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Monday, September 19, 2016

9/9 &10: Cruising the Adriatic from Dubrovnik to Cavtat & the Elaphite Islands

9/9: While I worked on the Sarajevo Tunnel post for several hours, Steven walked into Dubrovnik to check out about our going on a day long tour of the Elaphite Islands tomorrow at 9:45.

Below is a photo of our apartment which was located about a 10 minute bus ride from Old Town. Our little abode was up a couple of flights of steep steps where you see the tiny balcony. Steven was initially concerned about its location because it wasn't in the center of old town where we normally try and stay. It turned out to be fine as we were on a bus route and we never had to wait long for a bus either going into or leaving town. There were grocery stores nearby but nothing really in the way of restaurants which was the only downside.
In the early afternoon, we got the hour-long ferry ride to Cavtat where I had stayed back in the 1970s when visiting Dubrovnik with a Canadian family when I was their au pair.

Cavtat was the ancient settlement of Epidaurum whose inhabitants populated Dubrovnik. Now it's a small town that curves around an attractive harbor and two bays located south of Dubrovnik.
As we approaced Cavtat, I enjoyed watching this parasailor as the wind currents took him far above the sea.
The approach by the ferry to the small town was breathtaking with the church spires poking their heads above the canopy of lush trees.
The proximity to Dubrovnik and Cavat's lovely harbor attracted a number of super yachts. 

The waterfront was lined with palm trees, restaurants and cafes. I couldn't believe how small it all looked compared to my memories of being there 40 plus years ago. I had said the same thing to Steven just yesterday as we strolled Dubrovnik's Stradun or main pedestrian boulevard. My mind had played tricks on me as I would have sworn it was much much wider than it is. 
Having seen the Franciscan Monastery on the waterfront from the small ferry, we decided to vist it first. The church was so poetically called Our Lady of the Snow. It was founded in 1484 and was built over the course of the 15th and 16th centuries.
Significant changes were made to it in the 18th and 20th centuries. The cistern in the cloister was constructed in 1878 for use by sailors.
The Monastery is most well known for its polyptych of St. Michael dating back to 1510.
The draw for us at Cavtat was the 7km or about 4 mile promenade that circled both bays. We walked along the promenade around one of the bays before sitting on a bench taking in the beauty and sense of peace here.

Then, sustained by a chocolate croissant for me and a much healthier slice of pizza for Steven, we went into the Church of St. Nicholas that faced the water. That still warm croissant just oozed chocolate. What a taste treat! Just give me a chocolate croissant any day and I’m in hog heaven. The lovely little parish church was built in the 15th century and later rebuilt a number of times.

Our plan was, once fortified with food, we’d walk around the other bay. The trail took us through the forest and past what looked like had been underground bunkers. 

Unfortunately, the trail abruptly ended and we had to retrace our steps through Hotel Cavtat where I had stayed so many decades ago. Nothing like a walk through memory lane even though my memory was distorted! Our short sojourn in Cavtat had been delightful.

We got the bus back to Dubrovnik which only took about 20 minutes compared to the much longer boat ride. It was so nice getting back to our apartment around 6 because the previous nights had ben late, at least by our standards! 

9/10 Cruising the Elaphite Islands

An escape from Dubrovnik’s late summer crowds to the Elaphite or Deer Islands in the archipelago northwest of the city sounded very appealing. The deer that once lived there are now long gone and the human population is much reduced. 
We walked all of five minutes from our apartment down to the port to catch the boat for our three island jaunt today. We had gotten there plenty early so we spent some time seeing the local market and the port area. 

I just MAY have been eating a chocolate croissant!

Our cruise boat for the day:

Another luxury liner I suspected!

We reached Lopud, the first of the three islands, just an hour later. In the 15th century, Lopud had its own fleet of 80 vessels and a shipyard. Notables from Ragusa - what Dubrovnik was formerly known as - built summer homes on the island. During Dubrovnik’s golden age there were 30 churches in less than five square kilometers on Lopud! 
We walked along the waterfront for a bit and then for about 30 minutes inland.

Since we only had a limited time on the island and the beach, pretty well the only attraction on the island was on the other side from the port, we took a golf cart taxi there. 

We rented a couple of lounge chairs and an umbrella and relaxed on the lovely sandy beach at Sunj Bay

Nothing like being beach bums for a couple of hours to help recharge the batteries.
The water was very shallow even pretty far out and was quite warm to swim in. I was content to just sit and read although I know I should have doing all the water aerobic exercises you've taught all of us in your great class, Judy!
We decided that we could actually hike uphill through the pine-scented forest to the port and not be total lazy louts and have the taxi take us back too! 

We had enough time to see the Dominican Monastery that had been built in 1482 before returning to the boat. 

The church is dedicated to St. Niklas, the protector of sailors and children. The existence of the monastery ended with the arrival of Napoleonic troops in Dubrovnik in 1806. I found it odd to learn that later Napoleon forbade funerals in churches. According to a sign on the church, beneath it are the highest palm trees in Europe!
This was the first time we had encountered a temporary changing facility like this since we had gone to Kravice Waterfalls on the day tour from Mostar! It was divided into two slots on the other side and each had a small bench to use while changing.

Lunch was served back on board. Let’s suffice it to say, we were glad we had brought snacks with us as the chicken was all but inedible. There was all you can drink free wine, though, as long as your palate was not too discriminating! We hadn't come expecting a fine dining experience, only a fun time going from island to island and that's what we got in spades.

We got to Sipan, the second island, just 15 minutes after lunch was done. It’s the largest and the most agricultural of the Elaphite Islands and has two small ports. 

After seeing this sign, we couldn’t resist looking for St. Duh Church but, after going up hill and down dale, we had to give up as we only had 40 minutes on the island. I wonder who St. Duh was!

As we wandered around, we noticed a fertile depression where the islanders grow a variety of produce including grapes, olives and figs.

Gloria: This would make a nice notecard, don't you think?

We reached the next island, Kolocep, at 4:30 and we had 90 minutes to wander around. It's the Elaphite island nearest to Dubrovnik and it has two small settlements with only about 150 inhabitants between them. 

The main attraction was wandering through the pine forests and olive groves.
We walked along the promenade next. It was neat watching one kayaker pull this long row of other brightly colored kayaks in a long line behind him.

Scenes from Kolocep:

On our wanderings away from the port, we saw tiny, tiny St. Trojstvo Church where mass is celebrated just once a year, on the first Sunday after Pentecost. There were only four pews inside!
The chapel, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was built in the 15th century and was the property of the Dominicans from Dubrovnik.

We were surprised to come across next a pretty large 13th century Carmelite Monastery and Church dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We were quite amazed to see a monk by the monastery as the island has so few residents.

This stone bas relief over the front entrance was retained when the church was enlarged in the 15th century.

Think this will make a nice screensaver shot back home.

After having explored Dubrovnik and the environs for the last few days, we were ready to discover more of the Dalmatian Coast. Next stop: Kotor, Montenegro.

Posted from Pristina, Kosovo on September 19th, 2016.


  1. Your photos and narrative have me looking forward to visiting this area (and all!) of Croatia with its amazing scenery and centuries old history. I know there are people that say they get "churched out" but we love peeking into the churches of each new city or village we visit. So many times these treasures are hundreds of years old, carefully preserved and show a unique glimpse into the area.

    1. Anita, thanks for your comments. We never tire of visiting places of worship. Not only are they beautiful but the feeling inside is always special to us.


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