Arriving in Croatia once again! Wooopie! What an adventure in Budapest to say the least! It was a great day for our travelers and their pedigree chums. Miro, their driver, got them there safely at 11:45 pm and off to bed they went! Excited about arriving in a familiar country, the Hogz felt much relief from Trexit out of Hungary.
Dubrovnik - A Very Small and Noble Town
There is a multitude of cities around the world which we are inescapably drawn to. May it be for the weather, for the culture, or for the cuisine. It could be for a host of compelling characteristics.
The ideology of taking a vacation to a much-coveted destination because of its exotic appeal is something we all would die for. Places such as Bali, Mexico, and the Caribbean are in our first thoughts because of their obvious and immediate aesthetics.
Then there are cities that catch our glimpse when we hear of them, pass through them or by them. There are cities that are beautiful, noble and becomingly popular which sound kind of familiar but are in our short term memory bank, and we possibly add them to a maybe I'll add it to my bucket list. Unintentionally, we place them at the end of the list. Dubrovnik is one of those places.
Putting this landmark of a town on the back burner should be outlawed. We’ve heard tales of its amazing views and possibly caught glances of it while watching Game of Thrones, Star Wars VIII and Robin Hood (2018). Now, we are fortunate enough to have had the Travel Hogz live in this town with absolute confidence it would be nothing like the latter. A place where they endured a copious amount of hospitality, Dubrovnik, prevailed that it is quite the opposite of Budapest. It is, indeed, a small but friendly town.
Food & Coffee Prices, Pizza, Culto, Excelsior Hotel,
Blue Royal Hotel, Rixios Hotel
The Hogz found a few favorite daily Starbucks' replacements. There were coffee shops and cheap delicious restaurants away from the main city walls near their Airbnb. Mezzenave, Culto, & Bobis. Bobis, a familiar bakery, due to their Split visit. Bobis THE freshest & best tasting strudels and croissants baked right on the premises, and the prices were fairly cheap. $1.80 for a buttery tasty strudel or coco croissant. Mezzenave, an eatery/coffee shop, also outside of the castle walls of Dubrovnik, had terrific coffee. A bit more that Bobis. About $3.00 for a cup. The food at Mezzanave was on the cheaper end. A coffee bar that sells literally only coffee and alcoholic beverages was the cheapest place to get great coffee. If you are willing to put up with the "European way" they drink coffee, it's a little less than 2 euros. You can have great coffee, but while inhaling smoke. Coffee bars were repellant for the Hogz.
For more of the grander side of coffee and dining, with a relaxed and inviting environment, Dubrovnik hotels offer an affluent experience. With views of miles of beautiful light blue water as far as the eye could see, the Hogz often enjoyed sipping mojitos and chomping on succulent steaks, seafood, salads and sometimes indulging in deserts. The main routine of dining and gazing took place at Excelsior Hotel, Blue Royal Hotel, or Rixios Hotel. You couldn't ask for a better combo of ocean view and spectacular food. Sometimes, when waiters and managers endeared our travel friends, they were often comped for some of their meals & goodies! Nice!
Things To Do
Although quite popular, you can certainly call Buza Bar a hidden gem as it’s rather hard to find! This relaxing spot is also known as the Hole-in-the-Wall-bar or ‘Cold Drinks Bar’. Hanging on a Cliff above the sea, Buza Bar can be found outside the city walls. Youngsters and locals can be spotted cliff jumping from ‘The Lion’ although this is not condoned locally. However, during the winter months, you will only be able to catch strong winds and possibly a hurricane but not cliff jumpers. (only during summer).
Climb the Old City Walls
Walk along the city walls where some of the scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed. Game of Thrones tours in Dubrovnik will take you through a first-hand account of filming and all its locations, as well as a few behind-the-scenes secrets and stories.
One of these tours gives a truly unique and memorable experience of the city and is a must for any Game of Thrones fans visiting the city. Unfortunately, the weather didn't permit the Hogz to partake in the fun.
Shopping habits almost come to a halt because there are only two malls in Dubrovnik. Smaller shops are scattered throughout, but the main stores are pretty much nonexistent due to winter shutdown. There is one mall near the main town and a slightly larger and newer mall on the outskirts of Dubrovnik is about a 15 -20 drive.
As in Split Croatia, you'll find a couple of theaters. One in Old Town a smaller theater and Cinestar a larger theater in Lapad. Both of which have movies in English.
Stroll along a gorgeous beach and if you go in the summer, prepare for large crowds and no where to sit. There are plenty of places to eat drink and be merry. One place, in particular, to stop off and have an ice cold beer, is Gastro Shop Pomalo. One Hog ran met the owner while walking the dog and she immediately took a liking to the furball. She invited the Hogz to check out the place and right before they left, The Hogz, Nikolina, and Coco stopping in for a few tastes. Not a beer drinker before arriving there? You will be after you leave. An extensive collection of Croatian beers and an owner who was from Michigan has knowledge of every kind of beer you can imagine. It would be a great injustice to not stop in and see Anna & her husband's collections of beer!
Getting around Dubrovnik is easy. You walk. Yes ladies and gents. You can walk everywhere in this deliciously walkable town. To the beach, the store, the main town, the pharmacy. All within 15-20 minutes. So fire up your Google map and start exploring this wonderful town. Need to drop a few pounds? Head to Dubrovnik for a couple of weeks. You'll return leaner than ever!
If you don't want to walk, Uber, taxis, Eco Taxi and buses are also ways to move about.
Steps make up Dubrovnik not the other way around. Good muscle resilience is a must because you are going to need it.
Also, be aware that many that curbs are nonexistent in a lot of neighborhoods OR they are extremely narrow and don't last the life of the street. Cars are constantly hurling towards and past you. Consistent alertness is necessary. The ancient city has adapted fairly well without curbs in small neighborhoods, however, you will find curbs on most major streets.
You can enjoy effervescent views while getting your exercise and taking a windy winter walk.
In December, Dubrovnik is extremely festive. Old town is beautifully decorated and you will feel the historical ghosts of Christmases past. The Hogz were living like the locals and enjoyed taking in the sights. Although, they did return home to California for two weeks to visit family and friends and had a blast.
Christmas in Lake Arrow head was the best. Though they missed Christmas in Croatia, they were able to bring in the new year in the heart of Old Town Dubrovnik with pizza and fireworks. Quite a different feel but a very surreal.
Meeting New Friends - Crossing Paths and So Happy They Did
While sitting and trying Culto, another coffee shop/ restaurant, the Hogz stumbled upon two lovely ladies. The two ladies walked in and ordered coffee. One Hog was intrigued by the kind of coffee one of the ladies had ordered. After a while, a conversation ensued about her coffee. It turned out that they all had so much in common. From dogs to people personalities and practical jokes, these two ladies were the sweetest ladies in Dubrovnik! Nikolina and her mother, Anna.
Over the next month, the Hogz got to know Nikolina very well and every day from then on, was a blast! With kicks, jokes and lots of giggles Nikolina made their stay even more enjoyable. She showed the Hogz more of Dubrovnik and the best places for great meals and incredible views. What a greater stay thanks to Nikolina!
On the day of departure, Anna had the Hogz for homemade treats, coffee, and best of all, life stories. Ana shared jaw-dropping tales of how they survived the 90's war in Croatia. Stories that would make your senses tingle with compassion. The evening came too soon so they said their goodbyes wishing they had met sooner. Sadly, they headed home to prepare for the adventure of the 15-hour road trip ahead. It was a joy seeing Nikolina every day. They missed her so much once they left Dubrovnik. Had Nikolina and her mother chose not to sit next to them that day in the coffee shop, they would have never met.
Dogs in Dubrovnik -Vet- Pharmacy (Ljekarna)
From checkups to random problems, there are only a couple of vets in Dubrovnik and one pet hospital. With this in mind, know they will still take good care of your pet.
The two Travel Dogz were due for vaccinations, however, the rabies shots were not easy. Since the Hogz were driving through Albania, a high-risk rabies country, the dogz needed rabies vaccination in order to be able to re-enter the EU. First, the Hogz had to go to the government office in Dubrovnik (thank goodness it was close by and Nikolina showed them exactly where it was) to obtain what they call a temporary OIB number. Think of it as a temporary I.D. number. This is necessary for rabies shots to be official in Dubrovnik. There is blood drawn from the dogs which is then sent to Zagreb, Croatia (8 hours away) for testing to see if your dog's resistance to rabies is high. This could take up to two weeks. Luckily, the two Travel Dogz bloodwork came back with great news. In order to keep from wasting time, the vet was requested to send the bloodwork prior to getting the OIB. Genius thinking by one of the Travel Hogz. That way, the rabies shot would be given promptly prior to the Hogz departing Croatia. The dogz were immunized properly and were able to continue on to their next country.
By the time they got home from the vet, one of the dog's mouth and face swole up because of an allergic reaction to one of the vaccinations. He looked as if he was in a bare-knuckle boxing match with one of the local stray cats! The vet had closed for the day and the weekend was present. Unfortunately, Vets aren't open on Sunday. Holy moly! So what did the Hogz do? They went to the pharmacy as they do in the U.S. to find Benadryl. Europe has different names for different meds. One important tip to remember. It was called something else. The pharmacist was so helpful to try to find a similar drug. She called the vet, who luckily answered the phone, and got advice on what to give the swollen pooch. This would have never happened in Budapest. They would have probably thrown the Hogz out of the pharmacy on their butts! The medicine, all natural, was given to the dog and a couple of days later he was back to normal. Another useful thing to know is that most OTC drugs are natural in Europe. Most not all....disclaimer! Thank goodness for the nice people in the pharmacy in Dubrovnik!
A stressful evening unfolded as the Travel Hogz packed the pups and all belongings. Anxiety built up heavily as they prepared to leave. It's 15-17 hour drive by car from Dubrovnik to Athens. They had to pass through Montenegro, and Albania, which by the way, was said to have horrible roads and bad drivers driving on the wrong side of the roads, near mountain edges with no railing. Scary.
Miro, their trusty transporter, arrived with his friend Zoran to help with the drive. 11:45 pm, the exact time they arrived in Dubrovnik 3 months prior, was the time they were on the road. Goodbye Dubrovnik and hello to a long ride not knowing what to expect getting to Athens, Greece.
Dear God, help them arrive safely!