Sat 1 Jul 2006 - Thu 6 Jul 2006 34 °C
And so it came to be that the next evening we decided to walk the walls of Dubrovnik's old town. Germany and Argentina met each other in the quarter finals of the World Cup that night and we watched the second half while having drinks on a cafe situated on the wall itself, with a fine view. The walls offer a stunning view of the old town, the sea and islands beyond. There is something satisfying about an overview of a town that makes you feel like you have truly seen it. Perhaps that explains why people are so keen to climb as high as possible wherever they go. Or maybe it is just some primordial instinct to survey the land and perhaps plot its downfall..
Various shots from the walls.
Descending from the wall, we watched the penalties that the match ended up in while waiting for dinner. One thing has to be said about Croatian restaurants; they are remarkably consistent in both menu and pricing. Typical offerings include grilled meat, fish, some schnitzels and various standard Italian food such as spaghetti, risotto and pizza. A speciality is the so-called 'Black Risotto', which is coloured by the ink of cuttle-fish and in turn passes its colouring on to your teeth, creating a fearsome image (or so I was told by Janelle). It doesn't taste too bad though. The consistency of menus aside, the pricing is really the most surprising factor. One would expect a fairly remote road side restaurant to be somewhat cheaper than a well-serviced restaurant with a view in Dubrovnik and yet surprisingly the dishes, though significantly varying in quality, are virtually the exact same price whichever restaurant one chooses. A spaghetti for instance is almost always around the 40kn mark (just under AU $10).
Some of that delicious black risotto
After Dubrovnik, we drove our way back to Split where we had arranged to drop off our hire car. The winding drive back was indeed enjoyable, minus a frightening incident where a police convoy needed to pass everyone in a hurry. On a two lane windy road, this is quite a feat considering there is a mountain on one side and a steep cliff on the other and little room to move aside. And yet they seemed to manage it at what must have been 100 kph.
Split was an enjoyable stay as well, though on the day we arrived the guy from the car rental company described it as the hottest it had ever been. The old town is truly beautiful and the Roman fortification that to this day is still a vital part of the town's fibre makes for a fascinating layout. It is an enjoyable place to wander around, get lost in the maze of small streets stopping for drinks or maybe a spot of lunch at hidden cafes down back alleyways (perhaps some grilled meat for a change).
We decided we would make a day-trip from Split to the smaller town of Trogir, an hour away by public bus. The winding streets were familiarly similar to Split and Dubrovnik though not as extensive and somewhat more run-down in parts as well.
After a few days in Split, we hopped on the train to Zagreb, providing some more stunning views of the interior of Croatia and the small towns and fortifications it passed. Zagreb is a more modern city than Split, the lower town consisting of largely 19th century buildings, some which remind of Melbourne. The medieval upper town didn't seem particularly large and didn't have the same 'quaintness' as Split, Dubrovnik or Trogir, but it did have some very nice cafes, bars, shops and a general good vibe about the place.
We checked out some museums during our stay and enjoyed some nice food before hopping on this train that we now find ourselves on, chugging towards Budapest.