Friday, 13 December 2019
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

On Tuesday, the 10th of December 2019, a traditional Christmas reception was held at the Croatian Embassy in London, organized by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, in cooperation with the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) representation in London and the Croatian Embassy.

Eighty guests were in attendance at the Dubrovnik Christmas reception - travel agents, airlines, tour operators and media such as National Geographic, CNBC, CNN, Metro, Daily Mail, The Sun and others, as well as many prominent London figures. Croatian specialties and local wines were served, prepared by the British company Taste Croatia for the occasion, all accompanied by local music performed by academic musician Pero Škobelj.

Tomislav Vlahutin, a diplomat at the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in the United Kingdom, welcomed the attendees and announced the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the United Kingdom Igor Pokaz, the Director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Romana Vlasic and the Director of the HTZ representative office in London, Darija Reic.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the United Kingdom, Igor Pokaz, emphasized the excellent cooperation, excellent flight connections and the importance of Dubrovnik as an extremely popular holiday destination for the British.

The Dubrovnik Tourist Board director, Romana Vlasic, stressed the importance of the British tourist market for Dubrovnik, adding that the British traditionally ranked as the most numerous visitors to Dubrovnik, and this year saw a 6 percent increase in arrivals, with 3 percent more overnight stays. She stressed that British Airways has also introduced a third weekly flight this winter and invited the British to visit Dubrovnik in the winter months, especially during the Dubrovnik Winter Festival and to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Dubrovnik. She spoke about winter programs, the prolongation of the tourist season and record tourist traffic. Thanking everyone who came, she also expressed her expectation that links between Dubrovnik and London would continue to strengthen in the future and that the number of arrivals of British tourists would continue to increase given the announcement of an increase in flights from the UK throughout the year.

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British tourists have been the most numerous visitors to Dubrovnik for many years, and this year, by the beginning of December, there were 196,938 arrivals and 914,895 overnight stays, which is about a 6 percent increase in arrivals and a 3 percent increase in overnight stays compared to the same period from last year.

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At the Christmas reception, a lucky winner of two London-Dubrovnik return flights provided by British Airways and a free weekend stay for two sponsored by Valamar Lacroma was arranged and lucky winner was Divyakumar Shah from Sona Tours, a specialist agent for British Indians, of which there are over 1.5 million in the UK, but also for the Indian market. He recently organized a multi-day Indian wedding in Dubrovnik. This prize stay will be used to further get to know the destination, and to organize special events.

The strong northerly winds that engulfed the Dubrovnik area last night not only created traffic difficulties but also caused havoc with the Dubrovnik Winter Festival decorations.

The gale force winds almost completely ripped off the banner hanging from the bell tower in the centre of the historic city core. Let’s hope for more calm and peaceful weather for the festive season.

The wind did finally bring down the banner and according to an eye-witness nearly nit two pedestrians.

Dubrovnik will be connected to the Lithuanian capital next summer season as the airline AirBaltic have announced new flights. From the 2nd of May 2020 Dubrovnik will have twice weekly flights from Vilnius. The airline will also connect Vilnius with Rijeka, with the first flight on the 7th of May.

AirBaltic already operates flights between Riga and Dubrovnik, and these new flights from Vilnius will be operated by the Airbus A220.

 

By 2025 Croatia Roads aims to install 300 cameras at different locations across the country. These cameras will, depending on the type of camera, be able to read license plates, identify accidents, detect cars passing through red traffic lights and carry out general traffic surveillance.

All information collected from these cameras will be made available to police, according to Croatia Roads. They explain that the purpose of video surveillance systems used in road traffic is to collect data on roads, road traffic and weather, with the aim of optimally managing traffic and increasing safety.

Croatian Roads says the image quality will be very high and the recording capacity will depend on the number of cameras and the quality of the data stored. The recorded material will be stored for a minimum of 48 hours.

The first phase of this project is expected to be completed next year, with cameras being installed in 40 locations.

 

It comes around every year and always at this time of the year. No, not Christmas, the flu. Yes, just as any other winter I am currently wrapped up in bed. And no it isn’t really the flu, its man flu, which means I have a bad cold and a temperature. Clearly a woman’s threshold for pain is much higher than a man’s, hence the term man flu.

A constantly running nose, coughing like I am on my last legs, a thumping headache and generally no will to move, that’s my current predicament.

So I am bingeing on day time TV, which I have to say is pretty uninspiring, catching up on sleep and generally acting like a bear and hibernating. “Eat an onion like an apple,” came one piece of advice. “But it has to be a domestic onion,” he added. “Drink a rajika every morning,” came another. Yes, the classic cure for all – rakija. Maybe if I could find onion flavoured rakija the effects would be double.

I tend to catch the bug once a winter, so fingers crossed my current stint in bed will be my last this festive season. It started on Black Friday (so indeed a very black Friday for me) and should be gone by St. Nicholas. To be honest a week in bed isn’t all bad, probably just what the doctor ordered.

Although the side effects of this cold mean that all food and drink tastes a little weird. I tried a coffee but it tasted like washing-up liquid. Tea tastes like hot water with a dash of lemon. And all I can really taste in the food are the degrees of salt in it.

The only saving grace is Mother Nature’s medicine – mandarins. A blast of much needed vitamin C in an orange ball. How clever Mother nature is, and how often we simply ignore her. Fruit and vegetables come into ripeness when we really need them. In the height of summer when our bodies require hydration the melons come into force, in the depth of winter when we need solid food we have potatoes and as winter approaches the citrus fruits, lemons and organs are ready to harvest. This isn’t a coincidence.

Summer foods, such as stone fruits, provide us with extra beta-carotenes and other carotenoids that help protect us against sun damage, they also provide more sweetness for an energetic summer, as well as salad vegetables for those tasty cool summer salads. When our body is calling out for the right ingredient Mother Nature always answers. Of course we don’t always listen. And not only do we ignore nature but we think we are cleverer. One of the absolute charms of living in Dubrovnik 20 years ago was the fact that I could only purchase seasonal fruit and vegetables. As much as I craved strawberries all year round there was no way I could find them.

Now it can be argued whether this seasonal produce offering two decades ago was due to planning or simply because of financial restrictions. What is for sure is that as supermarkets expanded their offer so the seasonal restrictions fell away. Now I can buy strawberries all year round. Which brings me cheer and disappointment at the same time. Because in my heart of hearts I know that to get strawberries at Christmas humans have altered nature’s course. We have either pumped chemicals, genetically modified them or simply baked them in greenhouses. We are playing God with our food.

These Christmas strawberries have probably not only been altered but have also travelled half way around the world to arrive on my plate. The carbon footprint of my strawberry is larger than a pilot’s. And all in the name of profit. It would seem that consuming seasonal produce is just as ecological friendly as banning single-use plastics. The trail of destruction in producing my strawberry is the same as throwing litter from a car window. And as one wise man once said “let the footprint be only thing that we leave behind us.” And by footprint he didn’t mean a carbon one. So I’m going back to munching my mandarin from Neretva (and not the ones that are sprayed, yes we know who you are) to cure my ailments.

Croatia has 140 ATMs per 100,000 inhabitants and over the past decade their number has more than doubled.

Dubrovnik has recently had a problem with the amount of ATMs inside the historic city walls and clearly Dubrovnik isn’t the only city drowning in these electronic bank machines. In fact, according to the latest figures the number of ATMs per 100,000 citizens throughout Croatia is at around the same level as Japan and the UK.

The recently published document "Contribution of Croatian Banks to Growth and Development 2019" highlighted the growing number of ATMs in the country. The publication also shows that although the number of bank machines has risen steadily the number of actual bank branches has continued to fall, there are now 32 bank branches per 100,000 citizens.

When it comes to credit cards, Croatia is also a leader amongst the newer EU members, with 35 percent of the population owning a card.

 

As part of the Dubrovnik Veterans Day celebration program organized by the City of Dubrovnik and on the occasion of the Feast of St. Nicholas, the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra and the Libertas mixed choir held their traditional concert at the Church of the Friars Minor last night.

The concert was led by the DSO chief conductor, Marc Tardue, and featured works by major composers such as Schubert, Mozart, Bach, Verdi and other composers. Thus, the concert began with Barber's Adagio, followed by Schubert's Symphony No. 4 in C minor "Tragic"; Mozart's Ave verum corups; Bach's famous coral Jesus is My Joy and the Choir of Jews from Verdi's opera Nabucco.

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This year's rich New Year's Eve program will bid farewell to 2019 and welcome in the New Year in style with famous pop stars who will perform on the greatest stage in the world, Stradun. Celebrate with your loved ones as Dubrovnik welcomes another New Year.

The first day of the New Year's program is on the 30th of December in front of the Church of St. Blaise, at 9:00 pm, when Urban & 4 will sing. And then on New Year’s Eve, the 31st of December at 10.30 am the fun will start with the traditional New Year's Eve Children's Party at which the popular young singer Mia Dimsic will perform. One of the most popular Croatian bands, Parni valjak, will take Dubrovnik and its guests into the New Year, and before them Ante Gelo will warm-up the audience with his band.

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Top musicians on the world's most beautiful stage and at midnight the night sky will be lit up with an impressive fireworks display to ensure a memorable start to the New Year on Stradun.

On the first day of the New Year, enjoy an abundance of oysters and champagne with performances by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra at noon on Stradun, and the first night of 2020 will be spiced up with song on the 1st of January on Stradun one of the most popular Croatian vocal choirs – Klapa Iskon will perform.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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