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.
I won't lie to you dear readers, I've put on a few extra pounds over the winter. In fact, I am praying for a few more weeks of cold weather. Maybe that would buy me some time and give me a chance to slim down enough for my spring clothes. Why did I gain weight? Well, out of all the reasons I can give you, the truth of the matter is, I love food. Not only that, but both my wife and I enjoy cooking as well.
There are no fish sticks in our house ladies and gentlemen. No, Mrs Native and I are bona fide foodies and devote plenty of time and energy to cooking and learning about food. She is a sommelier, lover of vegetarian cuisine, and makes mean bread and pastries. I, on the other enjoy making all sorts of pastas and I have a special affection for Chinese and Mexican food. My personal cocktail list is also getting respectable. Even our professional lives revolve around food and local cuisine. We are currently running food and wine tours through our company, and were managing a restaurant up until recently. Let’s face it; our waistlines never stood a chance.
With all this said, you would think I'm ok with having few extra pounds, but that's not the case. Losing weight is always on my “To Do” list and I am known for going from fat to skinny (and then back) in a matter of months. Sometimes it is difficult to tell for yourself if you are gaining or losing weight, unless you are regularly measuring and weighing yourself, but you don’t have to worry about that when living in Dubrovnik.
If there is one thing people here will tell you when they see you in the street, it's whether or not you’re overweight. Some will let you know every time they see you. Every time. Some will shout it from across the street. There's something about „Hey, you're fat!“, said with a wicked grin, that so many of us find to be the perfect ice breaker when meeting friends or family. It's funny to see how in this day and age of political correctness this particular cultural quirk never got filtered out. I'm sometimes amazed at how perfectly acceptable it is to call me out publicly about gaining weight, regardless of the social situation.
It's a good thing I don't go to church regularly anymore. The priest would have a tough time restraining himself for saying „Body of Christ... well, maybe half a portion for you, son? You seem blessed enough.“.
Bozidar Jukic is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.
A list of the safest cities in Croatia has been produced and Sinj came in at number one. The crime rate, property crime, traffic offences, drug abuse, amongst others were all taken into account to produce a list of the safest cities in Croatia. The safest city was Sinj, followed by Petrinja and Samobor in third position.
Among the ten safest cities are Pozega, Đakovo, Dubrovnik, Sisak, Vukovar, Solin and Split.
This is the third year in a row that Sinj has been voted the safest city in Croatia. The survey included all Croatian cities with a population larger than 20,000 people, and Sinj won in all categories.
The researchers also pointed out Dubrovnik as a good example of a safe city, despite of the millions of tourists and problems with controlling the traffic Dubrovnik was ranked as the fifth safest city in Croatia. In fact the figures indicate that the crime rate fell in Dubrovnik in 2015 compared with 2014
As soon as we stop moving forward, we don’t hold the position, we move backwards. Stop moving for too long and you’ll go full speed in one direction, the one you have just come from. Having lived in an international metropolis for most of my life I know the city way of life. You will probably find that the vast majority of people living in a city are doing so because of the financial benefits. It isn’t an easy place to live, at least not for me. And after working all day in the hustle and bustle the last thing you want is to live there, you just can’t escape the pressure. So most people, when they have made enough money, look for a place in the countryside. The real wealth in the UK is in the green and pleasant rolling fields.
That’s the natural progression, make money, move away. All of my family have done exactly that, parents, sister, uncles and aunties. Now I am not saying that I have made enough to be able to live in a castle in the country and be the Lord of the Manor, but I did know that I wanted to find peace and tranquillity in the green suburbs. “Why would you want to move to Zupa,” was the cry from a lot of my friends here. I couldn’t help but think “why not.” I saw a chance to be on the periphery, away from the crowds, a chance to find some much needed peace. I also saw a lot of potential. It was, even when we moved, a land of opportunity. And slowly but surely in those early years it proved to be a winner. We had found our countryside castle.
Work in the city then escape to the calm of Zupa. “It is too far away,” was the next cry. Far away from the noise, parking problems, crowds, cruise ship passengers, exhaust fumes, police sirens...I see that distance as an advantage. In fact you must be mad not to.
And then almost over one summer the landscape changes once again, we get a luxury Sheraton hotel and a shopping centre within walking distance of our house. We can literally walk to them both in seven minutes, yet we can’t see or hear either of them. All of the opportunities, none of the hassle.
Of course you could accuse me of being a local patriot; you don’t have to accuse me - I am! What’s the point of living somewhere and not singing its praises, you must like it otherwise you wouldn’t live there. The explosion of recent construction works hasn’t been without its opponents. I have learned that that is completely normal behaviour here and when I hear the complaints I ignore them, they are like water off a ducks back for me. I can’t remember any project that has been greeted with open arms and a wide smile...ever.
Are you so disappointed with your own lives that you have to find fault in the actions of others to make you feel better about your own deficiencies? It’s a culture of cutting things down to your level rather than trying to raise your own standards. Before the shopping centre has even opened people are saying “I have heard that there wouldn’t be any decent shops inside,” and “it is much smaller than in Split,” and “it’s the same shops we have already.” These are the same people that have been crying that Dubrovnik doesn’t have a shopping centre ever since I moved here. Too many people have an opinion, and a facial expression, like they have found 50 Kunas but at the same time managed to lose 100 Kunas.
I was told recently by a hotel receptionist, when I was moaning that it was too hot, that I need to be grateful. “Our English guests have three days on sunshine in a month and they are grateful for them, but here we complain when we have 27 days of sun, that the three days are rainy.” A local explaining the English culture to me, an interesting experience. But she was right; we maybe have to learn to be more grateful and humble. Far too much time is wasted trying to pick holes in the good things in life, and not seeing the good in life. Learning to be satisfied with what we have, and not frustrated about what other people have. As the author Jeff Dixon once wrote “sometimes we focus so much on what we don’t have that we fail to see, appreciate and use what we do have.” Wise words.
Last year was certainly an impressive one for the Croatian tourism industry, with more flights, more guests and more importantly more revenue than ever before. According to figures just released by the Croatian Ministry of Tourism the revenue generated from foreign tourists in Croatia rose by 7.6 percent in 2015 compared to 2014.
In 2015 Croatian tourism brought in a massive 7.96 billion Euros, or around $9 billion, which meant that tourism generated 18 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. In the fourth quarter of 2015 revenue from tourism in Croatia was an impressive 663 million Euros, which was an increase over the fourth quarter of 2014 by 6.4 percent.
The news and videos on Star Wars VIII and Dubrovnik keeps rolling in. The latest video to go viral on the social media comes from the “Geek Squad” and is basically a collection of all of the videos, photos and info available online.
Many of the images used in the video come from the UK press, and there are also never seen before images and clips of the Star Wars VIII filming in Dubrovnik. In a few weeks the video has already been seen by over 40,000 people.
Check out the latest Star Wars VIII in Dubrovnik video.
On the 10th of May the first Turkish Airlines flight will land at Dubrovnik Airport. Turkish Airlines continues to expand its operations in Europe with the addition of flights from Istanbul to Dubrovnik.
This new connection will be the second direct link to Croatia, after the capital Zagreb, and is sure to attract many tourists from Turkey to Dubrovnik. In 2014 a total of 26,220 Turkish tourists visited Croatia, of which 17,398 stayed on the Croatian coastline. And as Dubrovnik already has three Turkish owned and operated hotels, Rixos Libertas Dubrovnik, The Pucic Palace and Villa Dubrovnik, the city should benefit from the introduction of these new flights. Discussions into the introduction of these flights began a few years ago, however due to the problem of Turkish nationals requiring a visa to enter the country the negotiations were placed on hold.
The flights will operate until the 29th of October this year and will operate on a three times a week basis. Introductory tickets have already gone on sale on Turkish Airlines website and start at around 100 Euros one-way.
The Croatian Prime Minister, Tihomir Oreskovic, visited Dubrovnik yesterday and held working meetings throughout a busy day. The privatization of the Maestral Hotel Group, a meeting with the mayor of Dubrovnik and a tour of the Dubrovnik Airport were all on the table for the Prime Minister yesterday.
The director of the Dubrovnik Airport, Roko Tolic, greeted Oreskovic at the airport and explained the current construction works that are taking place. The new passenger terminal, which will give the airport a capacity of 3 million passengers a year, is set to be completed by October this year. Oreskovic expressed his satisfaction with the works on the airport with which he ended his first official visit to Dubrovnik.
During his meeting with the mayor of Dubrovnik the Prime Minister was informed of the problem of winter flights to the city as well as the connection between Zagreb and Dubrovnik with Croatia Airlines. The mayor stated that Croatia Airlines needed to secure direct flights between Dubrovnik and Frankfurt during the winter. He also added that the City of Dubrovnik was planning to buy 50,000 tickets for the Dubrovnik to Zagreb route and to distribute these to citizens at reduced prices.
Photo - Zeljko Tutnjevic
The fifth Aklapela Festival begins on Friday the 8th of April with an evening of vocal groups in the Lazareti complex. Six a capella vocal groups will perform on the first evening and the entertainment continues on Saturday with another six groups.
The Dubrovnik Times has teamed up with the Aklapela Festival to bring you the chance to see, and more importantly listen, to these stunning Croatian vocal choirs. We are giving away two tickets for the first night, the 8th of April, and two tickets for the second night, the 9th of April. Both of these performances will be held in the Lazareti complex and both start at 7.30pm.
To enter the competition for a chance to win two free tickets all you have to do is follow the instructions on our Facebook page. Good Luck!