Sunday, November 12, 2017

Arriving in Dubrovnik and the Magnificent View of the Stradun and Luza Square from our room

Dubrovnik, Croatia is the fourth stop in our Balkan Road Trip. We stayed here for 2 nights and 3 days in the historical old walled town.

The stunning view from our room window. Priceless.

This is Luza Square. Our room is on the second floor (third floor for the non-Europeans) of the building from the second to the right, just behind me and Orlandos Column.

The drive from Mostar to Dubrovnik took approximately 3 hours or perhaps a little bit longer since we have to cross over 2 international border crossings. I originally planned on a different route via Stolac but our GPS took us to this mostly used route where we had to go through the famous ‘Neum corridor’ exiting Bosnia & Herzegovina twice and entering Croatia twice as well. Luckily there was no heavy traffic and immigration went smooth. At both border crossings, the immigration officer asked for the green paper of the car (which is the registration of the car). You can’t cross without presenting this.

If you look at the map of both countries, it’s pretty interesting how Bosnia & Herzegovina managed to snatch a little piece of shoreline from Croatia – 20 kilometres of access to the sea in total. This is the only summer beach resort of Bosnia & Herzegovina, the holiday village of Neum aka the Neum corridor. But how on earth did this happen?

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The scenic views of the Dalmatian coastline in Neum (BiH) and Croatia.

The story, rather its history, goes back to the old times, at the height of the rise of the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) in the 17th century. During this time, Dubrovnik was geographically in the middle of 2 great powers – Venice (Venetian Empire) and Istanbul (Ottoman Empire). Afraid of repercussions from Venice, Dubrovnik allied with the Turks who took control of neighbour, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and so it gave a piece of land for protection to the Ottoman Empire. This tiny piece of land is Neum. Until today Neum officially belongs to Bosnia & Hercegovina.

Trivia: Did you know that Bosnia & Hercegovina has the 2nd shortest shoreline in the world after Monaco. Well, at least the country has a shoreline =)

Our route from Mostar to Dubrovnik passing through the Neum corridor, the tiny piece of Bosnia & Hercegovina shoreline.

Nevertheless, Bubbles and I were very excited to see Dubrovnik, especially the fortified old town. We’ve had a great time in Tuzla, Sarajevo and Mostar and we were looking forward to seeing a new city and a new country.

As we drove towards the city of Dubrovnik, the coastline became busy and decorated with a spread of beige and red-roofed villas, apartment blocks and hotels. Just after we crossed the Franja Tudmana bridge, we managed to stop right above the Port of Dubrovnik to take pictures. This is where all the massive international cruise ships dock to bring all its passengers by coach service to the Old Town.

The Port of Dubrovnik with one of its regular visitor.

The Port of Dubrovnik is protected by an archipelago that is dotted with many holiday villas, hotels and apartments, as well as a number of yacht jetties.

Almost there in the old town!

We got back in the car and hit the few more kilometres drive to Dubrovnik old town. The old town is pedestrianized so there is no way for us to park the rental car inside, thus we needed to find the nearest parking in town. I have heard that Dubrovnik is pretty expensive, more like western Europe prices in everything, so we were very keen on finding a parking garage with a reasonable day tariff. But because we needed to lug our suitcases to the old town, we searched for the nearest temporary parking we can find. Well, we quickly found one, not too far away from the entrance of the old town, at the Hilton. Just the name itself, we knew already that parking is going to be expensive but we didn’t care. We’d rather pay than walk more than a kilometre with our heavy suitcases.

Entering the old town of Dubrovnik was like a fairytale moment. The defensive walls of the town in limestone colours were stunning amidst the blue skies and the polished marble-like streets we walked on reeked with old history, even back to the 7th century. It was very busy in the old town and packed with many tourists on the streets and Bubbles and I were grinning from ear to ear as we walked on the famous Stradun towards the room we booked.

Our first sight of Dubrovnik old town.

The room we booked is located in an apartment in a historical building on the Luza Square. It cannot be more central and historical than this, which is the reason in the first place why Bubbles and I booked this place. We are only staying for a few days so to truly breathe and experience Dubrovnik, we want to make sure we are waking up our mornings inside the fortifications of the old town.

We were able to locate the apartment quickly – Art House Dubrovnik.

Stella, the owner of the apartment was a very friendly and chatty lady. She inherited the 2-floor apartment from family but had to flee Croatia during the Balkan War where she stayed in Italy as a refugee and later as a resident for several years. Life had its own ways and she found herself later returning to her home country. The apartment and the whole building was in ruins when she came back. The journey wasn’t that easy though but with a little bit of help with the bank and some time, she managed to renovate the apartment. Stella lives here now and she rents out the rest of the 3 rooms to visitors.

The door to Art House Dubrovnik apartment.

The stairs of tribulation, haha. Yup, 3 flights!

Our room is the 'Orange Room' is furnished in antique-ish style and it has a mini kitchen.

Art House Dubrovnik occupies the 3rd and 4th floor (2nd floor and attic for Europeans) of one of the historical buildings on Stradun. This particular building is right on Luza Square, the second building on the side of the Sponza Palace with views to the Stradun, the beautiful St. Vlaho Church (St. Blaise Church), Orlando’s Column and the Clock Tower of the Franciscan Church and the Friary. We booked the twin beds (the Orange Room) with a direct view of the Luza Square. On our second evening, we enjoyed a lovely serenade from the live band in the café restaurant across the street. Not bad at all for an evening of free musical entertainment right from our room.

The only thing we didn’t like here was the 3 flights of stairs. Can you imagine us lugging and tilling our heavy suitcases up and down the stairs? Not a very lovely sight I can tell you. But helaas, this is Europe… most old buildings in the centre of the old town do not have lifts, nor will they ever be equipped due to preservation laws.

Well, we could not wait to explore Dubrovnik old town but before doing so, we’ll take a few more minutes to enjoy the magnificent view from our room.

Here is a quick video:

This is the famous old town landmarks of Dubrovnik, the Stradun and Luza Square.

Our view, the Stradun and Luza Square with very important monuments of the city.

We were right in the smack of Dubrovnik old town's hustle and bustle. We loved it.

Lots of people watching from our window, haha.

From the steps of the St. Blaise Church (St. Vlaha Church), our room is in the middle building on the topmost floor.

Travel Period: April 2017
Destination: Dubrovnik (Dubrovnik-Neretva), Croatia

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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