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 more I learn about people, the more I like my dog,” wrote my namesake the great Mark Twain.
I am soon going to have to think about buying a bigger house, or maybe buying a ranch in Konavle. Soon there won’t be room for me to stretch my legs. “Why don’t you hang a sign on your door – Mlini Zoo – and sell tickets,” joked one of my friends. “You could probably get some European funds for animal welfare,” he added.
As you may or may not know I am already the owner of two dogs, a small, white temperamental terrier mix called May, and an overweight, lazy, black Labrador called Zag. The newest member of the clan is an argumentative, yet cute, kitten called Lona. Yes, dogs and a cat together, a cocktail for disaster. All of these pets have two things in common. They are all rescue animals and they are all named with a purpose. May, the first member of the gang, was found in May. Zag was found in Zagreb; yes this is a nationwide gang. And Lona was rescued half-dead from a rubbish container when my wife was on her way to Barcelona, Lona sounded nicer than Barca. Dr. Doolittle, as I have renamed my wife, would be happy if we adopted a mouse, a hamster and a pony to complete the set. Of course it is nice to save a soul. To give a second chance to an animal in need.
At first the kitten was frightened out of her skin at the sight of a horse-like black dog and a battle-ready terrier closing in on her. However the difference between dogs and cats is intelligence. She soon found a way to outwit the slow-witted duo. She can jump higher, climb better and crouch lower than her dog partners. “Do you think she will be alright with these two,” I asked my wife, stupid question. Within days she was stealing their food, taking their place on the couch and digging a place into our hearts. May and Zag gave up the chase. They resigned themselves to defeat. Brains had beaten muscles. The pen was indeed mightier than the sword. The Mlini Zoo was fully functioning.
Can dogs and cats live in harmony together, obviously the answer is yes. In fact the answer came a few mornings ago. It was just before sunrise and I was awoken from a deep sleep by an animal orchestra. Not only an orchestra but also I was trapped under my blankets. I tried to roll one way...no. I moved the other way and found another blockade in the way. Giving up that I would fall back to sleep I half opened my eyes to be greeted with a bed full of pets. A deep bass snore was coming from Zag at my feet. A high pitched more lady-like snore was coming from May on my left-hand side. And squeezed between me and my wife was Lona purring her head off. I was trapped in an animal prison. We had gone to bed that night without any of these invaders on our bed. They had all taken up their sleeping positions in various parts of the house. Yet, like ninjas in the darkness, they had all made their way under the cover of the night onto the bed. And as if to prove her intelligence and resilience Lona had taken the prime position between us. Once again the newcomer had shown her cunning.
The cat is a criminal mastermind; the dog is merely an opportunist. My morning concert continued. “Why am I the only one awake,” I wondered. “Why aren’t the snores of the dogs waking up the cat or vice-versa, and why isn’t Dr. Doolittle awake.” I lay awake staring at the ceiling listening to the animal ensemble. It slowly, very slowly, started to hypnotise me and after an hour or so I fell off to sleep again. Almost immediately I felt a thunder in my ear. Was I dreaming? Was someone using a grass trimmer at this time of the morning? I tried to ignore it, to force my mind to think of something else.
The roll of thunder continued. In defeat I opened my eyes and another pair of eyes were staring right back at me...cat’s eyes. “What the hell do you want,” I whispered at the staring eyes. “Meowwwww,” was the answer. Feeding time, the zoo was open for business and Lona wanted breakfast. Not only had the smallest member of our family managed to train the dogs to obey her but she was also twisting me around her little finger, or should I say little claw. Another quote from Twain to finish “If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but deteriorate the cat.”
Strong northerly winds in Dubrovnik have meant that the Dubrovnik Bridge has been closed to all categories of vehicles from 6.42 this morning. The strong winds blowing down over the mountains have also brought the temperatures down, with highs today expected to reach 9 degrees.
Not only is the Dubrovnik Bridge closed but also the first flight from Dubrovnik Airport at 6.45 this morning was forced to stay on the runway and didn’t take off to Zagreb.
The forecast for the beginning of next week is for more northerly winds and lower temperatures but by Wednesday the wind will have abated and temperatures will start to rise again.
Following news that Dubrovnik will be connected to Amsterdam and Vienna by low cost airlines for 2016 comes the news that Venice will also have its own budget link. The Spanish airline Volotea will connect Dubrovnik with Venice throughout the summer season of 2016 with twice-weekly flights starting on the 28th of May.
Volotea is one of the Europe’s youngest airlines and was founded in 2012 in Barcelona and currently connects around 50 European destinations. Volotea will offer competitive rates to Venice with prices starting at around 80 Euros for a return flight. Venice, which is a twin city of Dubrovnik, is already connected by the Croatian national airline, Croatia Airlines. Volotea will connect Dubrovnik to Venice twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays and plan to operate the line until the 3rd of September 2016. The Spanish airline also flies directly from Dubrovnik to Bordeaux.
Enter a competition through Facebook with the Croatian National Tourist Board and you'll have the chance to spend a holiday in Croatia. The tourist board is giving away a holiday for two in Croatia this summer, with two nights in Zagreb, one night in the famous Plitvice Lakes, two nights in Zadar and two nights in Split.
All you need to do to have a chance of winning this superb Croatia prize is to visit the Croatian National Tourist Board’s Facebook here and answer a few simple questions.
Try the Croatia quiz and spend this summer in the warmth of the Mediterranean sunshine.
His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, accompanied by his wife Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall will undertake official visits to Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia in March 2016.
According to the official website of the Prince of Wales the royal couple will visit four countries in the region in March this year. Prince Charles has visited this region of Europe eight times before but this will be the Duchess of Cornwall’s first official visit to Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.
The last time the Prince of Wales visited Croatia on an official visit was in 1996, however he visited Bosnia and Herzegovina in March 2007, the last time that he was in the region on an official visit.
The last time that Prince Charles was in Dubrovnik was in February 1996 when he visited both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before that the Prince Charles visited Dubrovnik in 1978. The official website of the Prince of Wales does not indicate which cities in Croatia Charles and Camilla will visit.
Prince Charles in Dubrovnik in 1978 - Photo Press Association
After paving stones were lifted in the centre of the Old City of Dubrovnik a new world was discovered. The excavations in the Gundulic Square in Dubrovnik opened up secrets from the past after the archaeologists decided to dig down another metre. Remains of houses, streets and canals dating back to before the great earthquake in Dubrovnik in 1667 were uncovered.
The young archaeologist Mira Andric and his team photographed the fruits of their labours after unearthing buildings, coins and rubble from times gone by. The “hole in the ground” has captured the attention of many local people.
After the excavations are recorded the stone slabs will be replaced and this small piece of history will, once again, be under the footsteps of thousands of tourists this summer.
Croatia celebrates the 24th anniversary of international recognition today, remembering January 15, 1992 when the countries of the then European Community (EC) jointly recognised it as an independent state. And Germany, which played a key role in that process together with the Holy See, established diplomatic relations with Croatia.
The first country to recognize Croatia was Iceland on the 19th of December 1991 while Germany recognized it the very same day. The European Economic Community finally granted Croatia diplomatic recognition on 15 January 1992. Two more countries decided to recognize Croatia before the EEC – scheduled date: the Holy See and San Marino. By the end of January Croatia was recognized by seven more countries.
Apartments in Dubrovnik, Opatija and Split were among the most expensive apartments on offer in Croatia in 2015 according to information from the specialised website Crozilla.com.
The highest average advertised price for an apartment in Croatia last year was in Dubrovnik where, according to Crozilla, the average price for a square metre was 3,149 Euros. Dubrovnik was followed by Opatija with 2,951 Euros and Split with 2,186 Euros.
Most of the Croatian cities away from the Adriatic coastline had an average advertised price for apartments of less than 1,000 Euros per square metre in 2015. The few exceptions were Zagreb with a price of 1,589 Euros and Varazdin where the price reached 1,101 Euro per square metre.
Among the less expensive cities included in the Crozilla.com study from last year were Vukovar with an average price of only 579 Euros and Sisak with the price of 783 Euros.
Compared to the prices of 2010, which is the base for the websites analysis, last year's housing prices on average were lower by 5.7 percent. The average property prices in Dubrovnik fell by 6.4 percent in 2015 compared to 2010.