Wednesday, 20 October 2021
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

According to the registrations of tourists received through the eVisitor system, last weekend there were close to seven thousand tourists in Dubrovnik - four times more than at this time last year, but only 47 percent of the number in the same period in 2019. However, it must be stressed that 2019 was a record breaking year for Croatian tourism.

The most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik were from the United Kingdom, followed by tourists from the USA, Germany, Croatia, France, Russia and Ireland.

Since the beginning of the year, about 471 thousand tourist arrivals and 1,745,500 overnight stays have been registered, which is 44 percent of the tourist traffic realized in the same period in 2019.

The former Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, has been appointed President of the Commission for the Supervision of the Election of the Future Host of the Olympic Games, and she was appointed to that position by the International Olympic Committee.

“With experience at highest levels of government and international relations, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, will play a key role chairing the Commission in charge of exploring, creating and overseeing interest in future Games of the Olympiad and Summer Youth Olympic Games,” tweeted the IOC.

Grabar-Kitarovic said she was grateful for the opportunity to work with potential hosts on Olympic projects and to help them achieve their long-term goals for development, public health, participation in sports and inclusion.

"This is an exciting opportunity to develop innovative ways to steer the Olympics into the future and to explore the challenges facing upcoming hosts, such as climate change," said Grabar-Kitarovic.

Financial crisis, what financial crisis. After almost two years of the pandemic and the pressure on businesses and financial institutions it was believed that the real estate business in Croatia would slow down. However, if the latest property development in the Croatian capital is any judge then the market seems far from slowly down.

A new apartment development in Zagreb, which includes a total of 153 new apartments, has a waiting list of over 2,000 buyers! And as the starting price is reported 5,000 Euros per metre squared the financial crisis seems a thing of the past.

Demand for real estate has long since broken all records, and the interest in new construction in Zagreb, especially in better locations, has gone through the roof. Of all the regions in Croatia property prices in the capital are rising the sharpest. Although Dubrovnik may still have the most expensive real estate in the country, both Zagreb and Split are catching up.

According to a report in Jutarnji List this new development, which is located in the area of the former Kamensko factory near Keglić, will also include new public areas and the whole project has been designed by the renowned architect Hrvoje Njirić.

 

The public institution Lokrum Reserve has announced a new sailing schedule to the island which started yesterday, Saturday, October 9th.

The new schedule sees the first boat to the island at 10:00am and then boats every hour until 5:00pm. The last boat returning from the island is now at 6:00pm.

And in case of bad weather the boats will not operate to Lokrum.

Novi plovni red Lokrum

 

For six years in a row the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra (DSO) has organised a humanitarian concert with pianist Naira Asatryan as part of its "Autumn Music Variety” festival. Every year, funds are raised for a specific humanitarian initiative, organization or association.

Last night, a humanitarian concert was held again in the Rector’s Palace, where, despite the rain and bad weather, due to which it was already postponed once, there was a large audience that enjoyed classical music.

Naira performed four beautiful compositions by F. Chopin on the piano.

At the end of the performance, the director of the DSO, Damir Milat, handed a check for the collected amount of 5,780 Kuna to representatives of the Association of Dystrophics, Cerebral Palsy and Other Physically Handicapped Dubrovnik-Neretva County for whose needs the concert was held.

He thanked Naira for her hard work and stressed that both the city and the world need more such people. Damir Milat reminded the audience of the concerts so far and the difficulties we face today, while Naira Asatryan sent a message of patience and the importance of culture in these strange times we are going through.

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Flags waved and twirled against the blue sky, dancing, celebrating, all directly in front of the St. Blaise Church, and no, it wasn’t that the festivities for the city’s patron saint had come early. “What a lovely song they’re playing over the speakers,” I said to my wife as we waited for the elegant bride to enter the church. Yes, not the day of St. Blaise but a wedding in his church.

“That isn’t a CD, they are actually singing,” she whispered back. To my disbelief she was right. I’m no judge of good singing, I don’t even watch The Voice, but the raised eye-brows of the person to my left, my sister-in-law, who is an experienced singer confirmed that these were better than excellent.

And pretty soon the singing, and indeed the ceremony, became a tourist attraction. Heads popped through the open doors, cameras flashed and the wedding no doubt featured on an Instagram story in Michigan and Mumbai.

The ceremonial part was in the bag and we made our way through the cobbled streets of the city, once again proving a tourist attraction. Now it was time to eat, drink and be merry.

Clearly, I wasn’t the only one feeling old!

Now this particular wedding made me feel old, in fact old in two ways. Firstly, the lucky groom is a long-term friend of the family, and all those years ago when I arrived here I can actually remember sitting him on my knee and reading to him. I had watched him grown up, and now he was a married man. Secondly, my days of partying all night until the sun peeked its head out and then going off the work are in the dim and distant past. “We used to dance in zelena naranca, go home for a quick shower and then work all day,” laughed my wife. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one feeling old!

The English call this burning the candle from both ends. Nowadays I am in bed as soon as Mentalist finishes. But this Saturday I was only on my second course of a seven-course meal. “I’ve never eaten soup when Mentalist is on,” I said to my wife with a smile.

I also have the dancing moves of a bull

And my dancing skills, not that I really ever had any, are also buried in a dusty cupboard. They are only really dusted off at such events. However, I was given some advice to maximise my dancing exploits. “When you see the cameraman get up and start filming, then you get up and start dancing. When he sits down, you sit down and conserve your energy,” said a good friend at our table. Wise words. And as we were sitting right next to the cameraman’s table the plan couldn’t fail. When they watch the video it will seem like I have the stamina or a bull, although I also have the dancing moves of a bull as well, so maybe my plan had a flaw.

Wine flowed, food disappeared and the dancing continued. “How different is a Croatian wedding to an English one?” another friend at the table asked. “Probably less wine and more beer,” I smiled.

The singing continued. No, let’s rephrase that, the singing hadn’t stopped since we left the church. I have another tactic with singing at weddings, because to be honest I can’t remember any of the songs. But I’ve learnt that if I can memorise one or two lines from each song and then when they come along shout them at the top of my voice then I’m joining in. And then lines I don’t know I just lip-synch or make up my own words. Frankly, nobody wants to hear me sing anyway.

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It was one of those events were everything seemed to go as planned, clearly someone (and I can guess who) had spent a lot of time making sure that everything ran like a Swiss clock. We even had the Konavle “amen da bog da” toast from a young man in traditional costume. A burst of energetic Linđo dancing, some impromptu singing from friends and family at the mic with the band and no wedding celebration would be complete without a “choo choo train dance.”

A memorable evening, although it did take us a couple of days to all recover. It goes without saying that I sincerely wish the bride and groom all the best for their future life together.

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to      

Over the past seven days 8,875 new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded as the numbers remain high. Croatia is once again marked as red on the latest European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) released on Thursday.

Of the 8,875 new Covid-19 cases over the past week 6,977 of them were with people who hadn’t been vaccinated with any doses. This means that almost 79 percent of the new cases from last week were with people who were unvaccinated.

The Croatian Government commented on Twitter that “We don't have a better way to protect ourselves and once again we urge everyone not to hesitate because vaccination is the fastest way to return to the old life.”

 

Great news for the Croatian capital and its tourism industry and Dutch national airline, KLM, plans to connect Zagreb and Amsterdam twice a day in November.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the oldest airline in the world, is operating twice a day between Zagreb and Amsterdam until the end of October, reports Croatian Aviation. And KLM will continue to operate twice a day between Zagreb and Amsterdam in November this year, which is great news for all those who use Amsterdam as a transfer hub, as well as a wide network of KLM lines to other destinations in Europe and the world.

In addition to KLM's two flights, Croatia Airlines will also operate on the route between Zagreb and Amsterdam in the winter schedule.

This winter there will be an incredible three daily flights between the capitals of Croatia and the Netherlands, and as there will be no regular flights to Amsterdam from other Croatian airports, most passengers from other parts of Croatia will change in Zagreb from domestic routes to KLM or Croatia Airlines.

 

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