“Sex and drugs and sausage rolls,” there’s a guy behind me in the queue for the concert in St Salvation with a mission to entertain. “You don’t get lager louts in this town, you get Saga louts.” His wife is not amused: “Oh Sid, give over.”
With or without Saga louts, at night you can see Dubvrovnik is really a theatre. Maybe all successful towns and cities are theatrical sets but Dubrovnik certainly knows how to turn crumbling Renaissance scenery into a thriving, bustling stage starring waiters and restaurant owners politely accosting tourists on the relentless tread around town; live music echoing across the squares; shop keepers dressing and undressing their windows; lights gleaming and bouncing across the marble streets.
Thick walls didn’t stop bombs and plagues in the near and distant past but so far they keep out cars . You can hear the sound of feet echoing across squares and people talking to one another. I wondered if that was why I saw so few people using mobile phones; there is no need to escape the here and now.
Kids ride bikes to the edge of the harbour, trolleys deliver sick and frail to and from ambulances and bring barrels of booze to the bars. Handcarts meet tourists at the gate to help with heavy luggage unloaded from taxis. And business seems to thrive.
We didn’t venture much outside the walls. The sounds of engines – buses, cars, taxis, motorbikes – hit you as soon as you walk through the gates. The walls are ringed with a moat of car parks and cars seem to circle the ring road as if ceaselessly looking for a chance to break through. I hope they never do.
And you can hear my audio postcard from Dubrovnik on RadioMagnetic too.