To say that Dubrovnik is the favourite destination for Dietmar Gamerith would be a slight understatement. Believe it not he has been to Dubrovnik 63 times, and has already planned and booked his 64th visit. Born and raised in Graz, Austria his memories of Dubrovnik and the region go back a long way, there is little left to surprise him in Dubrovnik but his love for the city and its people burns brightly. Dietmar plans all his free time and holidays, from his job at the Styrian government in Austria, around spending time in his second home, Dubrovnik. I caught up with him to find out why Dubrovnik is so special to him.
You have been to Dubrovnik 63 times and are planning your 64th trip. What is so special about Dubrovnik that it keeps bringing you back?
Because of the beauty of the city, the aura and the spirit and also the climate, perfect temperatures, the weather, the air and the clear, clean blue sea. Another reason I keep coming back are the people, they are so friendly and polite, from the staff at Hotel Lero where I usually stay to the waiters in the bars and restaurants. I have made so many close bonds in Dubrovnik and I’m already planning my 64th visit at the end of March and my 65th visit at the end of June.
After so many trips to Dubrovnik you must have a lot of knowledge about the destination. What advice would you give to tourists who are planning to come here?
There is so much to see in Dubrovnik and the region from Ston and Pelješac to the area south of Dubrovnik. The weather is always wonderful and I love sightseeing. You can visit the local islands, enjoy the marvellous views and walk I nature, everything I need. I walk a lot when I’m in the city, there is so much to discover. Also there is Cavtat nearby and Tresteno only 17 kilometres away with its arboretum. The Srđ Mountain, which towers 412 metres above the Old City, offers breathtaking views and then down in the Old City itself you have the museums, a walk along the Stradun or a coffee. Take the local ferry to the island of Lokrum and explore this green island. One you have visited Dubrovnik once you will never forget it. If it’s your first time here you are welcome and if you are returning you are welcome, Dubrovnik is a place for everyone.
Do you have any funny stories of your time in Dubrovnik?
Yes, as I mentioned all of the people are very friendly and polite. Well one time I lost my wallet full of money and one of the local citizens found it and returned it and wouldn’t take any money from me as a reward. The next day I bought a small present for her and she asked me for a drink. That was twelve years ago and now we meet every time I come to the city.
What would you recommend tourists to see and visit in the city?
I would definitely recommend people to stay in the Hotel Lero which is only four kilometres from the heart of the Old City. Also the staff in the hotel are very competent, polite and helpful so I always enjoy my stay there. You have to see everything in Dubrovnik, the Srđ mountain, the Old City itself, the Stardun, the new harbour in Gruz, the market in Gruz and in the Old City, Lapad for walking and the beach, the islands of Lokrum, Šipan, Koločep, Korčula and Mljet. Also you simply must try the fresh seafood and the excellent wines from the region, followed up by some of the traditional desserts.
Can you tell us how your love affair with Dubrovnik began?
It’s a long story but I first visited the city when I was a child of only four and the smell of the city came into my nose and never went away. I have to come back…back…back and so far I have visited my “second home” 63 times.
Are there any things that you would warn tourists not to do when in the city?
There is not much. Dubrovnik is a very open and liberal place. Be careful with the traffic in and around the city. Drive slowly and enjoy your time calmly.
What is the best time of the year to visit Dubrovnik?
March: it is not so hot and the air is wonderful and good for walking. October after the summer season is also nice there aren’t too many tourists and the temperatures can reach 25 degrees. Also I love Dubrovnik through the winter, for example on New Year’s eve there is a spectacular fireworks display. In the middle of summer it is a little too hot and can be overcrowded.
Do you always buy a souvenir when you visit?
Maro and Baro the twins from the clock tower on the Stradun is one new souvenir and a very good idea, I have to buy one. I have more than 80 souvenirs from Dubrovnik in my flat in Graz.
How have the prices changed in all the years that you’ve visited? And in your opinion is Dubrovnik expensive for tourists?
Yes the prices have changed. I remember at the end of 70’s when 1DIN was 1 Austrian Schilling. Now it is not so cheap but if you look and compare you can find cheaper shops, restaurants and other things. Some parts in Dubrovnik are very expensive, you have to save your money and be careful. My tip would be to ask in the Dubrovnik Tourist Board on the Pile gate for advice on where to go.
How would you describe Dubrovnik in three words?
Power-place, romantic, unforgettable