We got up around 7.30am and I went out onto our fabulous balcony to drink in the perfect view on what was already a cloudless and warm day. Our plan was to take a taxi into Dubrovnik to walk the wall and, after seeing the crowds and feeling the heat yesterday, we figured it would make sense to go earlier on before the ‘peak’ visiting time of the day (and the temperature).
We descended in the lift to the hotel restaurant in the basement where there was a limited selection of breakfast items. I enjoyed some omelette and bacon followed with a croissant and washed down with orange juice and the characteristic milky coffee. We met Jane and Kath in the restaurant and they told us they just planned to spend the day here in Štikovica and make the most of the rooftop infinity pool and the gorgeous little beach we’d visited last night.
After breakfast we headed to reception and asked the girl on the desk to order us a taxi to take us into Dubrovnik. It arrived about 20 minutes later, and we set off up the steep and winding road and enjoyed the terrific views once again that we had passed on our way here yesterday.
Just after 9.00am, the car pulled up outside Pile Gate and the driver gave us his card and asked us to call him when we wanted to return to the Villa Paradiso. We asked him if he could come back at one o’clock, which would give us four hours and, as Trevor reached into his pocket to get some money to pay the driver, he said “That’s OK, just pay me when I bring you back”. Wow, they’re very trusting here! 🙂
Alighting from the car, I made a note of the registration number so we’d recognise the taxi when it returned. The roadside scene was similar to yesterday, with taxis and cars and minibuses coming and going. We made our way inside Pile Gate and along to a booth at the foot of some steep steps where an unsmiling bloke sat selling tickets for “walking the wall”. It cost 400 kunas for both of us, around £22.50 each.
We had previously walked the wall on our visit here in 2018, but the views were so fantastic and it was such a great experience (and good exercise!) that we wanted to do it again; it certainly offered the best photo opportunities. I was wearing a light coloured t-shirt and white linen cropped trousers – I would have felt cool even if I didn’t look ‘cool’. 🙂 In addition, I had my white Under Armour trainers with the good soles on; they would be ideal for negotiating the steep steps up and down.
We set off at a leisurely pace along the wall. At this time of the morning there were a lot of people about, but it wasn’t too crowded. The sun was already hot but there was a welcome sea breeze. The steps were very steep and I had to stop several times when ascending as I am not very fit. In any case, there was no hurry. After going up a series of steep steps and walking along some way, it was inevitable you would also have to go down steps at some point and vice versa. Stopping frequently to take photographs allowed me to have a rest and just marvel at the rugged coastline and the old fortresses and crenellated walls. Fantastic stuff. 🙂
What was quite surprising to see (although a fabulous idea) was the number of tiny little cafés, ice cream stands and bars hidden in little niches around the wall, with little tables and chair set out underneath large parasols that flapped and rippled in the sea breeze. Just before 10 o’clock, when I’d already worked up a decent sweat, we came to one such bar and I spotted a sign offering Aperol Spritz. “Oh”, I smiled to Trevor, “let’s stop for a drink. I know it’s not ten o’clock yet but we’re on holiday!”. 🙂
We took a seat and placed our drink order, and a couple of minutes later the barman brought Trevor’s beer and my Aperol Spritz. It was bright orange and the sparkling ice-cubes clinked gently against the condensation-covered glass as a slice of orange floated gently within. It looked scrumptious, and my first gulp of this refreshing cocktail confirmed that it tasted as good as it looked! 🙂
Afterwards we continued our circuit around the wall, and enjoyed the wonderful sea views and the old terracotta-tiled rooftops of the town. What a fantastic place Dubrovnik (and, indeed, Croatia) is. Everyone should visit at least once.
As we continued around, we spotted the enclosed harbour and the “three arches” which made it easy to indentify the restaurant where we had had lunch yesterday.
We knew we weren’t far from Pile Gate at this point, which was just as well because the heat from the sun was really fierce now, and I’d forgotten to bring a hat. A glance at my phone told us the temperature was a roasting 34ºC.
Soon we reached a set of steep steps (luckily going down!) which took us back to Pile Gate and the exit. It was after 11 o’clock now so we had a couple of hours before our taxi returned. We found the ice-cream shop where we’d lost out on our ice cream yesterday, and this time we went in and ordered two scoops in a tub; mine was a delicious hazlenut ice cream.
We then decided to seek some welcome shade and enjoy the inevitable cold beer. 🙂 We walked around, looking for a place that caught our eye, but just enjoyed people-watching as well. Trevor counted our cash and we thought we’d do well to find an ATM and withdrawn some more currency. As we crossed a square and he joined the short queue for the ‘hole in the wall’, I went and stood in the shade.
A couple of metres away from me there was a young, student-type girl, maybe in her early 20s, sitting cross-legged on the smooth stone ground with her back against the wall; she was talking into her mobile phone. I couldn’t understand the language but the girl was obviously very upset and crying; her shoulders shaking as she swiped her free hand under her eyes and her nose. I always carry a packet of tissues with me, so I reached into my bum-bag and extracted a clean tissue which I handed to the girl; she accepted it with a watery smile in my direction. It was my good deed for the day, and it made me feel all nice and gooey inside; maybe I should make sure I do at least one kind thing every day; it’s good for the soul. I do hope it all worked out for the lass. 🙂
By this time Trevor returned with the money, and we set off in search of a bar. We found one down a little tucked-away side street and ordered ourselves a large beer each, in addition to a plate of bruschetta which was topped with chopped fresh tomato and garlic and garnished with a marinated anchovy. Absolutely delicious, it was just right as a light meal to keep any hunger pangs at bay until we had our dinner later tonight, at the beach restaurant we’d discovered yesterday.
After our refreshments we wandered around the shops for a while and I bought a “Dubrovnik” fridge magnet to give to my aunt (we always bring one back for her from holiday). It was then time to go back to Pile Gate and await the return of our taxi driver.
Looking at the number plates as each car pulled up, we spotted our car a few minutes after one o’clock, and we took our seats in the back for the 20-25 minute journey back to the hotel. The fare cost 300 kunas, which was the going rate and was about 34 quid. Not cheap, but not bad for door-to-door prompt service and certainly more comfortable than going by bus.
We had only one thought for this afternoon – a dip in that rooftop pool! It was amazing how quickly you could get hot, sweaty, tired and dishevelled, and I thought a gentle swim would perk us up a lot.
We returned to our room and got changed into our cossies and took the lift up to the pool, our rolled towels under our arms. A large, retractable canopy offered welcome shade above a row of sun loungers, and we set out our towels and removed the clothes we were wearing over our swimsuits. There were no ladders leading down into the pool, just a series of steps linking the shallow end to the deeper end.
We went through the same experience entering the shockingly-cold water as we had the other day at the hotel in Budva. Each step further into the pool elicited gasps as the water rose. A lady who was already in the pool watched us in amusement until, with a final gasp and plunge, I immersed myself in the water and started half-swimming and half-bouncing along; I could easily reach the bottom standing on my tiptoes. Once we became accustomed to the pool temperature it was actually a really lovely swim, with those fantastic views all around us.
Afterwards, we sat in the shade on our loungers and relaxed for a while. Then we returned to our room where I showered and shampooed my hair. Once I was dry and into clean clothes, it was actually quite uncomfortable blow-drying my hair and the hot air blasting from my hair-dryer was making me break out in a sweat again! 🙂
We then went down to the hotel bar terrace to see if any of the others in our group were around, but there was no-one there; not even the barman was about. We waited for a while but no-one came, so we just went back to our room once again where I did some of this blog and we had an hour’s power nap; we do find the heat to be very tiring.
Around 6.30pm, we freshened up a bit and got changed and smartened up with the intent of walking down to Štikovica Beach and the fabulous Konoba Gusar restaurant. We got the lift down as far as the bar terrace, but there was still no-one about, so we walked down the steps and set off down the steep road.
Once again, the beach was lively, although not crowded, with families enjoying themselves; sunbathing, swimming, kids floating along on their inflatables – it was a charming summer scene that cheered the heart. We went into the restaurant and settled at a table, and the waiter brought us a menu and took our drinks order. Time for another mahoosive cold beer. 🙂 🙂
Trevor ordered a tuna, onion and cheese pizza with chips while I selected pork skewers with chips, and we ordered a side-dish between us of char-grilled vegetables (aubergine, courgette, peppers and onions).
The food was delicious. Half-way through our meal, Jane and Kath turned up and settled at another table, ordering the mussels I’d recommended yesterday. We exchanged pleasantries and I finished off our meal with a glass of wine as we sat and watched the sun dip lower in the sky; once again we were entranced by the scene.
Around nine o’clock we started the slow stroll back up the hill towards the Villa Paradiso. As we reached the terrace bar, we were surprised to see that there was still no-one around, but it was far too soon to return to our room yet. Instead, we went along to the bar in reception, and we ordered a drink each which we took outside onto their balcony. Sitting in quiet reflection, we looked out into the approaching night at the shades of blue and orange as the lights in Zaton, across the bay, twinkled in the growing darkness.
Shortly afterwards, one of the other hotel guests came into reception and asked the man on the desk if he could put the football on the television; Germany were playing against Italy and the guest was one of several Germans we had seen around the hotel.
Once the footy was on in time to watch the second half, that was enough to tempt Trevor inside. 🙂 We each ordered another drink, trying a local liqueur at the recommendation of the recepionist as Trevor watched the match and chatted with the other guest. Once the final whistle went (Germany 5 Italy 2) we returned to our room after another great day.
We’d be on the move again tomorrow, but our packing could wait until the morning. I set the alarm for 6.30am and was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.