game of thrones

REVIEW: VILLA ORSULA IN DUBROVNIK

 

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You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to appreciate the beauty of Dubrovnik. But not only is Croatia’s capital the setting of one of the most successful TV series to date, it’s also home to the beautiful Villa Orsula. Just a short ten minute drive from the ferry port, the hotel perches proudly atop the mountainside, peeking out from behind majestic pine trees and overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The boutique hotel is deceptively hidden within its sister property, the Grand Villa Argentina which can make life difficult when there are no signs and taxi drivers are non the wiser, but it’s a small price to pay for what lies ahead.

Confused and excited, we frantically looked around for clues of our final destination as the porter guided us into a mystery lift. Ushered through winding corridors, conference rooms and communal lounge areas, we were told we had now officially crossed into Villa Orsula territory. Phew, we made it across the border! With a slightly more modern décor than our original entrance, the boutique surroundings of soft cream furnishings, long-stem flowers and glass accents told us that Villa Orsula had its very own identity.

With a knowing look, the concierge swung open our heavy wooden suite door to reveal a vast and homely space before us. Floor to ceiling wardrobes, stylish floor lamps and comfy armchairs welcomed us into what could have been a chic city apartment all our own. A quick dash round the corner revealed a huge queen size bed and a hidden gem – double doors out onto a large stone balcony with breathtaking views of the lush gardens below, the sparkling blue sea and Dubrovnik city to the right. I was home.

To read the full review, head here 

ISLAND HOPPING IN CROATIA: DUBROVNIK

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It may be the home of Game of Thrones but that’s not the only pull of Dubrovnik, as I found out a couple of weeks ago. Travelling 3 hours on the ferry from Hvar one early morning, we arrived at the port and jumped in the first taxi we could find to escape the blistering heat. Driving through the winding streets and around the infamous city walls, I instantly knew there would be a lot more to see here than the other islands. Despite the early hour, the cobbled streets were full of people leaving their Sunday service and simply shooting the breeze with their neighbours.

Although it was too hot to venture into the town centre after 9am, we got up early and enjoyed the peaceful morning atmosphere, empty beaches and lapping waters. Although you can do a 2 hour walk of the city walls, we meandered through the side alleys, through the ruins and explored the hidden residential streets where you really get a sense of the city and how the locals live. Wandering around, it’s beautiful to just absorb your surroundings and peer into the closed shops and boutiques. Orange trees line historic cathedrals and flowers bloom from the oldest brickwork without a car or hint of pollution in site. There are beaches that sit on the outskirts of the wall that offer boat rides to the neighbouring islands or jet ski’s to explore the seas ahead. It is a busy stretch of ocean so do be careful as huge ferries and cruise ships quietly soar through on their way to exotic destinations.

TOP TIP: Make sure you check out the Komarda Terrace Restaurant-you can enjoy the best seafood and fresh bread underneath canopy trees overlooking the beautiful shoreline below.

ISLAND HOPPING IN CROATIA: SPLIT

I’ve been desperate to go to Croatia for a few years but, as crazy as it sounds, have been too busy to go! But, after becoming hooked on Game of Thrones (filmed in and around Croatia) it was decided-we’re going! After a lot if planning the route was set and our adventure started in the beautiful city if Split.

Just minutes from the ferry port (where you can dock in from Hvar, Brac, Korcula and Dubrovnik) the old town is lined with Palm trees, tour boats and charming market stalls. The main harbour further down from the poet is the perfect spot to grab a spot of lunch outside and watch the boats rolling in. Taking a right at any point will lead you into the heart of the city with winding cobbled streets and narrow stone alleyways filled with bakeries, pizzerias and secret courtyards.

It won’t be long before you stumble across the unmistakeable Prokurative square. Surrounded by red and white colonnades, it’s a fantastic place to sit and enjoy a romantic dinner at Bajamonti restaurant where fresh seafood risotto and octopus salad are the order of the day.

It doesn’t take long to become familiar with your surroundings in Split. We wandered around for hours taking in the beautiful buildings and enjoying the contrast between the old and new (it has a great shopping street). If you’re looking to island hop, Split is the perfect starting point as ferries go every hour to surrounding islands and only take up to an hour to get to, but more of that later!…

WHERE TO EAT

Tavola Restaurant

WHAT TO DRINK

A fresh fruit and vegetable juice at the juice cart near Tavola

WHERE TO VISIT

The Palace in Split