We just love catching up with the most important cog in The Dubrovnik Times watch, you the readers. And this week we had the opportunity to meet two couples who have been following us and Dubrovnik for years, they are truly Dubrovnik lovers. We meet the two couples, Caroline and Phil Walter, from England, and Jenny and David Pirie from Scotland, in their favourite restaurant in Dubrovnik, Konoba Veranda in Štikovica. They aren’t even really guests of the restaurant any more, far from it, they are friends. Without doubt one of the key factors of tourism in people, friendly welcoming people, and Maja and Mirko Andrić from Konoba Veranda are just the perfect hosts.
When did your love affair with Dubrovnik start? Why did you decide to come to Dubrovnik for the first time four years ago?
Jenny Pirie – It was our 25th wedding anniversary and I was looking around for destinations and after I read the reviews and did my background we decided to come to this villa and we really haven’t looked back since. We wandered down to the beach and were amazed how clear it was and how many fish we could see. David found an octopus and was running along the beach like a little boy telling everyone about it…just fantastic.
David Pirie – The first morning when we were standing on the balcony looking out at the sunshine and the twinkling Adriatic Sea we knew we had made the right decision.
When did you first discover Dubrovnik?
Phil Walter – We first came in 2015 and have never looked back. And every year since then we’ve been coming back.
What were your expectations before you actually came to Dubrovnik? Did you have some preconceived opinions?
DP – I personally thought that Dubrovnik would be much bigger than it actually is. We’d friends who had been before and they told us it was lovely but very hilly. Going up the cable car and looking down on the city, all those terracotta roofs, just magical.
JP – (laughing) Yes, I nearly did the first time I walked up the stairs to the Old City Walls. But when we saw the historic city for the first time…well it just takes your breath away. The pavement of the Stradun is just beautiful and we admire it every time we walk along.
Is Dubrovnik a victim of its own success and is now facing overcrowding problems. Can you feel a difference in the four years that you have been coming here?
DP – Yes, it can get crowded but we have one good tip and that is to look at the Port of Dubrovnik website in the morning to see how many cruise ships are coming in on a particular day and then just plan your visit around that information.
JP – We really don’t mind if its busy, I know a lot of people do mind if it gets too busy, but we come from Edinburgh and when our festival is on you really can’t move for people. We really don’t mid the crowds although we know that for people who live here, especially in the Old City, that it must be a huge problem. I actually feel sorry for the people who come on cruise ships as they can’t get to experience what the heart and soul of the city is all about. It is such a shame for them.
What advice would you give to people thinking of coming to Dubrovnik on holiday?
PW – Come with an open mind.
Caroline Walter – There is nothing that we don’t like about Dubrovnik, we just love it all.
Are there any other tips that you picked up during your time here that you could pass on?
JP – Do your research for restaurants on TripAdvisor. In fact, do your background and research on the whole destination. Get your snorkel and get in the sea. And don’t be go…go…go all the time. Take your time enjoy it. Have a coffee and people watch on the Stradun. Just enjoy it and relax.
DP – Most of the beaches are pebble so don’t forget your sea shoes and don’t worry about stepping on a sea urchin although it might hurt they aren’t poisonous.
But you don’t just spend two weeks lying on the beach?
JP – No, we do like to spread our wings a little. We’ve been to the local Elaphite Islands, to Mostar, to Cavtat and many of the local sights. Although we combine this we taking things easy as well.
What keeps bringing your back? Can you put your finger on what is special about Dubrovnik compared to other holiday destinations?
PW – The people, they are just so friendly and welcoming. We can also honesty say that we have never had a bad meal in Dubrovnik, we just love the food.
CW – Yes, the people have made our holiday.
You’ve been here for two weeks and eaten in Konoba, or Restaurant Veranda every night? Does that mean you’ve eaten the whole menu? And has Croatian cuisine changed your eating habits?
DP – (laughing) Yes, pretty much every night and yes we’ve probably tried the whole menu.
JP – Yes, Croatian cooking certainly has changed my eating habits. I didn’t really eat fish or seafood before I came here. But now I’ve had not only fish but octopus, black risotto made from the ink of octopus, in fact I very rarely eat meat when I come here. The octopus salad here is absolutely wonderful. And I also love the anchovies here.
It seems like Dubrovnik has been almost a life changing experience for you?
JP – It is difficult to explain. I am not a very brave person, but Dubrovnik has made me realise I can be brave. To do things in the past that I’ve been scared of, I feel like Dubrovnik has given us a different outlook on life. It has broadened our life and our way of thinking. It is really hard to put into words just how special this place is. Dubrovnik is part of us now. This will sound strange but the thought of not coming back here is physically painful.
DP – A big part of why we come back here is the people, the friends that we have made. They have helped us and made our stay so unforgettable.
Will you come back? Has Dubrovnik become part of your annual holiday plans?
CW – Oh yes, we will always come back at least once a year. Not only that but we will continue to recommend Dubrovnik, Cavtat and all these lovely places to all our friends and family.
PW – The Old City of Dubrovnik is just so special that we can’t think of not coming back. I am also a huge Game of Thrones fan so Dubrovnik has even greater appeal for me. Fantastic city, great ambience and really great food.