Take it one step at a time

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - JOHN ALLEN

BIRK­DALE, QLD I HAD of­ten won­dered how ef­fec­tive and de­mand­ing step aer­o­bics would be. Well, I was about to find out on a visit to Dubrovnik in Croa­tia. My wife and I ar­rived late one af­ter­noon af­ter com­plet­ing week-long guided tours of Tur­key, Greece and Croa­tia. Our bags were get­ting heav­ier and ap­proach­ing the 30kg air­line bag­gage limit. We were feel­ing rather ex­hausted.

We had booked a ho­tel in the so-called Old Town, and had a rough idea where it would be. We trudged down the main street, weav­ing our way through hordes of fel­low tourists. On one side of the street were in­trigu­ing lit­tle al­leys lined with restau­rants, cafes, small gal­leries and bou­tiques. They were all on flat ground.

On the op­po­site side were sim­i­lar al­leys, but th­ese clawed their way up to much higher lev­els via count­less steps. We soon dis­cov­ered that we would need the en­ergy and de­ter­mi­na­tion of moun­tain goats to reach our ho­tel, sit­u­ated well up one of th­ese steep routes.

We strug­gled up the first lot of steps, drag­ging our cases as best we could. The sec­ond level was even steeper but thank­fully our ho­tel was not far up. We knocked and went in­side. A small hall­way formed the re­cep­tion area. An old woman emerged from the shad­ows. She was the owner and was ex­pect­ing us. ‘‘This way to your room,’’ she told us. ‘‘Fol­low me.’’ We sighed. No el­e­va­tor. Three flights of steps up a nar­row stair­case. Our suit­cases felt like bags of ce­ment by this stage. She pushed open a door. ‘‘Your room here,’’ she cheer­fully told us. The dou­ble bed oc­cu­pied nearly all the space, with a gap of about 25cm on one side and slightly more on the other. All the fa­cil­i­ties we needed were there but jammed in an area not much big­ger than a walk-in wardrobe.

‘‘Make sure the bath­room door is closed when you take a shower,’’ I mut­tered to my wife, ‘‘oth­er­wise, we’ll have wa­ter all over the bed­room floor.’’

A stove and a fridge stood in one cor­ner. Ev­ery­thing seemed in minia­ture af­ter the five-star ac­com­mo­da­tion of our guided tours. We en­joyed four days ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this lovely city, but we bat­tled the steps ev­ery time we went out — they keep visi­tors to Dubrovnik in­cred­i­bly fit or un­mer­ci­fully ex­hausted. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@ theaus­tralian.com.au. Colum­nists re­ceive an Aubecq fry­pan ($99.99) from the Ev­er­green Clas­sic range of ce­ramic-based eco­cook­ware with non­stick coat­ing. More: (02) 9662 3450; mor­gan­ware.com.au; pe­ter­sofkens­ing­ton. com.au.

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