Skip to content


My holiday already seems a long time ago. Four days back at work, including an extra-long day at our Hampshire headquarters, are quickly turning it into a distant memory.  So, before I completely forget about it, I should like to put on record one of the highlights of the trip, Dubrovnik.

BA flies from Gatwick directly to  Dubrovnik airport, which is to the south of the city. The coach from the airport to the cruise ship followed the coast road, along the top of the cliffs with some spectacular views down into the bay. I was sitting on the correct (left) side of the coach, and was rewarded with tantalising glimpses of the old city of Dubrovnik out of the coach windows.

Dubrovnik glimpsed from the coast road

We arrived at the ship around lunchtime. The old port of Dubrovnik is far too small for cruise ships, so we were moored at the commercial port, several kilometers away on the other side of the headland. Our cabins were not ready, so the crew showed us into the lounge, and gave us an iced tea and ham & cheese baguette for lunch. That was very welcome, as I was expecting to have to find my own lunch that day, since the full-board cruise didn’t officially start until dinner that evening. Most of the passengers on the ship were French, and the flights from Paris and Lyon did not arrive until the evening, so I think the crew prioritised sorting out the cabins of the English-speaking guests. I was able to access my cabin from shortly after 2pm – my suitcase had already been placed in it – and then had the rest of the afternoon free.

I decided to explore Dubrovnik by myself. In fact, I think I was the only one of the passengers to go off exploring on their own that afternoon. But it was really easy. I caught the bus number 1B from directly outside the cruise terminal, and it took me straight to one of the two main gates of the old city. It took around ten minutes, and cost 12kuna (about £1.50). I then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the old city, drinking in the history. It was very hot – the buildings and pavements are all made of limestone, and the sunlight and heat reflected off them so that it was almost like walking around in an oven.

One place I particularly liked, at least partly because it was cool and shaded, was the Franciscan Monastery which had the most beautiful colonnaded cloisters. My attention was caught by one particular set of columns, which had carved hands and feet sticking out from the base, as if some poor sinner had been crushed underneath!

In the cloisters of the Franciscan monastery

The next day, we were taken by coach into Dubrovnik for a guided tour. Since that would just go to the same places as I had visited the previous day, I decided to give it a miss, and instead walk the ramparts before it got too hot.  According to my guidebook “One of the most exhilarating walks anywhere in the world is to go on a complete circuit of the ramparts”. Even allowing for standard guide-book hyperbole, they clearly were not to be missed. The ramparts are nearly 2km long, date from the 15th-16thC and completely encircle the old town.  In some places they are up to 6m thick, which means they managed to survive the bombardment of 1991 remarkably intact.

Dubrovnik from the ramparts

The wall-walk took over an hour to complete, and it was again very hot – around 35°C. I was so glad I hadn’t waited until the afternoon, when it would have been even hotter. But just when I thought it was too hot and I’d have to stop for a rest, a little café would come into view, situated in one of the defensive towers. The chilled drinks may have been overpriced, but were very welcome all the same!

I really liked Dubrovnik – it was a fascinating place, if a bit too touristy for my taste. But then I was a tourist too, so I can’t really complain about that! It had been very badly damaged in the bombardment of 1991, with very many of the buildings taking direct hits. But they have done a very good job of reconstructing it, though there are still plenty of signs of shell damage if you look for them. I think it would be an ideal place to go for a long weekend (a week would be too long I think – I’d get bored), but preferably not in high summer. I would imagine it’s delightful in spring and autumn.