Thursday, 21 November 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.


Yes, we’ve all heard those embarrassing mistakes whilst ordering our morning coffee at the café bar, but keep out tongues in our heads to remain polite, but in general the millions of tourists that visit Croatia every year are greeted with a very high level of English.

English is taught from the first year of primary school across Croatia, so this good base combined with the opportunity to practise on a daily basis with tourists means that Croatians generally have a very good level of English. If you are applying for a job in tourism in many of the tourist destinations along the coast you won’t be asked if you speak English, it is simply assumed that you do.

And now Croatians have received some official confirmation of their English level with a new list produced by the World Economic Forum. Croatia has been placed in the list as “very high proficiency” and is the 14th most proficient country in the world.


English language skills, according to WEF, are declining in some of Europe's leading economies. Of the four largest European economies (France, Germany, Spain and Italy), only the Germans speak English very well and are part of the group with Croatia.

At the top of this list are the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, and Croatia is last in the group of the highest ranking.

The grey clouds finally broke over Dubrovnik this Sunday afternoon and instead of the dull rain the city was bathed in sunshine.

Winter is certainly on the way and even though a few brave swimmers were spotted in the Adriatic this afternoon temperatures are cooling down almost on a daily basis, but with only 45 days left until Christmas it is to be expected. Highs today hit 18 degrees but in the sunshine it felt like the mid-twenties. And the Adriatic Sea is a tad over 20 degrees.

A handful of tourists almost had the stone streets of the ancient Old City to themselves and the city walls were the exact opposite of the crowds in the summer season.

Check out our photo gallery of Sunday afternoon in Dubrovnik













The summer season has come to an end, the crowds have died down and the time has come to invest into Dubrovnik’s infrastructure. The latest project is the installation of ten new bus stops together with canopies and seats throughout the city. These new bus stops are being set up at places where canopies, from both the rain and sun, didn’t exist before.

The type of waiting room is selected depending on the spatial capabilities of each location. Thus, a closed waiting room with two front windows has been installed in Bosanka settlement, while the other bus stops are smaller shelters.

Work on the installation of new bus waiting areas and canopies should be completed within the next week. With this investment, worth a total of 384,000 Kuna, citizens will receive more appropriate conditions at bus stops that were not previously covered.

new bus stop dubrovnik 11


The recent changeable weather in Dubrovnik has seen rain, sunshine, wind and glorious sunshine. It has been a period of four seasons in one day, with people still swimming between the thunder storms.

And as well as stunning rainbows that seem to be a daily occurrence in the Dubrovnik skies there have been a number of fascinating weather phenomena. Yesterday the angry skies over the Adriatic in front of the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace twisted up this incredible sight. The moment was captured by Mislav Bilic and his photo is truly impressive.


Croatians are second bottom of the European Union in terms of life satisfaction. According to a new survey by Eurostat the Finnish are the most satisfied citizens in the European Union whilst Bulgarians are least happy.

In a survey carried out by Eurostat, the statistical wing of the EU, entitled “How satisfied are people with their lives?” “Overall, how satisfied are you with your life these days?” people across the European Union were asked.

On a scale from 0 (“not satisfied at all”) to 10 (“fully satisfied”), the mean (average) life satisfaction of EU residents aged 16 and over was 7.3 in 2018, an increase compared with 7.0 in 2013.

The highest life satisfaction was measured in Finland and Austria, with the Finns averaging 8.1 on the survey. Whilst the lowest was in Bulgaria which saw only 5.4 on the survey, followed by Croatia in second bottom position with 6.3, and Greece and Lithuania both with 6.4.


Public Administration Minister Ivan Malenica has announced that a bill on the population census, which has been put up for public consultation, also envisages the electronic collection of data, apart from census takers who will collect data in the field.

This will be the first time for Croatia to conduct a population census by census takers and also to have an e-census conducted simultaneously.

"The draft act is currently being discussed. We will see what the next steps could be," Malenica said.

The electronic collection of data is expected to be conducted from 1 to 10 April 2021 through the e-citizen system, and will provide and opportunity for citizens to present the necessary data about themselves and their households online.

The second stage, set for 16 April to 7 May 2021, will be conducted on the ground by census-takers in households which have not been covered by the e-census.


"The garden must first be prepared in the soul first or else it will not flourish," states a famous English proverb. Whether it is a flower box hanging from an apartment window, a small garden behind a modest home or acres and acres of manicured public parks the green spaces in England are kept with the upmost care.

“Everything is so green and it looks like somebody organised it with a ruler,” commented my wife as we flew over south England coming into land. She was right, from the air parts of England look like a huge patchwork quilt, a cornucopia of greens, browns and yellows. Just about everyone has a garden of some sorts. Of course one of the reasons why my wife was right is that there is certainly enough rain to keep everything in bloom.

As we picked up the rent a car and made our way further south to my family we soon got off the major roads and into the wilds. Within a short space of time we saw pheasants, foxes and deer roaming close to the road, and even on it. Green fields as far as the eye could see, every inch of the land worked in some agricultural manner. I couldn’t help thinking that Slavonia, or even the fields of Konavle, should look like this. There is no abandoned hectare. From cattle to crops every inch is used. And in the spaces where nothing will grow then farmers “plant” another type of money spinner – solar panels. Great waves of black panels feeding the electrical grid.

Arriving in my mother’s village every home has a display of flowers, my own mother’s garden has so many that you have expect Sir David Attenborough to appear from the foliage filming a nature documentary. After a couple of days my mother suggested “Why don’t we visit a garden today.” Surrounded by gardens already my wife raised her eyebrows. But this was no ordinary garden. Within almost walking distance of her house is one of the crème de la crème of English gardens, Rosemoor.
The Royal Horticultural Society own and look after over 200 gardens in the UK and they are the utopia of English gardens. As it was a rainy day I have expected us to be the only ones there, wrong, it was packed. We paid our 11 pound entrance fee (make your own judgment in comparison to the City Walls) and entered a masterpiece.




If gardening was a work of art, then we were looking at a Monet. Even my young niece, who was at first less than impressed to be walking in a “boring garden,” soon changed her tune and was exploring. You have never seen lawns like this before, they looked flatter and smoother than a snooker table. The work that goes into keeping these gardens immaculate is endless. The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.

We turned a corner and I saw one example. A gardener was cutting the hedge that divided one garden from the next. This hedge was over two metres tall and at least the same width. It stretched for over 200 metres and yet it was perfectly measured as if cut from stone. The rest of my family had wandered away but I was mesmerized by the gardener. He was trimming the top, but every now and then he would stop and run his eye along the top to make sure it was straight.

But it still seemed strange to me that he could get the whole hedge so perfect. That was until he pulled out a sprit level and laid it on top of the hedge to make sure that it was 100 percent flat and straight. The same spirit level that builders use to check walls this rain-soaked gardener was using to check his green hedge. This hedge was probably over 50 years old, so somebody before him had presumably done the exact same thing. Years and years of constant care and hard work.

And on that grey overcast day I was remembered of all the hard work, tradition, dedication and care that it takes to make things work. There is no overnight, magical cure for anything. Whether you are trying to build a business, attempting to lose weight, raising your children or indeed running a country. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Rosemoor. As a wise author once wrote “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

The collaboration between the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and the Caboga Stiftung Foundation continues with a free concert performed by the London Handel Players Ensemble at 8:00 pm on Saturday the 16th of November at the Kaboga St Bunich. The concert will feature works by Händel, J.B. Lully, M. Marais, J.S. Bach, A. Campr, J. Leclair and J.F. Rebel.

The London Handel Players ensemble, praised by the New York Times for its "spiritual depth" and "impeccable musicianship", captivates audiences around the world with their performances and albums. Since debuting in 2000 at the Handel Festival in London at Handel's Parish Church of St George Hanover Square, the ensemble has regularly performed baroque chamber acts and concerts in leading concert halls and festivals in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America, and has collaborated with world-leading singers.

Free tickets for this concert can collected at the Festival Palace in the Old City of Dubrovnik from Monday to Friday, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. In cooperation with the public bus company Libertas, a free shuttle bus will also be provided, departing at 7:30 pm from Pile.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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