Glam Café is an interesting place. We went for the beer–twice, but it’s also a coffee shop. I hear the coffee is good, but I wouldn’t know; like I said, we went for the beer. Glam Café is a great place in Dubrovnik for craft beers from all over Croatia. The bar staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. The place is small, but stylish and immaculate and there’s outdoor seating as well along the narrow alley. If anyone in your party prefers wine, Glam Café is fine with you buying wine across the way and D’Vino (see my earlier post) and bringing it back to a Glam table.
We spied D’Vino on our first short stop in Dubrovnik since it was just across from Glam Cafe, the coffee and craft beer bar that David had his heart set on. The proprietress of Glam Cafe was friendly with D’Vino’s owner and recommended it for our return. We were pleased, on our return, to find that D’Vino was also recommended by our AirBnB hostesses.
D’Vino is located in old town Dubrovnik at Palmotićeva ul. 4A, just a short walk from the main pedestrian boulevard, Stradun, near the Pile Gate. It’s cosy and warm and the perfect spot to sample Croatian wine. D’Vino also offers small (and not so small) plates including local cheeses and meats. Their smoked duck was fantastic.
For our relatively short stay in Dubrovnik, location was my prime concern when it came to lodging. I wanted to be in the old city. From past experience, I knew we wanted as few stairs as possible. I wanted to be close to things, but away from the noise of late-night clubs or crowds beneath our windows. This was a short stay, so we didn’t need as many amenities as we sometimes prefer, being able to skip, for example a washing machine. Lastly, I wanted a deal! Dubrovnik has become a relatively expensive city in recent years (see my first Dubrovnik post if you’re interested in hearing me whine about crowds and high prices), but we felt our AirBnB apartment was a bargain at $66.50/night, all fees and taxes included.
Before this trip, it had been nearly 13 years since I was in Dubrovnik. On that first visit with my boys, we’d been blown away by the beauty of Croatia, the friendliness of the people…and the fantastically cheap prices. It reminded me at the time of what Italy had been like back in my backpacking days, long before mass tourism, hordes of cruise ships, and the euro drove up prices. That earlier visit had been not so long after the Balkan wars; Dubrovnik was still severely damaged, we saw peacekeeping troops in nearby Bosnia, tourists were just venturing back to the area.
The trans-Atlantic cruise that launched our Balkan adventure stopped in Dubrovnik before dropping us off in Venice. I’d been to Dubrovnik before and we knew we’d return, so our priority on the cruise stop was to buy a visitor SIM card so we’d be ready to roll when we came back to Croatia 2.5 weeks later. I’d done some research and knew there were no phone stores selling SIM cards in Old Town Dubrovnik, but they are sold at the post office.
Browsing our options at the old town post office, I chose the “Vipme internet,” a fantastic bargain at 20 kuna ($3), including tax. For that price, I got a data SIM card with 2G worth of data at 1G/day (ie., two days’ worth of Internet). The system is set up perfectly for travelers: your gig allotment is in 24 hour increments that begin when you actually access the internet with your card. So, if you don’t need the card for a day, you don’t get charged. I figured we’d use the card that day and then on our first day back in Croatia later in the trip. After that, we could buy charge up slips at any phone store, post office or most convenience stores at a rate of about $1.50/day. What a deal!
Although we planned drive ourselves in Croatia, we opted not to keep the car we’d rented in Montenegro for that trip. My reasoning was 1) we’d avoid cross border charges; and 2) we didn’t want a car for our days in Old Dubrovnik anyway since parking is nonexistent in the old town. The best option appeared to be a motor coach. I bought tickets ahead of time on GetByBus at https://getbybus.com/en/ for 483.5 Croatian kuna ($42.5o) for 2 tickets, tax included. A print-out of the ticket is required and the drive is about 2 hours. We had only one brief stop at a town along the way.
With some hours to spare before our motor coach to Dubrovnik, we took the opportunity to visit beautiful Perast which lies just a short distance north from Kotor. We’d driven past the town on our way to the Ostrog Monastery, admiring the lovely old town and the two achingly picturesque little islands just off shore. One island hosts a monastery which is closed to the public, but the church on the other island is open to visitors.
With directions from Maryjana, we caught the local bus just across the road from the modern Kamelia Shopping Centre, a mere block from our apartment. The bus ride is ridiculously cheap, about €1pp and takes only 30 minutes or so. We were let off near the spot where you can hire boats to take you out to the islands. Our boat ride cost about €5 apiece. We sailed around the islands and then were dropped off at the church island for 30 minutes. The boat continued to shuttle back and forth and we could have ridden back later, but we had plenty of time.
A beautiful day in Montenegro is a great time for another road trip! This time we had our sights set on the locally-renowned Ostrog Monastery, a 2+ hour drive away. Once again our AirBnB host, Bojan, proved worth his weight in gold. When I asked about possible road closures in light of all the road work we’d seen on the way to Albania, he called the local traffic authority and got back to me with invaluable information: a major bridge and sole access to the monastery from Kotor would be closed for two 2-hour stints, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The bridge was an hour and twenty minutes into our journey. Armed with that knowledge, we timed our drive to arrive a scant 5-10 minutes before the bridge reopened after the morning closure. Thank God we didn’t get up early just to sit in a line of cars and semi-trucks for two hours wondering what the heck was going on!
One place in Montenegro I was absolutely sure we wanted to see was Lovćen Park. Now that we had good weather, we grabbed the opportunity. Bojan had secured us a rent car, delivered to our apartment and at a small discount to anything I’d been able to find. Bojan was turning out to be an AirBnB host extraordinaire.
There are two routes to Lovćen Park from Kotor: the longer route via Budva and new roads and the shorter route via an older narrow, switch-back filled road up the face of the mountain at the end of Kotor bay. The road leads to the community of Cetinje. We’d heard rumors that the older Cetinje road was closed, but Goran had assured us that was not the case and we were dying to try it. Actually, David was definitely eager to try it and I thought I was, too, but with some reservations. While the views were said to be breathtaking, I had some concerns about the condition and safety of the road.
I think nearly every traveler feels the urge of The Place Just Beyond. I try not to succumb to the temptation to waste my time in Place A running over to Place B, just because it’s further or–my personal peeve–just to “say” you’ve been there. I always wonder who exactly I’m supposed to “say” that to, and who the heck would care. Still, I can be as weak as the next person and ever since we’d planned this trip to Montenegro and I’d realized how close Albania was, I’d been tempted to make a dreaded “toe touch” run. I know, I know: Shame on me!