Strawberries and cream, Mulder and Scully, gin and tonic, Tom and Jerry, some things are just meant to be together. They complement each other perfectly. Have you ever tried drinking gin without tonic? Don’t! And this weekend and the beginning of next week will see Dubrovnik with its perfect partner – St. Blaise.
The patron saint, the protector of the city and a foreigner. Yes, it is a day that Dubrovnik has been celebrating for centuries, a day that a foreigner saved their city from being invaded by more foreigners. Of course, St. Blaise was Armenian and was made a saint for saving a young boy who was choking on a fish bone, it was pronounced a miracle.
But what would the path of St. Blaise, or rather just Blaise without the saint title, have looked like if he were born in the 20th century as opposed to 280 AD. Firstly he would have a slight problem before he even started travelling to Dubrovnik. For he was born in Sivas, which although was in Armenia when he was born, is now in Turkey. Basically that would mean that he’d now need a visa to enter Croatia, or at least a Schengen visa. Sorry Blaise.
But the sheer journey would be tough as there are no real links to this part of Turkey, but there probably weren’t Turkish Airlines flights in the 3rd century either, so he’s used to walking. Of course he’d have a challenge at the border, or even getting a visa.
Imagine the scenario of a customs official questioning Blaise. “Excuse he sir, but what is your occupation.” – “I am a saint.” – “Don’t be funny sir and just answer the question please.” Let’s face it there is no way that Blaise is getting a visa.
And while I am on the question on his sainthood I have a question. He was made a saint for allegedly saving a young boy who had a fishbone stuck in his throat. When Blaise saved him it was described as a miracle. Now far from me to question this legendary act but I do have one concern. Blaise was educated as a physician, he basically studied medicine and was a doctor. Now bearing this in mind if a doctor in the Dubrovnik General Hospital today saves a child with an Orada bone wedged in his windpipe does that make him a saint? Surely he is just doing his job. Would an electrician be sainted for rewiring a house? Or a plumber sainted for fixing a leaking tap? I digress.
So Blaise is making his way to Dubrovnik after having obtained all the visas and proved that his full-time occupation is a saint. And of course as Sivas is an important connection to the East, as part of the old Silk Road, he has also had to prove that he isn’t infected with the Coronavirus.
He arrives in a 21st century Dubrovnik. Quite a shock. After he has navigated the hordes of tourists on Pile and followed the rope path that filters tourists in and out (yes, even St. Blaise has to Respect the City!) he would arrive on a Stradun filled with ATM’s, cheap souvenirs, ice-cream and chewing sweets. He’d wonder at the air-conditioning units, the satellite dishes and the tacky advertising signs that have all been drilled into the ancient walls and all hang like warts on a beautiful canvas.
He’d breathe in the smell of cheap frying oil coming from one of the lousy restaurants. Stare in awe as another Game of Thrones tour passes him by convince they have been to King’s Landing. Oh how he would be delighted at the sight of plastic bottles and waste floating in the old city harbour. And he’d taken aback at the taxi drivers yelling obscenities at tourists whilst lighting another cigarette. He’d be amazed at Pile and its collection of a hundred plastic kayaks. Oh how he would be lost for words on the ghost town, or rather apartment town, that Dubrovnik has become.
The question is would St. Blaise save us again. Would he consider that we deserved to be saved? Would he warn us of an attack by cruise ships in the same way that he warned us about Venetian ships? Or would he simply think that we got what we deserved. I have a feeling that Blaise would throw his rucksack on his back and turn around and head back south.