Dubrovnik is a magnet for bloggers and travel writers. Year after year the volume of interest has been turned up to near maximum. This week The Dubrovnik Times interviewed Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith who write an intriguing blog entitled “To Travel Too.” They recently spent time in Dubrovnik and have written a handful of articles about their adventures, from the Pelješac Peninsular, the panoramic vista from Mount Srd to the iconic Old City Walls, Duncan and Jane pretty much let their feet, eyes and stomachs enjoy the five senses delivered by Dubrovnik and let their keyboard do the talking.
First impressions count, what flashed through your mind as you entered the Old City of Dubrovnik for the first time?
The first time we visited the Old City of Dubrovnik was in the late afternoon, early evening as we met our guide outside Pile Gate. It looked as it did in the “Games of Thrones” and we had to pinch ourselves that this was reality. The walls are majestic, strong, giving a presence of security for its inhabitants whilst being impenetrable. We couldn’t wait to go through the arches and see what the Old City was going to unveil. It did not disappoint, the cobbled pathways shining from the steps of many before us and the fountain delivering fresh drinkable water to replenish our water bottles for our evening historic walking tour of the Old City. The Old City buzzed with incoming and outgoing tourists, like an army of ants passing through the gates. Restaurants and shops competing for the attention of the tourists and the history of the Old City portrayed in the many museums and churches still in operation today. We were reliving history, listening to our guide tell the City’s intriguing stories.
You mentioned that you had done some research on the city before you arrived, had this prepared you for being “up close and personal” with the historic city?
Dubrovnik had been on our international travel list after our visit to Split. We knew that there was an important journey to undertake here. Our research covered the history predating the recent war, how Dubrovnik was an important trade centre and a city unique in not having gone to war. A city that prided itself on its governing strategies, one that was void of corruption.
However, when we arrived, these layers seemed inconsequential. We learnt about the recent war. Our conversations we had with the locals who were children during this time and what memories they still held within them. We had come from Budva in Montenegro and we were concerned that the Old City was going to be compromised and become overtaken with tourism and souvenir shops. We were pleasantly surprised that the layers of the Old City still remained and the authorities are encouraging the residents to stay. There is a blend in the Old City of daily life portrayed by the exiting community, folks that live there and school children enjoying the daily lessons. The walls as you look at them tell stories of times gone by.
As a world traveller how would you compare Dubrovnik with other European destinations that you have visited?
We have travelled extensively and continue to travel. Dubrovnik is very high up on our desired locations and one that we recommend to our friends and to our blog community as a must visit. It is a location that unfolds and continues to reveal it history way back to the 13th century and beyond. The trading nature of its people give it a unique source of products which are represented in the local food underpinned by the olive oil, wines, cheeses, meats etc. We were in a gastronomic and historical overload.
If you could only take three items in your rucksack what would they be?
We love what we do and what we do is to provide real time, relevant information to our Baby Boomer audience. Item #1 - We take our Smartphones, which allow us Video, Camera and Social Media connection. We can access Google Maps, research, book accommodation and flights on the run, as well as be in constant touch with our families.
Item #2 - We always travel with eco friendly water bottles, as we dislike buying bottled water. We were so happy that we could refill them from the water fountain.
Item #3 - We always have our passports with us, there is a requirement in most countries that you carry them on you at all times for identification purposes.
Which part of your trip to Dubrovnik will you remember with a smile of your face?
Travelling to Cavtat (a short ride from the Old Town) for lunch where we had an amazing set lunch alerting the five senses by using local produce. Exploring the Pelješac Peninsula is a must do when experiencing Dubrovnik. Everyday local folk grow produce on any spare piece of land. Many local folk not only produce product for the family use but also have enough to sell to tourists that visit. A very special afternoon can be spent tasting Croatian wine and enjoying locally produced food whilst learning about the families and their way of life here in Dubrovnik.
What will be your lasting memories of Dubrovnik?
Having drinks and dinner at the Panorama restaurant and taking the chair lift up and down. The views of the Old City, the turquoise blue Adriatic Sea and the islands are amazing sights to behold. The Old City walls are a delight to walk around. Some good advice to visitors is to go early and take your time, to absorb the magnitude of the structures and the significant of their presence. Be sure to take professional guides for the area of interest, they provide another layer and depth to the intrigue of Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik ideally is a not a place of transit or a rush into and out of from a cruise. Dubrovnik is the essence of; history, culture, food and economy, each offer a layer to this intriguing destination. We will be back!
Keep in touch with the adventures of To Travel Too
It's not April fools prank – new 5-stars hotel will be opened in Dubrovnik on April 1st this year! Royal Blue Hotel will be, how they say, ''new oasis of luxury in Dubrovnik''.
Royal Blue Hotel is located in Lapad and has 81 deluxe rooms.
- Spectacular sea view, lavish amenities and stylish furniture will take your breath away just at the first step. You will surely fancy spending time in attractive cocktail and lounge bars or by one of the two shimmering outdoor pools – it's written on the hotel's official page.
Royal Blue Hotel also features an A la carte restaurant and wellness zone, while beach lovers will surely enjoy the amazing Blue Flag beach.
Photos by http://www.hotelroyalblue.com/
In terms of ski tourism, Croatia is way behind traditional European ski countries such as France, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. However, even though a number of ski resorts in the country are quite small, it is not negligible. Bjelolasica, Sljeme, Platak, Begovo Razdolje, Celimbasa and Trsce offer very good ski pistes as well as some Alp-like houses, villas and cottages in their vicinity for spending magical winter holidays.
For those who would like to bypass the famous French or Austrian ski resorts this year and discover some hidden winter gems, or for those who just have smaller ski budgets, here is the list of houses, villas and cottages that are located near Croatian ski resorts in the Gorski ktar region and which seem quite charming and relaxing.
House on the Bukov vrh (718 Kunas per night/ 8 persons)
Sumska villa, Mrkopalj (1500 Kunas per night/ 8 persons)
House on Platak, near Rijeka (1019 Kunas per night/ 6 persons)
Chalet Pinus Sylvestris, Ravna Gora (1887 Kunas per night/ 9 persons)
House Margerita, Mrkopalj (603 Kunas per night/ 5 persons)
Gospic near Baske Ostarije ski resort (746 Kunas per night/ 9 persons)
Villa Razdolje, Begovo Razdolje (2712 Kunas per night/ 8 persons)
House Ana, Crni Lug (696 Kunas/ 5 persons)
Velika Lesnica, Delnice (904 Kunas per night/ 6 persons)
Flybe will operate new flights to Dubrovnik for this summer season. The British carrier has announced that from the 16th of May this year they will introduce flights, on a twice weekly basis, from London Southend Airport to Dubrovnik.
These new flights are already available for sale on the company’s website and will operate until the 30th of September. These will be the first ever flights to Dubrovnik from Southend Airport.
The airline has also introduced new flights to Zadar from Southend Airport, also on a twice weekly basis, for this summer season.
There are currently 236,613 people unemployed in Croatia, according to information from the Croatian Employment Bureau, and the number of available jobs is around 7,600.
The majority of job available at the present time in Croatia are waiters, salespeople, cooks, cleaners, nurses, drivers, security staff and lawyers. At the end of 2016 the rate of unemployment was around 14.2 percent, which when compared with previous years was an improvement. In 2015 the rate of people unemployed was 17.6 percent and in 2014 it reached 19.1 percent.
During the summer months the unemployment rate traditionally drops by at least 3 percent as people find work in the tourism industry.
The Snow Queen Trophy 2017 World cup alpine ski races are to begin with women’s slalom ski race on Sljeme near Zagreb on the 3rd of January.
On occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first FIS World Cup ski race, in the evening of the 4th of January a slalom ski race of the world skiing legends will be organized in the Bakaceva Street in the very heart of Zagreb. This is the first time in the history that a ski race will be held in the centre of a metropolis. That is why the world media expressed their interest in broadcast live this event such as ORF from Austria, SRF from Switzerland, SVT from Sweden, Eurosport and even BBC and J SPORTS from Japan.
The ski track in the Bakaceva Street is 165 metres long, whilst 900 cubic metres of snow is provided for its construction and thickness of 50 centimetres.
Interestingly, wooden sticks will be placed at the starting point of the ski track just as it was practice 50 years ago, whilst modern slalom gates will be placed at the finishing line in order to show how the ski technology has changed throughout the history.
Many World Cup winners will participate in an exhibition ski race such as Janica and Ivica Kostelic, Pernilla Wiberg, Marc Girardelli, Alberto Tomba, Petra Kronberger, Tina Maze, Michaela Dorfmeister, Andreas Wenzel etc. During the race, each of them will use equipment or props from the time of their successful skiing careers such as skis, sticks, helmets, gloves etc.
According to the data from the registry offices of our largest cities - Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka and Split, Croats are still quite faithful in giving popular names to their children, so the names that were popular in 2015 continued to be on top of the list in 2016 – writes Index.hr.
In general the trend of giving short names for girls and biblical names for boys is still omnipresent in all regions. Here is the list of most popular baby names in Croatia last year.
Get your scarves and hats ready – an arctic front is just about to hit Dubrovnik. The mild winter that kept the city warm and dry over the festive period is about to come to an abrupt end. Highs today will reach 11 degrees in Dubrovnik as cold weather from Siberia will blow down over the whole region.
Weather forecasters have predicted that by the end of the week temperatures in Dubrovnik will drop below zero. Friday and Saturday are expected to be the coldest of the week with temperatures dropping down to minus one and two.
Via Dinarica is part of the prestige list of best trips 2017 by National Geographic Travel. That's the trek that traverses the Dinaric Alps, linking the peninsula from Postojna, Slovenia, south through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia.
- Trekkers sleep in remote mountain shelters along the Adriatic Sea, atop the region’s highest peaks, and above the continent’s deepest gorge. But the path is also a cultural corridor, where thru-hikers, cyclists, horseback riders, paddlers, and day-trippers find themselves lost in old-world traditions uncovered after five decades of communism. During homestay layovers in nomadic shepherd settlements and isolated villages—along the popular three-day stretch from Albania’s Thethi National Park to the Kosovo border, for instance—you might find yourself drinking coffee cooked in a copper pot on an iron stove, with a hospitable farmer with work-worn fingers and a sun-creased face. What was once a contentious region has become the planet’s most exciting cross-border destination – writes National Geographic.
They recommend to visit Via Dinarica from January to mid-March for ski-touring and snowshoeing and from May to September for hiking and biking.