Our suitcase full of summer clothes is feeling unfulfilled as the rain continues to fall, the wind continues to rattle against our car, and the Bosnia and Herzegovina border continues to inch closer in a very demanding sort of way. We pull up to the window for EU citizens, hand in our passports and wait. Mum, too young to play the confused old woman, is prepared to do just that. She speaks in soft and uber polite tones to the male guard, and though she insists later on that she wasn’t that nervous leading up to the border, her hands shake a little when she takes back the passports.
Slovak rental cars are generally not allowed through this 20 km stretch of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the officers on both sides are feeling generous and let us through. We are victorious and Dubrovnik-bound, but the road to Calvary will prove to be particularly dicey today.
Game of Groans
As we spent all of our luck in Bosnia, we just manage to book a room about 12 km outside of Dubrovnik in Cavtat. As we drive by, Dubrovnik looks spectacular from above, King’s Landing (the focal point of the romantic comedy series Game of Thrones ;)) in the architectural flesh. But our jubilant introduction to the place I’ve always regretted skipping out on the last time I was in Croatia is short-lived. The last 12 km to Cavtat are a nightmare.
The narrow lane leading to our hotel is almost vertical, and when we finally level out near the town’s center, the GPS says to hell with one-ways and takes us down a particularly busy one THE WRONG WAY. Mum, understandably, is exasperated. We’re both going to need a stiff drink after this.
After we finally reach the (correct) entrance of the hotel, we cross the street to a small outdoor restaurant by the water. The atmosphere is saturated with a cooling bite, but we choose the table directly under the heating lamp and sit as newly-hatched chicks would. Sizzling pizza and rosé, presented by a bubbly waitress, rids us of the remaining dregs of roadside anxiety. We chose Cavtat for convenience and cost, but it’s gorgeous here and worthy of attention.
Tomorrow, we journey to King’s Landing and take back what is rightfully ours! (I apologize to those who could care less about Game of Thrones, but I can’t resist the onslaught of annoying references).
*cue GOT theme music
Boats and woes
In the morning, we wake up to sun, a gorgeous gift I notice only after reveling in the hotel’s unlimited breakfast. I just love breakfast!
I also adore the ocean, but only from afar as I can’t swim without feeling like I’m drowning, and my fear of exactly that happening has affected me all my life. Low-riding boats subsequently freak me out, and it’s windy today, so the prospect of traveling to Dubrovnik via boat is mildly terrifying. However, my not-so-keen-on-driving-mum took on the Adriatic highway. The least I can do is get on the blimmin’ boat to Dubrovnik.
The sea is choppy and frothed and does not have my compliments as we zoom towards Dubrovnik. Amassed with red roofs encased in old city walls, Dubrovnik is truly a stunner. As much as I hate seafaring, taking the boat was a good choice.
Although Dubrovnik’s historic character is still intact, I must sadly admit that this UNESCO-protected city is absolutely overrun with GOT tourism. I am a full participant in it, taking pictures on the very overpriced Iron Throne and convincing my mum that spending more than 30 euros on a ticket to walk along the city walls is worth it.
It is worth it, but the sun is bleating on us, and the never-ending walk up and down steep steps, along with the developing mosh pit of tourists, is making mum a bit cranky. I should have brought some milka chocolate along.
By the time we reach the end of the wall, we have had our fill of old grandiose architecture and Jon Snow souvenirs and hunt down some reasonably-priced lunch.
On day three of our Croatia trip, we are restless wanderers in need of rest.
The Land of Eternal Oranges
The boat ride back to Cavtat is packed, the sea emboldened and boisterous. An adorable spaniel sits on its owner’s lap across from me but starts barking when it smells my fear. If I only I could rent a dragon from Daenerys.
Eventually, we make it back to shore and hang around the water’s edge in Cavtat a little while longer, take some pics in my fabulous new hat and head back towards our favorite border crossing. This time, we test our limits as the border guard glares and sighs, types and sighs, and finally hands us back our passports with visible displeasure.
If she had been the guard on the other side of the border leading into Dubrovnik, I don’t think we would be able to tell tales of Iron Thrones and fear-sniffing spaniels.
En route to Plitvice Lakes National Park (or so we think), we pull over to the side of the road where a long line of eager orange salesmen are beckoning us. Our selected saleswoman, who greets us like an old, orange-obsessed friend, offers us some delicious samples of all things orange.
Mum pockets her kumquat for later (I still think that’s weird, Mum) and buys us a big bag of oranges, candied peel and nuts coated in orange sugar. Beyond delicious are our newly-acquired road trip snacks as we journey on to Plitvice. However, the seven gods of the GOT universe have other plans as we inch closer to the famous waterfall park.
Enter the Bura wind.
PS: I haven’t seen the GOT finale yet so no spoilers please!