Sunday, 16 January 2022
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

“You must be home by now?” asked a friend a few days ago. The answer was, and indeed is, not yet! “I should be home before the St. Blaise festivity,” I answered with a smile.

We are dragging our feet a little on the return journey. Taking our time to soak up the sights that Europe has to offer, and there is a lot on offer. We’ve mainly followed the sun south without too much of a plan, which is probably why it’s taking us so long. We seem to be drawn, like moths to a light, to lakes.

We’re now staying on the third, or maybe fourth European lake, and this time it’s in the Italian Alps, a glorious tiny lake that sits above Lake Garda and is filled every year with melted snow, it’s a real gem. If you can imagine a shining turquoise lake completely surrounded by snow-capped mountains and only three Alpine cottages around it, then you have an idea of what we are watching in the morning. It’s tough to move on from this gift of nature.

And our dog is going to be sad when we head south again, at least he has ticked off “swim in an Alpine lake” from his bucket list.

Once we made our way off my island home under the English Channel the travel situation got easier, if not the Covid situation. Things change so quickly that it’s almost impossible to follow them.

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Yes, it’s clear that less people are moving around Europe, we have only got caught in one traffic jam in almost a month.

Have you ever had to show your passport to drink a coffee before? At first I thought Italy had the strictest measures, literally everyone is wearing a mask inside and outside, but that was until I crossed Austria! Actually entering Austria was easy, in fact whilst staying on the shores of a German lake (I told you we are lake lovers) we accidentally went food shopping in Austria. “Are we in Germany or Austria?” I asked my wife as we pushed our trolley up the aisles. Austria was the answer. A day later and we transited over the Austrian Alps.

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Now before I tell this story I know that the Austrians had a tough time before Christmas and they are probably more sensitive than most countries. So we stopped to refuel our petrol tank in one of those typical Austrian service stations in the Tyrol region. “Could you show me your Covid passports,” said a rather stern lady as we tried to buy coffee. Apart from Croatia and the UK, as far as we can tell from our experience, you can’t enter any shop, café, restaurant, hotel, etc., without showing the “Green App.” But Austrian has taken this to a whole new level.

“Yes, that is good now could I see your passports?” continued Helga. I haven’t just made that name up, I actually read her nametag. I was just about to say that only people in official positions could ask to see my passport, and that I was just trying to sip a cappuccino and nor cross an international border, but stopped myself as Helga didn’t seem to a have a sense of humour. “Ah, Thomas,” she looked at my photo and then at my passport photo and then looked me up and down again.

“She should be working as a customs officer and not a waitress,” I said to my wife in Croatian so that Helga wouldn’t put me in detention. “This is all correct, now one more step before I can give you your coffee, you need to fill out this form,” said Helga in an accent that made her sound like a character from ‘Allo, ‘Allo. Anti-vaxxers in Croatia would be already having a nervous breakdown at this Austrian treatment.

By the time I had filled out the form my coffee was already cold, and to be honest it was almost undrinkable anyway. It might be a stereotype but you can’t beat coffee in Italy and croissants in France and chocolate in Switzerland. We waved goodbye to Helga, however we weren’t finished with Austrian restrictions, and it seemed that poor Helga had made a cardinal mistake.

As we left the shop another shouting voice in angry German stopped us. We turned round to find Helga 0.2 pointing to our masks and her mask. WTF! There is a reason that Austrian looks like a flock of chickens. The only masks allowed are the so-called FFP2 and we were wearing surgical ones. Helga might have bombarded us with paperwork but Helga 0.2 escorted us out the café like a dog herding sheep.

Next stop Verona and some culture, before arriving back home in Dubrovnik later in the week, this has been a Christmas and New Year break to remember for a lifetime.

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

 

 

       

According to last year's census results, there are 14,612 inhabitants on the island of Korčula, which is a decrease of 910 inhabitants compared to the census 10 years ago.

Out of five local self-government units on Korčula, only the Municipality of Lumbarda has positive results and only just with 4 more inhabitants.

The boundaries of the City of Korčula, from Korčula from Čara has 5,419 inhabitants or 244 less than 10 years ago. Blato has 3,322 inhabitants or 271 less, Smokvica 865 or 39 less and Vela Luka 3,789 or 348 less and is still the largest settlement on Korcula.

According to available official data, the island of Korcula has not been the most populated Croatian island for more than 10 years, nor the most economically developed. Its economic and demographic stagnation has been evident for some time. And given the fact that a large population of the island is over 65 years old the future doesn’t look so bright.

The constant decrease in population is even more highlighted by the fact that 30 years ago the island was home to around 17,800 people, or just under 3,200 more when compared with the latest census.

 

With sea temperatures around 14 degrees the Adriatic is far from its summer bath-like temperatures, however that didn’t stop a few brave swimmers from diving in the crystal clear sea this Sunday.

During the warmer months this beach in Župa Dubrovačka is a magnet for swimmers, but today these few swimmers had the beach to themselves, and indeed the Adriatic. And whilst the Adriatic in Dubrovnik reaches up to the high twenties today the sea and the air temperature equalled out at around 14 degrees. And apart from the swimmers there were also a handful of people soaking up the January sunshine on the beach.

“It’s beautiful and so clean, it gives you so much energy,” commented one female swimmer with a broad smile.

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If you are driving from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, or indeed vice versa, don’t turn to Google Maps to get the fastest route, it won’t be the fastest and will lead you on a magical mystery tour through construction sites.

The Peljesac Bridge is nearing completion, with the actual bridge expected to be fully completed and issued with permits by the end of the month, however the two access roads are still in the “under construction” phase. Google however has a different view and have already connected Dubrovnik to the rest of Croatia on their Google Maps service.

If you choose the fastest route then Google will try to send you over a bridge that is still waiting completion, reports Dubrovacki Vjesnik. It seems like the tech giant has somewhat jumped the gun, with even the Croatian Prime Minister stating that the bridge project won’t be open until the tourist season this year. And this promise is also relatively optimistic.

 

 

Dubrovnik is a photographer’s dream, let’s face it you can throw a camera in the air and capture a stunning photo. And with the holiday season approaching faster than Santa on his sled it’s a great time to get those cameras out and clicking. 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 “January in Dubrovnik” 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!

And don't forget to follow our Instagram page

 

In the last 24 hours, 405 new cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

These are 165 people from Dubrovnik, 50 from Metković, 34 from Župa dubrovačka, 28 from Vela Luka, 25 from Ploče, 21 from Konavle, 20 from Orebić, 16 from Korčula, 13 from Blato, six from Smokvica, Dubrovačko Primorje and Ston, four from Lastovo and Slivno, two from Kula Norinska, Lumbarda and Trpanj and one from Zažablje.

121 people recovered: 65 from Dubrovnik, 21 from Župa dubrovačka and Konavle, four from Metković, two from Ston and Mljet and one from Blato, Lastovo, Lumbarda, Kula Norinska, Ploče and Zažablje.

In the last 24 hours, 1,041 samples were processed, and since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 199,017 samples have been analyzed.

In the Dubrovnik General Hospital, 65 people tested positive for coronavirus, six patients require intensive care and are on respirators.

There are 2,095 people in self-isolation, and one violation of self-isolation has been recorded in the last 24 hours.

The gale force northerly winds that whipped over the Dalmatian coastline and caused havoc with the roads and infrastructure at the beginning of this week should not cause a problem with the most expensive infrastructure project in Croatia, the Peljesac Bridge.

Whilst large parts of the motorway system in Croatia were crippled by the northerly winds, with not only motorways but also tunnels and bridges closed, the new Peljesac Bridge can withstand blasts of wind of up to 180 kilometres an hour.

Windshields have been installed on the sides of the bridge and are designed to withstand the northerly winds that often whip down the Neretva Channel.

Works on the bridge should be completed by the end of January, however drivers won’t yet be able to use the bridge as works on the access roads are still ongoing.

The bridge will have two carriageways and two stop lanes, or hard shoulders. The plateau of the bridge is quite wide and could accommodate four lanes. Pedestrians and cyclists will not be able to cross the bridge.

“We have reached the very end of the works. By the end of January, the full workload of the bridge will follow, followed by a technical inspection and completion of the Peljesac bridge,” said Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković.

 

At the very top of the salary tree in 2021 in Croatia were pilots with an average monthly salary of 21,936 Kuna. The Croatian employment website MojPosao reported yesterday the leading salaries across the country last year, and after pilots comes IT directors with 20,549 Kuna, regional directors with 20,154 Kuna and flight controllers and sales directors.

According to data from the portal the average net salary across Croatia in 2021 was 7,188 Kuna or just under 1,000 Euros a month. This is seven percent more than in 2020.

There is, as you would expect, a large difference between the highest earners and those struggling to get by, with managerial salaries on average 128 percent higher than average salaries across Croatia. Whereas on the flip side workers in the textile industry had salaries 35 percent lower than the average salary, whilst employees in the service industry had 28 percent lower.

Pilots have the largest salaries but who has the lowest? 

Whilst pilots had a salary of 21,936 Kuna on the other hand seamstresses had an average monthly salary of 4,294 Kuna. These were followed by cleaners with 4,332 Kuna and hairdressers with 4,352 Kuna.

There is a difference in pay across the sectors, from the public to private, and also a difference in micro sectors. According to the MojPosao portal, salaries in foreign-owned private companies were nine percent higher than the average and averaged 7,860 Kuna. On the other hand, the salaries of employees of predominantly domestically owned companies were five percent lower than the average, 6,826 Kuna, the average salaries of state-owned companies are around 6,750 Kuna, which is six percent below the average, while the monthly salaries of publicly employed local self-government amounts to 6,570 Kuna, which is nine percent below the average.

Zagreb largest salaries in Croatia 

And geography played its part in the salary divide with the City of Zagreb having the highest salaries last year, or 12 percent higher than the national level.

As expected, writes the MojPosao portal, respondents with rich work experience and a higher level of education have higher salaries compared to those with shorter length of service and lower education. Thus, workers with a postgraduate degree or a business school have an average of 59 percent higher salary than the average.

On the other hand, people with a university degree have an average salary of 17 percent higher than the average, at 8,443 Kuna.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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