Photo of the Day: Dubrovnik – Outside the Wall

This photo zooms in on a portion of the spectacular medieval wall that surrounds the old city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Taken from the nearby Fort Lovrijenac, it’s a bit dark due to the overcast sky and zoomed-in focal length, but I like the castle-on-the-cliff look with the larger mountain looming in the background.

Date: 11/8/2011
Camera: Panasonic DMC-FZ40
Click for larger view

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Photo of the Day: Dubrovnik in the Sky

In honor of this Sunday’s season premiere of Game of Thrones, here’s a bird’s-eye view of Dubrovnik, a.k.a. King’s Landing. This photo was taken from the top of Srd Hill. To the right of the walled city you can see the fort that figures prominently in many scenes. If you’d like to see more photos related to the TV series, check out Dubrovnik: A Tour of King’s Landing (and other locations).

dubrovnik_birdseye
Date: 11/8/2011
Camera: Panasonic DMC-FZ40
Click for larger view

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Eurotrip 2011, Part 13: One More Day in Dubrovnik and the Long Journey Home

Dubrovnik

November 8, 2011: Our final non-travel day in Europe featured summer weather and a cool cable car ride to the top of a mountain to see Dubrovnik in all its glory. But first we visited the impressive Fort Lovrijenac, which sits atop a massive rock looming over the entire city.

Approaching the Fort

Just like the previous day when we walked the city walls, the fort was devoid of crowds (the advantage of being there in November). In fact, we basically had the entire fortress to ourselves, as you can see in the photos below. If you viewed my post about Game of Thrones filming locations, many of these photos will look familiar (click on any image to view a larger version):

The fort is a great place to enjoy spectacular views of the walled city:

After our visit to the fort, we headed to the other end of the city to catch a cable car ride to the top of Srd Hill.

Srd Hill Viewed from the Fort

This is where you get the iconic view of Dubrovnik from up high.

Here’s a panorama of the landscape behind Srd Hill:

While up there I visited a war ravaged building called Fort Imperial. Inside is a museum dedicated to the 1990’s Croatian War for Independence. After visiting the museum I walked around the outside of the building where there are signs saying to do so at your own risk, due to the structural damage and leftover debris.

Outside of Fort Imperial, looking down toward the outskirts of Dubrovnik.
Our hotel was somewhere in the middle of that.

Here are a few more photos from on top of the hill:

After descending Srd Hill, my uncle returned to the hotel while I decided to stay in the city. We agreed to meet up later for dinner. I thought I’d to visit the city aquarium but unfortunately discovered that it was closed. Instead I headed out to the rocks on the shore outside of the city walls. There was not another soul in sight so I was able to sit back and relax as if I had the entire city to myself. I sat beneath the rock in the picture below and gazed out into the sea as the water crashed against the rocks. Simply sublime.

Being alone also allowed me to get a little goofy, as I used the self-timer to snap my traditional Karate Kid photo, which I do on almost every trip:

I then decided to check out a café that serves drinks on the rocks along a different part of the wall. It can be easy to miss if you don’t know to look for it; it’s basically through a little hole in the wall. I had a couple of drinks there and watched the sun set. Here’s a photo of the café taken from up on the wall (it only seems to be open in the early evening):

Later I met up with my uncle and we had our final dinner in Europe at nice a place just outside of town. We then headed back to the hotel to pack for two days of planes, trains, and automobiles until we finally made it back home to New Jersey.

We awoke early the next morning to catch a cab to the bus station, where we hopped on a bus for the four-hour ride back to Split. When we arrived in Split we once again had to fend off all of the people at the train station looking to rent us rooms. We had a long layover before the train to Zagreb was due, so we stored our luggage in lockers and headed into the city. I was glad to be able to pay one final visit to Split; our stay there had been the most pleasant surprise of the entire trip. We had lunch at an outdoor café in the square pictured below, where I had a very tasty pork dish.

This square in Split was modeled after St. Mark’s square in Venice.

The train to Zagreb ran very late, so we didn’t arrive at our hotel until late that night. We had a super early cab ride to the airport the following morning, and thus did not have time to go into the city for dinner; I just had a panini in the train station, then packed for the flight.

From Zagreb we flew to Amsterdam for a 3-hour layover, where they were already celebrating Christmas in early November—there were decorated trees all over the airport. From there it was a long flight back to JFK Airport. I mentioned in Part 1 my desire never to fly out of JFK again, and the return trip only reinforced it. On a good day you could probably drive from JFK to my house in about 90 minutes, but between ridiculously long customs lines, a disorganized shuttle service (which I will also never use again), and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the roads, it took us roughly 7 hours to get home from the time we landed. Finally, we made it to my front door, where I was greeted by my wife and dog after a month apart. It was good to be back home.

And with that, our epic 28-day Eurotrip was over, as is my two-year odyssey of writing this journal. But before signing off I need to give a shout-out to my Uncle Kipp, who made the entire trip possible, first by organizing our group’s two-week stay in beautiful Tuscany that helped me realize my dream of touring Italy, and then by inviting me to accompany him to Switzerland and Croatia after the rest of the group went home. Croatia might never have been on my radar as a place to visit if not for Uncle Kipp, but I’m so glad I went. What an amazing country. The entire trip was an incredible experience that I’ll always cherish. It truly was the trip of a lifetime—lord knows I’ll never be able to take that much time off from work again. 🙂

Uncle Kipp and me in Krka National Park, Croatia

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Eurotrip 2011, Part 12: Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik

This installment covers Day 25 of my 2011 trip to Europe…

November 7, 2011: The morning after our introduction to Dubrovnik we were eager to get back into town and head up to the medieval walls that surround the old city–walls so well-preserved that they circle the entire city in one uninterrupted course. First we went down to the hotel restaurant, where I was disappointed to find the servers closing up the buffet 15 minutes before breakfast was scheduled to end. Oh well, that’s what I get for sleeping in.

Following breakfast we headed into the city, bought our tickets, and climbed up to the walls. We had such beautiful weather for early November that I was even able to wear shorts, and the best thing about being there in November was that the walls were practically empty. I’m guessing that Dubrovnik is packed with people during the summer, particularly up on the walls, but we didn’t have to worry about that. We were able to meander at our leisure and take lots of pictures without feeling rushed or bumped along. I was able to get many nice shots that might otherwise have been impossible with larger crowds to navigate.

The views along the walls are spectacular, both looking out to sea and in toward the city. Among the beautiful architecture is also evidence of the devastation from the 1991 Siege of Dubrovnik in the form of ruined buildings (there are even bullet holes still visible in certain buildings). Here are some photos from our walk (click on any image to view a larger version):

If you visit Dubrovnik and do nothing else, spend a day walking the walls, you won’t regret it. And if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, there is the added cool-factor of knowing you are walking in the footsteps of your favorite characters since Dubrovnik is where they film the King’s Landing scenes. If you like the show, you can read more about the various locations used during filming and see related photos at my post: Dubrovnik: A Tour of King’s Landing (and other locations).

We spent most of the day on the walls, though you can do the entire circle much more quickly if you choose (in total it is just over a mile not counting diversions like climbing the Minceta tower). But once you’re up there you will probably wind up staying much longer as we did. I could have spent all day up there just gazing out into the Adriatic and admiring the beauty of the city.

Afterward we had a nice dinner at a restaurant across from Dubrovnik’s entrance overlooking the sea, where I finally found a place in Europe that makes a real Long Island Iced Tea, which I followed up with a Mai Tai. Later that evening we walked around town again hoping to find a jazz club but we did not have any luck, so we settled for sitting at an outdoor café and splitting a bottle of Prosecco while enjoying the night air and the piano music emanating from within. Tomorrow would be our last day in Dubrovnik (and our final non-travel day in Europe), so this was our last night to stay out late and live it up, toasting the end of the adventure we had begun nearly a month ago.

But we still had one more day of fun ahead of us, which will be covered in the next installment. Until then…

See more photos from Dubrovnik

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Eurotrip 2011, Part 11: Gettin’ Medieval in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

This installment covers Day 24 of my 2011 trip to Europe…

November 6, 2011: On our last day in Split we headed down to the bus station to catch an early four-hour ride down to Dubrovnik. The majority of the bus ride took us along the beautiful Croatian coast. The scenery was spectacular and there were plenty of stops along the way so we weren’t cooped up in our bus seats for the entire journey.

Here are some views from the bus. These photos were taken with my cell phone through the window of a moving vehicle, hence the lower quality:

Along the road to Dubrovnik the route actually passes through Bosnia for a brief stretch before resuming in Croatia. When we reached the Bosnian border, officers boarded the bus to view everyone’s passports. We then stopped at a rest area while still in Bosnia, where my uncle nearly got left behind because he was outside messing around with his iPad as the bus was about to leave. The bus driver beeped at him and he finally boarded, but not to worry, I wouldn’t have let the bus take off without him. 🙂

We arrived at the bus station and proceeded to look for a cab to take us to our hotel. When one was not available, we hitched a ride with a private driver who had been parked at the bus stop offering to take people into town for a flat fee. This appears to be a common practice in the area.

We booked a hotel that was about a 15-20 minute walk outside of the old city because when I was researching places to stay, I had read that bedbugs can be a problem in some of the properties in town. I don’t know how true this is, but I didn’t want to take any chances. It was a pretty nice hotel room (probably the best one we stayed in during our entire European trip) with a view of the Adriatic.

After settling in, we left the hotel and walked into town. Here are a couple of views along the route we walked:

Not quite sure where we were going, we wound up taking the long way there, but eventually we came upon the majestic walled city.

The main entrance to the old city.
Outside the city walls.
We would later eat at the restaurant on the right.
The Great Onofrio Fountain just inside the main entrance.

We were starving by this point so we decided to grab some dinner. We entered the old city and sat down at one of the first cafes we found on a side street, where we enjoyed a delicious pizza with a spicy salami similar to pepperoni. It was the best pizza I’d had since Venice and I can see why some people think Croatian pizza is even better than Italian.

After dinner we walked around the city as night fell. Here are some photos of Dubrovnik at night.

The Main Street
The Assumption Cathedral

An outdoor cafe
like the one where we ate pizza.
Dubrovnik’s version of
the Spanish Steps in Rome.

We then headed home. Most of the 20-minute walk back to the hotel was up a steep hill. We were laboring by the time we got back, and thus decided that for the rest of our stay we would take the bus. We headed to the hotel bar, where I capped the night off with a Croatian beer followed by a delicious mai tai. I then briefly skyped with my wife, during which I time I was able to hear my dog bark for the first time in 3 1/2 weeks, which alone made battling the spotty wi-fi worth it.  I then turned in for the evening.

We would spend most of the next day walking the wall that surrounds the old city, which will be covered in the next installment. Until then, here is one more nighttime photo, a long exposure that resulted in a neat fairy tale-ish effect of the water misting over the rocks.

P1040326

See more photos from Dubrovnik

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Photo of the Day: Overlooking Dubrovnik

This is one of those happy accident photos. I was walking along the walls that surround the spectacular medieval city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, snapping lots of photos when I captured this woman lifting her daughter for a view of the city. I normally delete photos with strangers in them if I have a similar shot without them, but I thought this was a poignant scene so I kept it.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

I stumbled across a few small videos I shot while in Croatia in November of 2011 that I forgot to include in my main Eurotrip 2011 video, so I thought I’d compile them here.

In honor of the upcoming season premiere of Game of Thrones and Dubrovnik’s connection to the show, I have scored the video with the main theme from the series.

I chose to smooth-out the video using youtube’s smoothing software, which resulted in quite wacky behavior of the title captions at the beginning, but the rest of the video is nice and smooth, so once you get past the opening captions, it’s smooth sailing—do you think I used the word ‘smooth’ enough in that last sentence? 🙂

See photos from Dubrovnik

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Eurotrip 2011: The Video

I thought I’d kick off the new Videos section of this blog with the very first video I made from one of my trips.  This video covers most of my month in Europe in 2011, including visits to Italy, Switzerland, and Croatia.

This video is nearly 18 minutes long, so I’ll understand if you don’t want to sit through the whole thing :-), but it is accompanied by a couple of pleasant pieces from Holst’s The Planets.

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Dubrovnik: A Tour of King’s Landing (and other locations)

When I visited the medieval walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia in November of 2011, I had no idea that one of my favorite television shows, Game of Thrones, had just recently finished filming its second season there. When the season premiere aired four months later, I realized that Dubrovnik had been used to depict King’s Landing (though I also recognized a few other parts of the city in other scenes, such as those in Qarth).

The strange sensation of seeing the city walls I had so recently walked and photographed being used to represent this fantasy world led to some occasional difficulty suspending disbelief, but I nevertheless thought it was quite cool to have actually stood in the same locations as the characters in the show.

I will write much more about my visit to the magnificent city of Dubrovnik in my travelogue, but for now I thought I would just share some of my photos that match up with locations from the television series (based on my foggy memory from seeing Season 2 nearly a year ago).  Very minor spoilers ahead for those who haven’t watched the second season . . .

A CGI-enhanced version of this city line stands in for King’s Landing in the show.
The island in the background was used for some of the scenes with Daenerys in Qarth.
Streets of Dubrovnik, err, I mean King’s Landing.
This area was used for some external King’s Landing scenes.
The tower to the right was used to depict the
outside of the House of the Undying in Qarth.
Daenerys walked along this area before entering.
You can see why Dubrovnik makes such a perfect shooting location for a fantasy show.
Many scenes were filmed along these walls that surround the entire city.
This angle is similar to one used in the show, with
a CGI-enhanced version of the fort in the background.
The fort itself was heavily used for King’s Landing exterior scenes.
These hobbit-like doors built into the hill underneath the fort were featured during
the montage in which Joffrey had all of King Robert’s bastard sons murdered.
The interior of the fort was used for several scenes in and around the castle.
Another interior fort shot. Cersei and Littlefinger had a conversation in this hall.
This fort courtyard was frequently used.
This upper level of the fort was one of the main exterior filming locations for King’s Landing.
The fact that the background is all water and sky probably made the fort the easiest
location to use in terms of not needing to hide a bunch of stuff or crop it out with CGI.
A closer look at the island that stood in for Qarth (i.e., the Daenerys scenes).
The area among the trees down by the water was also used for a few King’s Landing scenes.

I’m sure there were several other areas used for filming that I’m not recalling at the moment, but I don’t feel like re-watching the entire season right now to find them :-), so I’ll just leave you with one final long-exposure night shot that feels a bit like a fantasy photo with the smoothness of the water:

See more photos from Dubrovnik

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