Monday, August 27, 2012

Driving from Split to Dubrovnik

Travelers driving from Split to Dubrovnik now have 2 options:  a new highway (toll road) or the main coastal road.  The highway is not heavily trafficked and generally offers fast, smooth traveling for most of the way (but minimal views).  However, when leaving Split drivers have to go about 1/2 hour inland to pick-up the highway.  The one-lane coastal road can be much slower, especially in the summer months, but it begins right in Split and offers spectacular sea views.  The coast road is very curvy and it is possible to get stuck behind slow moving vehicles for miles.  The roads meet up again close to the city of Ploce and the last 1 to 1.5 hours of the trip must be done on the coastal road.  Depending on traffic on the coastal road, the trip from Split to Dubrovnik takes approximately the same amount of time either way: 3.5 to 4.5 hours.    

Most people use Google maps for directions, and unfortunately they are not accurate.  Google maps indicates that drivers have to take a ferry because Google does not include roads in Bosnia.  In fact, the drive is quite simple.  The main coastal road passes through a small part of Bosnia and then re-enters Croatia a few miles later, with no need for a ferry.  Cars that choose the 'transit' lane are generally not stopped at the border crossings, but it is best to have your passports ready for inspection just in case. 

In Bosnia, drivers will pass through the small city of Neum.  Neum is a market town with lots of shops and a few restaurants and cafes.  It is a nice place to stop for lunch or for a coffee.  Prices will be in Bosnian Mark, the local currency, but Kuna is widely accepted.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

“Must Sees” in Dubrovnik

There is much to see and do in and around Dubrovnik and visitors should buy a good guidebook to help them get the most out of their stay.  It is difficult to suggest itineraries as each visitor has their own interests and they travel at their own pace.  However, the following is a short list of what we consider to be “must sees” while in Dubrovnik: 

Old Town:  It may be stating the obvious, but no list of “must sees” would be complete without some time in the Old Town.  This includes walking the city walls and seeing such historic sights as Rector’s Palace, Sponza Palace, and the old pharmacy.  Also be sure to take some time to wander the city’s side streets and soak up the atmosphere.  An evening drink on the Stradun is an unforgettable experience. 

Srdj Hill:  Whether you take the cable car, a taxi, or climb it on foot, Srdj Hill should not be missed.  This is the hill that sits directly above Dubrovnik, looking down on the Old Town.  It offers spectacular Old Town and sea views and has a fascinating war museum housed in a building that played a major role in the battle for Dubrovnik during the 1990’s war. 

Lokrum Island:  Located just off of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, this island is the closest and easiest island to reach from the mainland.  It is uninhabited and offers walking trails for exploring the island and several nice places for swimming off of the rocks.  Ferries to the island leave throughout the day from the old port in the Old Town and the journey only takes a few minutes.    

Cavtat:  This tranquil, sleepy village is located just 30 minutes south of Dubrovnik by car, public bus, or ferry boat.  It is built on a natural harbor that makes for stunning views from just about anywhere in town.  There is a small pedestrian-only seaside promenade with many restaurants, cafes, and shops.  Cavtat is popular with the yacht crowd and in the summer months large yachts line the promenade.  Luckily, the harbor is small enough that the village escapes visits from cruise ships.  Cavtat offers a peaceful escape from Dubrovnik during the crowded summer months.   

Sunset:  Any visitor to Dubrovnik should be sure to catch at least one sunset while in town.  The best places to watch the sunset while enjoying a drink are Buza bar in the Old Town or at the Abakus Piano Bar at the Hotel Excelsior.  At Buza bar think cans of beer or wine in plastic cups, while the Abakus Piano Bar is a much more upscale experience with champagne by the glass and am impressive cocktail list.  Either place offers stunning views and an unforgettable experience.