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 Dubrovnik Tourist Board organized free tours of the city in Croatian and English for all visitors to Dubrovnik this morning.
Despite the bad weather, the tours of Dubrovnik were attended by about sixty guests, mostly of Croatian nationality, who are spending this weekend in Dubrovnik and are accommodated in one of the twelve open Dubrovnik hotels.
Due to epidemiological measures, the city tours are organized with a limited number of participants in several groups. The tourist board presented the participants with a face-mask and wet wipe, as well as a traditional painted Easter egg. And the Dubrovnik guides introduced the guests of Dubrovnik to the special benefits offered during this period.
During the Easter holidays, the City of Dubrovnik and the Tourist Board of the City of Dubrovnik, in cooperation with the cultural institutions of the City of Dubrovnik, offer discounts and benefits for domestic and foreign visitors from April 3 to 12. The Dubrovnik Museums, the Marin Držić Home, the Natural History Museum, the Homeland War Museum, the Dubrovnik Art Gallery and the Lazareti are free.
Also, by purchasing two or more Dubrovnik cards, you get one Dubrovnik card for free. The ticket price for the Trsteno Arboretum has been dropped to 30 Kuna.
“The goal of these benefits is to attract tourists, especially domestic ones, to spend the spring holidays in Dubrovnik. Despite the epidemiological measures, Dubrovnik will certainly provide a unique experience to all visitors this Easter,” said the Dubrovnik Tourist Board.
Ten more days! Ten more f***ing days! Yes, for the second time the Covid-19 virus has darkened our doorstep. This time it has hit closer to home as Mrs. Thomas is positive! Now we are stuck at home like prisoners trying to remain positive whilst being positive. And yes, this is the second time, already twenty days in lockdown.
“Your eyes look like you have a temperature, how do you feel?” I asked my wife putting my hand on her forehead. My mother-in-law has these magic lips, she puts them on someone’s forehand and knows immediately their temperature, “Mmm, that’s 38.2 for sure.” Maybe we could employ her at Dubrovnik Airport this summer to check for potential Covid-19 positive travellers.
And yes, my wife did indeed have a fever, and a high one 39 degrees. Of course, as soon as someone has a temperature nowadays we always think the worst. What happened to the regular flu? Do people not get that anymore? Has Covid killed the flu?
“Let’s go and get you tested tomorrow morning,” I said to my wife as she lay in bed looking like she’d just been run over by the no.6 bus from Mokošica. As the only real symptom she had was a high temperature we had our fingers crossed that it wasn’t the “C” word.
“Oh, what’s the terrible smell?” she yelled as our new bouncy puppy looked as innocent as he could, hoping that we wouldn’t realise that he had just farted. “Ah, so you didn’t lose your smell then,” I joked as we pinched our noses.
Somehow I’ve managed to avoid catching the virus so far, and that’s a miracle as I seem to somehow catch every bug going round. Although, I do have a sneaky feeling that I’ve already had it, so as soon as we come out of self-isolation I’m going to have a blood check.
We arrived at the container in the middle of a carpark, or as it’s officially known the drive-in PCR and antigen testing centre. Expecting longer queues than the Ivanica border in the summer we arrived early. We were the only ones there! Well apart from a container full of “spacemen” administrating the test. Swab up the nose and home we went to await the results.
Fearing the worst we started about isolating from each other as much as possible. It was probably too late anyway. Luckily we have two bathrooms, so separate showers. My new bedroom was the lounge, which had the added bonus of a large TV, a marathon of football was on my menu. Later in the day and after we had divided our apartment into East and West Berlin.
The mobile rang, “You are positive for Covid-19,” was the first line. Then the general questions on health and what to do now. The one silver lining in the Covid cloud was that the only person my wife had seen 48 hours before contracting the virus was me. Well, not such great news for me, I guess.
“Does your husband have any symptoms,” asked the epidemiologist. The answer was no then, and no now. Nothing! Not even a bloody headache. “You’ll have to be in self-isolation for ten days from your first symptoms and your husband ten days from your test,” added the epidemiologist.
So there it was, I was living with corona! The next day after testing my wife had lost her temperature and was starting to feel much better.
By day-two she was as good as new, apart from feeling a little tired. And after that her road to full recovery was underway. Really she had bad symptoms for two days and after that felt better, and as I am writing this she is out in the garden pruning the lemon tree. Our dogs can’t understand why we aren’t going on walks twice a day, or in fact why we are home all day and sleeping in separate beds. Our self-isolation has probably affected them the worse. Although our puppy did have fun when the police turned up to check that we were at home as he jumped up on their car as if to say “please take me for a walk.”
Although apart from the daily dog walk my self-isolation is pretty much exactly the same as the last year and a bit. I am working from home, so nothing much has changed. However, I sincerely hope that this is the last time I’m locked down at home, there is only so much football you can watch before your eyes start to hurt!
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to
Dubrovnik is a photographer’s dream, let’s face it you can throw a camera in the air and capture a stunning photo. And every day Instagram is filled to overflowing point with some absolutely blasting images of the pearl of the Adriatic.
We have selected this week our top five “Summer can’t come quick enough” photos from Instagram. Check out our top five inspiring Dubrovnik Instagram photos from last week and keep sending us your own photos and videos of the region. We just love your feedback!
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The Mayor of the City of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, has sent an official letter to the Secretary of State for Transport of the United Kingdom, Grant Shapps.
In the letter, the mayor opened by saying that Dubrovnik is waiting for the decision of the government of the United Kingdom to allow, or re-establish, international travel. He pointed out that visitors from the United Kingdom are traditionally the most represented and very loyal Dubrovnik guests with whom the city has developed a long-standing strong and friendly relationship.
Based on last year's experiences, Mayor Franković made a proposal to Secretary of State Shapps to consider the possibility of establishing a set of special rules and regulations that would divide countries into green, orange and red zones when drafting and making necessary travel decisions.
Such a travel regime would mean different rules and regulations, depending on which zone tourists were travelling to and from. The mayor of Dubrovnik suggests that tourists returning from a green zone would not require a PCR or rapid antigen test while tourists returning from the orange zone would require a negative rapid antigen test. Furthermore, it is suggested that those British tourists returning from the red zones must be tested by a rapid test before leaving the zone and by a PCR test on arrival at the domicile.
Finally, those British guests who have received the vaccine or have recovered from Covid-19 are completely exempt from the need for any testing.
"Dubrovnik is ready to establish all necessary health and safety protocols to enable British citizens leaving Dubrovnik Airport can be tested by rapid antigen tests, and thus travel safely safe travel and return home,” Mayor Franković wrote to the UK Secretary of Transport, expressing confidence that many Britons who are eagerly awaiting the re-establishment of international travel will be welcome in Dubrovnik.
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the crash of a US military aircraft carrying the US Secretary of Commerce, Ronald Brown, near Dubrovnik Airport on April 3, 1996, a virtual commemoration was held today.
This tragic accident killed 35 passengers and crew members on-board the United States Air Force Boeing CT-43A including Ronald Brown, who served as the United States Secretary of Commerce during the first term of President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1996.
The aircraft was flying from Zagreb and had stopped over at Tuzla Airport in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ron Brown was on a special trade mission and on the flight were several mebers of his staff as well as Jim Lewek, a Central Intelligence Agency analyst; Lee Jackson of the Treasury Department; and Nathaniel Nash, The New York Times' Frankfurt bureau chief. There were also two Croatians on the flight, a photographer and a translator.
A USAFMH-53J Pave Low helicopter hovers near the wreckage of Flight IFO-21 - Photo Wiki
An Air Force Technical Sergeant survived the initial impact, but died en route to Dubrovnik Hospital. Everyone else on board died at the scene of the crash.
Flight IFO-21 into Dubrovnik Airport crashed into a mountain, 700 metres high, whilst attempting to land at Dubrovnik Airport in Čilipi at 2:57 on April 3 1996.
One of the legacies of the fatal crash is that on the peak of the Stražišće mountain a large stainless steel cross was installed and hikers can reach the peak via the "Ronald Brown Path."
Today’s commemoration was attended by the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, the Prefect of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Nikola Dobroslavić, the Dubrovnik Airport Director, Frano Luetić, and Victoria Taylor, the Chargé d'Affaires of the US Embassy.
In the Ronald Brown memorial room in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik the book of condolences was signed, on behalf of the US Embassy, Damjan Bencic, the Head of the Trade Exchange Department, signed the book.
The Dutch government will allow this year's competition for the best song in Europe to be held in the presence of 3,500 spectators, reports the BBC.
The annual music competition will take place at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam in May, after being cancelled last year. Half of the hall will be able to be filled, and spectators will need to show a negative coronavirus finding before entering.
The Eurovision organizers welcomed the decision and said they would "consider the options now available".
They said they would "release more details in the coming weeks on how to safely let the audience into the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam if the situation allows it".
They add that the health and safety of the contestants "remains a top priority" and that all artists and their delegations will have to follow a "strict protocol".
The announcement came after a music festival was held near Amsterdam in March attended by 1,500 people, while 5,000 fans were able to cheer on the Netherlands in the football qualifiers for the World Cup on Saturday.
The final number of spectators at the Eurovision Song Contest will be known at the end of the month and that number could decrease if the number of infections rises again.
The Eurovision Song Contest will take place from May 18 to 22, and the organizers have previously presented several potential scenarios - from the entire show as usual to pre-recorded performances and performances without an audience.
And check out Croatia's entry for this year's competition below!
You’ve just taken that killer photo of Dubrovnik and can’t wait to upload it onto your social media but your mobile internet is dead. Or you’ve moved to the city as a digital nomad, which is ever more popular nowadays, and fancy an open-air office in the stone streets of the city but again can’t get online. Well there is some good news as the free Wi-Fi service over the Old City of Dubrovnik has been drastically improved.
The development agency DURA has set up nine new access points for free wireless internet in public areas within the old city centre of Dubrovnik. The wireless network (FREE Dubrovnik) has been extended to include areas such as the Jesuit area, St. Dominic Street, the area of the Rupe Museum and the Porporela area. The network is available to all citizens and visitors to the old city.
“The project is funded by the Interreg Italy-Croatia program, and aims to develop a cross-border smart methodology and strategy for the preservation and valorisation of unexplored tangible and intangible cultural heritage and to promote sustainable territorial development, with a special focus on "living heritage",” stated DURA.
The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, spoke about the plans for the recovery of the tourism sector for the news network N1.
“The goal is to move towards a green and digital direction, transition. We have allocated the most funds to the department for the diversification of tourism, various special forms of tourism that have shown great resilience and demand. All projects will have to prove the green and digital aspect in order to receive EU funds," said Brnjac.
“We have made two investments, one is in green and digital investments, and the other is strengthening diversification and tourism specifications along with strengthening infrastructure. Croatia must move away from seasonality and turn to products that enable the development of tourism throughout the year. We have countless opportunities now to make that turn," added the minister adding that the government has so far invested over 10 billion Kuna in preserving jobs and will continues to do so.
All Covid-19 vaccines recognised at Croatian borders
As far as crossing the Croatian border the minister emphasized that Croatia has decided not to differentiate between vaccines when it comes, and that people who have been vaccinated with either the Russian or Chinese vaccine can enter the country. She also brought up the so called “green passport” and stated that a single EU-wide set of criteria for this passport is being worked on. “The goal is for each certificate to be an authentic document that confirms the correctness of vaccination information. It is important for tourism that this system is established as soon as possible. The European Commission proposal includes the acceptance of antigen tests,” added the minister.
Tourism workers to get vaccinated in May
Croatia will also carry out a mass vaccination of tourism workers in May and the minister said that a few months ago they carried out a survey in which over 70 percent of tourism workers expressed that they wanted to be vaccinated.
"In agreement with the Croatian Institute of Public Health tourist workers would be vaccinated at the beginning of May. It is also an epidemiological measure, as they are in contact with a number of different guests and it will be difficult to track contacts. The first group are those in direct contact with guests, waiters, chefs, etc., all those in the front line," said Brnjac.