Travel writers enthuse about ‘getting lost’ in romantic cities. Be frivolous, rip up your map, leave your smartphone at home, don’t even bother asking for directions, they say. Trust your inner explorer, because by following your instinctual compass you’ll discover INCREDIBLE things about the world, its’ people and most of all…yourself.
Today I learned that’s all a massive pile of twerp.
Dubrovnik Old Town is beautiful; a maze of winding streets, bustling market squares and medieval battlements overlooking the glittering blue sea. Apparently.
I spent most of today walking frantically around what can only be described as Dubrovnik’s favela.
I was so worried about missing the one bus a day to Korcula island (where I’ve rented my apartment) that I didn’t want to risk straying too far from the bus station, situated in the modern part of the city. It was interesting in its own way – flights of rickety steps disappearing into layer upon layer of stucco apartment block, reaching up into the towering hills beyond like pieces of Lego.
But it was very run-down. This was clearly ‘every-day Dubrovnik’. The hard-working, weathered part of the city that tourists don’t get to see. In fact, at one point a couple of men passing asked if I was lost and pointed in the direction of Old Town. I said I was exploring, and they laughed in a sinister ‘you’ll see’ sort way.
I had fun winding my way up between the houses, choosing any old path, not thinking about where I was heading. The roads were so steep they were crumbling away in places. They’ve literally built driveways on cliffs. The panic set in when I reached the main road at the top and realised I only had 30minutes to get back down to my bus.
Suddenly the thought of navigating my way back down that maze of dead-end streets and car-parks seemed a bit daunting. I decided to follow the main road for a bit, thinking it must go down the hill at some point. I stopped when I realised I was heading for a massive suspension bridge and would shortly be setting off to the city of Split 229km away like some sort of human freight truck.
I backtracked and somehow made it back down to sea level with just minutes to spare before the Korcula bus left. Now I’m here, in my cosy rooftop apartment overlooking Korcula Old Town (at least I’ve seen one old town today) and the sea, which is the most beautiful colour (still blue, of course, but a very blue sort of blue).
Luckily I’m spending my last night in Dubrovnik, so next week I’ll make it my mission to ‘get lost’ in the lovely Old Town instead of Croatia’s answer to a massive council estate.