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.
After torrential rains all day Saturday the weather certainly brightened up on Sunday in Dubrovnik. The summer season is on the doorstep and the Old City of Dubrovnik already felt like an August day yesterday.
Tourists and locals enjoyed the blue skies and it was hard to find an empty table at the cafes and bars. The Stradun was a hive of activity, helped by the fact that a cruise ship had docked, and the souvenir shops and were doing a roaring trade.
Check out our galley of a sunny Sunday by Tonci Plazibat
The first night of the Aklapela Festival 2016, the fifth festival, was an absolute hit last night. Six different vocal groups from all over Croatia, including three all female choirs, entertained a packed audience in the Lazareti complex last night. Cries of bravo and encore rang around the hall as the vocal choirs raised the roof.
The festival continues tonight at 7.30pm in the Lazareti complex with another six different vocal groups, tickets are available on the door at 50 Kunas, and ends on Sunday with a concert in the St. Dominic Church at 12.00.
For more information check out the Aklapela Festival website here.
The summer is coming to Dubrovnik fast and furious. Since the Easter Holidays the weather has been getting warmer and, as can be seen from this photo gallery, the Adriatic Sea is also warming up.
Over the past week the temperatures in Dubrovnik have been in the mid twenties and blue skies and sunshine have become normal. The Banje Beach, an iconic beach just outside of the Old City walls has already had its first swimmers and sunbathers of the season.
The current sea temperature in Dubrovnik is around 17 degrees Celsius.
However the forecast for this weekend is for unsettled weather and rain, don’t get your swimming shots and bikinis out just yet.
Check out our photo gallery of Dubrovnik in the sunshine by Tonci Plazibat
The London Book Fair will be held on 12-14 April, and Croatia will be promoted with a programme called "5 Books from Croatia".
This is the first time the country will be promoted by such a unique publication.
The publication is about five authors, of whom four are contemporary writers -- Milena Benini, Marko Dejanovic, Kristian Novak, Sibila Petleski, and Miroslav Krleza, a famous Croatian writer who used to be a prominent figure in the cultural life of both Yugoslav states.
The collection of crime stories "Zagreb Noir" will be launched at the fair on 12 April.
"Zagreb Noir is an outstanding collection of noir-ish and harrowing tales, each set in a distinct neighbourhood or location in Zagreb. The editor (Ivan) Srsen has curated a diverse, powerful, and dramatic group of stories that offer tremendous insight into the perspectives of contemporary Croatians," reads a programme for Croatia's participation in the fair.
The fifth edition of the Aklapela Festival starts tonight at 7.30 pm in the Lazareti.
The festival of vocal groups opens with an evening featuring six different ensembles. The Aklapela Festival aims to nurture and promote this traditional form of harmonious singing. Klapa singing was recognised by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Croatia.
Tonight’s concert will see three female choirs and three male, including award winning vocal groups. The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available an hour before the concert begins on the door at 50 Kuna per person.
The three-day festival continues on Saturday the 9th of April with another evening of six vocal groups in the Lazareti complex. And on Saturday during the morning many of the vocal groups will perform on the Stradun and around the Old City, which is sure to delight the many tourists to the city.
And on Sunday the 10th of April the festival traditionally ends with a concert in the Dominican Church with an emphaises on spiritual music. An entrance ticket to the first two days is 50 Kunas whilst the final day is free of charge.
On the 6th of April 1667 a catastrophic earthquake almost completely flattened Dubrovnik. Almost 5,000 people were killed in the quake and three quarters of the buildings inside the city walls were destroyed, it was a very black day in Dubrovnik’s history. And now that sad day can be experienced with the help of modern technology.
The digital studio Novena from Zagreb has created a 3D animation of the Dubrovnik earthquake. The project took three months to complete and the company consulted with the Dubrovnik Museums and the Zagreb Institute of Art History in order to make sure there video was accurate. The results are truly stunning.
Check out this amazing video.
The realization of direct flights connecting Dubrovnik with Frankfurt through the winter months, three times a week, is drawing to an end. Croatia Airlines has already secured the dates for the flights and the last link in the process, the signing of agreements with the Croatian National Tourist Board, is in the pipeline. The mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, commented that he was working on speeding up the process with the tourist board, a contract that will assist in financing the project. Flights over the winter period from Frankfurt, three times a week, would help to extend the tourist season in the city and open up the off-season to new markets.
Whereas the flight connection with Germany through the winter seems to coming to a successful conclusion the same cannot be said for the problem with connections to Dubrovnik’s largest market, the UK. A deal between the City of Dubrovnik and the UK national airline, British Airways, has yet to be reached, and it seems clear that a deal will not be reached. The City of Dubrovnik had hoped to negotiate with British Airways for winter flights on a more regular basis from London. However this has been unsuccessful and there is now a question whether Dubrovnik will have any flights from British Airways out of the main tourist season. The City of Dubrovnik, the Dubrovnik Airport and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board are now working on attracting another airline to operate the London to Dubrovnik link.
In spite of calls from many tourist organisations, and the City of Dubrovnik, for more frequent flights from the UK to Dubrovnik in the winter the statistics show a different picture. British Airways started with regular flights to Dubrovnik, four times a week, almost ten years ago. However these flights didn’t prove as popular as predictions indicated, many of them were flying at a loss. Slowly, but surely, the number of BA flights in the winter decreased, and last year there was only one flight a week to Dubrovnik, even then this connection was unprofitable. We can only presume that this is the reason that BA has rejected the deal with the City of Dubrovnik for this winter. It also draws into question the hopes of the City of Dubrovnik to find another airline to operate flights.
I won't lie to you dear readers, I've put on a few extra pounds over the winter. In fact, I am praying for a few more weeks of cold weather. Maybe that would buy me some time and give me a chance to slim down enough for my spring clothes. Why did I gain weight? Well, out of all the reasons I can give you, the truth of the matter is, I love food. Not only that, but both my wife and I enjoy cooking as well.
There are no fish sticks in our house ladies and gentlemen. No, Mrs Native and I are bona fide foodies and devote plenty of time and energy to cooking and learning about food. She is a sommelier, lover of vegetarian cuisine, and makes mean bread and pastries. I, on the other enjoy making all sorts of pastas and I have a special affection for Chinese and Mexican food. My personal cocktail list is also getting respectable. Even our professional lives revolve around food and local cuisine. We are currently running food and wine tours through our company, and were managing a restaurant up until recently. Let’s face it; our waistlines never stood a chance.
With all this said, you would think I'm ok with having few extra pounds, but that's not the case. Losing weight is always on my “To Do” list and I am known for going from fat to skinny (and then back) in a matter of months. Sometimes it is difficult to tell for yourself if you are gaining or losing weight, unless you are regularly measuring and weighing yourself, but you don’t have to worry about that when living in Dubrovnik.
If there is one thing people here will tell you when they see you in the street, it's whether or not you’re overweight. Some will let you know every time they see you. Every time. Some will shout it from across the street. There's something about „Hey, you're fat!“, said with a wicked grin, that so many of us find to be the perfect ice breaker when meeting friends or family. It's funny to see how in this day and age of political correctness this particular cultural quirk never got filtered out. I'm sometimes amazed at how perfectly acceptable it is to call me out publicly about gaining weight, regardless of the social situation.
It's a good thing I don't go to church regularly anymore. The priest would have a tough time restraining himself for saying „Body of Christ... well, maybe half a portion for you, son? You seem blessed enough.“.
Bozidar Jukic is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.