An Austro-Hungarian State of Mind

Sunset across the old town and city walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sunset across the old town and city walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Our experience with Ottoman (Turkish) flags in Bosnia left us a little curious about the leanings of the people of Croatia and other Yugoslav states. Were people happier in modern day states? Did they prefer the erstwhile state of Yugoslavia? Or, like their Bosnian counterparts, did they prefer an entirely different era?

Kayaks parked near the super calm Adriatic Sea at sunrise, Dubrovnik

Kayaks parked near the super calm Adriatic Sea at sunrise, Dubrovnik

We had a chance to explore further when we arrived back in Croatia, in the isolated region of modern-day Dubrovnik. What we found was even more intriguing and convoluted than the thought processes in Bosnia.

Dubrovnik itself has had a very interesting past, having been an independent state as Ragusa, undefeated and rich for most of it’s history. They way the region managed to stay that way is a topic for another post, but needless to say, they were very proud about it.

Sunrise over the bay at Dubrovnik, from Banje Beach

Sunrise over the bay at Dubrovnik, from Banje Beach

Along with self-pride came the hesitance and discomfort around being part of another nation – which in present day history, was Croatia, which had just begun the process of integrating into the European Union. Unlike Bosnia, there were flags of Croatia hanging everywhere, but when you dug further into conversation, you realized that deep inside, the sentiments were very different.

Dubrovnik city walls at sunrise from Banje Beach

Dubrovnik city walls at sunrise from Banje Beach

There was no faith in the EU – people weren’t very excited about it. The only glimmer of excitement was around the recently announced Eu-Croatia co-funded Pelješac Bridge that would connect the two parts of Croatia seamlessly. Even that bridge had seen its funds see-sawing back and forth with a final plan in place only by mid-2017.

There was no faith in the Croat government. “Zagreb is so far, so corrupt, and so disconnect both physically and emotionally from Dubrovnik, that we don’t matter”, stated one restaurant owner. Whether true or not, the harbored perception was that Dubrovnik sent more in taxes and funds to the capital than it received from it.

Driving into Dubrovnik from the south (Montenegro)

Driving into Dubrovnik from the south (Montenegro)

“So what has been your preference for a government?” I asked another server, who was from Zadar and was working in Dubrovnik. Yugoslavia wasn’t bad, but in recent years, the most progress we made was during the Austro-Hungarian rule.

Funny he stated that, especially given the attachment to the Ottoman Empire from his neighbors.

Visitors along the Stradun, or the Main Street of Dubrovnik

Visitors along the Stradun, or the Main Street of Dubrovnik


Also published on Medium.

Posted in balkans, traveling.

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