Tuesday, 04 August 2020
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

The tourist offer of Croatia will soon be enriched with an interesting project coming from the city of Karlovac regarding the Croatian born Nikola Tesla.

At the beginning of May the city administration of Karlovac will launch a new tourist project ''Meeting with Tesla'' in order to enable tourists to get acquainted with a fact that Karlovac is a city where the genius inventor, electrical and mechanical engineer, and futurist was educated as well as to promote the old city of Karlovac well known as Zvijezda (The Star). In 1870 Tesla moved to Karlovac to attend school at the Higher Real Gymnasium. The classes were held in German, as it was a school within the Austro-Hungarian Military Frontier. He finished a four-year term in three years, graduating in 1873.

In the promotional phase, restaurants and cafe bars interested in participating in this new project will be provided with free recipes for ''electric'' cocktails, cocktail glasses with a project logo, special powder that creates funny ''electric'' taste in the mouth as well as with promotional leaflets to present this interesting offer.

The public promotion of the new tourist project in Croatia ''Meeting with Tesla'' will be held at the Ban Jelacic square in Karlovac on the first Saturday of May.

Lazar Badanjac from the Croatian Mountaineering Society Sniježnica was the winner of the “Run the Wall” event today in a time of 11 minutes and 18 seconds. This two 2.5 kilometre race around the historic Dubrovnik city walls is the opening race of the Du Motion event which includes the Dubrovnik Half marathon.

Even though the conditions were difficult for racing, due to torrential rain, 63 runners took on the City Walls today. The start and finish of the race was on the Stradun. Damir Primorac came in second place, only 28 seconds behind Badanjac, and third was Srdan Matijašević from the Dubrovnik Running School.

The leading woman racer was Nela Madeško from the Dubrovnik Athletic Club with a time of 13 minutes and 41 seconds, followed by Melanie Nicolle from England and Andrea Klečak from Dubrovnik Running School.

The weather forecast for the main event, the Dubrovnik Half Marathon, tomorrow predicts scattered clouds and temperatures around 22 degrees.

The British low-cost air carrier Monarch Airlines has launched new direct flights from Manchester and London to the Croatian capital.

On the 28th of April, Monarch started operating direct flight from Zagreb to London three times a week, whilst on the 29th it will launch its direct service from Zagreb to Manchester two times a week.

''We are very pleased with our year-round flights to and from Zagreb. Monarch Airlines is the only air carrier to operate direct flights from Zagreb to Manchester and London's Gatwick. Both our destinations have an excellent offer for a weekend getaway. We hope that citizens of Zagreb and others will recognize our high level service as well as an excellent flight schedule and low prices'', commented David Page, the director at Monarch Communications.

It is interesting to note that OAG Punctuality League declared Monarch Airlines the most punctual low-cost airline in 2016, whilst Feefo, an independent platform for rating and reviews, rewarded Monarch the ''Gold Trusted Service'' award in February this year.

The number of European citizens believe that membership of their country in the European Union (EU) is a good thing has grown. On the other hand, the number of Croatians that support EU is going down, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey published today.

According to this research, the European Union support returned to the level as it was before the economic crisis in 2007 - the European Parliament published on its website. In the eyes of 57 percent of citizens the EU is a good thing for their country, which is four percent higher compared to the results of the survey from last September.

In Croatia, that percentage is 36 percent, which is 10 percent less than last year, and places it very low on the list of countries – fourth from the bottom. Luxembourg, Ireland, Germany and Netherlands have the most positive opinion about the EU, while the most negative one is in Czech Republic, Greece, Italy and of course, Croatia.

EU is considered to be a bad project by the 14 percent of the Europeans and 15 percent of Croatians, while 26 percent of Europeans and 47 percent of Croatians find it neither bad nor good.

Reacting to the latest geopolitical events such as rising instability in the Arab world, the growing influence of Russia and China, Brexit and Donald Trump's election for US President, about 73 percent of people prefer that the EU finds a common response to these global challenges, instead every country doing it by itself.

The strong majority also urges the EU to take more action to tackle current challenges such as the fight against terrorism (80 percent), unemployment (78 percent), environmental protection (75 percent) and the fight against tax frauds (74 percent).

The percentage of Croatian citizens who prefer the EU to find a common response to the current global challenges is similar to the European average. However, Croatia is below average when it comes to thinking if their country is heading in the right direction – only 23  percent of citizens thinks that way, while the average is 31 percent.

Croatians would like to be more informed about topics such as the fight against unemployment (53 percent), health and social security (38 percent), economic policy (31 percent) and agriculture (20 percent).

The Eurobarometer survey was conducted in March by a personal interview methodology on a sample of 27,901 respondents in Europe and 1048 respondents in Croatia.

Harper's Bazaar, one of the most famous American magazines, has recently published a list of 31 world's best beaches. It's not a surprise that Croatia found its place on the list.

One of the most famous Croatian beaches, Zlatni rat, that is located on the island of Brac has been chosen. This beautiful and special beach has been regulary listed as one of the top beaches in Europe and is for sure one of the symbols of Croatian tourism. Its distincive shape has placed it in many travel brochures and now Harper's Bazaar also recognized its value.

-Located on the southern coast of Brac Island, Zlatni Rat Beach is nicknamed the Golden Horn for its unusual shape that juts out into the Adriatic Sea – it’s written in the article.

The competition was fierce for sure! If you want to see the full list, click here.

Special guests are coming to the Dubrovnik Cathedral on Monday, May 1st. Vocal group Cantate Domino from Kocevje, Slovenia, will have a concert right after a mass at 6 pm, at which they will also sing.

This vocal group is visiting Dubrovnik as a part of their Balkan tour, which includes Nis, Skopje and Ohrid.

Cantate Domino from Kocevje was founded in 1989 and acts as a mixed ensemble performing various music genres, such as Slovenian and foreign folk songs, Slovenian and foreign sacral music, Christmas songs and others. Their specialty is performing old mining songs in the Gottscheer language of the Germans who lived in the area of Kocevje.

The opening night of the Aklapela Festival 2017 has been cancelled in a mark of respect for the Day of Mourning in Dubrovnik. Tonight was planned to be the premiere night of the festival with fourteen different vocal groups on the program.

- We express our deep regret and sincere condolences to the families of the dead and missing in the tragic maritime crash – commented the organisers of the festival.

The shortened festival will start on Saturday the 29th of April at 8.00pm in the Lazareti complex and then again on Sunday with a sacral music concert in the Church of the Friars Minor at noon.

There is an unwritten (anti)pedestrian mantra in Dubrovnik: “A Dalmatian doesn’t walk. He drives.”

Apply that to any type of movement and you will quite easily realize why people in Dalmatia - spend so much time sitting in cafes - are so crazy about cars and driving (men) - scarcely go out with their babies in strollers (women)

As regards the final point: I was not aware of this when I first arrived to Dalmatia with my newborn. I mean, I knew that people don’t walk very much (to be precise: in Donji Brgat, which is the village where we spend most of the year, people drive over to visit their neighbours, that is, they use a vehicle to reach a distance of 50 meters). What I didn’t know was that people don’t go out with babies, i.e. that babies rarely see the sun and breath the seaside air until they are, say, six months old. Most people don’t even own a proper stroller where the baby could lie on her back on a flat surface. “We don’t do this,” a local mother explained to me. “The baby can’t see anything from the stroller anyway, so it is boring for her. We wait until she can sit.” She stubbed her cigarette (smoking mothers, sometimes even smoking pregnant women, are not a rarity around here) and she added: “Plus, there are all sorts of dangers out there. You know. The sun. The wind. Deadly bacteria. Even rain!”

This made me even more stubborn. Both my kids spent hundreds of hours in strollers, napping outside, or joining me for long walks around Srebreno or Lapad. I even went jogging with the stroller around Brgat (same kind of idea like jogging through Stradun the other day, no matter that I went without a stroller. Lesson learnt: everybody is watching you. It’s a small place. And unless you jog around in an outfit worth 1,000 EUR or a stroller worth the price of a solid car, you are suspicious, because – wait – why would you be doing this??)

Risks of strollering, however, do exist. They are two, they are neither sun nor wind, and they appear exclusively on the route from Gornji Brgat to Donji Brgat (or, from Upper Brgat to Lower Brgat). I experienced both and I can tell that those were the two moments of greatest fear in my life (…and yes, I’ve been through a bunch of other threatening things like flying in an airplane that is running out of gas or walking through a minefield in Kosovo).

First: Being a determined, fresh mother of a three-month old, I pushed the (heavy) stroller up the (gravel) forest trail from Donji Brgat to Gornji. Exhausted, I decided, I rather take the road on my way back. It was early afternoon, sunny, i.e. every driver could clearly see me. I mean, every driver could clearly see me, if they looked – as I realized after the first two cars passed five inches from me. Hell! A truck came by. Passed three inches from us. I screamed and woke up my daughter who gave me a puzzled look. My heart pounded. Another truck! Whzoooom! Sweating, dying of fear and thinking insane options (such as take baby out of stroller, dump stroller down the viper-inhabited slope underneath, then run for our lives until we reach destination), I marched for another half mile, madly waving at every car that was approaching us, so they notice. Some did. Most didn’t. At home, despite breastfeeding, I had to have a rakija, then broke down in tears.

Lesson: Dalmatian drivers don’t expect pedestrians, as nobody (local) would ever walk down the road.

Second: Two years later, I was a tough mother of two – a toddler and another fresh baby. I had a twin stroller in order to manage (just about anything). One night, we were at a party in Gornji Brgat, the kids fell fast asleep in the stroller, so it seemed inhuman to wake them, squeeze them into car seats and drive home. The forest trail got asphalted in the meantime, it even got public lighting. So it was safe. I’d walk – I trilled, and took off. The two things I didn’t consider, though, were these: first, it is quite difficult to walk down a steep trail in heels and operating a 40 kilo stroller. After a hundred dramatic metres, I stopped to take my shoes of. As I stopped, the second thing occurred to me quite explicitly: from a bush that was touching my left arm, I heard a deep roaring sound. Then again. No doubt: this was a wild boar. I froze to the spot, recalling what a local hunter once told us – the wild boars get only dangerous if you accidentally get too close. Well. This was close enough. What do I do? Again, the wild rescue scenarios flashed through my head (unbuckle two sleeping kids, grab them into my arms, dump the stroller into the forest and run for our lives). Finally, I decided to just walk away, very quietly, very slowly, sweating, trembling, hating myself for stupid ideas of ridiculous night strolls and getting ready to move out of this jungle! Durr… Despite breastfeeding, had another rakija back home and burst into tears.

Lessons learnt: Don’t stroll at night through a forest. Don’t stroll at night. Don’t stroll. (Locals do have a point.)


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

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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