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There’s a bit in Paul Theroux’s book The Kingdom by Sea where he ponders about coming across Brits around Blighty’s coastline who sit quietly in their cars looking out to sea. This popped into my head as we downed an overpriced Ozusko in Café Buza on the rocks just outside Dubrovnik’s fortress wall.
In front of us, people sat in a neat-ish row quietly looking out to sea as if waiting for a show to start.
I’d first read about Café Buza on Tripadvisor a couple of years ago. Rave reviews waxed lyrical about this ‘hidden away’ bar with ‘stupendous views’ and ‘wonderful sunsets’. It was the bar to visit in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik is an immaculate and unbelievably beautiful city; one of those locations where you can Photoshop and Instagram the hell out of it and it’s still going to look better in reality.
Saying that, just about every business inside the city wall seems to exist to meet the needs of tourists. Café Buza isn’t the sort of bar where you’re going stumble across gregarious locals enjoying beers and breaking into impromptu song or anything like that. It’s the sort of bar where the people around you are the same as you – visitors. I’ve been in plenty of great bars around the world that are frequented mainly by visitors and, being one myself, don’t consider it a reason not to like a place.
Finding Café Buza isn’t too difficult. There’s a hole in the old walls by the sea. It’s even signposted. You find the hole, you go through it. You reach a bar on the rocks. BTW there are two of them not too far apart from each other.
The bar itself is delightfully ramshackle with slightly chaotic seating around the rocks. The service was relatively fast and friendly. The beers were small and ridiculously expensive, 35 kunar for a bottle. We heard the same conversation over and over when people asked for the bill.
“That’ll be Seventy kunar.”
“Seventy?” In a slightly higher and increasingly incredulous tone.
Stunning Views and Wonderful Sunsets
This is where we part company with the majority of the reviews on Tripadvisor as well as those of some fellow travel bloggers who consider Café Buza to have some of the best bar views in the world. The vistas are very nice but they amount to the island of Lokrum and the Adriatic.
Off the top of my head I can think of Greek bars overlooking bays of turquoise water with a crumbling acropolis or olive grove thrown in for good measure; bars in Jamaica with a bouncing atmosphere where the sunset comes right down your throat; tranquil Scottish pubs on the banks of misty lochs whose beauty is rocketed off the chart by moody castles… and so on and so on. There are a lot of great bars with WOW views around the world.
As for the sunset – where exactly was it? I must be missing something as the sun seemed to set just around the corner, blocked by the fortress walls that give the bar its uniqueness.
I’ve checked photo after photo online, convinced that I must have this wrong (please put me straight if I am). But Café Buza doesn’t seem to be in the best position to watch a truly spectacular sunset where the sun slips below the horizon in front of you. Maybe if you’re perched on one of the rocks closer to the sea it’s different?
And there lies my problem with Café Buza. The views are good but not the best and the sunset is nice but I’ve been in many more bars with far better ones; even a few days before in Zadar further up the Croatian coast.
To round it all up Café Buza is a decent bar in a unique location that makes it worth a visit. But all the hype had lead me to expect an exceptional bar in a beauty spot that would have my jaw bouncing off the rocks.
My chin left Café Buza unbruised even if my wallet didn’t.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+