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Old Town Dubrovnik
Destination Dalmatian Riviera:
Paradise on Earth
(Dispatch #14)

Story and photos by Tom Weber

view of the Adriatic Sea from the Palace Hotel, Dubrovnik

"Those who seek paradise on earth," observed George Bernard Shaw, renowned Irish playwright, "should come to Dubrovnik."

I wholeheartedly agree with the Dublin-born Nobel laureate as I pull back the curtains, step out onto the balcony of my five-star digs at the Palace Hotel and marvel at the deep-blue Adriatic, dotted with islands as far as the eye can see and twinkling in the early morning light.

Ah, it looks like a great start to my second day of my very short stay in "paradise," and, sadly, the very last day of this incredible journey.

Breakfast taken and bicuspids buffed, I join up with the intrepid "band of merry media" – 18 travel writers and photographers invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to sample a portion of its Dalmatian Riviera itinerary – and board the luxury motor coach for the short ride back to the Grad.

It's a leisurely day in the Pearl of the Adriatic and we can choose to do whatever we please. One group forms up and goes thataway, another in the opposite direction. Before I know it, everyone's vanished. "Hey, something I said?"

Croatian flag

With more than a millennium of history, Dubrovnik is one of Europe's cultural centers.
It started out in the 7th century as a tiny community of refugees who fled from nearby Epidaurus, an ancient Greek colony, when it was destroyed by Slavic invaders. The Pearl flourished and grew into the independent Republic of Dubrovnik.

panoramic view of Old Town Dubrovnik

Adopting a seafaring way, its fleet of merchant ships cruised the southern ends of the Adriatic and was the envy of the Most Serene Republic of Venice to the north for nearly five centuries, until both were conquered by Napoleon's armies before becoming subsidiaries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

a scene from Old Town Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik's Old Town is an open-air, museum-like setting – the same used to represent King's Landing in the American fantasy-drama television series Game of Thrones.

It's a lively stage showcasing its multi-cultural roots mixed with a contemporary lifestyle. Both gracefully old and youthfully cool, the Grad has a unique vibe you don't feel anywhere else.

Every building and every monument has its special place among the locals, past and present, and, collectively, it's all well preserved ever since the Grad became a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1979.

a section of Dubrovnik's 2 kilometer-long circular wall

Dubrovnik's main tourist draw is its massive, 2 km-long circular wall. Considered one of the most grandiose fortification monuments in all of Europe, the landmark encompasses the city in an irregularly shaped polygon.

The ramparts reach a height of 22m in some places, and are between 4 and 6m thick on the mainland side.

bird's-eye-view of Old Town Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea from the city's fortification walls

Wide enough for foot traffic, visitors of all shapes and sizes grab the railing, huff and puff up the steep, narrow stairs until they reach the undulating walkway, and are immediately rewarded for their effort with spectacular bird's-eye views of the Old Town and that mesmerizing, turquoise-blue Adriatic Sea.

view of Dubrovnik's walls and Old Town

Taking about 90 min. from start to finish, care to make the climb up and circumnavigate this impressive piece of history with me?

aboard a private sightseeing boat for a scenic cruise around Dubrovnik harbor

It's now nearing sunset as the Insight motor coach comes to a full stop in the Port of Gruž.

Like sailors from the old Republic of Dubrovnik, the "band of merry media" boards a private sightseeing boat for a scenic cruise around the harbor, the first of two "signature" moments planned for tonight as we bring to a close our week-long press junket along the Dalmatian Riviera.

views of the harbor in Dubrovnik

With a camera in one hand and a wine glass in the other, I steady myself and begin shooting and sipping. Živjeli! (Cheers!)

PORaT Bar & Grill

Back on terra firma, we walk a few paces, cross the street and enter PORaT Bar & Grill, an upscale, waterfront restaurant where the intrepid "band of merry media" will break bread together one last time.

Prosecco at the PORaT Bar and Grill, Dubrovnik

The mood's upbeat, the Prosecco's refreshing and the multi-course dinner's delicious. We open with an assortment of canapés, followed by a spicey calamari salad, then baked sea bream wrapped in banana leaves, and finish off this scrumptious feast with an espresso and a sinful slice of chocolate délice in a caramel sauce.

canapes, spicy calamari salad, baked sea bream in banana leaves and chocolate délice in a caramel sauce

Grab a knife, fork and glass for a virtual taste and sip. I don't mind.

one final round of drinks at the Palace Hotel

Off the motor coach, we shuffle through the spacious lobby of the Palace Hotel and head straight to the bar for one final round and a fond farewell. Hug-hug, kiss-kiss with the gals; man-hugs with the guys.

Finishing off the sweet Amaretto, I swirl the ice cubes in the glass, take a look around and smile. Yep, Mr. Shaw hit the nail right on the head when he pronounced Dubrovnik "paradise on earth."

For complete information on Insight's 110+ premium and luxury-escorted itineraries around Europe, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

Related Articles:
Dubrovnik or Bust; Eat, Drink, Cycle: The Korcula Winery; The Great Debate on Korčula; Mali Ston, Croatia on the Half Shell; Split, Croatia: Diocletian's Seaside Digs; The Daredevil Divers of the Stari Most

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

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Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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