Friday, 13 December 2019
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.


What has happened to the Germans? They were once the shining example to the world of efficiency and effectiveness. They brought us decentralisation with autobahns connecting all the major cities, they gave us dual-flush toilets that saved water, they offered citizens an affordable means of transport or the Volkswagen or people’s car and they even join words together to cut spaces on a page, such as “Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän” (try saying that when you are drunk) which basically means Danube steamship company captain. Instead of four simple words they made one massive one and cut out four spaces on a page.

When you think of Germans you a nation that gets the job done, quickly and comprehensively. However, to rewrite Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of Germany. I suspect that it has a Croatian influence to be honest but let’s leave the nationalistic debate to the side for now.

“Important Notice” flashed up on my TV screen with an automated message from T-Com that I had to upgrade the software. MY first thought was “If modern technology was supposed to save me time why am I constantly wasting precious time updating things.” Those thoughts were rapidly washed away as I saw the update instructions underneath the message on my TV. I was so shocked that I actually took a photo.

This, and I am not joking, was the message, and I have shortened it a little otherwise I would run out of spaced on this page. – Turn on your MAXtv receiver and then unplug the receiver from the electricity and then plug it in again – OK, that doesn’t seem so difficult, that was until I read the next line. – Wait for around 8-10 seconds. When the picture appears on the screen unplug the receiver again. Repeat this four times – WTF!

They must be joking! Am I now on the payroll of T-Com? Why am I doing their job? Restart my receiver 5 times by yanking it out of the electricity. Not only that but timing every shut down. It would be easier to launch a nuclear weapon. Apparently the US nuclear code only has 8 digits. Meaning it would be easier to drop a bomb on North Korea than to watch HBO or Premier League football. But the instructions hadn’t yet finished, believe it or not. – After the final unplug wait for between 5 and 10 minutes while the software is uploaded to the new version – Again WTF!

Just to watch the History Channel I am going to be forced to lose half my morning on this bloody receiver. Resigned to the fact that I had no choice I tried to follow the instructions. And needless to say I was meet with countless error messages. So I phoned the helpline. And needless to say I was met with an automated voice that told me exactly what I had just read on screen. What had happened to German effectiveness? There must be an easier, more customer-friendly, way of updating this bloody receiver. I think I am relatively techno savvy. But what about the hundreds of thousands of less savvy MAXtv viewers. I am only glad that my mother-in-las doesn’t have MAXtv, otherwise I would probably be out buying her a new TV and she had thrown the remote at it along with some juicy swear words.

But there was more. – At the end check that the update has been successfully completed. On your remote control choose Menu/Settings/Information on system/version – Again a huge WTF! I tried once again, and again error messages bombarded me. A nation that had discovered both Uranus and Neptune, that had invented the first printing press and created the world’s first pocket watch were now asking people to go back to basics and unplug a device five times just to update software. It would have been easier to crack the Enigma Machine than understand T-Com’s update policy. I tried once again, this time with a stop watch timing my seconds between the receiver having power and not having power, this was getting ridiculous. And again it didn’t work.

In a rage I jumped up and walked out the door to get some fresh air to clear my head. It was then that I spotted the old-fashioned aerial on the roof of my neighbour’s house. With a wry smile I said to the metal aerial “Nobody had to upgrade you.”

Croatia's consumer price inflation slowed down to 0.6 percent year-on-year in October, down from 0.8 percent in September, the state statistics bureau said on Friday.

By product category, the highest month-on-month price increases were recorded for goods and services "for personal consumption," up by 0.4 percent. Cumulatively, consumer prices have increased by 0.7 percent since January this year.

The highest year-on-year increase was in prices of alcohol and tobacco products, which jumped by 4.6 percent, followed by prices of restaurants and hotels, up by 3.2 percent.

On the other hand, the biggest drops were recorded in transport prices - down by 2.6 percent, and fuel prices - which dropped by 4.1 percent.

Compared to September, consumer prices in October increased by 0.4 percent on average. The highest single monthly increase was in prices of clothes and footwear - up by 7.3 percent, while transport prices went up by 0.8 percent.

Christmas in Croatia will have a political twist this year as the government has decided to hold the elections for President of the Republic of Croatia will be held on Sunday the 22nd of December, just three days before Christmas. It what would normally be an extremely busy weekend of last minute shopping, the last weekend before Christmas, citizens will now be asked to spare some of their valuable free time to vote.

And the run up to Christmas will be a cocktail of adverts for Christmas presents and political messages as the election campaign will run up to the 21st of December. Thankfully on the Saturday and Sunday of the election any publicity from Presidential campaigners is prohibited, so at least there will be a small respite before Christmas.

Holding the vote on the eve of the biggest religious holiday in the calendar is sure to be unpopular with many citizens. And why the government has chosen this date has yet to be announced but it is sure to negatively affect the number of people at the polling stations across the country.


The front runner in the election is current President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, from the ruling HDZ party, although she is closely followed by Zoran Milanovic from SDP and the independent candidate, and singer and TV personality, Miroslav Skoro.
In addition to the decision to call the presidential election, the government also made a decision on the amount of compensation for election campaign expenses, which is distributed to candidates who win more than 10 percent of the votes. For the candidate with the highest number of votes received in the first election round, this fee amounts to 1 million Kuna, but may not be paid in excess of the expenses incurred in the election campaign. 2.8 million Kuna has been earmarked in the budget for reimbursement of election campaign expenses.

If no one wins a majority or more than 50 percent of the votes cast, two weeks later, a second round of elections will be held, with the two candidates receiving the most votes in the first round. So as it seems that not one candidate will win more than 50 percent of the vote at the first time of asking there will yet another election coinciding with New Year. Meaning that between Christmas and New Year more presidential campaigning will bombard voters. It’s a political festive period for Croatia this year.

The storm of the century crashed into Dubrovnik today with incredible scenes all over the city. With wind speeds touching 140 km/h, trees uprooted and waves actually throwing sea water over the iconic Dubrovnik City Walls. As the southerly winds reached gale force levels the rising sea spilled over onto the pavements and roads.

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The whole region has experienced extreme weather and today it was the turn of Dubrovnik to feel the force and power of nature as the stone walls of the ancient Old City once again stood strong to defend the city and its inhabitants.

Check out the video and photos of today’s amazing storm

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The powerful storm that hit Dubrovnik today brought down trees, crashed advertising signs to the ground and sent waves crashing over the whole city.

One of the absolute hotspots of the storm and indeed the centre for the high seas was Pile and one of the victims of the weather was the kayaks based down by the shoreline. The waves literally picked up kayaks from the shore and tossed them into the Adriatic. At one point seven kayaks were left stranded in the sea until workers came to rescue them.

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To say it wasn’t an easy job to fish them out of the crashing waves would be an understatement. The sea also created havoc with the equipment and advertising the kayak owners had left packed away for winter.

kajak in storm dubrovnik

The popular low-cost airline easyJet has made another step to strengthen their place on the Croatian market. A five-year agreement between Pula Airport in Istria and easyJet was signed at the recent World Travel Market in London and is sure to bring ever more flights and passengers.

It is believed that with this new deal easyJet will open even more UK cities to Croatia with more flights and a longer flight schedule in the pipeline. Pula is seemingly an important destination for the budget airline as every year flight numbers have grown, with a total of ten European destinations now connected to Pula via easyJet.


The national flag carrier Croatia Airlines on Tuesday recorded its forty millionth passenger, Ivanka Candrlic, who arrived at Zagreb Airport aboard a Croatia Airlines flight from Frankfurt.

"We are very pleased to welcome our forty millionth passenger in the year when we celebrate the company's 30th anniversary. Additionally symbolic is the fact that the forty millionth passenger was recorded on a flight which was our first international flight in 1992," said Croatia Airlines Management Board chair Jasmin Bajic.

Asked to comment on the future of Croatia Airlines, considering that three scenarios have been mentioned in the media, Bajic said that he believed in the company's future.

"In the third quarter we earned a profit of HRK 41 million. That is the reality of Croatia Airlines - we lose in the wintertime and earn in the summer, when there is competition. We have to find a solution for the wintertime, when we are practically the only airline connecting Croatia with the rest of the world. In the wintertime we have 15 rivals, and in the summertime more than one hundred on this highly competitive aviation market," Bajic said.


Asked if he expected help from the state, Bajic recalled that Croatia Airlines was owned by the state and that currently a process was underway that would result in a change of the ownership structure. But that's up to the owner and not the company itself, he said.

The Vecernji List daily reported on Tuesday that the consultants that have been hired to find a strategic partner and define a recapitalisation model for Croatia Airlines are expected to propose a plan to salvage the national airline by the end of the year.

The consultants are currently working on three models which include airports, pension funds and the ACI marina operator.

Sources close to the consultants have said that according to one of the models, a holding company consisting of Croatian airports and Croatia Airlines would be established. Another solution would be for pension insurance funds to take over Croatia Airlines and airports, and the third solution would be for pension insurance funds to take over Croatia Airlines as well as ACI.

After sunshine and blue skies yesterday the weather certainly took a turn for the worse today as gale force winds and pouring rain battered the whole city. Incredibly powerful winds whipped up the sea and uprooted trees and torrential rain made driving conditions very treacherous.

One of our readers caught this video of a yacht in the Bay of Lapad as extreme winds threatened to completely overturn the boat. The yacht had apparently dropped anchor in the sheltered bay a few days ago presumably looking for a good spot to avoid the heavy seas. However, the bay acted as a funnel for the winds and tossed the yacht around like a toy duck in a bath.

Just yesterday in this same bay we filmed a swimmer as he bathed in the Adriatic, today was a completely different story.

The weather has eased off in the meantime but more extreme weather is forecast for the rest of the week in Dubrovnik.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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