This Article Contains Game of Thrones

DAY 11-12: KORCULA – DUBROVNIK (rest day) 

I SKIPPED BOSNIA and Herzegowina by accident. The reason was my little island excursion to Korcula. I also spent a day in Dubrovnik, the Game of Thrones capital.

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I tagged the town sign with one of Nejc’s “one<3” stickers.

I discover a whole in the ground. Beneath it, there’s a huge staircase leading to a green locked door fifty meters below ground.
Driven by this consistent curiosity, I go and grab all the tools I can
find to break that door open–driller, hammer and wrecking bar–and I
once more descend into that hole, determined to find out what’s behind
that door. Then I wake up. When I sleep outside, I always have exciting dreams.

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It’s
05:30. I feel awake. Let’s bail, I think. Tearing down my camp in half
an hour, I push the bike through the bushes to a small road. The only
road that connects this port, Pupatska Luka, with the rest of the
island. And in my head, with the world. Civilization! People! Food!
That’s what I’m longing for. But it is a steep climb up the hill. Ten
percent constant gradient. Without breakfast. My body complains.

As I reach the top, the sun wakes up.

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Today
I want to reach Dubrovnik. That means I will spend the whole day in the
saddle, pedalling about 130 kilometers. And I’m actually quite fine
with that. There’s times to take it slow, but there’s also times to just kill the road.

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A ferry links Korcula’s east end to the mainland. I brush my teeth on it.

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The
peninsula I am now cycling is one big wine area. Hundreds of signs
promote the local wineries. The farmers are in their acres, preparing
the grape plants for the coming season. Smoke rises to the sky, it’s the
old branches the farmers are cutting and burning. You see this a lot.
And you smell it.

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At
one point, I take a break at a war memorial. I am not sure which war
it’s for, and it does not say, but it can only be either WWII or the
Yugoslavian wars in the early 90s. The view is impressive. What a strong
location for a memorial like this, throning above the panorama.

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My
first look at the village of Mali Ston reminds of the Chinese Wall. The
wall on the hill turns out to be the Dubrovnik republic’s former
border. It is now walkable and measures several kilometers in
circumference.

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The last kilometers are always the hardest

In
Croatia, winter feels like spring. 15 degrees and clear sky, what more
could you ask for. The only problem: It gets dark damn early. At 5 pm,
dawn is in full progress, and if you have around 25 more kilometers to
cycle, it gets annoying. I have my lights on and I wear my orange life
insurance, but those last kilometers in the dark always seem endless. Finally, around 6, I cross the mighty Dubrovnik bridge, enjoying a gorgeous view on the illuminated city. Arriving in the dark does have its advantages after all.

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Dubrovnik is comparable to Venice in terms of tourism–in summer, that is. During the cold season, the city is populated by just 30.000 people. My couchsurfing host Petar is one of them. He’s originally Bulgarian and has been living and working here for a year. Coincidentally, he is also into cycling and has done a few trips along cycle paths in Western Europe. We immediately have a great time. Petar has the pleasant habit of making fresh orange juice, and we even have pancakes for breakfast on Sunday.

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On Sunday you shall rest

Petar lives in an old villa near the old town. It looks like it’s got a lot of stories to tell: the lower floor is partly ruined, the prehistoric wiring makes for frequent blackouts (“welcome to the Balkans”, Petar jokes). In the Atlantis-like garden, orange and lemon trees overgrow broken Antique columns and dozens of cats relax in the sun. The perfect place to take a rest day and check out the city!

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I literally blushed in awe when I arrived to the city and saw the huge mighty fortress walls. The whole old town lies inside those walls that are two kilometers long–narrow streets, marble-tiled boulevards and cozy cafes included. Outside those walls, the waves crash against rugged rocks, a cat sleeps on a dry spot here and there, you can see to the ground of the clear water everywhere.

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I’ve never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones but I’ve been to its capital

On my personal guided tour through the city, Petar shows me some of the filming locations for Game of Thrones. Dubrovnik’s historical scenery represents the capital of the GoT world. Since the second season, the producers return here to shoot more episodes every year. And so do the tourists: There are even paid Game of Thrones walking tours around the city, many people from the US come to Dubrovnik exclusively for this reason.

Although I’ve never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones, the locations seem very appealing. Maybe I will get into the series when I return home…

Tourism has had its impact on the city: Public transports are punctual and reliable, garbage disposal is functional, the city is quite clean. On the other hand, locals suffer from astronomical prices. At most places like restaurants etc, residents get an informal discount.

All in all, I spent one great day in Dubrovnik enjoying Petar’s hospitality and I"m looking forward to Montenegro!

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