Having spent a couple of days at sea to get to know our way around the Celebrity Solstice a bit, on Wednesday 26 October we came into our first port of call: Dubrovnik in the south of Croatia.
Over the past few days I had been feeling a little under the weather – something I kept largely to myself, not wishing to be seen as a plague carrier on a confined ship – and this morning my throat was incredibly sore. Nonetheless, it was good to finally get the chance to leave the ship behind and do some sightseeing.
We docked in Dubrovnik at 7 am, when it was still dark. I had no specific tour booked, so could have a fairly leisurely breakfast whilst I waited for all of the tour parties to move out. I then took the shuttle bus into the city.
Croatia was the only stop on the whole cruise which isn’t in the Euro zone, and therefore the only place where we had to show passports. This was a pretty informal affair though, which consisted of a bored (but armed) customs officer wandering down the coach casting an uninterested eye as we held passports up for inspection.
Arriving at Dubrovnik, you enter through the city walls at the Pile Gate, from where you look down the impressive, broad main street, Placa. Near the gate is Onofrio’s Fountain, a large domed structure with gargoyles adorning its sides. Also just inside the gate is the Franciscan Monastery, behind which is, according to the guide books, the world’s third oldest pharmacy. This was very useful: it was here that I bought some Strepsils. I checked the sell-by date very carefully.
For me, the biggest appeal was the views to be seen from the city walls, so I wasted no further time in setting out along them with my camera. Immediately you are rewarded with panoramic views over the Adriatic Sea from one side, and from the other the indescribably picturesque view of the higgledy-piggledy red tiled buildings which make up the medieval interior. As you progress around the walls you get higher and higher and the view just keeps on getting better and better.
Finally I had worked my way all round the walls and found myself back at my starting point, so I returned to ground level to explore further. The old town is just as picturesque from the ground, with a Dominican as well as the Franciscan Monastery, a cathedral, an extremely ornate Jesuit Monestary and various other churches and palaces. All of this is almost unnecessary, however, because even just the ordinary buildings are very impressive.
You have to be quite fit to explore far: as you walk down Placa from the Pile Gate, if you turn left at any of the many side streets you are immediately faced with a steep climb up many steps heading up toward the walls. If you turn right you find yourself in a windy maze of medieval streets which also eventually climb up to the walls. It is worth it though.
As you may have gathered, I took rather a lot of photos on this excursion – here are just a few more.