I'm carving out time to share my photos of the spectacular ports of call during my holiday cruise on Viking Star to the Eastern Mediterranean. One of the standout ports was Dubrovnik, Croatia, which I've wanted to visit for years.
You may recognize some of these images as the setting for various scenes in HBO's "Game of Thrones" — typically the ones where bloody battles take place.
But there's so much more to Old Dubrovnik: The friendly townspeople who live beneath classic orange-clad clay rooftops. The Mediterranean cuisine. The elegant bell towers and timeless architecture, such as the medieval walls that were built and fortified between the 13th and 18th centuries.
The history, though, is what pulls at you throughout your time here -- and it is what earned the Old City honors as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. As an account at europeupclose.com puts it:
"Dubrovnik today is a living museum. ... Its golden age was between the 14th and 17th centuries, when it was considered the Fifth Maritime Republic of the Mediterranean, right up there with Venice, Genoa, Amalfi and Pisa.
"The walls wrap all the way around the historic old town and the old port, several metres thick at some points, two kilometres long and up to 25 metres (82 feet) high. You can climb up and walk all the way around the perimeter, with views of the bright blue Adriatic on one side and the shining stone town on the other. Along the way there are jewellery-vendors, artist-stalls, shops selling fresh-squeezed orange juice and beer."
You'll have to visit yourself to get the full sense of the breadth and magnificence of the place.