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***** Walking On The Walls *****
Old City Walls of Dubrovnik (Croatia)
Member Name: malibu_jenny
Old City Walls of Dubrovnik (Croatia)
Advantages: Undemanding, beautiful and plenty of lovely stops.
Disadvantages: Quite a lot of stairs for the last leg.
M&M burst into Little Brother's hotel room in a fabulous outfit; lightweight jeans and a long sleeved pink t-shirt to protect her from the sun and of course, her sunhat and heart shaped 'Little Miss Sunshine' sunglasses. She danced in a circle, trainers flashing and pouted for him to take a photo and document this latest 'Elton John Phase'. With these finishing touches complete, we ambled down the soapy smelling hotel corridors and out into dusty heat to catch the bus into Dubrovnik.
The buses stop by the Pile gate at the Old Town and this was the easiest way for us to enter the walls (though there are two other points, one at the Ploce gate). Tickets are sold in the little information kiosk to the right as you come into the town and we sensibly stocked up on chilled bottles of water too. The entrance is up the steepest set of stairs to the left of the gate, past a relaxed little hut where a man checks your tickets. We huffed and puffed our way up these stairs and I noticed some other visitors were finding it a struggle. Lucky M&M was perched on Dad's shoulders; she's no lightweight and I don't think my knees would have survived the strain of carrying her up.
Reaching our start point at the top, we were amazed by how high the walls are. Wide and solid, the marble walkway is worn but mostly even and ridged by low (waist high) walls which give you a reasonable feeling of security. M&M was plonked down and toddled off at speed, with the rest of us in tow. There are some places where a railing replaces the side walls, but other than this she didn't have much of a view!
We headed around the walls in the mandatory anti-clockwise fashion, marvelling at the sparkle of sea and stone to the left and the glow of the terracotta roofs over twisting streets to the right. Dubrovnik is like a fairytale and although September was meant to still be part of the busy season, the walls weren't crowded and the pace was unhurried. It's recommended that you do this kind of walk either early in the day or a couple of hours before closing to avoid the midday heat. We'd chosen to start about 4pm with M&M covered in factor 50, thereby giving ourselves enough time to do at least some of the route before a 6pm finish.
In the Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer always refers to 'The shining sea', something which I'd never reflected on before, thinking it to be nothing more than a poetic turn of phrase. With more than ten years since I'd even looked at the covers of my Classics, this bought back great chunks of literature and the romantic views of the islands were breathtaking.
We stopped along the way to take photos, to watch M&M glug away at the bottles of water or chase pigeons around courtyards. There were cafes, public toilets, artists selling their wares. There were watchtowers to climb and benches to rest and let other more hurried walkers pass. We saw people painting pictures of the walls and courageous swimmers leaping from the rocks into the sea. We looked down onto fountains, gardens with sleeping cats and bars where you can take your drinks through a hole in the wall and out onto a rocky outcrop. The walls are not the rectangular style fortress of Aigues Mortes, they are geographic, meandering the coastline and eventually turning along the harbour and then tracing the side of the mountain, taking you past the cable car.
There are exits along the way and you can just do a short stretch if you like. We'd planned to take it easy with M&M, but in the event she was full of energy and happy with the leisurely stroll, so we carried on past them and finished the final stretch. This side of the walls has a different feel, with the rocky hillside rising sharply to the right and the view of the whole town, the sea and the islands making it the best point to take a picture. There are a lot more steps here and therefore there was a lot more carrying going on. She was tired at this point and we ended up swapping cuddles, a bag of cheesy crackers and promises of pizza at Mea Culpa (see my other reviews) for compliance.
If you're not up to climbing a lot of stairs, then this last bit of the walls may not be for you. However, it had the best panoramas and it was a great feeling to complete the circuit and see the town at sunset. We took around an hour and 45 minutes to complete this, but then we all walk pretty fast and the smallest member of our group didn't have much of an attention span. With all the distractions you could easily make a relaxing afternoon of it and stop for scenic drinks and snacks.
Walking the walls is the best way to see Dubrovnik's Old Town and either get your bearings on arrival or marvel from above at the squares and alleyways you've already visited. For around £6 each (M&M went for free) it was a bargain.
Summary: The Best Way To See The Old Town.
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