DUBROVNIK- GAME OF THRONES CITY
If you are a Game of Thrones fan, Dubrovnik overshadows Split where the famous TV series has been filmed. Both Split and Dubrovnik have been favourite locales, and the tour is touted as excellent apart from the historical aspect.
The exact places where the celebrated series was extensively filmed will take you through the streets where different scenes were shot. Along the way, you will hear many interesting facts and stories about the GOT filming time in Dubrovnik, its history and importance for Croatia.
The Old Town of Dubrovnik a famous UNESCO site is one of the most visited and photographed destinations in Europe. Known for its wonderful Renaissance and Baroque style architecture, red brick roofs and has surrounding walls, 2 Km long. According to the brochure Dubrovnik City walls that were built for defence fortification run uninterrupted for 1940 meters encircling the City, including Old Ports.
When visiting Croatia, Dubrovnik is worth more than a visit. The Stradun is the main street, which is so beautiful, one can enter the Old city through two gates, I entered the Pile gate.
Before delving into Dubrovnik Old city, I must touch upon one important fact of the drive from Hvar port to Dubrovnik, it’s the drive through Bosnia a stretch of approx 5 Km that interjects with Croatian borders, obviously an unsettled border issue and I wondered what the world would have been if there were no borders! It requires tourists to show a valid visa and a Bosnian stamp on your passport.
Croatia’s border with Bosnia Herzegovina encompasses crossing in several places, the closest to Dubrovnik being at Ivanica, just 20 min drive from the Old city, followed by another at Neum. Until recently Bosnia and Croatia’s border controls have been relatively easy and traffic largely tourism flows freely.
Passing through Bosnia was so beautiful, in fact, the group stopped by to order Pizzas at a Pizzeria, but here too the first time belligerent traveller got alarmed and we had to pack food and eat cold pizzas after the border crossing!!
I must quote George Bernard Shaw before I point out the highlights of Dubrovnik. So enchanted was Shaw with this beautiful city that there are paeans written by him, “ those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik” as well as” the pearl of the Adriatic” Situated in the southernmost part of Croatia on steep rocks and Adriatic Coast.
Dubrovnik existed way back in the 6th cent under the name of Ragusium! With the arrival of Slavic people and other refugees, the city expanded and fortified. The Croatian name is Dubrovnik, the ancient city with outstanding Maritime trade owing to its ideal location, that is how it prospered.
This prosperity ushered in a cultural transformation attaining unenviable heights, the Old city reflects that even today.
The gates to the Old city was absolutely packed with excited crowds, most cruise liners disembark here. It is advisable to buy a Dubrovnik Card, which entails you to step inside old town according to the number of days you want, including bus trips, explore historical sites, museums and galleries for the duration of days.
Don’t miss the Tower Bell, and Orlando’s column, the Palaces, other incredible buildings steeped in history. The Dubrovnik card also comes with a booklet listing out all details to visit.
I spent two glorious days just within the city ramparts, the city walk all along the wall is very tiring over narrow cobbled paths. With surging crowds, one has to follow a straight track, and tourists going crazy with selfie sticks makes everyone behind stop in their tracks!
Don’t rush through this walk, take two days instead of one if you possibly could as there is enough to keep one occupied in the Old city. It will transport you back in time.
The view from every corner of the turrets especially those higher up are breathtaking. There is one corner of the turret area as you snake along that overlooks an iconic Cliffside restaurant called Buza Bar.
The walk along the wall offers a 360-degree view of the vertical rock face, blue Adriatic Sea, kayak enthusiasts, cruise boats and mind-blowing sunsets.
Inside the walled city, there were handsome men wearing costumes of yore to pose willingly with tourists, some even held mock swords and knives, musicians held sway at Centre stage selling customary music in pen drives!
An ironsmith at a cubby corner in traditional garb sold horseshoes, pendants, made out of metal. Everything looked vibrant, colourful, there was music in the air, lots of shopping, gourmet restaurants, it was incredibly effervescent.
I witnessed four weddings in a day in the churches that abound old city, we even joined in the dancing. The theme of GOT was played over and over again!
There were plenty of cultural traditional dances by local artists at central square here, the crowd clapped to the lilting tune and some of them tried to keep pace.
The port into which trade ships sailed into Dubrovnik can be seen from a small square in front of another Fort Revelin. Today replicas of the Karaka or galleons transport tourists to distant islands, there is even a floating restaurant (very expensive) which hosts weddings and live bands in one of the grand bedecked wooden ships.
Another port here just round the corner facing St Ivans port is the location for many scenes in GOT, I spent hours here daydreaming.
Dubrovnik was my last stop here, and 2 weeks of Croatian sojourn just flew by as I caught my flight out to India from the city’s international airport.
For many, Dubrovnik is the icing on the journey, and I can’t be impartial to the other cities that I was fortunate to have visited and loved. The most ineffaceable part of my journey was friendly, warm and handsome Croatian (men) people.
This site is oft shown in Game of Thrones
Text/ Photos- Jyoti Shetty.
The highlights of the Adriatic Sea so far followed me through every Croatian Town, the natural beauty of Croatian islands, coves and caves while relaxing in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea should be on everyone’s itinerary.
I did that in Zadar and icy waters are ignored! Blue and Green Caves, and the city of Hvar are rudimentary stops in Croatia.
Hvar is one of the most popular islands in Croatia, located off the Croatian mainland, between Brac and Korcula islands, Hvar like Trogir is well known for its exceptionally mild climate, lavender fields and beautiful island archipelago.
Like all cities of Croatia, Hvar has the most scenic promenade by the sea, old-world Hvar town, Vrboska and Jelsa according to the agent are all not to be missed.
The best way to reach Hvar from Trogir is by Car Ferry, it is the quickest and shortest route. Hvar has four ferry port and according to google map all car ferries alight at Stari Gard port.
Reaching the town square where rows of sweet smelling Lavender shops and restaurants, the air was thick with the aroma and usual buzz of the crowd.
The group entered a travel agency that also arranges homestays/apartments and decided to take up a studio room high up in the hills. A totally wrong move and one of the cranky first-time travellers refused to live close by to the town square as she wanted a room with a view!
I was never so resolute to travel solo next time, climbing 100 steps was absolutely a waste of time! Do note apartments higher up forming the quintessential red roofed houses command a spectacular view, there are narrow roads that can lead up the winding path to these houses.
You must have a car on hand, one of the best ways of discovering the islands hidden charms. Drive through typical old villages, see the outstanding scenery and capture the authentic Dalmatian charm of the island.
Experience untouched nature, climb the hills for beautiful views and then descend through olive groves and sample Croatian wine at the many vineyards towards the coast.
After trudging down a flight of steps from the apartment, I headed back to where the Lavender and Rosemary sellers held stalls, bought lots of tiny pillows stuffed with Lavender flowers to take back home. Stopped by to have a meal of Salmon and mixed veggies, Salmon is not from the Adriatic Sea, it’s rare to get fresh fish of this kind in Croatia.
I headed to St Stephen’s square around the corner of the Dockside. I did get a feeling of déjà vu or maybe it was similar to the square in Trogir, or simply a bit of monotony seeping in town squares and promenades.
If one is inclined to see ancient buildings, Churches and Monasteries, in particular, Hvar is teeming with such edifices. I loved the walk through around St Stephens Square, many buildings side by side vie for attention.
The St Mark’s church and Dominican Monastery are other enchanting locales, the statue of St Mark is particularly striking.
Old town Grada, the Piazza, the first ever public theatre in Europe, The cathedral of St Stephen, the Franciscan monastery, the imposing palaces and many others. Hvar is a visual feast for lovers of architecture and is an open art gallery of sorts.
The Tvrdava Fortress is another stupendous climb from the apartment, for once I did not complain of the long flight of steps as it was just 50 steps fewer from the block!
A bar lounge within the hallowed fortress was a welcome break, nothing great but cosy. The fortress has some interesting features like the prison and canon guns, the herb garden below, but it’s the view from the fortress that made me realize that this sun soaked island will overpower your senses.
From atop this hill of the fortress, one can have a 360-degree unobstructed view of the entire island. You will also see Hvar’s neighbouring islands Brac, Korcula and Vis. On a clear day, you can even look out into the Adriatic and see Italy!
Dinnertime I lumbered back to the room and traipsed 100 flights down to Dalmatino Hvar for a great meal, noticed another great brasserie called Kanoba. At Dalmatino they served Croatian grappa after dessert, it was delicious as was the hearty meal of traditional food cooked in the covered pan called Peka.
Hvar needs 3 days to take in all the sights and flavours of the island.
Next day it was the Hvar port of Sukuraj to Durbanik, a quick see through of Vrboska village as we waited for the Ferry ship to arrive.
From Durbanik a 3 hours drive to Dubrovnik our final destination.
Text/Photos- Jyoti Shetty
LONDON — Five versions of a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece are being reunited for the first time in a “virtual exhibition.” Van Gogh painted his “Sunflowers” series in the south of France in 1888 and 1889. Five versions of work reside in five different museums on three continents. On Monday they will all be streamed…
via Van Gogh ‘Sunflowers’ reunited online — National Post
Just two hours away from Plivice Lakes is Zadar, this was my next halt for 3 days. The drive to Zadar was through the countryside and many fresh farm fruit stalls on the way made our car screeching to a halt frequently. Passing through the landscape of hills hugging the rivers. Forests, vineyards and olive groves, I really feasted on the panorama that unfolded.
Sasa my lovely hostess to the apartment greeted me with the usual Croatian warmth, I was pleasantly surprised to know that the apartment block was just around the famous landmark (Sea Organ) promenade. Zadar (also was known as Jader) is a city on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast.
There are numerous Roman ruins within the surrounds of prominent Old Town. The Venetian gates in the city walls, the Roman era Forum, St Mary’s Convent with religious art dating to the 8th century are iconic to the city.
The 12th century St Anastasia’s Cathedral and the round 9th-century pre-Romanesque Church of St Donatus are landmarks.
Sasha cautioned me of a Marathon taking place at the promenade the next day, so advised me to spend a quiet evening at the Sea Organ. It was the most relaxing, pleasant walk all around the promenade facing the Adriatic Sea.
Soaking in the gentle setting sun the soft sound of the Sea Organ that one could hear from a distance away became very prominently loud. It was like surround sound, there were many people vacantly looking at the sea and beyond seated on the steps of the Sea Organ.
The Sea Organ is an architectural wonder of acoustics at Zadar’s western end of Riva. The melodious sound captured by the thrashing waves is channelled through 35 tubes (organ pipes 70 meters long) that are positioned under the concrete with regular vents under the many steps from where the sound emanates. Zadar’s incredible Sea Organ designed by local architect Nikola Basic is totally mind blowing
The Sea Organ sounds very trance like and works best under rough sea conditions when the waves lash out against the podium. Greetings to the Sun is another corner art installation here, made of glass, I almost mistook it for solar panels!
The World Marathon the next day was a highlight event. The pleasant Riva promenade on the edge of the Old Town peninsula also called Obala Petra sported a festive look. The diversely global cafes dotting around the promenade were crowded and I had to give breakfast a miss.
The participants who had descended here were mainly from Europe, spotted a few Japanese too. There was blaring music, many make shift sports shops, and probably sponsors of the event handed out health drinks to the excited participants.
The weather was perfect, the distance run was along the old city and I saw few runners make it across to the ferry point and Sea Gate where I had wandered after the Marathon began.
Zadar is so conducive to just walk around the Old City and the iconic buildings which I visited daily during my 3 days there.
In most Dalmatian towns the market is a sight to behold, Zadar’s Ribarnica market just near the waterfront is the biggest and best. It’s been there since the Middle Ages, the space that it’s held on has historical significance dating back to World War two!
I was so thankful to bump into this vibrant colourful market (when the group that I sadly hung around with went island hopping) as it satiated my hunger pangs.
The display of sweet tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, figs were a sight for sore eyes. It was lively, the air was filled with the scent of various fresh produce fruits and vegetables mainly from Pag island was refreshing, never have I gorged fruits and vegetables all at once that quenched my thirst and satisfied my hunger as I did here.
I never felt so greedy, the farmers were so kind that many offered me a tasting of the sweetest of seasonal red variety fruits, they even pulled out a chair for me, and they were so kind. Everything appeared so big and the sweet sweet taste of nectar in every fruit was so memorable.
Ancient Zadar in central Croatian Adriatic is one of the best European destinations. Full of historical and cultural monuments, this 3000-year-old city with cosmopolitan cafes, impeccable museums (don’t miss the glass museum), Zadar is an important itinerary for any trip to Croatia.
Text and Photos- Jyoti Shetty