Tuesday, 21 May 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

The fifth Dubrovnik Half Marathon attracted runners from all over the world yesterday with the whole city beating to the sound of running shoes on stone. After the torrential rain and overcast skies on Saturday for the popular “Run the Walls” event the weather cleared and the sun shone for the Dubrovnik Half Marathon.

The Dubrovnik Half marathon is the jewel in the crown of the Du Motion event in Dubrovnik which sees the city in active mood for a few days. Runners started their Dubrovnik run on the Stradun in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik and ran out to the river Ombla where they turned and made their way back into the historic core with a big finish again on the Stradun.

Over its brief history the Du Motion events have already picked up many awards and the Half marathon is particularly proud of the five-star rating from the European Athletics Association award for quality and safety.

The winner of this year’s Dubrovnik Half Marathon was Kristijan Stošić from Serbia who completed the course with a time of 14 minutes and 2 seconds. In second place was Yordan Petrova from Bulgaria, while third Matt Edmonds from Great Britain came in third place.

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In the women’s race the field was led by Amela Trožić from Bosnia and Herzegovina with a time of 31 minutes and 19 seconds. In second place was Hannah Grant from Switzerland, with a time of 32 minutes and 34 seconds and in third was Martina Schimanski from Germany with a time of 33 minutes and 24 seconds.

The winners of both competitions were presented with their awards by the Deputy Mayor Jelka Tepšić and city councillor Dživo Brčić.

At the beginning of the 21.1-kilometer race, there were a thousand competitors from almost 40 countries.

Flydubai has published its summer flight schedule and Dubrovnik will receive half as many flights from Dubai as it did last summer season.

In 2018 FlyDubai operated four flights a week between Dubai and Dubrovnik from April and continuing until October. However, it what appears to be a shakeup of their whole flights schedule for 2019/2020 to Croatia the airline has announced that this year they will connect Dubai and Dubrovnik only twice a week and will not start flights until June this year.

FlyDubai will therefore operate two weekly flights between Dubai and Dubrovnik from June to October this year, a halving of their summer flight schedule from last year. They have also announced that flights to the Croatian capital, Zagreb, will be decreased for this coming winter.

Ivana Trump, the former wife of US President Donald Trump, arrived in Croatia late yesterday afternoon and is a guest at the luxury Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb. Ivana Trump flew from the US to Vienna and then onto the Croatian capital by car.

Ivana Trump arrived to Croatia to take part in the Miss Universe pageant where she will be the president of the jury. 18 ladies from all over Croatia will compete for the Miss Croatia trophy and the winner will represent Croatia at the main event, the Miss Universe competition that will be held at the end of the year.

During her visit to Zagreb Ivana Trump visited the Svjetlost Clinic where she had a minor eye operation, that according to information, was extremely successful.

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The renowned credit rating agency Moody’s has changed their financial forecast for Croatia from stable to positive. The American based agency stated that “the improved fiscal performance is mainly attributable to a significant reduction in the structural deficit, meaning that public finances are strengthening in a durable way."

The agency expects a solid surplus of the primary balance to be maintained in the coming years.

"Under its base case scenario, Moody's expects that continued fiscal prudence and positive economic growth will allow public debt to continue its downward trend and reach around 70% of GDP in 2020," reads the report on Croatia.

One of the most powerful politicians in Europe will visit Croatia in May. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will join a political rally of the European People's Party in Zagreb ahead of the European Elections in May, in what will be her first ever attendance at a rally of this kind outside of Germany.

During her visit to the Croatian capital Merkel will meet with Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković.

The rally, which will be held in Zagreb on the 18th of May, will also see another heavyweight of the European political scene with the next European Commsion President, Manfred Weber, also planning to attend.

The Croatian government released a statement commenting that “Following Andrej Plenkovic's two visits to Berlin during his current term, this confirms the ever closer Croatian-German relations.”

The storms started last night and continues this morning, not ideal weather for running, especially racing around the glass-shine stone of the iconic Dubrovnik City Walls. But that is exactly what almost a hundred runners from all over the world did today in the “Run the Walls,” event as part of the Du Motion Dubrovnik 2019.

The stone was certainly slippery and when you bear in the mind that the runners had over 2 kilometres in front of the them and well over a thousand steps it was always going to be a challenging race. And experience had the last word as last year’s winner was again this year’s new champion. Luka Đurović was the winner of the 2019 Race the Walls event with the fastest time of 11 minutes and 36 hundredths of a second, around 24 seconds better than his winning time from last year.

In second place this year was Luka Rajčević who finished just 3 seconds and 61 hundredths of a second behind Đurović. And in third place was Zdravko Mišović from Serbia with a time of 11 minutes and 39 seconds.

The winner of this year’s women’s race was Andrea Klečak with a winning time of 14 minutes and 52 seconds, followed by Jan Vinković and in the bronze medal position was Cath Worthington from Great Britain.

The director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Romana Vlašić, presented the finalists with their medals and 85 of total of 97 runners completed the course.

Tomorrow is the main event and the Dubrovnik Half Marathon.

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This column could quite easily be entitled “Lost in Konavle,” or more precisely “Lost in a place where I never thought I’d find.” After more than twenty years of living here I thought I’d been everywhere and seen everything. How wrong I was. “The funeral will be in Zastolje in Konavle, to be honest I’m not exactly sure where it is but how difficult can it be to find,” commented a friend to me.

Yes, my reasons for going into the wilds of Konavle weren’t enjoyable, but to attend a funeral. My mother always used to say to me as I rolled out of bed late for school and threw on my clothes in a hurry, “You’ll be late for your own funeral.” She might be right, but I was running late for someone else’s and was totally lost.

Although I lived for most of my adult life in London I grew up in the rolling green hills of the county of Kent. Nicknamed “the garden of England” it is a largely rural area with villages dotted around the green mass of nature. And each village has its own church, for example I lived in Coxheath and there was one Coxheath Church. So I presumed that each village in Konavle would have its own church, wrong again.

It would appear that there are more churches in Konavle than there are trees in the Amazon forest, or more books than on amazon.com.

When all else fails ask Google. With the address of the village in Google maps I dutifully followed the directions of the somewhat sexy female voice. “Turn right after 300 metres,” she whispered. I followed her directions even though it appeared I was heading into a vineyard. The road was getting narrower and narrower. In fact it was hardly a road anymore as grass was now growing in the centre and then the sexy voice said “This road isn’t recognized.” “You took me down this bloody road,” I was now arguing with Google.

 

 

I pushed on, like Indiana Jones in the jungle in search of the Lost Ark. With bushes scratching both sides of my car the erotic female voice announced “Congratulations you have reached your destination!” If my destination was slap bang in the middle of nowhere then she was 100 percent right. There wasn’t even a house, let alone a church, there wasn’t even a dog, maybe a wolf but no signs of life. “Being lost doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. After all, when Columbus got lost, he discovered America,” once wrote Catherine RossiI. I hadn’t discovered America but it felt like I was in a Hitchcock movie.

I headed back and hadn’t driven more than a couple of hundred metres before a car came around a corner and the driver waved at me for help. “Are you going to the funeral as well, my GPS said I have arrived but this can’t be the right place,” he pleaded through his window. It seemed that my new friend was also a member of the “Lost in Konavle Club.”

I headed back to the main road with a plan. The plan was to look at cars passing and if they were all wearing black I’d follow them. I’d already been in Konavle for an hour, luckily I had filled up with petrol before this adventure. I saw a car and followed them. Mission failed as I ended up at a football match between two local teams. After trying, and failing, to call friends going to the same church I went back to Google. “I’ll go from church to church until I find it,” I made a deal with Mrs. Sexy Voice.

I had a back-up plan. Learn from former generations. So I headed for higher ground. Sokol Grad was my destination. There is a reason why it was chosen as a defensive point, because it commands views over the whole region. Maybe from there I’d be able to see the church. I’d reached my sixth, yes sixth church, in twenty minutes and was losing hope. I had lost count on how many private houses I had had to turn around in after taking yet another dead end. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to all the people I woke up from their afternoon siesta as their dogs barked at my car as I tried to perform a U-turn. “I’ll try this road and then try and find my way home,” yes by this time I was caught in a conversation with Mrs. Google.

The amount of time I had spent in my car I could have been on the Riva in Split. The final road and bingo. Cars coming towards me full of passengers in black. I’m not Sherlock Holmes but this was looking promising. Turning into yet another tiny Konavle road I saw my fellow member of the “Lost in Konavle Club” parking his car. “Well that wasn’t easy to find,” I commented to him. “You’re telling me,” he puffed his answer, adding “and I’m from Konavle.”     

Croatia, together with Greece, Italy, and Spain, had one of the lowest rates of employment in 2018 even though it surpassed the target set for 2020, said a Eurostat report released on Thursday.

In 2018 the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in Croatia stood at 65.2 percent or 1.6 percentage points higher than in 2017. Only Greece and Italy had a lower rate, 59.5 percent and 63 percent respectively. Spain too was among this group with a rate of 67 percent.

Almost half of the EU member states had employment rates of more than 75 percent, with Sweden registering the highest rate of 82.6 percent. In 2018, the employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the European Union (EU) stood at 73.2 percent, as against 72.2 percent in 2017.

Croatia surpassed the target rate of 62.9 percent as envisaged in the European strategy for 2020.

The employment rate of persons aged 55 to 64 in the EU has grown steadily, from 38.4 percent in 2002 to 58.7 percent in 2018.

Croatia, along with Luxembourg and Greece is among those EU countries with the lowest employment rate of this age group (42.8%). In 2017 that rate was 40.3 percent.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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