When the Balkanist published The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom it brought back many bitter-sweet memories of places I used to visit as a child. The story about the deterioration of Kupari was especially heartbreaking. Kupari is home to the abandoned military tourist resort – several large hotels which were severely damaged during the war. Kupari was also one of my favorite places on the coast and I’ve spent many hours thinking what it would be like to stay in one of those fancy hotels (rather then a tiny camper-van which was my parents idea of a perfect holiday!). It was a site for many mischievous adventures with friends from across Yugoslavia. In my head Kupari were *the* most perfect place on this planet and I could never imagine ever wanting to spend my holidays anywhere else.
A few years ago I went to a conference in Dubrovnik and asked the guy driving me to the airport to make a stop at Kupari so that I could see it one more time. I went out of the car, walked around for 20 minutes and couldn’t recognize anything. Surely, the hotels were there but were so badly damaged I couldn’t put them through the image in my head. Our camp site also disappeared and nothing seemed to be where I thought it was. Walking around seemed like I’ve seen someone dead and couldn’t imagine them alive anymore. I felt like a part of me got lost and cried my way through the metal detector.
Several years later I ended up in Hvar with a friend and thought about going to Jelsa to visit the Belgrade’s children’s resort where I’ve spent at least 4-5 summers with my school. I was curious what it looked like and hoped it was still in some sort of use. Just as I was about to drive off I remembered how I felt in Kupari and opted not to go. Reading this article made my decision even more solid as it looks eons away from where it was in the 80s. However, there are still a few pictures around to remind me that these piles of concrete, metal and rubble were once much more then a convenient site for wartime photographers.
I will cherish those days forever.