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Dubrovnik: Old Town and Sea Kayaking

I landed in my 31st country at 2:10 pm on June 16th.

I’m indeed keeping a closer country count now, I decided I want to get 40 countries under my belt by 40 (2+ years to get it done) and 50 by 50. The country was Croatia and the city, Dubrovnik. I had this trip planned for months and while I’ll be spending most of my summer in the mountains, I wanted to kick things off by the ocean. The last time I spent time by the sea was last September, in Crete. Which speaking of, it’s exactly what the landscape reminded me of as my driver was taking me to my hotel. The sense of déjà vu rapidly faded once I made my way to the Old City!

I stayed at the Palace Hotel, nestled into the sea side landscape, my room had a fabulous ocean view where I witnessed a few gorgeous sunsets. It was however, nowhere near the Old City. That required getting on the local bus (line 4) and taking a 10-15 minute ride. The bus ran every 15 minutes, so it wasn’t so bad.

Old City (Town) Dubrovnik

It’s no wonder Dubrovnik is one on UNESCO World Heritage list…it’s a unique jewel, a well-kept medieval city of beige rocks and red tile roofs. I’d seen pictures of Dubrovnik on Twitter and Instagram, so I thought I knew what to expect when I walked into the city wall…boy was I wrong. The smoothness of the stone streets, and the cleanliness of the stone buildings and walls made for quite an initial impression. I’ve been in other fortified medieval cities around Europe, and while all different from each other, they all had similarities, which is what I was expecting.  Happily though, I did not get that impression when entering Dubrovnik.

Stradun Street Dubvronik

Stradun Street Dubvronik

Dubronik Street

The main street (called Stradun) was crowded, but I followed it to the end.  Then I began wondering along less crowded side streets. I didn’t really know what I was looking for…I was just doing some exploring. The Old Town is still inhabited by locals, so as I explored, I wondered what life must be like living here now? I wondered what life must have been like centuries ago? Eventually, I realized while it was great to view the city this way, the real way to take a tour was up on the city wall. The city wall runs an uninterrupted course of approximately 1,940 metres (6,360 ft) in length, encircling most of the old city, and reaches a maximum height of about 25 metres (82 ft).

Dubronik view from City Wall

The entrance of the city wall was included in the Dubrovnik City card I purchased for ease of access to the public transportation. A good climb up a set of stairs and there it was…a bird’s eye view of the city. I took my time making my way around and admiring the views over the city and across the Adriatic ocean to the neighboring islands. Luckily, it wasn’t too crowded.

Dubronik Old Town SteepleThe word from the locals is that in July and August when the cruise ships dock into the city, this is not a place you want to be. It’s not considered to be the tourist season yet…although trust me, there were still plenty of people milling about.

Once I ended my tour of the city wall, it was time for dinner. I can’t say I picked the right restaurant. I has sea bass but it was nothing to write about. After dinner, I walked about for a little while longer then headed back to the hotel, arriving just in time to watch the sunset over the ocean.

Sunset Dubrovnik

Sunset Dubrovnik

Sea Kayaking

The way I’ve been living my life the last 18 months, it’s probably hard to believe I’d never sea kayaked before (or ever kayaked at all) but it’s true. It’s one of the things I came to Dubrovnik to do, so I was pretty bummed out in the morning when it started raining and thundering. I didn’t lose hope mind you, I prayed for the sun to come out; I knew for this to be the best experience it could be, it needed to be sunny.

Dubrovnik wall view from the ocean while kayaking

Dubrovnik wall view from the ocean while kayaking

It stopped raining before leaving the hotel, and the sky was clearing up…by the time I made my way to the pier where the kayaking adventure was to begin; the sun was shining. The sun shining was a blessing, but in the end, so was the morning rain. A lot of people cancelled because of the rain, so it was only me and another couple from Ireland in the group. I got my own kayak.

We stopped in this cave for a sandwich and a swim

We stopped in this cave for a sandwich and a swim

Being it was my first time, I struggled a little at first. My strokes were not getting me the momentum I expected, and the steering was proving challenging. Additionally, while I remembered to take my GoPro with me, I forgot the dang simcard (again) so I missed the chance to take some incredible pictures. My phone was in the barrel strapped to the rear of the kayak where my other belongings were also stored to keep them dry. It was a rough start, but a good start none the less. Love new experiences.

Turned into a gorgeous afternoon.

Turned into a gorgeous afternoon.

We circled around Lokrum island, passing a nature made cave and a nudist beach. We made a stop into another less shallow cave, where the guide handed us some sandwiches and snorkel gear. I chose to just swim around, climb some rocks and find out if I could still dive (which I can). The water is insanely clear and absolutely refreshing. Our guide mentioned how lucky we were to be the only ones here…usually on a day like this, the place is crawling with other kayakers. Thankfully, the morning thunderstorm deterred a lot of people.

We kayaked all the way around Lokrum Island

We kayaked all the way around Lokrum Island

Unfortunately, the time eventually came to head back. By then, I had a handle on the kayaking thing and was able to keep up with the guide. We kayaked around 7.5km and spent a good 2.5 hours at sea…enough for me to get a sun burned! It was an amazing afternoon.

How About You?

Have you ever traveled to Dubrovnik?  If so, what was your favorite place to visit?  Have you ever kayaked on the sea? Feel free to comment below or contact Ann’s Adventure Tour Writer and Blogger here.