Dubrovnik's history stares back at you from the buildings, homes and its cobblestone streets (especially around the waterfront). The fort is very prominent with its giant stone walls rising from the harbour, providing protection from invaders for centuries. And it turns out that fort still plays an important role in the defence of the city.
But as the hills rise from the sea, the homes and buildings are built along steep side streets and I was not really prepared for all the stairs. I have never visited a city or town with so many steps. It felt like we were constantly climbing up flight after flight, sometimes going up a couple of flights before going down and then up again. It certainly gave my quads and my knees a workout.
Dubrovnik has some nice beaches right on the Adriatic Sea just don’t expect expanses of soft white sand. There is a rough sand public beach but you will have to stake out your space early. If you want to get away from the crowds you will head over to the island of Lokrum, about a 20 minute ferry ride from the harbour.
Take a stroll through the woods, home to the friendliest flock of peacocks, peahens and their chicks you'll ever meet. The ‘beach’ though is basically a field of relatively flat rocks, tidal ponds and small cliffs to jump into the sea.
The best way to enjoy Dubrovnik is on foot as you make your way through the historic city, in amazing condition after the rebuild following the war with Serbia in the 1990's. Most of the homes and buildings had their roofs destroyed or at least heavily damaged so the clay tile roofs are all relatively new.
I also learned that the fort and giant wall helped to save the city yet again from its approaching enemy. While almost the entire harbour went up in flames and mortars were fired heavily at the wall, it managed to withstand the barrage and forced the invaders to rethink their battle plan.
Its residents have picked up the pieces and moved forward, not looking back but ahead, at the city and the country’s future.
I was there to see one really big rain storm... it was a deluge! In fact as we looked across the sea at Lokrum we spotted a tornado.
Luckily there was no damage. And later there was a spectacular rainbow but the rain made the slippery stone streets as slick as ice and I spotted a few people take some big falls so make sure to tread carefully.
You'll also want to browse through some of the art and craft shops around the city.
The crafts are still the same ones that have kept Croatians in business for centuries; beautiful paintings and artworks, amazing textiles and of course the bounty from agriculture.
The smell of lavender hovers over all of the farmer’s markets with dozens of growers offering up their homemade sachets and pillows for sale, next to flavoured honey, local pastries, fruit and vegetables.
It’s hard not to go home with fragrant souvenirs of your visit, memories of Dubrovnik every time you open your suitcase.