Friday, 07 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

A freezing start to the weekend in Dubrovnik with temperatures this morning touching – 5 degrees. The gale force north winds have brought an icy feel to the city with “Real Feel” temperatures down to – 16 degrees!

It is a cold start to 2017 in Dubrovnik. With many of the mountains and higher areas of the region still covered in snow the winds are bringing bitterly cold temperatures.

The historic Old City of Dubrovnik is being battered with these biting winds as can be seen from our photo gallery this morning.

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It is said that what you do on the first of the year will be an indicator on what you will do for the rest of the year. If this is true then I am in for a year of rain, crowds of tourists and terrible internet connection, oh and a year of travel without sleep.

Yes, 2017 has arrived, and this festive period I spent in England with my family and friends, and on the 1st of January I was walking the streets of London, almost all day. My family now lives a good 5-hours train ride from the capital, so the journeys back to Dubrovnik now resemble a chapter of “Around the World in 80 Days.” However it also gives us an excuse to spend a day in the most cosmopolitan city in the world. - Let me take you by the hand, and lead you through the streets of London. I'll show you something, to make you change your mind, sang Ralph McTell.

Almost a million tourists, 860,000 to be precise, had descended on London for the New Year’s celebrations, the fireworks and the parties. In other words in one day London received the same amount of tourists that Dubrovnik received in 2016. Madness, total madness, the capital is under siege, every street looks like the Stradun on New Year’s Eve. And as my wife and I tried to stroll along at the pace we would stroll on Stradun we soon got trampled under the mass of foreign boots. “Excuse me,” – “Sorry” – or just “Mind the way,” filled our ears as we gently ambles from shop window to shop window, we were out of tempo with London and it showed.

There is no room for slow motion, here life is always in the fast lane, and it’s a drive-through, coffee-to-go way of existence. “Ah so you guys are from Dubrovnik,” answered a friendly waiter as we chatted whilst he took our order. “I have heard that they filmed Game of Thrones and Star Wars there,” he added. I took the opportunity to ask our waiter a dilemma that had been puzzling me, “Do you guys have Wi-Fi for customers.” He look at me as if I had asked him to sleep with his wife, “No, why do you ask,” he answered. This was a problem that had haunted me for the past ten days in England, the lack of internet connection. Believe it or not I hadn’t found one shop, café, bar, restaurant or tourist organization with Wi-Fi for customers to use. I am not talking about free Wi-Fi, I am talking about any kind of Wi-Fi! I was staying in a digital black hole! And from the answer this waiter had just given me it seems that the internet connection in the capital was just as terrible.

When I got back to the normality, or in other words on the runway at Cilipi, 198 emails arrived in a tidal wave. The other thing that hit me in London this time around was fear. This was something new for me, I have never really felt this before, and I have to say I didn’t like it. In certain moments I found myself looking twice at people, thinking about situations and remembering scenes from news reports, I had been infected with a fear of terrorism. It was an odd feeling. As we walked along the main shopping streets, dived into busy underground trains, ate in busy restaurants or just drank coffee I found myself checking out passers-by. London is a true international city; in fact it is pretty difficult to hear an English voice anymore. The waiters are from Poland, the shop assistants from India, the taxi drivers from the Caribbean, bus drivers from Africa, chefs from Italy…only the police officers use English as a first language. I hated myself for doing it but I found myself double checking the Arabs, the Muslims, the North Africans, just to make sure that they weren’t part of a terrorist plot. Never have I done this before, and yes I realize it is exactly what the terrorists want, they want our fear, our fear is their victory. So I forced myself to forget, to join in with the crowds, I pushed any trepidation to the back of my mind and went about my business as I normally would. “I think you will find it a problem to get free Wi-Fi in a bar or café here,” replied the waiter, as I returned to life in a digital black hole. He wasn’t wrong.

So as we pushed our way through the tourist mass in the pouring rain, yes it rained all day in London, I couldn’t help but think to myself, if this is a sign of what 2017 will bring me then it will be “raining tourists” in Dubrovnik all year.    

Dubrovnik has a new tourist attraction, an ice-rink. But this is no artificial rink made for the Dubrovnik Winter Festival, no this slippery surface was made by the freezing temperatures in Dubrovnik today.

Outside of a popular shopping centre a large puddle of water froze in the minus temperatures and has formed a rather large ice-rink. Icicles have also formed on the facade of the building just to add to the festive spirit. Be careful if you were planning a shopping trip over the weekend.

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ice dubrovnik 2017

Gale force northerly winds have been ripping through the Dubrovnik region all day bringing polar temperatures as well as causing havoc to traffic. The Dubrovnik Bridge has been closed all as winds of up to 140 km/h battered the bridge and it could be seen physically moving in the wind.

Trees were uprooted all over the county and the fire-brigade had their hands full all day clearing roads from branches. With temperatures dropping to – 3 degrees ice formed on many roads and with the strong winds the “Real Feel” temperature plummeted to – 15 degrees. Dubrovnik Airport was also closed all day to all flights, with flights to Dubrovnik being rerouted to Split Airport.

This caravan was picked up and tossed like a toy in the wind near the Ombla River in Komolac.

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Three days in Dubrovnik are enough to make lifetime memories – especially in the case of Florian Champain who spent three months to make a perfect three minute video! In this video Florian transforms his travel photos from Dubrovnik into scenes from Game of Thrones. He used scenes from seasons two, three and five, and really did magnificent job. Some of the locations that are shown in the video are Minceta Fort, Jesuit stairs and much more...

In case you didn't know, mega popular series Game of Thrones have turned Dubrovnik into King's Landing, making it even more famous all over the world. Last month some scenes for season seven were shot, even though it was announced that GOT will bypass Dubrovnik in 2016.

The Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, currently on a visit to the United States, met with the Republican senator Marc Rubio on the 4th of January and discussed ways to strengthen relations between the two countries within NATO.

In addition, Rubio posted a photograph of their meeting on his Twitter account, saying that they ''discussed ways to deepen our ties to a close NATO ally."

On the 31st of December the Croatian President's Office announced that Grabar Kitarovic was leaving for the United States for a visit until the 5th of January, however, no further details of the visit were given.

On the other hand, Croatian media said unofficially that the Croatian president was to meet with several members of the transition team of the new US president Donald Trump and several other people being considered for office in the new US administration.

In order to clarify the whole situation about her visit, on the 5th of January the Croatian president said for Croatian Radio Television (HRT) that ''this visit was aimed at people who are in the US administration, or will be, or are close to the elected president of the United States Donald Trump or to the Republican Party or Democratic Party in any way in order to make them aware of the problems and issues in Croatia and Southeast Europe''.

''The fact is that we are small country and as such we cannot wait for someone to put us on the agenda, but we have to impose ourselves. In other words, to be here'', explained Grabar Kitarovic.

Ana Konjuh is in the finals of the WTA tournament in Auckland! There she'll play against four years older Lauren Davis from the US. 

Davis is for the third time in the finals of the WTA tournament, she played both previous ones during the last year, but still waits for her first title, while Ana was celebrating at her, until now, only finals. That was 19 months ago in Nottingham.  Now, at the start of the new season which she entered with a new coach (Goran Prpic), 19 year old tennis player from Dubrovnik made it to second WTA finals of her career with four wins in a row.

Konjuh's last win was 9 years older Julia Goerges, who made two big wins before semifinals. At the start she won 27th player of the world and sixth bearer (Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova) and in quarterfinals 19th player of the world rank list and third bearer (Caroline Wozniacki). She was also the winner of the first match between her and Ana, at the end of 2015 in Wuhanu, China, because of what Ana wasn't considered a favorite in this match. However, after two hours and three minutes of the game 6:3, 4:6 and 6:3 for Ana, who had a great support of the Croats who live at New Zealand.

By placing it to the finals of Auckland Ana jumped on 36th place of WTA rank list. The finals will be played on Saturday, January 7th.

The polar conditions in Dubrovnik are continuing, with temperatures this morning measured at – 1 degree. The north wind picked up overnight to gale force and speeds of 140 km/h were measured. These freezing winds forced the Dubrovnik Bridge to close as well as the Dubrovnik Airport.

The north winds also caused havoc with the Christmas decorations in the Gruz area near the Port of Dubrovnik. As these photos from Adriatic Images show the biting north winds ripped up many of the festive decorations and tossed them around the park. It also blew strong enough to knock over scooters that were parked nearby.

And there is no sign of the winds dropping, the only thing that will be dropping is the temperature. Today temperatures between – 2 and – 6 are predicted and with the northerly wind it will feel even colder.

Photos by Adriatic Images

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