Monday, 19 April 2021
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

The Dubrovnik Tourist Board is marking the 10th anniversary of the broadcast of the first Game of Thrones episode with a special gift for all fans of the series who visit Dubrovnik this weekend - a free Game of Thrones tour in Croatian and English.

Themed Game of Thrones tours will be held on Saturday, April 17 starting at 10 a.m., in front of TIC Pile. Due to epidemiological measures, the number of participants is limited, so it is necessary to confirm arrival by Friday, April 16, by 17:00, by e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone number: +38520312011.

Dubrovnik hosted the filming of this planetary popular series and the most watched HBO series ever from 2011 to 2018, from the 2nd to the 8th season. A series that has become a worldwide television phenomenon, based on a novel by George R.R. Martina, won numerous accolades including 59 Emmy Awards, was first aired on April 17, 2011 and was watched by about 13 million people worldwide.

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In the series, Dubrovnik represented the capital of seven kingdoms, King’s Landing, one of the most important locations in the series, and the scenes filmed in King’s Landing brought invaluable worldwide promotion to both Dubrovnik and Croatia. The well-known attractive views of Dubrovnik have been recognized around the world, both by fans of the series and by numerous foreign media who have written about the beauties of Dubrovnik.

Austrian Airlines have announced flights from Vienna to both Split and Dubrovnik by the end of this month!

The Austrian national airline will resume their seasonal flight schedule to Split and Dubrovnik by the end of April, with the first flight from Vienna to Dubrovnik scheduled for the 23rd of April, reports Croatian Aviation.

The Vienna to Dubrovnik line will operate from April 23, once a week, every Friday, and as early as the beginning of May, two more flights a week will be added, so Austrian will operate to Dubrovnik every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The Vienna to Split line has been announced from April 30, also three times a week, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

 

It is International Houseplant Appreciation Day today, the 13th of April, and it looks to be bigger and better than ever this year following reports that some houseplant retailers have seen an increase in sales of 500 percent over the last year. This may be because houseplants have been known to boost mental health, but have you ever stopped to think about the positive impact for your home and wellbeing too?

As we spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors, SaveOnEnergy.com/uk wanted to find out how effective certain houseplants are at taking in CO2 and cleaning our air, ranking them in order of most air purifying to least.

Key findings - 

The most effective houseplant at removing CO2 from the air is the prayer plant

8 out of the 10 plants studied were able to remove over 10 percent of CO2 in 24 hours

The plant least reducing your carbon footprint is the spider plant!

SaveOnEnergy’s study - 

In a bid to discover which houseplant could reduce your carbon footprint and improve the air quality in your home the most, SaveOnEnergy.com/uk analysed two scientific studies which measured houseplant CO2 intake in a controlled environment.

Replicating the environment of a home environment, SaveOnEnergy took data with light levels similar to those of bright, indirect sunlight, and a starting ppm (parts per million) of CO2 comparable to an indoor space with no ventilation.

Plants were observed over a 24-hour period, and an average was taken over this time. This is because some plants are known to produce oxygen during the day, but take some back in at night.

The results are as follows - 

The most effective plant for absorbing CO2 and reducing your carbon footprint is a prayer plant, a member of the calathea family. The prayer plant took in 14.4 percent of the total CO2 in the chamber, roughly 0.0003kg.

The least air purifying houseplant considered is the spider plant. This common favourite among homeowners was able to absorb just 0.1 percent of the total CO2, meaning it took in just 0.000002 kg of CO2.

plant co2 table

Housing prices in Croatia in 2020 were 7.7 percent higher than in 2019, with new construction rising by 1.2 percent and existing buildings by 8.5 percent, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), which are based on the value of housing transactions.

Thus, in 2020, the growth of residential real estate prices continued, which has been present since 2016. But growth slowed compared to 2019, when real estate prices rose nine percent from 2018.

During the last year, the prices of residential buildings in Zagreb were on average 8.5 percent higher than in 2019, in the Adriatic 6.3 percent, and in other areas 10 percent higher.

Housing prices, measured by the housing price index, in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019 were on average 6.4 percent higher.

In the fourth quarter of last year, the price of new construction was higher than in the fourth quarter of 2019 by 0.2 percent, and existing housing by 7.3 percent.

The CBS housing price index measures the movement of market prices of housing purchased by households regardless of the previous owner or purpose of use. The value of the land is included in the market price.

 

During the spring holidays, the students of Dubrovnik School of Tourism and Catering (TUŠ DU), under the guidance of their teachers prepared to participate in two prestigious school competitions. The International Culinary festival "Pearl of the Sea" was cancelled due to the epidemiological situation, however all preparations for the competition World Skills Croatia 2021 are continuing intensively.

From the 13th to the 21st of April Dubrovnik will host regional the inter-county qualifications for the World Skills Croatia. And these qualifications are held in five disciplines - Hotel reception business, Business of a travel agency, Catering, Cooking and Confectionery.

Competitors who win first or second place in the qualifiers will participate in the national competition World Skills Croatia 2021 which will be held in Zagreb from the 11th to the 13th of May 2021.

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The teachers have been educating their students, and preparing them for all professional challenges, and these competitions are opportunities for students to be evaluated of all acquired knowledge and skills in the profession. The competition gives them experience in functioning in real conditions and develops critical thinking, teaches them to analyse and solve set tasks.

The members of the evaluation committee are representatives of the economy from the area of the City of Dubrovnik, and this will be a special motivation and challenge for the competitors because they will be judged by representatives of the real sector.

This year’s qualifiers and competition are a major organizational challenge for the school and for the teachers, because the competition at this level is conducted for the first time online.

 

According to the results of the research of the world's largest search engine for renting holiday homes HomeToGo, Croatia took first place on the German market in the list of top 100 most popular tourist destinations in 2021, said the head of the Croatian Tourist Board in Munich, Nera Milicic.

"This year, more than ever, I am looking forward to seeing Croatia at the top of the list of the most popular destinations in Germany. Research from the HomeToGo platform shows how we are recognized as a destination with a top offer of holiday homes, especially those in seclusion and in nature, which are currently in high demand. Turning to nature is certainly a trend that will remain after the pandemic," said Milicic.

 

 

The research is based on 16 million search terms in the HomeToGo search engine, and interestingly, the application of flexible travel date filters has increased by 600 percent compared to last year. Also, the survey results show that 63 percent of respondents prefer staying in a vacation home, and 71 percent of respondents want to travel by car. As a motive for travel, 63 percent of respondents single out the beach, and 60 percent of them national parks and nature.

"The results of the research are optimistic when we talk about trends from the German market, otherwise the most important tourist market for Croatian tourism. However, compliance with all prescribed measures and a good epidemiological situation in the country will be a basic prerequisite for the realization of tourist traffic, both from the German market and from other markets, "concluded the director of the Croatian Tourist Board, Kristjan Stanicic.

Ten out of ten for the romantic thought – but a big fat zero for the location! “Ich liebe Dich” or “I Love You” was written in black pen on the middle of one of the most iconic sights in Dubrovnik, in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Stradun.

Yes, we know Dubrovnik is a romantic city and it’s easy to get carried away in such amazing surroundings, but there is a time and place for everything, and this certainly isn’t the place for such love messages.

The photo appeared in the Facebook group “Gradski kotar Grad” and was taken by Ana Čerjan.

Clearly Ralph, who clearly comes from a German speaking country, has lost his head for Beatrix – he just might want to find a more appropriate place to show his love – maybe the Love Wall near Villa Čingrija would be a better bet.

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The crunch of limestone rocks underfoot, the emerald green of spring framed against the twinkling Adriatic and real (not virtual) people greeting me with a wave. Yes, I’m out of self-isolation and as a mini-celebration headed to the hills of Župa for some much needed exercise and lung filling fresh air. The world felt big again.

Thank you for all your well-wishes, Mrs. T basically recovered from Covid-19 in two days, and we then spent the next eight days locked up obeying the law.

Touch wood no strain of the virus invaded me, not even the British strain which you would have thought would have sought me out like a hoovering eagle looking for prey.

The day before our home prison ended we were flicking through the channels and came across the film “Put” starring Martin Sheen. Briefly, the film revolves around Sheen who walks the “El camino de Santiago” after his son died walking the route, so he decided to take the pilgrimage himself. This was the starter or appetiser for the following day – freedom.

If there is one plus that has come out of this global pandemic then that must be that we have, or at least should have, taken the opportunity to explore our own backyards. Leave the road, take the trails.

I for one am a little sick of being bombarded by so-called “influencers” on social media parading their backsides and boobs in a desperate plea for attention. I can only assume that these social trolls were starved of attention as children and now have the “look at me, look at me” syndrome.

Unfortunately, I have met quite a few of these influencers and have yet to meet one who was even vaguely interesting. They are basically digital prostitutes. Throw a few bucks in their direction and they will write, say and photo anything, just as long as the photo includes them in the foreground. If you are influenced by an influencer, then you are as shallow as a puddle!

 

 

 

So, back to real life and the crunch of limestone under my feet, sorry slightly sore feet. Croatia in general is an incredibly beautiful country, that can’t be denied. But what fascinates me is the diversity. So as we clambered up the mountains over my home I was struck by the panorama. Sea, green nature, soaring rock faces, olive groves, islands, colourful wild flowers and a multitude of wildlife, this was nature is HD with surround sound. And this is just one tiny piece of the country, literally tiny as I can see from one side of the Croatia border to the other.

And credit where credit is due the local tourist board seem to have spent time, effort and money to clear the mountain paths.

“Keep your eyes open for asparagus,” said my wife as we climbed above sea level. I think there was a hint of sarcasm in her voice, for in all the time I have lived in Zupa I have yet to find a wild asparagus. Whilst my wife can go in the field next to us and come back with a handful in a few minutes I am either the blindest asparagus hunter or incredibly unlucky.

“There will be plenty, it’s the season, and after the rain they grow like crazy,” she added. Again an asparagus could grow the size of an oak and I wouldn’t find it. Although, I did once come back with what I hoped and guessed was asparagus once, only to find out that I had actually just picked grass.

Whilst scanning the path for the elusive head of an asparagus I did however notice something that has is another side-effect of the Covid-19 lockdown – coffee-to-go paper cups and plastic lids. Why on earth someone would just throw their used coffee cup on the floor staggers me. You’ve got to be dumber than an influencer to do that! Please do enjoy your coffee-to go but we don’t want your plastic-to-stay!

We are spoilt with such untouched nature so please leave it just as you saw it – untouched. We crunched back down the mountain, our legs feeling a little like jelly after ten days of being couch potatoes. My wife had the green heads of asparagus waving from the back pocket of her rucksack, whereas mine was empty.

“Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower,” Hans Christian Andersen.

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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