17 July 2013

In Search of Lost Vowels

My third new country for 2013 was Croatia. Sadly, I arrived two weeks too late to get a passport stamp, now that Croatia has joined the EU, but we had a ball nonetheless, helped by the fact that Dubrovnik is at its most picturesque in the gorgeous July sunshine — and the views begin on the bus ride into town from the airport, winding high over the sea. I just wish I had done a better job of pronouncing the vowel-deprived language. Even hvala, the Croatian for "thank you," is a mouthful, even for someone who knows her way around the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Stradun, Dubrovnik Old Town

We stayed in an apartment in the Old Town on a quiet side street that was still only moments away from the hustle and bustle of the Stradun, the city's beautiful, bustling polished main drag. We spent most of Saturday wandering around the Old Town and, in my case, getting used to its not entirely intuitive geography (pro-tip: there isn't a decent guidebook to Dubrovnik (I used the inadequate and out-dated DK Eyewitness Top 10), and Google Maps is often out-of-date or inaccurate). We happened to stumble upon an abandoned basketball court with the most incredible view of the Adriatic, so of course I had to try a leap.

Spot the ball.

We managed to walk partway along the city walls before encountering a ticket booth, so decided to return at a later point, once the temperature had dropped into the 'mere' upper twenties. Along the way, we stumbled upon Buža, a tiny bar perched in the cliffs, just outside the city walls and overlooking over the Adriatic. Its name means 'hole in the wall' and it consists of three tiny terraces that offer the perfect place to relax with something cool after a hard day in the sun.

Buža I, the hole-in-the-cliff bar.
It has a great view of Lokrum island.

There are also a few 'natural diving boards' (i.e. rocks with stomach-churning drops over the Adriatic) and some brave souls were jumping off into the sea below. Luckily, I didn't have my bikini with me.

Buža bar, from above.

These Dubrovnik leapers are hardcore.

Just before sunset, we took the bright orange cable car to the top of Mount Srđ. The ride is relatively swift — around three and a half minutes — but offers amazing views of the Old Town, the Adriatic and its neighbouring islands. 

The Dubrovnik cable-car.

Unfortunately, as was to become a recurring theme, the sun was enveloped with clouds moments before sunset, but it did manage a brief pink encore.

Buža ICrijevićeva ulica 9, Dubrovnik. Full directions are here; when you see the "cold drinks" sign on the city walls, you're nearly there.

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