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Days 11 & 12: Dubrovnik

We woke up on Tuesday morning in Dubrovnik to two unpleasant surprises: firstly, that it was pouring with rain and secondly that one of the cruise ships which had been in Kotor the previous day had followed us here. Postponing a visit to the town walls until Wednesday in the hope of better weather, we instead enjoyed a relaxing day exploring the Lapad suburb where our apartment was situated. While buying stamps to send our postcards in the local post office, we chanced across a display of extremely cheap books in Croatian and ended up with four for about £10, which ought to keep me going for several months with my current reading speed probably being that of a six-year-old.

Fortunately there was a dramatic improvement in the weather on Wednesday, with brilliant sunshine and temperatures soaring back up to 34 degrees. We wanted to make the earliest possible start into the old town to enjoy the atmosphere before the narrow streets became swamped by cruise ship passengers. Although we got up promptly at 7am, we ended up setting off somewhat later than we had hoped because it turned out that the supermarket where we needed to buy bread for breakfast wasn't open until 8am. I figured we had until about 10am before the centre of town became unbearably crowded, which turned out to be a fairly accurate prediction.

The sun was already starting to beat down as we made our way into the city. It was about 3km from our apartment to the old town and while most of that seemed to be uphill, towards the end we were rewarded with this magnificent view of the sea.


The streets of the old town were still relatively deserted as we strolled around, with shopkeepers and waiters setting up for the day ahead.


It was great to be able to appreciate some of the beautiful buildings without being trampled out of the way by herds of tourists on guided tours.


We made it all the way to the old town harbour without encountering more than a handful of people. The view out to sea was fantastic, though at times we were in danger of being splashed as occasional waves leapt over the harbour walls.


From there it was a race against time to get back across town to the entrance to the city walls before the cruise ship passengers struck. We made it - just! The many coaches which transport passengers from the main ferry port to the old town were starting to deposit their loads outside the main gate, but the tour guides were still busy trying to marshall people into the correct excursion groups. The walls were still reasonably busy, but nowhere near as bad as I'm sure they became later in the day.

It's impossible to describe the amazing views as you walk the walls, so we have put together a sequence of photos instead:

It takes about an hour to walk the walls and by the time we were getting towards the end of our journey, it was becoming increasingly busy. We skipped climbing to the top of the final fortress tower because we couldn't bear the thought of pushing up a narrow spiral staircase in a queue of people. When we emerged back down into Dubrovnik once more it was madness; completely overrun by thousands and thousands of cruise passengers. We left them to it, confident that we'd had far more fun exploring on our own this morning than they would following their leaders' parasols ;)

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