14 July 2016. The date will be etched in our minds forever (and if we forget, hopefully the blog will remind us). This is the day when Mrs FOMOist and I woke up severely hungover, after our leaving-do the night before and had to pack and leave London – permanently. Not because we did something dodgy and were kicked out, not because we didn’t want to be there anymore, not because we couldn’t have tried to stay longer, but because that’s what the next sensible thing to-do seems to be.
After packing our bags and saying another goodbye to friends who wanted to see us again, before we exited our room, we prayed. We’re not overly religious but literally folded our hands in front of an empty bedside table, prayed for our next 4-month adventure to be successful, opened our eyes and broke down into tears, holding each other for support.
This whole moving and living in London thing was my idea and I couldn’t help but feel like I uprooted Mrs FOMOist from her friends and family in Brisbane and I was about to do it again. After the rush of emotions settled, we composed ourselves while the bouts of tears threatened to tip over the edge of our eyes, locked the door behind us and left for our first destination – Dubrovnik, Croatia.
We cried when we were on our way to Gatwick, we friend after clearing customs, saying our last goodbyes on the phone to our friends and then we cried as the plane took off. After 2.5 hour flight, we arrived into beaming sunshine which still didn’t seem to cheer us up.
It all went smoothly. We got out of the arrivals, turning right and getting into a shuttle for 40 Kuna pp that only took 30-min to Old Town, driving through a spectacular scenic route, which still failed to excite us. After getting dropped off at Pile Gate entrance to the Old Town Dubrovnik, we had to lug our bags through right lanes and steep steps of Old Town. It wasn’t until we saw the smiling faces of our friends Mike and Darren from London, that we started getting excited again. We had planed to meet Mike and Darren here a while back and while it only softens the blow of leaving London, it was just what we needed.
After dropping our bags at our primarily located Airbnb apartment, Mike and Darren took us around town. They had arrived earlier that morning but made sure they didn’t go to any of the places that might be of interest. After strolling on the Main Street of Old Town, it instantly climbed to the top of the list of our favorite places in Europe. The ornate architecture, the beautiful blue sky covering what seriously looked like a film set. The beauty of Old Town is something that needs to be seen to believe.
Our host had recommended Dundo Marejo for dinner and it was the perfect choice to start our seafood love-affair with Dubrovnik. The grilled squid was perfectly charred, the fish perfectly flaky and the local white wine a perfect accompaniment. After the meal, we wandered through the streets again and went to the infamous Buza Bar. Think of a bar, carved into the cliff, serving cold icy drink on a hot summer night, staring out into the infinity of the ocean drenched in the moonlight. It has to be one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been to, and thankfully it wasn’t packed with people as we had thought it would be. There are two Buza Bars in Dubrovnik. One clearly signed with “Cold Drinks” pointing into a hole in the wall and the other with no signposts and the latter is the one we went to and the one we recommend (if you can find it). After a drink of Aperol Spritz, we walked back to the apartment and called it a night.
The tour of the wall is the thing that’s recommended in all the guidebooks and blogs and for good reason. We started off our morning with buying the tickets for 120 Kuna pp and started off on a self-guided tour. You could pay an extra 90 Kuna and do a city tour, but if you’re on a budget, it’s not really necessary. The tour of the wall can take between 1.5 abd 2 hours and by the end of it you’ll have perfect aerial shot of Kingsland (Game of Thrones – GOT reference), would have seen the walls of the House of the Undying (Mineeta Tower) (another GOT reference) and taken numerous pictures of the terracotta roofs that look more and more sublime as you make your way up the wall. One thing to note is that the walk can be grueling in the heat so don’t do it without water or if you’re hungover.
We finished the walk and settled at Sandwich Skola, just in time as the skies opened and it started pouring. Whoever coined the phrase “when it rains it pours”, much have been talking about the Croatian rain because when it was raining, you could get soaked in a second and when it stopped, it was followed by gleaming sunshine.
I am the only Game of Thrones fan between the 4 of us, but my fellow travelers were kind enough to walk around with me, taking photos of:
- The steps of Cersei’s walk of atonement,
- The Lovrijenac Fortress, where the tournament thrown in honor of King Joffery’s name day took place,
- St Dominika Street where a number of market scenes are shot,
- Pile, which also doubles as Blackwater Bat and has a stunning view of both Lovrijenac and Bokat Fort.
After a lot of deliberation, I didn’t pay the 180 Kuna to do the Game of Thrones tour because they literally take people around to the same spots that are accessible for free and show A4 pictures to show you what these places look like on the show. Ain’t nobody got time for dat!
After geeking out over GOT,and a quick research on Tripadvisor, we decided to have dinner at Mia Calpa, known for its pizza and pasta. The Croatian cuisine (or at least what’s available around us) seems to have a strong Italian influence, sprinkled with fresh seafood goodness. The service at Mia Calpa was great, the food was average, but value for money.
Today is day 3 and while the others take their beauty nap, here’s a quick overview of today’s activities:
- Took the 100 Kuna return ferry to Lokrum Island. It is recommended as one of the spots to check out but if you don’t make it there, it’s not the end of the world. It was nice getting away from the herds of tourists and walk through a natural reserve with peacocks following you, but we all agreed it was a 3 out of 5.
- There are two beach options, walking distance from Old Town – a) Banje Beach and b) Lapad Beach. All beaches are pebble beaches in Dubrovnik so we went to the closer Benja. It is a nice beach with a massive bar taking up most of the shore. While we read that it’s usually rammed with tourists, we easily found a spot and sent in for a dip.
- You may have read it on other blogs as well, but gelato in Croatia is delicious. I’ve had a sore throat since I got here, but as I say to everyone – I’ll just melt it in my mouth before swallowing it – hope it works otherwise it’s worth the pain.
- Dubrovnik is an instagrammers dream with great Insta opportunities at every turn of the head. Darren and Mrs FOMOist seem to be in an Insta war which is bringing the best (or worst) out of them.
Post-nap the plan is to grab some dinner and perhaps a drink at Buza Bar, before calling it an “early” night in preparation for our drive to Split.
Keep you all posted!