"Dubs" was so named before I even got here, because of course it needed a fitting abbreviated name. And it rocks. It´s hot, it´s beachy, and it´s got an amazing ancient walled city, the Old Town. Last time I wrote I mentioned we´d be taking a long bus journey down here - not so much. We got up early in Zagreb on Friday, but had missed the morning bus and the next one wasn´t until 7pm. I was starting to get a sore throat and whatnot and was scared of what an 11-hour night bus ride might do to me, so we hopped on the phone with Croatia Airlines and booked a cheap one-way flight for that afternoon. Easy! We headed to the airport to pick up our tickets and were in Dubrovnik by 5pm or so after taking the bus from the airport. We had booked a hostel/guesthouse (Begovic Boarding house - highly recommended) online, and our host, Bega (real name Dennis?) was magically waiting at the bus station for us to drive us to the place. It´s fabulous. We have our own room and bathroom with a small kitchenette and fridge and there´s a terrace with a great view of the area (Lapad) where we can sit and eat and just generally hang out.
After we arrived we were pretty tired, so we got some dinner on the main street near us and then took a bus to the Old Town. We explored a bit and came across a cliff-side bar with amazing views of the sun setting over the Adriatic. The drinks were very expensive (for Croatia, that is), but it was a spectacular setting. Broseph and I were looking at all the couples around us, both thinking that we must come back NOT with each other some time!
The next day we slept in a bit late and then went to the supermarket to stock up on a budget breakfast. We did a bit of a walk along the water to see what else we might discover (most importantly sandy beaches, as the vast majority of the beaches here are pebble). Then we took the bus again to the Old Town and walked the city walls. Brilliant views again (I still can´t get my pictures up!) and good exercise! Some parts of it were super steep. Later on we made our own dinner in the hostel kitchen, and as we were sitting outside deciding what to do that night, a new guest had arrived and it was a guy we´d met at our hostel in Vienna- Kyle from Australia. The backpacking world is very small, we´re learning!
Kyle decided to join us on our night out, so we set off for the Old Town without any plans, and as we were walking around, we heard the unmistakable beat of dance music. We followed the sound, and came across a coffee bar that Broseph and I had in fact stopped into earlier, which had been transformed into an actual bar with a dance floor and DJ. There were even glow sticks, so I knew we were on the right track. We bought a few drinks, including a cocktail bucket - literally a little bucket like kids take to the beach. It even had a little sieve on top. Would have been tops for making sandcastles, if there was any sand around here.
We danced there for a bit, and it was a friendly casual environment and a couple of older Italian guys (well, older than me) start chatting to me, asking where I´m from and talking about how wonderful it is to travel and whatnot. All very nice and friendly. One of them was called Fabrizio (yes, really) - I mention this because it will be relevant in a bit. After a while we get a bit bored of this bar and head to the world-renowned (not really) Club Fuego. It was about as fabulously tacky as it sounds. We´re dancing away to this bizarre mix of American pop/hip-hop (three Michael Jackson songs in a row - I´m worried the news hasn´t yet reached Croatia that he died) and Latin music, and Fabrizio turns up again. Oh, hi Fabrizio, I say, yep, isn´t this fun, oh ok you can twirl me around once or twice. Then suddenly, Fabrizio´s got me in a lock and says, "I want to spend my life with you!" (say this to yourself in a heavy Italian accent, it´s much funnier). Oh, um, thanks Fabrizio, but I, uh... Suddenly I spot Kyle and all I could do was point my toe and kick him in the leg and he rescued me by taking me to the bar or something. Fabrizio was perfectly sweet and harmless, but I am NOT interested in spending my life with a chubby Italian man I´ve known for 45 minutes and who was wearing a serious man-purse.
The next day (Sunday) was a full-on beach day. Not much more to say about that, as I didn´t move off the sun lounger for a good several hours. When we got back to our hostel we met four new guests, girlfriends from Canada travelling together - Elaine, Erin, Lois and Sam. We made some supper and then just had a relaxed evening with them on the terrace, chatting about this that and the other thing.
The next morning we got up a little earlier and after a gourmet supermarket brunch, we went back to the Old Town to learn about some of the history of the place at the museums (it´s been around since the early 13th century, and at one time was ruled by the Habsburgs, whose massive palace we saw in Vienna). We also learned some more about the civil war that was going on here until about 1995. It was very sad to see pictures of this beautiful place on fire and bombed out. It really made me appreciate how lucky the world is to have it.
We went back to hostel in the early afternoon to figure out how we´re going to get to Greece (nightmare - more on that later), and then did some more beach-lying. It was Lois´birthday, so after some dinner we geared up to go out and celebrate. I was hoping not to do Club Fuego again, but the other place we had chosen was closed (it´s just the very beginning of the season here, so it´s not as bumping as it will be in a few weeks), so before I knew it, there I was, reliving the dream. It was a good time with our big crew though, as we´d also picked up Chris from Canada, Luke from New Zealand and Artu from Finland who´d all been studying together in Prague. (A note on Finnish people - we´ve met several now, and they´re all lunatics. Lovely and fun, but absolutely off their rockers.)
On Tuesday we got up early to do a fabulous day-long boat cruise of the surrounding Elafiti Islands with the Canadian ladies and the Prague boys. We visited Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud. On each island we had some free time to explore or lie on the beach, and we were served a fabulous lunch on the boat. Lopud was our longest stop, about three hours, so we walked across the island as we´d heard rumors of a sandy beach. We indeed found one and it was beautiful- definitely worth it after all the pebbles which really hurt your feet!
When we got back, Broseph and I got some dinner and he spent the evening on the terrace with everyone, but I wasn´t feeling well (felt another sore throat coming on) so I went to bed really early. Good thing though, as I feel much better now, and we´ve a real odyssey ahead of us to get to Greece. We take an overnight ferry tonight to Italy (on the deck, as those were the cheapest tickets), then we spend the day in the port town of Bari, then we take another overnight ferry to Patras in Greece, then we take a train to Athens! We´re staying one night in Athens (we go back there again at the end of June) before we head to Santorini and then to Ios for about five days each.
Well, I did say I was going travelling, so that´s literally ALL I´ll be doing for the next three days! Wish me luck!