Sunday, 16 June 2019

Beatles Go Baroque a la Vivaldi, Tango from the Al Pacino movie "Scent of a Woman," the Best of Abba, the love theme from the film "The Godfather", and the theme tune to Schindler's List are just a few of the melodies to be performed by the String Chamber Orchestra of the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra this Friday in the Revelin Fortress.

The concert, entitled “Baroque vs. Film Music,” will he held this Friday at 8.00pm in the atmospheric Revelin Fortress. Tickets are available, and cost from 30 to 100 Kuna, at the offices of the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra from 9.00am to 2.00pm in the Revelin Fortress, in the gift shop Dubravka on Pile and one hour before the concert on the door.

dso poster

Never underestimate the power of rakija! Now after reading that sentence I’d be 99% sure that you interpret power as the actual alcoholic strength of rakija, am I right? To a certain extent you’d be correct, I mean it is pretty alcoholic after all, but a glass or two of rakija has many more powers hidden inside.

I must be honest and say that I’d never tried rakija before I came to live here. There aren’t that many bars or clubs in the centre of London that have rakija on tap. I had, however, tried the Italian version Grappa before. It’s kind of similar, maybe not so strong, or maybe I should say mind-blowing, but it’s similar. I guess grappa just has better marketing than rakija that’s why I’d seen it before. It’s not that unusual that Croatian products, even though they may be much better in quality, don’t have great publicity outside of the country.

In fact I used to work in the wine business in London. So I had plenty of opportunity to come across wines and spirits from foreign countries, although in seven years I never once came across Croatian wine, let alone rakija. So when I finally did pour the liquid down my throat I was left a little red-faced, literally.

But one of the powers of rakija that I didn’t know was its diplomatic power. Of all of the world’s greatest ambassadors there can be none finer than a few glasses of rakija. It has the power to cross borders, open doors and build bridges. “How do you spell that?” said the Norwegian tourist to our small dinner group. “L-O-Z-A” I spelt out the letters one by one. “Never heard of that before” he said scratching his head whilst searching his pockets for a pen. A small serviette was handed over and our Norwegian friend scribbled down the word Loza.

“So when did you arrive in Dubrovnik?” I asked. “About an hour ago, we just got off the plane and were hungry so stopped for a bite to eat,” came the reply. I was laughing inside. This slightly elderly Norwegian had been in Croatia for an hour and the first word he’d learnt was loza. Well I guess you could start with worse words.

That reminds me of another story about Croatian words. I had a coffee with a journalist from Belgium last week after discussing politics, business and basically putting the world to rights we rather unbelievably got onto the subject of the Croatian pop singer Ivan Zak. You probably wouldn’t think that an Englishman and a Belgium could ever in a million years get onto the subject of Ivan Zak, but we did. “We love going to watch Ivan Zak in concert” said the renowned journalist to me. That’s not a sentence I hear very often, especially from a Belgium. “Really, do like his singing then” I said trying to be polite. “No, he’s terrible” he replied. “Then why on earth do you like going to his concert?” now I was wondering. “Simply because the word Zak means bastard in Flemish” he answered with a smile from ear to ear. “You have all the crowd shouting Zak…Zak…Zak, and then when he comes onto stage the presenter shouts IVAN ZAAAKKK”, it kills us every time. “We even took our Belgium friends along that last time they were here on holiday” by now he was laughing at the memories of Zak concerts. “We only ever stay for the first ten minutes, just to hear the crowd shout his name” his wife added. I guess everyone appreciates the arts in different ways.

Anyway, I digress, back to the jolly Norwegian pensioner and his glass of rakija. “So where are you staying in Dubrovnik?” asked one of the female members of our group. “I have no idea….maybe with you?” joked the Norwegian. But seriously he had no idea where he was staying, didn’t even know the name of the hotel. It looked like he was just following the other members of his tour party. But I got the feeling that if they said “we’re going to Afghanistan on holiday” he’d simply say “no problem.” He was happy in his own little world and now he had found rakija he’d probably be even happier.

“I remember the Nazis coming to our village…” started the Norwegian, who turned out to be a very fit 83-year-old man. “So this loza is good?” he asked. I gave him my empty glass just to smell and his eyes opened wider. I understood that look as a yes! “And don’t forget to ask for a double” said my friend. He wiped out the serviette once again and wrote “Loza dobbel.” I’m hoping that’s the Norwegian spelling of double. With a wave to the waiter and a wave of thanks in our direction our Scandinavian friend was off to try the power of loza.

Even though you are on holiday and should be relaxing old habits die hard and you’ve just got to have your daily fix of news. So how do you keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening back home whilst you are in Dubrovnik on holiday. Here are some tips to keeping yourself informed whilst on your hols:

Of all of the forms of media getting your daily newspaper is still the hardest. Basically you have one of two different options. Firstly many of the larger newsagents and kiosk through the Old City and in more tourist populated areas have a selection of daily newspapers. However there are a couple of downsides. Firstly the newspapers, which are commonly printed in Spain for some reason, are three days old. We have yet to find a newsagent in Dubrovnik where the newspapers are “fresher” than three days old.

newspaper dubrovnik

Secondly the newspapers that they do sell are considerably more expensive than back home. This means that your copy of The Sun would be three days old and cost around £3.00. If you are lucky enough to be staying in one of the top hotels in Dubrovnik then there is a chance that the hotel will print newspapers for you to read inside the reception or bars. Whilst these are not exactly the same as UK newspapers they are pretty close so you can catch up with the news from back home over a cup of coffee.

Unless you are thinking of bringing a TV in your luggage then the nine o’clock news will probably be off you radar. However almost all of the hotels and accommodation offered in Dubrovnik has a satellite or cable TV available. These tend to show only BBC World News, CNN and possibly Sky News. If there is a major sporting event on then many of the restaurants and café bars through the city will show this on a big screen.

If you are thinking of buying a place here, or if you already live here, then apart from satellite TV you can try one of the many cable TV operators. Cable TV is plugged through your telephone line so no need for additional cables. Along with the various other television channels you will also find Sky News (international), BBC World, CNN, Al Jazeera in English, CNBC, etc.

If you want to catch up on your favourite radio station whilst on holiday then the only way is going to be through the internet, although this may be costly, unless you have Wi-Fi. Throughout the summer months there is news in English on Croatian national radio. There is even a daily news service in English about Dubrovnik “The Voice of Dubrovnik” broadcast twice a day through the summer months on Soundset Ragusa.

Our advice would be to download podcasts and listen to them through your iPhone, computer, MP3 player, etc. If you are staying somewhere with free wireless internet connection then download a few for latter listening.

Yes, this is by far the easiest way of keeping in touch with the comings and goings back home. Although our advice would be to find somewhere with free Wi-Fi, and there are lots of cafés, restaurants, hotels, etc that offer this, and not to roam.

Roaming through your internet provider, or should I say mobile phone operator back home, will leave you with a hefty bill when you come home so be careful. Almost all hospitality objects in Dubrovnik offer free Wi-Fi, most of them need a password so just ask your waiter, and if the cafe bar doesn’t offer free internet move to another one.

At the official ceremony held in Petrinja in the Sisak-Moslavina County on the 27th of March, the United States donated top class army training simulation system SAAT to the Croatian Armed Forces. Julieta Valls Noyes, the US Ambassador to Croatia and Damir Krsticevic, the Croatian Minister of Defence, attended the ceremony

Small Arm Tactical Training System or simply SAAT is an indoor virtual shooting range with ten lanes for training, practicing and shooting with a usage of training ammunition.
"The value of this donation exceeds many times over its price. It is yet another confirmation of the friendly relations between the US and Croatia. The United States is our key ally and we take part in joint exercises, in training and peace-building operations abroad, in the fight against ISIS and the growing radicalism. Therefore, I believe that this is the right path and that there will be more such examples," said the Defence Minister Krsticevic expressing his gratitude for the donation.

On this occasion, the US Ambassador Valls Noyes emphasized that Croatia was an important factor of stability in the region of Southeast Europe, adding that the US and Croatia had cooperated successfully so far in Afghanistan and Kosovo. She also expressed her hope that the successful cooperation would continue in the future.

The total value of the SAAT training system together with spare parts and training is worth around one million US dollars.

The first plane to take off from the new Zagreb Airport terminal was a flight to Dubrovnik. On Tuesday morning the new terminal at Zagreb's Franjo Tudjman airport was officially up and running with commercial operations underway. After more than 35,000 different kinds of testing of the new terminal, including in the last ten days landing and takeoff, yesterday at 5.50am a Croatia Airlines flight took off and headed towards Dubrovnik.

And then at 6.30am the first arrival landed at Zagreb Airport when a Qatar Airways flight from Doha brought the first passengers through the terminal.

The construction of new terminal of the Zagreb airport lasted for three years and is the biggest infrastructure project in Croatia in the last ten years. Around 300 million Euros was invested into the impressive new terminal building which can handle five million passengers a year with the possibility of increasing to eight at a later date.

‘’We are very pleased that we have signed a commercial agreement at a very high level with Air India, which extends the existing cooperation in the transport of passengers. Therefore, Croatia Airlines, as a European regional air carrier, will get an opportunity for stronger positioning on the large and fast-growing Indian market. I believe that passengers from Croatia and India will recognize the value of our joint product and use even better choice of travel,” said Kresimir Kucko, the CEO of Croatia Airlines commenting a code share agreement with Air India.

Croatia Airlines and Air India recently signed a code share agreement on the usage of flights with shared codes of both carriers, which will come into force on the 1st of April 2017. Therefore, passengers will be able to fly a combination of Air India and Croatia Airlines services using the ticket and code of either of the two airlines.

In accordance with the agreement, the Croatia Airlines code (OU) will be on Air India flights from Frankfurt, London, Vienna, Rome and Paris to New Delhi, and from London to Mumbai. On the other hand, the Air India international code (AI) will be on Croatia Airlines flights from Frankfurt to Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split, from London to Zagreb and Split, from Vienna to Zagreb and Split, from Rome to Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split, and from Paris to Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split.

‘’Air India is honoured that Croatia Airlines, as the Star Alliance member, is our partner in the code share agreement. This partnership will enable Air India to reach destinations in Croatia thus, we are looking forward to the expansion of our relationship with Croatia Airlines in the future. Our partnership will also contribute to the further development of trade, tourism and cultural relations between India and Croatia’’, explained Seema Srivastava, Air India’s Executive Director (Strategy and Planning).

It is interesting to note that these two national air carriers, Croatia Airlines and Air India are the first and only airlines to offer services between Croatia and India.

Shakespeare is coming to Dubrovnik again this summer as the Midsummer Scene Festival will present Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is the fourth year that the Midsummer Scene Festival has been held in Dubrovnik, and from the 24th of June until the 5th of July one of the most humorous comedies will light up the Dubrovnik night sky.

As ever the Lovrijenac Fortress, overlooking the historic Old City, will be the venue for the festival. “The festival is expanding from year to year. International guest performances in Vienna and Bermuda confirm the quality of the programs and the productions. This summer ahead of us is a new challenge. Midsummer Night's Dream will be played in a new light, with a new cast and a new set in Lovrijenac Fortress,Ć commented the producer Darija Mikulandra Žanetić.

Midsummer Festival Scene is a project of the City of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, and produced by Brilliant Events Dubrovnik and Honey-tongued Theatre Productions from London.

poster midsummer festival

The results of the Dubrovnik tourism industry for 2016 were presented today by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board in Hotel Adria.

From the 1st of January to the 31st of December 2016 a grand total of 1.013,116 tourist arrivals were achieved in Dubrovnik which is a healthy 12 percent increase over 2015. The vast majority of tourists were foreign, 958,817, compared to 54,200 domestic tourist arrivals. And almost 3.5 million overnight stays were recorded in 2016, this time an increase of 13 percent compared to 2015.

The majority of guests came from the United Kingdom, in fact there were 149,216 UK tourists in Dubrovnik last year. The Brits were followed by visitors from the USA, Germany, France and Spain.

Of the total number of tourists in Dubrovnik last year 61 percent stayed in hotels, 36 percent in private accommodation and the rest in camps.

Dubrovnik has appeared as the backdrop for countless movies and serials so why not as the location for a photo shoot.

This risqué photo appeared on the website Instagram Russia, which seemingly has no connection to the actual photo social media site Instagram.

It was taken in the Adriatic just in front of Dubrovnik and shows the St. Jacob area in the background. Well it certainly caught our attention.

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The Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic ended her five-day visit to Sweden last week.

During her visit, Grabar-Kitarovic met with the Croatian Diaspora in Sweden, the Swedish King Gustaf XVI and Queen Silvia, the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lovfen, the Parliament Speaker Urban Ahlin, and the Minister of Defence Peter Hultqvist. She also visited the Swedish telecom giant Ericsson, the owner of the ICT company Ericsson Nikola Tesla in Croatia.

The Croatian president concluded her official visit to Sweden at Lund University, one of the largest Scandinavian research universities. During a lecture to professors and students at the university on the topic "Southeast Europe - Testing Ground to Prove Europe's and Euro-Atlantic Resoluteness and Solidarity’’, she referred to the current situation in the region of Southeast Europe.

‘’In the past decade the European Union and NATO stopped focusing on Southeast Europe because large conflicts in that part of Europe seemed to have been solved and there was less reason for concern, however, that part of Europe need more commitment from the international community’’, explained Grabar-Kitarovic.

The Croatian president also added that Southeast Europe was experiencing the heavy burden of serious security concerns that were troubling the EU and NATO.

‘’The combination of this problem with the specific political instability of this area and partially weak institutions and economies, makes it obvious that these young democracies need stronger commitment from the European Union and NATO’’, emphasized Grabar-Kitarovic.
After the lecture at the university, Grabar-Kitarovic visited the MAX IV Laboratory for synchrotron radiation, the largest of its kind in Europe. On this occasion, she said that science, research and innovation were the foundation of all development and in particular of the economy.

"Even though Croatia will not be in a position in the near future to have a laboratory like this, for a start it would be extremely good to establish cooperation in science and exchange and to start investing more in research and development’’, concluded Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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