This was it: the start of our exciting two months Balkan travel adventure for my partner, my five months old and I. We decided to fly into Dubrovnik airport before travelling to Montenegro because the flights are so cheap and Montenegro so close. Dubrovnik in Croatia is a UNESCO world heritage site and famous for its restored old town and the city walls which are ‘the finest in the world’ (Lonely Planet).
But: controversially, we’d never go again, and here’s why:
1. The tourist crowds: Having chosen the Balkans because we love off the beaten track experiences, we were catapulted into a town full of tourists. Even now in October we could barely move in some places.
2. The people in the old town.While our apartment host outside the old town was absolutely wonderful and even took our washing in from the balcony, people in the old town were less so: When eating lunch I asked for an extra glass of tap water as I was breastfeeding but was told very clearly no. My partner, slightly exasperated, replied with a sarcastic ‘welcome to Croatia’ to which she replied ‘no, welcome to Dubrovnik’.
3. It’s slippery: just to make our less than ideal start to our trip complete, this is the only place I fell down on the floor with the baby carrier. The marble like stone on the pavement is so polished that it becomes slippery like an ice rink in the rain.
4. It feels like a museum town made for tourists: all side streets have the same signs in English in the same branding, I did not see a single shop targeted at locals, which is the complete opposite to Kotor, a similar historic coastal town in Montenegro a few hours away by bus.
5. Cost: it is the most expensive place we have been to so far in the Balkans, you pay for a meal as much as we do in London.
But, if I absolutely had to go again I’d do this to make the most of it:
– go to the war photo exhibition, a very thought provoking place
– take the bus 3 to the road above the city and enjoy the view above the city
– take a stroll to the harbour outside the old town and watch the huge cruise ships.