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.
The 2019 Good Food Festival Dubrovnik includes a total of 18 workshops. There will be 14 workshops at the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) on Pile, with the participation of renowned jury member of the Croatian MasterChef Mate Jankovic, Robert Hromalic, Antonia Medo, Marina Zibert Ercegovic, Jadranka Nicetic, Ana-Marija Bujic, Lucija Tomasic Saric, Damir Saric and Gourmet Experience Croatia. As every year, the program was enriched by the Association of Deša, who will prepare four workshops of traditional dishes and desserts. Admission to all workshops is free, with a mandatory reservation.
Renowned Croatian dessert chef Robert Hromalić, in cooperation with Kraš, Croatia's most famous chocolate and confectionery factory, has created and will make three cakes and also hold a workshop for preparing these top desserts for Dubrovnik audiences on Monday, the 14th of October at 10.30 am in the Dubrovnik Tourist Board.
Talented Chef Mate Jankovic, one of the jury members of the popular culinary show MasterChef, will reveal all the secrets through his two workshops at this year's festival and show the preparation of top risotto and shrimp preparation at workshops on the 14th and 15th of October at 5 pm, while the young Dubrovnik pastry chef, Antonia Medo, will hold a workshop "Sweet, and healthy!" on Tuesday, the 15th of October at 10.30 am at TIC on Pile. Antonia, through her dessert-making skills, as the name implies, will show you how to make healthy desserts, gluten-free carob cake and vegan sponge squares without sugar, eggs, gluten and milk.
This year's festival will again be enriched by the Gourmet Experience Croatia with a total of four diverse workshops. At an interesting workshop on Wednesday, the 16th of October at 10.30 he will show guests how to make traditional soups from Istria, Zagreb and Zagorje, on Thursday, the 17th of October at 10.30 he will hold a workshop for preparing traditional cakes in different versions, and at 5.00 pm he will prepare Istrian fuži (pasta) with prosciutto and truffle, Krćke šurlice and Istrian pasta. Respected workshop leaders have also prepared a workshop for the preparation of a traditional layered cake “Međimurska gibanica”, which will be held on Friday, the 18th of October at 5 pm.
"Aromas and Flavours of Dubrovnik Oranges" is another one of the "sweet" workshops where Jadranka Ničetić and Lucija Tomašić Šarić will teach us how to make a cake of rich and luxurious taste, made from the most delicious citrus fruits, oranges and almonds. The workshop will be held on Wednesday, the 17th of October at 5pm at TIC Pile.
Lucija Tomasic Saric, a Dubrovnik pastry chef and owner of the Mala Truba patisserie, together with her husband Chef Damir Saric, will hold a workshop for making natural yeast from which to make bread.
And leading Dubrovnik chef, Marina Žibert Ercegović, will give a lecture on how to turn a simple meal into a restaurant quality meal, and also advise guests on how to make a menu and a bill of costs, and Ana-Marija Bujić and Jadran Tutavac will explain and present how a restaurant cook book is created. Learn how to organize material and photos and sample some of the recipes from the cook book “Pantarul Doma”.
This year's festival will also feature a guest appearance by the renowned French pastry chef, Gilles Bajolle, from the Dubrovnik sister city of Rueil-Malmaison. During his two workshops, on Saturday at 10.30 and again on Sunday at 4.30, he will prepare chocolate soufflé and chocltae truffles. If you are a chocolate lover and want to learn how to make these simple and perfect cake, join one of these workshops!
The Humanitarian Association Deša has prepared a number of interesting, delicious and sweet workshops for the Good Food Festival this year. Members of this association will show you how to make traditional desserts, the traditional Dubrovnik Crème Torte made according to the original recipe, apple strudel with eclipses or quince, brittle crunch and homemade bread with rosemary, olives and dried tomatoes. Interesting, educational and delicious workshops of the Deša Association will bring us back to the original and traditional cuisine of Dubrovnik housewives. The four Deša workshops will be held Thursday through Sunday starting at 10:00 am.
For the purpose of presenting the rich Croatian gastronomy, traditional Blato desserts and lumblias will be presented at this year's festival. In addition to the presentation of the book "Blajska dining table" by Rada Kaštropil, the 8th “Days of Blato Lumbli” will be announced at this event in the Croatian Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, the 15th of October, along with traditional sweets from Blato, the island of Korcula.
Throughout the Good Food Festival, from the 14th to the 20th of October, the Restaurant Week will be held throughout the city, a sweet festival offering and a great offer of fine wines.
Respected chefs of about thirty Dubrovnik restaurants and patisseries have specially created three-course festival menus at special promotional prices, ranging from 100 to 150 Kuna, for the Good Food Festival, and guests will be able to try them through the week of the festival.
Take this great opportunity and to visit restaurants you have never been to before, let Dubrovnik restaurateurs show you how delicious, creative and enticing the dishes on their offer are.
The participating restaurants are: Arsenal City Cafe, Banje Beach Restaurant, Bistro 49, La Capella Terrace & Restaurant, Cantina Mexicana Chihuahua, Dalmatino Restaurant, Steakhouse Domino Restaurant, Fat Cats Restaurant, Gusta Me Restaurant, Jesuit Tavern, Bistro Source, Klarisa Restaurant, LAJK Restaurant, Hotel Lero Piano Bar, Magellan Restaurant, Maskeron Restaurant, Mimoza Restaurant, Moskar Street Food, Miramare Restaurant - Hotel Valamar Collection Dubrovnik President, Orka Restaurant, Orsan Restaurant, Pantarul Restaurant, Porat Restaurant - Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik, Rhea Silvia Wine & amp; Tapas Bar, Sesame Restaurant, Sunset Beach Trattoria, Stara Loza Restaurant, Taj Mahal Restaurant - Hotel Lero, Tavulin Bistro, Tramuntana Restaurant - Hotel More, Trinity Oriental Fusion Lounge, Urban & Veggie Restaurant, Veranda Tavern and Zuzori Restaurant.
Sweet festival offerings include Gianni Pastry Shop, Slatki Kutak, Sunset Beach Trattoria, Mala Truba, Hilton Imperial Hotel, Lapad Hotel Pool Bar and Pupica Pastry Shop, and Škar Winery and Razonoda Wine bar.
The rich offer of all the above restaurants, patisseries and wine bars can be found on the website of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board or in print at the Dubrovnik Tourist Board information offices.
Split will have a new flight connection for next summer season with the low cost carrier Volotea announcing a direct connection with Athens.
Split Airport has seen a very impressive 2019 with record numbers of passengers and new airlines. This new service will be operated twice a week starting on the 19th of April 2020.
The Spanish airline, which focuses on European connections, will have some competition on the route as both Croatia Airlines and Aegean Airlines currently maintain seasonal flights between Split and Athens.
Is Roman Abramovich, or more precisely his mega yacht Eclipse, even going to leave Dubrovnik? It is no secret that the Russian billionaire is a fan of the Adriatic coastline of Croatia, especially the Dubrovnik region, but his yacht has never stayed in the region for this length of time before. The owner of Chelsea FC mega yacht first arrived in the Bay of Zupa, just south of Dubrovnik, back at the end of August, left for a week and then came back again at the beginning of September. And since then the $500 million Eclipse has been at anchor.
Although the ninth richest man in the UK hasn’t been spotted, either in Dubrovnik or Cavtat, a constant flow of small tender vessels arrive and depart at the yacht on a daily basis. The second longest private yacht in the world is certainly dominating the Bay of Zupa with other yachts and pleasure boats resembling toy boats, it is almost like Dubrovnik has a new floating tourist attraction.
Eclipse at anchor - Photo Mark Thomas
And although Roman Abramovich’s yacht has been enjoying the crystal, clear Adriatic and soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine it appears that the billionaire isn’t dipping into his $13 billion fortune to pay for his Croatian cruise. The cost of dropping anchor in the sheltered Dubrovnik bay is exactly zero Euros! And as it has been reported that the charter of Eclipse costs a massive $3 million a week there should be money left in the budget to pay for anchorage charges. But Abramovich isn’t to blame, he can’t pay fees even if he wanted to, the law doesn’t exist and so there is no way to charge him.
The second longest private yacht in the world - Photo Mark Thomas
According to Croatian law tourists can stay in the country for three months without needing a visa, so we can only presume that Eclipse and its crew, and quite possibly Abramovich himself, won’t be able to celebrate Christmas in Dubrovnik. That is unless the Russian oligarch is actually planning to take another European Union passport after failing to get a UK one.
The city-owned company Sanitat earned a whopping 19.1 million Kuna million in 2018 from parking charges around the city.
Starting from the 1st of October parking prices were lowered throughout the city. The most expensive parking zone, which is zone zero has seen prices dropped from 75 Kuna an hour to 20 Kuna an hour, whilst the price for zone two has been decreased from 50 Kuna to 20 Kuna. And from the 1st of November prices for parking across the whole city will also be lowered, with the cheapest zone 5 Kuna an hour.
Many Dubrovnik citizens purchase the monthly parking ticket, which at only 60 Kuna a month is certainly financially sensible. However, there are far more cars in the city than parking spaces.
Currently, there are as many as 3.5 times more monthly ticket holders than available seats. Namely, Sanitat has 2,154 parking spaces in the payment system, while 7,503 monthly parking tickets are active. Dubrovnik, a city with just over 42,000 inhabitants, has over 20,000 registered cars. And that is not including the thousands of taxis that migrate to Dubrovnik during the summer months.
It isn’t only careless drivers who cause accidents whilst using their mobile phones at the wheel, pedestrians are just as guilty. In these times when we are all seemingly glued to that flashing blue screen in our hands the combination of reality and virtual has its dangers, not least when crossing the roads.
And now the Croatian capital has followed many other world cities by introducing a special type of traffic lights for pedestrians that shines a red light onto the pavement at traffic crossings to warn people looking down at their phones not to cross the road. The first in this pilot project has been installed in Zagreb so phone users will be warned not to walk out in front of traffic.
When this traffic light turns red, it is reflected on the sidewalk as well as on mobile phone screens which pedestrians look at instead of around themselves. Reflecting the red light, the sidewalk, as well as the screens, force them to raise their heads, stop and wait for the light to turn green.
A survey conducted as part of the campaign shows that 92 percent of drivers, 50 percent of pedestrians and 33 percent of cyclists use mobile phones while crossing the street and that 20 percent do not even notice when the traffic light turns red. The findings also show that the responses of drivers using mobile phones are almost three times slower. Mobile phones are considered the fourth biggest killer in traffic.
“Never forget that you have two ears and one mouth, so use them it that order and listen,” once said a wise old man to me. It’s strange the things you learn when you listen.
So I have just arrived back in Dubrovnik after an urgent family matter in the UK. As they said in The Godfather a million times, “The family always comes first.” And yes it is hard being away from the family in times of need but thankfully flight connections between my two countries are frequent, at least out of the winter.
And travelling alone you tend to bump into more unusual situations. Maybe people feel sorry for you, “look he is all on his own,” and just want to be friendly, I am not sure but I do know that you are never alone even when you are alone.
“God, I am really starving and could murder a hamburger,” said one of the ladies in front of me on the plane back to Dubrovnik. “Yes, me to,” answered her friend, “but I guess they don’t have a McDonalds in Kavtat (yes, all the English have renamed Cavtat) so we’ll have to go into Dubrovnik to get one.” I was just about to jump in when another friend shouted from the other row, “Yes, I heard that Dubrovnik has Starbucks, Subway and all those fast food restaurants.” Maybe she was confusing Starbucks with Ćele, Subway with Škola and the fast food chains with Tutto Bene?
It turned out that this rather large group of ladies were on a Hen Night, well Hen Weekend, in Dubrovnik. Which was obviously why one of them, well the bride to be, had been wearing a plastic blow-up crown like a queen since check-in. They had clearly made good use of the pubs in the airport before take-off and were now on a mission to empty the on-board drinks cart of all the prosecco. For sure they spent more on bubbly wine than they did on the plane ticket. Not so much easyJet as easyDrunk! Somewhere over the French Alps they decided to have a sing-along, rather like an English version of Mate Bulić, although the repertoire was Yellow Submarine and not Gori Borovina! I felt a nudge in my side, “Brexit can’t come soon enough,” smiled the lady sitting right next to me as the Hen Ladies were told to calm down by the flight attendant as they broke out into yet another verse of Singing in the Rain.
Yes, if you want to visit the one country in the world that isn’t talking about Brexit then visit the UK. With D-Day looming fast I had assumed that it would be the main topic of conversation, I was wrong. I thought it would have been as crazy as Boris Johnson’s hair, but far from it.
The best way to judge to mood of the English is to go to the local pub. It’s like analogue social media. And not once, even though I repeatedly tried to bring up the subject, was Brexit even mentioned. I couldn’t work out if it was a taboo theme or if people just didn’t care. “Oh, I just can’t wait for it to be over so I can watch something more interesting on the News at Ten,” said an elderly lady at the bar. “I am sick of bloody Brexit,” she added whilst sipping her pint. And that was it.
Generally, the standard of living is very high, the shops are full, the roads are flooded with brand new cars, everything seems to work just perfectly, so people just don’t care about the B-word. “I can’t wait to hit the discos in Kavtat,” my Brexit daydream was broken by the Hen Ladies who had finished arguing with the flight attendant as she stated that “we are coming into land so sorry we can’t serve you any more drinks.” The ladies were getting restless, and I was starting to feel sorry for Cavtat, the only dancing they would see would be at midday in front of the church in Cilipi, but I was pretty sure they weren’t after folklore.
And then came the typically British moment, “Kelly, did you remember to pack the tea?” – “Of course, and Yorkshire Tea, only the best,” shouted Kelly. “I only hope they packed condoms as well,” smiled the passenger next to me.
The voice of the people has been listened to, the official retirement age in Croatia is 65 years-old, again! Following the referendum initiative “67 is too much” which managed to collect an impressive 700,000 signatures the government has decided to revert their decision to make the retirement age 67 and have now announced it will be once again 65.
"Respecting the will of more than 700,000 citizens, we will accept proposals expressed through the initiative to restore the retirement age to 65 and early retirement to 60, the government is not giving up encouraging a longer stay in the work place. And of course, for those people who can, and want, to work after 65 years of age, that is, until the age of 68, amendments to the Pension Insurance Act are proposed,” commented the Minister of Labour and the Pension System, Josip Aladrovic.
Clearly the weight of 700,000 signatures forced the government to reconsider their changes to the retirement ago, and had them backtracking.
"We will give this approach an opportunity for anyone who wants to work longer in the labour market, and which we believe will have a positive impact on employment, income and budget expenditures," added the minister.