After leaving the Bay of Kotor area in Montenegro, we hadn't made any other firm travel plans in advance. We wanted the freedom to make last minute choices about where we would go next, and have flexibility based on how the baby was doing. We were so close to Dubrovnik, a city I had visited in 2003 while I was traveling around with two Australian guys I met in Egypt (see below...)
I remember being really impressed with the famous walled city and wanted to show Niles. When we pulled in via ferry 14 years ago, I remember being greeted by a group of old ladies with photos of their homes where we could stay. We stayed with a woman who spoke no English, in her spare bedrooms and paid a nominal amount.
It seems like now everyone and their mother is visiting Croatia! There are huge cruise ships that pull into port every day bringing with them thousands and thousands of tourists. There are hotels everywhere! I do not remember seeing a single hotel in 2003. The food is expensive and not great. There is a new gondola ride that takes you to the top of the mountain looking over the city. And did I mention how many people visit now? But, it is just as spectacular as I remember, and definitely worth a visit. We stayed at this Airbnb outside the old city. It had easy parking, wonderful hosts and a large balcony with spectacular views of the city and Adriatic sea. Like much of Dubrovnik, there are lots of stairs, so we were happy to have a baby carrier with us as a stroller would have been difficult to navigate.
We only had about 24 hours in Dubrovnik, so we made the most of our time, taking the cable car up the mountain for amazing views of the city and sea. We also walked the walls of the city, which is pricey, but definitely a must-do. We ended the day by having dinner in a lively square inside the old city. The food was mediocre, but the people watching was worth it.
I wish we'd had more time to spend in Croatia. I would have loved more swimming time in the crystal clear waters along the coast, and exploring more of the smaller, less-known towns in the country. And the Plitvice waterfalls look amazing... I must get there some day!
Alas, Bosnia-Herzegovina was calling. Again, it was so close - we had to go! We knew little of the country, other than the war-filled news headlines we heard about growing up. The war has been over now for over 20 years, and we would highly recommend visiting! We started our visit by going to the Kravice Waterfalls on the way to Mostar. We had no idea what to expect, but saw it was highly recommended on travel sites. It was so beautiful and a lovely spot for a refreshing swim. You can climb up by the waterfalls, and there are little bars around the water where you can drink large cold local beers as well as delicious plates of grilled meats. It was a fabulous way to spend a hot afternoon!
We made our way to the city of Mostar. Again, we had only heard about this city in the news, and didn't know what to expect. We stayed at a wonderful apartment, which we once again found on Airbnb. It was the perfect location, in easy walking distance to the beautiful old town. I especially liked this location because we walked through a street filled with bars and cafes frequented by locals. It seems to be the favorite past time, sitting and having a coffee or beer, watching people walk by. We also loved the old town - it was so beautiful! The iconic bridge had to be rebuilt after the war, but it was still gorgeous, and we loved having dinner along the river, listening to the melodic call to prayer as the sun went down. We loved strolling the heavily cobbled roads through the old town and peeking into shops.
Even though the war ended over 20 years ago, you can still see signs of the tumultuous past. It seems like some shell-shocked buildings have remained up as a reminder of what happened here. While sobering to see that, it also gave me hope that places like Syria could one day be thriving and beautiful again.
Even though our time in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina was short, we are so glad we made the detours. These countries are so beautiful, so full of history, and should not be missed!