Itinerary : Dubrovnik - Korcula - Rovinj - Venice.
Arrived July 1st, staying 5 nights at Apartment Ina, located on Frana Supila opposite the Excelsior Hotel, booked through Dubrovnik Apartment Source. Nicely presented compact apartment with limited cooking facilities but a lovely terrace offering great views of the harbour and Old Town. The location,outside the Ploce Gate, was better than staying within the city walls in our opinion as long as the relatively short walk to the Old Town is not a problem; the local Banje beach is almost on the doorstep for those who want to include sunbathing as part of their holiday.
Our time was divided between the Old Town and exploring nearby islands. The Old Town was busy at all times of day,, wonderfully clean and plentifully supplied with cafes and bars for people watching. The quieter areas of town required some step climbing. Ample number of churches, plus Rupa Museum, to be seen - enough to keep any visitor busy for at least two days. The walk of the city walls is a tourist must-do and gives you a ready made opportunity to orient oneself; well within the capacity of the average walker but needs to be timed with regard to the heat and day visitor numbers.
Island 1 - Lopud. Used the faster speedboat option from the Old Town harbour, €30 return, approx 25 minutes travel time; a few splashes en route but we were thoughtfully provided with Barry White on the sound system to ensure maximum calm.
The island is the ideal antidote to the hustle of Dubrovnik with the only four wheeled transport being electric buggies that transport visitors from the town to Sunj beach, across the island. Much better to make the journey on foot, using the well-marked trails.
Island 2 - Mljet. The Nona Ana ferry that serves the island leaves from Gruz port, leaving between 8.15 and 9.15, travel time under 2 hours arriving at Polace. The main attraction is the National Park, centrepiece being the S Marija monastery on an island on the park's main lake. Your entry ticket to the park covers the boat transfer to the monastery, which operates every 60-90 minutes. The Park itself offers a good selection of walking and cycling trails.
Our general thoughts on the Dubrovnik leg of the journey was that five days gave us adequate time to discover the city;any further time, if we had it at our disposal, would have been spent exploring other places as day trips, perhaps Kotor Bay or Mostar.
Prices in shops were somewhat cheaper than we are used to but restaurants and bars were very much at a level of other European cities.
Of the restaurants we ate at, the jury is divided. One vote for Lady Pi Pi, a rooftop venue offering meat and fish from an open grill, with views over the Old Town; one vote for Taj Mahal, a curiously named Bosnian restaurant in an alleyway near the Stradun which always seemed to be busy, probably due to the good value on offer for food slightly different from the standard fare that appeared on almost all menus in town. There seemed to be a great reluctance from restaurants to veer too far away from the standard offerings of local prsut ham and grilled fish of the day - leaving one to seek out somewhere offering something a little different. We went twice to Lucin Kantun on Od Sigurate where they do a nice selection of dips and small plates with a decent selection of Croatian wines.
Regarding cafes and bars, we found the general quality of coffee on offer to be very good and in the interest of thorough research, we tried both Buza bars between the city walls and the deep blue sea - rightly enthused over by many visitors to Dubrovnik as the place to sit back and take in the view, with a Budvar at one's elbow.
In an effort to sample the more upscale of what the town has to offer, we also devoted some time sampling what some of the hotels in the Ploce area had to offer at cocktail hour. Villa Dubrovnik looked tres chic and moderne but also devoid of people - including bar staff - so onward , still thirsty, to Villa Argentina, which boasts a generously spacious outdoor deck incorporating both dining and lounge areas (nice). Ever committed to the god of research, we moved literally next door to Hotel Excelsior, where we got the last rays of the sun from their balcony; very pleasant staff, who probably should have asked us to leave as it seemed we were not meant to mingle with the residents.
In terms of evening time entertainment, there appeared to be at least one concert performance on offer most nights, judging from the posters around the Old Town; we enjoyed a one hour candlelit classical recital in the small church at the Pile Gate performed by a local quartet.
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Itinerary : Dubrovnik - Korcula - Rovinj - Venice.