Tuesday, 07 April 2020
Ivana Smilović

Ivana Smilović

Ivana Smilović – a senior journalist at The Dubrovnik Times. Born and raised in Dubrovnik, Ivana (or Smile as she is known to all) graduated Media Studies from the University of Dubrovnik. A book worm, coffee addict and want-to-be world traveller Ivana brings her unique local insight, connections and general optimistic and well smiley feel to the Times.

Email: ivana@thedubrovniktimes.com

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic, with his associates, visited Ljubljana on October 17th, where he met Mayor Zoran Jankovic. The visit was an opportunity for the Dubrovnik delegation to get acquainted with the processes implemented by the City of Ljubljana in order to change urban mobility, using Smart City solutions.

Ljubljana is the leader in the application of sustainable mobile solutions and has been rewarded with numerous awards. The City of Dubrovnik is currently working on the Smart Urban Mobility Project (SUMP), which wants to introduce similar changes and the experience of the city of Ljubljana was really helpful.

In a very short time, from 2005 to 2014, Ljubljana has introduced major changes in the direction of environmental protection and sustainable development. The newly established traffic regime in the city supports sustainable mobile solutions. From 2012 the city is closed for motor traffic. The urban structure and popularization of bicycle riding has been by the project of free use of bicycles. More and more urban forms of transport go to methane because of CO2 reductions, and downtown passengers are transported for free by electric mini transport vehicles Kavalir.

The mayors talked about the possibilities of co-operation between two cities, primarily on smart city technologies, mobility and electric vehicles, car sharing and transport solutions, where Ljubljana's experience could be of great help to develop similar projects in Dubrovnik.

They also talked about cultural and tourist co-operation, congress tourism and the possibilities of withdrawing funds from EU funds.

The Mayor and his associates visited some of the successful urban solutions of the City of Ljubljana, through which there is a visible effort by the city administration to make everyday life easier for citizens using modern technologies, which is the goal of the City of Dubrovnik.

Like every year, Good Food Festival has humanitarian character. Complete profit of the Dubrovnik Table, which will be held on Sunday, October 21st at noon, will be given to the Down Syndrome Association of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County and Association of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities Rina Masera. Also, the complete profit of the tickets for Rixos Brunch,that will be held on Saturday, October 20th from noon to 2 pm, will be donated for the medical treatment of young Dubrovnik girl Gabriela Setka. All locals and their guests are invited to join the humanitarian events this weekend and show their big hearts.

Traditional Dubrovnik Table will be held on the last day of the fifth edition of the Good Food Festival. On the table, that will be placed on the Stradun, numerous Dubrovnik hotels, restaurants, bakers, etc. will be presented, along with winemakers from Konavle and Peljesac. The prices are symbolic – 35 kuna for the food coupon and 15 kuna for the drinks coupon. Ivica Puljic will host the program with Cultural-Art Society Juraj Osojnik and vocal group Subrenum, which will start at 11 am, while the table will be opened at noon.

Day before, on Saturday, Rixos Brunch will be held from noon to 2 pm in the Hotel Rixos Libertas. Restaurant Mozaik staff is preparing rich brunch and the whole profit will go in the right hands – for the medical treatment of the young Dubrovnik girl. With the Mediterranean appetizers and salad, chefs will prepare fish and meat delicacies for the main course in front of their guests. For the end of this rich culinary gathering, the boss of Rixos's pastry shop prepares a full range of sweet snacks. The price of Rixos Brunch per person is 200 kuna (the price does not include drinks) and requires a prior reservation.

Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, famous duo behind the name 2Cellos, always seem to delight their fans. Their newest video, playing Pirates of the Caribbean by Hans Zimmer, published today, already has over 17 thousand views and numerous comments!

- I've been waiting for this one for years! – it's just one of the comments left on the amazing video where the famous duo dressed up like Jack Sparrow (or Johnny Depp) from the famous movie – Pirates of the Carribean.

The video was made on the amazing wooden ship Karaka in Dubrovnik back May and it's finally out. What can we say – watch and enjoy!

When it comes to salaries, among the 28 countries in European Union, Croatia is ranked 21st, with an average monthly net salary of 684 euros (5130 kuna). According to the data of the Institution Économique Molinari in 2017, Luxembourg was the first with 3151 euros, and the last Romania with 321 euros. Behind Croatia on the list are Slovakia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania – Vecernji list reports.

The most attractive destinations for economic emigrants are those with average salaries over 2000 euros and in European Union there are 11 countries like that. Market trends have raised the average salary this year, so in July, the median net salary was, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 5504 kuna, which means that half of the employees had a lower share, and half had higher.. Compared to the same period in 2017, the average net salary is 2.5 percent higher.

The average salaries don’t speak enough about the standard; you can get a bigger picture if you know that Croatian monthly salary is about three times lower than the average of Western Europe, while the prices of most goods and services are pretty much the same, and because of the high VAT even more expensive – Vecernji list reports.

However, the pressure has helped a bit, and although six years of crisis have affected everything, in the last four years, salaries grew about 13 percent. However, that kind of growth some countries, such as Austria, have at an annual level, while in Croatia it is about 1.25 percent annually, and only Slovakia is behind us in the annual growth of salaries.

National Park Mljet celebrates the end of the successful season and 58th birthday by inviting all the nature lovers to enjoy these beautiful autumn days in the Park during their Open Days 2018. 

Open Days of the National Park Mljet will be held from October 24th and 31st when you'll be able to enjoy this paradise on earth for promotional price of 30 kuna per person. Children younger than the age of seven can enter for free.


Ricardo Luque, musician and amateur chef, was born in Venezuela and lives in Croatia since 1990. For years, he’s been introducing Venezuelan culture to Croatians through music and food. He’s well known for playing solo, as a part of band Cubismo and also in Zagreb Philharmonic. He’s been on the TV show Masterchef, and attracted a lot of attention because of his love for food and cooking. Now, he’s in Dubrovnik as a part of the Good Food Festival and he really has a lot to offer! He took some time to speak to us and discover what he will present at the Festival, what does he like about Dubrovnik and much more. 

What brought you to Dubrovnik this year?

I am here again because of multiple reasons! I'm the guest of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, as a part of the Good Food Festival. First, I’m here as a gastronomy expert, even though I don’t see myself as a professional – I am ‘’soul cooking’’, since I learnt everything from my grandma, mother and my surroundings where I grew up. Then, I will also be a lecturer. And, finally, as a musician! I believe that music and gastronomy go well together, since everybody love to eat good and dance, sing… Life wouldn’t be the same without it.

Are food and music your two loves? If you should pick one, which would you pick?

First – yes! And second – no, they go together! I think that music, like any other kind of art, requires an open mind. I’m really happy because I have a chance to express myself and see who I am through it. That’s the part of my identity. And when it comes to cooking, enjoying a good meal, made by yourself or somebody else is great. Person is really free, not thinking anything. Eating, cooking is not only fulfilling the need, it’s also a pleasure and opening your mind, creativity, imagination! Music and cooking have a lot in common. That’s why I’m really happy to be here as a part of Good Food Festival.

What are you offering to the Good Food Festival visitors?

At Pile, you can visit the fair and there is my stand – Arepa de Ricardo. There you can try traditional Venezuelan bread – arepa – which is done every day in every house in Venezuela. Arepa is mostly done at home because it's made by special corn flour. It has a long history and it's been made in Pre-Columbian times. When people from Spain came to our continent, they wondered what people eat and they discovered 'erepa'', which meant corn. At this stand you can try this traditional bread made by my family, my team! We work from 9 in the morning to 9 in the evening during the whole festival, until Sunday. On Friday, in the restaurant Kantenari at the Sunset Beach Dubrovnik, I will make a traditional Venezuelan dinner with typical, Venezuelan meals from the different regions. There is a great interest for it! After the dinner, I will perform with my band Cubismo, so the good food and the good music will combine. On Saturday, at 5 pm in the Dubrovnik Tourist Board office I will hold a lecture ''Heritage of the autochtonous civilizations of Latin America'. We will make a journey through food and culture and interesting facts about them. Just like our languages, our gastronomy is a mix of cultures, it has been affected by Europe, Africa, Asia…

This is surely one gastronomy pleasure for you in Dubrovnik?

Yes, I want to say thanks to the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. Everything I do, I don’t do for money, I do it for that spark, to introduce the others to my culture, so they can understand me better. It all started with salsa in Zagreb, I opened a school – even though I’m bad when it comes to business, I tried. And it was a boom! There were events with 800-900 people and it was amazing. I feel like I gave my contribution in opening Croatia and Zagreb, making it more cosmopolitan. Croatia is changing! I remember, before when I was making meals, I was buying groceries in the other countries and now, you can find almost everything here.

So, you are here long enough to see the changes?

I’ve been living in Croatia for a long time now and I almost feel like a local. Croatia is changing for the better! Tolerance is higher and I don’t see xenophobia anymore. People are opening their minds and their hearts and understanding each other better.


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Was it hard to fit in at the very beginning?

Yes, for sure. Even today I have some habits that are not common for the place I live in, but I fit in. The start could be more relaxed, but everything happens for a reason. Sometimes I’ve been in situations where people didn’t understand me and put me under the magnifying glass and discovered that I was normal!
You found a perfect way to share your roots with wider audience through music, food..?
Absolutely! I find it really important. It enriches you! I see that the society is changing, people are opening, listening. People are really reacting great. Sometimes, some older ladies approach me at the food market and say – I know you! And it’s really cute.

Do you miss something from Venezuela?

If I have to choose something, it’s the relationships between people. To be honest, I don’t know many neighbors in Zagreb and in my street in Venezuela, I know everybody. For Christmas, New Year, everybody have their doors opened and are going from house to house. I miss it! When I first came to Europe, to England I entered the train and said: ‘’Hello everybody!’’, everybody looked me like I was crazy. It was strange to me because back home we always say hello, it’s really relaxed, there is music, radio and you can even ask the driver to play some song or turn it up.

What are your impressions on Dubrovnik?

I come here almost every year, sometimes with my band, sometimes with orchestra to perform at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. I am always happy to come. There is one joke we have at the orchestra. We meet for drinks after the show in Zagreb and everybody wants to pay the round. First who takes the bill says – You will pay in Dubrovnik! Because we all know it’s expensive.

Do you like the city?

I love it, even my honeymoon was here. I have friends here, too. Every time I come it’s beautiful. However, it has some problems, such as parking and prices. I am sad for the people that live here, because they have those problems every day. But I love the manners of locals, they are very kind and warm. Ladies are beautiful and men are tall. Lovely people!

Do you have your favourite place in Dubrovnik?

I like to go to Peskarija. There are also lovely spots outside the Old City too, such as Konavle. Once I had an amazing concert, at Buza, we played Latin Jazz, there was a full moon, people were amazing… Also, I love the general rehearsals of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. I have so much lovely memories from this special city.

Austrian Airline Laudamotion announced three new lines from Germany to Croatia during the summer of 2019. The new Laudamotion base will be in Stuttgart. New lines will fly from Stuttgart to Pula, Split and Zadar - Avioradar reports. All lines have been announced to start on March 31rd next year with three flights a week on each line.

The Stuttgart-Pula line will fly on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The Stuttgart - Split line will be in traffic on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays while the Stuttgart - Zadar line will be on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Airbus A320 aircraft is expected to fly on all three lines.

Laudamotion is a new airline owned by Niki Lauda, which began flying this spring. The entire sales reservation system is linked to the Irish low-fare airline Ryanair.

This year is extremely successful for Croatian tourism and this was confirmed with the last great recognition, the prize won by our country for the Destination of 2018 in the selection of the Association of Travel Agents of Québec (AAVQ). The "Uni-Vers" ceremony was held last night at the Théâtre Rialto in Montreal, and Croatia was named the best destination in the strong competition made by Portugal, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The award was takenby Ina Rodin, director of the Croatian Tourist Board Representative Office in New York, which covers the Canadian market too.

-The award for the destination of the year is a confirmation of the excellent position of our country on the Canadian market, with over 170 thousand arrivals and 470 thousand overnight stays in the previous year, representing a growth of 24 percent in arrivals and 18 percent in overnight stays compared to the same period last year. The additional importance of this award is that the same is awarded by the professionals from the tourism industry, or more precisely the representatives of travel agencies and tour operators, but also based on the voices of the general public and the traveling enthusiasts - said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board Kristjan Stanicic, adding that a stronger positioning of Croatia in far-off markets will be one of the key strategic goals for the next year.

The Quebec Association of Travel Agents (AAVQ) was founded in June 2011 as a non-profit association with a free membership for all representatives and entities operating in the travel industry. The aim of the association is to protect and improve the legal rights of members, as well as to encourage the quality of work among members to meet all customer expectations.

Ina Rodin said that the positive trends from the Canadian market will continue in the next year. – Regarding to estimates of the total number of arrivals and overnight stays from the Canadian market in the next year, further growth is expected in Croatia at a growth rate of at least 20 percent. The estimates are based on the Canadian economy's recovery forecasts, with a strong contribution to direct flights linking Toronto to Zagreb and Split and a general growth in the interest of traveling to Croatia - said Rodin.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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