With all due respect to the medical profession, one of the activities that I would prescribe to ensure a long and happy life is regular travel, whether domestically or internationally. My wife and I recently chose Croatia because it is a repository of history with enduring Roman and Venetian influences, and it appeared to offer an irresistible blend of natural beauty, cultural gems, and ancient architecture.
In an effort to avoid the large crowds attracted to this part of the world during the summer, we chose early May. We flew from Chicago to Dubrovnik via Frankfurt, arriving midafternoon on a Friday. We stayed at the Excelsior Hotel, which was a short 10-minute walk from the heart of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. The Excelsior Hotel is located on the Adriatic, and most of the rooms have beautiful sea views. The hotel also has an indoor swimming pool, a children’s pool, a full gymnasium, and a complete spa, as well as three restaurants, a piano bar, and, during the summer, a terrace for outdoor dining. We were lucky in that the weather was warm and sunny and the outdoor terrace was open.
Dubrovnik is a beautiful city that was relentlessly shelled during Croatia’s Homeland War in the 1990s. The city has now been restored to its former glory. Our first full day in Dubrovnik was a Saturday, which we began by visiting the farmers’ market held in Gandalic Square. This is certainly worth a stop if you are in Dubrovnik on a Saturday. If you stay at the Excelsior, you will enter the historic fortifications of Dubrovnik through the Place Gate (East Gate), which is one of the two extremities of the walled city. Some of the not-to-be-missed sights within the walled city are the Rector’s Palace and the Dubrovnik Cathedral. The rector was the highest authority in the City of Dubrovnik, and his palace now houses the Museum of Dubrovnik with over 15,000 works on display that document the economic and cultural history of the city. Next door to the Rector’s Palace is the ancient Town Hall, which today houses the National Theatre of Dubrovnik.