The draw for the 2020 European Championships qualification groups was made today in Dublin and it has been kind for Croatia. Croatia have been drawn in Group E and will face Wales, Hungary, Slovakia and Azerbaijan.
The Euros 2020 will be played in 12 European countries from the 12th of June to the 12th of July, and the semi-finals and finals will be played at Wembley Stadium in London.
The matches of the first qualifying round will be played from March 21st to March 23rd 2019, and the final round is scheduled from the 17th to the 19th of November next year.
Rough Guides is responding to a changing travel market. For people who love adventure but are time-poor, Rough Guides is now organising tailor-made trips.
From winter 2018, the trusted travel brand will be creating bespoke trips based on customers’ individual wants and needs. From now on, customers won’t only need to rely on the Rough Guides books, blog, and podcast to get great travel advice, but can have a holiday tailor-made for them too. A local expert will turn the customer’s preferred destination, budget, and activities into a dream trip.
Package holidays and group tours can be soulless and uninteresting, but organising your own unique trip where you really experience the true culture of a place can be time-consuming. Rough Guides is launching a service to solve this problem – an adventurous trip is planned by local experts, and because it’s completely unique to each traveller, it is not the typical package holiday (you know - those that involve predictable visits to top attractions frequented mainly by other tourists. Yawn).
Each Rough Guides trip will cater for those with an adventurous spirit and include quirky locations that are off-the-beaten-track. The trip is planned by a local expert who lives in the area and knows the destination incredibly well. This means that every holiday will give a real flavour of the area and contain visits to places that are not frequented by the general tourist crowd.
What is the benefit of having your trip planned for you? Read more here: https://www.roughguides.com/article/should-you-book-a-tailor-made-trip-with-rough-guides/
Because the trips are fully bespoke and customisable, they are suitable for travellers who want to spend less time planning and more time enjoying the perfect trip away. People who book a Rough Guides trips will get a trip that is:
● Independent and unique – we don’t sell pre-planned packages. Each trip is unique to the customer, so no two will be the same.
● Adventurous– an adventurous spirit has no age limit. We champion adventurous travel for all, and get to know each customer’s wants and needs before seeking out the best experiences in their destination.
● Authentic – we understand that travellers don’t just want the same old thing wherever they go. That’s why we make sure that each trip helps travellers ‘live like locals’ and gives them a chance to experience the true charm of a place.
● Planned by a destination expert – with their knowledge, the expert can create unique, authentic itineraries that are completely personalised. The expert knows what’s worth seeing and what isn’t, how to avoid the crowds, and how to stay safe.
Rough Guides CEO, René Frey, comented that “As our readership has evolved over the years, we’re conscious that not everyone wants to travel the same way. Many people want to hand the time-consuming planning process to an expert and use the time saved to immerse themselves in the culture of a place. While many of our loyal readers would never travel without their Rough Guide, they perhaps want an itinerary that is a little less rough. And accommodation that’s not rough at all. So as part of our commitment to continue to serve adventurous travellers of all ages, we’re proud to launch our tailor-made trips.”
Croatia is preparing for the next step of European Union membership with the adoption of the Euro as the official currency. The first step could come as soon as next year as the Central Bank Governor, Boris Vujcic, announced that the exchange rate with which Croatia is expected to enter the Exchange Rate Mechanism could be set next year.
This is very much the first stage of changing the currency from the Kuna to the Euro. As part of the Exchange Rate Mechanism the national currency of an EU member state is tied to the Euro. The idea is to give the currency a balanced exchange rate on entry meaning that the transition period from one currency to another is seamless.
"There will be no conversion cost for citizens. It will be automatic, based on the exchange rate to be established earlier," commented Vujcic. Adding that “That will be the rate with which we will enter the Exchange Rate Mechanism and which we will de facto have to maintain as long as we are in the Mechanism, which essentially means that this will be, possibly with very small oscillations, end up being the conversion rate," Vucic added.
Croatia, as part of the EU membership, is obliged to take the Euro as the official currency and it would appear from comments by the Croatian Prime Minster that a referendum will not be held to ask the public’s opinion.
In the words of the Prime Minister a referendum for the introduction of the Euro has already been held when a referendum on Croatia’s accession into the European Union. However, quite plainly, this wasn’t the question on the voting ballots in the referendum the Prime Minister is convinced that when citizens voted yes to join the EU that the automatically also signed up for all the other EU treaties and projects.
Responding to a journalist's request on a referendum on introducing the Euro, the Prime Minister said it had already been resolved. "When we had a referendum on Croatia's accession to the European Union, we voted on the Accession Treaty. The Accession Treaty states that Croatia will join the European area," commented said Plenković.
For years Croatia's central bank has maintained the local currency Kuna in an already narrow fluctuation band, set between approximately 7.4 and 7.6 to the Euro, which some critics say makes the Kuna over-appreciated, hampering export-oriented businesses.
The Dubrovnik Diving Club, with the support of the City of Dubrovnik as well as volunteers from the Old City of Dubrovnik, cleared the seabed in the old city harbour yesterday.
Various waste material was removed from the sea of this busy port, including glass, metal and car tyres. Along with the divers from the Dubrovnik Diving Club there were also divers from archaeological institutions who explored the area around the iconic breakwater “Kaša.” This Dubrovnik landmark is being researched ahead of a project to repair the breakwater.
The fifth Dubrovnik Winter Festival opened last night! After the first Advent candle was lit by the Mayor of Dubrovnik the festive lights all over the city were turned on and the Winter Festival was officially opened.
Thousands of people descended on the Old City of Dubrovnik last night and the atmosphere was magical, a true holiday atmosphere. The festive stands throughout the city opened their doors and the aroma of traditional Christmas delicacies filled the night sky.
The popular singer, Petar Graso, brought a lively atmosphere to the Stradun as the crowds sang along to his greatest hits. With the decorations, the Christmas trees and the festive stands it really felt like Christmas had arrived to the city.
The first Advent candle was lit in Dubrovnik last night. The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, lit the first of four Advent candles as the Christmas period officially begun in Dubrovnik.
The Advent candles are located between the Rector’s Palace and the Cathedral and every Saturday a new candle will be lit as the festive season approaches.
Hundreds of people turned up to see ceremony as it coincided with the opening of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival.
Americans have certainly fallen in love with Croatia this year with almost 600,000 US guests arriving in Croatia in 2018. According to the eVisitor computer system which collects data on tourists in Croatia there have been around 578,000 American tourists in Croatia in 2018, which is an incredible 23 percent increase over the same period from last year.
And the favourite destinations for tourists from the United States has been Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb, Hvar and Rovinj.
Surprisingly American tourists have been the second most numerous in Dubrovnik this year, after British tourists, which bearing in mind there are no direct flights from the US to Dubrovnik, or in fact from the US to Croatia at all, makes this figure is ever more impressive.
The American Ambassador to Croatia was quick to Tweet the news “Americans continue to embrace Croatia. According to data from eVisitor, so far in 2018, there have been 578,000 visits recorded from the United States. This is a 23% increase compared to last year. Top destinations for Americans were Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb, Hvar and Rovinj.”
And next year this figure will rise considerably, especially in Dubrovnik, as direct flights for the first time in 28 years will connect Dubrovnik and Philadelphia. American Airlines will operate seasonal flights to Dubrovnik from Philadelphia through June to September.
The HBO series, Game of Thrones, and the fact that large sections were filmed in Dubrovnik, which plays King’s Landing, have obviously had a massive effect on the American interest in visiting Dubrovnik. With organised fan tours, souvenir shops and even a Game of Thrones visitor’s centre with an actual throne on the nearby island of Lokrum, Dubrovnik is a mecca for the huge number of fans of the series.
One of the most iconic attraction in the wider Dubrovnik region is on the verge of a technological upgrade for next year. The stunning Sokol Tower in Konavle will for the next tourist season have a new lift in place to take visitors to the top of this landmark.
The Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities, the organisation that cares for Sokol Tower, has announced that the lift complex will be in place for next year and that it will open up this attraction for visitors who have problems climbing the steps but wish to see the fortification.
The castle of Sokol was built on an inaccessible cliff more than 25 meters high. A natural fortress, its controls the main road leading from Konavle north into Herzegovina and the Balkan hinterland. This is the main reason why this town has been continuously inhabited since ancient times.
Although its present name was first mentioned in August 1373, archaeological finds date the town several thousand years earlier. Research has proven that there was a prehistoric structure, an ancient and a late-antiquity fortress, and a medieval town that came under the authority of the city of Dubrovnik in 1423.
Yorkshire in the U.K... most Croatians have probably have never heard of it... a Northern county in the North of England, probably better known for its love of Yorkshire tea and cricket, rather than its links to the Dalmatian Coast.
But when Yorkshire wedding singers, Rock My Reception where booked to play at a wedding in Dubrovnik in 2016, they immediately had an affinity with the place and also a few reminders of home along the way.
Wedding Industry Award winners
Kieran Stokes explains the origins of the wedding duo and how he and his singing partner Dominic ended up working out in Dubrovnik.
"We are old school friends and have known each other since we were 10 years old. We were always told to 'get a proper job' but we had a real passion for live music and started a wedding band, called Rock My Reception, a really simple idea, just two acoustic guitars and vocals."
"In 2015 we won a prestigious award at The Wedding Industry Awards, and it catapulted our business. We ended up playing over 75 weddings a year, which was hard work, but also immensely enjoyable. We really like the idea of playing a 'destination wedding', a term used in the UK, so we marketed ourselves as such. A kind of 'build it and they will come' philosophy."
On the back of this, they have performed all over Europe. But it was when the opportunity arose to play out in Dubrovnik they instantly fell in love with the place. They were asked to perform for a wedding at Sponza Palace, and performed as the bride walked up and down the aisle, and then to sing at the drinks reception by the old port.
"We really loved Dubrovnik, and we were really sad to leave. So when the offer came up again to work out here, we jumped at the chance," commented Dominic.
The region is especially popular with British and Irish wedding couples, many of which book their live music from back in the U.K. The popularity of the area and the services Rock My Reception offer, has seen them come back to perform in the town various times, playing at three wedding in Dubrovnik this September alone.
Citizens of Dubrovnik remind us of Yorkshire
They have returned again to Sponza Palace, also Hotel Argentina, Hotel Croatia in Cavtat, and also played on various boat cruises on the coast line.
"It's started to feel like a second home for us," Kieran explains. Adding that "The citizens of Dubrovnik reminded us of Yorkshire people in their kindness to strangers. From the moment we land to the moment we leave, people are so friendly. When we get to our apartment out here, our landlady offers to iron our shirts, leaves us food, beers, wines and homemade Orechovka! On returning visits she has felt like a mother to us!
"We always attempt to speak a little Croatian, this is often met with surprise, but appreciation from the locals. We always joke that a few of the Croatian words are very similar to 'broad Yorkshire' the local dialect in Yorkshire, maybe from a Germanic influence from by-gone years?"
"Also, like Yorkshire people, the locals we work alongside in Dubrovnik are hardworking and care that everything is perfect, an essential ingredient in the wedding industry. Everyone puts in 100% effort, from the wedding planners, venue staff, to the guys sailing the boat on the drinks reception cruise."
Game of Thrones Friends
One final link between their home town and Dubrovnik is Lena Heady, who plays Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. Lena grew up in Yorkshire and attended the same school as Kieran and Dominic.
"It’s sometimes quite bizarre seeing references to Lena while we are out here. We remember her from school, everyone back at home has always followed her career, and it was a real big deal when she got the part in Game of Throne"
Dominic adds, “Yorkshire has brought Dubrovnik a Hollywood film star, now it’s sending you their own wedding singers!”
Dubrovnik and Yorkshire... maybe an unlikely match? But for certain, it shows the true testimony to the far reaching charm of Dubrovnik and its role in the thriving destination wedding industry.
Christmas is rapidly approaching and at this most magical time of the year Dubrovnik is already if full festive colours. Today the fifth Dubrovnik Winter Festival opens. The festive stand in and around the historic Old City are gearing up for another busy season when the aroma of mulled wine will fill the cobbled streets.
Tonight, at the opening ceremony, the festive Christmas lights will be turned on and the first of the four Advent candles will be lit. There will also be a concert from the popular Croatian popstar Petar Graso on the Stradun to get the festivities underway.
A just to whet out appetites before the big event the Dubrovnik Winter Festival has published a teaser video on their Facebook page which give a brief insight into what we can all expect this Christmas and New Year period in the city.
-When it comes to the music program, we wanted to cover a wide audience. We wanted everybody to feel the urge to visit the Old City and enjoy the concerts. There are festive stands all around, but of course the centre is Stradun – commented the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, adding that this year's Festival is focused to bring joy to children with some extra content.
And part of that extra content for children will certainly be the new North Pole Station that will also be opened today. The North Pole Station, located in Luza, in the Old City is the newest addition to the Dubrovnik Winter Festival! Every day until the end of the winter holidays children can enjoy special programs with: Elves and Santa Claus, Mrs Claus, children stories, dancers, actors, clowns… There will be storytelling, taking photos with Santa, baking cakes with Mrs Claus, learning how to paint and how to do your festive hair.
Check out this new Christmas video from Dubrovnik