One of the easiest ways to get around Dubrovnik, beyond the Old Town, is by bus. And for about £3 you can buy a ticket that lasts all day. Where to go with that ticket is a different matter, as I enquire at the travel kiosk by the Pile Gate.
“So it’s 30 Kuna – and that allows me to use all the buses all day?”
“Great – have you got a map please?”
“No – timetables on the bus stop.”
I have absolutely know idea where any of the destinations are, until I get on a bus for one of the coastal locations. The driver shakes his head : “No – only for local bus.”
This limits the choice somewhat, as many of the city routes are designed to link hotels and private resorts. Babin Kuk, for example, has a beach – but not much else other than a few banks and mini markets. And Nuncijate is just a suburb, though its position overlooking the main port is quite spectacular.
One of the main choices of transport around here is the scooter. They perilously juggle with the traffic on the open road, as do I on foot. I’m tempted to follow some of the narrow steps in between the buildings which might get me back to the Old Town eventually, but I can’t be sure that any of them lead to other public roads. Almost every spare house, shed and shack has a sign saying “apartment” outside. I’ve heard that many locals simply move out of town during the tourist season, knowing they can make a year’s worth of rent from their own apartments in just a few weeks.
And then there are the new builds – the curse of many European countries. Some hotel chains are investing heavily in new luxury infrastructure. But it’s by no means clear as to how many of this type of development will ever be completed.
It’s the middle of the day, and there’s not a single worker in site. Sadly I’ve seen this scenario played out in many other countries. The boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s was replaced by a nosediving economy. And no EU rescue loan is going to convince more visitors in if they don’t have the spending power. Most Croatians are too poor to be able to stay in Dubrovnik for a holiday, and this is a country which relies on tourism for more than 20% of its income.
And so to the evening. A pavement cafe, and look who turned up for a free concert:
Yes, it’s my new most favourite six people, courtesy of NATO. Yet getting all six of them in one shot is proving tricky. So who did we miss off? Sorry, bass guy! You didn’t make the picture tonight. So here’s one from last night instead.