I think we all need a break from this summer heat! Is it me or has this year seen temperatures higher than normal? I seem to be in a constant pool of my own sweat. Are these the effects of global warming or just a freak year? I have forgotten what rain looks like, and that sounds crazy coming from the mouth of an Englishman. How the hell are these tourists from Northern Europe coping walking around the walls or along the Stradun in thirty (nearly forty) degrees.
August is by far the worst month to be in Dubrovnik! I can’t see anything positive about this month. Can we cancel August and go straight onto September?
The Stradun resembles the queues to enter Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge on a match day at 14.30. And by the way whatever happened to the “bikini law.” This law, or regulation, could down in history as the shortest ever law in Dubrovnik’s history. If I am not mistaken it was launched on the 24th of August last year and lasted for roughly two weeks. Huge fines were promised. Signs were installed on the entrances. Press conferences promised a new dress code regime. Security guards roamed the streets looking for offenders. This was a story that made all the international press, I remember giving an interview for Swedish TV. And then, hardly two weeks later, the fire died down and everything was forgotten. This year absolutely zero! No checks, no fines and no press conferences. It has been swept under the carpet.
Ironically this week a photo of a group of young tourists appeared showing them sitting with a sign advertising “Free Sex.” I had to laugh. Not because of the sign, we are a free country with free speech, but because of the fact that this group were sitting directly under the sign that was put up last year to announce the regulations for behaviour in the Old City core. Irony!
Now you can argue was the law a good idea or a bad one, was it doomed to failure before it even started. That’s a story for another day. What I don’t understand is the complete waste of public money and the complete lack of accountability. You can make all the laws you like but if you don’t enforce them you are basically whistling in the wind. Would this law have been brought in if the members of the city council at the time had to spend their own money to launch it? No! But yet they are more than happy to waste our money and see no reason to explain or even apologise for doing so. Just walk down the Stradun on any day of the week and you will see literally hundreds of people half naked. At the time, and even today, I was against the law and it seemed to be draconian and ill though through. But once you’ve made it and spent our money at least try to make it work, don’t give up after two weeks. If it proves unfeasible after a year then try to change it to make it work. Don’t just give up.
This total lack of accountability is a disease that runs through Croatian politics and institutions. It is a culture of passing responsibility onto a third party in order to avoid making a decision. We’ve all seen it when we start the “hunt” for a licence or important paper. We run like headless chickens from office to office only to be told “you’ll have to go to the third floor room number 5.” Of course when we get to that floor we are told “no, you’ll need to go to the fifth floor room number 89.” A never ending story of incompetence. The Croatian bureaucracy merry-go-round!
And now the new mayor has promised stricter measures for cruise ships by halving the limit from 8,000 to 4,000 passengers allowed in the city at any one time. Whilst this is a much needed measure I feel another “bikini law” on the way. Talk is cheap. I think we have all adopted an “I’ll believe it when I see it,” approach. How he actually plans to limit the cruise ship numbers is still a mystery. So many similar plans have come and gone, drifted away on an Adriatic current, that you’ll forgive me for being a little sceptical. As it stands now the 8,000 limit doesn’t work, in fact we could have 10,000 passengers all dressed in bikinis and nothing would get done. Maybe we need to find our own Margaret Thatcher. Of course she had her faults but she got things done. And as she once famously said “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”