Sunday, 21 July 2024
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

According to the Department of Trade of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) Croatian citizens spent almost half a billion Kunas more during the Christmas week this year than in the same period last year. 

By the 20th of December the consumption in Croatia reached 10,2 billion Kunas, however, these figures are expected to be even higher after a detailed analysis of the consumption in the Christmas week and in the last week of December when most people usually receive their Christmas bonuses.
''The largest part of the holiday budget is usually spent on toys, clothing and footwear, cosmetics and electronic devices, whilst every third Kuna is spent on food and beverages'', said Tomislava Ravlic, the assistant director of the HGK Trade Department adding that the consumption this year increased due to the payment rise in 2015 and increased consumer optimism.

It is interesting to note that the growth consumption of alcohol has been recorded in the category of food and beverages in December which only indicates that Croatian citizens, in accordance with their tradition, prefer to relax and have some fun during the festive season.
This year's consumption will surely be ''pushed'' even more with seasonal sales that have already begun and will last for two months.

Many celebrities have visited Croatia this year, but only one of them has visited the country as a guest of Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

The former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and the president of the Kasparov Chess Foudation Adriatic and the chess grandmaster Zlatko Klaric met with the Croatian Prime Minister on the 28th of December in Zagreb.
They discussed the development of chess in the Republic of Croatia and the project ''Chess in Schools'' which enables students to learn playing chess according to the Kasparov Chess Foudation (KCF) model. The model is already applied in several countries and it is currently the best program in the world for learning chess. 

According to a statement of the Public Relations Office of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, on this occasion the Prime Minister Plenkovic supported a simultaneous chess exhibition promoting the project ''Chess in Schools''. Among other guests, Janica Kostelic, the former Alpine skiing champion and the head of the State Office for Sports also attended the event.

Founded by the World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, the KCF’s mission is to bring many educational benefits of chess to children worldwide by providing a complete chess curriculum and enrichment programs. The Foundation promotes the study of chess as a cognitive learning tool in curricular classes and after-school programs for elementary, middle and high schools, both in the public and private school sectors. The not-for-profit Foundation also organizes regional, national, and worldwide tournaments, programs for talented students, and promotional chess events.

Strong northern wind, called ''bura'', caused a lot of trouble in Dubrovnik. It didn't just bring cold, it also made damage around the city – many tree branches fell off and all the stuff that weren't fixated good were flying around.

One of the biggest things that was damaged is the biggest Christmas present, decoration that was completely smashed by the strong wind. It was one of the hot spots for people to take photos and it's really sad that now it's in pieces.

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I am a bit tired of the festivities. Celebrating Christmas holidays in Dubrovnik is a marathon, not a sprint… and I dislike running in general. Croatians tend to take things to the extreme and this is especially evident when we celebrate something. This means there is plenty of protocol to go through every year in the second half of December and it involves meeting friends and relatives, getting dressed up, buying presents, going to church and so on. And then, there is food. Oh, my God, so much food. Anyone who knows me just a bit knows I enjoy food and all aspects of it. I love making it, eating it, learning about it, and I have even based my own business partly on the importance of food in local culture. I am a foodie through and through, and a sugar junkie to boot. However, even I can’t cope with the sheer amount of food being thrown at me during the holidays, regardless of how delicious it is. Generally, most of us in Dubrovnik live close to our families and if not, we tend to visit during the holidays. This means, we spend few days around Christmas surrounded by our parents or even grandparents who were raised in a more traditional society where this holiday is one of those occasions that involves cooking your butt off and making a feast for anyone who will visit. There needs to be plenty food left over as well, otherwise, how will you know for sure if you've made enough? Maybe your guests left feeling hungry! The horror!

What I am trying to say is, I'm going on a diet after New Year's, so my readers can brace themselves for a string of depressing texts that I am likely to produce in the grumpy, sugarless state I am going to be in. Speaking of the New Year's festivities, what are your plans? Do you hate this question by now? I am usually a fairly organised man and like making plans ahead of time, but this year I have decided to take the route many of my friends did and simply don't bother with New Year's celebration plans. So, I haven't made any and it's already 29th of December. I am truly living on the edge. In all seriousness, this year's celebrations are not really exciting me, not (just) because I am a joyless Scrooge, but simply because I have an active social life and don’t crave any more partying or going out. This year especially has been marked by plenty of socializing with all manner of interesting people. For a closet introvert like me, there was borderline too much human contact in 2016 and I am very happy because of it.

Yes, I am going to end the year and this last text of the 2016 on a happy note. Talk about subverting expectations. This year has been very tricky worldwide and plenty of people are looking forward to it ending. In my life there has been ups and downs, but 2016 was nowhere near as bad as some of the years of my life (2012, I'm looking at you). It wasn't spectacularly good either, but if I need to take something positive away from it, it's all the people in my life because of which I can only think back fondly on the past 12 months. I have been blessed to be able to spend time with my friends and family, I had plenty of fun, enjoyed good food and wine, broadened my horizons and gained new insights. My wife and I are building our dream business and as hard as that is, it fills me with joy as it gives my life purpose and takes me one step closer to my dream of being my own boss (I hate authority figures) and having a business I believe in. With all this going on, I am also happy for being able to have this little corner of the web to share my thoughts with all of you out there reading my ramblings. Thank you for that. Time is our most precious commodity and for you to be spending yours reading my texts is a big compliment and fills me with pride.

So, boys and ghouls, from the bottom of my heart, happy holidays and all the best in the upcoming year. Let’s make it a good one!

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Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.
www.insiderholidays.eu
www.facebook.com/insiderholidays

The best vocal groups from Dubrovnik gathered last night in the church of St. Michael in Lapad to sing for the humanitarian cause. The vocal groups that were present are: Atlant, Amfora, Kase, Subrenum, Ragusa and Lindo. The church was full of visitors, who were singing along – it was a Christmas concert and many beautiful, traditional songs were performed. 

Money was collected to buy Magnetic chair for all forms of incontinence for Physical Medicine Department of the General Hospital Dubrovnik.

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                                                                                                                                                Photos by Zeljko Tutnjevic

New smart invention from Croatia is on the horizon! This time it is a smart bracelet which helps to reduce stress. 

‘’Meridda’’, the latest idea of the Croatian start-up company Studio Rebus and its director Tihana Petricevic was created in cooperation with doctors. Due to the increase of psychosomatic diseases, which are closely linked to the busy everyday life and increased stress, Petricevic came up with a solution to this problem before it turns into something more serious and causes permanent damage to one’s health.

The project Meridda consists of software and hardware solutions for the elimination of negative effects of stress to one’s health and work efficiency. The start-up has created a smart bracelet that allows accurate monitoring of parameters such as stress, body temperature, location and the given time period. It also includes a mobile and web applications that enable quality processing and data collection. According to Petricevic, the software quickly detects one’s weakest points that one should work on and gives suggestions on how some issues can be effectively self-regulated.

“Two years ago I started working more systematically on this idea through the Founder Institute Croatia. The development of the project is proceeding gradually in accordance with our financial capabilities. We are currently looking for investors to accelerate the product development, and to make it available on the market as soon as possible”, says the young entrepreneur.

Petricevic also added that their main goal was to create an innovative and quality product that would be competitive on international markets worldwide with its aesthetics and functionality. They are first targeting Western European and American markets, whilst distribution to other world markets is planned for the future.

Folklore ensemble Lindo will wish a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year to locals and tourists in Franciscan Church on Thursday, at 8 pm. This Christmas concert will be the last in their special year – in 2016 Lindo celebrated 50 years!

Concert will be conducted by Vedran Ivankovic, head of singing in ensemble. Guests will have the opportunity to hear traditional Croatian Christmas songs. Entrance is free.

Famous Croatian cellist Ana Rucner promotes beauty of Croatia again in her newest video published yesterday. The name of the video is ' Kopacki Rit In The Rythm Of Bolero by Ana Rucner' and it's produced by Romulic & Stojcic studio. 

Video shows one of the most famous Croatian nature parks, Kopacki Rit, placed in Eastern Croatia and sometimes called European Amazon. It is one of the most important, largest and most attractive preserved intact wetlands in Europe.

A part of Kopacki Rit has been designated as a zoological reserve. Around 260 various bird species nest here and there are many other species using this area as a temporary shelter on migration from the northern, cooler regions to the southern, warmer areas. There are 40-odd fish species and over 140 recorded species of plant.

This is for sure great and special promotion for Kopacki Rit and Croatia as well. Magic happens when music and nature combine!

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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