"Where are you
hiking this summer (2004)?" I
replied, "Croatia." I
might as well have answered, "Phoebe" (one
of Saturn's moons), after hearing the next questions: "Why?" "Isn't
it dangerous," and, "Where is that?" Yes,
the Balkans did have tragic times in the 1990's, unwinding their
pent up political and ethnic differences after the fall of Tito;
and clearly, international travel is burdened with security concerns.
Dubrovnik in southern Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea's beautiful Dalmatian
Coast (east of Italy) is safe. It has the historical
significance of Venice and a Greek island atmosphere without
the mass tourism. Known
at the "Jewel of the Adriatic" its sister city could be La
Jolla, CA. Apparently
off the radar scope for most Americans, it's popular with Europeans,
and Bernard Shaw who was quoted: "Those who seek paradise
on Earth should come and see Dubrovnik."
This web site
focuses primarily on "extreme day hikes," but also has the objective
of finding hikes that are "exotic, entertaining, or otherwise unique." -
thus, these suggestions in and around Dubrovnik for day hiking.
The Walled Old
landmark attraction of Dubrovnik is the fabled Old
City surrounded by a 2 km of circuitous walking path high
above the polished cobbled-stone streets, stores, apartments, ancient
churches and other landmarks below. Walt Disney could not have
design a better medieval theme park for folks to frolic late into
Walking the wall
is fun walk, up and down stone steps, by a couple of fortresses,
with views to the sea, the mountainside, the harbor, and a nearby
castle - an hour well spent for the day hiker. It's not the
Great Wall of China, but it is on of my top ten list of exotic
day hikes to do.
The Serbs shelled
the Old City in the early 1990's but the damage has been repaired. In
fact, it's hard to find any remaining evidence of the strife. Interestingly,
at one of the entrances a large graphic meticulously pinpoints
each shell impact and the damage it caused. Yes,
a magical kingdom ... no wonder the Serbs were bitter to see it
Napoleon's Fort. For
a more rigorous adventure, hike up the switch-backed mountain trail
(there was a cable car, but the Serb's destroyed it in 1991) above
Dubrovnik to the top of the old Fort, where a band of Croats held
off the Serb's for several months. It's
about a 1300 ft elevation climb, brutal with the heat and humidity
of summer - plan accordingly. The
panoramic view of the islands, Dubrovnik, and a small Bosnian village
on the other side, makes this a worthwhile day hike.
Lapad Peninsula. Just
2 miles north of the Old City is a peninsula composed of the wooded
communities of Lapad and Babin Kuk. The
Gruz harbor is on east side and the Adriatic Sea on the west. There
is a pleasant walking path around the north end of the peninsula
that passes by upscale hotels, ending up in Lapad at a crescent
bay and a popular beach. Take
the tree-lined Zvonimira pedestrian-way back to the Gruz harbor. Nestled
in the trees along the path are laid-back bars and sidewalk restaurants,
and a unique outdoor Internet café. Stop
and smell the pine trees.
are about 1000
islands off the coast of Croatia. Lopud is
representative, and the one hour ferryboat ride ($3) from Dubrovnik
makes for a great day trip. Lots
of history here - in 1459 it became the governing center of Dubrovnik
and was the summer destination spot for the elite because of
its tranquility and charm. Today, this tranquility is evidenced
by no cars - hand-pulled wooden carts seem to be adequate.
A network of
hiking trails touch the 15th century ruins of a castle,
churches and monasteries. Have
lunch at the idyllic Sunj beach - a very popular place for local
Dubrovnik's on the weekend because of its white sand, easy boat
access, and skimpy swimsuit apparel.
10-minute boat ride from the Old City brings you to this historic
a monastic community, gardens and buildings remain from their
time. The monks left behind cats that now greet every arriving
boat in great numbers. A
gentle day hike around the island, on paths laid out by the monks
in the shade of the trees, is a pleasant way to pass an afternoon
and provides another fine view of Dubrovnik.
45 minutes bus ($3) drive south of Dubrovnik is this enchanting,
quiet seaside town. It
offers the usual ranges of nice cafes, restaurants or hotels and
has some nice walking trails along the water, with views northward
Tip: As often in
Eastern Europe, but especially in Budapest, Prague, and along
the coast of Croatia where hotels can be expensive, private apartments
can be a great alternative. We
had (summer 2004) an apartment for 4 with a kitchen, two bedrooms,
living room, patio overlooking the Old City and the island Lokrum
for a week for $800, a large discount to the best hotels. It
does require advanced planning but the Internet can make it easy.
you would like to see what is available for hotels check out
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