Saturday, July 15, 2017

Paradise Preserved ... I Hope

Back in the 1960s, two of my grandfather’s sisters emigrated from Britain to Ibiza. Neither ever married, yet I know that both could have taken their pick of a number of educated, well-to-do gentlemen. The younger sister even had a perfume made, in Paris, just for her, by an especially romantic (and enormously wealthy) Frenchman, whose marriage proposal she ultimately turned down. They were classy ladies, to say the least, and lived in Ibiza until they died, in 1977 and 1980 respectively. My only memento is a well-preserved picture postcard, which they sent to me from San Antonio in 1970. It bears a photograph of a vintage motor car, the type in which they were probably accustomed to being chauffeured around the island.

If either could visit Ibiza today, and witness what has become of its ‘nightlife’ (Figure 107.1), I am sure they would be privately disgusted. It has morphed into un lío of drunks, druggies and dickheads, revelling in limitless sea, sun and STDs. Decent, hard-working Ibizans have, for years now, been confronted with a ghastly choice: if they want revenue, in the form of tourists’ cash, then they have little choice but to tolerate the squalor created seemingly by animals released from cages.

Figure 107.1: Ibiza, off its face and in everyone else’s

Copyright © 2014

Brits, especially, have a lousy reputation in Southern Europe. Loud, aggressive, ape-like creatures, who cannot cope with even a moderate amount of alcohol, stain the landscape from noon till the small hours – and those are just the ‘ladies’. In the morning, the Ibizans shake their heads, peg their noses and clean up the detritus, in preparation for a repeat performance of pathetic, shameless exhibitionism hours later.

I ought to add: youngsters have a right to enjoy themselves, go crazy even. The libertarian’s code, however, suggests that when the peace, rights and well-being of others are infringed, the partying should stop. I have some incredible memories of near-nihilistic nights in Bangkok and Tokyo in the early 1990s, but never were they either inconsiderate or antisocial. To every right, there must be an equal and opposite responsibility.

Approximately 1,300 miles (2,100 km) northeast of Ibiza lies the ‘Ibiza’ that my great aunts would have known and adored. It is the Croatian island of Hvar. This island paradise lies a few miles off the Adriatic coast and is accessible by ferry. (I took the one from Split to Stari Grad; the trip lasts a couple of hours.)

The port town of Hvar is situated on the south coast, near to the island’s western extremity. Its architecture, plants, colours and stunning harbour set it apart from anywhere I have ever visited (Figure 107.2). It is practically perfect; nothing is contrived, meretricious, spoiled or soiled.

Figure 107.2: Paradise (to be) lost? Not if Mayor Rikardo Novak has his way.

Copyright © 2017 Visit Hvar

Hvar’s newly-elected mayor, Rikardo Novak (Figure 107.3) is determined to keep it that way. Anyone caught boozing in the street will be hammered for €700 (£620). Draconian? Perhaps, but Mr Novak, to his immense credit, believes in deterrence. Male tourists will still be permitted to dress like overgrown toddlers, but, if one dares to go topless, he will be fined a cool €500 (£440). The financial punishment meted out to a topless woman I can only guess.

Figure 107.3: ‘They are vomiting in town, urinating on every corner, walking without T-shirts … crawling around, unconscious. Young tourists are welcome, but they will have to learn how to behave here.’

Copyright © 2017 Vijesti

When I learned that tourism on the island was booming, I was almost disconsolate. The last thing it needs is a continuous invasion by herds of apes.

All power to Mr Novak. I hope he will stick to his guns – and fire them if necessary.

Copyright © 2017 Paul Spradbery

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