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.
The summer is coming to Dubrovnik fast and furious. Since the Easter Holidays the weather has been getting warmer and, as can be seen from this photo gallery, the Adriatic Sea is also warming up.
Over the past week the temperatures in Dubrovnik have been in the mid twenties and blue skies and sunshine have become normal. The Banje Beach, an iconic beach just outside of the Old City walls has already had its first swimmers and sunbathers of the season.
The current sea temperature in Dubrovnik is around 17 degrees Celsius.
However the forecast for this weekend is for unsettled weather and rain, don’t get your swimming shots and bikinis out just yet.
Check out our photo gallery of Dubrovnik in the sunshine by Tonci Plazibat
The London Book Fair will be held on 12-14 April, and Croatia will be promoted with a programme called "5 Books from Croatia".
This is the first time the country will be promoted by such a unique publication.
The publication is about five authors, of whom four are contemporary writers -- Milena Benini, Marko Dejanovic, Kristian Novak, Sibila Petleski, and Miroslav Krleza, a famous Croatian writer who used to be a prominent figure in the cultural life of both Yugoslav states.
The collection of crime stories "Zagreb Noir" will be launched at the fair on 12 April.
"Zagreb Noir is an outstanding collection of noir-ish and harrowing tales, each set in a distinct neighbourhood or location in Zagreb. The editor (Ivan) Srsen has curated a diverse, powerful, and dramatic group of stories that offer tremendous insight into the perspectives of contemporary Croatians," reads a programme for Croatia's participation in the fair.
The fifth edition of the Aklapela Festival starts tonight at 7.30 pm in the Lazareti.
The festival of vocal groups opens with an evening featuring six different ensembles. The Aklapela Festival aims to nurture and promote this traditional form of harmonious singing. Klapa singing was recognised by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Croatia.
Tonight’s concert will see three female choirs and three male, including award winning vocal groups. The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available an hour before the concert begins on the door at 50 Kuna per person.
The three-day festival continues on Saturday the 9th of April with another evening of six vocal groups in the Lazareti complex. And on Saturday during the morning many of the vocal groups will perform on the Stradun and around the Old City, which is sure to delight the many tourists to the city.
And on Sunday the 10th of April the festival traditionally ends with a concert in the Dominican Church with an emphaises on spiritual music. An entrance ticket to the first two days is 50 Kunas whilst the final day is free of charge.
On the 6th of April 1667 a catastrophic earthquake almost completely flattened Dubrovnik. Almost 5,000 people were killed in the quake and three quarters of the buildings inside the city walls were destroyed, it was a very black day in Dubrovnik’s history. And now that sad day can be experienced with the help of modern technology.
The digital studio Novena from Zagreb has created a 3D animation of the Dubrovnik earthquake. The project took three months to complete and the company consulted with the Dubrovnik Museums and the Zagreb Institute of Art History in order to make sure there video was accurate. The results are truly stunning.
Check out this amazing video.
The realization of direct flights connecting Dubrovnik with Frankfurt through the winter months, three times a week, is drawing to an end. Croatia Airlines has already secured the dates for the flights and the last link in the process, the signing of agreements with the Croatian National Tourist Board, is in the pipeline. The mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, commented that he was working on speeding up the process with the tourist board, a contract that will assist in financing the project. Flights over the winter period from Frankfurt, three times a week, would help to extend the tourist season in the city and open up the off-season to new markets.
Whereas the flight connection with Germany through the winter seems to coming to a successful conclusion the same cannot be said for the problem with connections to Dubrovnik’s largest market, the UK. A deal between the City of Dubrovnik and the UK national airline, British Airways, has yet to be reached, and it seems clear that a deal will not be reached. The City of Dubrovnik had hoped to negotiate with British Airways for winter flights on a more regular basis from London. However this has been unsuccessful and there is now a question whether Dubrovnik will have any flights from British Airways out of the main tourist season. The City of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Airport and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board are now working on attracting another airline to operate the London to Dubrovnik link.
In spite of calls from many tourist organisations, and the City of Dubrovnik, for more frequent flights from the UK to Dubrovnik in the winter the statistics show a different picture. British Airways started with regular flights to Dubrovnik, four times a week, almost ten years ago. However these flights didn’t prove as popular as predictions indicated, many of them were flying at a loss. Slowly, but surely, the number of BA flights in the winter decreased, and last year there was only one flight a week to Dubrovnik, even then this connection was unprofitable. We can only presume that this is the reason that BA has rejected the deal with the City of Dubrovnik for this winter. It also draws into question the hopes of the City of Dubrovnik to find another airline to operate flights.
I won't lie to you dear readers, I've put on a few extra pounds over the winter. In fact, I am praying for a few more weeks of cold weather. Maybe that would buy me some time and give me a chance to slim down enough for my spring clothes. Why did I gain weight? Well, out of all the reasons I can give you, the truth of the matter is, I love food. Not only that, but both my wife and I enjoy cooking as well.
There are no fish sticks in our house ladies and gentlemen. No, Mrs Native and I are bona fide foodies and devote plenty of time and energy to cooking and learning about food. She is a sommelier, lover of vegetarian cuisine, and makes mean bread and pastries. I, on the other enjoy making all sorts of pastas and I have a special affection for Chinese and Mexican food. My personal cocktail list is also getting respectable. Even our professional lives revolve around food and local cuisine. We are currently running food and wine tours through our company, and were managing a restaurant up until recently. Let’s face it; our waistlines never stood a chance.
With all this said, you would think I'm ok with having few extra pounds, but that's not the case. Losing weight is always on my “To Do” list and I am known for going from fat to skinny (and then back) in a matter of months. Sometimes it is difficult to tell for yourself if you are gaining or losing weight, unless you are regularly measuring and weighing yourself, but you don’t have to worry about that when living in Dubrovnik.
If there is one thing people here will tell you when they see you in the street, it's whether or not you’re overweight. Some will let you know every time they see you. Every time. Some will shout it from across the street. There's something about „Hey, you're fat!“, said with a wicked grin, that so many of us find to be the perfect ice breaker when meeting friends or family. It's funny to see how in this day and age of political correctness this particular cultural quirk never got filtered out. I'm sometimes amazed at how perfectly acceptable it is to call me out publicly about gaining weight, regardless of the social situation.
It's a good thing I don't go to church regularly anymore. The priest would have a tough time restraining himself for saying „Body of Christ... well, maybe half a portion for you, son? You seem blessed enough.“.
Bozidar Jukic is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.
A list of the safest cities in Croatia has been produced and Sinj came in at number one. The crime rate, property crime, traffic offences, drug abuse, amongst others were all taken into account to produce a list of the safest cities in Croatia. The safest city was Sinj, followed by Petrinja and Samobor in third position.
Among the ten safest cities are Pozega, Đakovo, Dubrovnik, Sisak, Vukovar, Solin and Split.
This is the third year in a row that Sinj has been voted the safest city in Croatia. The survey included all Croatian cities with a population larger than 20,000 people, and Sinj won in all categories.
The researchers also pointed out Dubrovnik as a good example of a safe city, despite of the millions of tourists and problems with controlling the traffic Dubrovnik was ranked as the fifth safest city in Croatia. In fact the figures indicate that the crime rate fell in Dubrovnik in 2015 compared with 2014
As soon as we stop moving forward, we don’t hold the position, we move backwards. Stop moving for too long and you’ll go full speed in one direction, the one you have just come from. Having lived in an international metropolis for most of my life I know the city way of life. You will probably find that the vast majority of people living in a city are doing so because of the financial benefits. It isn’t an easy place to live, at least not for me. And after working all day in the hustle and bustle the last thing you want is to live there, you just can’t escape the pressure. So most people, when they have made enough money, look for a place in the countryside. The real wealth in the UK is in the green and pleasant rolling fields.
That’s the natural progression, make money, move away. All of my family have done exactly that, parents, sister, uncles and aunties. Now I am not saying that I have made enough to be able to live in a castle in the country and be the Lord of the Manor, but I did know that I wanted to find peace and tranquillity in the green suburbs. “Why would you want to move to Zupa,” was the cry from a lot of my friends here. I couldn’t help but think “why not.” I saw a chance to be on the periphery, away from the crowds, a chance to find some much needed peace. I also saw a lot of potential. It was, even when we moved, a land of opportunity. And slowly but surely in those early years it proved to be a winner. We had found our countryside castle.
Work in the city then escape to the calm of Zupa. “It is too far away,” was the next cry. Far away from the noise, parking problems, crowds, cruise ship passengers, exhaust fumes, police sirens...I see that distance as an advantage. In fact you must be mad not to.
And then almost over one summer the landscape changes once again, we get a luxury Sheraton hotel and a shopping centre within walking distance of our house. We can literally walk to them both in seven minutes, yet we can’t see or hear either of them. All of the opportunities, none of the hassle.
Of course you could accuse me of being a local patriot; you don’t have to accuse me - I am! What’s the point of living somewhere and not singing its praises, you must like it otherwise you wouldn’t live there. The explosion of recent construction works hasn’t been without its opponents. I have learned that that is completely normal behaviour here and when I hear the complaints I ignore them, they are like water off a ducks back for me. I can’t remember any project that has been greeted with open arms and a wide smile...ever.
Are you so disappointed with your own lives that you have to find fault in the actions of others to make you feel better about your own deficiencies? It’s a culture of cutting things down to your level rather than trying to raise your own standards. Before the shopping centre has even opened people are saying “I have heard that there wouldn’t be any decent shops inside,” and “it is much smaller than in Split,” and “it’s the same shops we have already.” These are the same people that have been crying that Dubrovnik doesn’t have a shopping centre ever since I moved here. Too many people have an opinion, and a facial expression, like they have found 50 Kunas but at the same time managed to lose 100 Kunas.
I was told recently by a hotel receptionist, when I was moaning that it was too hot, that I need to be grateful. “Our English guests have three days on sunshine in a month and they are grateful for them, but here we complain when we have 27 days of sun, that the three days are rainy.” A local explaining the English culture to me, an interesting experience. But she was right; we maybe have to learn to be more grateful and humble. Far too much time is wasted trying to pick holes in the good things in life, and not seeing the good in life. Learning to be satisfied with what we have, and not frustrated about what other people have. As the author Jeff Dixon once wrote “sometimes we focus so much on what we don’t have that we fail to see, appreciate and use what we do have.” Wise words.