Dubrovnik Croatia: A Resort Town in Winter

Dubrovnik's Coast - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com
Old Town Dubrovnik Croatia from Above - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com
Old Town Dubrovnik Croatia from Above – by Anika Mikkelson – Miss Maps – www.MissMaps.com

There’s a traditional route that travelers follow in the Balkans. Sarajevo to Mostar to Dubrovnik to Kotor and beyond. These are four wonderful cities, each a bit different than the other but offering a form of cohesiveness in their similarities. Traveling from one to the other is simple with open roads and plenty of buses connecting the towns despite crossing international borders. After landing in Serbia, I had no set plan but found that planning day to day was best for finding locally recommended diamonds in the rough.

From Serbia, I was told to visit Sarajevo. From Sarajevo, Mostar seemed to be the next best place. And once in Mostar, several others suggested I visit Dubrovnik.

Croatia wasn’t on my list, as I was intending to save it for my family’s visit in April, but as we’ve discovered, when the locals tell you to do something, you do it!

So I went.

Click on an image to see Dubrovnik up-close:

With a stop at Kravice Falls, just one of Bosnia’s entrancing natural wonders, I next passed millennium-old ruins, monasteries, and mandarin farms stretching for miles. Once in Croatia, the landscape changed and waves larger than any I’d ever seen before crashed on far cliffs below my window seat. Driving down Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, two more border crossings signaled the city was fast approaching. Bosnia and Herzegovina owns the smallest sliver of land connecting it to the Adriatic Sea, which splits Croatia in two. Although I’d just gone through a border crossing to enter Croatia, I had to once again leave, enter Bosnia, drive a distance only long enough to see a gas station and a few cevapi restaurants, and finally re-enter Croatia at its southernmost stretch. A large white wire of a bridge let me know I’d truly arrived.

Known for its red roofed homes and seaside old town surrounded by tall stone walls, Dubrovnik is the place many travelers’ dreams are made. Charming to say the least, it’s the perfect place to relax and take in the fresh Adriatic breeze. In summer, it’s swarming with tourists from all over the world. Beaches are filled with umbrellas, cabanas, and sunbathers. Harbors are empty as boats skim back and forth between islands, catering to college partiers and retirees alike.

 

Click on an image to see Dubrovnik up-close:

 

In February, it’s another story. Colorful boats rock side to side, pulling hard on anchors as heavy waves try to carry them away. Beaches are empty other than litter washed ashore during winter, and most shops and restaurants are closed for the season. Even accommodations are difficult to find. I found one of the inns which remains open year-round to offer the best steaming garbanzo bean soup, strongest turkish coffee, and sweetest pup one could ask for. I found myself right off the main pedestrian square in Old Town at Hostel and Rooms Ana for two nights and became fast friends with the other travelers. Each of us was out on our own solo adventure: from France, Spain, Quebec, and Hong Kong, we enjoyed each other’s company for two days and Ana joined us whenever we were around to make sure we had the best off-season experience we could.

We all found charm in the Old City, and some found it even more magical for a certain attraction: It’s a city known for its various Game of Thrones filming sites.

Having seen one, maybe two episodes of the series, I wouldn’t recognize any of these locations without being shown a picture or video clip. Luckily, some of these other travelers staying at Ana’s Guest House were well equipped and eager to share. It turns out, after reviewing some clips and performing a search for “Game of Thrones Dubrovnik,” I had managed to see many of the top spots for GoT junkies without even trying. Had we visited in summer, we could’ve even joined a Game of Thrones walking tour, but I found it more than enough fun to stumble upon various settings and laugh at others’ many attempts to recreate famous scenes from the series. During our last night, we watched a few clips at Ana’s and noted how remarkably different the scenes from the series are when compared to the actual location. The film editors and graphics team definitely know what they’re doing!

Click on an image to see Dubrovnik up-close:

 

Two days in Dubrovnik was more than enough time, yet like so many places, the people made me want to stay longer. During my time there, I walked the rainy pedestrian streets of Old Town once, twice, five times and each time managed to find new hidden alleys and spaces. In summer, beach bumming could easily take up a few days, as could island hopping and souvenir shopping if the mood strikes.

As my time finished, I said goodbye to Ana and the crew, and continued along to a new destination just south of Dubrovnik. Montenegro was next on my list, and I caught a ride with one of the Frenchmen staying at Ana’s. The day after leaving Dubrovnik, I had a chat with my mom online and it was decided: in April, she and her beau will be making the grand pond-hop overseas to Europe to reunite with my brother and I once more, and together we will celebrate her birthday in the one, the only, Dubrovnik!

Next time we’ll have the warmer weather’s luck of lounging on the beach and cruising to an island – just you wait!

Click on an image to see Dubrovnik up-close:

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