Day 13, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik was a surprise. When we arrived we found, as we had been warned, that it was absolutely crammed full of tourists. But none of us were prepared for just how touristy it was. We barely saw or heard any locals in the three days we were there.

Day 13 was officially the last full day and night of the trip so we went on a tour of Dubrovnik as our last group tour activity. The view from the city walls was stunning, Dubrovnik is certainly very beautiful – nicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic. Our cameras were on overdrive as we walked around the famous Old Town, which was bombed to bits by the Serbs during a seven-month seige.

A chart near the entrance to the Old Town details the damage done by the seige.

Chart showing damage done to the Old Town during the Serb attacks

The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and after the bombing it was rebuilt in the original style. However it wasn’t possible to find roof tiles whose colour exactly matched the originals, so the roofs that you now see are something of a patchwork of the slightly different orangey/red colours used.

Although this was officially the last full day of the trip, almost everyone had booked an extra couple of days in Dubrovnik. We were staying in Private Rooms for the trip – which is the most common form of accommodation in and around the Old Town area. Paulina’s house was right beside the gates to the Old Town and was the perfect location for seeing the sights in the next few days. We were warned that the neighbours were particularly averse to noise and had been known to open their windows and pour buckets of water on revellers. AND apparently they had been known to pour buckets of OTHER things too. Yuck. Needless to say we were very very quiet as we entered and left the house 🙂

We were originally going to have dinner at a seafood place by the harbour (see next day’s entry for details on this place, which turned out to be the lamest restaurant in the Balkans), but it turned out seafood wasn’t to the taste of everyone in the group so we went elsewhere.

As it was the last night we had a big discussion about the highlights and surprises of the trip which each person picking a biggest highlight and biggest surprise.

My biggest surprise:

I picked Sarajevo for mine, for reasons I touched on in my post when I arrived. Sarajevo was a place I really should have known like the back of my hand, but everything was so new and unexpected – I guess you just can’t really learn about a place no matter how many books you read or pictures you look at. But in no way was it ever disappointing – everything was greater and more diverse and more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.

My biggest highlight:

My highlight was Little Borjana, strange as it must sound given these little people are everywhere not just in Bosnia. But she stuck in my mind throughout the rest of the trip. She was the very first impression I had of Bosnia, a little thing filled with laughter and fun and hope, and so she really summed it all up for me. And she was so silly and cute that she made me think about a lot of things in my own life, as I played with this girl who had it all ahead of her.

Among the rest of the group the boat cruise around the Bay of Kotor had been both a surprise and a highlight – the main surprise being how great it was, as it wasn’t really a part of the trip that had stuck out at us as we read the itinerary.

I was very touched though when Michael chose travelling with me as his highlight – he said I had really inspired him to learn more about the Balkans and that having me there to ask questions or explain things had really made a difference. That was a very sweet thing to say.

A few people on the trip had told me that my own knowledge of Bosnia had inspired them to go back and read up on it. It feels quite nice to think that I am helping to spread awareness and interest in the history of these beautiful places.

After dinner we went to a bar round the corner but I was pretty tired and didn’t stay too long. As so many people were staying on it didn’t seem so much like a big goodbye so I wanted to get an early night so I could meet some people the following morning to see more sights!

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