Croatia with kids, Dubrovnik

Sailing along the Dubrovnik Coast

“Land Ahoy” shouts Raffles, between a volley of “Arrhhs’ and “Yo ho ho’s”. As you do when sailing in to Dubrovnik’s Old Town on a timber galleon. The tiny traveller is convinced it is a real life pirate ship and, in a strange twist, it would appear the skipper concurs – proffering my small swashbuckler a feathered pirate hat, vintage gun, fake parrot and the wheel, before promptly disappearing into the ether.

Sailing into Dubrovnik

Our fellow passengers (all hundred or so of them) are blissfully unaware that they are now sailing under the captaincy of an armed and delusional pre-school pirate who can’t even see over the wheel.

Fortified walls of Dubrovnik Old Town

Envying them their blissful ignorance, Mr Eats World and I quietly soil ourselves and wonder where the hell the erstwhile skipper has buggered off to. Edited highlights of my life start flashing before my eyes and I pray to any God who’ll listen that the absent mariner thought to set the boat on some kind of aquatic auto pilot before he vanished.

It is our first time in Croatia and though there’s so much we want to see and explore across this beautiful country, from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes, and on coastal cruises from Split to Dubrovnik, and everywhere in between, its looking increasingly likely we wont see any of it because we’re going to die at the hands of a pre-school pirate.  A good five minutes pass before the skipper nonchalantly returns to his post with a casual “bok” (hello). Deranged though he clearly is, we’re incredibly happy to see him and mightily relieved that somehow Raffles managed to avoid crashing into any of the sharp pointy bits of the rocky Dalmatian coastline.

Sailing to Old Dubrovnik

Kapetan Crazy once again takes command of his ship and our pulses settle to a more steady pace… only to start racing again just minutes later as we reach the fortified medieval walls of the Old Town and sail into its movie-set harbour.

Dubrovnik Old Town Harbour

As testament to his devotion to his new found career, Raffles has stowed away behind a timber staircase, announcing that he’s “a real pirate now” and intends on staying with his ship forever. You reckon, sunshine?

Delighted by Dubrovnik

There’s so much to see and do in Dubrovnik with kids but we’re on limited time with just a few hours to explore its delights, as there’s a hulking cruise ship waiting to sail us to Ravenna in Italy. So we decide to keep it simple, focusing on the main street and filling our bellies.

Forcibly removing our kicking and screaming baby buccaneer from the galleon of his dreams, we enter Dubrovnik Old Town as nature intended… that is if nature intended that we should be wrestling a recalcitrant pre-schooler and his wriggling sibling. It’s early enough in the morning  that the city hasn’t been overtaken by the hordes of tourists that are sure to descend at any moment.

We step into The Stradun, Dubrovnik’s pedestrian main street that stretches almost 300 metres from gate to ancient gate, and are staggered by its fairy tail prettiness – only a few strolling locals, a busker and a family or two of pigeons dotting its gleaming expanse.

The limestone-paved street has been polished to a glassy sheen by years of use and is so shiny and smooth that we have to stop ourselves flinging of our shoes and sock-sliding past the spectacular Renaissance confection that is the Sponza Palace, the uniform rows of pretty green window shutters, fountains, statues, Baroque churches and bell towers all the way to a Franciscan Monastery and Pile Gate, the city’s main entrance, at the other end.

Roof of Saint Blaise Church

Off the main promenade we weave our way through a maze of narrow cobble-stone lane-ways that cut through the old town, the occasional scar of shrapnel damage the only reminder still visible from the conflicts of the early 90’s which saw the city under months of violent siege.

Dubrovnik old town street

To market

We stumble upon Gundulićeva Poljana, a pretty baroque square overlooked by an enormous statue of a 17th century poet of the same name, though better known as Ivan to his mates. It is market day and the square is a heaving mass of red and white umbrellas sheltering table after table of brightly coloured fresh fruit and vegetables, local cheese, olives, honey and spices.

Dubrovnik Old Town market

A legion of local cats encircle the market waiting for the exact right moment to pounce on the gluttonous goodies. While the kitties seem more interested in procuring produce of the pesce variety we can’t resist the crimson temptation of a bucket of fat and fabulous raspberries.

Raffles and I feast on our luscious load as we wander around town, the juice staining Raffles chin as he greedily gobbles his share… and most of mine.

But the raspberries are just an appetizer and lunch is beckoning.

Delicious Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is a city of seafood which suits us (and the local felines) just fine. Dining is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine, as evidenced by the proliferation of pasta, pizza and risotto crowding every menu. Tuna, shellfish, calamari, squid and octopus are staples and popular local dish crni rižot (cuttlefish risotto) is not only one of the more obvious nods that Dubrovnik makes to Venice but one of its tastiest.

The dish, dyed an inky black by breaking cuttlefish ink sacs onto the rice at the end of the cooking process, initially horrifies my wee pirate boy but any fear of its startling appearance is soon belted away by its flavour packed punch. Though I draw the line at his attempts to use a plastic cutlass as cutlery.


Dubrovnik en famile

In fact, as we await for Raffles ‘pirate ship’ to fetch us for the return voyage we agree we’ve all been pretty knocked out by the beautiful seaside town.

25 Comments on Croatia with kids, Dubrovnik

  1. Karen
    December 31, 2012 at 11:07 pm (11 years ago)

    somewhere I’ve wanted to go for a long time! Sounds like a gorgeous day.

  2. Kate
    January 1, 2013 at 10:32 am (11 years ago)

    That is certainly the way to do it!

      January 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm (11 years ago)

      Always make an entrance I say!

  3. Shelley
    January 3, 2013 at 5:53 am (11 years ago)

    Dubrovnik is just stunning. We were really wowed the first time we saw it. I can’t wait to get home so I can try out all your amazing recipes! Happy new year!

      January 31, 2013 at 2:15 pm (11 years ago)

      And to you Shelley. I’m loving following your adventures. 🙂

  4. subversivereader
    January 25, 2013 at 8:07 am (11 years ago)

    What an absolutely stunning part of the world – looks like another to add to my ‘places to visit’ list

      January 25, 2013 at 9:19 am (11 years ago)

      I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s beautiful.

  5. always josefa (@always_josefa)
    January 25, 2013 at 10:08 am (11 years ago)

    A gorgeous post and beuatiful photos. The town and coast line are amazing. Love your pirate story, heart felt and warming xx

  6. mamagrace71
    January 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm (11 years ago)

    What a great story to introduce us to such a beautiful town. I’ve always wanted to go to Dubrovnik. So full of history and culture. One day…

      January 26, 2013 at 9:20 pm (11 years ago)

      Thank you for the kind words 🙂 x

  7. Twinkle in the Eye
    January 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm (11 years ago)

    What a wonderful trip and what a wonderful post! Makes you feel like you are there.

      January 27, 2013 at 8:48 pm (11 years ago)

      Thanks for visiting. 🙂

  8. Kim-Marie from Kimba Likes
    January 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm (11 years ago)

    What a beautiful part of the world, and I adored the photos of your little pirate!

      January 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm (11 years ago)

      Thanks Kim-Marie. Stay tuned for more tales of pre-school adventure

  9. yinyangmother
    March 23, 2013 at 7:37 pm (11 years ago)

    For some reason this popped up on my FB feed so only reading it now! What a lovely story – your write so evocatively and you are so very brave in your travels with your two in toe. We were in New York when our son was 18 months, but our daughter was 8, so it was a bit easier. Love your love of travel and the food that brings all the memories back.

  10. Nicole @ Suitcase Stories
    March 27, 2013 at 4:23 am (11 years ago)

    Great post! We are going to Croatia in August and these photos have made me even more excited 🙂

  11. Kim
    May 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm (11 years ago)

    Love this post! I missed Dubrovnik – I had a near week in Hvar and a couple of days in Split. Thanks for taking me there – your photos are lovely. Croatian food – just divine. I’ve never gorged on do much fresh perfectly cooked seafood before – thanks for the recipe so I can reminisce. x

  12. mummymanifestodotcom
    May 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm (11 years ago)

    A lovely tale of pirates and adventure! My BIL’s family are from Croatia, it seems like such an interesting place to visit

  13. musertegan
    May 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm (11 years ago)

    Oh wow, every boys dreams to sail their own pirate ship, what a great opportunity. Your pictures are gorgeous.

      May 26, 2013 at 1:37 am (11 years ago)

      Thanks. It was a special moment he’ll never forget 🙂

  14. robomum
    May 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm (11 years ago)

    I’d love to visit this place. The scenery looks amazing….

  15. Rachel
    May 24, 2013 at 10:41 pm (11 years ago)

    What a fantastic experience for Raffles. I have one of my own boys beside me and his teacher is Croatian so we are currently memorising names and dishes to ask hime about. Wonderful post as usual Aleney xx


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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