All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.
This Martin Buber quote was never more relevant than our recent trip to Dubrovnik in Croatia. Well I say Dubrovnik but actually we landed in nearby Split due to excessive turbulence preventing the plane from landing at Dubrovnik Airport. However our (mis)adventure begins way before then!
Ever feel like a trip is doomed from inception? First circumstances meant we had to cut the trip short by four days but luckily our lovely Airbnb host refunded our accommodation which paid for our new flights home on the Tuesday. Crisis one averted.
We packed on the Tuesday night and set the alarm for 3AM for our 0610 flight from London Gatwick. But when we woke up the other half’s eye had swollen up overnight, all red and inflamed, so much so he could barely see out of it. Not very good considering he was due to drive us to the airport. We ended up leaving a good 30 minutes late after an ice pack (well bag of sweet potato chips was the best I could do) and anti-histamines he could see well enough to drive. So off we set.
However, barely five minutes up the road, and not even out of Eastbourne, the petrol light came on. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had to fill up at 4 am in the morning but this is no mean feat. All the usual spots on the way out of town were shut and not due to open until 6am at the earliest.
Forced to take a detour we hoped the 24 hour Co Op at Polegate would also still serve petrol and luckily for us we managed to fill up and at long last set off – leaving at the time we were due to start check in!
Fortune shone on us as the roads were clear (as they should be at 4am) and we didn’t forget to take the two turnings for Brighton and Junction 9 like we have done previously. Three attempts were needed to find our long stay car parking we had booked but eventually with approximately 1 hour 20 minutes until take off we were checking our bags in.
As always with Air Norwegian we sailed through the self check in facility and straight through security with neither of us needing our bags to be searched for a change. Our disastrous start was soon forgotten as I tucked into a chocolate croissant and Grey’s Anatomy. However, fate had not finished with us that morning!
With a 2 hour 35 minutes flight we were due into Dubrovnik at 0945 and flying across Croatia the views were stunning: crystal clear waters, beautiful coastlines and stunning snow topped mountain ranges.
The flight had been remarkably smooth without an ounce of turbulence, or so we thought. Cabin crew announced the descent and the seat belt light came on. Then came the announcement that the weather at Dubrovnik Airport was extremely turbulent and we may not be able to land in such conditions. But we’d give it a go!
It definitely got choppy as we took our approach and judging from the closeness of the coastline I thought we were about to land until we started ascending again and the pilot announced that we were being diverted to Split. Although I knew Split was on the Croatian coastline my geography was patchy in this area so the other half did a quick google search (courtesy of free onboard wi fi – thank you Air Norwegian) to find that it was a four hour drive away!
During the descent we also hit a bird (or three) causing possible engineering problems but the pilot was hopeful we could refuel and make a second approach to Dubrovnik. Three or so hours later we were bundled into a bus with a ham and cheese sandwich and a bottle of water for the four hour drive. The drive was pretty breathtaking as the Croatian coastline is stunning. Orange terracotta roofs set against the clear blue and turquoise waters of the Adriatic.
Rob and I had to sit separately as we were the last ones on the coach so it was a long journey with some more Grey’s Anatomy (9 episodes in one day), a little snooze and listening to some music. We passed church spires standing tall in small coastal towns and even popped in and out of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one coastal town unusually belonging to another country. It was a brief pitstop for a bar of Ritter praline chocolate, a Coca Cola and the toilet before we continued to Dubrovnik, arriving just after 5pm, a whole 7 hours late and most of our first day in Dubrovnik over.
A quick taxi drive around the old town and we arrived at our amazing seafront Airbnb, hosted by Eleonora. It was a one bed apartment with a massive lounge with huge mahogany cupboards and a comfy sofa. A simple kitchen with all you’d ever need (except it would seem cereal bowls). A lush shower with two shower heads and a washing machine.
Arriving so late in the day we were keen to ditch our stuff and go explore so after a quick unpack we walked barely 5 minutes along the coastal path and we were in the walled old city. There are few words to describe your first view of Dubrovnik old town as it is truly a sight to behold, a sight from the past so its unquestionably an excellent casting as Kings Landing in Game of Thrones. Aside from the inevitable merchandise every alleyway could transport you in to Westeros.
Walking in the old town the views of the city are breathtaking especially as sunset approached. We met the grumpy cat, a huge grey fluff ball that throughout our time in Croatia never moved from his step!
The Ploce gate was the nearest entrance for us to enter the city as we set off for a quick exploration. At one point there was a gate to who knows where but in the spirit of adventure we went through this tunnel emerging at a bar literally outside the city walls with the waves crashing below. It was called Bard Mama Buza, one of a few such cliffside sunspots. We watched the sunset over the city with a cold bottle of Somersby cider and then wanted to leave quickly as without the sun the city got super cold super quick, and we in typical Brit fashion had come ill-prepared for colder climates with not a coat between us.
Everything is walking distance in the old town so there was no fear of getting lost with each turn there being a new view and another photo to take. We soon started our search for food, deciding that a pizza would go down well. Pizza is a popular choice in Dubrovnik with restaurants offering stone baked pizza. We stopped at Cantina, a Mexican/Italian kitchen with a row of street side tables under warm heaters which was a seller! It wasn’t the best pizza in the world but we made up for it a few days later eating the best pizza I’ve had in ages at Pizzeria Tabasco.
The main thoroughfare called the Stadrun is never too too far away and the towers are good for focal points for navigation but Dubrovnik would have to wait until the following day.