Dubrovnik was the third and penultimate stop on our trip. By then, we were no longer jittery with excitement for the next thing. Here, we settled into a luxurious vacation sweet spot, lingering in the energy and melody of late-night in the old town square, having slow lunches that covered entire tables with shared food and drink, and greedily devouring stunning, sun-saturated views.
When planning, Kev was excited to suggest this stop to me because it hit all of my marks: the narrow streets of a European town, a seaside feel, warm weather, seafood, and a local wine trade. No question, Croatia blew my mind. It is so beautiful. I can't wait to go back.
We felt the difference from Vienna as soon as we arrived in Dubrovnik's tiny airport. It was a humid morning - a rain storm was coming. We watched it approach during our drive that seemed to always keep the sea just at hand. We could see the clouds, still far but fast moving; we could see the pockets of clear day and crisp borders of light and shadow on the water below. The rain arrived softly at first and picked up quickly, and by the time we arrived at our AirBnB and completed our tour with the host, it had rolled on, revealing fresh blue sky.
This place had a balcony and spotty electricity, and it would be our home for the next several days.
Our first priority was lunch. Our host recommended a restaurant in Old Town that serves capon, a traditionally prepared chicken.
We were staying a 15 minute walk outside of Old Town, and I would come to enjoy that walking route very much. For most of the walk, there was a wide stretch of promenade with benches and, on the other side of a railing, steep drops, strange plants, rock edges, and the Adriatic Sea beyond them.
We had Dennis navigate us to dinner, during which journey he'd stop at every single street corner, unfold his map, and fail to locate us. Eventually we found the place, having gone down some of the most narrow streets I've encountered and climbed the steps used to film Cersei's Walk of Atonement on Game of Thrones.
By the way, GoT is big business in Dubrovnik, with no less than a dozen walking tours. At dinner, we saw two such tourists dressed in armor and dueling with toy swords for a photo op. The meal was good. So much seafood! Jugs of house wine!
After dinner we came upon a sign that said "Cold Drinks and the Most Beautiful View." We were sold. Turns out, we'd been pointed to Bar Buza, one of the most well known bars in the city. Happy to have fallen into this particular tourist trap.
Bar Buza sits cliffside and there are multiple levels from which you can enjoy the view. When the water is calm, patrons can enjoy jumping into the sea for a quick dip. There are two locations in Dubrovnik - the one we went to didn't have a bathroom, which struck me immediately because alcohol makes everyone have to pee every 15 minutes right? Not just me? Anyway. We purchased a few bottles of beer and made our way down steps that degraded in stability all the way to the water's edge.
We arrived just in time for blue hour, and with the day's earlier storm rolling away in the distance, the view pierced me in such a significant way that I find myself, even today, ten months later, thinking (almost aloud) every so often "no blue like the blue on the Adriatic" as if the thought were a mantra or a catchy lyric. I can only speak for my own experience and I learned long ago to show, not tell as a writer - yet I feel the need to document this: watching the day fade into darkness while sitting on a rock two feet above the sea, staring into the distance toward the flat, unnaturally perfect line of the horizon, finding myself in the third new place on the earth in a week and a half.. all of that combined to a memory that is both transcendent and deeply grounding. No, I wasn't drunk, just a sucker for earthly beauty.
Once it grew dark we started to head toward home, stopping at La Bodega, a wine bar/cafe in the main Old Town square. A band was playing, that familiar lively buzz of night which always calls to me was in the air. We ended up staying for a couple of hours and imbibing on several glasses of wine. We took a group photo on our way out of Old Town which makes me happy to look at.