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.
Croatia celebrates the 24th anniversary of international recognition today, remembering January 15, 1992 when the countries of the then European Community (EC) jointly recognised it as an independent state. And Germany, which played a key role in that process together with the Holy See, established diplomatic relations with Croatia.
The first country to recognize Croatia was Iceland on the 19th of December 1991 while Germany recognized it the very same day. The European Economic Community finally granted Croatia diplomatic recognition on 15 January 1992. Two more countries decided to recognize Croatia before the EEC – scheduled date: the Holy See and San Marino. By the end of January Croatia was recognized by seven more countries.
Apartments in Dubrovnik, Opatija and Split were among the most expensive apartments on offer in Croatia in 2015 according to information from the specialised website Crozilla.com.
The highest average advertised price for an apartment in Croatia last year was in Dubrovnik where, according to Crozilla, the average price for a square metre was 3,149 Euros. Dubrovnik was followed by Opatija with 2,951 Euros and Split with 2,186 Euros.
Most of the Croatian cities away from the Adriatic coastline had an average advertised price for apartments of less than 1,000 Euros per square metre in 2015. The few exceptions were Zagreb with a price of 1,589 Euros and Varazdin where the price reached 1,101 Euro per square metre.
Among the less expensive cities included in the Crozilla.com study from last year were Vukovar with an average price of only 579 Euros and Sisak with the price of 783 Euros.
Compared to the prices of 2010, which is the base for the websites analysis, last year's housing prices on average were lower by 5.7 percent. The average property prices in Dubrovnik fell by 6.4 percent in 2015 compared to 2010.
“Kleine Leckerbissen,” read my mother-in-law slowly from a packet of dog biscuits. “What the hell are you talking about,” I answered, wondering if she had taken up German lessons. “Kleine Leckerbissen,” she spelled out letter by letter, adding “Mit Rind,” as if I understood. “Kleinere brocken…never mind it is important that they are kleine!” she added as if understanding everything she was reading.
Sub City has brought up a whole new set of challenges for my mother-in-law, well for me as well. With the major shops inside the centre coming from Germany, DM, Müller and New Yorker are all German companies; the language barrier has been raised. A trip to “Das Sub City,” or should it be Die or Der Sub City, means we either have to take a microscope or a Croatian – German dictionary.
“Oh look at this Aerial…it has 100 wäschen!” exclaimed my mother-in-law with delight. With the majority of products in Müller coming directly from the fatherland they are, of course, covered with combinations of ä, ö and ü (and even ß). Of course, and in line with the law, they have a Croatian translation on a small white sticker on the back of the product. However as both my mother-in-law and myself has the eyesight of a short-sighted mole these miniature descriptions need an electronic microscope borrowed from CSI to understand.
“Can you read this,” she was holding a 2 kg bag of dog biscuits a few millimeters from her nose. “I can see the white sticker but the words might as well be written in Swahili,” came my answer. That’s how we ended up buying the wrong bag of dog biscuits in the first place. And as nobody in the immediate family has been a “gastarbajter” we don’t even have pigeon German. When one of our family members tried to explain to a German friend that his father, and namesake, had died a few years ago this is what the man heard, “Ich bin kleine Božo, und grosse Božo ist kaput!” As I said German is not our strong subject.
The confusion doesn’t stop there. I have been a regular guest at the dentist recently and as a show of solidarity my wife bought me an electric toothbrush in Das Sub City. Of course all of the instructions were in German; I had managed to throw away the Croatian instructions with the rest of the packaging. Now this was no ordinary toothbrush it looked like a vibrator and a Christmas tree molded into one. “Which end goes in my mouth,” was the first question. This thing had more settings and functions than my television. It took me ten minutes before I had the thing started…humming away in my hand. “Do you understand any of those instructions,” I shouted to my wife. “I was born in Dubrovnik not Dusseldorf,” came the answer. Toothpaste was flying around the bathroom and before long I had more toothpaste on the mirror in front of me than in my mouth. Everything was Weiß! I ended up going online to try and find English instructions…danke.
Many of the products you already know, or have a good idea of what they are for by the illustration on the packet. It is a little like pantomime shopping, and you never really know what you will get, a little like Christmas. But when you need to get a little more complicated, or more specific, then the mystery begins. Maybe this a tactic from Müller to sell more products, if it is then it is certainly working in the Thomas house. We have all sorts of different dog foods, washing powder, cleaning products, anti-insect sprays…the list goes on.
“Kleine Leckerbissen,” repeated my mother-in-law again. This was confusing. We knew that “kleine” meant small but there was a huge wolf-like dog on the front of the bag. Our pantomime shopping was not going to work here; it was a contradictory bag of dog biscuits. We both peered like newborn babies at the sticker on the back of the bag. “If they had printed this any smaller it would be invisible,” I added. With our German failing, the wolf photo confusing us and minuscule Croatian we were left with the last resort…touch. I felt through the bag to try and judge the size of the biscuits, believe me our small dog will immediately reject the wrong sized biscuits. “I reckon they will be OK,” I answered holding one biscuit between my thumb and forefinger. Next time we will but dog biscuits in another supermarket…maybe Lidl…oh blimey!
The reconstruction of the Great Onofrio Fountain in the Old City of Dubrovnik has begun in a project worth 1.5 million Kuna. According to news from the Society of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities, the investor in the reconstruction, the fountain project will be completed by the beginning of the summer season.
The restoration of the Great Onofrio Fountain will include works on the stone sculptures and a new solution for the water supply to the fountain. The fountain was constructed in 1438 following the design of the famous Italian artist Onofrio della Cava and brought drinking water to the city from sources 12 kilometres from the city. The fountain, when completed, was a miracle of engineering and art and soon became a focal point of Dubrovnik. Today the fountain, just inside the city walls from the Pile Gate, is a popular meeting point and a magnet for holiday photos; it is still a place where tourists and locals refresh themselves with fresh water in the summer sunshine.
Dubrovnik is a city that has over the centuries inspired many an artist to create glorious paintings. The Old City and surroundings has so many panoramas that artists are spoilt for choice. Here’s a great idea that caught our eye, you are on holiday in Dubrovnik and you are admiring the art, thinking how striking a unique piece of Dubrovnik would look in your home. You are then faced with the problem of getting the painting back home; this is the stage were many tourists give up. Dubrovnik Art Poster is the solution. The celebrated Dubrovnik artist, Viktor Šerbu, is well-known for creating some of the most impressive images of the city that he calls home. These very images have been transformed into a modern souvenir, a unique piece of Dubrovnik art on your wall.
Blessed by the artist
“We got the idea two years ago to use my father’s paintings as motifs for art posters,” explained Vedran Šerbu. Yes, imaginative and artistic ideas obviously run in the family. “Often when tourists visit Dubrovnik they would like to take a piece of Dubrovnik art home with them. My wife, Meri, is in charge of marketing and PR, so we have built a real family business,” added Vedran. What does your father think? “He has given us his blessings,” answered Vedran with a smile. “He was maybe a little tentative at the beginning but now that the posters are popular he is proud.”
There are four different prints available in the Dubrovnik Art Poster range, the Old City harbor, the Church of St. Blaise, the roofs of the Old City and the Lovrijenac Fortress. “The Old City harbor print is very popular with tourists but we have seen a huge increase in interest for the Lovrijenac Fortress poster since the Game of Thrones serial uses it as a main location,” commented Meri. The posters are printed on high quality paper and beautifully packaged, making them an ideal souvenir. “It is a real family business, we don’t produce large quantities and everyone we pack ourselves,” said the couple with a smile. The Dubrovnik Art Poster will not only bring back fond memories of the city it is also a hundred percent locally produced souvenir. This is a small piece of Dubrovnik floating in the sea of cheap Chinese gimmicks that have flooded Dubrovnik, but a good idea will always float. Not only has the art posters succeeded but the line of products has now expanded to feature greetings cards, fridge magnets and postcards. All of these products are available at various outlets throughout Dubrovnik, for more information follow the Dubrovnik Art Poster on Twitter and Facebook.
Traditional and modern Dubrovnik
Viktor Šerbu was born in Dubrovnik in 1938. As a boy, holidays spent in the village of Smokvica on the island of Korčula inspired the drawings and sketches that would eventually steer him to enroll in the Art Academy after high school and, upon completing his education, choose to study the classical masters for four years in France and England. Today, Šerbu lives and works in Dubrovnik, strolling through old town in search of new motifs. His works are a synthesis of both the traditional and modern in Dubrovnik, constant witnesses to new and fresh experiences.
Here are three top tips to consider before you hit the beaches in Dubrovnik.
Sand beaches are rare so be prepared
Although there are plenty of beaches in and around Dubrovnik there are very, very few that are true sandy beaches. The vast majority of beaches are either light shingle or pebbles. And whilst you will see the locals skip over the pebbles as if they were walking on a plush carpet tourist’s feet don’t tend to be so hardened. Rubber shoes are a must, especially for small children, if you want to enter the sea with ease. You might stand out a bit from the crowd but scrabbling down the beach like your walking on broken glass will also look a little undignified.
Beware of black spines
On many beaches, especially isolated ones or ones with many rocks, you will see small black circles lingering on the seabed. These are sea-urchins and are a sign that the sea water in that location is very clean. However there is a downside, if you accidentally tread on you’ll have a nasty surprise. The urchins are basically balls of black needles that stick out in all directions. If you are unlucky enough to stand on one the tiny needles will break off into your foot. Asides from being very painful there is no further risk. The best way to extract these needles is to elevate your foot and to rub it with plenty of olive oil; they will then slowly come out by themselves. Again wearing rubber shoes will protect you.
Try to avoid jumping directly into the sea after spending hours sunbathing. Gently, gently is the golden rule. You need to give your body some time to adjust to the cooler sea temperature. Even though you may be swimming in the middle of the summer when the sea temperature is likely to be 25 degrees Celsius the difference in temperature from the sun is great. Ease yourself in and give yourself time, don’t forget there are at least two or three cases every year of tourists suffering heart attacks in the sea. Why risk it.
The Dubrovnik-Neretva County carried out 33 projects financed from EU funds in 2015, with a total value of 73 million Kuna, or just under 10 million Euros. The projects were all prepared by the Regional Development Agency DUNEA.
The Dubrovnik-Neretva County projects were conducted through DUNEA, local authorities in the county, local action groups, county administrative departments and other institutions.
The festive celebrations in Zagreb have drawn to an end and according to information from the Zagreb Tourist Board it was one of the most successful to date. The Advent in Zagreb included numerous stands, festive events and concerts and the extremely popular Ice Park. The park, a massive ice rink laid out over a public park, was visited by tourists from all over the world. In fact this year the Zagreb Advent was named as the “Best Christmas Market in Europe,” by Best Destinations.
The Ministry of Tourism has announced that the Advent helped bring in 15 million Euros in tourist revenue. In December in Zagreb there were 68,973 tourist arrivals and 123,140 overnight stays were achieved. The number of tourist arrivals increased by an impressive 22 percent compared to the same month in 2014, and the number of overnight stays increased by 20 percent. According to statistics the most numerous guests in the capital in December were from Italy.