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Making hay whilst the sun shines in Dubrovnik

Written by  Apr 30, 2016

At first it seemed far in the distance, “oh, we have plenty of time, don’t worry.” But then the months slid by, the nights became lighter and the temperature ever warmer. The months turned into weeks, the weeks into days and we went from having plenty of time to chaotic last minute rush. Yes, the tourist season, or should I say the “booking season,” has come around again.

“I think we need to repaint some of the rooms,” was the last thing I wanted to hear from my wife’s mouth, but just as the swallows do, it echoed around the house. The time to move all our belongings, like snails carrying their homes on their backs, has reemerged. At every opportunity I have been collecting cardboard boxes to load our belongings into. Make way for the guests!

We are still fairly new to the game of renting to tourists; this will only be the second year that Thomas Towers has seen guests. But experience is everything. The first year it was a little of a struggle. We didn’t know what we wanted, what the guests wanted and so it was a year of learning. Now with just a year “in the locker” we are much better prepared. It still doesn’t mean that I like painting! It funny how experience brings more confidence, we are even giving out advice to friends who are jumping in the rental business. We haven’t yet go to the “old school” stage where you always tell everyone that “it is a terrible season,” or “we have had bad guests.” As we all know this is just a smoke screen put up to deflect interest from the tax man or prying neighbors.

So for the past few weeks I have been in handy man mode. Armed with a screwdriver, paint brush or hammer I have slowly been fixing things around the house. “First we will paint and fix a few things and then we will clean,” another sentence I hate to hear. To be fair I do tend to avoid a great deal of the cleaning duties. And the new season means that once again we will be turning the red bank statements into black one. We are very much like hamsters, storing away hard earned cash from the summer season to last the black winter days. I expect we are not the only ones in that particular boat. It’s a seasonal business, we live in a seasonal city and we are forced to live seasonal lives. And the hamster is getting hungry, he needs feeding quickly to keep the wolves from the door.

The smell of summer coming means sun, sea and fishing for a few people, but the smell of summer for many other people means existence. “Don’t forget you need to look at the washing machine, it is making a horrible noise,” come another suggestion my way. I can certainly look at the washing machine but if I can stop it from making a noise like Concorde taking off I am not so sure. “And there is the garden that needs sorting out,” the preparations for the guests arrival are coming thick and fast. To be honest if it wasn’t for the imminent arrival of guests the garden would probably ever get sorted out. “And there’s that tap that needs fixing in our summer house,” another idea echoes around. It isn’t really a problem, it will all be worth it at the end of the end, or should I say at the end of the season, the hamster will be full!

Of course working in the tourism industry we are always brutally aware of just how fragile this business is. Bookings are down by up to 30 percent in Paris and I am sure that Brussels is still reeling from the after affects of their terrorist attack. This is an industry are fragile as a crystal vase! One small problem and the whole thing comes tumbling down like a house of cards. And let’s be honest Croatia is a country that lives from tourism, a massive chunk of our GDP comes either directly or indirectly from the summer sunshine. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed, touch wood and hope for the best. “Have we still got those miniature jams from last year for the guests,” another order distracts my mind from the fragility of tourism.

How lucky we are to live in Dubrovnik. How lucky we are that we are able feed all the hamsters from the summer months. It could be much worse. We need to make the most of what has landed in our laps. Carpe diem! There is a rather nice saying in England that sums up the summer in Dubrovnik perfectly, “make hay whilst the sun shines.”