If I had to pick one place in Europe to retire to, it would be Dubrovnik. It is just an incredible city with a great mix of history, architecture and natural beauty. My first visit to Dubrovnik was in April 2005, when some friends and I decided to go there on a whim. We had originally planned to visit Malta, but the posters at the student travel agency and low price convinced us to book a trip to Croatia instead. We didn’t know anything about the country, aside from war-torn images we had seen on the evening news in the early 1990s. When we landed at the airport, the first question from our cab driver was if we were here to buy real estate. Apparently there was a real estate boom underway when we arrived, and he spent most of his time ferrying Western Europeans, along with their real estate agent and credit expert, from property to property. Since the three of us were just graduate students, we weren’t quite in the market for any seaside real estate and would have to be content with our small budget hotel room.
Thankfully, visiting Dubrovnik wasn’t that expensive (remember that this was over seven years ago, however, before it once again became a playground for the rich and famous). The restaurants we visited in the Old Town served cheap and delicious pizzas, seafood, and liters of Karlovačka beer. The locals were friendly and engaging, asking us where we were from, and when learning that we hailed from California, telling us about their relatives who had fled to the Los Angeles area during the war.
Overall, it was an amazing trip and I can’t wait to go back. And if I win the lottery, I’m definitely buying a flat in the heart of the city.