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Clare
Clare

Day 1: Lokrum

Tim and I decided to take a different approach with our first holiday this year, so while he is off on holiday in Fuerteventura with his extended family, I have come to Croatia with my parents :) We flew to Dubrovnik from Birmingham yesterday afternoon with Monarch, in what was possibly the aircraft with the world's least leg room. Apart from the slightly cramped conditions it was a nice flight, although the weather was a bit hazy, so we didn't have as clear a view of the Croatian coast as we might otherwise have done. The sun was just setting as we landed in Dubrovnik and were picked up by the owner of the apartment we had booked to stay in. He drove us the 20km or so from the airport to the suburb of Lapad where we were staying, and we got our first (admittedly slightly dark) glimpses of the sea and the old town through the car windows.

It was a bit strange arriving at the apartment in complete darkness - especially because there was a rather vigorous chorus of insects outside - but when we woke up this morning we were able to see that it is in a really pretty location.

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After an excursion to the nearby supermarket, we sat outside and had breakfast on our terrace, which is beneath an enormous fig tree. While we ate we were entertained by the antics of some of the local cats and kittens.

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We knew that today was going to be a busy day for cruise ship tourists in Dubrovnik, with over 7,000 people due to visit the town. We had therefore decided last night that the best strategy might be to ignore the old town and walls for today, and escape to the island of Lokrum instead.

The apartment is about half an hour's walk outside the old town of Dubrovnik, so we set off in that direction, heading for the old town port where we would be able to catch the boat. On the way we passed this beautiful viewpoint outside the town. This was our first proper look at the sea :)

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It was fairly busy once we arrived at the town, in particular outside the Pile Gate, but once we started walking down the Stradun it wasn't actually too bad.

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We made it to the harbour and saw that there was a boat to Lokrum getting ready to set off, but I was surprised to see that there was quite a significant queue. When I went to Lokrum last autumn, I don't remember having to queue at all and I think we were more or less able to have our choice of seats on the boat. I'm not sure whether it was busier today because we were a bit later or because some of the cruise ship companies might have added Lokrum to their list of excursions, but the queue to get tickets was an absolute rabble. We got stuck behind a large bunch of Polish people who had bought some sort of group ticket and were trying to explain in a mixture of Polish and broken English that they wanted us to give them €14 to be included on it. While we were trying to disentangle ourselves from that confusion, several other people started to push in front of us in the queue, which was a bit frustrating. But we made it on to the boat in the end and actually got quite a good position to stand, where we were able to enjoy views firstly of the harbour...

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...and then out to sea.

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The boat officially runs from Dubrovnik to Lokrum every 30 minutes, although it felt today more like it was running every time they got to the point that they couldn't cram another single person onto it. Lokrum isn't very far away from Dubrovnik, so it wasn't long before we had our first view of the island.

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There was quite a crush of people when we disembarked from the boat, but we soon lost them the minute we struck out on one of the smaller paths away from the harbour.

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We started following signs towards the slightly strangely named "Pigeon's cave".

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When we got there we found we could only just about see the cave...

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...and there were no pigeons in sight! But there was a beautiful rocky viewpoint.

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From there we followed signs to 'Mrtvo More' (The Dead Sea), which is a small salt-water lake. Last time I came here it was almost empty, but today it was a popular location for swimmers and sunbathers.

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We were quite hungry by this point so started walking back in the direction of the ruined monastery towards the centre of the island, where I thought there might be some restaurants. On the way we passed a family peacocks, complete with very fluffy babies.

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I knew there were lots of peacocks on Lokrum, but I'd never seen one that was as adventurous as this one before; somehow it had hopped it's way up into this tree!

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We found a little snackbar where we were able to sit in the shade and relax with a drink and a sandwich. Then we set off again, this time along the so-called "paradise path", which is actually an extremely steep path which leads up to the highest point on the island. As one of the tourists who had stopped for breath alongside us commented at one point, perhaps they call it the paradise path because when you get to the top you want to die :)

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There's a fortress at the top of the path, which isn't particularly worth seeing, but what really is worth coming up for is the views on the way down.

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First of all we had some beautiful views of the sea...

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...and then as we kept walking we had some amazing views back towards Dubrovnik itself.

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Unfortunately it is quite a long way away in camera terms, and so if I tried to zoom too much the pictures became quite blurred.

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It was fantastic to be able to see the entire perimeter of the walls in one shot though :)

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Once we had got the (rather rocky) downhill path out of the way, we continued on a flat and shady path around the edge of the island.

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We had some views of parts of the Dubrovnik walls from here too...

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... as well as wider views of Mount Srđ and the Dubrovnik coastline.

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This path took us back to the harbour where we had originally started.

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We stopped for a slightly disappointing iced coffee at the snackbar (too much cream, not enough coffee!) before catching the boat back towards Dubrovnik again.

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Once again we managed to get a good standing position and were rewarded with some excellent views of the town's fortifications as we got closer.

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Mom and I decided to try and take a selife... possibly we need a bit more practice :)

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The closer to Dubrovnik we got, the better the views became...

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...until finally we were back in the old town harbour once more.

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We walked back to our apartment to cool off for a while, before heading out to a nearby restaurant which served nice Italian food. I thought I was doing well asking in Croatian for my pizza to come without olives... until I realised that the "with olives" option only resulted in everyone else's pizza coming with one single solitary olive! It was a lovely meal though, and a good end to what has been a fun but tiring first day in Croatia :)




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