Dazzling Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, or as it is known, the “Pearl of the Adriatic” is simply breathtaking, and according to playwright George Bernard Shaw “Those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik”. I agree with him. While I have had the pleasure of visiting magnificent places along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, the French Riviera, and the Greek Islands, Dubrovnik was simply a place that was still on my bucket list, and I just had to check it off.  After seeing so many glorious photos of this sleepy, medieval town (a UNESCO Heritage site since 1979), I just knew a visit to Croatia was a necessity.  Luckily I was blessed with the opportunity of visiting Dubrovnik recently and it certainly lived up to its reputation, how could it not…beaches, cliff diving, ancient medieval town, beautiful terracotta roof tiles, great food, fantastic nightlife and add a bit of romance. And one of the things I also really enjoyed about this place was that even though we visited during the peak of the summer in August and yes, there were hundreds of tourists everywhere….I could still feel the difference, it’s not quite as spoiled as some of the other destinations like Venice or Mykonos, which was pleasantly surprising.  Entering the city through Pile Gate, there’s still the feeling that not too much has changed.

Beautiful Dubrovnik!

Beautiful Dubrovnik.

More beautiful Dubrovnik!

More beautiful views…

But first I must brag a bit about our hotel, the Hilton Imperial…wow!  Since I am all about the views on my trips, I had researched that certain properties in Dubrovnik offered amazing views of the old town and city walls. After looking into a few, we decided on the Hilton and splurged on a suite which guaranteed the coveted Old Town views, and it did not disappoint…here is what we saw while peeking out our windows:

View out of our suite window.

View out of our suite window.

More views from our room...

More views from our room…

Hilton Imperial Hotel

Hilton Imperial Hotel

IMG_0365

View of our hotel from the city walls (that’s how close we were).

In addition to the views, the hotel offered a delicious buffet breakfast and a number of different amenities, along with a fantastic location just a few steps away from the historic entrance at Pile Gate. There are also plenty of buses and taxis available right outside the hotel, making it easy to get round town and to the nearby beaches.

Dubrovnik’s picturesque city wall surrounds this gorgeous city perched above the Adriatic Sea. Tourists flock here to parade down the old town’s shiny streets, which again, in the height of the summer, can get quite crowded.  But in my opinion, walking the city walls, cannot be missed.  While walking the full perimeter atop the old city walls, (and no, you don’t have to walk the entire perimeter), you will be rewarded with the most amazing views.  Perched up above all the orange rooftops and church spires, you can circle the city and gaze down on it while you take in the ocean and surrounding islands.

The steep stair you must climb to go up to the city walls.

The steep stairs you must climb to go up to the city walls.

IMG_0348

Onofrio Fountain, one of Dubrovnik’s most famous landmarks.

Crowds of tourists walking through the main street of the old city.

Crowds of tourists walking through the main street of the old city.

IMG_0381

The views from the walls.

More beautiful views…

For a fantastic panoramic view of this walled city, take the funicular up Mount Srd to the Napoleonic Fort Imperial, which overlooks the entire city. Scrub surfaced Mount Srd, stands 400 meters above Dubrovnik. It can be also be reached by car (15 minutes) or on foot (90 minutes walk). If you decide to visit the mountain, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best views over the city.

Taking the funicular up ...

Taking the funicular up …

IMG_0447

The views of the old town are amazing!

IMG_3244

Our daughter enjoying the views on the way back down.

As with most popular European cities, Dubrovnik has its fair share of traditional tacky tourist shops, as my husband likes to call them, along the main drag but don’t be discouraged.  You can also find some places  selling beautiful embroidered tablecloths and linen, Dalmatian wines, spirits (known as rajika), and delicious preserves and dried fruit, all beautifully packaged.  Oh and the old city is a pedestrian zone, so you don’t have to worry about traffic as you wander through the marble-paved streets.

Capture

Some of the beautiful linens sold in some shops, all embroidered by hand.

Beautiful linens sold at Bačan Handmade Products, Prijeko 6

Beautiful linens sold at Bačan Handmade Products, located at Prijeko 6

DSCF5375

Sugar coated lemon and orange peels are sold in certain shops, and packaged in cute souvenir bags.

IMG_0390

My daughter loved these pretty ceramic figurines.

And of course in the 100 degree weather we were experiencing, a long day at the beach accompanied by a sunset cruise, is a must. We chose to visit Banje Beach, because of its location, with beautiful views of the walls of the old town and Lokrum Island which is nearby.  I will say, as much as I enjoyed the beach with the crystal clear, cool water, I wish I would have brought some water shoes, as the beaches here are full of large stones and pebbles and by the time we left our feet were hurting quite a bit.  There is a 2-hour sunset cruise along the Dubrovnik coast where you’ll need your camera to capture the most glorious sunsets while in your own private boat. See the city walls from the sea as well as various reefs, the lighthouse and Lokrum Island. In addition to this cruise, there are many other boat excursions leaving from the harbor, also offering terrific views of the coast.

IMG_3258

Famous Banje Beach with views of the old town in the background.

IMG_3260

Hubby and daughter enjoying the crystal clear and cool water…

IMG_3281

Getting ready to board the submarine ride…

Here we go...

Here we go…

IMG_3298

Views from the sub…

IMG_3303

More views…

IMG_3306

View of Banje Beach from the sub.

While there are many good restaurants in town to choose from (although for the more popular ones make sure you have reservations), fresh yummy seafood can be had almost anywhere.  Take a look at this, right by the harbor:

IMG_3280

Ready for a late lunch!

Fried sardines.

IMG_3278

Fried calamari

And last but not least Dubrovnik is home to several locations used in filming the hit TV show Game of Thrones, which I know nothing about (gasp).  Take a three-hour tour around the Dubrovnik old town to see where most of the filming took place. Upgrading your tour will include an extra one and a half hour trip to Trsteno Arboretum.

Here are a few more photos of our trip for your enjoyment.

Rooftops of Dubrovnik

IMG_0337

Near Pile Gate entrance.

IMG_0386

One of the many side street cafes.

IMG_0396

The famous Clock Tower.

IMG_0400

St. Blaise with its monumental stairway at center, and the Gothic column of Roland right in front.

IMG_0406

The beautiful Venetian looking Sponza Palace.

IMG_3236

Having some of the best pizza at Domenica Pizzeria…yum!

IMG_3321

Enjoying some crepes and gelato at Dubrovka Cafe, which also offers amazing views.

Have you visited dazzling Dubrovnik?  I would love to hear what you enjoyed most…

My Signature

Advertisements

Radiant Rhodes

Rhodes, (Rodos) is one of the most beautiful of the Greek Islands.  Situated in the gorgeous Aegean Sea and the largest of the Dodecanese islands, it’s actually closer to Turkey than it is to mainland Greece.  We have traveled to Greece several times, primarily to Athens, Mykonos and Santorini, and somehow had never made it to Rhodes, until last summer.  And boy am I glad we finally made it.

To begin with, out hotel was magnificent. Rhodes was the last segment of our 17 day trip and we were exhausted from so much sightseeing, not to mention the August heat.  After extensive research (like we typically do), we decided to stay at the Atrium Platinum Hotel in Rhodes Town. This place was gorgeous from the moment you walk through the lobby and we had the luck of getting upgraded to an Executive Family Suite which had a sea view and a personal pool on the balcony! The room itself was super spacious and our daughter had her own bedroom and bathroom. The beds were so comfortable we had a hard time leaving the room after our nap. The breakfast buffet in the mornings offered everything you could possibly imagine, my hubby’s favorite being the crepe station with all sorts of toppings, especially melted white chocolate! However, if you’re planning on having dinner in the restaurant, men have to wear a jacket and pants (no shorts), and since we packed light for this island trip, we couldn’t have dinner there.  Not a big deal for us though, we rarely have dinner at our hotels, as we love to explore and find recommended places in town. And the hotel’s main pool is amazing.  My daughter never wanted to leave.  Also worth mentioning is the mini-mart by the pool, selling everything from food and suntan lotions to souvenirs. Extremely convenient and less expensive than ordering from the poolside café, which took 30 minutes to bring us cold drinks.  And if the beach is more your thing, just cross the street and enjoy the water. Take a look at this:

The pool at the Atrium Platinum

The pool at the Atrium Platinum

The Atrium Platinum Hotel

The Atrium Platinum Hotel

Crepes with white and milk chocolate.

Crepes with white and milk chocolate.

Our daughter enjoying the heated private pool on our balcony.

Our daughter enjoying the heated private pool on our balcony.

The Old Medieval Town of Rhodes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest continuously inhabited medieval town in Europe. To wander through the town is a unique experience for all to enjoy, since it’s mostly a pedestrian area, with streets full of shops and restaurants. Although the back streets are mostly residential, particularly in the Jewish Quarter.  The town is surrounded by medieval walls with several gates as entry points, most folks enter through Marine Gate, the main entrance to the town from the harbor. Inside of these walls are roughly 200 streets or lanes that simply have no name. However, in my opinion, getting lost and wandering around the streets is half the fun.  It reminds me of the winding streets of Mykonos, which also have no rhyme or reason.

The entrance through Marine Gate.

The largest shopping streets appear to be Orffeos, Socratous and Aristotelous.  Orffeos Street is a wide road with tourist shops and restaurants near the Gate of Saint Anthony, which connects with Socratous Street, the main shopping street of the old town. This becomes Aristotelous Street when you get to Ippokratous Square, the main square in front of Marine Gate, which surrounds a modest Castellania fountain, and is framed by the old Chadrevan mosque on the west and the Palace of the Castellan on the east. All around, coffee shops and restaurants are bustling with tourists hanging around, eating ice cream, sipping drinks and snapping a million photographs.

IMG_0891

Shopping on Orffeos Street

IMG_0895

More shopping streets

IMG_0918

Shops on Socratous Street with the Suleiman Mosque in the background.

IMG_0939

My daughter not knowing where to go next?

IMG_0945

Beautiful ceramic hand painted crosses

After touring the sites of the old town, you might want to walk around the walls, which is a remarkable example of a fully intact medieval structure, although it can be viewed from just walking around the outside. Here are a few more photos for your enjoyment:

The d’Amboise Gate

The d’Amboise Gate

The beautiful Suleiman Mosque, located on top of the town's hill at the end of Socratous street.

Beautiful Suleiman Mosque, located on the town’s hill at the end of Socratous street.

Ippokratous Square, the main commercial hub of the old town.

Gorgeous ceramic pottery sold at various stores.

Gorgeous ceramic pottery sold at various stores.

St. Catherine’s Gate

The beautiful fountain on Ippokratous Square

Beautiful building behind us.

IMG_1009

Another view of the shops.

A view of the harbor from St. Catherine’s gate.

A view of one of the island's beaches.

A view of one of the island’s beaches.

View of the Acropolis of Rhodes from the taxi.

I would also strongly recommend if time permits, to take a day trip to Lindos and to also visit the nearby island of Symi. Unfortunately we ran out of time, but both places are high on our bucket list when we return to Rhodes. And don’t worry about driving if you aren’t renting a car, there are plenty of bus and ferry excursions available.

Have you been to Rhodes or any of the other Greek islands?  I would love to hear what you enjoyed most…My Signature