After an early morning jog, I headed down to the water's edge to check out the view over Bay of Kotor.
To the left is the Orjen mountains and to the right is the Lovćen mountains.
Looking back on the town of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
Kotor in the distance on the left.
There was almost no wind so the water almost looked like a mirror. Bottom right is the Church of Saint Matija.
Looking down on the Splendido Hotel and other houses on the western shore.
The town of Prčanj with a cruise ship approaching in the distance.
The Silver Spirit on its way to Kotor.
With a gross tonnage of 36,000 tons, the Silver Spirit has a capacity for 608 guests and 408 crew.
Operated by Silversea Cruises, the ship first entered into service in 2009.
The open-air pool deck visible from above.
The Silver Spirit has 270 ocean-view suites.
Approaching shore. Cruises on the Silver Spirit start from $500 a day.
And pulling into Kotor port.
I then headed into Kotor Old Town for some breakfast. A cappuccino to start.
Followed by a delicious ham omelette.
All for a very reasonable €7.10.
After the tasty breakfast, I went for a stroll through the twisting alleys of the Old Town.
After checking out of my Airbnb, I headed for a walk up to the Castle of San Giovanni.
A panoramic view of Kotor and the bay.
Looking down at the Old Town.
The morning cloud had cleared and the sun was now out with plenty of blue skies.
Kotor was part of the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797, resulting in the distinctive Venetian architecture of the Old Town.
In 1979 an earthquake damaged much of the buildings in Kotor including the fortifications. They were subsequently restored however both for their cultural significance and as a resource for tourism.
The bare granite rocky landscape of Pestingrad looming above Kotor.
And another panoramic from the western side of the bay.
I then headed back down the hill to the Old Town in search of some lunch.
Some cool lemonade and water to rehydate after the hike up the hill.
And a Caprese Montenegro sandwich made with an ample serving of pršut, a dry-cured ham similar to Italian Prosciutto.
I then walked to the bus station to catch the 2:40pm bus to Dubrovnik.
About to board after paying the €2 bus station fee.
The bus was less than half full so plenty of seats.
Getting stamped out of Montenegro after the 53 kiometre drive from Kotor. The border was a little more formal than when I crossed over from Bosnia and Herzegovina the day before, and we all had to disembark and present ourselves to the immigration office and get our passport stamped.
And at Dubrovnik Main Bus Station after the 40 kilometres from the border.
After coming from Montenegro, a non-EU country, where euro's were readily accepted, there were signs everywhere at the bus station saying that euro's were not accepted in Croatia, an EU member country!
After changing €20 into Croatian kuna, I caught a local bus to the Old City.
It was just after 5pm so before heading into the Old City, I headed to the coast to get a glimpse of the Adriatic Sea.
Looking down on the Old City of Dubrovnik, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Zooming out with Srđ, the mountain ridge just behind the Old City. The mountain was home to fierce battles during the Siege of Dubrovnik from October 1991 to May 1992.
A panoramic out over the Adriatic Sea with Lokrum Island to the far right.
After a short walk I arrived in the Old City. Looking down Stradun, the main street of Dubrovnik. Stradun will feature in the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as part of an intergalactic casino city.
Inside my Airbnb for the next two nights in Dubrovnik.
Complete with kitchen and dining table.
€80 a night so quite reasonable.
The view out the window. It was conveniently situated just off Stradun.
I then went out for a walk to enjoy an evening stroll through the Old City. I had heard from other travellers that Dubrovnik can seem to be a bit overly touristy, with the authorities even recently proposing limits on the number of people allowed into the Old City. It wasn't too bad however and no worse than other European cities popular with summer tourists.
For dinner I went to a restaurant on Gundulićeva poljana and enjoyed a sumptuous mixed grill before retiring for the night at the end of day 4.
Breakfast on day 5 was just some flavoured milk and pastries I had bought from the shop the night before.
My pickup time for the tour I was doing for today wasn't until 8:45am so I went for another wander around the Old City.
Overcast weather at Dubrovnik West Harbour with the 16th century Tvrđava Bokar (Bokar Fortress) to the left, designed to protect the nearby Pile Gate and its bridge and moat.
A local market opening up for the day inside the Old City.
At about 8:30am I headed up to the meetup point for today's excursion with Mario from Dubrovnik Wine Tours.
For the tour today we would head up the coast and along the Pelješac peninsula, sampling some fresh Adriatic oysters and stopping at three different wineries.
After picking up a few other passengers we headed past the town of Ston and arrived at our first stop just before 10am.
Walking along the jetty to our waiting boat.
And a short ride out into the harbour and to the oyster farm.
Pulling up our feast for this morning.
And some Croatian white wine made from the Graševina grape variety.
Our guide, Mario, had a diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust in the UK, and taught us abit about the basics of wines, and how white wines increase in colour with age while red wines do the opposite.
And with a sprinkling of fresh lemon juice, the white wine and oysters went down a treat!
After a short journey we arrived at our first winery, Vina Vukas.
Vina Vukas was a relatively small winery, producing 15,000 to 16,000 bottles per year.
A cap of grape skins on the surface of fermenting red wine.
Vina Vukas has been in the same family for the past three generations.
Some white wine to start the tasting.
Next was their 2016 Rosé.
Described by Mario as a fruity and dry aromatic wine that is best served chilled. Also very enjoyable and easy to drink.
Mario with the Mato (left), a dry red wine that has been aged 18 months in oak barrels, and the Plerej (right), another dry red wine made from grapes harvested on the steep southern slopes of Ponikve hill.
Mario showing us how some of the qualities of red wine can be divined by seeing how the light shines through onto a white surface.
Some tasty local cheese to accompany the red wine.
Along with some cured ham.
The Plerej had been aged for 2 years in oak barrels.
Mario described it as having a complex aroma with a fruity and robust flavour.
Trying their sparkling white wine.
And a great way to finish!
A great first introduction to Croatian wine and the insight and knowledge of Mario made it all the more enjoyable amd memorable.
We then headed further along the peninsula to the next winery, Boutique Winery Vicelić.
With owner Mateo Vicelić, who has continued on the family winemaking tradition.
The winery was first established by his grandfather, Mato Vicelić, in 1935. He showed us some of his grandfathers' original business cards.
The boutique winery produces Plavac Mali, Dingač, Rosé and Selekcija dessert wine and produces 15,000 to 20,000 bottles per year.
Sampling first the delicious Rosé.
Next was the Plavac Mali red wine which went well with some local cheese.
Mario pouring me a glass of the Dingač, a rich and flavorful wine and well worth saving until last.
We then continued onto our last tasting at Winery Madirazza.
The winery was a lot larger than the first two we had visited, producing ~250,000 bottles per years.
The first tasting being poured.
Our first wine was their 2015 8 Bf Garbinada.
The wine is dominated by the fruity aromas of citrus, grapefruit and dry meadow flowers. A fine minerality is noticeable in the salinity of the wine. On the palate, it is creamy and rounded with a long finish.
Mario introducing us to the Grk Herakles.
Produced from a vine thought to have been brought to the area by the ancient Greeks, the wine is described as being creamy and aromatic and harmonious. Also another very tasty dry white wine.
Next was the 2011 4Bf Maestral.
A lively wine made from Plavac Mali grapes. It is a dark ruby colour with an unusually high content of acidity for the Plavac wines. Being moderate in tannins, the wine blends the aroma of berries with the mild aroma of vanilla and spices.
After the 4Bf Maestral (left) was the Madirazza Postup (middle), a semi-dry wine made from the Plavac mali grapes grown in the Postup wine region. And lastly the 2009 Reserve Grande Madirazza Dingač (right), a dry red full body wine matured for 18 months in oak.
Another great wine tasting experience, getting to sample five great and unique wines along with some great insight and entertaining commentary from Mario.
At about 2:30pm we headed to a local family house for a late lunch.
The family cat taking a nap in a slightly unusual place.
Cheese, ham and olives to start.
And of course some more red and white wine to enjoy with our meal.
Mario also brought us some more wine from the Madirazza winery to enjoy with the blue cheese.
And some tasty fish, fresh from the Adriatic for the main. A great way to finish our day of enjoying such rich and flavorful wine and food. An amazing Croatian culinary experience!
On our way back to Dubrovnik we stopped in the town of Ston. On the hill above the town is the Walls of Ston, a series of defensive stone walls built in the 14th and 15th century.
Looking up at Minčeta Tower in the Old City of Dubrovnik after we got back just after 6pm.
Looking down Stradun with everyone out enjoying the summer evening.
And a tasty cheese burger and fries at Cele Gourmet Bar on Stradun at the end of day 5.
On the morning of day 6, I went to check out Lokrum Island.
The view from the southern end of Lokrum with the Old City of Dubrovnik in the distance.
According to legend, the former King of England, Richard the Lionheart, was shipwrecked in 1192 after returning home from the crusades but was cast safely ashore on Lokrum. In the top-middle is the luxurious residence built in 1859 by the Austrian archduke Maximillian Ferdinand on the ruins of the old Benedictine monastery, and which has featured in the HBO TV series, Game Of Thrones.
On the northern end of the island on the highest peak is Fort Royal.
Construction of the fortress was initiated by the French army after the occupation of Dubrovnik in 1806.
It was then completed during the Austrian administration in 1835.
Looking down on the roof tops of the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
The old City of Dubrovnik was also the main filming location for King’s Landing, a fictional city in the HBO TV show, Game of Thrones.
The red roof tops and beautiful blue water of the Adriatic made for a beautiful contrast in the warm morning sun.
For a late breakfast I had eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce and a cup of black coffee at B&B Sesame Inn.
After packing up my bag and checking out of my Airbnb, I went for a walk along the Old City walls.
The beautiful interior of Dubrovnik Cathedral.
At 12:30pm I met up with our guide Eva for a Game Of Thrones and Old City walking tour.
Eva showing us a screen shot of her scene where she had a role as an extra with one line dialogue. Her sister had also worked in many episodes of the show, but only offscreen as an actresses stand in.
Eva said that they had hired many local Croatians as extra's in the show, and that every year they came later in the year to the city, since winter is coming.
We then headed around the corner to Dubrovnik West.
The harbour is the location for many scenes from the TV show. She told us how they needed to shoot a scene where a boy was drowning in the water. To avoid issues with worriesome parents a production designer's son volunteered for the role, and apparently had a lot of fun splashing about!
We then headed to Pile Gate, the famous main entrance to the Old City was used in several scenes in the Game Of Thrones, including when Joffrey ran through the streets of the capital whilst being pelted with rotten fruit by a mob rebelling against the new king!
Eva said that as the extra's are locals you can actually pickup some Croatian being spoken by the rioting mobs during the scene.
A pigeon roosting in a hole in the city walls.
A map of the Old City showing where damage occurred during the Siege of Dubrovnik during the Croatian War of Independence in the early 1990s. There was still some visible bullet and shrapnel damage on the walls and buildings.
Beside the 15th century large Onofrio's fountain on the western end of Stradun.
And on the eastern end of Stradun beside Orlando's Column.
At the Jesuit Staircase where the famous Game Of Thrones walk of shame scene was shot, where Cersei Lannister was stripped of her dignity (and clothes) and made to repent against her sins in public.
Eva said that one of the reasons the nude scenes had to be played by a body double was that the actress, Lena Headey, was quite fit and lean, and would not have played well as an unathletic and wine drinking medieval Queen.
One of several signs in the Old City advising against walking around inappropriately covered. Eva said this was in response to drunken tourists getting naked (and always men apparently) and trying to replicate the walk of shame!
And at the Old Port where we ended the very interesting tour of the Old City.
For lunch I had some tasty fish and chips at a restaurant in the Old City before heading to the airport.
Outside Dubrovnik Airport after catching the shuttle bus from town.
Airside with my boarding pass to Istanbul.
About to board the TK A320 to begin the journey home.
And back home in Dubai after a great six days in the Balkans!