We got to Dubrovnik at the height of summer when the baked the streets to a near-burning temperature and the dry air drove visitors to gather at water fountains.
If one can use “delicious” to describe water, it would be for the fresh water from those fountains. They are the saviours for my thirst during the four days of exploring Dubrovnik, the city of stone, steps and cats.
The Great Onoforio Fountain square stood at one end of the main street whose limestone surface has been smoothed out under the footstep of enduring travellers. With my liking for walking barefooted, I couldn’t help taking off my flip-flops to feel the shiny surface on my skin. Instantly permeating the sole of my feet was a wave of warm air which seemed much more gentle than the heat coming from above. A soothing sensation ran through my body and triggered my mind to float. My imagination went out for the millions who had walked this path: the traders and the travellers, the invaders and the town dwellers who bravely defended their land. And the Games of Thrones crew, of course.
One overheated afternoon, Ian and I left the main street for narrow alleys whose steps lead to a seeming infinity of mystery. There we took refuge from the July sun.
We found a table on a tiny square to have some food and do people watching. The adjacent four storey buildings towered over both sides of our table and gave us a precious shadow. We enjoyed some plain gnocchi in a lot of olive oil and garlic, and a clear fish soup coupled with fresh beer from the tap.
As lunch went on, we saw a few porters bringing crates of soft drinks and barrels of beer up the steps. It was a strenuous job and there’s no breeze to alleviate the extreme heat. I felt a pinch of guilt drinking the beer and seeing how hard it was to have them carried all up to that level.
When the evening came, we ventured further into the maze of steps. The plan was to look for a bar that has the best view in town, recommended in our guide book. The bar offered an amazing ocean view under the night light sparkles but we didn’t stay because it was so packed that I felt trapped despite facing the ocean. After leaving the place, we wandered half-lit alleyways where all noises seemed to fade away. I started to see houses with washing lines instead of a B&B sign. In a small yard, the locals, old and young alike, gathered under those washing lines. Their conversation was inaudible from my distance, but I guessed it had nothing to do with the huge crowd down on the high street. Separated by no walls, just steps, the two worlds existed in differences that amazed me.
In Dubrovnik, I found many cats walking the town in their free will, covering streets and sidewalks, bus stops and harbour decks. They took siestas on sun-heated surfaces, idling through long afternoons, which I much envied.
Until today, I often think of Dubrovnik as an indulging place. The water surrounding the town is pristine, so much so that you can literally see through to the bottom at most places. Take a walk on top of the city walls, and be treated with stunning views across the red tile roofs to the blue ocean. Seafood is fresh and abundant, and there are always cats to pet. Feeling thirsty? There’s fresh water from the Great Onoforio Fountain, which could make you feel like you are touching the soul of a great mountain. I often wonder if anyone could ask for anything more.
- You can fly to Dubrovnik from many countries in Europe, with various airlines. There's budget service from Easyjet, Transavia, GermanWings, and Vueling.
- From other cities in Croatia, and neighbouring Bosnia & Hercegovina and Montenegro, you can take buses to Dubrovnik. More information here.
- Alternatively, hire a car in Zagreb and drive along the long beautiful coast 🚗
If you enjoy what you've read and rather having the next article in your inbox, subscribe below.