Sunday, 26 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 summer season is within touching distance and Dubrovnik is on the verge of what would appear to be another bumper season. In spite of a renewed competition from the likes of Greece and Turkey and the chaos around Brexit it seems that the city will have another busy year.

On the back of the recent final season of the HBO series Game of Thrones and the introduction of direct flights from the US to Dubrovnik with American Airlines we can expect a serious influx of American travellers and fans of the show. And the publicity doesn’t stop there with a whole host of international publications now advertising Dubrovnik as an ideal summer getaway. And with so many flights coming this way from the UK, traditionally the city’s biggest market, this latest full page article in one of the biggest selling newspapers in the UK will certainly help.

Under the headline of “Dubrovnik for £100 a night” the lengthy article in The Daily Mail explains to readers how to get the biggest bang for your buck in the city. Yet more great marketing before the summer season.

daily mail dubrovnik 2019

 

To steal a line from the one and only Frank Sinatra, “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain.” Well we, not I, are facing the eighth and final season of a series, that has for many, put Dubrovnik on the map, Game of Thrones.

By the time you need this the final season will be up and running and once again millions and millions of people all over the globe will be glued to watching Dubrovnik in the leading role. Love it or hate it, you certainly can’t deny that it has helped earn the city a mountain of cash. When Mr George R. R. Martin started to write and to describe a kingdom with a walled city that would be the heart of the whole story nobody knew at that time that he was actually describing Dubrovnik.

With a few strokes of his pen, or probably fingers pressing at the keyboard, he had inadvertently changed our future. The old saying that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” is completely true. By creating this magical fantasy kingdom, he had also created hundreds of jobs in the city, opened countless souvenir shops, sold tonnes of memorabilia, attracted thousands of new visitors and brought priceless marketing and PR.

All this basically dropped out of the sky like rain. We did zero lobbying, paid no under the table sweeteners (Sanader style) or even approach the producers to propose the idea. It fell like rain from the sky.  “The first time we saw Dubrovnik, I was in shock, because the whole city really looked the way we pictured King's Landing looking,” said one of the executive producers David Benioff. And I remember it clearly as I was there when he said it, in fact I was standing right next to him.  I remember quite vividly when Game of Thrones rolled into town. It was season 2 and apart from a few hard-core fans nobody had really heard of the show. “If you are in town they are filming some historical drama, I’ve no idea what it’s about, probably nothing special, but try and take a few photos,” my editor at the time told me. I literally walked right through the middle of the main set with my camera, I still have a selfie with Peter Dinklage. Little did I, and lots of other people, know at the time just how gigantic this “historical drama” would be.

Although for millions of people around the world Dubrovnik has been renamed King’s Landing at least they actually know where the city is located now. I remember a few years ago sitting in a café near Central Park in New York when the young waiter, probably an art student or a budding actor, asked me where I lived, “Dubrovnik, Croatia.” He looked at me with a blank look on his face as he handed over my morning bagel and caramel coffee. I was just about to start explaining geography when his face changed expression and he blurted out at me “King’s Landing…you live in King’s Landing…that’s incredible…congratulations.” My first reaction was to ram the bagel in his face and scream. Centuries and centuries of history and yet my young waiter had only heard of us because of a modern series. But I stopped myself (and saved my bagel). I realised that, even though it was at first frustrating, it was only really important that my waiter friend had actually heard of Dubrovnik, how we had come into his radar was in fact the least important factor.

He would, thanks to Mr. Martin, forever know about Dubrovnik. And he isn’t the only one.

A major Chinese newspaper contacted me about an interview and I presumed it was because their Prime Minister was on his way here. But no all he wanted to talk about and to ask me about was the Game of Thrones effect on Dubrovnik. He was clearly more interested in the Lannisters than Li Keqiang. But to be honest I can’t say that I’m sad to see Game of Thrones ending. Although I was hooked at the beginning I later lost interest.

It just became too long and as soon as I had missed one whole season I really didn’t have the energy to follow it any more. It has been an interesting ride but enough already. We don’t want to be King’s Landing anymore. Can we have our Dubrovnik back!           

Guess the finale of Game of Thrones and win a dream Croatian holiday. With the euphoria around the most popular TV series of all time building to a climax as the eighth and final season got underway a few days ago a UK based travel agency has come up with an ingenious way to celebrate the end of an era. Unforgettable Croatia is offering a luxury Croatian holiday in Split and Dubrovnik to the person who correctly guesses what will happen at the end of the serial.

It isn’t as easy as it seems, as any fan of Game of Thrones will testify, as the serial has more twists and turns than an Alpine road. Who will end up of the throne of King’s Landing? Or in fact will anyone sit on the throne? Only a handful of people actually know. And as HBO and the entire Game of Thrones production team take security extremely seriously any inside information will be non-existent.

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But guess the end of the series and Unforgettable Croatia will give you a week on luxury on the Croatian Adriatic coastline. And as both Dubrovnik and Split were used as locations in Game of Thrones, with Dubrovnik playing King’s Landing, the choice of both cities is very apt.

But what if more than one person correctly guesses the outcome. Well according to the travel company “Where multiple entrants answer correctly, entries will be placed into a prize draw and winner picked at random.”

The luxury “Game of Thrones Holiday" includes three overnight stays in Split and four in Dubrovnik, accommodation in five-star hotels and land and sea tours with a special emphasis on locations on which a series was filmed in Croatia (King's Landing, Warth, Braavos , Riverland ...). The competition is open until the 5th of May, so get your thinking caps on!

Check out this link on how to enter and all the rules of the game…and good luck!

 

The UNESCO list of geological parks has increased for eight new places in South America, Asia and Europe, and the UNESCO Executive Council has decided, and among the three European parks to designate one Croatian island.

UNESCO’s Executive Board yesterday approved the designation of eight new sites demonstrating the diversity of the planet’s geology as new Geoparks. The Executive Board also approved the extension of three existing Geoparks. With this year’s additions, the number of sites in the Global UNESCO Geoparks Network is brought to 147 in 41 countries.

unesco vis croatia

“The Vis Archipelago UNESCO Global Geopark is located off the coast of Croatia, formed by some of the oldest rock in the Adriatic Sea. The northeastern region of the archipelago features large sand deposits formed by fierce winds in the Ice Age, which also created several unique caves and land formations. Before the sudden rise of the sea level around 12,000 years ago, these islands were much larger and extended more than 20 miles. In this extended area, called the Mala Palagruža, archaeologists discovered flint quarries that served for the production of early tools, believed to have been made by the islands’ first inhabitants up to 8,000 years ago. Some of the most famous sites on this Archipelago are the Blue Cave (Modra špilja) and the Monk Seal Cave (Medvidina špilja)”, stated UNESCO on the inclusion of Vis on the Geopark list.

vis blue cave croatia unesco

Often called Croatian Easter Bread this traditional Easter delight, Pinca, is basically a sweet bread that is served sometimes with butter and a cup of coffee. It is relatively straightforward to make although it is important to follow some golden rules.

If you want to make a traditional Croatian Easter feast then one thing must be near the top of the list, Pinca, or sweet bread. Pinca is usually flavoured with citrus fruits and sometimes contains dried fruit and rum. When complete is looks like a rounded loaf of bread, or maybe a large bread roll.

It is traditionally made on the Saturday before Easter and then served on Easter morning. Whilst many families have their own recipe, which has been passed down through generations, we are going to offer you the simplest recipe, let’s face it if you aren’t a baker then you are already at a disadvantage. But although the recipe is fairly simple the preparation isn’t, this is a time consuming process waiting for the dough to rise. The key to a good pinca is that it is light and soft and has a certain foamy quality. Here is the recipe for two pincas, or up to 16 servings, so you’ll have plenty to share around at the Easter period.

pinca sweet easter bread croatia

 

Ingredients for 2 Pinca Bread loaves

5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
100 grams raisins
100 grams of milk
2 tablespoons brandy or rum (if you have some Croatian brandy or rum even better)
200 grams of sugar
150 grams of butter
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon vanilla

Recipe for 2 Pinca Bread loaves (serves up to 16 people)

Add the yeast, 1 tb of sugar and milk into a smallish mixing bowl and stir well with a fork. Cover the mixture and put it in a dark, dry place

Combine the raisins with the brandy/rum in a bowl and leave to one side for the dried fruit to soak up the alcohol

Combine the butter with the flour until you get a fine crumble. This might be easier to do in a large mixer

Knead the dough, adding the egg yolks, yeast mixture, citrus zests, sugar and vanilla. Again this step is easier if you have a mixer with a knead attachment, if not you’ll need some “elbow grease”. Knead until the dough forms a ball shape

Near the end of the kneading add the raisins and rum/brandy. Knead until the raisins are evenly distributed throughout the dough. If the mixture is too wet then add more flour, if it is too dry then add milk

Now comes the important step. Cover the bowl with grease-proof paper and leave it rise (in a dry, dark spot) for around 2 hours. The mixture should almost double in size

Divide the dough in half and shape each into a round loaf

Place each round loaf onto a baking pan, spacing well apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size. Again this can take 2 hours

Preheat the oven to 190°C

Using as knife cut an X into the top of the loaves and brush the top of the loaves with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for between 30 and 45 minutes. And when finished allow to cool.

According to the latest reports, the average time users spend on Facebook is continuing to fall, while the much more popular Instagram is slowly but surely growing and becoming the most popular form of social media in the world.

Facebook and Instagram are extremely popular applications whose popularity, according to the latest reports, is going completely in the opposite direction. The time spent in the Facebook application is falling day by day, while Instagram is becoming more and more popular and popular, reports Business Insider.

According to a recent report by Cowen, a financial services company, in the first quarter of 2019, the average time spent on Facebook in the US fell to 49 minutes daily from the average of 51 minutes three months ago and 58 minutes in the first quarter of 2017.

Instagram on the other hand has seen the time that users spend increase, the average is up to 34 minutes a day. And the photo-sharing app is the absolute hot with younger generations, whilst Facebook has its strongest market with an older age group.

One of the reasons for the drop in time spent on Facebook is the policy of Mark Zuckerberg, who, due to numerous scandals, announced a radical change in how Facebook works, emphasizing that users need to spend “quality time” on the network, though it means spending less time on it.

As the summer is just around the corner and the music from festivals all over the world can just be heard in the distance the popular website coolcamping.com has released a list of the top 50 Most Popular Music Festivals in the World, According to Instagram. And Croatia features in the top thirty with the crazily popular Ultra Europe Festival in Split coming in at a respectable 29th position.

The dedicated crew at Cool Camping have been busy surfing social media and all that hard work has brought a quite impressive list. “This year, to help you out, the Cool Camping clan have put our heads together to work out which music festivals are the world's favourites, with a little help from Instagram. We took to the photo sharing platform to find out which music festivals are the most popular based on how often they had been hashtagged on the social media site,” commented the website. Adding that “In order to compile our list of the top 50 music festivals in the world, we curated a list of 162 of the biggest and best festivals, taken from countless articles, and sources listing the must-visit music festivals around the world. We then crawled Instagram to identify how many posts on Instagram had been hashtagged with the name of each festival and ranked the festivals based on this number to identify our top 50.”

And the top of the list, with an incredible 4.2 million hashtag mentions, was the American music festival Coachella, which is held in California. In fact, seven of the top ten most Instagrammed festivals were in the US. Which either tells us that Americans do music festivals the best, or they are the most active with their smartphones when attending festivals.

Croatia’s Ultra Europe Festival received a whopping 137,343 hashtag mentions.

“Unsurprisingly, Glastonbury has sealed the number one spot for the UK, with an impressive 731,742 hashtags. This five-day festival needs little introduction, incorporating the latest music, dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret and more across over 100 stages – the tickets for the 2019 festival sold out in just 36 minutes,” comments Cool Camping on the leading British music festival.

The days of poorer quality detergent, chocolate spread and toothpaste, to name but a few, in Croatia are behind us as the European Parliament voted to ban double quality standards. For years Croatia, and the whole of the south-east region of Europe, has been sold poorer quality products from leading brands, but in most cases for the same price as they are in the rest of Europe.

With 474 votes for, 163 against and 14 abstentions, the European Parliament yesterday confirmed new rules for the protection of European consumers, including the ban on the different qualities of apparently identical products. In this way, double quality products will in the future be regarded as deceptive practices and will be banned.

This means that the products cannot have different ingredients in the eastern market (the different is generally of inferior quality) compared to the product marketed in the western market, without being in any way different, that they are in the same packaging and that the buyer therefore busy exactly the same product. "No one will ever be able to claim that Croatians or Bulgarians, for example, are looking for less healthy foods, deteriorating laundry detergents, or poor quality detergents," commented the Croatia MEP Biljana Borzan.

And Borzan commented on her social media account that “After six years of work it is a great victory for citizens of the new members of the EU.”

But the struggle for consumer equality in the European market is not over just yet. Firstly, the new directive needs to be confirmed by the EU Council, or the Ministers of the Member States. Although it is expected that this will be a formality.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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