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mistybleu Donje Celo - A travel report by Amanda
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Donje Celo,  Croatia - flag Croatia
12594 readers

mistybleu's travel reports

Island retreat...

  13 votes
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I think I've wanted to visit Dubrovnik for the last five years and it had always been my intention to stay in the old city, but through a stroke of good luck I ended up on a little island just off the main land.

Village of Donje Celo
Village of Donje Celo
Dubrovnik is the tourism capital of Croatia and has a coastline on the Adriatic Sea that gives it is nickname ‘Jewel of the Adriatic’; with it’s old city being listed as a World Heritage Site.

Dubrovnik is cut off from the rest of Croatia by a mere 23-kilometre stretch of land belonging to Bosnia & Herzegovina. To continue north you have cross two road border posts that are manned but they do not really mean much; I suppose it just says ‘this is Bosnian territory’; as this stretch of land secures their access to the sea. In the opposite direction to the south it is bordered by Montenegro.

The flight from the UK takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes and only a few airlines flies direct. On arrival as you exit the arrival hall there is a Bureau de Change conveniently located and I believe there is another one in the departure hall. After I had exchange my currency I was told the other one had a better rate (well c’est la vie). Once I had cash in hand it was time to head down town.

As you leave the airport building, on the left, you'll found Atlas buses (they are 1 of 3 big tour companies there who also offer excursions). The bus takes you into the city for 35 kunas that is around £3.90 or €4.80. It takes around 25 minutes (to travel the 32 kilometres and it only makes 2 stops. The first, at the Pile Gate (entrance to the walled city) and then at the bus station located in Port Gruz. Tickets are purchased on board.

From the bus station it’s a 10-minute walk back to port from where the ferry sails to the islands. It costs 15kn one way but you can get complementary tickets from the hotel.

I’m sure taxis are fairly cheap, but I only took one so I can’t compare; I did however, ride the buses (which run every 15 minutes) that cost 10kn. There is only one bus from the port that takes you to the walled city and that’s the 1B.

NB: 1 USD = 4.7036kn, 1 GBP = 9.15632kn, 1 EUR = 7.262kn (euros are readily accepted).

Electricity: they use 220 but have a two-pin plug.

Favourite spots:
Inside the walled city of Dubrovnik
Inside the walled city of Dubrovnik
For over 700 years Dubrovnik was an independent republic and had major trade ties with Turkey, India and Africa etc; it is said that their status even made the Venetians jealous. It was under constant threat particularly from the Ottoman Empire and it’s rumored that the government would just bribe their invaders to leave them alone.

The old walled city was completed in the 13th century and remains virtually unchanged to the present day, only repaired after a major earthquake back in the 70s and the armed conflict that occurred in the 90s.

I only spent two days in Dubrovnik and I think I must have missed some things but I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent - it is a wonderful city.

Going into the heart of walled city was great, it was so old you could feel the history. The streets were narrow and each alley looks picturesque. No vehicles are allow in this area and the stone streets are so smooth with the amount of people has walked in my footsteps.

What's really great:
When the boat comes in...
When the boat comes in...
I enjoyed the island life and watching the world go by. It was so pleasant; it had a wonderful Mediterranean feel.

The Elaphite Islands are also known as Deer Islands owing to how the islands spread out in the sea like antlers. There are 13 main islands and many smaller ones including inlets and reefs with only 3 inhabited: Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep.

Kolocep is a wonderful green island thick with pine forests and rich with olive, lemon and orange trees. It is 3km square and only has 150 inhabitants. There are 2 villages: Gornje Celo and Donje Celo, the latter being the main village and it only takes 15 minutes to walk between them. The beauty of this island is that there isn’t any vehicular traffic, although I did see a couple of mopeds.

The ferry runs during the week four times a day and just twice on Sundays. Kolocep is the closest Elaphite Island to Dubrovnik and it only takes 25 minutes, but those 25 minutes are so enjoyably spent rhythmically swaying on board the ferry.

Tombstoning in Dubrovnik
Tombstoning in Dubrovnik
There are no real iconic sites on this island; a few ruins that are interesting; however it’s more the prospect of enjoying nature.

Things to do include: sea kayaking, walking, mountain biking, tennis, fishing, sailing, sunbathing and swimming; really nothing too taxing.

In the old city the main sights that are worth a mention are:

St Blaise Church: named after the saint that protects the town.

Rector’s Palace: once the seat of state authority, now a museum.

Cathedral Treasury: the baroque cathedral was constructed on the foundation of a Romanesque sacral structure.

Main Street Placa: Stradun the heart of the city

Great Onofrio’s fountain: this is the main meeting area

Franciscan monastery: now a museum that houses the oldest pharmacy in Europe

City walls: 1940 metres long and is a beautiful fortification and provides an energetic walk

Olando’s Column: symbolised the freedom and independence of the Dubrovnik Republic

Old Port, Porporela and Aquarium

Hotel Villa Kolocep
Hotel Villa Kolocep
There is only one hotel on the island - Hotel Villa Kolocep (3*); a bit basic but that is what I expected. The accommodation is in villas with great views over the bay or the hills behind the tennis courts – 6 blocks with each room having en-suite facilities plus a balcony or terrace.

They even had single rooms which avoided people paying as single person supplement, plus the normal standard double and family rooms. The villas are set on the hillside and access is gained by a stone footpath so it wouldn’t be great for the disable.

But the location and facilities are great; I was pleased to have a computer in my room with free internet access and a movie library, however I couldn't get mine to work and the person who serviced them never seemed to be available.

On the mainland, there are 15 luxury hotels in Croatia with 9 of them Dubrovnik, but all classes of accommodation is available and you’ll find many locals approach you to find out if you need an apartment etc.

Donje Celo Bay
Donje Celo Bay
There aren’t many things to do during the evening and night on the island. It’s probably best to stay in Dubrovnik and party there, but you will have to book a water taxi so that you’re not stranded.

As far as I know on the island, it's just going to the bar (Konoba Stari Miri) in town, but chances are there is also one in Gornje Celo as well.

While in Dubrovnik, I stopped in Sesame (located about 5-10 minute from Pile Gate); it is listed as a night spot; but unfortunately I didn’t stay late so I really don’t know what the atmosphere was like. During the evening it was quite full with many people just enjoying the last rays of the sun and a cold drink.

Beyond the walls
Beyond the walls
As mentioned, on the island the only place I found to hang out was Konoba Stari Miri, off season it isn’t very busy but it nice to have a cold one or even a hot one.

In Dubrovnik I found two fun places to hangout beyond the city walls. One of the bars is called Caffe Buza and the other I can't remember the name. But both are perfect locations to evade the heat of the day; either by sitting under one of the umbrellas that shelters from the rays or by diving off the cliff and treading water just of the coast.

There are steps that lead down to the water's edge however like most places around Dubrovnik or on Kolocep they have a rocky beach front - not really a beach at all - just rocks.

But definitely two of the nicest place I’ve been to in awhile, a bit basic but the views are stunning. There are no real signs to get to these bars, you just have head for the outer wall towards the sea and then turn down a small alley, and it’s right there.

Donje Celo travelogue picture
There are three restaurants in this village. Firstly in my hotel; I ate there the first day and wasn't too impressed. I had the fish of the day which was nice but being as I was the only one in the restaurant, some thing was missing.

Then there is La Traorrati, set in a 1920 villa. I found it was nicer on the outside then in and eating out in the courtyard was more pleasurable. It had a perfect setting - as you looked out over the bay. They serve pizza / pasta and the Dalmatian ham pizza is their speciality and cost the most on the menu (35kn). For me, a little too salty but tasty. Finally there was the bar come restaurant in town (probably a 4-minute walk from the hotel). I suppose this place was great to catch a beer.

Just outside the city wall is Lokanda Peskarija that is situated in the old fish market, it has wonderful views of the harbour and the perfect spot to watch people pass by while enjoying the fabulous seafood on offer.

Other recommendations:
The Old 'new' Bridge of Mostar
The Old 'new' Bridge of Mostar
Basically you shouldn’t visit Croatia without going into the city. I was told there are many shopping opportunities to be had, although I didn't find many even in the heart on Placa Stradun.

Climbing the wall (entrance fee 50kn adults, 20kn children) is a must, but I’d say if you have young children it’s probably not worth it. I saw a family that just seemed like the husband was ferrying pushchairs and bags with 2 children on tow; exhausting for him and getting in everyone’s way.

Once you've done Dubrovnik, it’s to turn your attention to exploring the rest of the region; either going further into Croatia and seeing Split a wonderful cultural town. Or heading to Bosnia & Herzegovina and enjoying little villages like Neum, Pocitelj and Mostar. But there is also Montenegro, the newest country in Europe to explore; seeing Kotor, Cetinje, Bar, the fjords and passing through the border town of Herceg Novi, is brilliant.

Either way you’ll have a perfect time!

Published on Thursday June 12th, 2008

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Sat, Jun 05 2010 - 01:13 AM rating by jenny2

Nice pictures

Tue, Jul 22 2008 - 03:08 PM rating by eirekay

Great Report and timely - my son is looking for a destination for next year and was thinking about this region! Nice breakdown of the main sights!

Sun, Jun 22 2008 - 05:27 AM rating by bineba

We went to what was then Yugoslavia 21 years ago and also things were quite different then (every restaurant had the same menu and only a third of the food on it was available; supermarket shelves were virtually empty), I have many happy memories of our holiday. I loved Dubrovnik and Mostar and also the island of Korcula. The coast was spectacular.

Tue, Jun 17 2008 - 05:52 PM rating by jorgesanchez

one more of your delicious reports. thanks

Sat, Jun 14 2008 - 05:32 AM rating by krisek

Interesting read, Amanda. It's been ages since I was in Dubrovnik. It sounds you had a great time! And that petite island you stayed on - what a great tip! Thank you so much.

Fri, Jun 13 2008 - 05:16 AM rating by marianne

Excellent and very complete. You made me want to visit Dubrovnik. Good photos especially the one of the diving man. How many did you take before you had this perfect shot?

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