Sunset at Mt. Srđ 14/02/2017

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It looks like I need to get used to the hiking thing because that’s what I do these days. Today was a pretty relaxed day, we explored the hidden streets of the Old Town in the morning and went for a hike in the afternoon.

We decided to walk up to Mt. Srđ to watch the sunset. It took us a bit to find the right way to the walking trail since Dubrovnik’s hidden stairs and crooked streets don’t make it that easy for the GPS to always find the shortest way. The trail leading to Mt. Srđ starts with stone stairs (as everything here in Dubrovnik) and zigzags its way up to the top of the hill. It took us approx. 40 minutes to walk to the top. At the top of the hill, there is a fortress called Fort Imperial, which houses the Museum Dubrovnik in Homeland War I have yet to visit.

The view from the 412 m high hill was stunning. We watched the sun go down and then we stumbled down the hill in the darkness. Well, half of the way down was alright and for the other half we used our phones as torches. Of course I brought a torch with me in case I needed it on some of my trips… but I left it safely tucked away in my bedside table.

I can safely say that this was not my last time at Mt. Srđ ♥

 

 

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Ston & Trsteno

Today we went on a trip to a tiny village called Ston. Five people and one tiny car. But so it seems that the smaller the car, the more people can fit in it… So we set off, cosily seated in the tiny Seicento.

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Ston is a tiny town inhabited by approx. 550 people. Out of tourist season and with the rest of the population attending the morning Mass it looked like a ghost town. The main attraction are the stone walls – which were built in 1333 to protect the peninsula during times when Ston was part of the Republic of Dubrovnik. The walls were originally 7 km long, nowadays it’s only 5,5 km. The Ston walls are the longest stone walls in Europe.

After few laps around the town centre, we eventually managed to find the main entrance to the walls. Some parts of the city walls were closed due to conservation works, so we decided to walk to Mali Ston. The lady at the ticket office told us it takes 40 minutes to get to Mali Ston. You might say that 40-minute walk is nothing. It might’ve been 40 minutes but to me, it felt like 4 hours. We walked up a very steep hill with a very steep stairs which seemed to go on and on and on forever. My expectations were so different from the reality. What I hoped to be a nice and easy walk on a flat surface, turned into a proper hike. After congratulating myself for putting on my running shoes instead of Converse trainers, I found some deeply hidden motivation and walked and walked and walked. The view from the city walls was really rewarding, maybe even more rewarding than the snacks we ate in the town of Mali Ston. Although I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the hiking thing from the beginning, I’m extremely proud of my friends and myself for doing this. I know I will probably hardly stand tomorrow but it was definitely worth it.

Mali Ston is a village that has approx. 180 inhabitants and it’s a magical place. Very peaceful and quiet. The only sounds we could hear were the soft murmur of the sea in Mali Ston Bay and Croatian music playing from one of the empty restaurants. It was so calming I could sit there all day.

This area is famous for growing mussels and oysters and for salt production that have roots in the Roman times. Thanks to low numbers of people living here and their respect for nature, Mali Ston Bay is a unique environment where humans figured out a way of living in balance with nature.

The next stop on our trip was Trsteno. The main goal was to visit Arboretum and the biggest trees in Europe. Although the Arboretum itself was beautiful, we couldn’t find the trees that we wished to see in the first place. After photographing every plant there was to be seen, we decided to go to the beach and then back to Dubrovnik. We left the car on the main road and set off for the beach. It took us a few moments to realise what was unusual about the place where we parked the car. It was parked directly next to the biggest Plane tree I have ever seen – and what the scientists think could be one of the oldest and biggest trees in Europe. We were really pleased that we spotted the tree in the end (although how hard can it be to miss the biggest tree in Europe when you’re standing right next to it?).

The adventure begins

I chose Dubrovnik, Croatia as my Erasmus destination. I absolutely love the country and have always wanted to live by the sea, so Dubrovnik was the perfect option. After the 12-hour drive from my hometown Bratislava, Slovakia, we finally arrived in this beautiful city. It welcomed us with wind and rain, and mild temperatures – comparing to the freezing Slovakia we left behind.

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The sun came out the next morning as if it wanted to welcome me and make sure that I like Dubrovnik from the very start. My family left me just before lunch to drive back to Slovakia and I got to enjoy the quiet apartment carved into the rocks and comforting sounds of the sea outside my windows.

I grabbed my bag and sunglasses and set off on my first adventure in Dubrovnik. Thanks to the perfect location of my apartment, it was unbelievably easy to reach the Old Town (Stari Grad as they call it in Croatian). The streets lacked the hustle and bustle created by tourists from all over the world, who will flood the streets in just a couple of months’ time. It was a Sunday morning, the perfect time to enjoy your breakfast in the little cafés along the main street.

The city was preparing to conclude the festivities connected with the Patron Saint of Dubrovnik, St. Blaze (Sveti Vlaho). Not knowing it the first morning in Dubrovnik that these festivities include historical costumes and an occasional burst of cannon fire, I got scared quite a few times that day. Fortunately, I met my landlord in the old town and he provided an explanation of the cannon fire while laughing heartily at my puzzled expression. The rest of the day was about unpacking my giant suitcase and cursing myself for bringing too much stuff while having too little storage space in my bedroom.

 

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