Urban Romance In Dubrovnik
As a romantic destination, Dubrovnik is starting to give Paris and Rome a run for their money. I challenge any travelling twosome not to be bowled over by this place. From moss-green islands to tiny coves, this part of Croatia is all about good looks. So much so that driving from the airport along the Dalmatian coast is one of my most memorable road trips. The road twists high above the city, so you get an eyeful of its terracotta rooftops and turreted walls long before you arrive.
Exploring Dubrovnik’s old town
As for the city itself, don’t expect to come here and not fall in love with the place. First impressions? It’s a dead ringer for a Royal Shakespeare Company set. We made our grand entrance through Pile Gate – the main foyer into the old walled town. For a minute, all thoughts of exploring left our mind. Instead, we had an impulse to see how far we could slide along its pure marble pavements. Seriously, they look like Mrs Overall has been out all night giving them a good buff.
Shopping in the city
We made a start on the Stradun, the Oxford Street of Dubrovnik. Only here it’s all white-stone and green-shuttered buildings. You’ve still got your buskers – albeit 4-piece jazz bands – and instead of Selfridges, you get antique emporiums, Venetian mask shops and a healthy supply of pavement cafes. Throw in a beautiful Franciscan monastery with an apothecary that’s been in business since 1391 and you kind of get the measure of this citadel.
We spent the rest of our break exploring the spaghetti-thin lanes and medieval plazas that veer off from the Stradun. Along the way, we discovered the Church of St Blaise (pictured below), Sponza Palace and Gundulic Square, where there was a traditional market in full swing. One of the big highlights for me, though, was walking along the chunky walls that loop the city. We paid a few euros for some headphone history and it kept our sightseeing appetite fed for an afternoon.
Evenings in Dubrovnik
Evenings were an amorous affair, thanks to the rows of twinkling candle-lit tables that line the city’s cobbles. And we even found a local, in the form of the legendary open-air Jazz Café Troubadur, where we ended each night. The owner, Marco – a Eurovision Song Contest runner-up – gets most evenings going by plucking his double bass for a while, and then it’s an open-mic affair. Apparently, Jamie Cullum was in town and did an impromptu gig here the week before we arrived.