We've reached the end of the coastline in Croatia and we've saved the best for last. Dubrovnik is the crown jewel of Dalmatia, the place where most tourists flock to in the country. Of course, all this I've heard and read second-hand. I'm about to find out why in person.
So first things first. Neda corrects me whenever I mispronounce the name of this place. It's not pronounced doo-BROV-nick. The emphasis is on the first syllable: DOO-brov-nick. We were talking to a couple of American tourists the other day and they kept saying doo-BRAHV-nick. I could feel Neda wincing beside me. :)
We're staying in a little apartment in a suburb in the north end of the city. When we arrived, the host welcomed us with Dalmatian hospitality and Croatian liquor. He sat us down and ran us through all the things to see in DOO-brov-nick. There were quite a lot of sights, but we were really only interested in one: King's Landing. From Game of Thrones.
Take us to the Iron Throne!
Riding into the old walled town of Dubrovnik
The old town is less than 5 kms away from where we're staying, but we ride in anyway. Parking is impossible to find... if you're a car! We stash the bikes against one of the walls surrounding the town and walk to the gates.
Originally the exterior of King's Landing was shot in Malta for Season One, but from Season Two onwards, Dubrovnik is officially the home of the Lannisters. Very exciting!
Upon entering the castle, we pay to climb up onto the city walls
The tickets for the wall-walk are expensive (about $20 each), but it's the best way to see Dubrovnik. The walls encircle the old historic town and by walking along the top, you can get a great bird's eye view of everything.
Look inside to the town and you see a sea of terra-cotta rooftops
And on the other side, a steep drop right down to a different kind of sea:
the clear acqua-blue waters of the Adriatic
The walkway on top of the wall does a 2-km loop around the circumference of the town and there are staircases situated in many spots where you can climb up and down to drop into town or to get back up onto the wall.
There are some bistros and restaurants right on the wall if you get hungry or thirsty along the way
In the distance just off the coast of Dubrovnik is Lokrum island. It's a popular spot for hiking and swimming, there are some cool grottos there
Minčeta Tower ahead of us, the highest point in Dubrovnik
During Season 2, the interior of Minčeta Tower doubled as the location of the House of the Undying in Qarth where Daenerys was searching for her stolen dragons.
Keeping an eye out for dragons through an embrasure in the tower
The wall was built about the same time as the city was founded, around the 7th century. It was slowly built up over time, the original wall was made of wood, but during the 12th-14th century, it became the impressive stone structure that we are walking on.
Some of the other buildings outside the old town. Same theme: white walls, terra-cotta roofs. Mainly resorts and hotels.
Lots of vendors sell these kayak tours of the waters around Dubrovnik harbour
From the wall we spy some people who've rented apartments in the old city. Nice. But very expensive... (estimate €300-€400 a night)
Church inside the old town
It's not all tourists in the old town of Dubrovnik though. Here's a high school right in the middle of town
We saw schoolkids in uniform walking around the town after school let out. I remember in high school we used to hang out at the mall during lunchtime and after school. These kids hang out in Kings Landing. How cool is that?!?
Us on the wall!
I can't believe the amazing weather we're having. But Neda isn't surprised. She knows her country very well and she's timed our ride down the Adriatic coast to perfection: early enough to avoid the school vacation tourists, but late enough to enjoy clear blue skies and warm sunny weather.
Tower of the Dominican Monastery
Steps leading to the Dominican Monastery
Back on the ground, walking around the old town
They say Dubrovnik was a popular tourist destination even before Game of Thrones. I don't believe that...
Neda shakes her head: "A millennia of history and culture and the only reason why people come here is because of a TV show".
I interrupt: "Hey, isn't that the Red Keep?" :)
We were both walking around town whistling the theme song to the Game of Thrones. And we weren't the only ones. I think we probably could have gotten a flash mob together for a killer YouTube video if we tried! :)
Hodor! Neda hadn't seen the episode yet, so she didn't know what I was doing... Hodor. :(
Inside of the Jesuit Church of St Ignatius
Game of Thrones fans: Do the Jesuit Steps look familiar?
It was the location for Cercei's Walk of Shame in Season 6
You can see where they inserted the Church of the Faith Militant in the background. There's actually a nice town square back there where the clock was, what a Shame it was CG'ed out. Shame! Shame!
The streets of the old town are crowded with tourists... and it's not even high season yet!
Inside beautiful Sponza Palace. It's a popular place to hold wedding ceremonies. None of them Red, hopefully...
Street vendor selling traditional Croatian fabrics
Just outside the city's walls is Fort Lovrijenac (or St. Lawrence Fortress) which was the filming location for the Red Keep in Game of Thrones
The little bay between the city and Lovrijenac is well known to Game of Thrones fans as Blackwater Bay.
Here's it's a lot more peaceful than when Tyrion unleashed the Green Wildfire on Stannis Baratheon's invading ships in Season 2
Still early enough in the season that the tiny pebble beach at Blackwater Bay is relatively uncrowded. Water is so clear!!!
Wow! King's Landing is such a beautiful place! But enough reminiscing about past Game of Throne episodes! Bring on Season 7 already!
Oh, DOO-brov-nick was nice too. You should totally visit it.