Wednesday, 10 August 2022
Dubrovnik over fifty years apart Dubrovnik over fifty years apart Russell Armitage

Letter to the Editor – New Zealander recreates 1969 photo of Dubrovnik over fifty years later

Written by  Jun 29, 2022

“When I knew I would be visiting Dubrovnik again this year I was determined to try and 'recreate' this photo,” said Russell O Armitage from New Zealand. We always enjoy reading your letters, emails and comments, and this one really stood out.

This New Zealander recreated a photo first taken in 1969 on the iconic Dubrovnik City Walls. From 1969 to 2022.

And here is his letter to us in full -

Dubrovnik 1969 Revisited – a photo recreation over 50 years

My first visit to Dubrovnik was in June 1969. I was on a van trip from the UK to Greece with 4 friends - Lizzie from Hawkes Bay, Jane from Wellington, Robin from London and Xavier from Barcelona.

This was when the country was Yugoslavia under Tito and very stable. Tourists were very low in number - probably 10% of what they are today, although the city had been steadily attracting tourists since the end of WW2.

We of course stopped at Dubrovnik for a night or two. We walked around the splendid and famous walls which had no charge then. Totally free.

When I knew I would be visiting Dubrovnik again this year I was determined to try and 'recreate' this photo by using myself, my sister and one other - probably my sister's friend Tina from Finland who would be coming to visit.

Dubrovnik. Lizzie Jane Russell

Dubrovnik - Lizzie, Jane and Russell in 1969 - Photo - Russell Armitage

So it was a bit of a shock to find that the walls were no longer free to walk but there was now a fee of 250 – a large sum of A$50. Thus, a photo shoot was going to cost A$150. Well what price is history I thought. And it goes to a good cause – the preservation of the walls!

But I was determined. Sister Judy didn’t want to walk the walls again and there was even some doubt that with her chest condition with asthma she would even be able to mount the steps up to the wall. So I thought I would explain this to the ticket office and see if they would let her go up just for the photo and then come down and without any charge.

On the day I had decided to take the photo we had just come back from a trip to three islands and were quite tired and I had decided that I wouldn’t walk the walls and Tina agreed. Perhaps I should try a different strategy.

I went to the chap in his ticket cubicle at the top of the first flight of steps (not the ticket office at ground level) and said I had a favour to ask. I showed him the photo from 1969 – and pointed to myself in it. He was amazed and said in awe ‘1969’ amazing - long before I was born.

I then said that I wanted with myself and my sister and friend to recreate this photo and the place was at the top of these next steps. He knew that of course as the location is quite obvious in the 1969 photo.

I said there was even doubt if my sister could get up the steps and we did not want to walk the wall at all.. Just take the photo and come back.

Dubrovnik Wall 3

The same sport over 50 year later - Photo Russell Armitage

He was quite intrigued by all this and said he agreed but he would have to phone his boss. Which he did, and an animated and quite enthusiastic conversation took place (Croatian has many similarities to Czech so could follow a bit – although it wasn’t difficult as he was just repeating my story).

He hung up and said the boss agrees but please come back after you have taken the photo. I offered my watch as security but he refused and said there was no need.

So we climbed the long two flights of steps – Judy very, very, slowly causing me some concern that I had asked her to do this – but she was keen to take part.

The exact spot was found – although the 2 step drop in the path had been changed to one.

It wasn’t at all busy which surprised me but a likely looking young couple came down the path ad I asked them to take the photo and why. They were very surprised too and only too pleased to do so. They then asked me to take a photo of them. They were on their honeymoon from Chile. I wish now I had taken one of them to include with this article.

Russell Armitage

Hamilton, New Zealand

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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