The bus journey from Split to Dubrovnik was a bit of a nightmare. First the bus was so crowded that people were standing in the aisle, and I was unable to escape the smelly person next to me. Then the bus was stalled in a queue because of a traffic accident. I don’t like these buses — the tinted windows and stuffiness give me a headache. I much prefer trains, but in Croatia, buses are both cheaper and faster, and the only way to reach Dubrovnik.
The annoyances of the journey did not detract from my appreciation of the scenery, though. One one side, You have incredible rocky hills and cliffs, and on the other, forested islands dot an idyllic sea. On the way, there was a brief pitstop inside the Bosnia and Herzegovina border, which extends to the Adriatic for a few miles, splitting mainland Croatia in two. I’m not sure of the historical reasons for this, but it was rather strange being subjected to passport checks en route between two cities in the same country.
I’ve been looking forward to visiting Dubrovnik, ever since I saw a photo of it online when preparing for this trip. Unfortunately, it’s Croatia’s premier tourist destination, with all the usual trappings that entails. I had once again arrived without booking, and after a long walk from the bus station and a bit of stress I managed to find a reasonably priced private room and set off to explore a bit of the town.
I was initially very put off by the armies of day trippers and visitors. Even in the off-season Dubrovnik’s main Stadrun street is heaving. I would hate to see what it’s
like in the height of summer. The fort overlooking the city, on the other hand, was surprisingly empty, especially considering the views of the old town and surrounding landscape.
I met up with the Portuguese friend I had met in Split, and we tried in vain to find a cheap place to drink, but the prices around here are like London. Like me, he is a solo traveller with no set itinerary and no deadline. His story made me laugh: while hiking in the mountains of Portugal he got talking to someone who invited him to a friend’s house, so he went from hiking alone in the wilderness to a social gathering with complete strangers in the space of a day! After that he decided to just continue travelling, unplanned and on the spur of the moment. If I’m a non-traveller, I guess he’s an accidental traveller.
Despite my reservations, I grew to really like Dubrovnik. Yes, it’s touristy, but there’s a reason for that. The unspoilt nature of the Old Town with its delectable alleyways and pristine city walls is something that has to be seen to be believed. You can walk the circumference of the city walls for 70 kuna, which is expensive but worth it for this view alone.