Dubrovnik, Croatia is possibly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Its dramatic and rugged coastline that juts out into the Adriatic will surprise the unprepared traveler with a jaw-dropping reaction at the first sight of its magnificent beauty. Many tours only stay one or two days to give tourists a chance to glimpse at the drama of the scenery. However, for a tourist with about a week to spare in this glorious part of the world, the experience can be rewarding, and the food – especially the fresh made apple strudel – can be life changing. Yes, life changing apple strudel.
Dubrovnik has many nooks and crannies to discover. There is of course, the sordid history of the Bosnian war. There are several war museums, some open for free, to give tourists an idea of what the city went through when it was under siege. Museums like War Photo Limited and The Homeland War museum shows footage of both the shelling from the air and ground, as well as some of the funerals. There is also footage of damage assessment crews entering the old city when it was safe to do so. Another museum in the old city, Memorial Room of the Defenders of Dubrovnik, exists to always honor and remember those who died during the siege and displays their photos. Bullet holes in the finely polished streets of the old city as well as on the outside of the buildings serve as a permanent reminder of a war that changed the city and the country forever. Tourists can eat walnut ice cream or strudel, and walk through these streets to enjoy the ambiance, but clearly there is more to the history of Dubrovnik than one or two days can give justice to. The old city walls have stories to tell. There may be busses and trams to help tourists enjoy the city, but lives were lost and people suffered in order to preserve the heritage and help Dubrovnik become what it is today.
A full day can be spent just exploring the art museums in the area. There is at least one in the old city walls, and several upon leaving the city walls through the Ploce Gate, including a museum of contemporary art. The museum ticket, once purchased, is good for one week. Along the way to the museum outside the Ploce Gate, there are several small markets as well as spas and restaurants. During low season the spas and restaurants are closed, but the outdoor seating remains available to enjoy the sun-drenched beaches and reflect on the history lesson that Dubrovnik provides. For the former Yugoslavia is a place where the tourist is always asking, “which war?” In World War Two, Croatia was a Nazi puppet and paid heed to Hitler’s demands. So a visit to the Jewish synagogue to learn about this in the old city is not complete without a visit to the adjoining museum, which was once the Rabbi’s quarters. Yellow arm bands, which Dubrovnik’s Jewish citizens were required to wear, are on display along with other remnants of Dubrovnik’s not so proud past.
But pay attention to those small markets! For that is where fresh strudel is being made. Some days apple, some days cherry, always fresh, and warm when it comes right out of the oven. There is plenty inside the city walls as well but for the price –and certainly the experience of getting it right out of the oven – the small markets outside of the Ploce gate cannot be beat for fresh warm strudel or even burek, the filo dough pastries filled with cheese. And the scenery? Unbelievably magnificent. Very little else in the world compares to Dubrovnik.
Overseas Adventure Travels and Grand Circle Travel has several tours that allow for a variety of trips to Dubrovnik, and have extensions that allow the traveler to explore the old city for several days. Click on the above links for more information.