Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My Dubrovnik Adventure

So at the end of November I was lucky enough to be treated to a trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia as a gift for my Birthday from my lovely boyfriend, I know he spoils me. This mid-semester break was the perfect relaxtion trip to escape from university work and a chance for me to explore what's meant to be one of the most beautiful, fairytale like cites in Europe. And that it was. Wow, I've never been to a place that felt so much like living in a fairy tale; a walled city overlooking the ocean, hidden at the foot of a mountain. This city is so enchanting that it's used as the location for Kings Landing within Game Of Thrones, this is manly the reason my boyfriend treated me to a trip here in the first place. I'm secretly a massive nerd and an even bigger game of thrones fan, so in keeping with that I was treated to a tour of the locations used for filming where we learned about the show and the real history of Dubrovnik. I really can't describe how amazing this place and our short break here was.

When we first arrived at the Hotel Ardria we quickly ran to our room to check out the sea view which my boyfriend had treated me too. I'm such a sucker for a beautiful view, I literally could of just  sat on the balcony and watched the sun set for hours on end. It was the most beautiful view ever, and it was such a great way to start the trip. We went and had a drink at the hotel bar and watched as the bay area became completely  and was only lit by the tinkling lights of the town. We settled in for the night so we could begin our adventure bright and early the next day.

So on the first day we made our way to the old town, a completely walled off section of Dubrovnik which used to be the entire city before it grew larger than the fort and expanded out to included the  the more costal resort part of town and the new financial area of the bay where our hotel was. The Old Town is completely pedestrianised, full of old narrow streets to wander and get lost in all of which lead either to the city walls or the main street by the bell tower. We deiced to just enjoy the city and explore. We discovered the city walls, the sea, the view of the surrounding islands as well as the town's monuments such as the Pile gate, the Rectors Palace and Green Market. Dubrovnik's old town is very lively in the morning, bustling cafes and the towns market of local sellers. We visited the market where a lovely little lady treated me to try her local delicacies of candy orange peel (apparently the original gummy bear) and honey roasted nuts, plus her home grown fruit. The stalls also sold adorable handmade Christmas ornaments which I bought as little travel presents for my family as well as lavender products. Everything was handmade or home grown, it was too cute.

After doing a little research about the local cuisine we found out pretty soon that Dubrovnik has a little bit of everything. It has strong cuisine links with it's neighbour Italy so there was plenty of pizza, pasta and risotto. There was also lots of local seafood with it being a costal town and then there was heartier, rustic dishes like stews which are more traditionally Croatian. We stumbled upon Oliva Pizzeria, how fitting for me. We ventured inside to the cutest little pizzeria. I opted for a fanta (for some unknown reason diet coke doesn't exist in Dubrovnik) and the pizza Oliva, topped with home grown olives, red peppers, fresh shrimp and a lot of fresh basil. I just had to add a little pineapple too though, mmm. James went for a calzone, his favourite and a massive stein of the local beer. This was such a yummy first lunch in Dubrovnik, so cheap too. I swear this place was my ideal; shabby chic interior and a pizza with my favourite toppings all named after  me... well nearly.

A-line pattern skirt Missguided | Bardot top Missguided | Mandarin Jetset bag Michael Kors | Logo belt Michael Kors | Leather Jacket Topshop | Buckle cutout boots Vintage Store

After lunch we decided to head up the mountain in the city cable car to fully enjoy the view of Dubrovnik. You could see everything from the old town to the cost, the surrounding islands and towns and the Adriatic sea for as far as you could see. We spent hours on top of the mountain, we couldn't just get over the view.

Of course I had to get a shameless selfie or two.

That night we headed back to the Old Town in search of a place for dinner. The owners were on the main street trying to encourage the few tourists there to eat at their restaurants. November is a very low season for Dubrovnik. All the summer tourists are gone, and many locals go away for a break after the boom of summer before they celebrate for the holidays. This meant we got amazing service in every place we ate and lots of goodies as incitement for tips from the servers. We finally opted for  Gusti, a small boutique restaurant and wine bar. It felt so authentic to Dubrovnik. I tried to Pasticada, a traditional stewed beef dish with homemade gnocchi cooked in a special, Dalmatian sauce. James had the steak with roasted seasonal veggies. We also tried a local liqueur (which burned like acid) and tradiational walnut pancakes for desert. For some reason the reviews on trip advisor for the place weren't the best but we had a lovely dinner and the couple next to us seemed to be enjoying the vast selection of wine. After dinner we headed back to the old town to get some much need rest for our poor tootsies. 

Monochrome print dress Missguided 

On day two we went and tried the breakfast at the hotel. It had the yummiest little spicy sausages and fresh, homemade bread so every day from here on I had to treat myself to a sausage sarnie with my fresh fruit and yoghurt, if you can't indulge on holiday then when can you? We once again ventured to the Old Town and headed to the edge of the city walls. Because it was such a lovely day (as it was for our entire trip in fact) we decided it would be the perfect time to head out on the water. We boarded the glass bottle boat and set sail around Dubrovnik and the elafiti islands.

Then it was time for a little more sight seeing. We looked out over the sea and paddled for a while before going to some of the monuments. I love the little fountains all around town, full of spring water and perfect to drink, so of course I just had to didn't I. I rubbed the heads of the children at Onofrio's fountain (both the small and large one because I didn't know which the legend applied to) to bring me some good luck.

A-line dogtooth skirt Missguided | Ribbed high neck crop Missguided | Mandarin Jetset bag Michael Kors | Logo belt Michael Kors | Shearling and fur tan coat Forever 21 | Buckle cutout boots Vintage Store

We then decided to grab some ice-cream because the weather was so good, around 13°C, so a nice break from oh-so-chilly Newcastle and Leeds. We discovered the Sladoledarna Dubrovnik, a little ice cream pallor with a queue out the door despite the low season and we quickly discovered why. The ice-cream was so yummy and cheap too. I went for the classic lemon and mango while James went for the cameral and cookies 'n' cream to stratify his sweet tooth. We headed through the city gate and sat over looking the sea, under the olive trees in Pile square. This quickly became one of my favourite spots in town, especially to eat ice cream in which we did every day. We also started to nerd out as we realised it was a set from Game Of Thrones, we didn't need a tour guide for this one. 

We then decided to walk back to the finical side of town along the sea and took in the view, before exploring the harbour below our hotel's mountain. We saw the old pirate ship we used to be a royal ship of Dubrovnik and I was so upset to find you could take a sunset sail while having dinner aboard in the summer but it wasn't running over winter. How amazing and romantic would that have been?

That evening we headed to a restaurant we had read lots about and were super excited to try. Taverna  Otto was hidden the the port below, which we had explored that day, but where we had completely missed the restaurant. A vast outdoor area perfect for the summer next to a small archway inside which hid the restaurant. It was so cute, old pub meets trendy cafe. We were yet again served by the owner, Otto himself, who was so helpful and was like a personal tour guide over the dinner telling us all about the area. We were really hungry and treated ourselves to a three course meal, plus more homemade bread; give me the carbs. I had a prosciutto, arugula and pine nut risotto which was served in a little jar, beyond cute and oh so tasty. James had a beetroot and goats cheese salad followed by freshly caught Tuna with white bean pure and tapenade for his main. I really went all out and had the lamb shank with couscous, sadly it defeated me but it was worth it. So tender and juicy. We finished with a gorgeous chocolate fondant with ice-cream and raspberry sauce, it was like eating a chocolate volcano mmm. We tried some of the local rose with our food which was very pleasant and had a lovely evening. By far my favourite restaurant in Dubrovnik!

A-line pattern skirt Missguided | Long sleeve burgundy top Uniqlo | Sun and moon interlocking necklace Claires 
 Blame my terrible iPhone camera for the horrid quality. This is what I get for forgetting my camera.

 After two days of hectic sight seeing, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest. We had to be up early for our Game Of Thrones tour eee. My next blog post will included all the nerdy stuff plus the most beautiful bar I have ever been to. Keep an eye out. 

Have you ever been to Dubrovnik? Would you like to go? Where was the best city break you've been on?
Let me know in the comments below. 

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