Sunday, 26 May 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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

After particularly heavy rain the Dubrovnik water system often become polluted and is unfit for drinking, but these dark days could soon be behind us as the new water purifier looks like coming online very soon.

The new purifier has had its user license approved and is now in the final stretch before operation. The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, took to Facebook to rely the news.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to inform you that we have obtained a license for the water purifier. Two years ago we were at the beginning of a long journey on which we had to solve many obstacles. Despite all that, we were persistent and it has come to an end. We are left, next week, needing to receive the final certificates from the Institute of Toxicology and the Ministry of Health, and then we will be able to say that the days of water problems in Dubrovnik will become a thing of the past.”

dubrovnik water purifier

 

According to new information released by the Statistics Bureau the average net salary in Croatia in March stood at 6,464 Kuna or €874. This figure is 3.4 percent up year-on-year and continues the slow and steady rise of salaries throughout the country since around 2014.

The average net salary calculator is based on tax return forms and is therefore a reliable and relevant source of information.

The average gross salary in the same period was 8,778 Kuna (€1,186), 3.7 percent up year-on-year, or 2.8 percent in real terms.

 

“I'm kind of comfortable with getting older because it's better than the other option, which is being dead. So I'll take getting older,” once said the actor George Clooney. This year I will be fifty. A landmark birthday. The big 50. Five decades on this earth.

To be honest my birthday is right at the end of the year so I’m making the most of being in my 40s for the time being. OK, I might be in my late, or very late 40s, but it still counts.

Even though I still have the brain of a crazy teenager my body is starting to sing to a different song. Just the other day I was moving some heavy boxes, yes it’s time to get ready for the renting season, and even though I succeeded in the task I also succeeded in destroying my back. It was probably the first time I have had back ache, I mean real back ache, and so I guess I am lucky. But it was also probably a sign of things coming around the corner.

Am I still middle-aged at fifty? Of course I am. In fact, according to statistics, I am pretty much right slap bang in the middle of middle age. Does that make me feel better? Not particularly. Am I going to age gracefully and politely, definitely not! Mark Twain summed it up perfectly, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” There is a saying in England that when you start to look older than a police officer then you are starting to get old. Well now I am probably older then the chief of police. I am not that switched on at remembering dates, or even my own age, I’ve been thinking all year that I was 48. Yes, I know that probably is a sign of advancing years.

Over the past few weeks I have been receiving constant reminders of my upcoming half century birthday. “At British Seniors, we take your peace of mind seriously. That's why we offer over 50s life insurance - to make sure you and your loved ones have some financial protection in place, for when you pass away,” was the opening line of an email I received just the other day. Not the kind of email you want to read over breakfast, especially when you are eating bacon and not some healthy fruit!

Yes, I haven’t been a resident of the UK for over 20 years and yet still, quite clearly, companies have me on record and have just been waiting for the right time to pounce like a praying mantis. “Your guaranteed lump sum payment can be used to help cover the cost of your funeral, to pay off any outstanding debts or just to leave the ones you love a gift,” continued the mail. I almost choked on my bacon and eggs.

This morbid mail got me thinking though and not about my funeral. Just how switched on and active these companies were being. Even though they were talking about my paying for my future hole in the ground I had to admire their business model, their commercial aptness. So far I have received zero such emails from Croatian companies, absolutely zero. Even my car insurance company failed to call me and remind me until a few days before the insurance was set to expire.

“It's simple and easy to apply for British Seniors Over 50s Life Insurance. As long as you're a UK resident aged 50-80, you're guaranteed to be accepted, with no medical or health questions,” concluded my morning reading. Yes, I will soon be fifty, thanks for reminding me, but I am not a British resident. But even though their plan had this obvious flaw it was still at least a plan and I was full of admiration for their determination. Just a few days later and I received another similar email, this time offering my “amazing deals” on private health care, and once again from a UK based company. Over two decades I have been living at a Dubrovnik address but this hadn’t stopped them waiting and trying.

And bad things come in threes. And yes the third one was the one I was dreading. You might think you’re old when you look older than a police officer, but you KNOW you’re old when you get offered a special offer on a package holiday to Malta with…wait for it…SAGA! Whilst I still feel like raving on Ibiza the truth is that SAGA are offering me “Tours of the beautiful landscaped gardens of the San Anton Gardens in H'Attard.” “If things get better with age then I must be approaching magnificent. 

 

Croatia’s seemingly inevitable move towards adopting the Euro and ditching the Kuna got more momentum on Wednesday as the majority of candidates in the upcoming European elections backed the change. In a panel discussion on the introduction of the Euro held with European political candidates the majority gave their full support for the European currency.

Tomislav Sokol from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) stated that analyses conducted so far showed that euro introduction would have a positive impact on the Croatian economy. Whilst Predrag Matic from SDP believed the public should be asked on their opinion “We are not against euro introduction but believe that the timing should be right and that citizens should be given the opportunity to state their position in a referendum.”

However, it seems that a referendum is not on the cards as the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, has stated on many occasions that the referendum has already been held when the public voted unanimously the join the European Union back in 2012.

And he added back in March this year that the members of the euro area are the most important trade partners of Croatia, and that as much as 77 percent of Croatian citizens' savings is in euros and 54 percent of all loans. He also pointed out that 70 percent of the total tourism revenues came in Euros, 60 percent of total overnight stays come from European citizens, as well as 66 percent of foreign tourists spending. Finally, 75 per cent of Croatia's foreign debt is also in Euros. "That means we are de facto there," he concluded Plenkovic.

 

Split may have for many years been known more as a transit tourist city than a real destination but that is changing, and changing fast. The city’s airport, which has recorded the largest increase in passenger number in the country over the past few years has announced yet another interesting project.

The port of Split, which is the largest port and one of the busiest in the whole of Croatia, has many been known as a link between the mainland and the numerous islands, ferrying holidaymakers to sun-kissed islands such as Brac and Hvar. But with the increase in tourism in the city so the need for a better connection between the two main hubs. The Deputy Mayor of Split has announced a project to connect the port with the airport, the first of its kind in Croatia.

Speaking to the media Nino Vela stated that “Our goal is to connect the port with the airport. We are aware that traffic has doubled in the past ten years. We are working on the project connecting the city to the airport and we hope to begin the design and realisation process in next few years. It will involve the construction of a seven to nine kilometre railway.”

 

Game of Thrones fans have a new destination to visit in Croatia as a museum to the globally popular HBO series has opened in Split. With dragons, costumes and packed full of props and interesting exhibitions from the series the museum stretches over 300 metres squared and offers fans of the serial a unique experience.

cersei museum split

Game of Thrones comes to Split with new museum - Photo Ivan Vukovic Vuka 

Although Dubrovnik was the main location for Game of Thrones in Croatia the series also used stunning locations in Split and Sibenik and the themed museum covers all the bases. On entering the museum visitors are greeted with a roaring dragon from the serial. And this is no coincidence as the location where Daenerys kept her dragons is a just a minutes’ walk away in the ancient Diocletian cellar.

dragon game of thrones split

Game of Thrones dragon greets visitors - Photo Ivan Vukovic Vuka 

There are over 100 different exhibits from the show and the dark, and slightly eerie atmosphere inside gives fans another dimension. With five different themed rooms in the museum and characters from Jon Snow, Tyrion to Drogon visitors are sure to have a great time.

new game of thrones museum in split opens

 

 

Croatia and the Game of Thrones are undoubtedly connected forever and this new themed museum is just another reason for fans to visit the country. The Split Game of Thrones museum is the latest in a long line of specialised Game of Thrones attractions in Croatia, from special themed tours in Dubrovnik, to a visitors centre on the island of Lokrum in Dubrovnik to numerous stores offering authentic souvenirs. The connection between Game of Thrones and Croatia doesn’t look like ending any time soon, even though the eighth and final season has finished.

thrones museum split croatia

Eerie atmosphere in Game of Thrones museum in Split - Photo Ivan Vukovic Vuka 

“The museum looks amazing! This is my first time in Split and I am a huge GOT fan. I knew it was filmed in Split so I went to museum to see everything about it. It is really nice, with lot of interesting things to see and read but also with great photo spot! Also the room with white walkers, WOW! Definitely, I would recommend this!” commented one visitor to the new museum.

got museum split 22

Crammed full of interesting exhibits - Photo Ivan Vukovic Vuka 

The museum is located on Bosanska Ulica in Split and is open every day from 9:00am to 10:00pm. And more information can be found at the Game of Thrones Split website.

From the 1st of June this year all European Union citizens will have the opportunity to work in Switzerland, apart from Croatians. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry have announced that from the beginning of June their citizens, along with citizens of Romania will have full freedom to work in Switzerland and will enjoy all the right of the rest of Europe.

However, Croatia will remain the only EU member state whose citizens cannot live and work in Switzerland without a work visa. The maximum length of visa Croatians can receive is three months.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but is closely linked with the Union through a series of bilateral agreements that allow it to participate in the single EU market, even if it is not a member.

 

It has been one of the wettest and coldest months on record in Croatia, but it looks like after the unsettled weather of May is behind us the whole region could be in for a summer to remember. AccuWeather, the much respected well-known American meteorological service, has released the weather forecast for this summer in Europe. And according to forecasts we are in for a baking hot summer.

A summer filled with extremely high temperatures and very little rainfall will see most of Europe, especially southern Europe, gripped in a summer heat wave.

 

 

The raging temperatures are predicted to start at the beginning of June, meaning that most of Croatia will go from long sleeves and umbrellas to flip-flops and shorts almost overnight. Weather forecasters predict that this summer will be much warmer than last year and that temperatures in Croatia could well hit 40 degrees.

In addition to the soaring temperatures during the day, the big problem this summer will also be the very hot tropical nights. Because of the very damp winter and spring the vegetation will be more lush than in previous years, writes AccuWeather, meaning the risk of forest fires will increase. As far as the Balkan Peninsula is concerned, American meteorologists predict that we will also be hit by several storms during the summer.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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