I looked up at the stairs that seemed to rise to the sky. Panting. We had made it up the first few sets of stairs, me trying to balance the very unsteady bag I had on my back. I had specifically taken this piece of luggage for  my trip because it had wheels (!) and straps to turn into one massive backpack. But, it really wasn’t made to be balanced on a back. I could barely stand up straight, and when I was upright, it felt like the weight of the bag would have me topple over, down the stairs and back to Square One.

“Nope. No way,” I said, turning to Chopper, who was taking in the monstrosity of stairs beside me. “There is NO WAY I can carry my bag up those thousand stairs to the hostel. Let’s just go to your hostel instead. I don’t need to stay in the old city of Dubrovnik.”

“Come on, D,” he said. “You can do it.”

I had tried. Sweat was beading up on my forehead, my frustration with my ability to master those stairs with bag in tow was building to massive proportions.

“Chopper,” I said, trying not to seem whiny, “I really can’t do this.”

Instead of agreeing with me to turn back, he grabbed my bag and carried it up the rest of the stairs. I had been thankful for his company the entire time I had known him, but that moment, damn, the gratitude was  overwhelming. I knew if I had been by myself, there was no way I could have done that. There were A LOT of stairs. More than the cathedral towers I had climbed. More than the stairs up the mountain I had climbed in Israel.

Dubrovnik, this beautiful walled city in Croatia, was essentially a town of stairs. Restaurants had outdoor seating on the stairs; bars opened to them; stores lined them. All of these places were situated like they were on a normal walking path, except they were growing up the stairs.

And, even though I was in pretty decent shape, it kicked my glutes into high-gear. And my legs.

The Aussie and I had traveled for hours by the time we made it to Fresh Sheets Hostel at the tippy-top of Dubrovnik’s old city.

Earlier, we had enjoyed quite possibly the most picturesque bus ride in Croatia, winding us down Adriatic’s precarious cliff-side coast from Split to Dubrovnik. The trip, which took us on a cliff side sight-seeing tour of amazing Adriatic coastal scenery, was nearly four hours long, but it didn’t matter to me.

My head was pressed up against the bus window nearly the entire journey from Split to Dubrovnik.  Every turn, every hill, every cloud covering the sun, gave a new beauty to the sea below us.

Some speak of the immensely stunning landscapes they are treated with on train rides through Europe, namely Italy to Switzerland and this one is right up there.

 The small towns we stopped in had such character and life — and views — it was nearly impossible not to just jump off the bus and explore the little towns as we made our way to my final stop in what was quickly becoming my favorite country in the world.

(For those who want to take this bus — have your passport on you. The ride includes a brief jaunt into Bosnia and a stop at border patrol.)

I’ve heard arriving in Dubrovnik is a sight, but since we got into town after dark, my first impression of the city was also my new nemesis — the stairs.

The next day, the city redeemed itself entirely.

10 comments

    1. I probably walked more than 1,000 stairs in one day. Loved it when I got down to the bottom on my last night and realized I left my camera at the hostel, at the top of the stairs, in my room, at the top of the hostel (essentially the attic). It was the BEST workout ever.

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    1. I’d like to say you get used to the stairs, but I wasn’t there long enough. I can tell you after two days of traversing them, my calves felt rock hard. Then, they felt like they were going to fall off.

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