„New normal“ or „new deal“?!
Thanks to the social networks and Internet that were our window to the world these couple of months, some new expressions have found their way to be implemented into dictionaries in 2020. First is „new normal“ – current state of being in private and professional life adapted because COVID19. Like most of the cities around the world Dubrovnik also faced dramatical changes in the lockdown but also now when life slowly returns to normal. Since there are so many bad news that are displayed everywhere to make you feel miserable I decided I will dedicate my “postcorona” blog just to the bright side of life.
Majority of Croatian people are lazy concerning how often we exercise or do any kind of activity. Not many people in Dubrovnik ever climb hill Srdj that is above Dubrovnik ( 1,325 ft). Usually when we see somebody jogging the first comment is: he must be crazy since our most beloved activity is having a coffee in a bar while sunbathing like lizards. Since Dubrovnik is full of steep and curvy roads you’ll not see many cyclists around. Only our most adventurous tourists were the ones joining these extreme biking tours in the countryside of Dubrovnik and of course grumpy locals couldn’t wait to start honking loudly when they made traffic congestions. But everything changed during the lockdown. Now it is the „new normal“ to see locals running, every family got at least two bikes, and one local even opened repair workshop which is probably now one of the most profitable businesses in the city. Hundreds of people were climbing the hill Srđ and trying to find alternative paths in the nature where police wouldn't warn them to „stayathome“. We started to drink homemade coffee to go as well. Even my day now starts with „Yoga with Adriene“ after so many years of neglecting my body.
More importantly, our approach to the food changed a lot. Everybody is a gardener and agricultural expert now. Wherever there is an extra or an empty spot in the garden there will probably grow the new row of potatoes and tomatoes. We have virtual Facebook green market and you’re not cool if you are not the member of this new organic movement. There is also some humour to it, like some people are trying to grow watermelons or potatoes in a balcony pot. Gardening became a new big thing in Dubrovnik. It is a very positive movement because we started to support our small local producers, and buying homemade products from them as we became more aware of that short chain from farm to table. Obviously it is a result of having more time as most of our citizens are unemployed. Otherwise in this pre-season time quick sandwich was just fine. Needless to say that we all improved our cooking skills and probably this generation will give the most eminent chefs. Just check the Instagram and you’ll see we were only thinking what to cook but we forgot on pounds we got. Luckily- we don't have house scale.
Beauty industry also faced some changes and it was not just because Keanu Reeves new girlfriend promotes grey hair look. Sorry, corona took credit for that. Fashion style speaking- good old leggings took precedence over jeans. It is for practical reasons, as we got amnesia over pounds. Pyjama was the „new black dress“.
Situation with parking changed as well. It's May and we can park our car wherever we want in the city. We are not stuck in traffic jams for hours. Soon we will start going to the half-empty beaches. That means we will be able to bring our towel and put it wherever we want without arguing with renters to pay 30€ for sunbed and sun umbrella. Thank you God! Hotels and apartments are empty and luck just smiled to those who are searching long time rentals. Even the prices decreased and locals are finally able to afford it. Big real estate market balloon is slowly bursting.
The lockdown and the current economic situation made people more humble and appreciative; children are playing on the street and you say hello to the strangers. But you still won’t see many locals in the Old City as lots of them moved out and left their apartments for rental. Who knows maybe some of them will decide to come back this summer in this idyllic setting.
We lost a lot during these challenging times. Dubrovnik, as the rest of Croatia and Mediterranean will face financial crisis this year or even maybe longer because it heavily relies on tourism as its main industry. Our future is uncertain, but we can rethink about “new normal” aspects of tourism that we didn't have before. Responsible and sustainable tourism in interaction with locals was always our Dubrovnik Food Story goal and maybe more will follow that path now. Or not, as soon when this „new normal“ stops maybe it will again be replaced with “past normal” which in reality was not normal at all. Crossed fingers for smart „new deals“ in 21 century which can save us from ourselves so we don't need apocalypse to fix things that were wrong. Until then those few tourists who will have opportunity to visit Dubrovnik in 2020 retain that photo in your memory as it will be truly unique.
As our Dubrovnik tourist board motto says : "We are still here, we are not leaving anywhere."