The morning after our marathon tour with Bata, we made our tearful goodbyes to Majdas and Batman and took a bus down to the walled city of Dubrovnik, also known as King’s Landing for any other Game of Thrones fans out there. Due to some leftover irregularities from the last century of redrawing borders in the region every couple of decades, it takes about four hours to make the hundred-or-so kilometre journey as you cross and re-cross and re-re-cross from Bosnia to Croatia and back and back again. I can’t complain though, because after about an hour of actual driving the mountainous Bosnian landscape gives way to the beautiful Croatian coast, which is a stunning display of bright green brush meeting crystal-blue water that puts you in the sort of mood where you would be happy to get beaten with a phonebook for three more hours if that’s what it took to eventually dip your toe into the sea.
The timing of our arrival in Dubrovnik was ironic; two days earlier, as we wandered around Mostar, we had been discussing what our least favourite travel destination has been to date. After careful deliberation, we both agreed that Tangier was our unanimous least favourite because, well, Tangier was a bit of a shithole.
Two days later, I can now state on record that Dubrovnik holds the crown for my most hated place on the entire planet. I would spend a week in the medina of Tangier before I would spend another day in the old town of Dubrovnik. I would take another tour of Auschwitz before I would consider a tour of Dubrovnik, salami-pocket hangover and all. I would go back to Phuket in Thailand and have one hundred touts urge me to watch a ping-pong show while throwing monkeys at me before I would go within one hundred yards of Dubrovnik’s city limits.
In order to adequately explain why I hate it so much, I should first explain what my biggest rage-trigger is when traveling. It’s the word “touristy”. Whenever I hear a tourist say that something is “too touristy”, I want to douse them with gasoline and fire a Roman candle at them. I hate this word because it implies that the person using it is somehow superior to all of the other tourists out there, as if it’s perfectly acceptable for them to fly overseas and visit a place, but the fact that some other people also had the same idea is absolutely abhorrent and that they should all be deported.
“I fuckin’ hated that place bro, it was so touristy!”
“Earth to fuckface, YOU’RE A FUCKING TOURIST TOO!”
It’s just an ignorant, arrogant statement. I’ll admit that mass tourism is irritating at times, especially in the middle of summer in big European cities like Barcelona and London and Rome – but I’ll also acknowledge that I’m just as big of a part of the problem as anybody else. It’s just a minor irritation that you need to learn to live with. I live with it by imitating stupid photo poses that I see Asians doing, shoulder-checking oblivious people in crowds, and intentionally walking through shitty photos that I see people taking. I’m sure there are other, less rude ways to cope as well – let me know if you figure any out.
So, getting back on topic here, I suppose I hate Dubrovnik because it made me hate myself. I refuse to use the only word that would appropriately describe the place, because then I would need to end my morning with a rousing round of self-immolation – but I’ll paint a little picture of it for you anyways.
First of all, Dubrovnik has a large port. It’s a large enough port to land a cruise ship in. Not just one cruise ship, actually – up to five large cruise ships on any given day. As a result, the other tourists there are just about the worst kind of tourists on the entire planet. You know the type – old, fat, slow, completely oblivious to their surroundings. All of them are carrying a large DSLR camera that they don’t know how to use properly, resulting in them stopping abruptly in the middle of the street every few paces to try to figure out the settings for a good fifteen minutes before snapping a shitty picture of a cobblestone. The type that makes you want to go Titanic on that cruise ship’s ass.
Second of all, it shouldn’t be called the walled city of Dubrovnik, it should be called the walled restaurant of Dubrovnik – the entirety of the old town has been covered with cheap metal tables adorned with place settings and patrolled by waiters who continually ask if you would like to enjoy a shitty meal for a four-hundred percent markup over what you would pay in any other city within a good forty-hour drive. Obviously, they’re catering to the aforementioned cruise patrons that are happy to pay any amount of money for something that isn’t served out of a steam tray. Want to know how many good views of Dubrovnik you can enjoy? Zero, because they’re all full of tables stuffed with fat people sitting under umbrellas, and if you stop moving for more than four seconds you’re attacked by people offering you seven-dollar bottles of water.
Third of all, everything is exorbitantly overpriced. More so than I have seen anywhere else I’ve been, and with no good reason – honestly, Dubrovnik is not that special of a place. There’s an old town encased in some city walls. I’ve seen similar things in a dozen other European cities, but for some reason our accommodation was more expensive than any other place we’ve stayed in the last four months with the exception of the luxury apartment we rented at a resort on the Black Sea. We literally paid more for a room in Dubrovnik than we did in London or Barcelona. We didn’t eat out because I actually wasn’t kidding when I said that the shitty restaurants were marking up food by four hundred percent – one day I ate lunch in Mostar for four dollars, and the very next day I saw the same thing on sale for sixteen dollars in Dubrovnik. We didn’t go out for a drink because the bars were selling cocktails for eighteen dollars each – if I didn’t pay more than four bucks in one of Munich’s beer halls, or in Prague’s nightclubs, or in Scotland’s whisky bars, I sure as shit won’t pay eighteen at Bob’s Shithole Bar in Dubrovnik. Not because I can’t afford it – just out of goddamn principle.
Fourth of all, fuck Dubrovnik. Mass tourism and unchecked capitalism dancing happily hand-in-hand on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It makes me want to puke. If North Korea nuked Dubrovnik I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep. In fact, I would nominate Kim Jong-un for a Nobel Peace Prize for having the philanthropic foresight to put that place out of it’s misery.
To be fair and unbiased, I will now list all of the things I liked about Dubrovnik too:
- There were lots of stray cats.
I fucking hate Dubrovnik.