M double U

2019 Croatia

Dubrovnik

Customs were easy going and we were welcomed with a big smile into Croatia. We continued the next couple of kilometers to the airport where we dropped our car and took a taxi to our apartment which was a couple of kilometers away from the old town.

We were located directly above the harbor so we made our way down through countless steps and once we made it enquired for ferry tickets to Lopud, where we would spend our last days in Croatia. It turned out it was better to buy them on the day itself.

A bus ride later we were at the old town and followed the masses onto the Main Street. Dubrovnik is without doubt one of the highlights of the Adriatic coast so it goes without saying it is swarmed with tourists. As it is possible for big cruise ships to stop at the nearby harbor the situation during daytime only gets worse and it is difficult to find your way through the crowds.

Still we loved the beauty of the city that became even more popular since parts of the game of thrones and Star Wars were filmed over here. Shops everywhere were now selling official merchandise.

We did not have a fixed plan of things to visit but saw a couple of churches, visited the cathedral and spent some time in the old harbor. The atmosphere was stunning and against all odds we found a relatively cool spot behind the cathedral where we enjoyed a refreshing breeze and a beer.

Then we continued our stroll and found a terrace outside the famous walls. The view over Lokrum was stunning but with outrageously priced drinks we decided to skip that.

Later on we had dinner at the pizzeria below the apartment where. Stayed six years ago, it was a true trip to memory lane. The pizza was massive and I could hardly finish.

In order to digest we went for another evening walk before taking the bus back home. Unfortunately we just missed it so we had to wait a full hour till the next one. A good idea to plan ahead a bit better the next couple of days so I made a picture of the schedule. Once bitten, twice shy…

Next morning we had a bit of a sleep in. Unfortunately Stephan was ill, he had an upset stomach and was completely knockout. I went to town to find a pharmacy and get some medicine for him.

After that I decided to go to Moby Dick for lunch. Six years ago Paul and I had a fabulous dinner over there. This time I enjoyed mussels and a mixed fish platter which was really good indeed.

I thought I recognized the owner so I spoke to him. I was right indeed and we had a vivid conversation. He remembered a lot of details from our conversations, amazing in a busy and touristy place like this.

When I asked the bill drinks were on the house.. Another surprise. Unfortunately I could not thank the owner as he had gone for a siesta.

I did some shopping and returned to our apartment. Stephan was fast asleep but I woke him up for his medicine. Not much later he was asleep again.

The afternoon was perfect to update my journal and relax. Time went by quickly and by the end of the afternoon I decided to join Stephan for a nap.

When we woke up he felt much better and even was hungry enough to eat the salad I bought earlier. We dined overlooking the bay below us and watched the cruise ships leaving. For sure they’re places would be filled by the time we woke up again.

After dinner we even went for a little walk but it did not become a late evening.

Next morning we had a bit of a sleep-in, breakfast and then took the bus to the old town. There we changed the bus to our final destination and much to our dislike it started backtracking to the harbor. But from there we headed towards the right direction, Sveti Jakov. We still had to walk a bit from the final bus stop and fortunately we found the long steps that headed down to the beach.

Sveti Jakov is the favourite beach of the locals, still it is rarely crowded. It overlooked the old town and Lokrum island. Being partly shingle, partly pebble we still decided to have a sunbed and shade which made our stay much more comfortable. Swimming was great and there was a bar where we could get a beer every now and then.

It turned out to be the perfect hide away for the day. The views were breathtaking, the sun nice and warm and the water a few steps away to cool us down when things were getting to warm.

Time flew by quickly and instead of climbing the endless steps and return to the bus stop we decided to take a taxi boat back to the old town. It was the right decision as both of us really enjoyed the short ride back.

We strolled around town for a while, which was now much quieter as the day tourists from the cruise ships had left to their all inclusive floating hotels. At one of the many squares we sat down for dinner. To make a change from all the fish we decided for a mixed grill platter, another good decision.

After a wonderful dinner we returned to the bus stop to catch line 3 back to our apartment. This time we had planned our departure a bit better so not much later we were on our way.

It did not take long before we returned home and not much later both of us were vast asleep. It had been a wonderful day.

The alarm woke us up early, very early. Today we wanted to walk the Dubrovnik wall and with temperatures easily hitting over 36 degrees during daytime there was only one way to do it, directly at 8 o’clock, as soon as they opened…

We were not the only ones but the queue in front of us vanished quickly and soon we had our tickets in hand so we could climb the wall.

The walls were for centuries a protection from perils, pirates, foreign conquerors. Today, they are a reminder of some distant medieval times and common ground for foreign tourists who were paying 20 euro’s each for the privacy of seeing one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world.

Like 6 years ago I absolutely loved it. The views were absolutely stunning. Terra cotta roofs and narrow streets were all visible from above, clear vista over the Adriatic sea revealed just about any boat on the horizon, inclusive the cruise ships which were not to be missed.

Stunning, absolutely stunning! About two hours after we started our ascend we returned to the starting point and we’re back in the city. We found a nice place for breakfast and then boarded a boat for a short trip to Lokrum, the island closest to Dubrovnik.

We went to the south tip and found the most beautiful spot in the rocks. The water was crystal clear and a large cave was next to us which was more than inviting to swim to.

It was an almost unearthly spot. Not the most comfortable one laying on a towel on the rocks but that did not bother.

At one point I jumped off the 15 meter high cliff in the crystal clear water, it must have been a moment of insanity when I jumped off but all went fine and a short swim later I was back at our spot T the rocks.

Later in the afternoon the skies turned black, a sign for us to return to the jetty for the boat to Dubrovnik. We were not the only ones but we’re fortunate enough to board before the rain got to heavy.

Back in the old town we found a terrace for a beer (or two…). Stephan was tired and returned to our apartment whilst I stayed behind in the old town and went to Moby Dick for the most wonderful meal. I was greeted with the biggest smile of the owner and when I wanted to pay the bill I was told all drinks were on the house again. Another fantastic evening that showed the hospitality of the Croatians.

A short bus ride later I returned to our apartment. One more night and we were ready for the final destination of this trip. Lopud, one of the picture perfect Elafiti Islands close to Dubrovnik. I was ready for some more sun and fun…

Lupod

As our ferry did not leave until ten we had the luxury of a slow start of the day. After breakfast our landlady brought us to the port, a short ride but with lots of laughter.

Another queue to get our ferry ticket but also that one disappeared rapidly (in spite of the unavoidable rude people who did not understand the art of queueing and went straight to the counter).

We departed punctual and as soon as we had left the harbor we could enjoy the view over the blue water, the main land and the Elafiti islands. It was absolutely amazing, a good forecast f what was to be enjoyed during the next couple of days.

Our first stop was the island of Koločep. A few people de boarded, some joined the ferry and not much later we were sailing again.

Lopud island, our destination was the second stop, and this was where most people got off the boat. Many of them just for the day but we had 5 days ahead of us to enjoy this beautiful island.

We moored at the small harbor and from there we could see a row of traditional houses and terraces along at the shoreline. At the end a large hotel, built in the sixties polluted the horizon. It was supposed to look like two cruise ships, which worked out extremely well, but somehow it did not fit into the picturesque environment.

Our apartment was a bit inland and we had to walk over a narrow path to it. Our host was already waiting to welcome us and after we checked in we changed and went straight for the beach.

We found a quiet spot and installed ourselves on two deck beds. The water was crystal clear and inviting, not a luxury at those temperatures…

In the afternoon I went to a restaurant and enjoyed one of the most tasting paella’s I can remember. Richly filled with fish and seafood and a wonderful taste. Together with a glass of white wine it was the perfect intermission before returning to my deck bed and the heat of the day.

It’s amazing how time flies in spite of doing nothing. My tan was developing rapidly as did my body temperature. Regular swimming intervals helped to cool me down.

We returned to the apartment only to find out it was already 18:30, a day well spent! I updated my journal, showered and dressed after which I went out to a restaurant for dinner. Mellon and prosciutto, sword fish and an ice real was the special of the day. Now who could say no to that.

Stephan joined me later for a beer and we were offered two different Croatian schnapps. The second one, much to the enjoyment of our friendly waiter was much more potent. According to tradition we had to drink it in one go, which led to a substantial increase of body temperature, in spite of the sun having gone for the day.

A short stroll over the promenade helped the digestion and then it was time to go to sleep again. Another day had come to an end…

Next morning we had a bit of a sleep in and it seemed the island needed the same. It was still a bit hazy and humid and the outside temperature matched our room perfectly as we had set the AC to a comfortable 25 degrees.

For sure a beautiful day was ahead of us. Stephan wanted to go swimming but I decided for a photo safari of the island. I would for regret spending 5 days in the sun and returning home without any pictures.

In our room there was a perfect map of the island so navigation was easy. The road was complete car free (with the exception of one car) and transport from one side of the island to the other was taken care of by electric golf carts but we decided to walk.

Paths were narrow and hilly and although it was still morning time it started to heat up rapidly.

Our first stop was plaža šunj beach in the south. We enjoyed a coffee overlooking the bay below us and then I said goodbye to Stephan. He wanted to stay at the beach but I wanted to walk across the island and see a couple of things.

I backtracked a bit and then took a path right and uphill that lead towards the church of our lady of Šunj. It was a small church with an even smaller chapel next to it. Unfortunately it was closed but there was a small but interesting graveyard surrounding it with graves as of 1800 till recent years.

Then I continued my walk over the narrow path. The vegetation was lovely and protected me from the worst heat, still the temperature was rapidly increasing, a good reason for me not to make my way to the fort and another church but continue directly to the Harbour, which was directly next to Lopud “Down Town”…

I treated myself on a wonderful ice cream after which I walked across the boulevard. Next to the boulevard was a small park which was created in the 19th century. When the owner passed away and money ran out it got a bit ignored but by now it was in a nice maintained state again and the dense vegetation provided shelter for the burning sun. Perfect to wander around for a bit.

At the end of it I had spotted a wonderful restaurant the day before, unfortunately there was no space but I managed to reserve a table for myself later on the day, dinner during sunset, how good could it get.

Mission accomplished I returned to the same place as yesterday’s lunch and this time enjoyed a fabulous seafood spaghetti and a beer.

After that I hang around at the beach for a while after which I returned to our apartment for a well deserved afternoon nap. Once I woke up I updated my journal, had a quick shower and made my way to the restaurant.

As promised earlier whilst booking my table I had a wonderful place so I could watch the sun go down whilst dining. I ordered a nice bottle of wine. As a starter I selected a Lopud fishermen’s plate, a wonderful combination of marinated swordfish, a jovial shrimps and an octopus salad. Magic, in one word, magic… Next was a crab soup followed by a selection of small fish and tartar sauce. Three starters but I was completely satisfied.

After dinner I met Stephan again and we headed for a beer at the waterside. The end of a great evening…

Next morning we moved to a different guesthouse, a little bit further inland and we started our daily routine again. We had three days left and being on an island we lowered our pace. Beach, good food and some beer or wine during dinner. The perfect way to finish of our Balkan adventure. The only issue we had was which beach to select as we had a choice of several. Life was good and the more relaxed I became the more intense my tan turned out to be. I absolutely loved the island life, as well as Croatia.

Montenegro had brought us a big diversity of stunning landscapes but I must admit I highly prefer the Croatian coastline above the Montenegrin one, which tends to be packed with multiple floor hotels and loud disco’s, somewhat disguising the old city centers that were hidden behind them.

In Croatia the village life was totally kept intact giving it a complete different feel. My favorite beach in Lupod was the one at the narrow promenade, just in front of the church and next to the cocktail bar. How good can it get.

But time passed quickly, too quickly at times and also this adventure was coming to an end. The next day saw an early rise in order to catch the ferry to Dubrovnik. Then off to the airport to catch the flight back home and a number of trains back to Sittard.

That was the plan anyway, we took off on time but on arrival in Cologne there was a big thunderstorm and we needed to divert to Paderborn for a refill whilst waiting whether we could continue our flight to Cologne or whether we would be transported there by bus. I was hoping for the first but for almost two hours we were not being informed about anything at all. Then the captain spoke and not much later we took off  for a scenic flight over Germany and finally our arrival in Cologne.

There I said goodbye to Stephan. We had a nice time but our differences were simply to big to continue our friendship. We had argues several times during our three week trip and I decided our friendship was over and done with. I wished him all the best, turned around and joined two Dutch ladies I had spoken to in the plane whilst waiting in Paderborn.

They had offered me a ride to Heerlen so I did not have to undertake the three hour long train journey to Sittard (A journey that takes no longer than an hour by car).

There Paul picked me up and brought me home. In spite of the regular arguments with Stephan it’s been a wonderful time but there is nothing better than home sweet home. Not for long however as my next adventure is already waiting for me, a very special trip to East Java and Bali. For more than one reason this trip was going to be extraordinary.