We arrived in Dubrovnik on the heels of the worst heat wave Europe had seen in decades. I think it must have been over 38°C in the shade! A recipe for disaster when you’ve just driven four hours in a campervan, crossed the border between Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina (twice) and had to walk for an hour in the wrong direction in search of the campsite’s beach access, only to find that it was, yet again, a pebbled beach with no shade whatsoever for two exhausted parents with frayed nerves and a 3-year-old who’d spend half a day being bored in the car.
It also happened to be my birthday, and while I had envisioned celebrating with a romantic walk through the walled fortress town, the gentle blue waves of the Adriatic Sea glinting while I’m sipping something special and enjoying the view, it turned out to be hot, humid and dusty, spent mostly trying to get the campervan set up and admin sorted, and ending in an overpriced dinner at the campsite’s (oddly) pompous restaurant that had no playground or a children’s menu.
Needless to say, our first day in Dubrovnik was not all that pleasant.
But the next day, we jumped on a public bus and arrived at the walls of the old town just as the crowds did too. We’d hardly had time to gawk at the limestone buildings and paved walkways before we had to buy a new T-shirt for Gareth, who’d been personally welcomed by one of the resident birds!
And so, with the little traveler in tow, we wandered through the streets of Dubrovnik, darting from shaded awning to stuffy alley in an effort to avoid the scorching sun. The streets were busy, the shops were bustling, and our tempers frayed as the little one threw a tantrum because he wanted a big Croatian flag, not a little one.
Sometimes, you just need to sit down on the steps of the Rector’s Palace and take a moment to breathe and calm down again.
Just as the midday sun was at its hottest, we decided it was time to brave the walls. And friends, that was the highlight of the day. Yes, we were red-faced and sweaty, but the views! From atop those walls, we could see the true beauty of Dubrovnik, with is red-tiled roofs and the white boats bobbing in the harbour and the Adriatic sparkling in the sun. It was magical.
And over all too soon. We descended the walls to find that it was cruise ship day, and the streets were suddenly jam packed with tourists jostling each other to take selfies in King’s Landing. We retreated to our campsite soon after. There were so many things that we still hadn’t seen in Dubrovnik, but we knew that with the heat and the crowds and the little one, it would just not be fun for anyone involved.
Back at the campervan, we discussed our options. We had originally planned to travel on to Kotor from here, but our car hire company’s insurance didn’t allow entry into Montenegro (or Bosnia & Herzegovina, for that matter). There were scheduled daytrips from our camping site to Kotor and Mostar, but both were more than 8 hours long and we didn’t think the little one would cope well with that. Plus, the heat was unbearable, and it looked like it was only going to get hotter during the coming week.
There was only one thing to do. We vowed to come back to Dubrovnik again someday, but for now – we packed up the campervan and headed back to Slovenia!
Have you been to Dubrovnik? What did you think of it? What sights did we miss that we absolutely have to go back for again?