The weather forecast was mixed again today so we decided not to stray too far away from Dubrovnik. We didn't have quite such an early start as yesterday, but we were out of the apartment by 9am and walking towards the old town again. A few spots of rain started to fall as we initially left Lapad, but the sky seemed to brighten up a bit the closer we got to the main town.
Our plan was to catch the 10am boat across to the island of Lokrum. Lokrum is the green island we had the great views of yesterday while walking around the city walls and the whole island is a sort of nature park. There is a boat to the island every half an hour from the old town port in Dubrovnik, and the journey only takes around 15 minutes. You can buy tickets for the boat from a little stall in the harbour and it costs 100 kuna (about £11 each), which includes the return boat trip and a fee for entry to the nature reserve.
The boat can hold a couple of hundred people, so initially when it lands on the island there is a little bit of a crowd, which takes a while to disperse. Overall the island is more than big enough to swallow all the visitors up, so for the majority of the time we were there we didn't really encounter any other people at all. When we first got off the boat though we were keen to get away from everyone else as soon as possible, so we started walking rather quickly in a direction which didn't seem to be terribly popular. After we'd been going for about 10 minutes, we realised why when the path turned out to be a dead end which ended in this sign.
Oops! We hastily turned around and made our way back to the port to try again. You can buy a map of Lokrum but you don't really need to because there are helpful little signs pointing you in the direction of all the key sights.
The first sign we followed was to the slightly strangely named "Pigeon's cave". We have absolutely no idea what it had to do with pigeons, but the path lead us to a lovely viewpoint.
We could just about see the beginning of a cave in the rocks.
We had been to Lokrum before in 2013, but one of the things I seemed to have blanked from my memory from that visit was quite how rocky some of the paths are. Next time I think I will come in my walking shoes!
From the cave the path led us to the so-called "Mrtvo More" (Dead Sea), which is actually a small salt-water lake.
The island of Lokrum used to be a holiday home for the Habsburg Archduke Maximillian and he introduced families of peacocks, apparently from the Canary Islands. They seemed to take to living on Lokrum very successfully and their descendants are still roaming the island today. It's difficult to go anywhere on the island without running into a family of peacocks.
Some of them had very small chicks indeed.
Something I don't remember from last time is that the island also seems to be home to a population of extremely tame rabbits, who seem to be completely unbothered by tourists walking past them.
Later in the day we even came across this lady who had managed to get a rabbit to eat out of her hand!
The Benedictines had a monastery on the island from the eleventh century until the early nineteenth century and you can still see the remnants of it today.
There was some renovation work being done at the moment though so we weren't able to walk about as much as previously.
Instead we set off into the forests which cover most of the island. There were signs everywhere about being vigilent against forest fires, and smoking is strictly forbidden everywhere on the island.
We soon found ourselves on the path known as "Rajski put" (Paradise path) which was part of the landscaping done for Maximillian.
It's quite steep but once you get to the top of it there are some beautiful views.
By this stage we were at the highest point of the island, which is where the Royal Fort is situated.
As we followed the path down from here we had some spectacular views back towards the walled town of Dubrovnik.
The path was still quite steep and rocky though, so I had to spend as much time looking at my feet as at the view!
Luckily we sound found ourselves on a much flatter path where the views were just as good
It was pretty cool that yesterday we had been walking around the city walls in Dubrovnik looking at views of Lokrum, and today we were walking around Lokrum looking at views of Dubrovnik
Another interesting feature of the island is its botanical garden, which features some unusual species of tropical plants, originally imported from Australia and South America. I particularly liked the cactuses.
Especially these ones which appeared to be flowering.
By the time we had finished walking around the island it was early afternoon and we were starting to get pretty hungry. There is a sort of restaurant on the island, but it's quite expensive - I guess because it has a captive audience - and last time we tried to eat there we kept getting pestered by hungry peacocks the whole time! We decided it was time to head back to Dubrovnik, so made our way back to the harbour.
We had just missed a boat (they seemed to be running with a blatant disregard for the published timetable!!) so we had to sit and wait for a while. It was a very pretty location in which to wait though
Luckily another boat soon arrived - also not in line with the timetable - and so we were soon on our way.
We managed to get seats outside near the front of the boat and so had some fantastic views of the approach to Dubrovnik.
It may be worth going to Lokrum just to be able to see Dubrovnik from the sea.
In about 15 minutes we were back, then had to battle our way through a very busy old town to get back to the road we needed to follow to Lapad.
Within an hour or so we were back at the same restaurant where we'd eaten yesterday, where we managed to have a lovely late lunch/early dinner, this time for only about £17
We've had a brilliant first week of our holiday in Croatia. Tomorrow we are off to Kotor in Montenegro for the second part of our trip. Assuming that everything works okay with the bus!