Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Dubrovnik hold a rich wealth of hidden secrets going back through the ages. From the rich and famous who have visited the city to the incredible history that this pearl of the Adriatic nurtures today.

We could probably write a top 100 “Dubrovnik – Did You Know” list but for now here is the top ten!

Croatians are more pleased with their membership of the European Union than they were last year, according to a new survey by Eurobarometer.

The new poll revealed that around 39 percent of the population is completely satisfied with the EU, a healthy increase of 8 percent compared with 2018. And only 18 percent are dissatisfied with membership of the European bloc.

And Croatians see the greatest advantage of being a full member of the European Union the freedom of movement. A massive 73 percent of Croatians questioned said that freedom of movement of people, goods and services is the main advantage of EU membership. The second most attractive benefit was seen as peace among all the member countries.

Eurobarometer survey polled people in all 28 EU countries, five candidate countries, as well as the Turkish community in Cyprus. In Croatia, the survey polled little over a 1,000 Croatians aged 15 or above.

Green and Intermodal Solutions for Adriatic airports and ports is a cross-border cooperation project co-financed under the Interreg V-A Italy-Croatia Transnational Cooperation Program 2014-2020. With the aim of improving the integration of Croatian and Italian ports and airports with other modes of transport in order to increase the flow of passengers arriving to major tourist destinations on the Adriatic coast and to reduce the environmental impact of regional maritime and air systems.

The project will last 25 months (from 1 January 2019 to 31 January 2021), has a total budget of 2,104,217.00 Euros and joins some of the leading Croatian and Italian ports and airports, which are motivated to cooperate and create more ecological and the greener ports and airports.

One of the most significant problems of the Adriatic coast is the disparity in the development of infrastructure and modes of transport, which is caused by a lack of investment and insufficient innovation. There are many maritime cities in Italy and Croatia, which have to deal with a large number of passengers, especially during high seasons. Despite the fact that road transport still largely prevails, the number of passengers arriving by ferry and aircraft on the Adriatic coast increases year by year. However, most of the Adriatic ports and airports are not sufficiently integrated with other modes of transport, thus causing serious traffic jams during the summer months.

The aim of the ADRIGREEN project is to find an innovative framework for supporting Croatian and Italian ports in order to improve their linkage to other modes of transport and to reduce their impact on the environment.

This will be manifested through concrete and tangible results that will emerge from partnerships through an integrated and transnational approach: i) international testing of the best solutions to be implemented on the Adriatic coast; ii) an analysis of the environmental impact of the involved ports / airports; iii) 2 joint action plan: intermodal solutions and implementation of green and sustainable measures; iv) testing of innovative solutions in the areas involved; v) technical manual on identified practices; vi) cross-border forums of green and intermodal ports and airports with the aim of presenting solutions, enhancing the advantages and sharing tips for new strategies.

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The project consortium consists of 10 project partners led by Pula Airport (Croatia). The consortium is balanced in terms of participation in the number of ports and airports: Dubrovnik Airport, Dubrovnik Port Authority and Pula Port Authority from Croatia and Rimini Airport, Abruzzo Airport, Airports of Apulia, Southern Adriatic Port Authority, Central Adriatic Ports Authority from Italy. For scientific guidance, the University Polytechnic of Marche is in charge.

The initial meeting of project partners was held in Pula on February 5-6, 2019, and they met and discussed the project activities, schedule and expected results at the same project partners.

Croatia is one of the most beautiful and under-appreciated countries in Europe, and if you’ve never been there, you’re certainly missing out. However, the rising tourist prices here mean that a trip to Dubrovnik or Zagreb isn’t quite as cheap as it once was. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go. Here are some useful tips for keeping those travel expenses down, so you don’t miss out on your dream trip to Croatia.

Watch for ticket sales

Flight tickets can be expensive, but there are times when airlines offer sales on tickets to specific locations. Ideally, you can set up some alerts or sign up for notifications from airlines that fly to Croatia so you can jump online as soon as the sale starts. You’ll need to be quick though.

Of course, there are times when an incredible sale on flights doesn't quite coincide with payday. But you can't miss out on those all-important savings. Instead, you can put the tickets on your credit card or if you don't have one, consider a short-term loan. Although you will need to pay interest on the money you borrow, it still may be cheaper than paying full price for your tickets.

Stay in a hostel

There aren’t too many massive hotel chains in Croatia, but that doesn’t mean that hotels are cheap. This is possibly the biggest expense on your trip, so it makes sense to look for cheaper accommodation if possible. While staying in a hostel may sound like something reserved for backpackers, they’re actually a wonderfully cheap alternative to hotels.

Many hostels now offer private rooms so you may not even have to sleep in a dorm, but you may have to share bathroom facilities. The added benefit of staying at a hostel is that you’ll meet more fellow travelers while hostel owners are often known to be quite helpful and friendly.

Take the bus

If you plan to visit several areas in Croatia, then a coach is your best bet. They usually have quite comfy chairs, and many have free wi-fi on board which is a nice bonus. Trains are more expensive and sometimes crowded while buses go pretty much anywhere and give you the chance to enjoy the local countryside.

Eat like a local

You’ll want to eat like a local anyway (how else can you experience the real Croatia?) But doing so can actually help you save quite a lot. Forget the touristy-looking places with English menus and head for the lesser known local spots. Most restaurants will offer brunch which is known locally as Marenda. This is an incredibly filling yet cheap meal that will see you through the entire day. Croatians like a hearty meal so no matter what you have, it’s probably going to fill you up.

You can also head to the local supermarket for supplies. Food in the market is cheap, and you can stock up on cheese and bread for a packed lunch for the day. If your hostel stay doesn’t include breakfast, then this is also a cheap option for the first meal of the day.

Check out free attractions

Some museums will waive the entrance fee on a museum night, but there are also many free attractions in the country that you can visit. Zagreb Cathedral, the Botanical Gardens, or even Old Town Dubrovnik are all interesting ways to spend a few hours, and they won’t cost you a penny.

And don’t forget the many street festivals and events held throughout the year. Check out the local tourist authority’s website for information on upcoming events and try to time your trip around the most interesting ones. Just make sure they’re free of course.

There’s no doubt that Croatia is an incredible country and as we said, although there are many tourists visiting here each year, it’s still somewhat under-appreciated as a holiday destination. So if you’re looking for an incredible holiday that won’t cost you the earth, then perhaps a trip to Croatia is exactly what you need.

Dobrodošli u Hrvatsku!

Just how gay friendly is Croatia? Well, according to the German based gay guide Spartacus International Gay Guide, Croatia is ranked in 47th position on their 2019 list. In fact, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United States are all in joint 47th position on the list of 197 countries.

The Spartacus Gay Travel Index lists the friendliest countries for LGBT tourists to visit. And every year the company produces a new, updated list. To compile the list Spartacus takes into account various factors, including analysing antidiscrimination laws, marriage and civil partnership laws, adoption laws, transgender rights, and persecution or death penalty.

The two most gay friendly countries in the world were Sweden and Canada, in fact these two countries topped the poll last year as well.

In fact, Croatia rose up the rankings slightly, in 2018 Croatia was placed in 45th position.

The bottom of the list is occupied by Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran, while the least friendly country on the 2019 list is Chechnya, where gay people can face death penalty for homosexuality, the guide said.

Eurovision Song Contest 2019 kicks of in May in Tel Aviv, Israel when 42 nations compete for the top place tune. This year’s installment of the globally broadcast competition will feature three rounds.

Semi-final 1 takes place on Tuesday, 14 May and semi-final 2 is slated for Thursday, 16 May. The Eurovision final is Saturday, 18 May. Playing host broadcast network is the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC).

Bitan 2, a 10,000-seat convention hall at Expo Tel Aviv, gets the home venue nod in a continuation of live pop music performances staged there. In recent years, the facility has hosted a variety of rock and pop concerts by the likes of Lady Gaga, Nine Inch Nails, Pitbull, and David Guetta.

This is Israel’s third time hosting Eurovision. The 1979 and 1999 song competition finals were held at the International Convention Centre in Jerusalem. Israel earned Eurovision 2019 hosting rights following its first place finish in last year’s competition with “Toy” performed by Netta Barzilai from Hod HaSharon.

Croatia’s entry into Eurovision 2019 will be “The Dream” performed by Roko Blažević , a talented 18-year-old vocalist from Split.

Dora 2019 Returns as the Gate to Eurovision

Blažević ’s path to Tel Aviv in May first went through Dora 2019, the national song contest of Croatia. Held at the Marino Cvetković Sports Hall in Opatija on 16 February, Dora 2019 marked the official return of the song festival following a seven-year hiatus.

Dora was previously used to select Croatia’s Eurovision song entry from 1993 to 2011. Recent years have seen a less formal nomination process.

“The Dream” collected a commanding 42 percent of the vote to emerge victorious from the final field of 16 songs. Voting was based on a combination of points from viewer ballots and ten regional jury groups.

Rounding out the top three finishers were Lorena Bućan with “Tower of Babylon” in second place and “Brutalero” sung by Luka Nižetić with third.

In all, 162 song entries from around Croatia submitted between November and January were considered for the contest.
Dora 2019 was organized by public broadcaster HRT. Iva Šulentić, Jelena Lešić and Mirko Fodor presented the nationally-televised event.

A Young Superstar with a Veteran Career

Blažević hails from a highly-musical family. His father and mother are both experienced singers while his brother plays guitar. Blažević began his music career at the age of twelve by joining a local singing group. He also plays piano and performs in a band with the sons of Zlatan Stipišić Gibonni, Rando and Luka.

Blažević is no stranger to TV singing competitions either. He won Pinkove Zvevdice in July 2017 and picked up second place on Zvijezde this past December.

And if the teenager’s resume wasn’t impressive enough, Blažević is frequently compared to Canadian crooner Michael Bublé, who is incidentally of Croatian descent.

Powerhouse vocalist Jacques Houdek, Croatia’s representative at Eurovision 2017, is mentoring Blažević in this year’s contest. Houdek also happens to be the songwriter behind “The Dream”.

“The Dream” Becomes Reality

A light but powerful tune set to modern dance-pop production, “The Dream” sweeps from a quiet, sparse opening to its anthemic chorus. “We all dream of love” belts Blažević at the song’s mighty crescendo, delivering an inspiring message of hope and unity.

Hope was also the theme of Blažević’s reaction upon winning. When asked what fans can expect from him in Tel Aviv, the Split native said, “They can expect even more. I think we’ll do our best as we did here tonight...we hope for the best, of course.”

Blažević’s performance at Dora contained both English and Croatian verses.

For the Thrill of Song

In the era of large cash prizes and contracts associated with many televised talent competitions, Eurovision’s prize closet remains relatively spartan. The winning artist receives no money, nor are there guaranteed opportunities to advance his or her career.

The winner does gain significant international exposure from the contest, which may convert into appearances, album sales, and performances at other events.

Instead, the main prize is awarded to the national broadcaster supplying the winning song and performance in the form of broadcast rights to the next year’s contest.

Because there is no large, formal prize, Eurovision maintains a sort of competitive purity akin to the Olympics--the participating performers play for pride and national representation on the global stage.

Originated by the European Broadcasting Union in 1956 as an event to unify the post-war continent, 2019 marks the 64th edition of Eurovision.

The song competition is the longest-running, most watched reality TV series in history, annually grabbing an estimated 600 million viewers form around the world. The event’s popularity has spread beyond mainland Europe in recent years, earning sizeable audiences in Asia, Australia, and Latin America.

A History of Mixed Results at Eurovision

Croatia’s independent participation in Eurovision dates back a relatively short term to 1993. The country previously entered as a part of Yugoslavia throughout the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. Yugoslavia won Eurovision in 1989 with the song “Rock Me” by Riva. As a result, the 1990 competition was held in Zagreb.

Croatia’s highest showings in the contest are two fourth-place showings--Maja Blagdan’s rendition of “Sveta Ijubav” in 1996 and Doris Dragović singing “Marija Magdalena" in 1999.

While Croatians at home and abroad will undoubtedly rally behind Blažević, “The Dream” faces an uphill battle. Oddschecker currently peg’s Croatia’s chance of winning Eurovision towards the middle of the pack. The favorites are Russia’s Sergey Lazarev and Sweden’s soon-to-be-determined entrant.

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Photo by Benny MZ

Europe and The World Watches and Waits

Eurovision 2019 will be televised live by each participating country’s public broadcaster including HRT in Croatia. Viewers can also find live-streams on the contest’s official YouTube channel.

Blažević Eurovision performance of “The Dream” is scheduled for the second half of semi-final 2 on 16 May.

Erez Tal and Bar Refaeli will present the semi-finals and final broadcast as main hosts. Assi Azar and Lucy Ayoub will provide commentary from the green room.

Regardless of how Blažević and “The Dream” place at Eurovision Song Contest 2019, Croatia and the world will be watching. A big win is already at hand for the gifted young vocalist and his anthem of love and hope by virtue of making it this far.

Dubrovnik and Instagram are the perfect match! There are numerous places in the Old City and around to get that perfect Instagram photo that could bring you new likes and followers. Influencers and bloggers often choose Dubrovnik for their destination – it's beautiful and photogenic, what more could you ask for?

Vogue has recently published an article bringing top 40 places to travel this year according to Instagram.

- Instagram has a new tracking tool called Dash Hudson, which allows us to use geotags and keywords to see the most popular locales people are posting from – Vogue explains.

Dubrovnik has been put at 32nd place, just after Moscow and before Stockholm. Just now, Dubrovnik has been ''hashtagged'' on almost 2 million photos on Instagram, some of them really breathtaking and enchanting.

First on the list is New York City, followed by Toronto and London. See the full list here.

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Traditionally marking the annual feast of St. Joseph in Ston and Mali Ston, the Ston Tourist Board invites everybody to join them at The Festival of Oysters. The tasting of oysters and Peljesac wines will take place at the seafront in Mali Ston on Satruday, March 16th, starting at 11 am. 

All the guests will be able to enjoy the most renowned aphrodisiac alongside a glass of supreme wine of Peljesac at reasonable prices.

-Through an all day presentation of Croatian island products, we offer a variety of traditional products of the upmost quality. Our organizers will ensure a feast to remember, accompanied by the Dalmatian music, folklore performances and raffles. We look forward to seeing you there – the Ston Tourist Board published.

Croatia is expected to move a step closer to adopting the Euro as the official currency and ditching the Kuna with an announcement from the Central Bank Governor that a letter of intent to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism will be sent in the second quarter of this year.

Boris Vujcic, the governor of the Central Bank, announced that “sometime in the second quarter of this year” the letter of intent would be sent to the European Union. Joining the European Exchange Rate Mechanism is a mandatory step for taking the Euro as the official currency.

"In any case, first there will be a report from the European Commission, then we will continue talks with our partners - the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the Eurogroup - and after that we will decide on an exact date to send in the letter," commented the bank governor today in Zagreb.

It is believed that Croatia is aiming to fully join the Eurozone and adopt the Euro by 2020, however in spite of speculation this has yet to be confirmed.

There certainly will be no public referendum as to whether Croatia should ditch the Kuna and take the Euro, at least according to the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic. When asked whether the people would get a chance to vote on the country’s economic future the Prime Minister replied that a referendum had already taken place when citizens voted to join the European Union back January 2012.

The Administrative Department for European Funds, regional and international cooperation of the City of Dubrovnik has applied the Year of Orlando project for two competitions, from which the first in March is held in Solin and the second in Krakow in June this year.

The 5th International Congress of Historical Cities is held from 26th to 29th of March in Solin, where the international Cultural Tourism Award "Plautilla" will be awarded in three categories; quality and innovation in the management of historic cities, interpretation and protection of cultural heritage, and the promotion and distribution of cultural-tourist products. For the Year of Orlando, the Department for European Funds, regional and international co-operation of the City of Dubrovnik has reported in the last category for the best tourist product that is characterized by the quality and creative interpretation of cultural and historical heritage.

The Fifth World Congress of Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) is held in Krakow from June 2nd to June 5th, and the Year of Orlando was invited to submit projects related to the theme "Heritage and Tourism: Local Communities and Visitors- Sharing Responsibilities ". Selected projects will be presented at the congress.

Just a small reminder: with the decision of the City Council of the City of Dubrovnik, this year was proclaimed the Year of Orlando, and will be marked with the various programs that will take place throughout the twelve months of 2019.

If you want to learn more about the Orlando’s Column, click here.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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