We’ve settled into our new digs in Dubrovnik and are spending our weekends exploring the city and the surrounding area. Dubrovnik is home to only 40,000 residents but receives 3 million tourist visitors each year. It’s known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic” primarily for its fully intact walled old city.

Our Airbnb is located a few kilometers away from the old city near one of the town’s many pebble beaches. Set on a hillside, we have a fantastic view. On the other hand, we pay for that view by having to climb or descend 227 steps anytime we want to go to the beach. We’re keeping in good shape this way!

Old City

The old city walls are the main attraction, since it’s possible, after paying a steep entry fee, to walk completely around the city atop the wall. This gives a great overview of the old town.

The old city of Dubrovnik, surrounded by its walls

With fall fast approaching, we decided to book a kayak tour while the weather is still warm. We paddled past the bay used as the setting for Blackwater Bay in Game of Thrones, along the outside of the city walls, and spent an hour at a nearby beach.

Fancy Food

For my 50th birthday, Jen got us a reservation at a Michelin starred restaurant in the old city. It was our first such experience, and it was amazing. We ordered three courses but were served six. We started with bread and two different kinds of truffle butter. Next came the amuse-bouche, followed by the appetizer and main course. Then we were served a palate cleanser of sorbet, followed by dessert, and finally, a little post-meal nibble that I’ll call the “third dessert”.

Each dish, which was described in detail by the waiter as it was presented (just like they do on the cooking shows) consisted of at least 4 or 5 main ingredients and distinct flavors. With every bite, I tried to get a bit of each of the protein and sauces on the fork to experience what the chef had in mind. One of the components of my dessert was a tiny sprig of dill that the chef somehow coated in a sweet lemony glaze. Amazing.

Quinn loved the experience. Although he was a bit dubious at some of the descriptions on the menu, he tried everything and enjoyed all but a couple of items.

Earlier the same day, we visited a museum that showcased life in communist Yugoslavia from after World War II until the breakup in the 90s. As luck would have it there was a brewpub just around the corner from the museum where my mom and I got to have our first proper IPA since leaving the US!

We’ve had a few days of cool and rainy weather recently, and one day we decided to book a walking tour of the old city for an afternoon that the forecast said was supposed to be dry. It wasn’t and we all got soaking wet after walking around in the rain for two hours. We did learn a lot though!

The next sunny day we hiked to the top of Mount Srđ, just outside of town. It took us about an hour to climb to the top, and although it’s also served by a cable car, I of course wanted to walk. The weather and the views were both fantastic, and the restaurant at the top was a welcome treat.

Biking on Šipan Island

The following Friday, again with a forecast of sun, we booked a biking tour on a nearby island. We took a rather old ferry across to the island where we were met by our tour guide Ivana. Quinn was super excited that the bikes turned out to be e-bikes. Ivana led us on a nice tour of the island, and although it wasn’t sunny we only got a bit of rain.

Road trip to Pelješac Peninsula

We’ve discovered that in the off-season car rental prices have dropped by about 70%, so this past weekend we rented a car and headed off to do some exploring on our own. We explored the town of Ston and its famous and extensive wall system built to protect a nearby salt mining operation. After a lunch that included locally farmed oysters, we headed off to find some wine. The peninsula is known for its vineyards, and although many of them have closed for the season we did find a nice wine-producing co-op where we were able to learn a bit about the local history of wine and do some tasting. We learned that Plavac Mali, a local varietal that we’ve been consuming regularly, is the ancestor of the Zinfandel grape.

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving a further 60km up the peninsula to the town of Orebić, where we enjoyed the sunset before heading back to Dubrovnik.