Tuesday, 25 June 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

Summer is absolutely here! It has nothing to do with the rising temperatures, the swallows buzzing around catching flies, the crowds along the Stradun, the cruise ship crush or the frustrating traffic jams. No, the reason I know that summer has arrived is that complaints about the price of a cup of coffee in the Old City have started to appear.

As sure as the swallows return from their winter vacation the moaners about Dubrovnik prices return. We are used to scandal headlines throughout the summer when bloggers, journalists and alike roll down from Zagreb to Dubrovnik and have to fill their pages with outrageous claims.

A headline arose this week after a guest paid 70 Kunas for two cups of coffee on the Stradun. Expensive? Well expensive is a very relative term. How do you define is something is expensive or not? “Expensive is applied to whatever entails considerable expense; it suggests a price more than the average person would normally be able to pay or a price paid only for something special,” states the Oxford English dictionary. Is a Ferrari expensive? Well, yes because you are getting something special more than the average person can afford.

coffee stradun

If you were to order two coffees in the heart of Paris you would be lucky to get much change from twenty Euros. Is that expensive? Most people would answer “no, because that’s Paris prices.” The same could be said of Rome, Paris, Tokyo, London and New York. We know in advance that we will pay “top dollar” in all of these cities. So we can also conclude that expense, or price, is comparable. If you compare one destination directly to another you will find which one costs more.

So what do you compare Dubrovnik with to get the conclusions? Can you can’t compare it to any of these major international cities, probably not. So to get a relative price ratio you would have to compare Dubrovnik with another similar city. A city somewhere on the coastline, an ancient city, a city stepped in history and culture, a place that is a Mecca for tourists, a unique city. Not so easy. Maybe Venice? But it’s much larger. Athens? Mont Saint Michel, France? Siena? San Marino? Rhodes? All beautiful and all completely different.

If you come from “Nowheresville” where a gallon of coffee costs the same as two grains of rice then of course a coffee on the Stradun is expensive. But if you come from Monte Carlo then coffee is Dubrovnik is basically free. So a comparison is hard to make.

Let’s go back to the Oxford Dictionary. “A price paid for something special,” now that is an interesting line. Is sitting on the Stradun a special experience? Well, yes, I think it can be argued that having the privilege to sit on such a street in such a unique town is special. The argument is that 70 Kuna is a lot for two cups of coffee, yes but we aren’t talking about two cups of coffee in “Nowheresville.”

All the locals know the coffee price scale. You want a cheap cup then you know exactly where to go. And to be honest any tourist with half a brain will know that if you sit in a premium position you will pay premium prices. It is the same everywhere. It is the same with real estate – location, location, location. So why has the tag expensive been linked to Dubrovnik? Simple, because the tourists that come believe that they are coming to a Croatian version of “Nowheresville.” They have preconceived conceptions that Dubrovnik is a cheap destination. Some of this comes from the hangover of the former Yugoslavia when mass tourism was the king and beer was cheaper than water. These days are long gone, dead and buried.

Some locals will answer “if it is too expensive then don’t come.” I would answer that it isn’t too expensive you just have to use your brain. Dubrovnik isn’t Rome and it isn’t Nowheresville – it is somewhere in between. You want to stay in a five-star hotel, eat lobster and drink cocktails all night then it will cost you. But of course it will! Just trim your experience to your budget. Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.

Apart from being the capital of Croatia, the city of Zagreb is well known for its historical and cultural heritage. However, few people know that the city also has a bridge dedicated to one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music.

A few years ago, graffiti with the surname of Jimi Hendrix appeared on Zagreb’s railway bridge Zeleni Most (Green Bridge) across the Sava River. Thanks to that graffiti, the railway bridge across Sava has got almost a cult status and become one of the symbols of urban pop culture in the city.

The Green Bridge (Zeleni Most) is one of the oldest traffic bridges in Zagreb. Over the years, it has been renewed several times, and upon completion of each renovation, the Hendrix graffiti appeared again.

Two years ago, at the Facebook initiative ‘’Let us rename the railway bridge to the Hendrix bridge’’, the Croatian Railways decided to accept the suggestion, whilst the city of Zagreb decided to make a project of lighting the bridge.

Today the Hendrix bridge across the Sava River has a decorative lightening that highlights the contours of the lower part of the bridge along the entire length of the main beam (310 metres) and the upper structure of the bridge with static, neutral white light. It is interesting to note that dynamic colour lighting is activated by passing the train i.e. with the first coach behind the locomotive.

As far as the graffiti is concerned, it is still there, however, the surname of the popular rock legend is not painted in red anymore, but has got an electric sign in green.

Russian cellist Dmitry Prokofiev will perform for the first time with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra tonight, May 2nd, at the terrace of Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik.  The orchestra will be conducted by Israeli conductor Noam Zur, and the start of the concert is scheduled at 9 pm.

The young cello player is the winner of numerous international youth competitions and other international competitions such as A. Tansman (Poland 1998), P. Tchaikovsky (Russia 2002), A. Janigro (Croatia 2008). He’s been performing since he was 10.  His solo recitals have been held in many cities of Russia and around the world in prestigious halls such as the Paris Auditorium du Louvre and Rudolfinum in Prague. Dmitry Prokofiev recorded his first CD at age of 16 with professor of Moscow Conservatory Alexey Nasedkin (cello and piano sonatas - D. Šostakovič and E. Grieg), and in 2004 he released a CD with Alexander Kobrin.

At the concert with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, he will perform one of the hardest works for the cello: Rococo variations in A major, op. 33 P.I. Tchaikovsky, in its original form. In the rest of the concert, the audience will have the opportunity to hear some of the most beautiful opera overtures by Mr. Rossini, J. Strauss, A. Ponchielli, H. Berlioz, P. Mascagni and other composers.

Branding is an important part of any business, get the right brand and your company will flourish, pick the wrong one and you might as well shut up shop. And it isn’t only companies that need a catchy brand, countries do as well. So how would you brand Croatia? At a recent branding conference it was suggested that well-known Croatian names, such as Tesla and Penkala (that’s where we get the word pen from by the way), should be used to brand Croatia. But due to its unusual boomerang shape the country might look for other branding answers, how about as a bogus croissant. On a popular Croatian news broadcast an anonymous author put forward the idea of branding Croatia as a dragon!

The presenter put this idea forward: ‘’At a large conference about branding Croatia that was held a few days ago, there was plenty of suggestions how the country can and should be promoted (Tesla, Penkala, the sea and the coast, blah, blah), but unlike these blah blah, we are going to present you a concrete and exceptionally original solution related to the mapping of our country. We usually perceive it as a bogus croissant. However, you will be surprised to see what this croissant can turn into and what Croatia can be. The author wanted to remain anonymous, and we were impressed’’, announced the TV host of the latest RTL Direct news.

Check out the video

The Dubrovnik Tourist Board in cooperation with Dubrovnik Cinemas, took over the exhibition ‘’Game of Films’’, originally made by The Dubrovnik Times and Dubrovacki Vjesnik. The exhibition was moved from Lazareti to space of Dubrovnik Cinemas in Luza, below the Bell Tower.

Dubrovnik turned into one of the favourite filming locations for movies and series and this exhibition shows the greatest filming moments caught by local photographers. From Game of Thrones to Star Wars, from Bollywood to Hollywood – Dubrovnik has been part of it all. The exhibition also shows a bit of the latest fuss – filming of Robin Hood that gathered world famous stars such as Jamie Dornan, Jamie Foxx and Taron Egerton.

This exhibition presents the films and serials that have been filmed on location since Game of Thrones transformed the city into King’s Landing. Dubrovnik is truly - Hollywood on the Adriatic.

If you want to catch a glimpse of filming atmosphere in Dubrovnik you can do it for free in Luza. You won’t be disappointed.

One of the world’s most popular sailing regattas is coming to Croatia for the first time this summer.

After the world famous Heineken Regatta which has traditionally been held on the exotic Caribbean island of St Maarten for the 37th time, Heineken Regatta Croatia will be held on three locations including the city of Split, the island of Brac, and the island of Vis from the 5th to the 8th of August 2017.

The first edition of Heineken Regatta Croatia is conceived as an international event, which will gather professional skippers and sportsmen from all around the world. However, all interested enthusiasts of this adrenaline sport and active lifestyle will also have a chance to experience the magic of sailing on the beautiful Adriatic, one of the most prominent nautical locations and the unique landscape with 1246 islands.

The first leg of the race starts in Split on the 6th of August and finishes on Brac, the second leg is scheduled for the 7th of August from Brac to Pakleni otoci (Pakleni islands), whilst the final leg will take place from the Pakleni islands to Vis on the same day.

Apart from the daytime sports program, organizers have also announced an interesting entertainment program; a spectacular opening party at the Central Club in Split the evening before the official start of the race, a sunset party featuring live performance of Rick Swann at the Auro Beach Bar on Brac on the 6th of August, as well as an unforgettable live set of the world's famous DJ Michael Feiner at the magnificent Fort George on the island of Vis on the 7th of August.

The entire offer of Heineken Regatta Croatia will be enriched with traditional Croatian gastronomy, culture and tradition.

Food waste is an issue of high importance to global food security and good environmental management, directly linked with environmental, economic, and social impacts.

According to the latest data presented at the Food Safety and Food Quality conference held in Opatija, approximately 380,000 tonnes of food are wasted in Croatia annually, whilst around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted in the European Union, with associated costs estimated at 143 billion Euros.

''More than 53 percent of edible food is wasted in households'', commented Marija Batinic from the Ministry of Agriculture, and emphasized that a donation process is most often too expensive or too complicated for companies that are willing to donate food.

Furthermore, Batinic also pointed out that a large number of stores do not donate food surplus because they are afraid that such food could be distributed incorrectly and in case of poisoning, they could face claims that would affect their reputation.

As one of the possible solutions, Patrick Alix, the Secretary General at the European Federation of Food Banks, has suggested the establishment of a food bank that Croatia has not have yet. However, such process requires the time and urgent adjustment of the existing legislation. He also emphasized that donation should not be more expensive than food wasting, and that tax deductions and incentives must be provided to food donors.

According to data from the Tax Administration of the Croatian Ministry of Finance, first steps have already been taken this May by introducing tax incentives for businesses that decide to donate food.

In addition, Tina Debeljak from the Red Cross charity shop confirmed that they noticed significant improvement in terms of donations. ''A value of purchased food in the charity shop in 2015 was 345,000 Kunas, whilst the total value of all donations in 2016 was more than 3 million Kunas, or 185 tonnes of food. On the other hand, only in the first half of 2017, the value of donations was more than 2 million Kunas'', commented Debeljak.

In May 2017 there were 180,296 tourist arrivals in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which is 15 percent more than in May 2016. Also, there were 634,327 overnight stays, which is 14 percent more than in May 2016.

In the first five months of 2017, there were 371,149 arrivals in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County with 1,238,293 overnight stays. Compared to 2016, overnight stays have increased by 23 percent.

The largest number of overnight stays was made by tourists from the United Kingdom, Croatia, Germany, the United States of America, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Austria.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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