Great Stripes Plains

Followers of my Instagram will know that we escaped to Croatia last week for a little holiday. The agenda was simple; rest and relaxation. We're the type of couple who don't really want to talk to anyone for the first couple of days of a holiday, but once we're 3/4 of the way through a book we need something to do/see/experience. Having been before I picked out Dubrovnik as the perfect location for us. A very easy (and cheap) flight from London. It's got all the beauty and calm of the Croatian coast paired with the brilliant, lively, unspoilt Old Town. Oh and it's also the dream for a Game Of Thrones enthusiast...

We stayed at Sun Gardens just outside of the city and I'll do a post about that later in the week about it because it was amazing and needs it's own feature. Dubrovnik itself is teeny, only 42,000 people live there. In high season the city can almost double in population with tourists so going at this time of year (the temperature was 20 to 23 degrees every day) is perfect, and the locals say the sea stays warm as late as November. 

The Old Town is so beautiful it almost feels like a film set (which you could argue it is, as every corner takes you back to either a Star Wars or Game Of Thrones scene - not to mention a new Robin Hood coming out in 2018). What I can never get passed in the whole of Croatia is the cleanliness of the place. I literally didn't see a single piece of rubbish. I know that sounds like a ridiculous thing to say, but it's spotless!

Last time I visited I felt really ignorant of Dubrovnik's (and Croatia's) history. Returning post after the Brexit vote made me feel even more disappointed that I'd never really been told as a child (or researched as an adult) about what had been happening less than three hours away. We had a tour guide who had never left the city in his 40 years of living, yet had lived in three different countries. The city has weathered some terrible storms; from an earth shattering earthquake in 1667 right up to a civil war as recently as 1997. 

In both cases not a single wall fell in the old town. Think about that for a second... Not a single one. There is an expression in Croatian that if you are of a "Dubrovnik nature" it effectively means you're unbreakable. Sadly, the same can't be said for the roofs. If you're trying to get a sense of the destruction from the warfare look out for the yellow coloured ones, as they're the originals. All the orange coloured ones have been built post-war. 

In terms of places to visit, you can't really go wrong. Simply walk into the main square (above) and choose one of the cafes on the promenade, sit outside and do some statue hunting as every building is stacked with intricate, ornate details. Explore the churches (I'm not sure how many of them there are, but they're everywhere and beautiful), grab an ice cream and wander further towards the old harbour...

If you get to the harbour, you can then walk up to Fort Lovrijenac which has the best views of the old town (these pictures were taken here). Last time I came I saw a production of Midsummer Nights Dream inside it, which was spectacular. In fact, Dubrovnik is incredible for arts and culture. This time we saw Dubrovnik's Symphony Orchestra perform in a private home on the other side of the city and there is a huge variety of events going on over the summer. 

I didn't plan to do an ounce of work (the whole point of an early summer break was because the day job gets a bit crazy from June onwards) but when I popped in to see the Great Plains collection just before leaving, it was too good to pass up showing you some of their stuff as in truth it's exactly what I was looking for. I've styled out three looks, this striped dress is one of them and the others are over on their site here

You know I love anything striped but this kind of piece is perfect for city breaks, or just holiday where baggage size is limited. It's incredibly soft so I wore it on the plane, put it on for days like this when we were on the go and also had it in my beach bag to throw on when I needed to pop up to get a drink or grab some lunch. Now I'm home (and I can confirm it wash and dries brilliantly without ironing...) I know I'm going to be living in it. 

Back on to exploring the city: After the Fort we walked around the top half of the Old City, joining in on part of the "wall walk" (literally a walk around the wall of the city...) before stumbling into one of the most brilliant bars I've ever been to. From the inside it looks like a simple hole in the city wall, but walk through it and you'll see a very simple bar, serving simply brilliant drinks with nothing but little patio chairs and decking as furniture.

This type of place is everything I love about Croatia. Last time I saw here we hired a boat and went out to one of the 1500 islands the country has to offer for lunch on a picnic bench consisting of oysters farmed from the estuary that morning, and wine made further up the coast in the country's relatively unheard-of vineyard district. I guess what I'm saying is there is just so much to offer. I was trying to explain it to my family I described it early-day, Lira-era Italy combined with all the things you love about Greece.

Flights to Dubrovnik run daily from London, Manchester and Birmingham for around £100 per person. We booked early so ours were under £50... The flight is less than 3 hours and the airport is a 30 minute shuttle from the city itself. In terms of where to stay, I'll tell you a bit more about our place in a different post but essentially it offers more of a "coastal retreat" set up than hotels in Dubrovnik itself. 

Friends have also stayed in Air BnBs in the Old Town for around £30 per person, per night. Having explored extensively I could hand on heart say you couldn't go wrong as all of the homes are beautiful. Strangely the stone and interiors are quite similar to a Cotswolds home. Ooh, and you have to eat at a place called Porto. It's proper Croatian cuisine; fish, meats and vegetables, and don't get me started on the wine... 

This post and associated social media content was written in partnership with Great Plains. Photography taken on the Olympus PL7 here, using the 45mm lens here.

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