Friday, 22 February 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

With the lowering of the St. Blaise flag in front of the St. Blaise Church in the very centre of Dubrovnik the 1045th Festival of St. Blaise ended today.

At the end of the ceremony the Commissioner of the Government of the City of Dubrovnik, Nada Medovic, posed on the steps on the church along with the Dubrovnik Musketeers and members of the Brotherhood of St. Blaise.

The Day of St. Blaise, on the 3rd of February, the procession and the whole Festival of St. Blaise is listed under protection of UNESCO since 2009. For over a thousand years Dubrovnik has celebrated the day of its patron saint, in fact the day has been marked in some form since at least 1190.

end of blaise festival 2017

Koločep or Kalamota as the locals call it is an evergreen island full of pine and carob trees entangled with citrus gardens and small olive groves. Kalamota is like a small park, a favorite resort beside the beach. Kalamota has in fact just two small settlements, Gornje Celo (Upper Celo) and Donje Celo (Lower Celo), each a sovereign ruler on its own part of the island. The settlements are interconnected by a meandering path that leads through the gardens and the olive groves, unraveling the remnants of the ancient architecture scattered all throughout the island. Kolocep has around 100 inhabitants during the winter and that number increases and probably doubles or trebles during the summer time.

In fact Kolocep holds a unique record and that is the island of Kolocep is the southernmost inhabited island in Croatia. You can wander the island and rediscover the lovely pre-Romanesque churches, old summer manors, guardian castles and more. Kalamota has a surface of 2.4 square km and is 3 Nm northwest of Dubrovnik, which makes it the closest of the group of Elaphite islands. In the times of the Dubrovnik Republic, Kolocep was an important shipbuilding site. Two members of Christopher Columbus’ crew on the Santa Maria were sailors from Kolocep. Already the first encounter with the island of Kolocep cannot leave you unmoved. You will be intoxicated with the still calm, the scent of the Mediterranean plants and the intensity of the colours of the Adriatic.

kolocep island

The island is made up of limestone and dolomite rock but at each end every settlement has its own, natural, miraculous sandy beach. Kalamota experienced its golden age in the 15th Century. The beautiful landscape of the artist has enthralled and attracted many a painter. At that time many sacral buildings and summer manors were built on the island. Later in the 16th century after an attack by the Turkish fleet, Kalamota was fortified with defense towers. Today on Kolocep, apart from swimming you can visit the parish church, The Assumption of Mary, located in Donje Celo, built in the 13th century. On the way to Gornje Celo you can visit The Church of St. Anthony from the 15th century and admire one of the greatest works of the Dubrovnik school of painting, an altar-piece, painted by Ivan Ugrinovic in the 15th Century. In Gornje Celo, a pre-Romanesque church of St. Anthony of Padova, built in 11th/12th century waits for your visit as do some other pre-Romanesque churches. However, many of the fabulous buildings of the past are now only ruins.


It is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of life as there are no cars, in fact there are no vehicles at all, on the island. Well worth the short trip and ideal for families due to the sandy beaches and clean seas. Kolocep has more than 250 sunny days a year. Its climate is of a moderate Mediterranean type, and due to the isle's indented coastline and small area, the predominant climatic features throughout the island are influenced by the Adriatic. The sea moderates the air temperature considerably keeping the average monthly daytime highs above 10 °C in the winter time and below 27 °C in the summer. An area off shore where lobsters abound is another one of Kolocep's features. So don’t forget to try the local specialties when you are there. In conclusion this beautiful evergreen island is so close to Dubrovnik to be accessible and yet so far away to be a haven of peace and tranquility. Well worth a visit.

kolocep cliffs

Getting to the island is relatively simple as many ferries and local boats travel the short distance from Dubrovnik harbor. The ferry takes about 30 minutes to arrive and the faster boats can make the journey in 15 minutes, and both options are relatively inexpensive. For those looking to stay a little longer on the island there is a small hotel on the island with 151 rooms and 8 apartments and with a sandy beach in front of it and a cluster of small restaurants and bars around the harbor. There are also a range of private accommodation from small bed and breakfasts renting only one room to slightly larger guest houses offering apartments and meals.

kolocep beach

It has been an up and down ride! A rollercoaster ride that has had me gripping with white knuckles, laughing in glee and feeling that at any moment the train will fly off the tracks. I was asked a couple of weeks ago what I thought about Croatia’s transition over the last twenty years.

“It must have been interesting to follow the birth of a new nation,” asked the foreign professor sitting across the table from me. “It has been a ride,” I replied. “What mistakes were made and what constructive measures were taken?” he continued to seek information. Almost in a flash of inspiration the answer came to me, it was when he mentioned birth.

Croatia, in its present form, was born twenty-or-so years ago. It was born with a fight and the birth of the new country was greeted as a new baby is always greeted, with a crescendo of optimism and euphoria. Flags were raised from every house, every street, let the whole world know a baby has been born. The consequences to the mother that gave birth to this new nation were ignored; the king is here, all hail the king. In this spirit of profound ecstasy all wisdom and organisation were thrown out of the window. We were all standing over the cot making “coos” and “goos” noises at the baby desperate to hear the first words or watch the first steps. The baby slowly grew.

As the new nation reached it fifth or sixth birthday, the young nation was still cute although it was constantly making mistakes, beginners mistakes. Who can forget the CRO signs on cars or the massively over sized identification cards, beginners mistakes. A few years more pass and the first signs of adolescence begin to show. The new country gets acne, growing pains and angst; it also gets a massive dose of teenage belief that you can do anything.

The Croatian football team has an impressive World Cup in 1998, Goran Ivanisevic wins Wimbledon in 2001, the whole country gets the teenage immortal faith. Look how good we are, now that we are independent we can show the world who we are...we can live forever! Whilst along the whole way the country is falling over, bruising its knees, cutting its forehead, and generally making mistakes. A few years pass and the euphoria has gone, completely gone.

The teenage years have been painful. The teenage spots have healed and the first steps of maturity can be seen. There are no more sporting victories to cheer on the country, the baby has grown up and the family inside it are now getting impatient for change, now is the time to learn.

Until now, this growing country has pretty much been learning through mistakes, falling down, dusting ourselves off and picking ourselves up again. Now the years of learning through mistakes are over, we have finished school now is the time to pass university.
And so the teenage years transform into early twenties, now we need a mentor, and in the EU we find one. A strict professor who will teach us the error of our ways, correct our mistakes and teach us to help ourselves. Now you might well ask why didn’t we just skip all this pain and go straight to the end? Why didn’t we just go to a developed country, like Sweden, and copy/paste their system here? Wouldn’t that have been easier? Probably yes, but practically there was no chance of doing this, put simply we had to learn from our mistakes. The same way that you can’t give all the tools to a new born baby, that baby needs to learn for himself, it may be excruciatingly painful to watch, especially when you know there is a better way to do it. However, just as your children will cause you sleepless nights, sometimes you just have to sit back and watch it develop, your advice will normally fall on deaf ears.

So when I was asked “It must have been interesting to follow the birth of a new nation,” the answer was more complicated than a simple yes/no. The transition has been frustrating, exciting, annoying, enlightening, depressing and unforgettable, all in one. “Transitions themselves are not the issue, but how well you respond to their challenges!” famously said the American author Jim George. Now is our time to respond.

While preparations are underway for the fifth anniversary edition this July, Ultra Europe – ''Europe's Premier Destination Music Festival'' recently released a sensational after movie from Ultra Split 2016.

Charly Friedrichs and his team Final Kid filmed the official after movie in 4K, which takes viewers on a fascinating 11-minute journey through a week-long ''Destination ULTRA'' experience with five events. The video is also a great promotion for Croatia because the camera captured scenes of the blue Adriatic Sea and the coast, as well as the beautiful islands of Brac, Hvar, Vis and inland landscapes.

Last summer more than 100,000 partygoers from 143 countries enjoyed the incredible performances of the world's greatest talents of electronic music at the Poljud stadium in Split such as Above & Beyond, Adam Beyer, Afrojack, Alesso, Armin van Buuren, Carl Cox, Dash Berlin, David Guetta, Deadmau5, Hardwell, Jamie Jones, Marco Carola, Martin Garrix, Nero, DJ Snake and many others.

The world's seven-day music experience 'Destination ULTRA' which is to be held from the 13th to the 19th of July will once again host five incredible events on five different fantastic locations.

RESISTANCE (TM) Opening Party at the Giraffe Palm Beach House in Split will once again mark the beginning of the week and announce the top three-day Ultra Europe festival at the Poljud stadium.

Regatta returns to the idyllic island of Brac and the Zlatni Rat beach on the 17th of July. A day after ULTRA Beach, "the best party by the pool in the world" (the magazine The Sun - 2017) returns at the Hotel Amfora Grand Beach Resort on the picturesque island of Hvar.
A week full of electronic music will be concluded by RESISTANCE (TM) Vis which is to be held in a 200 year old Fort George on the island of Vis.

According to data from the United Nations for 2015, slightly more than 20 percent of Croatia's citizens emigrated abroad.

Croatia took the high seventh place in the ranking among European countries with the highest rate of emigration.

From European countries such as Portugal, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Moldova, and Croatia, more than a fifth of the whole population has left their homes in a search of a better life.

The latest data from the UN showed that 20,4 percent of people born in Croatia left the country by the end of 2015.

According to data from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics (HZS), the country recorded 19,834 marriages and 6,010 divorces in 2015. In other words, 303 marriages out of 1,000 ended up in divorce.

These data may seem like ''depressing'' romance statistics, but according to the HZS the number of divorces in Croatia is actually in a decline. In comparison to 2014 when 19,501 marriages and 6,570 divorces were recorded, in 2015 there was a rise in the number of marriages and a drop in the number of divorces.

It is interesting to note that according to numerous statistics the number of divorces around the globe is growing. John Gottman, the psychologist at the University of Washington and the founder of the Gottman Institute for relationships explains that the main reason for a divorce is - contempt.

On the other hand, Michael Rosenfeld, the professor of sociology at Stanford University confirmed that women were more likely to initiate divorce. According to his data collected between 2009 and 2015, almost 70 percent of all divorces were initiated by women.

The 1045th Day of St. Blaise was marked today in Dubrovnik with a holy mass and a procession through the streets of the Old City.

Thousands of people turned out to watch the big day and the city was alive with colours and sounds as banners and flags carried by worshipers in traditional costumes paraded down the Stradun.

The 3rd of February is one of the most important days on the city’s calendar as praise is given to the patron saint of Dubrovnik – Saint Blaise.

Check out our bumper photo gallery of today by Zeljko Tutnjevic

 

After twenty years the world popular English musician, singer, songwriter and actor is coming back to Croatia this summer.

On the 26th of July Sting will perform at the Pula Arena as part of his 57th & 9th Tour. The concert in Pula will be his only concert in the region.

Sting's highly anticipated rock/pop album ''57th & 9th'' is his first rock album in 13 years released on the 11th of November 2016. His concerts in Europe and North America have already been sold out.

The ten-song collection represents a wide range of Sting’s musical and song writing styles. Sting described the album as having a spontaneous feel, featuring "a lot of rock 'n' roll" with themes of searching, travelling, the road and the pull of the unknown.

The album, produced by Martin Kierszenbaum, was recorded over a period of three months with Sting’s long-time collaborators Dominic Miller (guitar) and Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), as well as drummer Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, Guns n’ Roses), guitarist Lyle Workman and backing vocals by the San Antonio-based Tex-Mex band The Last Bandoleros.

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