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.
It has been a cold, cold day in Dubrovnik today. Temperatures barely rose above zero all day and a freezing north wind made sure the wind chill factor was even colder. With ice-cold rain and snow on the higher ground Dubrovnik certainly didn’t look like a holiday destination today.
And colder temperatures are on the way for tomorrow with temperatures between -2 and – 6 degrees predicted. The Dubrovnik Airport has been closed for most of the day and the Dubrovnik bridge is also still closed to all vehicles. It is expected that both the airport and the bridge will be closed again tomorrow as the polar winter hits the region.
Today in Dubrovnik by Zeljko Tutnjevic
''If the size of the Croatian economy is taken into account, it should have almost 2,000 robots, however, according to our estimates only 175 are used in the industry thus Croatia is 1,800 robots short. The increased use of robots can be considered as one of the most important ways in increasing productivity'', commented the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).
The HGK in cooperation with the Nikola Tesla Innovation Centre (ICENT) and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is part of the CROBOHUB project, whose main goal is to establish a regional competence centre for robotics within the ICENT.
Emil Peric, the head of the HGK's Department of Technology Development and IT said that the Croatian economy needed at least 2,000 robots, whilst there were only 175. ''It only indicates the unused potential and the need for further development and investments'', said Peric.
'' Many stakeholders in the economy do not see robots as a threat that would completely replace human work. Actually there will be need for more staff to control robots, service them and produce new ones. With a lack of skilled labour and the workforce in general, with many industrial sectors based on low wages, robotics can be seen as a way to increase productivity, or even perhaps as the only way to do that”, concluded Peric.
The Siberian start to 2017 in Dubrovnik has brought snow and ice to many parts of the Dubrovnik County. Konavle, Pelješac and the Dubrovnik hinterland are under a white blanket of snow as freezing temperatures continue to dominate the weather. And more snow and even colder temperatures are on the way. Currently it is around 2 degrees in Dubrovnik with zero degrees expected overnight, and then Friday will see the polar front hit Dubrovnik with – 2 to – 6 degrees predicted.
The roads of the county are relatively clean and snow ploughs have been out since this morning cleaning the snow as well as spreading salt for the ice. Drivers have been warned not to travel tomorrow unless necessary.
And due to the gale force northerly winds the Dubrovnik Bridge has been closed for most of the day. Dubrovnik Airport is also closed to all flights and passengers travelling to Dubrovnik are landing at Split Airport and then continuing their journeys by buses.
Photo gallery of the Zupa hills this afternoon
According to a press release from the construction company Tehnika from Zagreb an agreement was concluded on the construction of a reinforced concrete structure of the above-ground part of the hotel building with accompanying facilities at the Westgate complex in Split.
The construction project called ''Westgate B'' is funded with money from the Croatian bank for Reconstruction and Development, whilst the investment is estimated at 500 million Kunas.
''The ''Westgate B'' tower should be 110 metres high thus it will be officially the tallest building in Croatia. The tower will have six underground levels, a ground floor and 27 floors with a total area of 35,000 square metres. This project will be of multipurpose use, whilst the hotel part of the tower will have 189 rooms, 4 suites, a wellness centre, a fitness centre, a congress centre, restaurants and bars'', explained Josip Komar from the Westgate Tower.
Komar also added that the hotel would be operated by one of the world's largest hotel companies that was yet to be discovered to the public, but would surely contribute to the competitiveness and improvement of tourist offer.
According to Komar's words the second part of the building will host the headquarters of several technology companies. The whole project will create 300 new jobs, whilst after the construction around 2,000 people will work at the complex.
Due to bad weather conditions all flights to or from Dubrovnik are cancelled or diverted. Day started with strong north wind and low temperatures combined with rain and snow. The forecast for the next few days is for more snow and colder temperatures as a polar front hits the region, which could also affect travel plans of many.
Dubrovnik could well see another record this weekend, a record for the coldest ever temperature. The city awoke to freezing temperatures this morning as temperatures dropped to 3 degrees and a north wind made the wind chill factor even colder. Light snow has already started to fall in the regions around Dubrovnik, the hills of Konavle and Zupa are white, and more snow is predicted to fall this afternoon.
The forecast for the next few days is for more snow and colder temperatures as a polar front hits the region. The coldest ever temperature measured in Dubrovnik was in January 1968 when - 7 was recorded. However on Saturday this record could be broken as forecasters predict temperatures down to – 8 as the Siberian weather continues.
Every time I leave the United States to return to Dubrovnik, I get bombarded by the alarmed “please be safe over there” comments. But the truth is, there’s nowhere else in the world I feel safer than in Dubrovnik.
Of course with the present-day context of terrorist attacks throughout Europe stirring the pot of international turmoil, I understand why family and friends would want me to be safe while living across the world.
It’s just that many Americans, especially those who have never left, fail to see that the United States is actually the dangerous place.
I must admit that I am coming from a place of immense privilege in that I have been mainly untouched by the violence in America. I grew up in a relatively quiet suburb in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where the only crime was teenagers causing trouble around town.
However, because of my family background, I’ve been surrounded by crime since the day I was born. I come from a family of criminal defense lawyers, where I’ve heard everything from stories of the wrongly accused to housewives with a secret drug addiction. Though these were mostly petty white-collar offenses, I always lived with the very real threat of crime, which has at times put my family’s security at risk.
Moving to Chicago for college was a whole new world for me, one filled with both opportunity and violence. Like most metropolitan cities in America, inner-city crime is rooted in a sharp opportunity gap. Sadly enough, crime flourishes in the areas of Chicago that are completely neglected, occasionally trickling into the areas deemed “safe”.
The perimeter of my former liberal bubble of a college campus was a ripe opportunity for theft. I was desensitized to getting e-mails once a week about students being held at gunpoint, and some cases of sexual assault. There was even a time I was volunteering in a rougher neighborhood, and a shooting between gangs broke out while I was inside tutoring kids.
Thus with this background, coming to study abroad in Dubrovnik was quite a contrast for me. Because it is such a small town, crime and violence seemed practically impossible when everyone knows each other. There were no stories of murder, gun violence, or gangs, instead stories of the passed Homeland War. I remember us American study abroad students saying we’ve never felt safer. It’s no surprise why Dubrovnik has been said to be one of the safest places in the world.
Yes, there were some situations with “cat calling” and strange men, being a young woman in Dubrovnik. But I never felt very threatened. It was such a relief to be able to walk home in the dark without the extreme paranoia and to be able to go for a run without the fear of being abducted.
It was when I returned back to the United States that I realized how unsafe my country is. While I was gone, there were numerous mass shootings and cases of police brutality. Even one of my classmates had been shot and killed after being robbed. A few months later, another classmate was shot outside her apartment. I couldn’t help but feel the violence was out of control on all ends, and it kept hitting closer to home.
Later that year, I saw headlines for a shooting in the Twin Cities, where a disgruntled client went into a criminal defense law office and shot and killed the receptionist. My heart sank when I saw it was the law firm of our family friends. My heart broke when I saw the murder victim was my friend from high school.
In a matter of months I become furious with my country’s apathy towards violence, and especially lack of gun control. I was worried for my family, friends, and my own safety. There were many days when my anxiety peaked and I had to take myself back to a safe place in my mind. That place was Dubrovnik.
Before I came back to Dubrovnik after graduating college, I lost count of the number of times people warned me about being safe, as if I was going to somewhere more dangerous. It is somewhat ironic that I would feel significantly safer somewhere that was bombed to the ground less than 30 years ago.
Over the past 6 months living in Dubrovnik again, I truly was filled was gratitude to live in a bubble of paradise, untouched from the world’s chaos and violence.
But I’ll never forget one night I was at the beach with my Croatian friends, when someone started throwing the “Petarde“ fireworks at the ground. I immediately jumped to my feet with terror in my eyes, as they sounded exactly like gunshots to me. I put my hand on my fluttering heart, and looked at my friends who barely flinched, still laughing and singing under the moonlight.
I reminded myself that I was in Dubrovnik now, and I was safe.
Alexandra Schmidt, also known as The Mindful Mermaid, is a globetrotting writer and travel blogger, who finds her self always coming back to Dubrovnik. She was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota and later moved to Chicago to study at Loyola University. She first came to Dubrovnik when she studied at Dubrovnik International University, and has returned to Dubrovnik several times since. She’s a mermaid-obsessed yogi, who passes her time playing guitar, exploring the great outdoors, and planning her next adventure. To find out more about Alex, you can visit her website or Facebook page.
The ever popular animated characters Pat and Mat are heading to Dubrovnik at the end of this month. The popular television characters will brighten up January in Dubrovnik with a performance in the Rixos Libertas Hotel on the 28th of this month at 11.00am and again at 5.00pm.
Pat and Mat is a Czech stop-motion animated series featuring two handymen: Pat and Mat (Czech for "stalemate" and "checkmate"). The show was created by Lubomír Beneš and Vladimír Jiránek. The show features the two characters facing mostly self-made problems, trying to solve them using any possible and impossible tools and construction gadgets. This leads to even more problems and yet, eventually, the two manage to get a working result with a mostly surprising solution.
According to the authors, it is the manual ineptitude that inspires the stories. The humour is not the only feature of the show. Another feature is having an optimistic approach towards life. The two characters always get into problematic situations, but they never give up until they solve the problem in imaginative ways.
The show is also memorable for its soundtrack, composed by Petr Skoumal, of which the main parts consist of the theme song and a harmonica tune.
Tickets for the Pat and Mat show in Dubrovnik are already on sale and can be purchased online at www.ulaznice.hr for 60 Kuna.