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.
His latest film, Gotovina, is currently breaking records at the box offices but the star of the movie and indeed one of the most Croatian actors of all time has decided to leave the bright lights of Hollywood and move back to Europe.
Goran Visnjic (46) has recently given an exclusive interview to the Croatian magazine Gloria and has revealed that after 20 years of living in Los Angeles he is on the verge of moving home to England and is currently house hunting in Cornwall. Visnjic, along with his wife Eva and their four young children, are apparently searching for a new home in the southwest of England in the picturesque county of Cornwall.
According to the interview in Gloria Visnjic claims that the children really miss their grandparents in Croatia, and by moving to England he will be closer to them and be able to have family holidays more often.
Visnjic who stars in the current box office smash, Gotovia, where he plays the legendary Croatian general. He is probably best known for his role as Dr. Kovac in the hit TV series ER. He has also played in the movies The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Elektra and Practical Magic.
Visnjic as Dr. Kovac in ER
Green Sea Safari is a Dubrovnik-based, non-profit organisation that has one main goal: to clean trash and other waste from the planet's seas and coastline. This extremely worthy idea was started just two and a half years ago by three friends, Marlena Ćukteraš, Maro Carević and Alen Redžović. We caught up with Marlena this week to see what her inspirations were to get involved in this project and what their aims are.
“We pretty much decided the idea over a coffee, as many things are decided in Dubrovnik,” commented Marlena. But don’t let this relaxed attitude hide a determined ambition to clean up the seas of Dubrovnik and to educate people along the way. They have managed to attract some great sponsors and have made great leaps in preserving Dubrovnik’s marine nature but they also need your help. According to the Green Sea Safari website Marlena is a physicist, a biologist, a marine scientist, and environmentalist, we would also add a very positive example for all of us to follow.
Lots of people are aware of plastic polluting the seas but very few actually get involved in doing something to change the situation. Why were you so determined to make a real difference?
Somebody has to start. I don’t really look at it as cleaning the seas, although it can be hard work I absolutely enjoy what I am doing. When you know that you are doing something useful, not just for yourself but also for the widen community and above all for nature and the planet then its isn’t difficult at all. We have to think of the future generations. I am a professor at RIT University in Dubrovnik and I am aware of the younger generations every day at work. Just like anything in life the first step is the hardest. Once I started, or rather once we all started, then every day, every journey became more enjoyable. We all have a duty to learn how to recycle. Education is important, and not only for the younger generations but for everyone. In fact, teaching the older generations is equally as important as the younger ones.
You run daily safari cleaning action every day during the summer months. And these are of course open to both tourists and locals. Even though these trips take people to more hidden areas of our coastline is it hard to find “volunteers” to help you?
Our Green Seas Safari tours last all day so it is just a matter of people actually finding the spare time to join us. Our tours are completely free for all visitors. People take food and drink with them, or if they want we stop at a restaurant on an island and make a day of it. We start at 9.30 in the morning and we return at around 5 in the afternoon. We’ve had guests of all ages and all nationalities. And they all have a passion to make the seas clean, our seas clean. I think our oldest guest so far was in his seventies. If people want to get involved all the info is on our website. We welcome everyone.
Are you surprised, or shocked, with the sheer amount of plastic waste that you find? You go to places around the coastline that aren’t normally cleaned by the public cleaning company, so you find at first-hand what the sea is polluted with.
As a scientist I have to say that unfortunately I am not that shocked, although my friends and colleagues often are. When I look at the situation from a scientific angle then the reasons are obvious. For my final graduation study I covered many of the reason why the Adriatic is suffering from plastic pollution. One of the reasons is the flow of water. A large amount of water flows into the Adriatic from the Neretva River, however over the decades more and more hydroelectric power plants have been built on this river meaning that the flow of water into the Adriatic Sea is much less. Before when the Neretva’s fresh water flowed into the Adriatic without hindrance it literally pushed all the waste away from the Croatian coastline. Now the flow is lower the current has changed and lots of the waste is now floating to us from all over the Mediterranean.
What percentage of the plastic waste that you find originates from Croatia?
It is hard to give an exact percentage but I would estimate that a large majority of the plastic waste that we find doesn’t originate from Croatia. Even though many of the bottle and other items don’t have a label on them anymore I can see from the look of the bottle that they aren’t from Croatia. It also needs to be said that a large percentage of the plastic waste we find is medical waste. We don’t really know where this comes from. During our trips with guests we pull out up to 15 bags of plastic waste.
Dubrovnik has a problem with plastic waste when the south winds blow at certain times of the year and it would seem that lots of this waste comes from Albania. Is this your experience?
Yes, it is true a large part of the plastic waste we find originates from Albania. The currents and winds bring it to Dubrovnik at times of the year. Albania isn’t a member of the European Union and their laws and regulations surrounding plastic waste, and recycling in general, aren’t as strict or as effective as they should be. Don’t get me wrong these kind of bad practises used to happen in Croatia, they have only changed due to awareness and education, plus of course European and national laws.
How can visitors of Dubrovnik, or in fact anyone reading this, actually help your organisation?
Firstly, I need to point out that we really love what we do. What we really need is some kind of support, financial support that will assist us to not only survive but also and more importantly, to expand to other coasts in Croatia. The only reason that we haven’t moved on to other reasons is financial. The costs of fuel, the skipper and other costs involved are restrictive for us, unfortunately. We would love to get a major company onboard as a general sponsor, that would seriously help us. Of course people do donate, and we welcome all donations. If people, your readers, want to donate then we would be extremely grateful.
You can help this worthy cause
Go to the Green Sea Safari website and find out how you can assist this great project - https://greenseasafari.com/ Annual membership is only 300 Kunas and all that money will be invested into a green and plastic free future.
And if you want to donate (and please do) to this worthy non-profit organisation then simply follow this link - https://greenseasafari.com/donate/ Thank you in advance!
As your diving mask slowly slips below the calm surface of the turquoise sea it becomes obvious in a moment why the Croatian Adriatic Sea is a haven for divers from all over the world. A rich underwater wonderland opens up before your eyes, a never-ending world of brilliant blue. It is no wonder that divers from all over the world flood to Croatia every year to dip their wetsuits into the Adriatic.
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever,” once said the great Jacques Yves Cousteau. He could quite easily have been talking directly about the Croatian Adriatic Sea, a sea that he was extremely fond of. The Adriatic is considered as one of the cleanest in the world. The underwater empire is overflowing with flora and fauna, which combined with the incredible visibility, makes the Adriatic an absolute magnet for divers.
There are just over 110 official diving sites dotted along the coastline, a coast that stretches for 5790 kilometres thanks to being one of the most indented coastlines in Europe. And with 1246 islands scattered along this winding shore there are plenty of opportunities for divers. With no extreme tides or even tidal currents and temperatures relatively warm, ranging from 21°C to 25°C in the summer and never dropping below 14°C in the winter months, this is truly a diver’s paradise.
Every dive will offer a new discovery, for diving in the Adriatic is always a journey. The waters around the Dubrovnik region are some of the richest along the Croatian coastline. Sunken warships, undersea caves, fields of coral, schools of brightly coloured fish, octopus, sheer drops in the blue abyss, diving in Dubrovnik is an adventure from start to finish. With the Elaphite islands, with the glorious islands of Šipan and Lopud the closest, almost a stone’s throw from Dubrovnik the options are endless.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver, if you are looking for an hour’s dive or a long weekend, the Adriatic in Dubrovnik has something for everyone. The ever-changing colours will amaze you, the stunning rock faces will raise your curiosity and the underwater wildlife will dazzle you. Divers come back to Dubrovnik year after year, find out for yourself why!
This could well be the shortest column I have ever written. As the August sun punishingly burns down the sweat is rolling down my forehead like Niagara Falls and dripping in ever larger spots on my keyboard. Can you get electrocuted from a keyboard? I guess I am going to find out as my slippery fingers punch away.
But it’s the middle of August in Dubrovnik, so what would you expect? If it isn’t going to be hot now, then when will it get hot?
So the overtourism monster has once again reared its ugly head. A few too many tourists and everyone is gripped with shock and horror. Journalists from all over the world are contacting me asking about the crowded Old City and the human crush as cruise ship passengers pour off their ships and flow towards the Stradun. Headlines are filled with revulsion and surprise. And Facebook fills with angered citizens as they struggle to get to work due to the traffic jams. I might be a little controversial here – but get a grip! Why are you surprised when there is more traffic on the roads and more people wanting to get in the Old City and see the sights in the middle of the season, its August for God’s sake if we aren’t busy now, then when will we be busy.
If you drive to work or to the café bar takes ten minutes longer than in February, then leave home ten minutes earlier. If you have to wait an extra five minutes to buy your morning bread or croissant, then get out of bed five minutes earlier. And if you have to wait to get your coffee because your waitress is busy serving tourists their cappuccinos then I have absolutely no sympathy for you. It is August in Dubrovnik what the hell do you expect. Did you think that the roads would be empty? That the waitress was waiting all morning just for you to get out of bed for your coffee? Did you really think that the stone streets of the Old City would be empty in the height of summer? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are delusional.
Dubrovnik is a tourist destination. We all live, one way or another, from the tourist dollar, like it or not. Tourists are our customers. Do you hear Lidl complaining when they have too many customers? Or the Dubrovnik Summer Festival complaining that there are too many people wanting to buy tickets? Or eBay moaning that they have too many clients online and are selling to many products? Of course not, they are all rubbing their hands with glee and watching the cash registers spin. Yes, granted they might have to adjust their policies to allow more customers to shop at the same time, but basically they have a “sweet problem.” And believe me it is better to have a sweet problem than a sour one.
Tourists travel in the summer. And we are in the height of summer. It’s like throwing a lighted match into a bone dry forest and shouting “oh, no there is a fire.” Of course Dubrovnik will be busy in the height of August. And believe me if it wasn’t we would have far greater problems than waiting five minutes for our morning caffeine fix.
What if Dubrovnik had undertourism? Then we would truly suffer. If the shops, bars and hotels were empty, if you’re Airbnb apartment didn’t have any guests, then you would be really crying. So Dubrovnik is overcrowded for a couple of weeks of the year, big deal. You have 52 weeks in the year, surely that’s enough time to find a quiet spot for yourself.
And even during those “red” hotspots all you have to do is drive for 15 minutes and you are away from the crowds. Go to any globally popular tourist destination in the middle of August and it will be busy, it isn’t rocket science. And if that destination is empty then ask the locals which they would prefer. The fact that Dubrovnik is crowded in August isn’t breaking news, it isn’t the end of the world, it is exactly how it should be.
Yet another luxury mega yacht has dropped anchor near Cavtat this summer season with the arrival of the oddly named yacht 11-11.
This 63-metre-long beauty was built in 2015 and can carry 12 guests in 6 elegant cabins, she has a crew of 15 onboard. It is unknown who exactly has charted this eye-catching yacht but at 650,000 Euros a week plus expenses it is obviously someone with extra deep pockets.
It is widely reported that 11-11 is owned by the British luxury property developer, Nick Candy, who is said to be worth around £1.5 billion. Although there is no confirmation that he is actually on the yacht, which is aid to have cost $70 million.
Candy, who is of Greek Cypriot descent, was involved with many high end property developments in London, including One Hyde Park and Chelsea Barracks. He is married to the Australian actress, singer and model, Holly Valance.
After an extremely hot July and August Croatia could well be in for a wet and stormy autumn. The popular weather website AccuWeather has released their long-range weather forecast for autumn this year and it doesn’t make for pretty reading for the southeast of Europe.
"The combination of post-tropical storms and wind storms will make for a wetter-than-normal autumn," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said.
Whereas temperatures have been in the mid-thirties for most of the summer in Croatia the chances of an Indian Summer look bleak as the autumn is predicted to be rainy and stormy.
“As the season progresses, the risk of severe thunderstorms will lessen, but rounds of locally heavy rainfall will persist. The overall storm track over Europe will feature storms across southern Europe bringing numerous rounds of rainfall during the months of October and November. The wet pattern that is forecast across the Balkan Peninsula will limit any intense heat from building across the region with temperatures expected to remain near to slightly below normal for the season as a whole,” writes the website.
According to a report by the Croatian National Bank 555 counterfeit banknotes were discovered in Croatia in the first six months of this year, with the most commonly forged note the 200 Kuna bill.
In total 278 banknotes were Kuna bills, with 200 Kuna banknotes accounting for 124 of that overall number. The next most commonly forged Kuna banknotes are 1000 and then 500 Kuna.
Out of the foreign currencies that most common counterfeit notes are Euros. There were 277 forged foreign banknotes uncovered in the first six months of the year, of which 224 were Kuna notes.
Owning an apartment, villa or holiday home up and down the Croatian Adriatic coastline is certainly a lucrative business. According to recent figures just released by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics a whopping 3 million tourists decided to book private accommodation in Croatia in June this year, a healthy increase of 11 percent compared with the same month from last year.
Experts reports suggest that apartment owners in Dubrovnik can pocket a tidy 10,000 Euros a season, which after paying agency fees and taxes gives them a second income of around 7,000 Euros annually. And there is no sign that reservations with quality apartments is slowly down, in fact the opposite seems to be the case, as 44 percent of all accommodation bookings in Croatia in June were in private apartments and villas.
Among foreign tourists, the highest number of overnight stays, 3.5 million, was recorded by Germans in June, which is a 43.7 percent increase over June 2018, followed by Austrians, Slovenes, Poles, Czechs and tourists from the UK and Italy.
There are around 367,000 rooms in private accommodation in Croatia with a grand total of 960,000 beds, which is further evidence of just how important this type of accommodation is for the country.
And many apartment owners in Dubrovnik are reporting that they are full up until the end of September and into the beginning of October.