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.
Dubrovnik Airport is certainly having an impressive year; one could even say a surprisingly impressive year. Records are being broken, passenger numbers are soaring and new investment has been secured.
On the 14th of July the Dubrovnik Airport had its busiest ever day when it handled nearly 18,000 passengers. This is the most passengers that the airport has seen in a single day in its 55-year history. In fact passenger numbers so far this year have been much higher than expectations. The deputy director of Dubrovnik Airport, Frano Luetic, commented that he is extremely surprised with the growth of passenger numbers so far this season, “We have seen an unbelievable 16 percent increase in passenger numbers through the airport since the beginning of the year and a massive 18 percent increase in June.”
In the first six months of 2016 Dubrovnik Airport greeted 676,000 passengers, which is a huge 15 percent increase over the same period from last year. The airport had predicted a growth of between 3 and 4 percent for the year, “the double digit growth we have seen during the first half of the year has truly surprised,” added Luetic.
Speculation about season seven of the HBO serial Game of Thrones has already begun, season six recently finished broadcasting and the Game of Thrones rumour mill is in full force. Dubrovnik, which is the location of King’s Landing, has starred in the serial since season two however this year there seems to be a question mark as to whether Dubrovnik will be a filming location. The seventh season requires colder and darker locations meaning that firstly filming will start later than normal, through the winter months, and that sunny locations are surplus to requirements.
"We're starting a bit later because at the end of this season, “Winter is here” - and that means that sunny weather doesn't really serve our purposes anymore," commented the executive producers of the show David Benioff and Dan Weiss. This statement alone would seem to suggest that Dubrovnik is not in their plans as a filming location for this year. And as season seven will be filmed later than normal it will also be broadcast at a later date, instead of spring 2017 the planned release date is the summer. Weiss added that that they are looking for some "grim, grey weather" for the upcoming season.
Exact information on the locations to be used for the seventh series is still not available. However Northern Ireland, Iceland and several locations in Spain, including the volcano on Tenerife, have been mentioned as possible locations. Croatia, and Dubrovnik, still seems to be off the radar, although this has yet to be confirmed. Last year Dubrovnik was only used sparingly as a location, although previously shot scenes did appear. But with colder weather and grey skies needed Dubrovnik doesn’t fit into this description.
“Wasn’t it nice to have a couple of days of rain,” said an English friend to me last weekend. I had to smile, two Englishmen adoring the fact that rain had fallen in the summer, I guess it made us feel at home. You can take an Englishman out of England but you can’t take England out of the Englishman.
There was an American sitcom that I used to enjoy whilst growing up, it was called Different Strokes. The name of the serial derives from the American phrase that means everyone has their own way of doing things or approaching life, Different Strokes for Different Folks. Or as the English would say, we all march to a different tune. I am in the front line of these differences; I have a foot firmly placed in both camps. I have firsthand experience with the nuances of life on both sides of the line.
Many of these differences I have forgotten along the journey, but catching up with this “freshmen” English friend who had just got off the plane brought many of these memories back to me. “I walked into the bathroom and couldn’t find the light switch anywhere, I ended up going to the toilet in the dark,” was his opening salvo as we enjoyed a coffee together. Ah, I remember that lesson, lesson six I believe, the light switch is on the outside. “I ordered a cup of coffee and they brought me a glass of water with it,” was the next along the conveyor belt. These small details are just second nature to me now, in fact when I don’t get a glass of water with my coffee in England I wonder why. But to this recent addition to the foreign community in Dubrovnik they were still unusual and confusing. Things which I just take for granted were being highlighted again, it was like a trip down memory lane.
“And when do all these people find time to work, unless they are all unemployed, they seem to sit and drink coffee all day,” was the next observation. Yes, that’s a classic one I hear quite often from tourists. Coffee time isn’t just a question of getting a quick caffeine drug fix; it’s more of a way of life. “No they don’t really see the point of coffee-to-go in Dubrovnik, after all where would they go!” I replied. He was trying his best to pick up the language, for which I commended him for, because he had realized without a working knowledge of Croatian his days here were numbered. And he had taken the same approach as I, be a sponge and soak up the language. This approach, whilst effective, can lead to some bewildering situations.
“I don’t know...I just don’t know, it seems that everyone I met has the same name, men and women...Jesse,” he slumped over his coffee. “Don’t worry just keep pressing on, it is hard but well worth it, and Jesse isn’t a name, it’s a greeting,” I calmed his fears. “Yes, I realise that now but I couldn’t find Jesse in any of the language books I read. That’s why I gave up with the books and took the immersion method,” was his answer. “And what’s with all the yogurt!! Eating yogurt with sandwiches, with bread, with pies, with everything, I don’t get that,” was the next detail. I had to admit that that was one particular habit that I have never understood and would never dream of adopting.
Content with the update he waved goodbye and tried to show off his Croatian by shouting after me “Jesse.” Never mind at least he was trying. As he wandered away a local friend stopped me, “got time for a coffee?” he asked. I smiled to myself thinking back at the last conversation about people only drinking coffee, and agreed. “That guy he has to be English,” was the first question, “he is wearing sandals and socks.” I hadn’t really noticed, but yes he was.
Then came the “Different Strokes for Different Folks” moment. “Why do all he English wear socks with sandals?” I had heard I a thousand times before. “For the same reason that you are wearing a vest under your T-shirt,” I answered. “But I wear a vest to soak up the sweat,” he looked confused. “Exactly,” and then I joked a little, “The English only sweat from their feet and therefore need socks to soak it up.” OK, it was a little joke but there was truth behind it. That is exactly the reason why people wear socks with sandals, to avoid getting slippery feet. I have never worn a vest under a shirt or T-shirt; in fact I don’t even own a vest, although my grandfather did, but then again I don’t wear socks with sandals either.
So I guess I am stuck somewhere in the middle between the UK and Croatia, a foot, or should I say a sweaty foot, in both camps.
Dubrovnik hasn’t seen a cloud for over ten days, temperatures have been constantly in the low thirties and over recent days humidity is around 60 percent. This weekend has been one of the warmest of the year so far, with highs recorded yesterday at 33 degrees and 32 degrees expected today, Sunday.
Keeping cool in the stifling heat is proving challenging and people have been advised to drink plenty of fluids. The public fountains of the Old City of Dubrovnik were a magnet for tourists yesterday.
Check out our hot in Dubrovnik photo gallery by Tonci Plazibat.
According to recently published data from the Croatian National Bank, the public debt of Croatia has declined for the first time since 1999. At the end of March this year Croatia's public debt was 288.3 billion Kunas, less than the same period last year when 293.09 billion Kunas of public debt was recorded. It is a significant decrease of 1.6 per cent or 4.7 billion Kunas.
The Croatian Chamber of Commerce said that a decline of public debt was due to the continuation of positive budget activities.
The latest data from Eurostat confirmed that Croatia found its place among the EU countries with the biggest decline in public debt in the first quarter of 2016.
Compared to the first quarter last year Greece had the biggest increase in public debt (5.8 percentage points), followed by Finland (3.7), Latvia (2.9) and Lithuania (2.1). On the other hand, the biggest decline in public debt had Ireland (-16.7), Netherlands (-4.3), Denmark (-4.1) whilst Germany, Croatia and Malta all recorded 3.3 percentage points decline in public debt.
In terms of public debt to GDP ratio Greece had the largest public debt (176,3 % of GDP), followed by Italy (135,4%) and Portugal (128,9%).
The lowest public debt was recorded in Estonia, only 9.6 per cent of GDP, followed by Luxembourg (21.8%) and Bulgaria (30.3%).
This year the Croatian National Bank (HNB) will issue new commemorative 25 Kunas coin on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Croatia's independence (8th October 1991 – 8th October 2016).
The new commemorative coin will be put into circulation on the 7th of October 2016. Meanwhile, the HNB has published a public-opinion poll on its website in order to invite all interested parties to include in the poll and upon their own personal criteria select the coin design which they consider to be the best.
Based on the works of the Croatian sculptor Damir Matausic, the Croatian Monetary Institute has designed three different 25 Kunas coins.
The poll results will be taken into consideration in the final decision making about the most successful coin design after which 50,000 new coins will be put into production at the Croatian Monetary Institute.
The Croatian National Bank has issued 11 series of the 25 Kunas commemorative coin so far which has numismatic value. Even though it is a commemorative coin it can also be used as means of payment.
The central Croatian bank have also issued commemorative coins of different values on several occasions such as Croatia's membership in the UN, the tenth anniversary of the international recognition of Croatia, the 500th anniversary of printing Senj glagolitic misal, Croatia's accession to the European Union etc.
Five things you won’t find in a Dubrovnik tourist guide
Not as easy as it looks - On a section of the wall of the Mala Braća church a stone protrudes out, in fact it is a gargoyle. The expert challenge is to climb onto the protrusion and try and take your T-shirt off.
Why run when you can walk - It’s like taking a social stroll; you never know who you’ll bump into and who you’ll end up sitting and having a coffee with, the locals can it a “đir” or Gir in English.
Messing around in the water – it’s called Picigin the idea is to keep the ball in the air as long as you can, great fun, but harder than it looks.
High noon feeding time – at exactly midday the pigeons are feed on Gundulić Square in the heart of the Old City. Great photo opportunities, but mind the flapping wings.
Be a cave man...or woman – the Betina cave is a secluded beach that can only be reached from the sea. Take a kayak or, if you are a good swimmer, under your own steam. It is located between two beaches, Banje and St. Jacob.
This is probably not the best place to park your car and a lesson that when you park near the sea to always pull the hand-brake. Yesterday afternoon passers-by in the centre of Korcula were left scratching their heads as a car slowly made its way, seemingly under its own steam, into the Adriatic. The Mazda was left half floating in the sea.
“No one seemed to notice as the car slowly edged towards the harbour and before we realised the car was in the car and dropping into the sea,” explained an observer.
Apparently the driver of the male driver of the car had stopped by the quay side to buy movie tickets and had forgotten to pull the handbrake. As he appeared from the cinema he found his car bobbing with the boats in the Korcula harbour. Fortunately there was no one in the car when the accident occurred.
Later in the afternoon cranes arrived on the scene to fish the soaked Mazda from its watery grave. Apart from water damage the car was relatively unscathed. We only wonder whether the driver was buying movie tickets for the latest instalment in the Ice Age series – Collision Course!