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.
After a challenging couple of years the Croatian property market is slowly recovering and house prices are once again on the increase. Property prices are on the rise again in Dubrovnik with reports showing that the average price per metre squared almost 4,000 Euros.
According to reports by the specialised property website Crozilla.com house prices in Dubrovnik in July rose by 2 percent on June and are now 3,796 Euros per metre squared. And in spite of these high prices the interest in the Dubrovnik region, particularly from foreign buyers, is gaining confidence. “Once again we are in the situation where the demand is higher than the offer,” commented a Dubrovnik real estate agent.
On a country wide scale property prices have increased by 4.6 percent so far this year, with Dubrovnik having the most expensive house prices in the whole of Croatia. In comparison to Dubrovnik the average price per metre squared in Split is 2,321 Euros, in Zadar 1,880 Euros and Sibenik 1,583 Euros.
Data revealed by the property website indicated that as far as foreign buyers were concerned the most interest was shown for homes in Zagreb, Pula, and Split. And the most numerous foreign buyers were from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and Slovenia.
Fancy arriving in Dubrovnik in style on your own private jet, well with new flights from Air Partner you can do just that. If you want to land in Dubrovnik like a rock star you’ll have to have pretty deep pockets. The private jet hire company is offering flights from Biggin Hill (Kent) in the UK to Dubrovnik and all for £6,800, or £850 per person.
“The latest technology midsize jet, offering 1,800 nautical-mile range and a spacious cabin with double club seating. Very popular and economic with elegance and style thrown in,” advertise the company. The choice of aircraft is a Lear Jet 45 and with only 8 seats on board you won’t be stumbling over other people’s luggage. Don’t worry you’ll have two pilots onboard as well as space for up to eight pieces of luggage and a bathroom. It certainly is a luxurious way to arrive in Dubrovnik this August.
Dubrovnik isn’t the only route for this private jet hire company, they also offer flights from the UK to Ibiza, Cannes and Sardinia.
The Hollywood actress Sasha Alexander is currently enjoying a family break in Dubrovnik. Alexander, who is famous for her role as Maura Isles in Rizzoli & Isles and Caitlin Todd in NCIS, has published photos on her social media accounts of the fmaily fun in Dubrovnik and Montenegro.
On Dubrovnik Alexander, who has Serbian family roots, commented that “I came here every summer as a kid, so happy to be able to bring my kiddies back to experience the beauty and rock.”
Alexander married director Edoardo Ponti, son of actress Sophia Loren and the late film producer Carlo Ponti, in Geneva, Switzerland in 2007. They have two children, a daughter born in 2006 and a son born in 2010.
Simply put: I love driving. I love driving across Dalmatia/Croatia and I particularly enjoy the route Dubrovnik – Prague, usually alone with my two little daughters.
I remember driving to Dubrovnik when the A1 highway was still in construction (one had to zig-zag through Bosnia back then, in an old Skoda with no air-condition), I remember taking pretty much all of the exits in the years that followed, as the A1 slowly spread south, and I remember the glorious feeling when finally the highway made it all the way down to Ploce, which is laughable 50 miles from Dubrovnik. (The next glorious feeling will follow in about six years, when the Peljesac Bridge will open).
Having driven the Prague-Dubrovnik route more than fifty times made me come up with an assemblage of driving and road-travelling tips:
1. Can’t stress this one enough: if you are taking a longer trip across Croatia during the season, plan, prepare and overstock (particularly when going with kids). Check out weather forecast throughout your route, mainly for wind – some passages, such as the Sv.Rok tunnel do get closed down due to strong wind. Check traffic jam situation at borders and plan your trip so you can avoid waiting – if possible, go on a weekday or (if you feel comfortable) go at night. The HAK a.k.a Hrvatski Automoto Klub has a great app – see here http://www.hak.hr/en#traffic-flow-and-road-conditions with almost all information and updates you may need. Always keep extra water, snacks, tissues etc. on board – you never know when you’ll need them.
2. Documents. Make sure you don’t forget your green card and your passport. If driving somebody else’s car – like your parents’ or friends’, whose surname is different from yours, have an authorization from the owner, saying that you are allowed to drive their car (English version is fine). Oh: and in case you travel with your kids alone and your surname is different from theirs, then obligatory take their birth certificates! (yes, I once nearly got sent back at a boarder exactly for this reason, luckily the customs officer melted when I burst into tears, and concluded “let’s say you kinda look like her mother” and let me pass)
3. Kids. Don’t be afraid to take kids on longer road trips – there are lots of places to stop and have fun, plus, nowadays, there are dozens of options how to entertain your kids in the car. Always make sure you provide good shade (a cloth or a towel over the window is the best and the cheapest). Have snacks, CDs, games, surprise toys and tablets at hand. Car-seat table, travel potty, Lego travel sets, etc. highly advisable, too. Motivation is crucial, so plan your trip so your destinations offer something wonderful for the kids to look forward to (a nice playground, kids’ museum, entertainment park, aquarium, or – well – just the sea with all it has to offer). Dozens of original and excellent tips are at What’s Up Moms YouTube channel (ignore that those mothers of three look like supermodels).
4. Sleepover, stopovers, eating stops. Be flexible, that is, research more options along your route, so you can stop where and when it suits you(i.e. you don’t want to wake the kids up for food once they finally fell asleep and you can listen to YOUR music for half hour). Long trips (over 1000 km) are just way more pleasant with a sleep over. Also, eating your lunch and dinner at a gas station restaurant is ok, but it will be nicer, cheaper and generally more relaxing at a local restaurant just two miles away from the highway.
5. Police in the Balkans is generally much nicer than you might have heard. Over all those years, I got stopped dozens of times by the Croatian police, but also by the Montenegrin, Bosnian, Albanian, Serbian and Kosovar, and most of the police officers were human (you mustn’t be rude, though, and if you are aware of speeding, it is better if you admit your fault right away). Driving through Slovenia is a whole different chapter, though – don’t dare to dispute with local police and particularly ever don’t dare to get on the highway without the insanely expensive vignette (you will always be stopped and you will always end up paying hundreds of Euros in fine right away).
6. Toll. In Croatia, there are no vignettes, but toll-gates. In the season, the main exits (Zagreb, Split, Zadar) often get congested, so if you plan multiple trips, it is a good idea to get the special ENC electronic device which will save you tens of minutes in waiting, as you will be able to use the “ENC Only” track. More information – see here: http://hac.hr/en/toll-rates/etc/electronic-toll-collection-etc
7. Gas stations. Nice, clean and equipped. When travelling with kids, look for the yellow Tifon gas stations (great outdoor and indoor playground, eating facilities for babies, microwave, etc.).
8. Emergencies. The standard 112. Road help in English: 987. A 24/7 HAK emergency line is 041 415 800.
Blanka Pavlovic a.k.a. the Adriatic Bride is a Czech writer. She studied law (Prague) and creative writing (Oxford). As a lawyer, she specialized in international human rights law, first working for the European Court of Human Rights, then for a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. She wrote five books, among them Total Balkans, The Handbook of the Adriatic Bride or The Return of the Adriatic Bride. She now lives with her family between Dubrovnik and Donji Brgat. More information and English translations of her work are available through www.blankacechova.com
A spectacular concert last night in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik marked the Day of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving.
The concert by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra and the vocal group Subrenum was a gift from the City of Dubrovnik to the fellow citizens on the eve of the Day of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving and the Day of Croatian Defenders and was held in front of the Church of St. Blaise.
At the concert under the guidance of the conductor Đelo Jusić, the people of Dubrovnik and guests had the opportunity to hear some of the most beautiful songs dedicated to the homeland and the city.
Today, August the 5th, Croatia both celebrates and remembers. 'August the 5th is a public holiday in the Republic of Croatia – “Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Defenders.”
On this day in 1995 the Croatian Army took the city of Knin from Serbian forces in a military offensive known as Operation Storm. The victory at Knin brought an end to the Republic of Serbian Krajina, which had been a Serb territory in Croatia.
And today the city of Knin is the focus of the celebrations marking the event. A holy mass is followed by the laying of wreaths in honour of those who lost their lives during the conflict.
Croatia's tourist offer has another attraction. The first theme park in the country was officially opened on the 3rd of June 2017.
The Fun Park Mirnovec, which is located 2 km south of Biograd na Moru in the Zadar County, is the biggest investment in the entertainment industry worth 15 million Euros. It was built for children and adults following the example of the world famous centres of adrenaline fun such as Gardaland in Italy, or theme parks in Florida and Orlando.
The park spreads across 45,000 square metres, whilst one of the best and most famous architects for fun parks in the world, the Italian architect Franco Barazzoni designed the park.
The newest attraction in Croatia employs 120 people, whilst the park with 30 attractions is divided into three parts – the Wild West, the Universe and the Pirate City. Each part is combination of attractions and games for children, teenagers and whole families.
The park also has roller coasters, carousels and water rides as well as the 30-metre high ‘’Adriatic Eye’’ similar to the famous London Eye.
Last week state statistics published preliminary data on retail trade in June thus confirmed the continuation of favourable trends in consumer spending which was 5 percent higher compared to the same period last year.
The latest Eurostat data show that in the EU28 countries the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade rose by 0.4 percent on a monthly basis.
In relation to the rest of the European Union, Croatia is the leading country in terms of the growth dynamics of retail trade with the largest increase of 5.8 percent in retail trade compared to the previous May.
Croatia is followed by Portugal (+2.4%) and Slovenia (+1.7%), whilst the largest decreases were recorded in Lithuania (-1.7%), Latvia (-0.8%) and Bulgaria (-0.5%).
Furthermore, retail trade volume rose by 3.1 percent in the EU28 on an annual basis. The highest increases in the total retail trade volume were recorded in Slovenia (+10.2%), Croatia (+8.2%) and Slovakia (+8.1%), whilst the largest decrease was recorded in Luxembourg (-25.8%).
After a decline in consumer optimism in April, these indicators recovered in May and June, partly due to expectations of record tourism results with positive effects on personal consumption, household income, etc.