Saturday, 25 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

Easter is traditionally the opening of the tourist season in Dubrovnik, basically because it it is the time of the year that flights from all over the world start landing at Dubrovnik Airport. But this year it would seem that the season has opened a few weeks earlier than usual and already hotels are reporting high levels of occupancy.

The weather, however, isn’t playing ball and helping tourists to get some Spring sunshine. Constant grey, overcast skies and rain for ten days at the beginning of the month have meant that temperatures have been unseasonably fresh. These photos, sent to us by a reader, clearly show that the Adriatic Sea isn’t yet up to a comfortable temperature, today it is around 17 degrees.

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The Banje Beach have, rather optimistically maybe, placed a handful of sunbeds on the beach in the hope that the sun will shine all day, and a few tourists paddled in the Adriatic. The forecast for the next few days, and for the Easter holidays, is for warmer more settled weather with highs expected to reach the low twenties. 

Easter is on the doorstep and already homes all over the Dubrovnik region are preparing for one of the most religious holidays on the calendar. Traditions are respected, past generations are listened to and Easter will pass as it has for centuries. One of the most important customs of Easter in Dubrovnik are Easter Eggs, and no we don’t mean chocolate eggs. These elaborately decorated Easter Eggs are a thing of beauty and decorate homes during this period.

In the Holy Week before Easter, locals begin to hand paint eggs in the traditional way, using the “penganje” technique that is especially widespread in the Dubrovnik region of Primorje and in the region of Konavle.

These hand painted eggs, or “pengana” eggs, are characterized by the harmony and beauty of making the ornaments, written messages and greetings that are specific to this region. Although the old-fashioned “penganje” technique seems extremely complicated at first, the experienced ladies from Primorje and Konavle claim differently. As they say, the more eggs that are painted, the more beautiful they become.

easter eggs traditional dubrovnik 2019

Raw eggs are painted using a needle with a protruding tip that is mounted onto a piece of wood, most often laurel. This tool, called a “penica,” is then dipped into melted beeswax and is used to write the message.

In the old days when the old farmhouse kitchens were still in widespread use, women would hold a bowl with ashes and embers in their lap, where the beeswax would dissolve at a constant high temperature. Today, the bowls with the beeswax are kept on a stove or on a special stand with a small candle that melts the wax and makes the work easier.

It is said that for Easter the first painted egg is given to a person dear to you, so it is no surprise that many of them feature a heart as the fundamental theme. Expressions of love and affection are the purpose of “pengana” eggs, gifts that often revealed romantic crushes or hidden feelings. Therefore, in times past, one would carefully choose the recipient of such gifts. Red “pengana” eggs are especially appreciated because they symbolize life and nature.

Source – The Dubrovnik Tourist Board

Have you always wanted to travel to amazing places? If you have, it is time for you to volunteer in Croatia. There are plenty of opportunities out there for you to visit one of the best countries in Europe. Located between Southeast and Central Europe, this amazing location offers one of the greatest experiences on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

Croatia is made up of over a thousand islands and twenty countries. It’s a popular tourist destination and the home of many volunteer and work programs. If you are interested in spending quality time in a country with one of the richest national histories, amazing infrastructure, and mesmerizing beaches, you should definitely consider visiting this European pearl.

Types of Volunteer Programs

For those interested to do some volunteering in Croatia, there are plenty of different opportunities and programs available. Some of the most popular programs you can select from at the moment are:

Environment and Conservation

Being the home of many nature reserves and a myriad of different species, Croatia is the perfect place to do some volunteering in the environment and conservation sector. As a volunteer, your tasks will be to catalogue the species, help cultivate plants, and conduct research on the amazing fields in the country.

Community Development

Croatia is undergoing a huge number of improvements and grand changes in the social, economic, and cultural institutions. If you choose to volunteer in Croatia and help the development of the community, you’ll have a chance at experiencing the unique and warm community and culture spirit of the country.

According to statistics, around 20% of people in Croatia live in poverty.

Youth Development

A youth development volunteer works hard to empower the youth in a country to become more productive, engaged, and healthier. Your task in this position will be to help strengthen the educational and community institutions, implement youth development that’s focused on job skills, life skills, sexual health, healthy relationships, etc.

Education

Due to the many conflicts in the past, people in Croatia have suffered a lot. Many of its people were given a refugee status and were displaced, which naturally, has caused a lot of tension between the different ethnic groups in the country. This also led to many financial troubles and psychological issues, especially after the war in the 90’s. This can be noticed in many ways, especially in terms of infrastructure and jobs.

As a volunteer in this position, you can take part of projects that provide education and training for young people with the goal of providing them with chances of a better future.

These volunteering opportunities can potentially start your career and provide you with guidance on how to be successful, too. There are plenty of jobs in Croatia you can actually work while or after you finish your volunteering journey. If you’re a college student, the volunteering experience in Croatia will fit perfectly in your job resume. When the time comes for you to apply to a job, make sure you hire the most reliable service to help you with it. At the moment, the best we can recommend is Edu Birdie.

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Volunteer Programs in Croatia

Naturally, there are plenty of opportunities for volunteering and work in a popular place such as Croatia, but if you need some help finding the great ones, here is a list of the top volunteer programs at this moment:

Eastern Europe Conservation and Community Development Projects

Bottlenose Dolphin Research Volunteer Project with WorkingAbroad at Croatia

Operation Wallacea in Croatia

• Volunteer World: Best Volunteer Abroad Programs Worldwide

• Explore Croatia and Teach English to a Host Family!

How to Plan a Trip

Have you made up your mind about going to Croatia? This can be the most memorable experience you’ll ever have, but if you want it to go as you wish, you need to plan for it.

Volunteering Tips

If this is the first time you’re volunteering outside of your hometown or country, there are some tips that can come very handy.

• Use the time you spend volunteering to explore different options for a future career. Try to gain as much training as you can during this period and build yourself professionally. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to see what a potential career could look and feel like for you in the future.

• Reach more than one organization for volunteering. Consider all your options. Find the country’s volunteer opportunities form and fill it out to make yourself available to potential volunteering organizations that might want people like you in their ranks.

• Make use of your current skills. Think of the things that you are great at and put them to good use. Volunteering can help you further develop these skills.

• Look for volunteering opportunities that would provide you with fulfillment and pleasure. Don’t choose just any volunteering position – find one about which you’ll feel strongly.

• Meet some new people abroad. This is an excellent way to form long-lasting relationships with people who share the same interests as you. Who knows, it might even open up potential job opportunities for you for later!

• Find people who have volunteered there. If you don’t have a friend who has volunteered in Croatia, ask the ones who volunteered anywhere abroad for advice. With technology, you can now find advice by simply joining volunteering groups and asking people for it.

• Don’t focus too much on your college major, trying to find a volunteering opportunity that’s directly related to it. Sure, this would be a nice chance for you to build your skills in the field, but something similar to it is also a good opportunity.

Best Places to Volunteer

There are many places where you can volunteer in Croatia. Some of the most popular ones include Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Split, Korcula, Vukovar, the Plitvice Lakes, and the Komati Islands.

Health and Safety of Volunteers in Croatia

The healthcare in the country are of high standard. Since the country became a member of the European Union, volunteers and other visitors can now use the European Health Insurance Card to get healthcare. For members of EU who travel to Croatia, this card is free to use, so if you come from such countries, make sure that you obtain it.

If you’re not a resident of EU, you should definitely obtain good travel insurance before you go there, or speak to the volunteering program representatives about this.

In terms of safety, Croatia is a very safe country. Thefts and mugging aren’t a grand or common issue there, so you can walk safely around, even at night. Of course, you should still take common precautions for safety.

Are you ready for your new Croatian journey? This is one of the best places in Europe for you to visit and, if you can find a nice volunteering opportunity that will keep you there for at least a short while, you are in for many wonderful moments and experiences.

Make sure to do proper research, choose an excellent volunteering program, pack your bags – and go to Croatia! This is one of the favorite tourist destinations in Europe, making it a must-visit place for every college student. Good luck!

Author’s Bio:
Robert Everett is a travel enthusiast, popular blogger, and an expert writer with years of content creation experience. You can follow him on Twitter. In his writings, you’ll find tons of travelling tricks and tips, as well as very useful advice for college students.

A record-high number of foreign nationals lived in Germany in 2018, having gone up by around 292,000 to 10.9 million, including 27,772 Croatians who moved to Germany in 2018, the national statistical office in the city of Wiesbaden said on Monday.

The number of Croatian nationals residing in Germany rose by 27,772 in the period between 31 December 2017 and 31 December 2018, which is a considerably smaller number than the year before, when the number of Croatians in Germany rose by 35,295.

2018 was the first year since Croatia's accession to the EU in 2013 in which the number of Croatian immigrants in Germany dropped on the year.

At the end of last year, 395,665 Croatians lived in Germany, 170,694 more than at the end of 2012, the last year before Croatia joined the EU.

Most Croatian nationals living in Germany, or 117,660, lived in the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

In terms of the number of foreigners in Germany, Croatia comes after Turkey, Poland, Italy, Syria and Romania.

Easter is just around the corner brining more good news for the already buoyant Croatian egg industry. Exports of Croatian eggs rose by a massive 133 percent in 2018 and amounted to an impressive 2.1 million Euros in value or around 24 million eggs.

At the same time imports of eggs fell by 28 percent in 2018, when compared with 2017, to around 5 million Euros. Meaning that the gap between imports and exports closed significantly, although home-grown eggs are still considerably outnumbered on the market.

And on the eve of Easter, one of the busiest periods for the egg industry, it is hoped that the gap will once again be closed. Even though statistics show that in March this year 6 million eggs were imported into the country.

Robin Harris, a British historian, former advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, author of the best-selling book “Dubrovnik: A History” recently visited Dubrovnik. He was a guest speaker at a project launched by the City of Dubrovnik entitled “Discussions on the City” where he talked about the political, economic and social life of Dubrovnik through its turbulent and fascinating history. We caught up with Harris after the event to find his opinions on Dubrovnik and Croatia today, the overcrowding problems of Dubrovnik and Brexit.

Where does your interest in Dubrovnik come from and how did you decide to write history books about our city?

It was during the Homeland War. I am a historian and I am also a great friend of Croatia. I wanted to do something for your country, I'm not a soldier, but I'm a historian and I can write. That is why I wanted to write something that would be useful to Croatia. I then considered it most important to show the West that the attack on Croatia was in fact an attack on Western civilization. I thought that the most suitable place for this would be Dubrovnik because everyone knew about this city. After that, when I made more research, I saw that this history and six centuries of autonomy, it was much easier to explore Dubrovnik's history than any other part of Croatia.

What are your opinions on Dubrovnik today? We receive a large number of tourists every season and face the dangers of over tourism. Is our city losing its soul due to mass tourism?

Such danger always exists. I hope it will not be achieved. Dubrovnik, as a smaller city, could well fall into the trap of over tourism but I believe it still hasn’t. I think your Mayor, Mato Frankovic, is aware of this danger and will do whatever it takes to stop it from happening.

What do you believe should be done to stop this from happening?

Always the biggest problem in Dubrovnik is the number of cruise ships. Of course you shouldn’t have anything against tourists who wish to visit Dubrovnik by cruise ship, but you must also bear in mind that these cruise passengers don’t spend as much as tourists. In addition, they create large crowds which is not good for other visitors who want to come and see and experience everything Dubrovnik is famous for. And that's a problem. I think it is necessary to limit the number of cruise ship arrivals. In the modern world, the tool for this is to raise prices for cruisers coming to a city. I think this is the best solution because regulation itself is not enough. I think that the price of this type of tourism is much higher than what one city actually receives.

The city should concentrate on the problem of solving big crowds. It is positive that your city government is headed by a mayor who is aiming to reduce the number of cruise ships. This is a constructive step for the future of Dubrovnik’s tourism industry.

I also think that your city should aim towards a high quality offer and not be obsessed with the numbers of tourists visiting. This is true not only for Dubrovnik but also for all tourist destinations in Dalmatia.

You speak Croatian very well, was it difficult for you to learn the language?

I really wanted to learn the original Croatian language from the beginning, but initially there was a problem because all the literature was in Serbian. In any case, it was certainly a challenge to learn Croatian.

British tourists have been the most numerous in Dubrovnik for a long time now. In your opinion how much will the uncertainty over Brexit affect the arrival of British tourists to our town?

Brexit will absolutely have no influence on the arrival of British guests in Dubrovnik. There are people who think that after Brexit it will be a disaster and that everything will change, however I don’t think there will be any big differences. In this world that we live in today the relationship between people is much more important than the relationship between countries. It is very important to understand. If I want to come to Dubrovnik, I certainly do not need to ask Mrs. May. That old system is now useless and now people are freer. Tourists will certainly come if Dubrovnik offers them what they are looking for.

Brexit will absolutely have no influence on the arrival of British guests in Dubrovnik

Do you think however that Brexit could bring some technical problems for British tourists in the future?

I do not think it will be any more complicated than today. For example, people do not come to Dubrovnik with Kunas in their pockets, we know that today people pay for everything with cards. Twenty years ago this was not the case, but now technology has moved everything forward and we can go where we want and spend how we want. I do not think there will be any obstacles for British tourists in the future. What is important is to have a good quality product and offer and at a reasonable price which offers value for money. That’s what the people of Dubrovnik must think about.

You were an advisor to former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, could you compare the policy that she would have had to Brexit to the one that is currently being conducted by the British government?

It's hard not to be very critical of the current situation. I will openly say that I am pro Brexit, but I am against a Croatian version, Croexit, meaning Croatian leaving the European Union. The interests of Croatia and Great Britain are not the same inside the European Union. The United Kingdom has far more opportunities outside the European Union than it does inside the European Union. The people of Great Britain realized that the direction the European Union was taking was not in their interest. I will openly say that what was needed and what Margaret Thatcher would have done in this situation was to prepare for the UK to leave the EU without a deal from day one. She would have prepared for a no deal Brexit at the beginning of the two-year negotiation period. She wouldn’t have brought the UK into the situation that Prime Minister May has lead us.

Your Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, who is more enthusiastic about the European Union than me and probably most Croatians, said that it was not good for some members to leave the European Union. He was completely right. European Union leaders, such as Michel Barnier, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, are not aiming to reach a good deal with the UK but to show other EU members that it will be very painful if they choose to leave the EU and reject what Brussels wants. I am sure Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, who was very realistic, would have been prepared to leave without a deal from the very beginning, unlike Theresa May, who just lost time and in fact has proved absolutely useless. In my opinion, she is the worst British Prime Minister in the history of Great Britain. It is sad that we have such a leader in this crisis, it is extremely bad for the UK and the country's reputation. According to surveys, 90 percent of people in the United Kingdom think that the Brexit situation is humiliating for the country. They are completely right.

On this day, the 15th of April, in 1979 Dubrovnik was hit by a massive earthquake that badly damaged over a 1,000 buildings in the city. Measuring a massive 7.2 on the Richter Scale the earthquake was reported at the time as the strongest ever earthquake to be felt in the region, stronger than the earthquake of 1667 which flattened two-thirds of the Old City of Dubrovnik.

At 7.20am the earthquake started to shake the city, and left 1,071 buildings damaged, including 106 sacral objects and 33 fortifications, according to UNESCO reports.

Over 130 people lost their lives in the region, and there were aftershocks of various strengths throughout the day. In Dubrovnik nobody was seriously injured although 80 percent of buildings were damaged. The earthquake was even felt as far away as Vienna.

A reader of The Dubrovnik Times has contacted us and needs your help.

Whilst on holiday in Dubrovnik, from the 11th to the 13th of April she unfortunately lost four silver rings. She believes that she lost them on the 11th of April, either in the Old City of Dubrovnik or at the Dubrovnik Airport. One of the rings has blue stones and the others were spiral. As the rings were her mother’s they quite clearly mean a lot to her and any information that could lead to their recovery would be important.

If anyone finds these rings please feel free to send us an email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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