Dubrovnik became one of my favourite towns in Europe. It conquered my heart, my soul. I went to Dubrovnik, and yet I feel the city came to me instead when I needed it the most. Starving for sunlight, thirsty for swimming. Eyes desperate to explore a place never seen, feet that were longing for being used and abused in never-ending walks. A body that was hoping to feel the kind of tiredness that makes you feel relaxed.
While I found Croatian people incredible nice in general (not just in Dubrovnik, but also in Zagreb), in Dubrovnik you can see they are trained and polished to be the best hosts any tourist destination should be having. The kind of hosts that have been, like my feet, impatient. Impatient to put at practice what they know how to do best – to charm us, to smile at us, to treat us like we are indeed special in a very special place. In Dubrovnik, I was called “milady”, the chairs were pulled so I could sit, both men and women waitressing would proudly tell me about their best wine. They would bow at me, leaving me often uncomfortable – like a queen that unwillingly is accepting a crown. They were so nice, I kept saying thank you. I’m pretty sure at some point I was glowing. Even my host was kind enough to offer a bottle of wine!
A place that you shouldn’t miss is the Buza bar – literally located in the cliffs of Dubrovnik, it offers you amazing views over the Adriatic and to the island of Lokrum. I actually found this place by accident early in the morning, and I’m sure it is busier in the evenings. Still, the iced coffee topped with cream, was a gift from the heavens (except it was an overpriced gift, that I bought, for myself).
One night, I went to have dinner in a highly recommended place in Tripadvisor – Mama’s Pot Tavern. I wanted to try the traditional Black Risotto. I’m not a risotto fan, so I already knew that no matter the size of the plate I was going to fill immediately full because that’s how risotto always makes me feel. Black Risotto gets its colours from the squid ink and, obviously, it contains squid as well. It was delicious, but I was immediately filling my belly swell and probably ended up leaving half of it on the plate (and I do hate leaving food on my plate).
The fun thing was when the waiter came in and I said I had finished and asked for an espresso, he showed a very concerned expression. “Did you like it?”, he asked, and I said, reassuringly “Oh yes, I did! I’m just too full, can’t eat anymore”. He seemed to have accepted, took my plate and brought my coffee. One minute later he shows up with a dessert – a beautiful piece of chocolate cake with some custard cream on it. I immediately said I hadn’t ordered it, thinking it was a mistake. He says “Well you didn’t finish the risotto, so now you have dessert on the house!”. I was without reaction. I said thank you, of course. He bowed and left. I looked at dessert, then felt my swollen stomach. And I thought…well there is always room for dessert, right? And imagine, if I didn’t eat that, he may bring whole pork to the table… I didn’t want to risk it!
My first dinner in Dubrovnik was actually by the steps that became famous in the series of Game of Thrones when Cersei starts her walk of shame. I was starving and only noticed it afterwards. It was funny for me to think that that was one of the restaurants they had to close to ensure they could film that remarkable scene. All I was craving were fish-based foods. So I simply got fish with fries (my two favourite things in a plate) and of course… some white wine.
And for some reason, after having one of the best octopus salads ever in Zagreb, I kept craving more. I had this delicious one in a restaurant called Kamenice, and let’s take a moment to appreciate the beautify of the cup of coffee I got afterwards.
Cute places like the ones below are quite convenient for a romantic dinner. Even if that dinner is only by yourself. I ordered a simple rice dish with veg, but the wine was absolutely delicious, and the place made me feel I was having dinner in the 15th century.
And finally, it was also in Dubrovnik that I got the news I had been offered a job I had been interviewing for in the previous week, before my departure to Croatia. To celebrate, I went to a fancier restaurant. To eat what? Octupus.
Hope none of these pics have made you too hungry… it did made me to crave octopus again!