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.
There are a few things, a few moments in life that really grab your attention. “I think the condom broke!” or “Your blood alcohol level is 3.0, please step out of the car sir!” or even “Is that my nude photo on Facebook!” But when you answer the phone and a friendly voice at the other end of the line says “Is that Mr. Mark Thomas, I am a representative of Bill Gates,” well that certainly had me standing to attention.
So you’re probably wondering how it came that a New York number flashed up on my mobile phone with one of Mr. Microsoft’s agents at the other end. I can’t blame you. It is a very simple story. There is a saying “he who works will make mistakes.” And it is very true. If you never do anything, then you can never do anything wrong. I would never trust anyone who had never made a mistake. Its only human. For if you have made a mistake that means that you are trying to do something and that hopefully you will learn from it, as a baby does when starting to walk.
So there was a story that the second richest man in the world was cruising with his family in the seas around us. In fact, he was spotted in Montenegro, and he is certainly no stranger to Dubrovnik and indeed the whole of the Croatian coastline. So with some inside knowledge from a friend in the country directly south of us I published an article on The Dubrovnik Times website that he was indeed on a cruise.
A couple of days went by and it appeared that someone had spotted him again near a Dubrovnik island. He was in the neighbourhood, so it was plausible. Although it also appeared that he had changed yachts, again not impossible. For if you are worth over $90 billion then you are probably security conscious. So we published a story that he had apparently been spotted on this Dubrovnik island and didn’t really think much else of it.
A little under 30 minutes had passed and I was already writing the next article, about a lost dog or something, when my mobile rang with a New York number. Coincidentally I had met a man from Utah a few days earlier and he had promised to call me about some other business. So I answered.
That’s when the Gates bomb dropped. “Hi, my name is Elizabeth (I think that's what she said), and I am a representative of Mr. Bill Gates,” she said, she did actually give her surname but when I heard Gates almost everything was washed from my mind.
And then with my cynical hat on I thought that this was a spam call, or a scam. She then started “Are you the editor of The Dubrovnik Times?” – “Indeed I am.” – “I am phoning to inform you of some news.” Was she about to say that I am a long, lost cousin of Mr. Microsoft and he wanted to include me on his will? Did Mr. Gates want to make me a board member of Microsoft? As his fortune is probably more than half of the countries on the planet this was an intriguing call.
“You have published news that Mr. Gates is currently cruising near Dubrovnik, well this is not true, the whole party have left the region two days ago,” she continued. Well it looked like I wasn’t a long, lost relative after all. “Can you confirm that he was in Montenegro a few days ago and that the previous article we published was correct,” I questioned. “Yes, that info is indeed correct and we have no problem with that article, but the last one is completely incorrect,” she answered. After thanking her for pointing out the error and pushed, “Is there any chance that you could give me some more info about Mr. Gates and his cruise?” I thought it was worth a try, even though it was a very, long shot. I appeared that confidentiality agreements had been signed and her mouth was sealed tight shut.
Goodbyes were said and the New York line went silent. My mind started spinning. In less than half an hour an agent of the second richest man in the world had phoned me to question an article on my website. COOL! F****ING COOL! Does that mean that Mr. Gates is reading The Dubrovnik Times? Should I then add him as a friend on Facebook? Am I now Microsoft certified? Will I get Word for free, no all of Microsoft Office?
I’ll leave the last word to the billionaire, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve.” Thank you for your feedback Mr. Gates.
“Would you like two double rooms or a family room? And with a sea view and pet friendly you say, I think we are fully booked.”
These two young couple and their faithful dog found the perfect solution to the overbooking in Dubrovnik hotels and apartments. They found an al fresco room on the beach in Srebreno, Zupa.
A reader sent us these photos this morning as she was surprised to find a group of sleeping bags on the beach.
It is of course illegal to sleep rough like this in Croatia but I think these happy campers will have a bigger problem with the approaching rain storm.
Dubrovnik Airport welcomed its two-millionth passenger today on a Croatia Airlines flight from Zurich. Amanda Lynn Lowe was noticeably shocked when she realised that she was indeed the two-millionth passenger to arrive at Dubrovnik Airport in 2019 and was surprised to see a the waiting press and representatives from the airport and airline.
2019 is a year to remember for the airport with more passengers and more flights than ever before, in fact the landmark two-millionth passenger was reached a full 19 days before last year, proving that this year will once again be a record breaking one. Every single month of the year has seen a rise in passenger numbers.
And at exactly midday on a Croatia Airlines flight from Zurich, the two-millionth passenger, Amanda Lynn Lowe, arrived in Dubrovnik from San Diego. She was officially welcomed by hosts from the Dubrovnik Airport, representatives of Croatia Airlines, representatives of the City of Dubrovnik and the County with representatives of tourist boards and presented with various gifts. This is a day that she will certainly not forget in a hurry.
The acrid smell of a forest fire could be sensed overnight and early this morning in Dubrovnik. A forest fire broke out late last night over the border in Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the city of Trebinje, and the high overnight winds brought the smoke down over Dubrovnik.
It is reported that the fire spread overnight and as it was burning in a very inaccessible area it proved difficult to contain. According to reports in the local media 20 firefighters and four vehicles fought the forest fire and it is now believed to be under control.
The globally popular Swedish furniture and home store IKEA marked five years of operation in Croatia this week, and have announced that during that time more than 8.5 million people have visited their Zagreb superstore. Somewhat surprisingly the biggest selling items over that time have been LED light bulbs, followed by towels, plates and bowls.
In addition to the millions of visitors to the department store, IKEA Zagreb have recorded 28 million visitors to their website in five years, more than one hundred thousand people have participated in their various workshops, while more than 290 thousand members participated in the loyalty program.
In the five years since opening IKEA Zagreb have sold an incredible 1.3 million LED light bulbs.
And apart from the main IKEA centre just outside of Zagreb the store also has four delivery centres in Croatia, in Rijeka, Split, Osijek and Dubrovnik.
341 kilos of marijuana were seized at the border crossing between Montenegro and Croatia yesterday.
This was the second biggest ever seizure of marijuana at the Karasovici border crossing, after 705 kilos were uncovered in 2005. With a believed street value of over 2 million Euro the capture of this amount of drugs yesterday was certainly an impressive haul for the police. In fact, this is the tenth time the border police and the Dubrovnik police have uncovered and seizure narcotics weighing more than 50 kilograms.
“The total seizure of 341.8 kilograms of marijuana is the result of the continuity of hard work and the cooperation of all police and customs officers. Again, the human factor was crucial. So far, we can state that we have seized more than 2.5 tons of marijuana, 14.5 kilograms of cocaine and 70 kilograms of heroin, which are not the results of many major police departments,” said the head of the Dubrovnik-Neretva Police Department, Ivan Pavlicevic.
According to the police report the border police and customs officials noticed the driver's nervousness at the entrance to the border check which aroused their attention. The vehicle in question was a tourist coach from a Dubrovnik agency. An inspection of the luggage compartment revealed 17 large travel bags that the driver said contained sporting equipment. After a search warrant was obtained the bags were searched and the haul of marijuana was uncovered.
The ferries, catamarans and ships of the state ferry company Jadrolinija are having an extremely busy year, carrying until now 8.5 million passengers.
From the beginning of the year until the 18th of August Jadrolinija have transported a total of 8.5 million passengers and 2.2 million vehicles. Despite the fear of a worst tourist season than last year the company have carried 1.5 percent more passengers than last year.
July was a bumper month when the company handled 2.3 million passengers and 560,000 cars and trucks. The company is on target to beat last year’s figures when they recorded 12.3 million passengers and three million vehicles.
Geri Halliwell, better known as Ginger Spice, is enjoying an active break in Croatia and is certainly making the most of the crystal, clear Adriatic Sea. Halliwell, or rather Geri Horner after her recent marriage to the supremo of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team, Christian Horner, was spotted a few days ago in Dubrovnik with Bernie Ecclestone and his wife.
Geri has obviously caught the speed bug from her husband and posted a photo and video on her social media profiles of her skills on a jet-ski.
Halliwell came to international prominence in the 1990s as Ginger Spice, a member of the successful girl group the Spice Girls, the best-selling girl group of all time with over 85 million records sold, of which more than 75 million copies sold with the quintet lineup with Halliwell. In 1998, Halliwell left the Spice Girls to pursue a solo career but later returned to the group when they reunited in 2007. Halliwell reportedly amassed a $40 million fortune during her last two years in the group.