We had two stops in Croatia on our cruise, one in Dubrovnik (our first port) and one in Split (our last port). We had not been particularly looking forward to either one of them, and I had even contemplated just staying on the ship. But, honestly, those two ended up being my favorite ports. We heard from a few people that Croatia is trying really hard to become the new Mediterranean Riviera-ish destination by playing up their beaches and historic sites. It was definitely nice, and both ports were very tourist-friendly, but they were also both tender ports (the others were walk-off), so that was a bit annoying.
Dubrovnik’s old town area is surrounded by city walls that are very tall and interesting. You can climb up and walk along them for views, but we opted instead to take a cable car up above the city (on Mt. Dubrovnik? I couldn’t get an answer as to what hill/mountain we were on.). We saw lots of friendly cats, and we don’t know if they were feral or not. Getting to the cable car involved a fair number of stairs, and I was not alone in taking a break about 3/4 of the way up. The views from the top were pretty spectacular, though. There was also a museum at the top about the 1993 war aggression against Croatia that DH visited while I took pictures. DH said the museum is worth doing, and it’s free. It covers a lot about the specific military offensives at Dubrovnik (those city walls actually came in handy) as well as the damage caused during the war. The museum is inside a small fort, and you can go to the top of the fort when you’re done for more views of the city. There’s also a giant cross up on the mountain. I will say that all these places we went have definitely figured out that there’s this Christian market that they can sucker into things, so I think they build “monuments” like that in places probably out of some genuine respect or interest but also because it’s a guaranteed segment of tourists that will visit. Dubrovnik’s old town area is paved and built with white marble, so it’s very pretty. It’s probably also very slippery when it rains, but fortunately, we had sunny weather throughout our stay. We also saw a bookstore with the Pillars games prominently displayed. Yay Eurogames!
Split is the location of Diocletian’s Palace, which I didn’t know or realize until we got there. The palace is either very well restored or still mostly intact (or some combination thereof), and it forms the functional center of the city. There was also a time when Split had been conquered by Venice, so there’s a bunch of Venetian architecture there, too. The tourism office gives out maps for a free walking tour, and we did the tour with our ship-friends from Winnipeg, Chris and Lori. There’s also a big clock tower that you can go up for views which I opted to skip. It turns out the stairs were very scary, being frequently narrow and then eventually wide open iron stairs with seemingly not enough holding them to the walls of the tower. Lori ended up bailing halfway up because it was scary, but DH and Chris soldiered on to the top and got me some pictures. 🙂 One of the other major monuments is a statue of someone (I forgot who, unfortunately) where it’s considered good luck to rub his toe.
The shopping in Split was also nice. There were lots of vendors set up for all the cruise ship passengers, as well as physical shops. Most took Euros as well as Krona (but change was often given in Krona). We got more gelato, splitting a lemon scoop between DH and I. I picked up an owl necklace that I’m pretty sure I saw in Dubrovnik, too, and had admired. DH got internet at a cafe to update his podcasts, too. Back on the ship, we saw all these tiny sailboats. We think they may have been doing a sailing class or something, but it was really cool to see what felt like a hundred tiny sailboats below us. 🙂