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.
There is no doubt that Croatia, and in particular Dubrovnik are in the headlights of the worlds media. Whereas Dubrovnik used to be a “hidden” holiday destination it is now one of the leading European vacation hotspots. With more airlines than ever before, more tourists expected this year than the last five years and new hotels in the pipeline there seems to be no end to the popularity of the south Croatian gem – the pearl of the Adriatic.
The UK press is falling over itself to promote Dubrovnik and the latest article appears in the newspaper The Daily Mail. Under the headline “Explore Beautiful Europe,” Dubrovnik, along with Montenegro and the Dalmatian coastline are all featured. This latest article will only add to the amount of guests from Great Britain that will plump for Dubrovnik as their summer option. Traditionally British tourists are the most numerous visitors to the city, for the past five years, and 2016 looks like being the same.
“I have the perfect solution, it’s environmentally responsible, extremely convenient and above all fun,” I joked with the team from The Dubrovnik Times. The very first copy of the tenth season of the Times came out last week. Blimey, where did those ten years go! It is a project that is very close to my heart, one that I am proud of, my little baby, the oldest or should I say the first English language newspaper in Croatia. When I think of the thousands and thousands of our guests who have read the paper it gives me goose bumps. So to celebrate the first copy the team “invaded” the Old City and handed out copies to locals and tourists.
A billionaire businessman recently explained the secret of his success, “when you are in your twenties don’t be afraid to try new things and make mistakes, in your thirties learn from your mistakes, in your forties don’t try anything new and in your fifties learn from the younger generations.” With this in mind, although I am still making plenty of mistakes, I have collected a younger team around me. They will probably learn from my mistakes and their own mistakes – might make them twice as bright.
“So what’s your big idea,” replied the younger generation. “Let’s move our office to the Old City,” came my answer. Their faces took on a question mark expression. “It makes perfect sense,” OK I was joking just a little. “We are in the newspaper and information business, we are now in the heart of everything,” I said as we sat around a table in front of Cele café bar in the heart of the Old City. “We have all the solutions right in front of us,” and my list began. Well join two tables together under those postboxes on the corner. Our new address will be “On the Corner Cele 1, Dubrovnik.”
Being on the corner we could just hand out newspapers as tourists walked by – distribution solved. We have free Wi-Fi from Cele all day long – IT solved. We would be sitting right under two postboxes so just raise your hand over your head and drop the post in the box – communications solved. And don’t forget that the postman would bring us the post right to the boxes. We are sitting right on the Stradun and right under St. Blaise, so we could almost lean out and take a photo – illustrations solved. On the wall just to the left is a public notice board with all sorts of info placed on it every day – events and small adverts solved. We are surrounded by almost a hundred different restaurants – catering solved. We are sitting in a café bar so there will be no problem for coffee breaks, they will bring it directly to our tables – coffee breaks and snacks solved. All of the tables here is either full of locals or tourists, both a great source of information – local and international news. The bank is just up the Stradun and you could distribute newspapers as you walked to pay the bills – financial department solved. There are nearly two hundred different businesses inside the city walls – advertising and marketing solved. All we would need is to drag our graphic designer down here and find a printing shop and we could be totally self-sufficient inside the city walls.
People lived for hundreds and hundreds of years inside these walls, they had almost everything they needed here, why wouldn’t we! We could even change the name of the newspaper from The Dubrovnik Times to the Republic, as a mark of respect to our elders and forefathers. It was just a bit of fun after a busy morning but it got me thinking. All those centuries ago people lived just like that; their working day would have been pretty much the same as I had just explained, but probably without the Wi-Fi. A much greener, less stressful and probably more rewarding way of work and life, and yet we have moved forward to a different future.
Needless to say the few copies of the Times we had went in a few minutes; the constant flow of tourists along the Stradun was never-ending. We could have had a thousand copies and still wouldn’t have been there for more than an hour. With a large “serving” of positive energy we greeted tourists from all over the world, for when you live and work in the Republic the world comes to you.
On the occasion of marking European Obesity Day a press conference was held at the Dr Andrija Šampar Institute of Public Health in Zagreb this Friday. An extremely high percentage of the Croatian population, about 56%, are overweight or obese which negatively affects their health and everyday life.
Last year in Croatia almost 1.2 million men and 900,000 women had problems with excessive body weight. This problem is the most widespread amongst young people from 15 to 35 years of age. Around 11.9% of secondary school boys and 14.2% of girls were overweight, whilst 22.9% of male students and 10.3% of female students on their first year of university were obese. But in some cases this problem was identified even at an earlier age: 13.6% of fifth-grade boys and 10.4% of girls were found to be overweight.
According to some recent studies a rising trend in the incidence of excessive weight is widespread in Croatia and worldwide and is a serious threat for human health. This fast growing problem also increases the number of related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, muscular and skeletal system diseases, diabetes as well as depression and various social problems.
The historic Old City of Dubrovnik had a real “high season” feel today as thousands of cruise ship passengers poured through the stone gates. In total three cruise ships were docked in the Port of Dubrovnik carrying with them around 5,200 passengers, the largest being MSC Magnifica with over 2,600 onboard.
Special pedestrian traffic regulations were in place on the Pile Gate entrance into the city, although the sheer numbers of tourists meant that a bottleneck formed through the stone arch.
Tomorrow, Saturday the 21st of May, will also be a relatively busy day with another three cruise ships expected and around 4,000 passengers.
'E - mobility in the Croatian way’, promo event of the City of Dubrovnik and City of Dubrovnik Development Agency (DURA) was held today at the Stradun and presented the most modern electric vehicles: cars, vans, scooters and bicycles.
With attractive Ford from 1908 processed to be electrically operated, two "Tuk-Tuk" vehicles were also presented, by entrepreneurs John and Anthony Danicic. The company Avant Car presented the Volkswagen E-Golf 'VW e-up! And Nissan e-NV200 (caddy) in front of St. Blaise church.
Scooters GO!S14 by the company Govecs and models E-max 110 L and Xkuty by the company E-mocija were also shown in front of Sponza Palace. Two of the three models of the scooters that were presented should soon be seen on the streets of Dubrovnik for the needs of the test drive as part of the project "100 electric scooters" by the City and DURA in cooperation with public carrier ‘Libertas’.
New amazing advertisement featuring Dubrovnik has been published five days ago. It shows a man who accidentaly drops a card form his wallet. Nothing unusual, right? Oh well, this card is special, because it cracks the street where it fell, opening the portal to – Dubrovnik! This original idea is really great ad for Japan Airlines, or more precisely their card, but also for Dubrovnik which is beautiful as always. Take a look!
The summer season in Croatia has already begun and the security of guests is among high priorities of the Croatian Police. Therefore, the Croatian Ministry of the Interior will implement the project called ''Safe tourist season'' for the eleventh year in a row in order to maintain security level and provide quality service to guests during the summer season.
This year 18 police organizations from 17 European countries will participate in this project. Apart from Croatia there are Albany, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Czech Republic, France, Kosovo, Hungary, Macedonia, Germany, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Italy and Ukraine. Starting on the 1st of July until the 1st of September 360 Croatian police officers and their 73 European colleagues will provide security to all tourists who intend to visit the Adriatic this year.
Foreign police officers will certainly contribute significantly to a greater sense of security and safety of foreign tourists and domestic as well. They will wear their usual uniforms but will not be armed. In cooperation with the Croatian police foreign police officers will help to achieve more effective communication with foreign tourists in order to solve eventual conflict situations and prevent misdemeanour and punishable acts. Also they will help to improve traffic safety and provide service information for foreign tourists.
Last week was very busy for me and it was around Wednesday that I noticed that I was having problems talking and felt like I was coming down with a cold or flu. Seeing how my work prevented me from resting for a day or two, I firmly decided I would not let myself get sick and got ready for a full on war. After a few hours of medicine stockpiling, I felt confident in my defences and positive final outcome of the conflict. At one point during my pharmacy crawl I ran into my mother and told her about my war plan. She looked at me unimpressed and simply said: “If that’s a cold, you are just going to have to let it do its thing, that’s the only way it will pass.”
Well, that’s my old school mother for you. She is still thinking in 20th century terms. She doesn’t know how us modern people have evolved beyond letting diseases “do their thing” and we now have a wealth of modern medicine at our disposal to help us. I paid no attention to her, but instead proceeded to work hard for the following few days while combating symptoms of what was turning out to be some sort of a super-cold with various remedies in my arsenal. It worked like a charm for the first two days, but by the end of the third one I started realising I am not winning this battle. If anything, I had merely forced my enemy to regroup and get reinforcements.
In the evening of the third day I was an absolute mess and had completely lost my voice. I spent the next few days in bed barely able to get up. Funny thing about those few days was that I decided not to take any medicine outside of hot tea and homemade honey. There was simply no point. So, not only did I have go through the ordeal of being sick, I was also lessoned in how to take care of myself by my mother. It’s so frustrating she still gets to do that. Oh well, at least she can’t read English, so she won’t know I admitted this publically.
After getting back to work it took me quite a few days to get back to the normal productivity levels. In the past this recuperation period would be much shorter. I would like to think diseases are evolving, but I fear it might be just me getting older. “Old age is the worst disease” – my father used to say. Oh God, I guess he was right too. This week just keeps getting better and better. However, I’ve noticed he never says it anymore, now that he’s old.
Bozidar Jukic 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.