Sunday, 18 August 2019

The last of Manhattan's Gilded Age mansions owned by the former states of the ex-Yugoslavia, is on sale.

This news hit the real estate market almost a month ago with a striking price of $50 million. In the meantime, six potential buyers “all extremely high-net-worth individuals of different backgrounds’’ expressed their interest making an utmost effort to purchase the Fifth Avenue limestone town house.

However, $50 million is only a preliminary price, and five countries that are successor states to the former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, and Macedonia) have to reach an agreement on the price in order to initiate further serious negotiations.

tito villa new york

Due to its enormous historical significance, the famous mansion is under the protection of the state and the city of New York, whilst it currently houses the offices of Serbia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which landmarked the property in 1966, called it a “superb example of the French classic style of Louis XV.”

The mansion built in 1904 was first owned by Robert Livingston Beeckman, the governor of Long Island. Later in 1912, the home was sold to George Grant Manson, whilst Vanderbilt’s granddaughter Emily Thorn Vanderbilt Sloane White and her husband, Henry White, bought it in 1925. When the rich heirless died in 1946, her estate was bought by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1947.

When Yugoslavia took possession of the property, the New York Times reported, “It is considered one of the finest private homes remaining on Fifth Avenue”.

After an assassination attempt against the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in 1963, the mansion, with its bulletproof windows overlooking the Central Park, was also used as a temporary hiding place for Tito.

The villa is still luxuriously equipped, and furniture, wall paintings, murals, gold chandeliers and a number of other gilded details, are still virtually intact and included in the purchase price.

However, any potential buyers will have to overcome unusual diplomatic obstacles, as representatives from all five states have to reach an agreement on the purchase. Nevertheless, “Whoever buys it will own a piece of New York history, whilst the proceeds will be divided among the states’’, reported a real estate agent engaged in this sale.

The heat didn’t stop numerous participants to be the part of the project ‘Active Croatia’ yesterday and to fill all the spots on the Fort Lovrijenac.
One of the most famous pilates coaches, Asja Petersen, held a focus point training for the first time. It educated all the generations who followed all the instructions carefully and had a great training.

Numerous elements of the training were adopted with joy, and for the fifth time in Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik sent a message about the importance of regular and everyday physical activity promoted by this project, which was held in cooperation with the City of Dubrovnik, the City Tourist Board and the Brilliant Events.

Active Croatia will continue on Sunday, July 2nd in Zadar and the big final season will be held in Zagreb on Saturday, September 9th .

The 10th edition of the International Opera Festival "Tino Pattiera" was presented at the press conference today that was held at the atrium of the Sponza Palace. This is the fourth time that the festival is organized by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra (DSO).

- Dubrovnik should be proud of this festival that started somehow "shy" and became what it is now. There is also our music director Noam Zur who brings very high quality singers that perform on the world's leading stages. We give them full support in the organizational sense, rehearsals have begun and the Orchestra will be ready - announced the Director of Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Damir Milat.

Jelka Tepsic, Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, said that the festival is another ‘cultural pearl’ of Dubrovnik.
- This is a project that is important to the City of Dubrovnik and it lasts for a whole decade. That confirms the quality and I want to use this opportunity to praise DSO – said Tepsic while announcing a ‘culture calendar’ project that should ensure a better co-operation between cultural institutions and organizers of cultural events in Dubrovnik.


Director of the Tourist Board of Dubrovnik, Romana Vlasic, emphasized the importance of the festival, given that culture and heritage are a big part of Dubrovnik tourism. Armenian soprano and participant of the last and this year's festival, Liana Aleksanyan, expressed gratitude for being invited to participate in the festival. Music Director and conductor from Israel Noam Zur thanked for the support and stated that each concert has a special title for better organization.

The festival, which is named after and organized in memory of the world-famous Cavtat singer and tenor, will be held from 30 June to 4 July. The audience will have the opportunity to hear four operas aria concerts: Chansons d'amour, Seriously Romantic, Opera Buffalo and Guardi le stelle. Alongside Aleksanyan, performances will be performed by mezzo-soprano Ursula Hesse von den Steinen from Germany, tenor Xavier Moreno from Spain, bass Taras Konoschenko from Ukraine and Dubrovnik pianist Stefani Grbic.

The new season of the Festival Orsula is just around the corner. A plethora of international artists will perform in this iconic Dubrovnik amphitheatre and we caught up with one of the stars of the show – Bebel Gilberto. From modern jazz, bossa nova, flamenco music the American/Brazilian Gilberto will open up the festival tomorrow night, the 28th of June, with a spectacular concert.

What is it like to be a singer and songwriter in the world of bossa nova life today? Is it harder than create the music?
It's funny but I don't really consider myself a true bossa nova artist, because my music is a blend of inspirations. I’ve been given that label and have to feel honoured about that, but I like to say that that “I’m drinking from the water of bossa nova”, and my music may have the same mood between my voice, the vibe and acoustic guitar. But I don’t call myself a bossa nova singer compared to artists like my father (João Gilberto), Astrud, and all the real bossa nova singers. I’m just kind of doing my own music that is partly inspired by my family background and being Brazilian, but is also influenced by my life in New York, and also by my some of my favourite pop artists, which is a very diverse list that includes artists like Prince, David Bowie, Chaka Khan, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bjork, Radiohead, etc. In fact, I have a new song that’s about to come out which is my interpretation of “Creep” by Radiohead. I’m currently doing this song in a very intimate style, with just myself and my guitarist, Masa Shimizu. So you will hear that song when we perform in Croatia. I’ve been doing this very intimate, somewhat stripped down version of my music all year, and we’ve created a wonderful semi-acoustic set of many of my most popular songs. It’s a very different vibe than when I play with a bigger band, and it’s been a very special and surprising experience for me. I am doing this with just my guitarist and my drummer, Magrus Borges, and this is the show you will see tomorrow.

bebel 3

Once, you perfectly described the feeling of creating and listening to bossa nova: 'It’s like kissing and listening to the sea in the background with birds flying around.' Each day, you are extending the moment by experimenting with different genres - how and where do you find inspiration?
Well, since the beginning, since I was a kid I was obsessed with Michael Jackson. And in my teens, when I became more aware of other artists I fell in love with Chaka Khan and Prince. The first album I bought when I moved out from my parents and into my own home and I had my first sound system was Chaka Khan. And then I dived into Prince. My boyfriend at the time was a bass player, and we would listen carefully to all the Prince albums and then he played here and it was unforgettable. And I can’t forget Stevie Wonder. His album “The secret Life of Plants” is one of my favourite albums. More recently I’ve also experimenting with some new music that is returning to a more electronic vibe, more like I was doing on my album Tanto Tempo. Last year I went to Tulum and got turned on to all these new DJs who are sort of associated with Burning Man, and using more tribal sounds, including some Brazilian music. People like Acid Pauli, Felipe Torquato (a Brazilian who makes music using the name Spaniol) and Ocean vs Orientalis, who is a very interesting guy from Turkey. So I’ve been talking to some of these guys and working on some material that will hopefully have some of them involved, or doing something in a similar vibe.

What do you think about the venue - Park Orsula, or Dubrovnik in general? Have you ever been to Dubrovnik before?
I have never been to Dubrovnik, and I'm super excited to visit. I also hear that the Park Orsula is very, very beautiful, and I really love playing music outdoors, so I'm really looking forward to the show. One of my favourite videos, for the song “So Nice”, was partially shot outside, and I also recorded a live DVD a few years ago that on the beach in Brazil. So I definitely feel like my music goes well in an outdoor setting, whether I'm playing with a band as we did on the beach, or doing a more intimate set as a trio, like we will do for Park Orsula.

You are into music since your childhood, and from that moment you came to 'Tudo', everything. What was that road like?
I mentioned a minute ago some of the music I listened to as a child – not just Brazilian music, but also the pop music I've loved and been influenced by over the years. In terms of my own musical journey that lead to how I made my albums, a lot of that happened from meeting other interesting musicians or being involved in different projects. For example: When I moved to New York I was invited to do this project about Carmen Miranda with David Byrne, Arto Lindsay, Laurie Anderson and all these cool and interesting artists. Then I moved to London and I met Amon Tobin and started working with him. So by the time I came back to New York City, after Tanto Tempo came out, I started working with Thievery Corporation, and all these other DJs and electronic music producers who I’d never heard before. And many of these people ended up doing remixes for my album. So that was a very interesting time for me and had a big influence on how my music evolved.

bebel gilberto

When you are home alone, you do you enjoy listening to? Are you familiar with Croatian music perhaps?
I listen to Spotify, and make my own playlists. My taste is very eclectic so I listen to a lot of things, but right now I’d say there’s a lot of great music coming from those DJs I mentioned earlier. I’m not familiar with any specific Croatian artists, but one of the first producers I worked with when I started doing my own material was this amazing producer named Suba, who I worked with on Tanto Tempo. Suba was Serbian, and during that period when we were spending time together he used to play a lot of music from that region, which I enjoyed a lot. Maybe when I’m there for this upcoming visit I will get to hear some of the newer Croatian artists.

The iconic Hotel Excelsior was officially opened last night in a gala ceremony. After months of reconstruction work the totally renovated Hotel Excelsior now has a new shine and a modern new look.

With 158 luxury rooms, including 19 suites and 139 double rooms, the Dubrovnik hotel saw root and branch reconstruction works this winter, the first major investment on the hotel since 2008.

The owner of the Adriatic Luxury Hotels group, the company that has Hotel Excelsior in its portfolio, Davor Lukšić thanked everyone for assisting and praised the fact that this hotel with great traditions now has a contemporary look. And Dubrovnik's Mayor Mato Franković addressed the guests. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government of the Republic of Croatia, he welcomed every such contribution to investment in tourism.

Almost half a million Kuna was invested in every room of the Hotel Excelsior and all of the interior spaces have been renovated. The hotel was originally created on the foundations of Ville Odak, built in 1913, which was a luxurious and glamorous hotel. The idea of the reconstruction is to recreate this look and the new look Hotel Excelsior is a revival of the splendid era of the Hotel Excelsior. Over the years many world famous celebrities, national politicians, stars of the silver screen and kings and queens have stayed in the Hotel Excelsior and the new look Excelsior is once again a highlight of Dubrovnik’s tourism.

excelsior opens

hotel excelsior reopens

reopen hotel dubrovnik

Photos - Tonci Plazibat 

Search, click, enjoy! Your lunch in Dubrovnik is only a click away with a new website – This Dubrovnik based website was launched a few months ago and is proving to be a winning formula. It is basically an online food delivery service that makes it easier and quicker to order your takeaway.

A selection of restaurants in the city have already signed up and choosing one is the first of three steps to cure those groans of hunger. Simply login to the website, choose a restaurant, pick up the meal (and drink) that you fancy and then submit your order. It’s all online, you can ever use your smart phone on the beach or the terrace of your apartment, there are no language barriers as the site has Croatian and English and your meals arrive directly at your door.

Three steps to the perfect lunch or dinner. But what how do you know that the restaurant has received your order – because they will confirm the order as well as the delivery time. But what if you don’t want to give your credit card details out online – easy your meal can be paid for in cash when it arrives at your door. Try today and let the internet take the strain out of ordering a delicious takeaway.

Iran's economic delegation headed by the Iranian Minister of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Affairs Ali Rabel will attend the Croatian-Iranian economic forum in Zagreb on the 27th of June.

''Despite business obstacles, the relationship between our businessmen is good and perspective. We are cooperating for mutual benefit. The fact that Croatia has never been visited by such strong Iranian economic delegation, confirms it. Improvement of cooperation has a great potential in the automotive industry, oil and gas sector, electro energy sector, railway industry, food industry and shipbuilding'', commented Luka Burilovic, the president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

The Iranian delegation consists of representatives of companies and institutions from the petrochemical industry, agriculture, railway industry, pharmacy, metal industry, electro energetic industry, and shipping.

Last year a total value of Croatia's trade with Iran was $5 million, which was an increase in comparison to 2015.

The Paris Agreement dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance came into force in Croatia on the 23rd of June 2017.

All member countries of the European Union have committed themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for at least 40 percent by 2030 in order to mitigate effects of global warming and stop a further rise in air temperature.

''Croatia will dedicatedly fulfil its obligations from the Paris Agreement as well as other member countries of the EU and the world that have ratified this extremely important document. We are aware of the consequences of global warming that occur in our region as well'', commented Tomislav Coric, the Minister of Environmental Protection and Energy while referring to floods and longer periods of drought in the country.

Representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris signed the agreement and adopted it by consensus on the 12th of December 2015. As of June 2017, 195 members of the UNFCCC have signed the agreement, out of which 150 of them have ratified it. Croatia is the 147th country, which has ratified the agreement.

The main goal of the agreement is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, said the Ministry.

According to climate models and scenarios, experts estimate that by 2100 temperatures in Croatia will rise from 2.4 to 4.9 Celsius degrees. A general trend of extreme droughts and floods is also present and is disastrous to all human activities. Global climate change also effects sea temperature and salinity thus changes structure and functioning of the ecosystem.

A long coastal line makes Croatia very vulnerable to sea level rising. Coastal sensitivity to sea level rise has also been observed in historic cores of cities and towns such as Nin, Zadar, Sibenik, Split, Stari Grad, and Dubrovnik. However, the valley of the River Neretva is also vulnerable to sea-level changes, said the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy.

A trend of recreating old photos has been around for years and we must say that we are quite fond of it. It’s simple – same person goes to the same place and takes the same position – showing how much they changed through years.

However, photo that we bumped into  is a bit different. Apparently it shows a daughter, who took photo on Dubrovnik City Walls, at exactly same place like her mother did 40 years ago.

Old City of Dubrovnik it looks quite the same (beautiful as always), with just couple of differences. A great idea for sure!



There comes a point in everyone’s life when we just can’t keep up with the pace of modern life. We look back with ever “rose-tinted” nostalgia at the times when we were younger and our knees didn’t creak when we walked up stairs. When we looked at ourselves in the mirror and wondered “where did that hair come from?” Now I look in the mirror and wonder “where did that hair disappear?”

The speed on innovation is just getting too much for me and I am wondering do I really need that confusion in my life. I can’t help think that my generation is a blessed one. We remember the times before computers, the internet (well of course if there were no computers the internet would be useless), of mobile phones and countless apps. My generation is the one that would sit every Sunday by the radio taping the Top Forty pop list on a cassette. We would hammer the record button is an attempt to edit out the adverts and the presenter and then spend a week listening to the same bloody tape until we wore it out.

Then the Sony Walkman came along and we could listen to our heart’s content and on the move, well at least until the batteries lasted. I know live in a time where tapes are extinct, the Top Forty has disappeared (to be replaced by the Top Forty downloaded tunes from the iTunes!!!) and a Sony Walkman is probably worth millions to a retro collector.

And then the cassette would get eaten by our Walkman and we would rewind the tape back inside with a pencil, those were the days when technology couldn’t exist without a pencil.

We now live in a time where everything is on one device in our pocket – our Smartphone. Yes as we generally get much dumber we have started to give our products the prefix Smart. Smart Car, Smart Phone, Smart House, Smart Windows, Smart Watches...every bloody thing is smart apart from the person actually using it. Apps of all shapes and sizes have “changed” our lives for the better, or have they?

“Can you explain this Snapchat to me I really don’t understand it,” I asked a much, much younger friend. “Well you can take photos and send them to friends immediately, and the great thing is that the photo only stays for a maximum of ten seconds and is then deleted,” he smiled. Ten second and then it gets deleted what the hell use it that? Of course this showed the gap in the age groups, from generation to generation. It turned out, after more explanation from my friend, that teenagers use it to send semi-naked photos of each other, in what is called sex texting. WTF! Well at least it is safe sex I guess.

So into this mix of Smart products comes a new player – my wife. If there is anyone who has resisted modern technology then that is my wife. Apart from Facebook, which she describes as like visiting the “green market” and having a good chat, she is in a black hole of technology. For her a piece of paper and a pen rather than a computer and a keyboard or anything smart. She has been hanging onto desperately an old and rather outdated mobile phone for the past few years. She still gets excited that you can change the ringtone of a mobile! She has never owned a “touch” screen, no, it’s buttons for her. That was until “Jessica” (yes she gave her mobile a name) fell on the ground for the millionth time (after being drowned twice in the sea) and committed suicide. Time for an upgrade as we buried Jessica.

Pretty much the only choice left when she visited the shop were touch screens, although she did have her eye on a specially made mobile for the elderly that had buttons the size of an M&M. It was with a heavy heart that she walked out of the shop with a touch phone. I already knew in advance how this learning process would look. It was like watching man discover fire all over again. When you are used to an array of tactile buttons and now are faced with no buttons it is a culture shock. Of course within the first few hours I had a call every minute, or rather a pocket call as she played with the mobile. Then my phone rang for the eighty-seventh time “Just checking it works,” she answered and hung up immediately. I don’t know if she hung up on purpose or just slide her finger over the wrong button. The digital world has getting up close and personal with the analogue world right in front of me.

The first question came “how do I change the ringtone?” I knew it. And then “can you download some apps for me tonight,” she added. As soon as she said that the Snapchat formula shot across my mind. “Do you want Snapchat?” I had to ask. “Is it useful?” she replied. Well...maybe.



The Voice of Dubrovnik


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