Medieval walls, terra cotta roofs, 350 height meters, buggy rides – that’s a day in Dubrovnik!

Dubrovnik in morning glow

Dubrovnik in morning glow – this view greets us every morning on our walk into the city.

Dobro jutro or in more plain tongue – good morning from dreamy Dubrovnik! And what a gorgeous morning it is. Birds are wide awake and chirping their love songs, the rising sun is kissing the red roofs of the city, the scent of mysterious white blooms are filling the air with love, and the turquoise waters of Adriatic are softly swaying in a dance of spring. It is hard not to get poetic in this city, when every step you take feels like walking in a fairy-tale.

In a sea of red roofs

In a sea of red roofs

Today’s mission is to get bird’s eye view over Dubrovnik. One of the best ways to do that is to climb the medieval city walls as early in the day as possible before the crowds start conquering them. Conquering Dubrovnik walls back in the medieval days was not really an option. Today times have changed and you can buy your way through for a small fortune. Setting you back with 200 kuna (HRK), will get you a single admission.

Dubrovnik panorama
One thing you will learn very quickly in Dubrovnik is that the prices for pretty much everything are insane. The price level seems to have a direct correlation with the prettiness of the city. And there was a time when I thought Swiss prices were a shock! Forget Switzerland, Dubrovnik is ready for you.

So onwards and upwards! No time for price shocks. The walls are not going to walk for you.

Fort Lovrijenac famously known as the site of King's Landing

Fort Lovrijenac to some known as King’s Landing

Oh this vista! As you make your ascend onto the narrow steps up the wall, the beautiness barometer hits off the charts. To your right is Fort Lovrijenac, today more commonly known to some as King’s Landing. To your left – a sea of red roofs and creamy houses. Can it get any prettier?

A postcard from Dubrovnik

A postcard from Dubrovnik

House dreams - wouldn't mind this beauty from a living room window

House dreams – wouldn’t mind this beauty from a living room window

Walls

A peek into the narrow alleys and courtyards of locals

A peek into the narrow alleys and courtyards of locals

Mediterranean vibes

Mediterranean vibes

The house in green looks like the ugly duckling in the sea of red roofs. It needed to make a statement obviously.

The house in green looks like the ugly duckling in the sea of red roofs. It needed to make a statement obviously.

If you let your eyes linger on the roofs for a few seconds, you can notice a difference in the shade of terra cotta on the roof tiles. As we learned from a local, back in the day there was a special tile making technique employed by no other than women of Dubrovnik. They were the tile masters of the city. The pale shade of terra cotta are the original tiles. The shade is natural belonging to the clay mixture from the grounds nearby. The shape of the tiles came from women making them on their thighs. Yep, you read it right.

After the war in 1990’s the city was greatly damaged and so was the roofs. During the reconstruction process, new tiles were added which were sourced from Toulouse, France. They couldn’t match the natural pale terra cotta shade 100%, so today the roofs stand as a beautiful mosaic of old and new.

Terra cotta tiles

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Here comes my mysterious white bloom scenting the air

The interplay of nature and architecture

The interplay of nature and architecture

One last look from atop the walls and off we descend only to climb again. No steep prices this time. We ‘decide’ to ditch the cable car in favour of getting some motion and climb a hill of 350 height meters up to the very top of the city. As if we didn’t just get enough from walking 2 hours on the walls. As you can hear the vote was not unanimous – far from it, and along the 1.5 hour of hiking you could hear feeble complaints being aired.

Hiking trails - up or down? Take your pick

Hiking trails – up or down? Take your pick

Andreas obviously enjoying the hike

Andreas obviously enjoying the hike

Andreas is obviously enjoying the hike. My sense of contempt settles in as soon as we reach enough height meters to get eyes on the target.

Fort Lovrijenac looks as majestic from above as from the ground

Fort Lovrijenac looks as majestic from above as from the ground

Dubrovnik and its surrounding islands

Dubrovnik and its surrounding islands

The target being this beauty! The right bank of Dubrovnik and its surrounding islands. All the way up to the top you are are rewarded with this views. Complaints are silenced by nature. My hiking pace on the other hand often halts to that of a turtle, with no offence intended whatsoever. Camera demands some action and often stops me for taking pictures. I have to obey its wishes.

Yellow flower we met also in Scotland

Yellow flower we also met in Scotland. Maybe not exactly the same, but it sure looks quite similar.

Mission accomplished. We have conquered the hill of 350 height meters and reached Fort Imperial! Just time enough for a quick bite before heading off to the next adventure of the day. A buggy ride in the wilderness. You can clearly sense who is in charge of planning the second part of the day. I am thrilled by the prospect of wearing this funny costume of pinkish red raincoat, blue hairnet under a grey helmet. That’s to protect you from the mud on the roads. Oh well… Off we go into the wild nature.

Our buggy ride

Our buggy ride

Despite initial fashion distaste towards the outfits we were ushered in, the ride was quite exhilarating. Mud was largely absent, yet adrenalin was there plenty of. So was beautiful views over Dubrovnik yet again.

Hike down was turned into a cable car ride down. But before that one last look at this dreamy view please!

This view againIt’s a wrap for a beautiful day 2 in Dubrovnik. The little gem of Adriatic holds so much more in store than meets the eye.

Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan

Feeling the spring on Bornholm – Part 2

The place where the reality is more beautiful than imagination… We were in the car driving through a small forest road covered with a beautiful carpet of white and yellow anemone flowers, when I heard Hongyi very quietly, as if talking to herself, give voice to her inner thoughts. The reality is more beautiful than imagination! I heard the sentence come alive, I pondered it over in my mind and I asked her to repeat it again. I thought it was such a profound observation that it deserved to be articulated again.

Days later I remembered it again, and I asked Hongyi if I could quote it. It might as well become the new catch phrase for the island that knows how to enchant.

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My favourite shot of the trip. I love the play of colours and nature.

We were on our way to Gudhjem, which translated means God’s home. It is not hard to imagine why when you enter Gudhjem. A charming city of red roofs, picturesque views, sol over Gudhjem smoked herring dish and the world’s biggest ice cream. What else could you ask for?

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Sol over Gudhjem – the red city in all its glory

Reaching Gudhjem I took Hongyi to my favourite viewpoint, a small park behind the churchyard. It has become kind of a tradition to take people to that place. There is a wooden bench perched on the viewing hill, and I have grown so fond of sitting there and gazing out.

Recharging in Gudhjem with pretty views and savouring an obligatory soft ice, we continued our Tour-de-Bornholm to Sandvig, a town north of Gudhjem for a little hiking action.

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Beautiful patterns in nature are all over Bornholm!

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Hammershus, Northern Europe’s largest castle ruins.

There are many hiking trails criss-crossing the island. I love this one, Sandvig – Hammer Odde Fyr – Solomons Kapel – Sandvig, in particular. Water, rocks, blooming bushes and views to Hammershus castle ruins make for a very pleasant hike.

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The rocks of Bornholm.

The hike goes by surprisingly quickly. One moment we are at Sandvig on the eastern coast of Bornholm, the other we find ourselves at the western shores having crossed the island horizontally. It must have been the sun and the postcard views turning us into little Asterix-es and giving us wings.

We reached the Hammerhavn late in the afternoon, just when the last of the captains was getting ready to head out to the sea on his small fishermen boat for a sail tour. We hopped on one with a very witty and sweet captain and cruised the waters of the Baltic Sea looking at the northernmost tip of Bornholm and Hammershus ruins from the sea. A beautiful perspective!

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Hammershus standing tall and proud and pretty.

As we progressed through the day going from a city life to nature to sea, we left one final item on our agenda – the forests of Bornholm. We had a special quest – locate the bornholmer anemone, called blegblå anemone. And we did! Well largely thanks to Hanne’s sharp eye. Scouring the forest we found the cute tiny flowers that covered the entire patch of ground.

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We found them! The blegblå anemone of Bornholm.

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A carpet of flowers lies in front of us.

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Where the road leads to…

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Sunset walk by Gudhjem :)

Time flies when you are having fun. Having accomplished our last mission of the day we started slowly making our way back to Snogebæk. But it was too early to call it a day. The sun was just setting over Gudhjem. The beautiful, soft light was just irresistible. It resulted in a silent admiration of the nature and a fun little impromptu photoshoot.

Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan