Summertime is in full swing in Dubrovnik. You can see it in the streets and in all the corners of the city. People are enjoying their holidays, laughing, taking photographs, crowding around all the famous sights. Personally, I'm not too fond of crowds. I prefer a bit of peace and quiet most of the time. Some people like going out to crowded places, but nobody, and I mean nobody, likes crowded roads and traffic jams.
Oh yeah, Dubrovnik traffic during the summer season...books could be written about it. Not a lot of positive ones though. Dubrovnik's infrastructure is barely enough for people living here, but when combined with all the tourists that travel to Dubrovnik by car, it can end up being quite insufficient. Roads are too narrow for everyone, parking is too scarce, and the less said about the main traffic hubs, the better. On the other hand, there are also bad drivers out there, and those deserve a special section in the library, let alone a book or two. Every place on earth has bad drivers, but when you get bad drivers visiting a foreign country for the first time, you are in for a treat. I've witnessed all sorts of traffic escapades on the streets of Dubrovnik and it sometimes makes me wonder how laid back, one could say lackadaisical, are driving tests in some countries in Europe.
My first job in tourism was working for a hire car company and I saw all sorts of drivers during that summer. Most of them good ones, of course, but some were nothing short of scary. We've had crashed cars, stolen cars, loads of punctures, and even more parking tickets never paid by the guests. One time a gentleman called me saying the car he rented from us that day wouldn’t start. When I asked him where he was, he said: "Somewhere between Dubrovnik and Split." He narrowed it down to around 220km of road. It turned out he simply locked his steering wheel and didn't know cars can do that.
One of the funnier moments of that summer happened in late August. My colleague and I needed to deliver a car to one client. It was a young lady who ordered one of the fastest cars we had - VW Golf V5. This 150BHP compact with a wonderful "kick" to it and lowered suspension was a real racer, and one of our bosses' favourite cars. It was a bit expensive to hire as well, so it was usually requested specifically only by petrol-heads. My colleague delivered it and took care of the contract while I was waiting to drive him back to the office. After doing all the paperwork, he spent some time talking with the girl who ordered the car and even took a short ride around the block with her. The whole thing took much longer than usual. When he finally came back and sat in the car with me, he was pale as a ghost. I asked him what was wrong and he said:
"Do you know what she asked me?"
"She asked me to show her how to drive. She only got her license and she can barely operate a vehicle. She ordered this car only because it was the only automatic transmission car we have. What will I tell the boss?!"
I didn't know what to tell him. We simply sat there and looked at the car driving away from us, going, then stopping, then twitching, then going, then braking...until it turned a corner.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page. www.insiderholidays.eu www.facebook.com/insiderholidays