Though I’m afraid it might sound rude, I would like to start a brief recollection of my Dubrovnik Dreams by contradicting a Croatian poet, Olinko Delorko, who once wrote: “It is a strange feeling when for the first time we see a well-known city about which we had previously read or heard a great deal. Passing through it, we are forced to confront reality. The palace or the square, described in a book or seen in a picture, entered our soul and therein transformed itself. We were looking at it as we wanted to see it: airy, spacious, gorgeous. But when we stood in the flesh before that palace or in that square, we noticed that it appeared differently now, that it wasn’t as beautiful as once depicted by our rich imagination.”
I am sorry, Delorko, but I bet the city you are talking about was not Dubrovnik, or at least not Dubrovnik that I got to know, because in this ever-changing world, full of uncertainties and tides, full of tales of delusion and misfortune, one of the few things that I know, and came to know deep in my heart, is that Dubrovnik, its people and its walls, its history and its magnificence, is way more beautiful than my (or anyone’s) rich imagination could ever aspire to. Dubrovnik does not disappoint, and from the first-time tourist to the seasoned traveller, the faces I observed in my time there were all telling a tale of enchantment. It is this tale, or rather the tale of my own enchantment, that I now share with you.
Day 1 – Arrival
My friends and I received a warm welcome at the airport, where the GoDubrovnik team was waiting for us with blooming lilies and an equally blossoming smile. From there they drove us to the Rixos Libertas, a 5-star hotel with breath-taking views and impeccable service, and after checking in and gazing at the light blue Croatian sea from our bedrooms, we met again with the team on the splendid terrace of the hotel, where the warmth of June was soothed by a gentle breeze, and you realize you need nothing more in life – except perhaps for a mojito. Mojitos in hand, we were informed about the exciting week in front of us, and afterwards we went back to our rooms – Croatian cuisine and night-life were waiting for us.
We had dinner at the Revelin restaurant on a splendid open air terrace shaded by a majestic tree, and offering an unforgettable view of Dubrovnik harbour. Afterwards, we took a short walk around the Old City, and every step I took was followed by a deep breath of astonishment: ancient and perfectly preserved historical buildings that make you feel as if you were inside a medieval fantasy movie set, where intricate and delicate architectural details are at the same time contrasted and balanced by the strength and the weight of stones. Everything in the Old City is a pleasure for the eye: the symmetry of the constructions, as well as their ancient beauty, in streets populated by people revelling in the many delights of summer. And speaking of delight, after some cocktails, the GoDubrovnik team took us to the Revelin, a notorious nightclub capable of making anyone just flow with the music and the spectacle, where sound and show are part of many performances through the night: the perfect setting for dancing away all memories of your busy and chaotic life, and instead surrendering to the heart beat of Dubrovnik.
Day 2 – Relaxing
The only thing that can induce you to get up from your marvellous Rixos bed after a night at Revelin is their marvellous breakfast: a vast selection of sweet, ripe, colourful fruits, fresh cold cuts, indulgent pastries and bread fresh out of the oven, rich omelettes made for you that minute, soft, warm waffles and pancakes and, besides all that the coffee, tea and juice, the happy surprise of abundant sparkling wine … all of this to the backdrop of a perfect view out to sea.
Afterwards, sun bathing at the Rixos pool and sun deck area was essential to colour our computer tans from back home, as well as discovering the hotel’s luxurious spa, which includes various saunas, warm and cool pools and Turkish baths, and that also offers extremely relaxing massages and a vast range of beauty treatments. Tanned, relaxed and pampered, we went back to the Old City at night, enjoying the summer wind, Croatian food and wine and ice-cream.
Day 3- Korčula and the Great Adventure of Croatian Wine
The next morning we joined a tour from Adriatic Explore to visit Ston, Korčula and a local wine producer. As we drove our guide explained the history, the landscape and the geography of the region, and soon we arrived in Ston, known for its salt-pans and for the ‘Great Wall of Croatia’, an imposing construction whose steps lead to one of those picture-perfect views, but whose real beauty no picture could ever capture.
After Ston, the next stop was the island of Korčula, home of Marco Polo: full of tradition, of those narrow streets that magically take you back to another time, and of delightful restaurants overlooking the sea. To wrap up the tour, a stop at a local wine producer and a generous wine tasting, accompanied by an engaging explanation about the under- explored Croatian wines. We left the place wiser, happier and with as many bottles as our suitcases would allow.
Photos by: GoDubrovnik, http://www.supertours.eu/