Cities / Towns Visited: 53
Countries Visited: 16
Steps Taken Today: 16,726
Steps Taken Around the World: 1,894,682
Rising at a reasonable hour, we checked out, stowed our bags, and headed out to explore Šibenik before moving on to our next destination. Now anyone who knows us, knows that we are huge Game of Thrones fans, thus our first location would be the beginning of our hunt for filming locations across this beautiful country. Thus we headed up the steep streets winding up the mountain behind the town. We knew that we would not be able to enter St. John’s fortress, as it’s closed for renovation, but we were determined to visit the exterior of this medieval fortification used as the backdrop for the fighting pits of Meereen. To be honest the paths marked on the map are vague to say the least, and due to it being closed there are no signs directing you towards it, but we could see it on the hill and headed toward it as best we could. Of course, at points it involved going off road, up some random stairs, and down a rather overgrown dirt path, but eventually we made it.
Given its secluded nature, it is easy to see why the notoriously secretive production team chose the location. The fort is surrounded by a jumble of random plants which have take root along its base, and in every free nook and cranny on the walls themselves. There is something magical about seeing what nature does when it’s left to its own volition. Turning you back to the site you are met with something equally as stunning; sweeping views of the town below, and the island dotted Adriatic sea. It should be said that on the way up we made many a comment about the fact that there must surely be an easier way up, as there is no way they lugged filming equipment and car loads of actors up that tiny path. Naturally, at the top we found the sealed road that leads to the fortress, which comes in from the other side. Oh well, at least we’d have an easier walk down, I guess.
Passing by the much more accessible and visitor friendly Barone fortress, we clambered back down to town and into the narrow maze of streets that make up the old town. Feeling very much like we had gone into some bizarre time warp, we admired the medieval buildings which encroached on the narrow path. The only thing breaking the illusion being the addition of haphazardly placed wires and fluorescently clad tourists. After a decent amount of twisting and turning we stumbled upon the medieval garden of St. Lawrence, a small walled garden which was originally planted by the monks of the St. Lawrence monastery to feed them and provide herbs for medicinal purposes. Today it is flanked by a small and somewhat overpriced cafe, but viewing the gardens is still free. The bright flowers offer a peaceful oasis within the cold stone walls of the city.
Making our way onwards, we reached the third of the city’s old fortresses; St. Michael’s (because seemingly every noteworthy site here is named after a Saint). Buying tickets we headed in to explore. Now this fortress often hosts concerts in its central area, and we passed by its slightly out of place looking grandstand seating as we headed up the stairs to reach the top of the fortified walls. From here we were treated to a closer view of the traditional red brick rooftops of this timeless town. Having drank in enough of the upper beauty, we descended to appreciate the fortress from ground level. It’s towering stone and brick walls making it easy to imagine a battalion of sword wielding soldiers are to be found marching around every corner and up every flight of stairs. However, small plants and flowers have taken up residence in the crevices, assuring you that the town lives in a state of peace.
With a little time on our hands before the departure time of our bus, we wandered out of the labyrinth and leisurely along the waterside, until we found a decent looking restaurant to grab a bite to eat. Tucking into the delectable flavours of a mixed grill platter, a speciality of this part of the world, and the perfect meal for a hot afternoon, it felt almost like the result of a good summer barbecue back home.
Unfortunately the time had come to squish ourselves back into the cramped confines of a bus, and with our luggage in tow we trundled off to our next home; Makarska. A few hours dragged by and we finally alighted to another small seaside town. We managed to find our Airbnb with little hassle, and after a quick trip to the shops we were soon eating a home cooked meal before falling exhausted into bed. There’s something about the hot weather that really takes it out of you, and that is probably why I much prefer winter. As I dozed my mind wandered back through those historic stone streets, twisting and turning until I was somewhere between fact and fiction. It’s amazing how well these old towns have survived the ravages of time, obviously with the help of many caring hands and the protection of government bodies. We may never be able to master time travel, but travelling to these places, seemingly frozen in time, with any measure of imagination is pretty damn close. It’s just one more reason to step out of your small corner of the planet and explore the other three.