Sunday, 21 July 2024

Last week was a week of firsts for me. It was the first time I had visited a Baltic country, the northernmost I have ever been on the globe, the first time I had visited Scandinavia and the first time I had ever tried rhubarb wine!

I escaped the heat wave and chilled my bones with 20 degree temperatures, heaven on earth. “Once a year, go someplace you've never been before,” once said the Dalai Lama, I’ve certainly ticked that box.

“So was Estonia as you expected it to be?” asked one of my hosts as we sat in a traditional restaurant in Tartu on the last day of a four-day trip. Although I had done a little research I kind of half expected a Soviet-style country, complete with dour architecture and boring functionality, that was still trying to escape from the claws of communism. I was wrong, totally wrong!

Fuel Prices Set to Rise Across Croatia Starting Tuesday 2

My reason for visiting Estonia, or more precisely the 2024 European Capital of Culture – Tartu, was as a project for the EU connected with digitalisation and remote working, indeed I was to be the host of a podcast.

Maybe you aren’t aware but Estonia is very much the tip of the spear in a digital life.

And this was highlighted when I was on a 2-hour bus ride from Tallin to Tartu, as sitting opposite me were a couple in their mid-seventies who spent the whole journey surfing, video calling and chatting on their smartphones.

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Estonia seems to have started their digital journey twenty years ago and literally live and work online. “Almost all of the city council works remotely,” explained the deputy mayor. In fact, I would say that three things really hit me – the digital transformation, the green and sustainable lifestyle and the emphasis on mental health. And all of these points are handled superbly.

Now I enjoying being shocked culturally, if everywhere and everybody were the same life would be tedious. But one thing that took a lot of getting used to was the sun, or rather the almost never-setting sun.

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“For three months we have extremely long days,” said one local.

We left one restaurant at 10 at night when they were closing and stepped outside into bright sunshine and children playing on scooters and families going for strolls. Your body feels tired but can’t work out why it’s still broad daylight. Dusk is a long process and almost collides with dawn, with true darkness from 11pm to around 3.30am.

Of course on the flip side the winter is almost a blackout.

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And Estonians make the most (to the extreme) of these three months of sun. Whereas the Dubrovnik group were wrapped up the locals were exclusively in shorts and T-shirts.

One afternoon the heavens opened and rain hammered, however the Viking blood of the locals shone through as they mainly walked without umbrellas and were soaked, but smiling. “Oh, what is the temperature in Dubrovnik?” asked a local organiser and was shocked when I said mid-thirties. “Like our saunas,” she smiled.

I can’t state this enough – Estonians love saunas.

“We even have one in our office,” added the young lady. I didn’t meet anyone who didn’t go to a sauna at least once a week, and many (many) went four or five days. “We go every Sunday with the whole family,” said another local.

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I soon realised that saunas are more of a social event, with family, friends and food and wine. And to add to the “bonding” it appears that full frontal naked saunas are also the norm!

And on my travels I dig to find local gastronomic treats. “Do you guys make wine?” I quizzed. “Well, not from grapes but from other fruits,” she answered. And one such fruit is rhubarb. Strange but true.

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For three days I asked and asked to try this unique drink and on the final day one of the organisers turned up to a meeting with a chilled bottle. I am going to be diplomatic and say that it was a distinctive taste.

But to be fair my whole Estonian experience was far from what I had expected. A country that in many ways is so far ahead of the bigger players in Europe and yet still mainly undiscovered.

Estonia – I will be back.

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik

 

Fuel prices across Croatia will increase from Tuesday, reports RTL.

From Tuesday, the 2nd of July, the most popular fuel in the country, Eurosuper, will increase by 4 cents to 1 euro and 47 cents per litre.

Eurodiesel will cost 1 euro and 42 cents from Tuesday, or 5 cents more, and the highest increase will be for blue diesel – by 6 cents. A litre will cost 89 cents.

 

Perched on a towering rock in the village of Dunave, Sokol Grad is a fortress with a history spanning from prehistoric times to the Republic of Dubrovnik. This unique site offers a blend of historical depth, architectural marvels, and breath-taking views, making it a must-visit destination for tourists.

Sokol Grad is a historical fortress once belonging to the Republic of Dubrovnik, strategically located on the border with the former Ottoman Empire. Situated in the modern-day village of Dunave, this fortress is perched atop an inaccessible rock towering over 25 meters high. The first records of Sokol date back to a period before the Republic of Dubrovnik, with evidence of continuous habitation since prehistoric times. Originally, the prehistoric fort served to protect the local populace, while the Byzantine stronghold later defended the Konavle region from external threats. The people of Dubrovnik took control of Sokol in the first half of the 15th century and maintained possession until the late 17th century.

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The fortress was abandoned following the devastating earthquake of 1667, known locally as the "Big Cherry." For the next three centuries, Sokol Grad fell into disrepair, facing decay and near-oblivion. In 1966, the Society of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquity acquired the fortress, initiating a significant restoration project. After decades of work, Sokol Grad was finally reopened to the public in 2013, offering a glimpse into its rich historical legacy.

Why Sokol Grad is a Unique Attraction for Tourists

1. Historical Significance

Sokol Grad offers a deep dive into the region's history, spanning from prehistoric times through the Byzantine period, and into the era of the Republic of Dubrovnik. Visitors can explore the layers of history that have shaped the fortress, providing a tangible connection to the past.

2. Architectural Marvel

Perched on an imposing rock, Sokol Grad's strategic and inaccessible location is a testament to medieval military architecture. The fortress's design and construction showcase the ingenuity and resilience of its builders, offering a unique glimpse into the defensive strategies of the time.

3. Scenic Views

The fortress's elevated position provides breath-taking views of the surrounding Konavle region and the distant Adriatic Sea. This panoramic vista makes the journey to Sokol Grad not just a historical exploration but also a visual feast.

Find more here - visit.cavtat-konavle.com

Although Modrić and company did not impress in the first two matches against Spain and Albania, they needed a win against Italy in the last round to advance from the group stage, but Mattia Zaccagni shocked all of Croatia with a goal in the eighth minute of stoppage time for the equalizer.

However, Dutch referee Danny Makkelie, who decided to add a controversial eight minutes of stoppage time, was the target of Croatian fans, many of whom thought it was too long. Numerous Croatians found the Dutchman's profile on Instagram, where they bombarded him with messages, and he soon deleted his account on the popular social network, writes Sport Klub

We remind you that Makkelie was excluded by UEFA from refereeing knockout stage matches of the European Championship, but not because of the substantial stoppage time, rather because he did not immediately notice an obvious handball in the Italian penalty area and had to go to the VAR monitor before awarding a penalty to Croatia.

The summer days in Orašac begin on July 1st with the Orašac Summer Festival - Our Lady of Orašac, when at 9 PM under the plane trees, Klapa Kaše will bring the spirit of Dalmatian music with their performance. On July 2nd at 10 PM, on the same stage, the entertainment program will continue with a performance by the famous Croatian group Dalmatino.

In front of the Rector's Palace, on July 1st at 10 PM, Klapa Poklisari will perform their musical repertoire as part of the "Serenade to the City" program, while on July 2nd at the same time, the female klapa FA Linđo will perform, bringing a special atmosphere with their renditions.

The Zaton Summer Festival begins on July 5th at 8 PM on the beach in Štikovica with a performance by Klapa Malfi. On the same evening at 10 PM, Klapa Karaka will fill the Bay of Lapad with their serenades.

Klapa Poklisari foto

On July 6th at 9 PM, the Cultural Center in Mali Zaton will host the Zaton Brass Band and Mali Linđo, while on the island of Lopud, on the waterfront, the Lopud Summer Festival will be held. The Lopud Feast begins at 9 PM, and Klapa Ragusa will perform at 9:30 PM.

On July 7th at 9 PM, in Mali Zaton, there will be a summer cinema on the open stage, while at 10 PM, the Bay of Lapad will be filled with the sounds of the female klapa Amfora, concluding this week's cycle of "Through the Streets of Our City / Serenade to the City."

 

Yachting enthusiasts are becoming more and more attracted to Croatia, a real gem of the Mediterranean. With more than 1,000 islands, crystal clear sea, pristine beaches, and charming coastal towns, many consider Croatia to offer near-perfect conditions for exploring by sea. With an array of picturesque places and untouched natural beauties, it may be difficult to choose what places to visit. So take a thrilling sail around Croatia's stunning coastline as we reveal the greatest places that await discovery via yacht charter Croatia.

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The city of Dubrovnik

If you’re planning your vacation with a luxurious catamaran in Croatia, you’ve probably already heard about Dubrovnik. This beautiful town is one of the most popular destinations on the Adriatic coast and became even more famous after the directors of Game of Thrones decided to turn this UNESCO-protected city into King’s Landing.

The city has a rich history and beautiful architecture but is probably most well known for the walls that surround the city. When visiting, use the opportunity to walk these walls and experience the city from another perspective.

In addition to amazing architecture, while in the city you can also treat yourself to amazing food from one of the city's prestigious restaurants like Panorama Restaurant, or just refresh yourself with amazing cocktails in Buža Bar.

Hvar Island

Whether you’re on the Croatian coast under the guidance of our skilled boat crew or on a bareboat yacht charter, Hvar Island is a destination that definitely should be on your travel list if you’re looking for a perfect blend of sunny beaches, beautiful architecture, and unmatched nightlife.

While this vibrant island is most famous for its parties in clubs like Carpe Diem, Pink Champagne, and Hula Hula, those seeking a more peaceful experience, can enjoy a wealth of culinary delights at numerous restaurants and upscale bars.

Island of Brač

While Hvar dazzles with its vibrant nightlife and upscale atmosphere, Brač captivates with its rugged beauty, rich history, and authentic island charm.

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Brač has something for everyone. If you want to enjoy a lively atmosphere, enjoy a fun day at a beach bar, or experience a little bit of adventure by doing some water sports, visit the island’s main town Supetar or Bol, with its famous Zlatni Rat beach. If you want to experience real island life and get a sneak peek at how people lived on this island in the past, wander through the narrow cobblestone streets of one of the smaller places on the island, wander through olive groves, or discover one of the island's secluded bays.

The city of Split

With its blend of history, natural beauty, and great party offers, Split promises a memorable experience for all who visit.

This more than 1700-year-old city is best known for its Diocletian palace, which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Due to the Ultra Music Festival that takes place here every summer, Split has become a popular summer festival and party destination. Cultural enthusiasts can delve into museums and galleries, while food lovers can savour Mediterranean flavours at local restaurants.

Thanks to its location, the city is a perfect starting point for island hopping, and the seas around Split provide unlimited chances for exploration and leisure.

 

The Dutch referee Danny Makkelie will no longer officiate at the European Championship, UEFA decided after his controversial match between Croatia and Italy.

The Dutch portal AD reported that Makkelie, a police inspector, has already returned to Rotterdam.

Croatia expressed dissatisfaction with the eight minutes of added time, during which they conceded a goal for 1:1, causing public outrage.

Makkelie also officiated in Germany's victory over Hungary, and the Hungarians complained about a controversial goal due to an alleged foul in the attack.

This was Makkelie's second European Championship, and he also officiated at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Josep "Pep" Guardiola, the renowned football manager and former player, has been enjoying a holiday in Dubrovnik with his family over the past several days. Guardiola's presence in Dubrovnik has not gone unnoticed, and local establishments have warmly welcomed the esteemed guest.

During his stay, Guardiola and his family dined at the Kasar restaurant in Zaton. The restaurant shared their excitement on Instagram, posting a photo with the celebrated manager and expressing their gratitude. "It was an honor to meet and host one of the greatest football managers of today. Thank you for visiting our restaurant, it was an immense pleasure for us. A wonderful evening with a wonderful family, hope to see you again!" the caption read.

pep dubrovnik

Guardiola, who is married to Cristina Serra since 2014, has three children: Maria, Valentina, and Marius. The family appeared to be enjoying their time together, embracing the scenic beauty and tranquil ambiance of Dubrovnik.

This is not Guardiola’s first visit to the area. He previously visited Dubrovnik in 2012, arriving by private plane at Čilipe and embarking on a tour of the nearby islands. During that trip, he was particularly taken with Lopud and Šipan.

As one of the most respected figures in football, Guardiola's visit has generated excitement among fans and locals alike, highlighting Dubrovnik as a favored destination for high-profile visitors.

“What an utterly delightful dining experience,” remarked the English couple seated across from me. I nodded in concurrence, “Delightful is indeed a fitting description,” I replied. Now I need to come clean right at the beginning of this text, I thought I knew every eatery in Dubrovnik, and the wider Dubrovnik region. In fact, I have eaten at most of them. However, I was wrong. You know how pearls are hidden in oysters, well this is a true gem of a restaurant that was hidden from me, not in an oyster but pretty much in plain sight. Until now.

Let’s start at the beginning, with first impressions. Restaurant Natali is located as part of the incredibly stunning Palace Natali. So picture this. On your horizon is the fold of the clear blue sky and the turquoise Adriatic, and as you zoom in a beautifully symmetric Renaissance garden with centuries-old olive trees and manicured gardens and you sit in the shade of a classically elegant summer residence. If you were to try and describe the perfect Mediterranean setting, then this would be pretty close to the result. Serene grace, yes that’s a good description.

TASTED BY THE EDITOR Discovering Culinary Perfection at Restaurant Natali

What a stunning location

Chef Highlighted His Skills

Now down to business. Firstly, the staff. For a visit to a restaurant should be an experience and the staff are a vital component. “Welcome to Restaurant Natali,” said the friendly waiter. Clearly, he had a wealth of knowledge and led me through my whole dining evening. As you probably know I am a fan of short menus, chefs have to put in more effort to highlight their skills. And yes, Restaurant Natali has a great one. “May I recommend the Tuna Tartare as a light starter,” said the head chef, Dubravko.

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From the garden to the plate - Photo - Mark Thomas 

Discovering Culinary Perfection at Restaurant Natali 1

And then something happened to me in a restaurant that has never happened before. Apparently, part of the dish was a special decoration, capers flowers, and from the corner of my eye I spotted chef cutting a flower from a plant growing in the garden. “I was wondering if this whole meal could get any more “Dalmatian” but clearly it can,” I laughed with the chef. The Tuna Tartare was served with homemade spicy mayonnaise, caper, chive oil and flatbread. Not only were the harmony of flavours magical but the plating was a masterpiece. Now, I latter discovered that chef had worked in some of the leading restaurants in Dubrovnik, and that shone through like the Adriatic sun.

Pairing Is Caring

Wine and food, food and wine. And pairing isn’t that easy at all. But my waiter and his knowledge really came to the fore. I was on a journey through Croatia in every glass of red and white.

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“I would highly recommend you trying another starter,” said the waiter, “the scallops.” I am so glad I took his advice, scallops served with foie gras and truffle sauce, bone marrow, garlic chips and flavoured croutons. The sauce was the key; the delicacy of the scallops was boosted by the intriguing sauce.

In My Top Three

Onwards and upwards, and the main course. Chicken drumstick and thighs looked tempting, although how would chef bring some colour to this white meat. I shouldn’t have doubted him. Again the platting was picture-perfect, and the stuffing of duxelles and Provençal mousse, along with parsnip purée and skin chips, well let’s just say I was lost for words.

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Delightful indeed

Out of all the many (many) restaurants I have had the pleasure to visit this one, Restaurant Natali, would honestly be in my top three. There are ones that have great food, or superb service or unique locations, but Natali has all these ingredients, a rare find, and a jewel in the crown of Dubrovnik’s culinary scene. Delightful indeed.

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How to get to Restaurant Natali –

There is dedicated parking so you could just follow your GPS if you have rented a car. Or just ask your taxi driver for Palace Natali, or Restaurant Natali. It is also manageable walk from the historic Old City of Dubrovnik. Believe me it is well worth finding!

And follow Restaurant Natali here - 

Web: https://palacenatali.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/restaurantnatali/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61559643163072

The world-renowned fast food chain McDonald’s is making significant strides in expanding its presence across Croatia, accompanied by a substantial increase in its workforce.

According to the business report by Gavrilović's company Globalna hrana, the franchise holder for McDonald’s in Croatia, the chain boasted 46 restaurants and employed 2,378 workers as of the last day of December last year. This marks an increase of approximately 430 employees compared to the same day the previous year, reports Danica

McDonald’s offers competitive compensation, with the average net salary being around 1,080 euros, which is 130 euros more than the previous year. The company is also hiring more students for seasonal work, having spent 8.2 million euros on student services last year, a 22 percent increase from the year before.

Currently, McDonald’s is seeking additional staff for its restaurants in various locations including Zagreb, Varaždin, Velika Gorica, Karlovac, Vukova Gorica, Sisak, Bjelovar, Sesvete, Desinec, Ježevo, and Koprivnica. The average net salary for an entry-level position is approximately 1,050 euros with all allowances, plus an annual bonus of 560 euros net. Notably, no prior work experience is required for these positions.

In terms of financial performance, McDonald’s in Croatia achieved 188 million euros in revenue last year, reflecting a 35 percent increase. The company also reported a net profit of 20 million euros, an impressive 89 percent increase.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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