Fortified City

Day 495 – 8 July, 2016

Dubrovnik is most famous for its fortified walls and strategic location on the Adriatic Sea. It’s why more than 14 million tourists and cruise passengers visit this port city annually. After visiting the walled cities of Galle, Sri Lanka and Cartagena, Colombia (both of which offer free access to walk on the walls) earlier in my travels, I found it a little painful to pay almost $20USD just to get access to this crowded tourist attraction. So far everything in Dubrovnik, from my hostel to my meals to public transportation, had been overpriced and not that good.

This is where I tell you that it’s so so worth it. I went late in the day because without shade, the sun can be unbearable. The path is built of marble and granite and circles the entire old town, unlike the other two aforementioned examples that are only partially open. The views from every vantage point were stunning. Opportunities abound to peek into daily life of the residents and imagine the history that is thick within these walls back when it was inhabited by the Romans. It became more and more difficult to capture in a photo, but I kept trying as the sun drew lower in the sky. I had designs to stay for sunset, although the heat and my water bottle long dry, I finally descended the bird’s eye view to join the common people below.

From the top of the walls, you can see the sea on three sides, multiple islands, and the vibrant hillside on shore. I was especially interested in Lokrum, an island of legends, that was within spitting distance of the coastline. Lucky for me, it’s exceptionally easy to take a ferry to Lokrum for a day trip of beaches and sun. Somehow I have become notorious for visiting new places while not having any idea what to expect when I get there so I was surprised to discover the high population of peacocks and rabbits. Humans are only visitors (no one is permitted to spend the night) so the local wildlife flourish on the tiny island. The “beaches” varied from the cliff-type to the rocky shore to the type designed as a boating dock, but none of them were any less crowded than the next. Everyone seemed to secure their own piece of real estate for the day, enjoying picnics and an occasional dip (or dive!) into the emerald water. Lokrum is famous for being the place where Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked in the 12th century after returning home from the crusades.

As it’s no secret that I have developed a love of the oceans, I couldn’t stay out of the water even though Dubrovnik is not famous for its beaches and even though the water tops at a 78 degrees (downright frigid compared to Southeast Asia!). Noticing some locals and tourists alike diving from the narrow path immediately outside of the city walls, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my last day in the famous city than on an unlikely “beach” surrounded by centuries of history.

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