It would be fair to say that Dubrovnik is definitely having its moment in the spotlight right now. An ofter oversubscribed cruise ship destination, combined with being one of the locations used for filming the insanely popular Game of Thrones (which I have still never seen, yes I know, backlog). Dubrovnik has also become a rather overpriced holiday option so probably the only way we were ever going to see it was on this cruise.
At 8.00am I went up on deck to watch the sail in with some more beautiful views of Dubrovnik's surrounding coast and islands. We eventually docked in Gruz port, from where you had to get a bus into town. The bus was already packed on arrival at the port. Between there and the town centre, more and more people got on the bus. My panic was already starting to kick-in.
We eventually arrived at the bus terminus at Pile Gate, from where there were some stunning views. I had originally planned to do the cable car, but with below-par health combined with humid weather and lots of stairs - I quickly decided to give it a miss! So we made our way down into the town's main street instead. The main street is called Stradun and it's a massive tourist trap with souvenir shops and photo-opportunities with parrots :)
Coffee time! Options were very expensive - with coffee twice as expensive as in Split, on the main street and anywhere in the vicinity of the main street and the square, Dubrovnik probably had a more blatant sense of "rip-off" about it in a way that none of our other destinations have had. However we found a place further back from the more touristy areas, which was a bit more affordable.
The sun had eventually come out, and it felt very hot. It was soon time for lunch, down one of the side streets off Stradun. The owner tried to rip up off when it came to the bill, charging us for something we didn't order, but we caught this in time. Again, further evidence of the rip-off nature of this picture-perfect town.
After lunch we explored further and ended up at the old port, where we quickly discovered that there were short panoramic sightseeing boat trips around the city walls and out to Lokrum island. The idea of seeing Dubrovnik from the sea was too good to miss. But even that wasn't all it seemed - they promised an ancient galleon-type ship but the reality was a small glass bottomed boat. Whatever kind of vessel it was though, the views were spectacular.
The trip didn't disappoint, with some stunning and spectacular views and my camera working overtime. The trip took around 45 minutes including the circuit of Lokrum, which had rock formations and .....a naturist section with one particular "rock formation", an exhibitionist who waved at our boat and was very happy to "let it all hang out". Sorry folks, but I'm not sharing that one here :)))
Eventually we arrived back at the old port where it was baking hot and the walking tours were out in full force, complete with random Game of Thrones-type characters along the way. Suddenly the hot sun gave way to a torrential shower and high winds. What a day not to bring a brolly! We sheltered in gift shops, archways and side street canopies. The rain eventually went off and the heat returned.
As time was getting on, we decided to make our way back to the ship, although the bus stop layout at Pile Gate was a bit confusing. Eventually we were on yet another packed bus for yet another stressful journey - and after getting off at an earlier stop for some soft drinks, we walked back to the ship in the baking heat. The Dream was today sharing dock space with the MS Westerdam, the Holland America ship (above), which we would sort-of reunite with tomorrow in Montenegro.
We both quickly came to a very surprising and shocking conclusion - that we wouldn't return to Dubrovnik for a holiday. Don't get me wrong, it's one of the most beautiful tourist destinations you will probably ever set eyes on, and it's a place I've tried to plan a holiday in for years, but it's also an oversubscribed, over-touristed destination with a very strong sense of rip-off about it. Every part of it, from the buses to the streets, was packed with crowds and I felt panic attacks coming on from all directions. Croatia is a beautiful country with many breathtaking destinations. But our favourite is undoubtedly Trogir. And anywhere we will go in Croatia, we will always ask the question,"is it better than Trogir"? Trogir, the small island/town just outside Split, remains a special and magical destination and still holds the crown for our favourite place in Croatia, Sorry Dubrovnik, you may be bigger and famous and all, but you're not Trogir.
After another dinner in the Orion, there was a parade of chefs and staff and we had to join in and wave our napkins in the air. It was good fun, but it was also a little bit shambolic and left us wanting more.
Tonight's show in the Broadway Show Lounge was described as the highlight of the cruise productions. "Africa" did what it said on the tin - a number of African-themed songs and dance numbers including Toto's "Africa" and Shakira's "Waka Waka", a bright and very colourful show definitely influenced by The Lion King - and the finale was none other than "Circle of Life". Awww! Photography of the shows was banned throughout the cruise but at the curtain call tonight the audience had the opportunity to photograph the cast in their gold costumes (accompanied by the cruise director, below)
Cruise holidays are a great way to visit a number of different destinations in one holiday, but as I said after our first cruise, they are a very exhausting holiday if you choose to explore all the destination ports as we did. There are people who go on these cruises and never get off the ship; each to their own I guess, although I know I wouldn't be bothered going on a cruise if you just stayed on the ship all day and lay on a sunbed. Something which you could do on a much cheaper alternative. But hey, like I say, each to their own!
Tomorrow: our final port of call - Montenegro! (*rocket to the stars* - ok that's enough Slavko for now)