Dubrovnik - Read our Stories and Reviews


Our whole 2009 family European holiday revolved around seeing Croatia at last. We already knew that the beautiful Dalmatian coastline, always a summer playground of the East, was becoming the new, unspoilt Riviera for Westerners. But we were blown away by the architectural beauty and medieval romance of Dubrovnik.

The old town is a completely untouched jewel on the Adriatic Sea, where you can swim and sunbake minutes away from the ancient fortress walls - and stroll cobblestone streets that have remained untainted by modern development or advertising. I am always on a quest to find places where the past is respected, so I was in heaven in Dubrovnik where it is positively revered. Yet the old town is also a living, breathing, lively spot for an enjoyable seaside holiday. Croatia markets itself as “The Mediterranean as it once was” - it has all the same charms, climate and mountainous coastline, without the modern bling.
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I decided to hone in on Dubrovnik for our Croatian experience - then explore the coastline or travel inland to see villages on a future visit if we loved what we saw. This way I would also have time to fit in nearby Turkey and our beloved Italy and Greece; when you fly across the planet all the way from Sydney you don’t mess around!

There is no shortage of five star accommodation in Dubrovnik, but few of them had any appeal or unique feature that made me excited about staying there. Many of them had that closed-in glass, modern office block architecture that is such a bore and hems me in. Hotels like the HILTON and THE ARGENTINA had a modern slickness that seemed jarring amongst convents and castles on the water.

stood out as ‘the only luxury hotel in the old town.’ I realised that this offered us a chance to go for the history and the atmosphere, with all the logistical practicality of being right there where we wanted to be at night: a huge plus. Like Taormina in Sicily I foresaw the bliss of being able to flop straight into the hotel after dinner.

The only downside was that this small boutique hotel doesn’t have a pool - whereas all the big 5-star ones do, as well as being on the coast. Normally I am all about smelling and seeing the ocean; this would really go against my normal default position of opening my balcony door right onto the water, as opposed to having water views. But the Pucic had an arrangement with a private pebbled beach at the NORTHWEST BEACH CLUB, outside the walls of the old town. We would have our own chairs there and could get our fix of sun and sea. A 15-minute train ride would be a different story, but the 10-minute walk was a fantastic trade off to experience living behind medieval walls.

We had a big journey from Cappadocia in regional Turkey, to Istanbul - getting caught in a ridiculous, bureaucratic tangle with Turkish Airlines over weight on the way - then left the country and flew to Zurich where we could fly on to Dubrovnik. It was too much flying for one day but that is the only way you can get from one remote destination to another; these places aren’t hubs. There were lots of delays as well, so we were not exactly petal-fresh or bouncy on arrival. I saw the red roofs of the old town and small harbour from the air but the surprise was still to come.

The 25-minute
drive was a sign that Dubrovnik was the right choice. I am always affected by first impressions, and a new journey is always a leap of faith. I was a touch concerned when I saw some initial construction but as we entered town I started to see that Riviera flavour. About a kilometer away from the old town walls the road becomes very windy and narrow and there are virtually no footpaths: the beautiful old buildings are right on top of the roads. I was really excited to see lots of greenery and across the board stone and tiled roof, character architecture. It is a really pleasing, lovely looking place.

Our driver was thrilled by my admiration and enthusiastically shared that the city actually doesn’t allow signage as it would deface the original look of the town. NO advertising. What bliss! To put aesthetic vision ahead of cold hard, cash is such an impressive philosophy.

Earlier on
the trip, on our 45-minute drive from Kayseri to the surreal and amazing desert landscape of Cappadocia (see story), my heart had sunk as I saw the 20 minutes of ugly sprawl that had built up around the airport. The same nightmare that is going on right now in China… I said to Sheira soon afterwards, “What is the worst sign that you could possibly imagine seeing right now?” “Not the golden arches!” she replied, looking out the window. Yes, MacDonalds strikes again, even in the desert. Come on guys, I’m trying to be exotic here! I was starting to think that there is no escape anywhere. Until I came to the oasis of Dubrovnik that is...

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