My baby sister got married in Dubrovnik, Croatia a couple of months ago. I can honestly say it was the joint happiest day of my life so far. (The other, for avoidance of doubt, was my wedding to Pete, exactly 20 years ago today). It made my heart so happy to see my sister and her fine fiancé tie the knot, surrounded by friends and family – utterly magical.
I thought I’d cry during my speech but breeze through my reading. In the end, my emotions (and voice) caught during the reading, which was part way through the ceremony and caused my sister to cry as well, oops sorry about that! But I managed the speech without sobbing, though it caused a few (good) tears amongst some of the wedding party, I think!
The setting for the ceremony was breath-taking, in the truest sense of the word – a hotel’s outdoor terrace overlooking the old town harbour, city walls and red tiled roofs – a view that made us gasp. The weather was searingly hot and we sat (or stood in the case of the bridesmaids, best man and groom) wilting in the heat, but still all of us grinned at her beauty when we saw her arriving on my dad’s arm. The ceremony was lovely and soon they were married. Such an adorable couple.
After the ceremony, the entire wedding party walked down to Dubrovnik harbour for a champagne reception on an old-style sightseeing boat. As the group walked through the old town, local buskers spontaneously switched to playing Here Comes The Bride, and fellow tourists stopped to watch and applaud. Boat trip around the city walls and nearby Lokrum island over, we walked back to the hotel where tables had been set up on the terrace for the evening meal, speeches and dancing.
The entire day was glorious!
Pete and I travelled to Dubrovnik a few days before the wedding and also booked to stay on another 4 days afterwards. We spent the first few days in a beautiful villa with pool with my sister and brother-in-law-to-be and the bridesmaids, best man and partners. For our last few days, we were very pleased with our choice of the Hilton Dubrovnik, with an enviable location right by Pile Gate and a very enjoyable breakfast buffet to boot.
We had plans to do lots of sightseeing in Dubrovnik and take day trips to nearby islands.
In the end, the weather in late June/ early July was so hot and humid that I was zapped of what little energy I can ever summon within minutes of stepping outside. I’ve certainly endured hotter but Dubrovnik’s summer heat was astonishingly oppressive. We hoped that early starts in the morning might allow us to evade the heat but discovered that it was already hotter than Hades by 8 o’clock in the morning!
All of which is why we did little more than eat out and walk the city walls for the entire week of our visit!
… and we only managed to get half way around the city walls walk before my abject terror of heights (and the resultant need to scale most of the stairs sideways like a crab, clinging to the railings for dear life) combined with the excessive heat (even though we started the circuit the moment the gates opened at 8 a.m.) saw us admit defeat after an hour. Presciently, we began with the half that afforded us views of Dubrovnik old town with a backdrop of indigo blue sea and the island of Lokrum behind.
But we did fall for the beautiful old town and quickly came to understand why my sister and brother-in-law chose this pretty place in which to tie the knot.
We had many delicious lunches and dinners but here are my top picks; all three are located in the old town, inside or just outside the city walls.
Pizzeria Tabasco (Cavtatska ulica 11)
The company from whom we rented the villa gave us some excellent restaurant recommendations, including this lovely pizzeria located just outside the city walls, near the lower entrance to the cable car.
Enormous, wood-fire oven-baked pizzas with really delicious toppings, these were not only top quality but incredibly good value too. One of the toppings on mine was a local fresh cheese which quickly melted into puddles a minute or so after it was served to the table. One of the best Italian-style pizzas I’ve had, anywhere.
Restoran Dubrovnik (Marojice Kaboge 5)
In the maze of narrow streets within the old town walls, this elegant restaurant is a little out of the way of the busiest thoroughfares and feels a little more peaceful as a result. The tables are on an open rooftop, with sliding roofing panels available to provide protection should the weather require. We loved this outdoor seating with its surround view of the beautiful stone buildings of the old town.
The menu is modern European with a focus on local ingredients and we enjoyed our first meal so much we booked to go back on our last evening.
Pricier than the other two, but (from our Londoner perspective) still reasonable for the quality – and much less expensive than other high end restaurants in town.
Taj Mahal (Ulica Nikole Gučetića 2,
In spite of the Indian name, this is actually a Bosnian restaurant and the tables are tucked along one edge of a narrow old town alley.
By far the most popular dish amongst customers was cevapi – little grilled minced meat kebabs. They were simply served inside soft warm bread with raw red onions and the most amazing butter and fresh cheese condiment that I devoured (and then asked for more of).
They also do some delicious local meat and cheese platters and a range of other Bosnian dishes. Various others in the wedding party visited during the week and enjoyed the Taj Mahal as much as we did.
As for ice cream (or gelato, as it’s mostly in the Italian style), there are many excellent ice cream vendors to choose from and I suggest you go for the nearest when the mood for ice cream strikes!
Our plan is to head back to Dubrovnik (and the rest of Croatia too) in the next year or two for a spring or autumn break, when the weather is a little more conducive to more active exploration.
P.s. Happy 20th wedding anniversary, Pete. I love you!