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.
Our waitress (part owner?) was very knowledgeable about their wines. A native of Dubrovnik, she was funny when I mentioned I’d been there years ago and that much had changed. “Touristy and expensive?” was her instant reply. I couldn’t disagree. She said natives were being driven out of local housing as the prices soared; a sad, but not uncommon story where tourism flourishes. With the economic benefits come downsides as well.
It wasn’t overly crowded when we went, but I understand it can get very busy in peak season. Reservations may be in order then.
Wines we sampled ran around $10/glass. We enjoyed all the wines we sampled; big, bold reds. When I joked that I got a lighter pour than my husband because I was a woman, our server happily topped me up…which made me happy as well!
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.
First off, location was fabulous. We had to walk the length of the Stradun and a bit beyond the cathedral, but with spinner wheels and that smooth Dubrovnik paving, that was no problem for us. Dubrovnik is a city of stairs, and lugging suitcases can be a real hassle. So, I’d been thrilled to read that there were only 24 stairs to reach this apartment (some outside and a flight of stairs inside). In Dubrovnik, this is about as close to handicap accessible as it gets! (Obviously, I’m joking and this isn’t truly handicap accessible. Anyone with mobility issues should take note.) The apartment is on a quiet side street just a few yards from the wall of the old harbour.
The apartment was only 35m sq., but that was fine for our stay. Our hostesses had decorated it nicely, and we had a plate of packaged cookies waiting for us on arrival. We enjoyed meeting their parents. The father had been in the merchant marine and spoke good English. They lived just next door and that was one of our minor concerns: that we might bother them since only a set of double doors separated our bedroom from their apartment. It may be that the apartment had once been one large apartment before being divided and remodeled. In the end, it wasn’t a problem; we didn’t hear them and at least they never complained about hearing us.
The bathroom was basic and of an older style in a blue tile with both a toilet and bidet. The shower/tub combo worked fine, but was very short in length.
Our only minor hitch came the first morning. When we tried to leave the apartment, we found that we were locked in. Our key would do nothing. This was a new problem! Fortunately, our apartment “mother” heard us rattling the door and freed us with her key. She spoke only a little English, but urged us to get on with our day, indicating her husband would fix the lock. True to her word, he replaced the lock that day with many apologies saying the lock had been new but was, obviously, defective. We weren’t at all inconvenienced and it was a funny, non-event for us.
If you’re new to AirBnB and want to give it a try on this or any other apartment, you can use my referral link which should get both of us $30 in AirBnB travel credit: http://www.airbnb.com/c/tcuthrell Let me know if you have any questions.
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.
I knew tourism had taken off in recent years in Croatia, so I was not unprepared–and I’d planned only a short stay as a result–but still, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed in the changes. Even though tourist season was not yet in full swing, crowds filled Dubrovnik, especially when the cruise ships docked. Prices had soared. Mercedes Benz had apparently bought the city for some weeks and large banners and cars were scattered throughout the old town. “Game of Thrones” souvenirs and tours abounded. It was kind of depressing.
Dubrovnik was still beautiful, though, and the locals were still friendly. And, it was fun to share with David. (Actually, everything’s fun to share with David which has a lot to do with why I married him.) We had a modest, but homey and excellently-located AirBnB apartment in the old town. Officially, our hostesses were two sisters, but they were out-of-town and it was their parents who lived next door who welcomed us and with whom we interacted during our stay. They could not have been nicer.
There’s lots you can pay for in Dubrovnik–including the 120 kuna/$18pp walk around the ramparts that yielded the lead photo above–, so I’ll just post some of the freebies below and review our apartment, a beer bar and a wine bar in future posts.
The best free entertainment in Dubrovnik is just wandering the medieval streets. It really is a beautiful city:
Churches are lovely and free to visit as well, although donations are always appreciated:
Crowds thin at night, so don’t miss an evening stroll. In peak season, you may need to wander further off the beaten path to avoid the blaring techno music some cafés and clubs prefer:
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!
The lady who sold me the card at the post office knew very little about them, but did agree to help me with activation since the instructions were in Croatian (a major downside) until you reached a certain web page with English. Unfortunately (and here comes the caveat), she mistakenly exited the page where we were to confirm the plan and activate. I saw what she was doing, but couldn’t stop her in time. I did not realize that a different plan was chosen by default. The result was that she mistakenly registered me for a plan which included other features (calls, texts, etc.) and charged at a much higher usage rate which quickly burned up my 2G credit. I didn’t realize her mistake until after we’d left and I had lost all access to the Internet.
When I did get wi-fi and tried to choose a different plan, I was never sure I’d done things correctly. This meant that when we returned to Dubrovnik we had to catch a short bus ride out of the Old Town to a phone shop and get the whole mess sorted out. The good news is that they did sort it out, and also credited me back for my lost $3; not much compensation for the hassle, but nice of them nonetheless. Thereafter, the SIM card worked perfectly and we had cheap, reliable internet virtually everywhere we went in Croatia at $1.50/day.
Vipme is now offering weekly packages for 80 kuna ($12) with a cheap daily rate option. http://www.vipnet.hr/tourist-offer/en If you activate correctly, the price and product are excellent.
[The post office in Old Town Dubrovnik is a block off the main avenue, Stradun, on the corner of Široka ulica and ulica od Puča. The VIP store is at Vukovarska ul. 7, 20000, Dubrovnik in an old bank building. The bus stop at the Tommy shopping center is the closest. You can ask a bus driver to alert you to the stop.]
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.
The Kotor bus station is close to old town, but on the opposite side from our apartment. Marjana kindly offered to drive us, and would not accept payment. The bus station is relatively small and easy to navigate. There’s no need to arrive extra early, but do know there’s a station fee that has to be paid before you can board a bus. This wasn’t included in our ticket fee nor did I see any mention ahead of time. This caused a momentary panic when the driver asked to see the receipt for our local payment, but a quick dash inside (and a teller who waved me to the front of the short line) resolved the problem.
The bus itself was a comfortable tour bus/Greyhound-style motor coach. Free wi-fi was supposedly included, but we both had trouble connecting. The border crossing was easy with the driver collecting our passports for a brief stop. The bus stop in Dubrovnik is right by the cruise port. We caught a cab to the Old Dubrovnik main gaten this time because of our luggage, but there’s a bus stop just up on the main road by the newsstand where you can also buy a local bus ticket.