Thursday, 20 February 2020
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Taking the laid back Dalmatian lifestyle to a new extreme – life in the Dubrovnik slow lane

By  Jun 22, 2019

An old colleague where I used to work in London was full of these strange and seemingly senseless phrases. He literally had a phrase for every situation, every eventuality. I was never sure if he just made them all up or was quoting other more famous people.

We often used to try and catch him out, by throwing an unusual situation in his path. He always, always had an answer. Advice – his answer “Good rarely came from good advice.” Religion – “If there were no God there would be no Atheists.” And Politics – “He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. A long career in politics awaits him.” Another dozen or so have stuck in the deeps of my brain and every now and then they appear. One that we all used to hear on a weekly basis was “If things don’t change, they stay the same.”

This is a phrase that I could use time and time again in Dubrovnik. But this week’s selection involves my adopted home of Zupa. I think pretty much the first day I landed in Dubrovnik twenty something years ago I heard the story of how a “fast road” was going to be built between the airport and the city. A perfectly logical idea as Mr. Spock would say. As the vast majority of our visitors come via the airport a fast link seems not only logical but absolutely imperative. And bearing in mind that it is the only connection, i:e there is no other way to get to the airport, it surely must be top of the list of importance, if there is such a list?

Depressingly not only has that road never materialised but in fact the situation has gone into reverse. When I first moved to Zupa I could drive from my home to the city without hitting a traffic light before turning off the coastal road. Now it seems that the number has quadrupled. I will pretty soon face four sets of traffic lights. What joy! OK, I would agree that the ones on the crossroads by Sub City are required. Even though a roundabout might have been a smarter plan, but I can live with those and they seem to function relatively well. Why, oh why we need another set that leads to a graveyard that isn’t working is beyond me. Why we need them at all for a graveyard is puzzling. And the few cars that come out of Lidl never really had a problem waiting for a space in the traffic.

These lights have in fact proved more dangerous than safe. As frequently I see cars screeching to stop in time to avoid careering into the line of traffic.

And now another two will soon be in function. What joy! I remember once talking to a representative of Croatian Roads Authority who said that a roundabout on the main coastal road was not a good plan because it would slow cars down to under 40 km/h, which was something they had to avoid. Surely traffic lights slow cars down to 0 kph.

I am assured that these new pedestrian traffic lights are only a temporary measure and will, at some point in the future, be replaced by a tunnel or bridge. My fear, and this is a fear that comes from experience, is that these bridges and tunnels will never appear and the “temporary” lights will remain temporary until the day I die. Another classic example of short-term panicking rather than long-term planning.

There has been a problem with pedestrians crossing the roads in certain sections for years, this is nothing new, or surprising. In fact, it isn’t even an expensive solution. But heads of power have been buried in the sand. Time has passed and now we are left scrabbling around for a temporary fix, rather than a permanent answer. So we have gone from a planned fast road with multiple lanes, to an absolute bottleneck in Zupa. Come rain or shine, summer or winter, the drive from the airport to the city, and vice versa, will take longer than ever. Whilst many other destinations are planning new eco-friendly transport connections from major hubs we are doing pretty much exactly the opposite. I should be shocked, but I’m numb.

If things don’t change they stay the same – maybe in our case it would be better if things just stayed the same.   

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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