“And where do I go to catch the bus home?” I questioned my wife over the mobile from my office. Yes, I am seeing another side of Dubrovnik transportation, one that I rarely see, I am a bus passenger. For those of you that rarely use public transport buses are those big orange vehicles with numbers on the front. And my “stallion” for the past week has been the trusty number 10.
Right from the start I am not riding the bus because I am trying to make less traffic on the roads of Dubrovnik, although that would be a noble reason, and I am not catching the bus because I am attempting to lower my C02 emissions, again a noble excuse, no I am passenger out of need. My car decided to die on me, I haven’t held the funeral just yet as the car doctor is breathing life back into it, so I have been patiently waiting at bus stops all over the city and beyond.
As you have probably already guessed I don’t usually catch buses. So these past ten days or so has been a new experience. “How was it?” joked my wife. “It smells of body odour and garlic,” I answered with a smile. Thankfully it isn’t the middle of August, the stench of body odour must be pungent then.
There are still a few things that don’t make any sense. If I buy a ticket in the city for 15 Kunas I can ride around on as many different buses as I want for an hour. But if I pay 3 Kunas more when coming from Župa my journey is limited to that journey alone. I am guessing that it is a question of all the boroughs agreeing to finance equally the share of the journey, but you would have thought this could have been sorted out a long time ago.
And why, oh why can’t someone find a solution for the poor tourists who sit on the number 10 from Cavtat trying to get to the Old City and not knowing where to get off the bus. They are left with a driver, if he is in the mood, shouting “Old Town” at the top of his lungs to know when to get off. And then they are left on Ilijina Glavica looking left and right but no sign of any ancient walls to be found. “Couldn’t they just put an electronic display above the driver to let people know what stop is next,” said a fellow passenger to me. “It would make sense,” I replied. “Why don’t you ask the Mayor,” the pensioner added.
Yes, I have had a lot of people coming up to me on the bus, mostly just to say “How are you Englez” or “I don’t see you on buses very often,” but some have also been offering all sorts of advice. “Couldn’t they just put some extra buses on when the children finish school?” said one kind looking old man to me. Again that seems to make perfect sense.
Most of the time the buses have been “standing room only” and on a few occasions we have had to drive straight past people waving desperately at bus stops. One time we were so full that I imagined us having to get out and push the bus up one particularly steep hill. If you want to know the real situation, then it is good to get up close and personal.
One thing that has been bothering me, really getting under my skin, is young people not giving up their seats to the elderly or to mothers with children. I haven’t sat down on a journey yet. But the amount of poor manners from children and young adults is shocking. Where are they learning their manners and common decency?
And by far the most bizarre situation was catching a bus with wooden seats and Wi-Fi! How surreal is that?!? Old school meets modern technology. I can surf and check my emails but at the same time my backside is slowly going to sleep on a wooden seat. “Your car is finished and ready for you to pick up,” said my friendly mechanic down the phone line. Thank God, although at the same time I going to miss letting someone else drive me around.
“A bus ride is like being in another world,” once wrote the American novelist J.A. Redmerski. Yes, a world filled with garlic, uncomfortable seats, unclear prices, bad ventilation and poor timings. Thanks Libertas see you in a few years and in the meantime listen to your passengers.