Dubrovnik is a magnet for bloggers and travel writers. Year after year the volume of interest has been turned up to near maximum. This week The Dubrovnik Times interviewed Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith who write an intriguing blog entitled “To Travel Too.” They recently spent time in Dubrovnik and have written a handful of articles about their adventures, from the Pelješac Peninsular, the panoramic vista from Mount Srd to the iconic Old City Walls, Duncan and Jane pretty much let their feet, eyes and stomachs enjoy the five senses delivered by Dubrovnik and let their keyboard do the talking.
First impressions count, what flashed through your mind as you entered the Old City of Dubrovnik for the first time?
The first time we visited the Old City of Dubrovnik was in the late afternoon, early evening as we met our guide outside Pile Gate. It looked as it did in the “Games of Thrones” and we had to pinch ourselves that this was reality. The walls are majestic, strong, giving a presence of security for its inhabitants whilst being impenetrable. We couldn’t wait to go through the arches and see what the Old City was going to unveil. It did not disappoint, the cobbled pathways shining from the steps of many before us and the fountain delivering fresh drinkable water to replenish our water bottles for our evening historic walking tour of the Old City. The Old City buzzed with incoming and outgoing tourists, like an army of ants passing through the gates. Restaurants and shops competing for the attention of the tourists and the history of the Old City portrayed in the many museums and churches still in operation today. We were reliving history, listening to our guide tell the City’s intriguing stories.
You mentioned that you had done some research on the city before you arrived, had this prepared you for being “up close and personal” with the historic city?
Dubrovnik had been on our international travel list after our visit to Split. We knew that there was an important journey to undertake here. Our research covered the history predating the recent war, how Dubrovnik was an important trade centre and a city unique in not having gone to war. A city that prided itself on its governing strategies, one that was void of corruption.
However, when we arrived, these layers seemed inconsequential. We learnt about the recent war. Our conversations we had with the locals who were children during this time and what memories they still held within them. We had come from Budva in Montenegro and we were concerned that the Old City was going to be compromised and become overtaken with tourism and souvenir shops. We were pleasantly surprised that the layers of the Old City still remained and the authorities are encouraging the residents to stay. There is a blend in the Old City of daily life portrayed by the exiting community, folks that live there and school children enjoying the daily lessons. The walls as you look at them tell stories of times gone by.
As a world traveller how would you compare Dubrovnik with other European destinations that you have visited?
We have travelled extensively and continue to travel. Dubrovnik is very high up on our desired locations and one that we recommend to our friends and to our blog community as a must visit. It is a location that unfolds and continues to reveal it history way back to the 13th century and beyond. The trading nature of its people give it a unique source of products which are represented in the local food underpinned by the olive oil, wines, cheeses, meats etc. We were in a gastronomic and historical overload.
If you could only take three items in your rucksack what would they be?
We love what we do and what we do is to provide real time, relevant information to our Baby Boomer audience. Item #1 - We take our Smartphones, which allow us Video, Camera and Social Media connection. We can access Google Maps, research, book accommodation and flights on the run, as well as be in constant touch with our families.
Item #2 - We always travel with eco friendly water bottles, as we dislike buying bottled water. We were so happy that we could refill them from the water fountain.
Item #3 - We always have our passports with us, there is a requirement in most countries that you carry them on you at all times for identification purposes.
Which part of your trip to Dubrovnik will you remember with a smile of your face?
Travelling to Cavtat (a short ride from the Old Town) for lunch where we had an amazing set lunch alerting the five senses by using local produce. Exploring the Pelješac Peninsula is a must do when experiencing Dubrovnik. Everyday local folk grow produce on any spare piece of land. Many local folk not only produce product for the family use but also have enough to sell to tourists that visit. A very special afternoon can be spent tasting Croatian wine and enjoying locally produced food whilst learning about the families and their way of life here in Dubrovnik.
What will be your lasting memories of Dubrovnik?
Having drinks and dinner at the Panorama restaurant and taking the chair lift up and down. The views of the Old City, the turquoise blue Adriatic Sea and the islands are amazing sights to behold. The Old City walls are a delight to walk around. Some good advice to visitors is to go early and take your time, to absorb the magnitude of the structures and the significant of their presence. Be sure to take professional guides for the area of interest, they provide another layer and depth to the intrigue of Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik ideally is a not a place of transit or a rush into and out of from a cruise. Dubrovnik is the essence of; history, culture, food and economy, each offer a layer to this intriguing destination. We will be back!
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