Monday, 17 June 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

Why pay Airbnb prices or even for a camping space when you can sleep with the Adriatic Sea whispering you to sleep. It probably isn’t the most comfortable bed in the world or even the safest but at least it has a nice view.

This photo was sent to us this morning of a group of wild campers in the Kupari bay, the site of a former resort that is still waiting for redevelopment. Waken by the sun and an early morning dip in the Adriatic, just don’t fall off the wall.

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The Hollywood actor and one of the stars of the hit CBS serial S.W.A.T is currently honeymooning in Dubrovnik. David Lim, who plays Officer III Victor Tan in the hit police drama, recently got married in Prague to the stunning Czech model Marketa Kazdova and the newlyweds decided to spend their first few days as a married couple in Dubrovnik.

Clearly Lim is a huge fan of the Game of Thrones and has been filling his social media accounts with photos of King’s Landing, including a photo sitting in the Iron Throne.

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And the couple also received a rather special Game of Thrones wedding present, a signed copy of the pilot script for Game of Thrones, signed by the author of George R. R Martin. “Geeking out over this dope wedding gift, signed by the legend George R.R. Martin himself,” wrote Lim on his Instagram account only with a photo of the prized script.

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Lim plays Officer III Victor Tan in the CBS drama S.W.A.T and has also starred in the the ABC thriller Quantico.

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“That day has come. We have linked Philadelphia, the largest airline hub of American Airlines, and Dubrovnik as a tourist attraction for American tourists,” commented the director of the Dubrovnik Airport, Frano Luetic, at a special reception organised for the first flight from American Airlines to Dubrovnik for this year.

This is the first time in 28 years that Croatia has a direct, or nonstop, air connection with America, and the flights have proved so popular with American visitors that in addition to the three flights a week an extra flight has been added throughout September.

Last year in Dubrovnik Americans were the second most numerous visitors, largely thanks to the HBO serial Game of Thrones, and this fact is even more impressive when you bear in mind that there were no direct flights to the city.

“After long negotiations, we recognized American Airlines as the largest company in the world and we started talking. Two years ago we promised to establish a direct line to Dubrovnik. In Dubrovnik and our county, US tourists are in second place behind guests from the United Kingdom,” said Luetić.

Satisfaction with the establishment of direct flights was voiced by the United States Deputy Ambassador to Croatia, Victoria Taylor, and the American Airlines Director of Europe, Richard Muis, who together with the hosts from Dubrovnik Airport officially cut the cake.

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“This is a big day today, the first direct flight from the USA since Croatia's independence, and in this way we have opened the way for better cooperation between the two countries. Last year more than 500,000 US visitors visited our country, and since the beginning of the year we have seen a 14 percent increase in guest numbers,” commented the Frano Matušić, the State Secretary, of Ministry of Tourism of Croatia.

Flights to Dubrovnik will be scheduled on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and flights from Dubrovnik will take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Mondays. And according to reports many of the flights have been completely sold out already.

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The first passengers at the Dubrovnik Airport were welcomed with special gifts and a performance by traditional music and dance. This new link will be especially interesting for Croatian expats who live in America. “We are delighted and we wanted to get to the very first flight to Croatia. Now we will come a lot more often than before. This is something unreal to us,” commented Ana Cavlovic from Kansas City.

More positive news for the state of the Croatian economy comes with one of the most renowned financial ratings companies in the world, Fitch Ratings, raising the country’s credit score to “investment-grade” level on Friday.

"Croatia outperformed its budget target for the third year in a row in 2018, with the government posting a surplus of 0.2% of GDP,” commented Fitch Ratings.

"Croatia's structural features are generally more favourable than 'BBB' peers. GDP per capita is 30% above the 'BBB' median and the country scores better than peers in governance indicators and human development, thanks in part to EU membership," added Fitch.

Until now Fitch kept Croatia's credit score in the speculative category at BB+ with a positive outlook. But this new rating and acknowledgement means that even more foreign investors will be keeping Croatia on their radar.

 

For the eighth year running Zagreb Pride Parade was held in the Croatian capital this afternoon. The colourful parade, held under the slogan of “18 Proud Years” started in front of the Mimara Museum in the centre of the capital and continued through the city centre to the Ribnjak park.

"The message of this Pride parade is that we are here, that this is not just a phase, that we are a part of the Croatian society, that we are not going anywhere and that we want full equality," commented the Zagreb Pride programme co-ordinator Doria Jukic.

Jukic added that what had changed since 2002, when the event was organised for the first time, is the degree of violence and discrimination.

Before the start of the parade, organisers said they were proud that young people today grew up in a society where Pride marches were the oldest protest for human rights, noting that young people today were louder, braver and more visible in the fight for more streets and areas that were safe for all.

Several leading politicians came to support the Pride as well, including Social Democrat leader Davor Bernardic, members of the SDP Women's Forum and Youth Forum, SDP MP Gordan Maras, and Zagreb City Councillor Renato Petek from the Forward Croatia - Progressive Alliance party, as well as many other public figures.

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Quite clearly there are no lengths tourists will stop at to get the right selfie or the perfect panorama over the terracotta roods of the Old City of Dubrovnik. This tourist took his life in his own hands when he climbed onto the Dubrovnik City Walls and, armed with his camera, risked a fall onto the unforgiving stone streets 30 metres below.

This photo was uploaded onto the Facebook page of the group “(ne)Kultura na dubrovačkim ulicama” ((no)Culture on the streets of Dubrovnik) and quite evidently shows that no matter how much security and how many warnings you install some tourists will just go that one extra step for the right holiday image.

Only twenty days ago, albeit in completely different circumstances, an American tourist was badly injured when he fell from the walls, and the last tragic case of someone losing their life was recorded nine years ago.

- These fatal falls occur about every 10 years. So once in every ten million visitors. We have done everything it terms of security, from fences to protective nets and signs, from making the movement of visitors into a one-way system,” commented Niko Kapetanić, the President of the Friends of Dubrovnik's Antiquities, the organisation that runs and maintains the walls.

But clearly some people will ignore the warnings and take the dangerous route of climbing up on the walls.

Every year the Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities pays over half a million Kuna for insurance premiums, so far not one visitor has sued them over an accident on the walls.

"We even redeem the Red Cross volunteers who stand at different locations on the Dubrovnik City Walls in case someone injures their feet or becomes dehydrated,” added Kapetanić.

The 1,940 metres long Dubrovnik City Walls are the most visited attraction in the city and in the top three most visited tourist landmarks in the whole of Croatia.

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The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has thrown his support behind Croatia entering the border-free Schengen zone as well as adopting the Euro as the official currency.

"I want to make a recommendation to the Council during the mandate of this EC for Croatia to become part of the Schengen area," Juncker said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

The head of the Croatian government also expressed the expectation that by the end of the mandate of the EC, Croatia will receive a positive recommendation for joining the Schengen area, pointing out that a great deal has been done in that regard. "Croatia expects to have a positive evaluation of the progress we made in meeting the criteria for joining the Schengen area by the end of this EC mandate," said Plenkovic.

Juncker arrived on Thursday for a two-day visit to Croatia that began in Dubrovnik and ended in the Croatian capital.

In a tweet Juncker wrote “I commend Croatia’s remarkable

Dubrovnik is playing homage to the best of Portugese music tonight with a rather special concert of Fado music. Ivo Perkušić and Fado5 will hold a concert tonight in the atmospheric Marin Drzic theatre in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik and it should be entertaining.

This is unique musical experience that brings Portuguese music in a contemporary way that merges the ocean and the Mediterranean! The repertoire is made up of some of the best fado songs.

Fado is a music that was born around 1861 in Coimbra, the Portuguese university town, where men were first introduced to it, and only later developed into a popular female variant that today has differing forms across the Portuguese territory while Coimbra still maintains the tradition of male fadists.

This concert tonight by Ivo and FADO5 will bring the same feel from Portugal and the group have performed at many major and important cultural events of Croatian stages.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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