Into Dubrovnik

The Hotel Dubrovnik Palace is massive, and clearly popular with the many cruise ship patrons that constantly pass through the city. Built in the 70s and recently renovated throughout, it tumbles down the cliff face into the sea to a series of outdoor pools at the bottom and a private “beach”, which is really a concrete platform by the sea.

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Definitely looks nicer on the inside!

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That’s my favourite view. This one is also acceptable.

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It’s not a cheap set of digs by any means, but as a treat for a couple of days at the start of a honeymoon, and a base for exploring the city it was fantastic. The staff were friendly and helpful, and I was particularly happy that the chefs overseeing the dinner buffet were so keen to discuss local specialities with me. I suspect they don’t get many questions about the food! Bordetto, polenta and a hearty bottle of Croatian red wine were ideal sustenance.

As well as pools and beaches there is apparently also a gym and a spa. I couldn’t tell you whether those were any good because they weren’t what we came to Dubrovnik for. We came for this.

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Chris doesn’t watch GoT, but even he was humming the theme by the end of the day. We started with a walk around the Old Town walls, and quickly noticed that most of the old buildings have new roofs, a fact that I heard one woman remark on thusly: “Well I don’t call this old.”Β The shiny new terracottas are a consequence of the 1990 bombardment that saw many of the original tiles destroyed. Tucked away in a corner where most visitors probably ignore it is a map showing the extent of the damage, most of which has now been painstakingly repaired using traditional techniques and materials.

We completed our walk of the walls, and plunged into the shady side streets to explore. While the main drags through the Old Town can get serious clogged with sweaty humans, these little roads really reward the intrepid explorer with interesting shops, beautiful architectural details, and some low(er) temperatures.

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We continued our history lesson at the War Photo Limited gallery in the old town, which contained an exhibition of photographs from the recent Balkan conflicts, and a collection of heart rending images from the Syrian city of Alleppo in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. If you are ever in Dubrovnik I cannot recommend this exhibition highly enough. It is sobering to be reminded of so much recent suffering, especially when on holiday and you have had the ridiculous fortune to be upgraded to a suite, but I think it is an important part of visiting any country to understand its history and is scars.

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My Tilly and the Buttons bag making a cheeky appearance there – dead handy for accommodating guidebook, sun cream and a bulky camera.

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For both of us a key part of this cultural immersion involves food. Following a recommendation from Lonely Planet, we escaped from the Old Town main drag in search of Lucin Kantun, a small restaurant in a side street that serves legendary stuffed squid. Their reputation is very well deserved! The service is slow (and often a bit stressed as demanding tourists grumble about the wait) but the food, freshly prepared on site, is well worth waiting for. We sipped on glasses of lemonade and watched the world go by.

Ok, so we did spend a little time by the hotel pool that afternoon, but a pool’s a pool wherever you are right? I can manage about half an hour before it’s time for the next exploration!

What do you think?