As promised in my last blog, I will be reviewing and sharing memorable moments and practical travel tips for each city we visited on our recent Royal Caribbean cruise through Europe and the Mediterranean.
One of the cities my husband and I were most looking forward to visiting was Dubrovnik, Croatia. I will admit that we had never seen one episode of Game of Thrones when we booked this cruise almost two years ago. However, when I researched ports of call and saw that the King’s Landing portion of the show had been filmed in Dubrovnik for years, I thought it was time to jump onboard. We wanted to be able to appreciate that aspect of the destination…for our geeky friends, of course! Update: We are now completely addicted to, and way too emotionally involved in, a world of fictional characters. But, that’s not what this is about.
This walk-through of Dubrovnik will include photos and video and a healthy dose of GoT geekery. Enjoy!
First, I should mention that I’m focusing pretty much only on the Old City of Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is actually a pretty large city and most of it could be mistaken for any other average city across the world. This is what we saw from the ship as we headed into port.
Our travel companions opted for a ship excursion, which was a guided tour of Dubrovnik. (Royal Caribbean even offered a Game of Thrones tour, which is a new excursion option – sold out, of course!) But, since we weren’t looking to spend a whole bunch of money in this port, we decided to venture off on our own. We did, however, purchase tickets for a bus transfer from the port to the Old City. For $12 each, it was a great deal! The trip took about 20 minutes and the roads were steep and narrow. In addition, a bus left from the old city every 20 minutes to return to the ship, so we had control over how long we stayed. This ended up coming in handy because we assumed we’d stay all day and be on the last bus back to the ship. But, with a heat index of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, we saw what we wanted to see and we were pretty much done. We ended up only spending a few hours in port. The heat was just so oppressive!
When you arrive at the site of the Old City, you basically have to follow the crowds to get into the city. There is one main entrance (that we saw) called the Pile Gate. I guess it seems pretty obvious, but I never really thought about what the term “walled city” means. It means there is literally a huge wall with an entire city inside. And it makes for some absolutely stunning views.
Once inside, there is a single, long main road through the city. But, off of this road, there are a BUNCH of tiny side streets, which allow access to a dizzying number of restaurants, stores, residences, etc.
GoT GEEKERY: Remember Cersei’s Walk of Shame? It was most certainly on one of the many side roads in the Old City.
Right inside the Pile Gate (to the left), you can pay 120 Croatian Kuna (~$20 USD) to climb the hundreds of stairs to get up onto the walls and have a birds-eye view of everything (along with some amazing photo and video opportunities).
Looks easy, doesn’t it? WRONG! These are just the first of literally HUNDREDS of very steep, grueling steps to get to the highest lookout point on the wall. It is, however, worth the trek…bad knees and all. Because look at the view!
GoT GEEKERY: Remember the scene in this season’s finale where Daenarys is supposedly “surrendering” to the slavers and you see just a hint of Drago flying in the background before he comes up and Daenarys jumps on him and kicks some major slaver a&*? I’m almost 90% sure the actors were standing atop that fort (in the photo above) looking over at the walled city when they filmed that scene.
Here’s a video that shows the view from pretty low down on the wall, starting with the regular city outside the Pile Gate, panning around to the view of the fort, then eventually showing Old Dubrovnik and ending with a view of the main road from up on the the wall.
In this selfie, you can see the rest of the wall behind us, which turns and heads off to the left as it rises. This will be important for the next GoT Geekery tibdbit.
GoT GEEKERY: While it’s not the greatest photo I could find and while there has clearly been some CGI castle edited in, this is a great shot of Tyrion and Varys on the wall, pretty close to the spot where the path on the wall turns to the left.
Finally, some views from the very top of the wall. Just gorgeous.
Side Note: Some brilliant business woman set up a beverage and ice cream stand at the very top. After climbing 180+ steps in that heat, people would have paid $20 for a Popsicle. Absolute genius!
Aside from the views, there are all kinds of restaurants inside the city, as well as some amazing shops (with plenty of GoT regalia available for purchase, of course). Rumor is there is even a shop (called the Dubrovnik Shop – uh, real helpful) with a full-sized replica of the Iron Throne, where you can take photos (if you buy something in the shop). We never found it, but if we had more time, I’m sure we would have. There are beautiful churches you can tour – we also missed these, but my friend says there is a fragment of what is believed to be Christ’s cross in one of them?! And, for some reason, there are cats everywhere! They just mosey along the sidewalk and lay near the shops (some of them even saunter into the shops like they own the place) and no one pays them any mind. It reminded me a lot of the cats of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. Cute. I, honestly, feel I got just a tiny taste of Dubrovnik and it’s definitely on my Bucket List to go back someday and explore some more and spend some real time not only in Dubrovnik, but on the entire chain of Dalmatian Islands along Croatia’s coast.
Until next time, friends!