Monday, August 22, 2011

Dubrovnik Cable Car

A great way to get a bird’s eye view of Dubrovnik is to make the 405 meter ascent to the peak of Srdj hill. Until last year this could only be done by foot (for the very fit) or by car (for the brave), but now a cable car takes passengers there from the Old Town in just 4 minutes. The cable car station is located near the Ploce bus station, just 3-minutes walking distance from the Buza Gate entrance to Old Town. There are 2 cable cars and each holds 30 people so wait times are generally short.

Once at the top there is a café bar and restaurant with a panoramic view of Dubrovnik and the islands. There is also a souvenir shop, amphitheatre (available to rent for events), and a war museum dedicated to the conflict that consumed the region in the early 1990s. Tickets are priced at 50 Kuna each way or 80 Kuna roundtrip for adults and 25 Kuna each way or 40 Kuna round trip for children ages 4 – 12. Children under 4 are free.

The cable car is open year round and departures are every half hour between the following hours:

January: 9 am to 4 pm
February: 9 am to 5 pm
March: 9 am to 5 pm
April: 9 am to 8 pm
May: 9 am to 8 pm
June: 9 am to midnight
July: 9 am to midnight
August: 9 am to midnight
September: 9 am to 8 pm
October: 9 am to 8 pm
November: 9 am to 5 pm
December: 9 am to 4 pm

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Hidden Gem of a Restaurant Along the Dubrovnik Riviera

This summer we were happy to discover a restaurant that until now had somehow escaped our notice, despite its location just a couple of kilometers from our home. Our fortuitous discovery was Konoba King, a small family-operated restaurant in Plat (a small village just 20 minutes from Dubrovnik by car). The restaurant sits on a small residential street leading down to the sea and one of the area’s best beaches.

Upon arrival at the restaurant diners climb a flight of stairs to a charming, peaceful terrace with views of the sea (and, unfortunately, an abandoned hotel in ruins just across the street). They are greeted by the friendly waitstaff, all of whom seem like members of the family. The patriarch can be seen at the end of the terrace, preparing large platters of meat and fresh seafood on an open grill. The menu is simple (grilled meat, grilled fish, salads, and a few pasta dishes), but the quality of the food is high and the prices are low. Stand-outs include the mixed grill and grilled squids, both served with a large plate of grilled vegetables and a generous serving of French fries. Everything is presented attractively and there is plenty of good local wine to enliven the already jovial atmosphere.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Navigating the Streets of Dubrovnik

Driving around Dubrovnik can be difficult for first time visitors. The roads are narrow and there are many 1-way streets. GPS is unreliable because many streets are not listed. Google maps certainly help, but many of the “streets” near the Old Town are actually staircases that are restricted to pedestrian access. The following are just a few tips to help you navigate the streets:

- When arriving by car from the main road (either from the direction of Split or from the airport) take the exit that says “Dubrovnik” and follow signs for “Grad”, which is Croatian for city (the Old Town in this case).

- On the way to the Old Town you will see a large “Parking” sign. This is the public parking garage. It is the best place to park when leaving your car overnight or for more than a couple of hours. For more information on the garage, please see the article: Parking Near Dubrovnik's Old Town

- If driving to the Pile Gate then pass the parking garage and take a right at the fork in the road; you will see the city walls directly in front of you after you take the right.

- To reach the Ploce gate continue on straight instead of taking the right at the fork in the road. There are 2 main roads on which you can drive: Petra Kresimira IV (“the upper road”) and Frana Supila (“the lower road”). Traffic only goes in one direction so to reach the Ploce Gate entrance to Old Town you must follow the upper road to the end and then make a sharp right turn onto the lower road to return to the Old Town.

- Most other streets in this area are pedestrian-only staircases where many private apartments are located.

- To reach the streets high up on the hill in Ploce such as Ante Topica Mimare and Put Od Bosanke, take a sharp left at the intersection on Petra Kresimira IV, just past Biker’s Café.

- The Old Town itself is pedestrian-only so if arriving by car it is best to stop at the Pile, Ploce, or Buza Gate (depending on where your accommodation is) to unload your luggage and then one member of your group can take the car to the public parking garage (which is about 10 – 15 minutes walking distance away).

- There are also metered parking spots located around the Old Town, but these are best for short-term parking of just 2 or 3 hours.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Croatia Packing List

When taking a trip to Croatia it is important to pack the right things to make your holiday a success. Other than the obvious list of clothing and toiletries there are a few things that are especially useful when visiting the Croatian coast. Below is a short suggested packing list:

- Sunblock with a high SPF as the sun can be very strong in Croatia, especially during the summer months.

- Water shoes are very useful as much of the swimming in Dubrovnik is done from rocky beaches or just large jagged rocks leading down to the sea. Water shoes will enable you to be more adventurous and explore more unique swimming locations. They are even useful at the most calm beaches as getting in and out of the water can be difficult when balancing on round, slippery rocks. Water shoes can be purchased in Dubrovnik at various shops. Prices range from just 50 Kuna in Cavtat to 200 Kuna in some shops in the Old Town.

- Mosquito repellent is very important for those that generally get attacked by bugs. Mosquitoes are ubiquitous along the Croatian coast, especially in the hot and humid summer months. It is especially important to use when going out in the evening to dine al fresco.

- Electrical plug adapters are necessary for any electrical devices such as cell phone chargers, laptop computers, or personal grooming devices. The electricity is 220 V as in all of Europe and the plugs are of the 2-prong variety seen in most of Continental Europe. If traveling from the UK or Ireland you will only need a simple adapter so that your plugs fit into the electrical outlets. If traveling from North America you will need to check that your devices are compatible with the 220 V system or they will be ruined when plugged in. Most mobile phone chargers and computer power cords are universal for 110 V ~ 240 V (meaning they will work in both North America and Europe) but most personal grooming devices such as hair dryers and electrical shavers are not. For these you will have to bring a special voltage converter which can be quite bulky and heavy.