Prague, Czech Republic versus Dubrovnik, Croatia

Both incredibly “storybook” places and settings. Both very filled with narrow alleyways, ancient walls, hillsides and castles…

The defining difference? That which makes me favour Dubrovnik over Prague?
The Adriatic Sea. I think that has to be it. The sea breezes, the beautiful colours, the boats drifting just off shore… I’m a sucker for the sea.

A bit more about my experience in each place.

PRAGUE (a couple years ago):

I rose very early — shortly after sunrise, leaving my hotel around 6.30am — to wander. Non-stop. That’s saying a lot, because I am not by nature a morning person. At all. But this place inspired me. I wanted to be the first to hit the city’s streets in the morning so that I could watch the city wake up.

I discovered new and beautiful vistas around every corner, and took a record number of photos. One of my favorite photos EVER was taken in Prague, under the Charles Bridge. You would be shocked if I told you how many photos I took in just one day in Prague. Prague is a fantastically beautiful city — so fantastic, in fact, it is hard for me to put into words just how fantastic. In fact, I decided to call it Prague-tastic. It is its own level of fantastic! And I’ve been comparing all places to it, considering it an 11 on the wow meter, and metering my assessments of all other cities in the world against it.

Until now.

DUBROVNIK, CROATIA

I was wowed from the air, before I even landed. Looking out of the airplane window, foggy from far too many hours travel to get here, I wasn’t sure I could believe me eyes. The city already emanated a fairytale quality, and that was with me only seeing dark, torch-lit fragments of it. But I think that’s what did it. The torches, I mean. I thought it was just flickering lights at first, but they really were torches, as I discovered the following evening.  Dubrovnik’s Old Town is almost entirely lit with small torches — radiating brilliant light into the night sky and in many places reflecting it unto the sea — rather than actual lights! Even outside of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, the city has an incredible ancient appeal to it. The city has narrow winding streets, its homes are tiered along the hillsides and it feels more like a big village than a city.

I hadn’t even seen the city in daylight, and I was already sold on the place by the time my driver transported me to my hotel.

As I awoke the next morning to the beautiful sound of the Adriatic Sea lapping just below my patio and the views of its turquoise waters against the backdrop of the Old Town walls, my suspicion was officially confirmed.  I’d found somewhere even more fantastical than Prague. I have yet to come up with a word to sum it up though. And I guess I have to drop Prague-tastic from my travel vocabulary now?

I spent the day wandering the Old Town streets. Every alleyway, every corner, every torch-lit entrance set Dubrovnik’s fate in my mind. At dusk, I settled into a torch lit street-side cafe in Old Town, for a dinner of deliciously fresh calimari, to contemplate my Croatian discovery.

Dubrovnik just has that “it” factor. I think it’s the combination of the Adriatic and the fairytale like Old Town coastline that does it. Now I just have to invent a new word to sum up Dubrovnik…

This photo from my iPhone just doesn’t do it justice.

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