienced anything like it. Even though it was a bit foggy, the views were amazing and it just felt cool walking around the ancient city looking down from the walls above. After the walls, we set off for the fortress which is a short walk away on the top of a cliff. The views from here were even more incredible as you could look down on the city walls. You feel like you are on top of the world on the top of the fortress and it was amazing just walking through it and seeing the sights.The views are just incredible and I’m not sure I’ll ever see something so spectacular in a medieval sense every again.
After the walls and fortress, some people split up and a group of 6 of us took the cable car to the top of the mountain. The cable car ride was awesome although it didn’t last long. At the top, you could see beautiful views of the city and the islands that lie in the distance. There is a restaurant at the top and we sat down for a few drinks. The view was incredible. From above, the city and walls looked so tiny. The fog was being pushed out to sea so it looked like we were drinking in the clouds. Pictures from our phone don’t do the view justice but it is a sight I will always remember. We spent a few hours at the top soaking in the view, pinching ourselves that this was now our life.
After the cable car, we went to dinner. Dinner was amazing this night. It was a smaller group and we chose the family-style option so everyone could try a bit of everything. Black risotto, penne pasta, whole fish, calamari, everything was so delicious and fresh from the sea. After dinner we went to a bar and then a club with the whole big group and danced the night away.
I was awoken the next morning at 8am as a group of us wanted to kayak to the island of Lokrum. I was a bit tired but knew I didn’t want to miss this. 8 of us headed out in 4 kayaks and set off for the island. The views from the water are great because you see the enormity of the rocky cliffs and walls. Looking straight up at the walls and fortress was a cool contrasting perspective from the night before. It great to get out on the water and get a bit of exercise. After about 30min of kayaking we arrived at the island of Lokrum. On the island we saw peacocks, bunnies and some more beautiful sights. We took some great photos by the water and headed up to the top of the island where an old stone structure was. From the top of the structure, we had beautiful sights of Dubrovnik and of the water we had just crossed. After some more exploring we set off for the ride back, taking a dip in the chilly water along the way. The kayak ride was incredible and I really enjoyed seeing the city in many different perspectives – on the ground level, from the walls, from the fortress, from the cable car and from the ocean. After a quick lunch, we headed for the bus and headed back to our home in Split. We were only in the city for about 48 hours but I feel like we got the most out of it and it was truly an unbelievable weekend!