Sunday, May 29, 2011

DAY 3: Dubrovnik, Croatia (Oceania Cruise)

Dubrovnik has long been one of my bucket-list destinations.

It wasn’t a disappointment!

But first, what a beautiful morning on the ship! We started with breakfast on the outside deck of the Terrace Café.  That was so nice, right there in prime real estate. Looking at this picture makes me want to be back on the ship again!

The al fresco area of the Terrace Café, aboard Oceania’s ship, Marina

As we weren’t scheduled to arrive in Dubrovnik until 1:00 p.m., it was nice to have some relaxation and more time to explore the Marina.

The Internet café aboard Oceania’s ship, Marina

Concierge-level staterooms and all suites come with a laptop in the cabin, but this Internet café provided plenty of computers for everyone else.

It is important to note that the computers are for Internet usage only. We didn’t realize that ahead of time. We just knew we’d have a laptop in our room, so Al took a thumb drive so he could download files from his video camera. However…it doesn’t work for that!

The Internet manager there was fantastic, though. He repeatedly downloaded the files for us, always with a great attitude. If not for him, our video camera would have been of very limited use for our trip. Next time, maybe we’ll take an iPad along. (That should fit inside the room safe; a laptop would not.)

Internet usage comes at a price on a ship: $0.95 a minute. Another option is to use the email address they give you for the cruise. With that, all incoming emails are free, and outgoing ones are $3.95 each. There are packages available, but I feel sorry for anyone who would be on the computer  (on a cruise) enough to make them cost-effective!

If you prefer to read the old fashioned way, there’s a ship library. It was built to resemble a series of cozy nooks and intimate studies, each with a different feeling from the one before it, some with faux fireplaces for added atmosphere. Brilliant concept!

Cozy nooks in the library of Oceania’s ship, Marina

Private-study feeling of the ship library aboard Marina (Oceania cruises)

One room of the library aboard Oceania’s ship, Marina

And conveniently located next to both the library and Internet café is Baristas, great for a cappuccino and biscotti.

Baristas on board Marina (Oceania Cruises)

Dubrovnik is a beautifully preserved, fully walled city on the Adriatic.  Probably the most popular “must-do” tourist activity there is to walk the city walls. It’s a distance of just over a mile total (but with numerous steps up and down). This affords views of the fort, the sea and harbor, into the gardens of residents, and perhaps most famously, across ancient tiled roofs of varying heights and angles.

I don’t know if it’s a law that all the awnings and market umbrellas in town must be white. If so, it’s a good law. They provide an elegant touch, dotted against the beautiful old stones of the city.

Dubrovnik’s main street below is the Placa (formerly called the Stradun).

The many tiled roofs of Dubrovnik

Lots of little alleyways bordered by beautiful old architecture in Dubrovnik

The Old Harbor of Dubrovnik

We don’t know if it’s a typical Sunday afternoon occurrence in Dubrovnik – or if our timing was just lucky – but we were treated to performances by a series of bands in front of Church of St Blaize. When one band finished, the next came down the Placa, playing their instruments, and then had their turn to perform on the cathedral steps. It all felt very special and fun.

A band readies itself for its performance on the steps of the
Church of St. Blaize in Dubrovnik. At the left is Orlando’s Tower.

Another major tourist attraction is the Rector's Palace.

Portico roof at the Rector’s Palace, Dubrovnik

Fresco and column at the Rector’s Palace, Dubrovnik

Atrium inside the Rector’s Palace. Apologies for the column in the middle of the photo.
We didn’t take the time for the tour, so I photographed what I could from the front door.

I enjoy the architecture of cloisters, and Dubrovnik has two worth seeing: one at the Dominican Monastery and the other at the Franciscan Monastery.

Cloister at the Dominican Monastery in Dubrovnik

It was near the end of the day and I’d decided not to pay the admission fee to the the Franciscan Monastery, but rather, just to see what I could from the entrance. However, the attendant said, “It’s Mother’s Day” (how nice that he would even be aware of the American holiday) then added with a smile, “Shhh! Just come in.”

Cloister at the Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik

We wondered if we’d feel we had enough time to do justice to the various ports of call, but we can honestly say that we felt we did. When you don’t have to drive into town, find your hotel, check in, unpack and repack – or even eat (because you do plenty of that on the ship) – it’s surprising how much ground you can cover!

We returned to the ship to find there was a Captain’s reception in Horizons Lounge (we should have spent more time looking at the daily schedule Oceania provided!). We didn’t feel properly attired but were graciously assured that it was fine, and we should definitely come on in. And it was fine, and very enjoyable. We changed before dinner – Oceania’s dress code for dinner is resort casual – and ran into Jeff and Patti, whom we’d met at dinner the night before. We made it an impromptu foursome for dinner in the Grand Dining Room.

Jeff and Patti in the Grand Dining Room on Marina (Oceania Cruises)

DUBROVNIK TIP: To purchase tickets to walk the wall, make a hard right after entering the Pile Gate. Croatia is not on the euro, and neither euros nor credit cards are accepted as payment for walking the wall. If you need to exchange money for this, from the Pile Gate, walk past Great Onofrio’s Fountain, and you’ll find an exchange shop a short distance down the Stradun/Placa on the right.

The admission for walking the wall was 70 kn per person (€10 on our date of travel) and covers one time around, in one direction, with no on and off. If you wanted to get off, you’d need to buy another ticket to get back on. It can get quite hot on the wall, so take plenty of water with you.

There are several checking points, and one must show a ticket to pass, so if you and your travel companion(s) are taking the wall at different speeds, you’ll want to make sure that each has his or her own ticket. Also note that following the wall can get tricky near the Maritime Museum. Just remember not to go down the steps unless you’re trying to leave the wall; if you instead take a bend to the right you’ll see where it continues.

TIP re DUBROVNIK BATHROOMS: While standing in a slow line for a two-stalled ladies’ room, it came to one woman’s turn. She opened the door, took one look, and said, “I’m not going in there!” It wasn’t the first time I’d seen a toilet like this, with corrugated footing (stainless steel in this case, ceramic in the Italian one I saw), where you squat and aim for a hole in the flooring. The important thing is that they do flush! Because the flooring can become wet and slippery (either from the obvious, or from flushing), one woman in line said she had slipped in such a bathroom once before, and that it took many washings to feel clean again; so a word of caution.

I am happy to report that we located modern bathrooms (men’s and women’s) in the city. Go to Great Onofrio’s Fountain, face the gate in the city walls, and look left. There’s a large banner or sign that says Klarisa Restaurant. Go through the large double doors under that sign, and you’ll immediately see signs directing you to turn right for the toilets. Had we not been returning to the ship for dinner, Restaurant Klarisa might have been an interesting place to try for dinner. It has outdoor dining in the ancient courtyard of a former women's monastery.

For more photos, see my Flickr account.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I'd never really heard anything about Dubrovnik, but it's gorgeous.