Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Double Dipping Dubrovnik

We recently spent 5 nights in the old town of Dubrovnik, a town steeped in history, safe for centuries within the protection of its thick stone walls, from invasion by land or sea, though not from rocket fire from Serbia in 1991, when some 60% of the conglomerate of dwellings standing shoulder to shoulder up and down the steep walk ways that constitute the old town were damaged. To date they have almost all been lovingly restored to their former glory.




Our accommodation at "Luxury Old Town Apartments" was just one of the conglomerate nestled near the top of a steep stone staircase leading from the Sjeverna (North Gate) down to the beautiful marble walkway of the Placa Stradum. Describing it as a spacious studio apartment in their internet advertisement just confirmed the subjective nature of these adjectives. Perhaps compared to cabins at a caravan park it was luxurious and in comparison with our room in Singapore it was spacious though no more spacious than the caravan we spend 3 years travelling around Australia in. Like our caravan only one of us could be walking around the apartment at any given time, so we had to take it in turns to get up. The apartment, crammed into the attic space 38 steps up from the ground floor, was perhaps spacious vertically in the centre, at the apex of the roof, but then the roof came down to meet the walls at window sill height. The kitchen was tucked into such a space so that hubby had to bend so as not to knock his head while washing the dishes in the sink. In order to open any cupboard door all others had to be closed and the garbage bin moved. The floor space in the kitchen, left to walk in, measured approx. 60cmx150cm, only one person could enter at any one time. Into such a space where the ceiling met the walls the tiny dining table, 45cmx45cm, was tucked, we had to choose the seating arrangement according to height, though either way hubby always knocked his head when rising. The king size bed, took up about 90% of the remaining floor space.

the advertised "views of the old town", although hubby had to hold me by the ankles so that I could hold the camera out far enough to capture them.

The advertised washing machine was broken, and by no fault of proprietor, the spare parts were not available in Dubrovnik. By the time they were due to arrive from Zagreb we would be long gone. To their credit, they took away a load of our laundry and returned it clean and nicely folded. However when we asked where the advertised microwave was we were advised that it had been loaned out to another unit but when it did arrive no one knew where it could stand nor where it could be plugged into power nor were there any microwave dishes suitable to use in it.
The advertised satellite TV had no connection to the TV nor a remote control to operate it. When I did connect it using a SCART plug borrowed from the terrestrial digital receiver there was no signal to any of the 499 channels. So I returned the SCART plug and we tried to guess what was being said on the news in Croatian from the free to air channels available. Luckily the advertised WiFi internet connection did work albeit at snail pace.

the Placa Stradum at dusk

Being in the old town had its advantages and its disadvantages. Proximity to all the great sights of the old town was delightful, having to walk up and down the 115 steep steps it took to access them from our accommodation was a bit of a deterrent to doing it too often. My calf muscle bare testament to the total number of times we completed the round trip of 230 steps (not including all the other steps around the old town itself).


the stairs leading from the Placa Stradum to the entrance to our accommodation at the top

The range of supermarkets was limited and here is where the double dipping really came into play. The first few times we purchased a range of items at the largest of the supermarkets within the walls of the old town, Konzum, we thought our bill was high but, not having received a receipt, we put it down to the price you pay for convenience. Eventually we learnt to ask for our receipts and when they handed them over reluctantly we discovered there were more items on them than we had purchased. Not being able to read the receipts we could only go by the total number of items. Pointing out the discrepancy to the teller we were begrudgingly hand the exact amount for the first item on the bill without them even checking what was in our shopping bag. Evidently they knew exactly what they had added to our bill. This happened on more than one occasion. The amounts were not enormous, between the equivalent to 1 or 2 dollars but this multiplied by the hundreds of tourists who walk through their doors on a daily basis would soon add up to a substantial amount.

The entrance to the supermarket is to the left of the statue
We raised this issue with our landlady and she admitted prior knowledge of this practice. We can only wonder why she had not considered imparting this knowledge to warn us. Guilt by association?
The tourists are seen as cash cows to be milked by one and all.....moo.




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