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Outside the Walls (Dubrovnik, Croatia)

The Pile gate opens up to a city radiating the charm of a historic hamlet, buildings carved from stone and walkways nearly polished from the endless foot traffic. The walls of the Old City in Dubrovnik, Croatia shelter an array of restaurants, bars, a stunning harbor, and the “old world” allure so many foreigners seek in their travels to Europe. The Old City is separated from what is understandably the newer city by intimidating stonewalls of the past. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is understandable most who travel to Dubrovnik travel to see the Old City. A Mecca for gothic architecture, the old city is ideal for leisurely strolling and dinner. However, like so many walled cities, the lure of the idyllic “Pearl of the Adriatic” often deters travelers from exploring outside of the city walls. Like an exclusive housing development, the city within the walls exudes a comfort in its matching red roofs and perfectly crumbled stone buildings. After the necessary walk along the city walls, it is in the best interest of the discerning traveler to spend some time outside of the old city. Although ripe with history, what is held within the walls is only part of the extraordinary city of Dubrovnik.

Fort Lovrijenac is situated outside of the city walls and stands prominently on the cliffs, 37 meters high. Once a strategic position to defend the city from the western front, the fort is now home to performances during Dubrovnik’s summer festival, and the construction of the fort provides visitors a glimpse of the importance of protecting Dubrovnik in the time of warring maritime states. The inscription above the entrance presents in plain view the significance of the fort: non bene pto toto libertas venditur auro (freedom is not sold for all the gold in the world). The throngs of people flooding the main attractions of the walled city can cause the city to feel like one stop shopping for the cultural experience.

For a day away from the crowds, kayaking around Dubrovnik is the ultimate mini getaway. The lucent waters reflect impressive cliffs, and a day spent sprawled on a niche of sand nestled into the Adriatic provides a striking contrast to a day trudging along snug streets that wind beneath the towering walls.

For those who have spent the sunlight hours hitting up all the must see sights, trekking in and out of churches and museums, navigating the narrow cobbled alleys, getting a drink at night is likely a welcome activity. Outside of the Pile gate is the Latino Club Fuego. It is not the place to go for a mellow cocktail and a chat about the day’s events, but the Latino Club is definitely the spot for a big night out. A quick drink easily turns into a night long escapade, but nothing quite compares to strolling towards home as the sun begins to light up the city of Dubrovnik; cars roll sleepily by in the faded light of dawn and the party lingers to a close for those who entered the Latino Club the previous night. The high pulsing energy, young travelers from around the globe, and endless dancing will retain even the weariest of site seers.

Nearly all activities outside of the historic walls are easily accessible. Fort Lovrijenac and the Latino Club are within walking distance from the old city. The location of kayaking is dependent on which company is used. The best way to find a company that accommodates specific destination requests is to do some research online and set up a trip in advance. The city of Dubrovnik is swelling with the life of times past, and it is impossible to leave without time in the old city. Yet, neglecting what is to be found outside of the walls is like drinking decaffeinated coffee when you need a buzz; the experience is there, but something is missing.