Wednesday, 17 October 2018
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

Jakša Diklić from Konavle, a member of the Triathlon Club Dubrovnik, is the winner of the first edition of Dubrovnik Triathlon, which brought around 150 competitors from all over the world.

Diklić was the first passed the post in the Olympic category section, in which competitors had the task of sailing 1,500 metres, a 40 kilometre bike ride and a 10 kilometre run. Competitors in the sprint category had half the task first 750 metres of swimming, then a 20 kilometre swim and a 5 kilometre run.

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Diklic celebrated with a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes and 23 seconds, second was Luka Čupić from Montenegro and third was Loic Donnart from France. Whilst in the women’s race the fastest competitor was Leni Fafangel from Slovenia, Jelena Tomašević from Montenegro came in second and Hannah Grant from the United Kingdom finished third.

Dragan Jovanović from Montenegro won the spirit category, second was Joerg Fink from Austria, and third was Ben Ospalak from Great Britain. Jovanović finished in a time of 1 hour, 6 minutes and 3 seconds.

In the women's sprit competition, the fastest was Austrian Apollonia Fischer with a time of 1 hour 18 minutes and 17 seconds. Silver was won by Lucy Anderson from Great Britain and bronze by Zorana Medarić from Slovenia.

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Croatian airports are on course to break the 10 million passenger mark this year as the country’s nine commercial airports are recorded outstanding results. Across the country the number of passengers using Croatian airports is expected to grow by 10 percent on 2017 and will break the 10 million mark.

"The significant rise in passenger numbers at Croatian airports has been influenced by GDP growth in countries that visitors are coming from, as well as numerous other factors, including safety. Travellers want to go on holiday to places where they feel safe", commented the President of the Air Transport Association board at the Croatian Chamber of Economy, Tonči Peović.

Zagreb airport will once again lead the country in terms of passenger number with an estimated 3.4 million passengers expected in 2018, whilst Split is close behind with 3 million passengers. Spilt has seen an impressive growth in passenger numbers over the past few years as the airport attracts more new airlines and the city becomes more attractive to tourists.

Dubrovnik Airport will be the third busiest airport in Croatia is 2018 with passenger number expected to rise by 10 percent this year.

"Such dynamic growth in traffic brings with it new challenges in terms of airport capacity. Given that traffic is expected to double within the next seven years, it is necessary to define the maximum capacity at Croatian airports and begin preparations to move some airports to new locations, so as to allow for their undisturbed development in the decades to come" concluded Peović,

The speed of the Croatian judicial system is notoriously slow, bogged down under a mountain of cases the courts aren’t renowned for their efficiency. And new data shows that as many as 1.25 million new court cases are opened every year in Croatia and create a huge backlog.

The Supreme Court President, Djuro Sessa, completed a report on the country’s judiciary system and it shows that the number of new cases in 2017 actually fell, although they still reached over 1.2 million, and that the courts were more efficient in 2017 compared to previous years.

When you bear in mind that Croatia has a population of around 4.2 million and over 1.2 million new cases were brought in one year it highlights the problems the court system has.

"In late 2017 there were 9 percent fewer pending cases in Croatia's courts than in 2016, when the number of pending cases was nearly 509,000," said Sessa.

He said that the situation with court cases involving land registers, which accounted for a large number of complaints, had improved considerably, with the time courts take to solve such cases having been shortened to 32 days on average.

The biggest ever military exercise in Croatia is currently underway. “Velebit 18 – Joint Force” is the title of an exercise that started on Saturday and will continue uninterrupted for 72 hours at 11 different locations.

The Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, opened the military exercise along with the Minister of Defence, and commented praised the military for "good preparedness and ambition in testing the capabilities of the army's active and reserve components."

"This command, which leads joint operations of the army branches in real time, in an exercise that has not happened since the Homeland War, demonstrates a high level of competence and understanding of the most modern principles of military doctrine," said the Minister of Defence. Adding that the exercise involves around 5,500 soldiers.

Dubrovnik rocked to the sounds of The Beatles last night as the British Days in Dubrovnik event ended with a bang on the Stradun. All the classics from the Fab Four brought hundreds to the city, with these timeless classics finding an audience willing to join in and created a magical evening.

“Wow, this is so cool. I can’t believe how good these guys are. This night has really made our vacations,” commented Paula Jones from the USA.

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Twist and Shout 

The British Days in Dubrovnik, which was organised by the British Embassy in Croatia and the City of Dubrovnik, created a diverse and entertaining program from the 10th to the 12th of October with the centrepiece being a 1964 Route master double-decker parked directly in front of the Old City of Dubrovnik. The connections between the UK and Dubrovnik were celebrated in a three-day event that brought educational programs, art, cinema, children’s games, sport and a pub quiz. And last night was the turn of music to take the stage, and it was a finale to remember.

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We all live in a Yellow Submarine 

Hundreds of locals and tourists joined together in a common love of The Beatles as the stone facades echoed to the sounds of Lennon and McCartney.

“I have danced tonight for the first time in a long time, brings back memories of my youth,” commented Colin from Essex. Adding “A huge thank you to Dubrovnik for this great concert…what a night out!”

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Fans from Dubrovnik with the "Fab Four" 

 

The Beatles Revival Band from Rijeka, four extremely talented musicians, turned back the years and the memories followed. Hard Day’s Night, Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band and Hey Jude as the big finish saw the band play for two hours solid.

 

“The public were just incredible, we know that The Beatles hits are songs without borders but this was just a crazy night, we loved it and love Dubrovnik,” commented the band after a concert to remember.

Dubrovnik art has hit the streets of London with the opening of an exhibition from Deša Vlahutin in the Old Brompton Gallery. Organised by the MA Gallery in London the exhibition features five sculptures from this academically educated sculptor in a cycle inspired entitled “Fibonacci Fragments.” Inspired by the Fibonacci series, a mathematical formula called the divine measure of the whole world.

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The opening of the exhibition was attended by Daria Chernenko, head of the Russian department at Bonhams auction house, Anthony Fawcett, a British writer, critic and former personal assistant of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, pianist and composer Vessey Tchakarov, mathematician Mark Walters and the Croatian Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The exhibition is open until October 17, so if you travel to London, make sure to stop at the Old Brompton Gallery.

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Autumn is still on hold in Dubrovnik! Temperatures over the past week have been constantly in the mid-twenties and blue skies and plenty of sunshine have replaced the autumnal conditions. Yesterday Dubrovnik was the warmest city in the country and this weekend that trend is expected to continue.

Highs today will reach 25 degrees and as the Adriatic Sea, warmed over the summer months, is still a tempting 21.5 degrees the city sparkled in the autumn sunshine. With only 79 days to the New Year Dubrovnik is enjoying an Indian Summer and the iconic Banje Beach, just a stone’s throw from the historic Old City of Dubrovnik, saw swimmers and sunbathers today as tourists cashed in on the October sunshine.

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“I came here for a long weekend and I packed warm jackets and sweaters, I can’t believe how warm it is, we’re loving it,” commented an English couple standing above the beach.

And, according to the Croatian Meteorological Society, we are in for more high temperatures and bright sunshine for the whole of next week. Whilst most of the rest of Europe is wearing thick winter coast and carrying umbrellas Dubrovnik is proving it’s a city for all seasons.

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This headline really caught my eye recently "There are not so many femme fatale women today because women-barbies prevail, and just mummy’s boys love barbies!" And how could it not catch my eye when I saw who wrote it. As usual he had hit the nail firmly on top of the head, Mr. Luko Paljetak, or if he was born an Englishman Sir Luko Paljetak. He continued in his indomitable style "Do not tell me that barbies are femme fatale! Not at all! Femme fatale women have disappeared because society is no longer producing situations in such women can stand out, so distinguished because it does not allow them either a way of life or fashion."

It’s a question of fitting into the mould. Women today are dressing like they wear uniforms, having make-up and hair like Kim Jong-un gave them a choice, behaving as if pre-programed and don’t start me with the sunglasses. It’s a mould that seems unbreakable. And a mould that is quite frankly extremely boring.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking from a position of strength. I know as much about fashion as I do about nuclear physics. I am merely speaking as an onlooker, an observer, which is what most of us men are. And honestly the Barbies are getting dull.

I understand that it is always harder to swim against the current. Running with the rest of the pack is always less frightening. “True elegance for me is the manifestation of an independent mind,” once said a true dame, Isabella Rossellini. Walk into any bar in the city, any restaurant or in fact just sit on the Stradun or in Uvala Lapad and you’ll be witness to a parade of copy/paste females.

And Dubrovnik doesn’t hold the monopoly on equilateral women, yes it seems the days of creativity and individualism are long gone. Just look at Instagram, you can type in pretty much any search word you like and I guarantee you you’ll be met with a regurgitation of identical proportions.

Are these so called “influencers” the new Gods? Women follow them unquestionably and worship their every word, so yes maybe they are the new Messiahs. But as Sir Luko was also quick to point out woman shouldn’t shoulder all the blame for the mould that has been created. Men, or to be more precise mother’s boys, help to circulate the myth that the “mould ladies” look attractive.

I had to hold back a laugh when an elderly journalist once said to me “The Old City is absolutely enchanting but why are there so many prostitutes walking along the Stradun.” Of course they weren’t “ladies of the night” (at least not all of them) but you could forgive me for being confused. I wouldn’t have blamed me if he thought there was only one clothes shop in town.

But it’s the younger generations that are the most worrying. They, unfortunately, have picked up the baton from the older generations and continued the mould look. Where are the rebels? Where is the punk generations? We’ve had the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of the hippies in the 1960’s. The glam rock and heavy metal of the 1970’s. The 80’s were really the last decade of mass culture when people didn’t use the internet to get together but rather festivals and it was a decade of crazy colours and large hair.

What will this decade be remembered for? I asked Google the same question and was depressed with the answers as they were all regarding the internet, smartphones, social media and emojis. Where is the fight? How did we all become so passive? The outlandish fashions of decades passed have been replaced by conformities. To stand out, to stamp your own style, your own look is frowned upon. Conventionality is the new keyword. If you can’t find a hashtag to describe your outfit or an emoji to brighten your description you are a black sheep.

F*** hashtags and f*** emojis. Mother’s boys should grow a pair and ladies should break the mould. As the legendary Helen Mirren, sorry Dame Helen Mirren, once said “At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words “f*** off” much more frequently.” Well said Dame Helen…maybe I should introduce her to Sir Luko. Now that would be an interesting dinner party!

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