- Dubrovnik is still Dubrovnik, this is Ragusa, it is an entirely cohesive, architectural brilliant, city state and always will be. There is nothing like this city anywhere in Europe. And also this sense more than just normal civilisation that’s what Dubrovnik is for me. It’s living for something bigger, its Libertas, it’s a bigger ideal, it is not just urban living but a suggestion of something more. And none of that has changed over the years – Wise words and ones that I wish I had written. You either get Dubrovnik, the spirit of the city, or you don’t. And these beautiful words come from a foreign journalist who quite clearly understands the heartbeat of the cobbled streets.
I would suggest that there are many citizens who don’t understand the city like this foreign reporter. There are those who take it for granted. There are those who use it for their own means. There are those who are completely oblivious to the sheer magnificence. And to tell you the truth I feel sorry for all those people. Dubrovnik will outlive all of us. It has been that way for generations. If you only see the stone facades, the plazas, the proud walls and the glorious architecture as just buildings then you are missing the point.
Sometimes, but only sometimes I come across visitors to our city who have the spirit of the city in their blood. I had one such occasion last weekend. “It might seem stupid to say but Dubrovnik has changed me,” said the friendly lady opposite me in a restaurant. She has been coming to Dubrovnik with her husband for four years and after only a short time with them it was clear that they really understood the city. “I feel sorry for the cruise ship passengers that come every year, I really feel sad for them, they can never feel what Dubrovnik is,” she added obviously getting quite emotional. And if Dubrovnik doesn’t make you emotional in one way or another then again you don’t understand it.
So just to fill in why I sitting with a couple from Scotland. Social media has its disadvantages; in many ways it could be called anti-social media with users addicted to collecting likes. But there are rare occasions when it really pays off. It can make the world smaller. This couple had meet another couple in a restaurant and got talking. They soon found they had a common “friend” The Dubrovnik Times Facebook page. Incredibly the two couples had been following and actively commenting on our page for years. And to make the situation even more unusual the owner of the restaurant was also a fan of the page.
When I started the newspaper and the website I really didn’t know just how far it would go and just many people from all over the world would be part of it. Makes me feel a little humble. So when I received a call to come and meet them all I couldn’t turn it down. It felt like walking into a family meeting. And there in an essence was the absolute core of tourism, people and their interaction and friendships. I was sitting with six people who I didn’t really know but we all had a common love of Dubrovnik. “It is hard to put into words how we feel about this city. A big part of why we come back is because of the people, the friends that we have made here,” she continued. “Dubrovnik is part of us now and the thought of not ever coming back here is physically painful,” she added. If I could find some way to bottle this feeling I would be a millionaire. If this love, this undying emotion could be passed on to people in power, decision makers in the city then there would be no limit to our success. As The Beatles sang “Money can’t buy you love.”
If our combined energies could just all be challenged into preserving what we already have then we would all be winners. If we could convince these same decision makers to listen to the soul of the city. As the great Winston Churchill once said “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Seems to me that we need a few more listeners!