Barefoot in Dubrovnik
Croatia is a country getting by on self-sufficiency and kept afloat by tourism.
Walking around barefoot hippy style isn’t my thing, but when it is pouring down rain in the Old City of Dubrovnik, it’s easier and cheaper than ruining a pair of leather shoes. When it rains in Dubrovnik, it bloody pours.
On Monday, the three of us were soaked to our knees as we walked through streams of water gushing through the lane ways, trying desperately hard to keep our cheap and inefficient umbrellas the right way out. But there wasn’t much else we could do but laugh.
The Old Town is tiny, but during summertime the population increases dramatically, especially on the days the cruise liners dock. It’s a melting pot of human behaviour, not all of it pretty. Croatia’s an interesting, I’ve enjoyed most of it, but it’s not a place I’ll come back to in a hurry.
The food is pretty standard, not a lot out of the ordinary and the wine is a little underwhelming for my tastes. But then you look at the coastline, and the beautiful buildings and you find the reason thousands flock here every summer.
It’s a shame for the Croatians that they only come in summer. With an unemployment rate of around 18% and a country that basically closes down in the winter, it’s surprising locals survive as well as they do. But that’s where self sufficiency comes into play. Croatia apparently doesn’t need to import a lot, except for oil and gas; they grow and produce so much themselves.
That doesn’t stop many from leaving, and now the country is an EU member, Germany and Britain are popular destinations.
Education seems to be a very important part of society, it’s compulsory for 12 years and English is taught from year one (as an English speaker that makes travelling around very easy, because my Croatian is limited to about five words). Roads are reasonably good, except for the crazy drivers and the country is also very clean. Healthcare standards need to be dramatically improved though.
Many of those leaving are highly educated such as doctors, so perhaps it’s time to stop the “brain drain”. Croatians were described to me the other day as open minded, travellers and a bit stubborn. I wonder what they think of all the visitors who keep their economy afloat.