Dubrovnik Winter FestivalNovember 19, 2016 in Croatia ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C
Our final project before heading back up north towards Austria, was to visit Dubrovnik Winter Festival on its opening night. We'd been advised by the campsite owner to travel the 10km in by bus to avoid parking difficulties. We haven't used public transport much but thought we'd give it a go. We got the right bus (even though it displayed a different number to the one on the timetable) and got off just after the closest stop to the Old Town. We failed to find a stop to return from, but set off down the hill on the 2km walk to the festival. We worked out on the way that there were shuttle buses within the Dubrovnik area that linked to longer distance bus routes (one of which we'd used to get there).
It was about half past 3 when we reached the festival and the imposing stone fortress walls of Dubrovnik Old Town. Alongside the usual Christmas decorations there were garlands made out of bay leaves arched over entrance ways and wound around stone pillars. Olive and orange trees stood in large hessian wrapped pots with a carved wooden decoration hanging from their base. Oh, and it was warm - 18°C warm! White wooden huts lined the main street selling snacks, hand painted baubles and other trinkets.
While it was still light we took in the beautifully ornate stonework on the churches, halls and towers. The city oozed history and grandeur and while the crowds assembled in the main street grew, we seemed to be the only ones winding our way through backstreets soaking in the city's charms, watched only by the numerous cats!
Returning to the main square we were just in time to see a newly wedded couple emerging from the church to a corridor of friends and family holding sparklers. They stood for a while then threw brightly wrapped sweets into the crowd from a wicker basket.
Dusk fell as we sipped tea and coffee at a table in a side street. The Christmas lights had been turned on while we were there and re-emerging to their festive glow brought forth 'oohs' and 'ahhs'. Dubrovnik had pushed the boat out with very tastefull decorations, many of which made use of and enhanced existing grand buildings.
Food was next on the agenda and due to the lack of traditional Croatian cuisine at the wooden huts, we chose hotdogs, only discovering after we'd ordered that it was an 'Irish Pub' stall - they get everywhere!
Leaving in plenty of time, we waited for a shuttle bus to take us to the main bus station. The stand we waited at said the bus we needed stopped there, but after watching another that was supposed to stop there, pick up passengers over the road then fly by, we switched over and hopped on the one we needed. The driver waved us past when we tried to pay. We waited patiently for the bus to pull into the main bus station, but became increasingly worried as it drove further and further away from Dubrovnik. In a panic Will asked the driver, who told us we'd missed the stop but if we got off now and hurried, there was another bus coming in the opposite direction that would take us back. We legged it over and down the road with the driver shouting "Quick! Go left!" There were no street lights as we ran along the dark country pavement but we could hear voices ahead and managed to get to the stop just in time. It turned out the shuttle buses were free, perhaps to encourage people to the festival. We kept a vigilant eye out for the bus station that Vicky thought she'd seen on the way out. It was 3 minutes until our next bus was due, when we got off outside the station, found our way in and on to the bus bearing the same number that had brought us in. This time we asked the driver to tell us when we got to our destination!Read more