1986 Dubrovnik is magical. If I won the lottery this is the first place I would book a holiday to go on. In 1986 we were privileged to stay at the Hotel Belvedere, a fabulous Hotel which, during the war for independence, was badly damaged by continuous shelling (1991). We knew when we entered the Old City that we had come to a special place. It is stunning.
Click on thumb nails below to see larger photo
1999 To watch the destruction of much of
the City during the war (on TV) was heart rending but the Croatians
have restored it lovingly and it has lost none of it's charm. It is
necessary to see the extent of the damage that was done to realise just
what the restoration entailed (a video, "War in Dubrovnik",
gives some idea of this). We had to go back, and did.
we stayed at the Excelsior, Argentina and Villa Orsula. You have to (in my opinion) stay at one of these to get the full impact of the view of the Old City (and Lokrum) from the Hotel. Having said that, we didn't mean to stay at all three! We booked a fortnight at the 5* Excelsior but, before we travelled, our agents rang us and said that the Excelsior had a Business Conference the second week and they'd like to put us in the Argentina, 4* next door. Of course, we'd have compensation, they'd arrange the transfer and the girl was sure that we'd get flowers, wine, the best available room and special service. Looked it up and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton used to stay there, can't be bad! Yes it can. One bellboy to move all our gear (and I had to tip him) and the Argentina was pretty run down (I believe it's now been refurbished). The room was (to say the least) shabby and the window was loose. Why a problem? We had a storm the first night and the banging of the window kept us awake. Flowers? Wine? Best available room? Special service? Told reception the following morning that we wouldn't stay there. The Villa Orsula is a luxe Hotel adjoining the Argentina and I upgraded there, I'll pay the extra.
(Another thing, I'd checked the rates of
both Hotels and the "compensation" we'd been offered was merely
the difference between the prices!). Villa Orsula, absolutely wonderful,
large room, fabulous service AND, when we got back, the agents refunded
all our extras (including the upgrade). Actually improved our holiday
(even with the aggro caused by the move etc.).
2003 And it's a big birthday for Edna. Went
with sister Ann and brother in law Michael and stayed at the Excelsior
(couldn't afford the Villa Orsula). Went with Saga this time so no problems.
On Edna's birthday, a bottle of wine and a card from the Saga rep.,
a small bottle of bubbly, biscuits and a card from the Hotel, a meal
on Saga (including wine) in the evening and another bottle from the
Hotel! And we squeezed in a boat trip to Lokrum and had lunch there.
As Edna says in her journal, "What a day!" It pays to choose
your Travel Agents carefully.
2004 Spirit of the Mediterannean Did our 7 laps (1 mile), around Saga Rose, before breakfast and we cruised along the Croatian Coast (most attractive) before entering Dubrovnik Port. Saw the Belvedere, still not renovated. Went to catch the shuttle bus and I found that I had someone else's swipe card, must have happened when ordering drinks last night (the waiters' take the swipe cards away when one orders). A female official rushed me to Reception and said "new card, chop chop!" and they supplied one immediately. We walked through to the Ekvinocijo, a restaurant where we had eaten several times in 2003, and booked a table for lunch. We walked up to the Excelsior, Argentina and Orsula and past the public beach which appears to have been "tarted up" since our last visit. Met Ann and Michael, had a delicious lunch and then went for a Kruskovac (Croatian pear liqueur) in the Square. Bought a couple of bottles of Kruskovac to take home and so back to the Ship.
AND on a day trip from Budva in 2005. Our last full day in Budva but Ann and I booked a coach trip (with ferry across Kotor Bay) to Dubrovnik. Edna and Michael didn't like the idea of such a long journey so gave it a miss. We had an excellent day but we can't help noticing that Dubrovnik is getting pricey. I'm sure it's trying to become "upmarket" (a lesser Monte Carlo possibly?). Michael paid for lunch in Budva for Edna and himself (£8), I paid for lunch in Dubrovnik for Ann and myself (£40). Oops!