Date of Trip: July 2009
Thursday, July 16: Dubrovnik, Croatia
The ship was docking at 7am at Gruz harbor, but we didn’t know what would be open at that time, so we dressed and went to the Lido for breakfast. (One place I read that the wall is open after sunrise, another place says 9am.)
We disembarked at about 8:30, and didn’t see any taxis, although there was a queue waiting. We walked down to the walk-in entrance of the port & border crossing. They checked photo IDs, and wouldn’t let Cate in because we had only a photocopy of her passport with us (I think we just showed them our driver’s license.) So we had to walk all the way back to the ship and pick up her passport.
It was already getting hot, although the Daily Program said the high temperature today would be 84 degrees. Turned out to be hotter than that. The maximum temperature on July 16 (I checked on wunderground – Weather Underground) was 89 degrees, with a maximum humidity of 83 percent. Oh, yeah, we lost a lot of water weight this day! Got the passport and proceeded out again, with the view that it was a “do-over”. Now would be our first impression and entrance into Croatia.
We stood in the taxi line this time — a lot of people waiting, an occasional taxi (I guess they’d drop off people and return — maybe they don’t have a large fleet.) A few passengers walked out the entrance there (there was an official there) and caught taxis on their way into the port. We decided to wait, caught a taxi after a few minutes, and were waved into the country without a passport check! (The driver asked us if we had them; we said yes.)
NOTE: The Port brochure reads that it is 2km to Old City from Gruz harbor, which takes 30 minutes walking. Buses No. 1, 1a, 1b, & 3 go from Gruz harbor to Pile Gate and cost 10kn per person, but exact change must be given when entering the bus. Bus tickets can be bought at newsstands, Libertas counters, & the Bus terminal.
The driver dropped us off at the Old City, near the Pile Gate. (5 Kuna to the dollar) — we paid 75kn = $15. Got tickets to walk the wall — 50kn for adults, 20kn for children to age 18 — so we paid 120kn for the three of us. Cate & I walked the whole wall — 2km; Jim walked the first half, then descended and walked the streets back to the Pile Gate. Restrooms were 3kn, though I’m not sure if all of us used them. Still much more reasonable than in Italy.
We were dripping sweat after the long walk and bought 2 gelati for 7kn each. $1.40 for one very small scoop. Paid 19kn for water — don’t remember how many. Could’ve been for one large bottle. Everything is expensive in the tourist areas, contrary to what I had heard or believed before we went.
There was a pretty church. Walked in, but they were having mass. Must be disconcerting to the churchgoers to have tourists wandering in & out all day.
We started exploring the Old Town on foot, but got lost. We were looking for a place to eat, but there were few and none in our price range where we explored. Too hot to enjoy the explorations. Clothes were wet. So we returned to the Pile Gate and took a taxi back to the port.
In the port area were many souvenir shops & restaurants, and a small park. The area wasn’t especially pretty — what port is — but we found a Dalmatian restaurant just outside the Ploce gate that was on the 4th and top floor of a building. There was an elevator. (Their five-year-old website Restaurantmaestoso.hr has an index, but only one page — nothing links.)
Restaurant Maestoso is a nice place with decent prices. We had two pizzas: Fruitti de Mare (Cate likes seafood) and Specialty Dalmatian (Croatian) Pizza with Croatian ham. They were 40kn ($8) each. With drinks — lemonade, coffee, water — we spent 137kn / $27.50. It was nice to be able to cool down, also.
I then wanted to look at some shops. Jim and Cate sat in the park while I wandered around for a few minutes. I came to a market area; mostly produce with a few other things. I saw someone selling tablecloths. I didn’t want to spend much money, but decided to check it out. The woman showed me a few items, more expensive than what I wanted. (With each offer I had to divide by 5 to figure the cost in dollars and see if it was reasonable in my mind.) There was one I liked better, and the woman kept putting it into my hands as she quoted a price — which seemed to be coming down gradually. I figured that 100k ($25) would be an okay price — it was a pretty tablecloth with a lot of colorfully embroidered flowers. I mentioned the price I wanted, but didn’t think it would come down that far. I think she started at 250kn.
My humble attitude aside, it was great bargaining on my part — though I wasn’t aware of it then — as she finally said, “Okay, 100kn”! I only had 28kn in cash, so I asked if she took a card. I then reached for my wallet and couldn’t find it! Panic time! I remembered that I had my wallet open at the border earlier to show my driver’s license. I thought perhaps Jim had it in his bag, so I hurriedly left. I told her I didn’t know if I was returning. Well, he had my wallet — what a scare, hate that feeling!
When I returned, I learned that the woman wouldn’t take a card — she wanted me to get cash. She pointed to a bank nearby; they were still open — thankfully! — So we got a good rate & changed some euros into the needed 72 kunas. I returned for my tablecloth. I was happy with it and saw other shops closer to the ship that were selling similar tablecloths for more. Those shops wouldn’t have wanted to bargain, I don’t think.
It was a good day, although way too hot. Favorites: The wall views were amazing; loved it and I also liked my tablecloth. I wasn’t crazy about Dalmatian food, but it was okay — just nothing special, in my opinion. Of course, we didn’t eat at a fancy place. Being on the water, they do like seafood. If I go again, I’d like to go when the weather is cooler — much more to see that we didn’t see this time.