Fontaine Family Foray in Europe – Installment #6
As the saying goes they “save the best for last”. That is a nice way to describe our final cruise stop which took place in the picturesque city of Dubrovnyk, Croatia.
I got up at 6 am to ensure that I could be on the top deck as we approached the Port of Dubrovkyk. There were only a handful of passengers up at that time of day aboard the MSC Poesia, so I was able to quietly enjoy the view to myself.
The first thing you notice about Dubrovnyk compared to its southern Greek neighbour is how many lush green trees adorn the hillsides. Arriving in the port you are surrounded by beautiful mountains and stately villas which give you a clear message you are in a lovely tourist town.
Once again, we were greeted with sunshine and temperatures forecasted to hit at least 28C. The sky was what can only be described as a unique dark shade of blue and so too was the surrounding water. There were numerous small watercraft plying the local waters, a further testimony that this has become a real destination for those who love a scenic place to relax and enjoy life.
We were notified by way of a paper slipped under our door that the bike tour in the Croatian countryside we had pre-booked had been cancelled. That meant we had to move to Plan B, which turned out to be an excellent second choice.
Once off the ship, we immediately departed for the “Old City” located about 25 minutes by way of a 13 pp Euro shuttle bus operated by MCS cruises. A two-minute walk easily brought us into an ancient walled village which was truly an experience. The self-contained village was declared a special heritage site by UNESCO and it is easy to see how they came to that conclusion.
Walk underneath the several hundred feet high stone walls and into the gated city and you are greeted with streets paved with marble-like stone and tens of thousands of tourists.
Entry into the walled city is free, but walking atop the fortified walls will set you back about $75CAD for a family of three. Given our limited time, we decided to walk around and simply soak in everything this stop had to offer.
We did take one “wrong turn” and ended up back outside the old city, but that worked out for the best as we discovered a wonderful seawall filled with local watercraft and more than a few scruffy looking black and white feral cats. The turquoise water in the bay was simply too inviting on this hot day as a number of locals and tourists who could be seen jumping in for a quick dip.
When it was time for lunch we picked a quiet spot in what we would describe back in New Westminster as a narrow back lane. The server provided us with menus and after we did the conversion in our head, we thought this place was good value – especially considered they offered free high speed Internet! That turned out to be a miscalculation on our part.
My son ordered a hamburger and fries [okay, old habits are hard to break] and was told by the waiter that the bun was an extra charge. “If you want a bun, you need to pay more Euros,” he was told. You can see my eyebrow raise now…can’t you.
More Euros if you want ketchup on said burger or fries. It was all a bit puzzling, but we just decided to go with the flow. Soon after, a thimble worth of ketchup was delivered – other eyebrow raised now. This was going downhill rather fast.
Then the food arrived and it could only be described as thoroughly underwhelming. It was bland, extremely salty and worthy of something I could buy in the Walmart frozen section. Our three lunches including a soft drink came to the equivalent of $75CAD. While I don’t mind paying that kind of money for a good lunch, this fell far short of that.
My sense is this is not a reflection on the good chefs of Croatia, but rather, the fact we were ordering food in the equivalent of their Disneyland. They can basically charge what they want, serve you slop…and considering you’re hungry, you simply nod open up your wallet and say go for it.
We heard a few similar stories from other cruisers who talked about paying exorbitant prices for beer, wine and a basic meal. This type of price-gouging definitely sets Croatia apart from its neighbours in Greece and Albania – where good food and low prices were commonplace.
Overall, we really loved Croatia and would put it on our future list of places to visit for a longer time period. There is so much to see that we were not able to make it to in our one day stopover.
We have now been on the road for over two weeks and being out of our routine is starting to wear a bit on our youngest traveler. But as we’ve said a few times now, there is less than a week to go before he’s back in full high speed Internet mode!
The ship has sailed as this was our last stop aboard the MCS Poesia. Tomorrow we will dock in the Port of Venice then make our way by train to Florence for a couple of days. I’ll have more to report on that part of the adventure in the coming days.