Sunday, 25 August 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.


What better background for a bikini photo shoot than Dubrovnik. The well-known swimwear brand “Scampi” is currently in Dubrovnik shooting an advertising campaign. Scampi Scampi is a Swedish brand with over 30 years of experience in making high quality swimwear.

The fashion model Eva Perfido has the “difficult” task of posing on the shores of the Adriatic. The Venice based photographer Jean Pierrot has been scooting around on a jet-ski getting the perfect image, apparently for this photo shoot he is insisting on no make-up and a natural look. We can expect to see Dubrovnik and the Adriatic once again featured in the international media soon.

swimwear scampi

scampi model

scampi photo bikini

James Bond, Titanic and The Beatles were all on the repertoire of the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra in a spectacular concert in the Lovrijenac Fortress. An evening of Baroque and Film tunes as part of the Midsummer Scene in Dubrovnik delighted visitors.

The evening was part of the Midsummer Scene festival which this year is performing a Midsummer Night’s Dream in Lovrijenac every evening at 9.30. Last night the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra performed a selection of well-known movie theme tunes, such as Titanic, The Godfather and James Bond as well as a mixture of Baroque music. The evening was hosted by Filip Krenus and Mark Thomas.

dso movie music

mark thomas and filip krenus

dso film music

The latest report from the Croatian Motorways (HAC) shows that the tourist season in Croatia is busier than last year, at least according to the number of vehicles using Croatia’s motorways.

The number of 547,197 vehicles was recorded on motorways under the jurisdiction of the HAC over the past weekend, whilst the income from tolls was 27.7 million Kunas excluding VAT, reported HAC on the 26th of June.

In addition, vehicle traffic increased by 4.5 percent, whilst the revenue from tolls was 10.9 percent higher than the same weekend in June 2016.

In comparison to the same period from last year there has been a significant increase in traffic on Croatia’s motorways. Last year HAC recorded 523,467 vehicles, and generated 24.9 million Kunas from tolls.

The last of Manhattan's Gilded Age mansions owned by the former states of the ex-Yugoslavia, is on sale.

This news hit the real estate market almost a month ago with a striking price of $50 million. In the meantime, six potential buyers “all extremely high-net-worth individuals of different backgrounds’’ expressed their interest making an utmost effort to purchase the Fifth Avenue limestone town house.

However, $50 million is only a preliminary price, and five countries that are successor states to the former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, and Macedonia) have to reach an agreement on the price in order to initiate further serious negotiations.

tito villa new york

Due to its enormous historical significance, the famous mansion is under the protection of the state and the city of New York, whilst it currently houses the offices of Serbia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which landmarked the property in 1966, called it a “superb example of the French classic style of Louis XV.”

The mansion built in 1904 was first owned by Robert Livingston Beeckman, the governor of Long Island. Later in 1912, the home was sold to George Grant Manson, whilst Vanderbilt’s granddaughter Emily Thorn Vanderbilt Sloane White and her husband, Henry White, bought it in 1925. When the rich heirless died in 1946, her estate was bought by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1947.

When Yugoslavia took possession of the property, the New York Times reported, “It is considered one of the finest private homes remaining on Fifth Avenue”.

After an assassination attempt against the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in 1963, the mansion, with its bulletproof windows overlooking the Central Park, was also used as a temporary hiding place for Tito.

The villa is still luxuriously equipped, and furniture, wall paintings, murals, gold chandeliers and a number of other gilded details, are still virtually intact and included in the purchase price.

However, any potential buyers will have to overcome unusual diplomatic obstacles, as representatives from all five states have to reach an agreement on the purchase. Nevertheless, “Whoever buys it will own a piece of New York history, whilst the proceeds will be divided among the states’’, reported a real estate agent engaged in this sale.

The heat didn’t stop numerous participants to be the part of the project ‘Active Croatia’ yesterday and to fill all the spots on the Fort Lovrijenac.
One of the most famous pilates coaches, Asja Petersen, held a focus point training for the first time. It educated all the generations who followed all the instructions carefully and had a great training.

Numerous elements of the training were adopted with joy, and for the fifth time in Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik sent a message about the importance of regular and everyday physical activity promoted by this project, which was held in cooperation with the City of Dubrovnik, the City Tourist Board and the Brilliant Events.

Active Croatia will continue on Sunday, July 2nd in Zadar and the big final season will be held in Zagreb on Saturday, September 9th .

The 10th edition of the International Opera Festival "Tino Pattiera" was presented at the press conference today that was held at the atrium of the Sponza Palace. This is the fourth time that the festival is organized by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra (DSO).

- Dubrovnik should be proud of this festival that started somehow "shy" and became what it is now. There is also our music director Noam Zur who brings very high quality singers that perform on the world's leading stages. We give them full support in the organizational sense, rehearsals have begun and the Orchestra will be ready - announced the Director of Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Damir Milat.

Jelka Tepsic, Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, said that the festival is another ‘cultural pearl’ of Dubrovnik.
- This is a project that is important to the City of Dubrovnik and it lasts for a whole decade. That confirms the quality and I want to use this opportunity to praise DSO – said Tepsic while announcing a ‘culture calendar’ project that should ensure a better co-operation between cultural institutions and organizers of cultural events in Dubrovnik.


Director of the Tourist Board of Dubrovnik, Romana Vlasic, emphasized the importance of the festival, given that culture and heritage are a big part of Dubrovnik tourism. Armenian soprano and participant of the last and this year's festival, Liana Aleksanyan, expressed gratitude for being invited to participate in the festival. Music Director and conductor from Israel Noam Zur thanked for the support and stated that each concert has a special title for better organization.

The festival, which is named after and organized in memory of the world-famous Cavtat singer and tenor, will be held from 30 June to 4 July. The audience will have the opportunity to hear four operas aria concerts: Chansons d'amour, Seriously Romantic, Opera Buffalo and Guardi le stelle. Alongside Aleksanyan, performances will be performed by mezzo-soprano Ursula Hesse von den Steinen from Germany, tenor Xavier Moreno from Spain, bass Taras Konoschenko from Ukraine and Dubrovnik pianist Stefani Grbic.

The new season of the Festival Orsula is just around the corner. A plethora of international artists will perform in this iconic Dubrovnik amphitheatre and we caught up with one of the stars of the show – Bebel Gilberto. From modern jazz, bossa nova, flamenco music the American/Brazilian Gilberto will open up the festival tomorrow night, the 28th of June, with a spectacular concert.

What is it like to be a singer and songwriter in the world of bossa nova life today? Is it harder than create the music?
It's funny but I don't really consider myself a true bossa nova artist, because my music is a blend of inspirations. I’ve been given that label and have to feel honoured about that, but I like to say that that “I’m drinking from the water of bossa nova”, and my music may have the same mood between my voice, the vibe and acoustic guitar. But I don’t call myself a bossa nova singer compared to artists like my father (João Gilberto), Astrud, and all the real bossa nova singers. I’m just kind of doing my own music that is partly inspired by my family background and being Brazilian, but is also influenced by my life in New York, and also by my some of my favourite pop artists, which is a very diverse list that includes artists like Prince, David Bowie, Chaka Khan, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bjork, Radiohead, etc. In fact, I have a new song that’s about to come out which is my interpretation of “Creep” by Radiohead. I’m currently doing this song in a very intimate style, with just myself and my guitarist, Masa Shimizu. So you will hear that song when we perform in Croatia. I’ve been doing this very intimate, somewhat stripped down version of my music all year, and we’ve created a wonderful semi-acoustic set of many of my most popular songs. It’s a very different vibe than when I play with a bigger band, and it’s been a very special and surprising experience for me. I am doing this with just my guitarist and my drummer, Magrus Borges, and this is the show you will see tomorrow.

bebel 3

Once, you perfectly described the feeling of creating and listening to bossa nova: 'It’s like kissing and listening to the sea in the background with birds flying around.' Each day, you are extending the moment by experimenting with different genres - how and where do you find inspiration?
Well, since the beginning, since I was a kid I was obsessed with Michael Jackson. And in my teens, when I became more aware of other artists I fell in love with Chaka Khan and Prince. The first album I bought when I moved out from my parents and into my own home and I had my first sound system was Chaka Khan. And then I dived into Prince. My boyfriend at the time was a bass player, and we would listen carefully to all the Prince albums and then he played here and it was unforgettable. And I can’t forget Stevie Wonder. His album “The secret Life of Plants” is one of my favourite albums. More recently I’ve also experimenting with some new music that is returning to a more electronic vibe, more like I was doing on my album Tanto Tempo. Last year I went to Tulum and got turned on to all these new DJs who are sort of associated with Burning Man, and using more tribal sounds, including some Brazilian music. People like Acid Pauli, Felipe Torquato (a Brazilian who makes music using the name Spaniol) and Ocean vs Orientalis, who is a very interesting guy from Turkey. So I’ve been talking to some of these guys and working on some material that will hopefully have some of them involved, or doing something in a similar vibe.

What do you think about the venue - Park Orsula, or Dubrovnik in general? Have you ever been to Dubrovnik before?
I have never been to Dubrovnik, and I'm super excited to visit. I also hear that the Park Orsula is very, very beautiful, and I really love playing music outdoors, so I'm really looking forward to the show. One of my favourite videos, for the song “So Nice”, was partially shot outside, and I also recorded a live DVD a few years ago that on the beach in Brazil. So I definitely feel like my music goes well in an outdoor setting, whether I'm playing with a band as we did on the beach, or doing a more intimate set as a trio, like we will do for Park Orsula.

You are into music since your childhood, and from that moment you came to 'Tudo', everything. What was that road like?
I mentioned a minute ago some of the music I listened to as a child – not just Brazilian music, but also the pop music I've loved and been influenced by over the years. In terms of my own musical journey that lead to how I made my albums, a lot of that happened from meeting other interesting musicians or being involved in different projects. For example: When I moved to New York I was invited to do this project about Carmen Miranda with David Byrne, Arto Lindsay, Laurie Anderson and all these cool and interesting artists. Then I moved to London and I met Amon Tobin and started working with him. So by the time I came back to New York City, after Tanto Tempo came out, I started working with Thievery Corporation, and all these other DJs and electronic music producers who I’d never heard before. And many of these people ended up doing remixes for my album. So that was a very interesting time for me and had a big influence on how my music evolved.

bebel gilberto

When you are home alone, you do you enjoy listening to? Are you familiar with Croatian music perhaps?
I listen to Spotify, and make my own playlists. My taste is very eclectic so I listen to a lot of things, but right now I’d say there’s a lot of great music coming from those DJs I mentioned earlier. I’m not familiar with any specific Croatian artists, but one of the first producers I worked with when I started doing my own material was this amazing producer named Suba, who I worked with on Tanto Tempo. Suba was Serbian, and during that period when we were spending time together he used to play a lot of music from that region, which I enjoyed a lot. Maybe when I’m there for this upcoming visit I will get to hear some of the newer Croatian artists.

The iconic Hotel Excelsior was officially opened last night in a gala ceremony. After months of reconstruction work the totally renovated Hotel Excelsior now has a new shine and a modern new look.

With 158 luxury rooms, including 19 suites and 139 double rooms, the Dubrovnik hotel saw root and branch reconstruction works this winter, the first major investment on the hotel since 2008.

The owner of the Adriatic Luxury Hotels group, the company that has Hotel Excelsior in its portfolio, Davor Lukšić thanked everyone for assisting and praised the fact that this hotel with great traditions now has a contemporary look. And Dubrovnik's Mayor Mato Franković addressed the guests. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government of the Republic of Croatia, he welcomed every such contribution to investment in tourism.

Almost half a million Kuna was invested in every room of the Hotel Excelsior and all of the interior spaces have been renovated. The hotel was originally created on the foundations of Ville Odak, built in 1913, which was a luxurious and glamorous hotel. The idea of the reconstruction is to recreate this look and the new look Hotel Excelsior is a revival of the splendid era of the Hotel Excelsior. Over the years many world famous celebrities, national politicians, stars of the silver screen and kings and queens have stayed in the Hotel Excelsior and the new look Excelsior is once again a highlight of Dubrovnik’s tourism.

excelsior opens

hotel excelsior reopens

reopen hotel dubrovnik

Photos - Tonci Plazibat 

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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