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.
The new year has started with a publicity boom for the Dubrovnik region. After reports in the New York Times Travel section and the popular Condé Nast publication come yet more international media. The Huffington Post website has released an article entitled “30 Things to Do in Europe Before You Die,” and the Dubrovnik region features twice on the list.
At number fifteen on the list the Huffington Post recommends seeing the island of Korcula, “See in the half new year on Korcula Island, Croatia.” The half new year is a celebration, as the name would suggest, half way through the year and is held in the old town of Korcula. And in twentieth position on the list is Dubrovnik and once again it’s the HBO serial Game of Thrones that causes interest, “Play out your Game of Thrones fantasies in Dubrovnik,” writes the Huffington Post.
The top three suggestions in the article are to ride a bike around Amsterdam, sip a coffee in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower and in third place swim in the crystal clear waters surrounding the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
Croatia's admission to the European Union in mid-2013 has given an impetus to small producers of strong alcoholic beverages. According to figures provided by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) since entry an additional 20,000 small businesses producing hard liquors have been registered in Croatia.
The intensification of production and incentives to the production of fruit brandies helped realise the exports in the amount of USD 4.68 million in the first nine months of 2015, while the imports of those kinds of beverages totalled USD 2.6 million.
Zaklina Jurisic of the HGK sector for agriculture said that the adoption of the legislation on excise duties and some rule books as well as the continued training of producers had helped them to reach the demanding standards on the EU market.
Over 5.05 million kuna of excise duties on the hard liquors production was paid into the state budget in 2014, Jurisic noted.
According to the statistics kept by the customs administration offices in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek, currently 43,253 small businesses producing hard liquors are registered, and some 17,000 of them are active in the eastern region of Slavonia.
Jurisic also advised producers to apply for protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed as a means to boost the competitiveness of their products.
She noted that seven hard liquors produced in Croatia had already enjoyed the protected status at the EU level: –- Hrvatska Loza, Hrvatska Stara Sljivovica, Slavonska Sljivovica, Hrvatski Pelinkovac, Zadarski Maraschino and Hrvatska Travarica -- that is grape, plum and herbal brandies.
From sunshine to hail! Although the weather in Dubrovnik has been very kind and unseasonably warm at the beginning of this year today the city was showered with a hail storm. From an almost clear blue sky hail stones started falling, which given that the current temperature in Dubrovnik is around 15 degrees seems unusual.
The forecast for the rest of the week is for light rain with temperatures turning slightly colder.
Check out our hail in Dubrovnik video!
The duo 2Cellos starred at the Ballon D'Or gala ceremony last night in Switzerland. The pair of Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser opened the award ceremony with a dramatic performance of Thunderstruck.
The most prestigious award ceremony for individual footballers was a red-carpet evening with all of the world’s top players in attendance. The Croatian duo rubbed shoulders with Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar. “It was a phenomenal experience, everyone was delighted with our performance and they were all very approachable and nice. We were especially pleased to see Luka Modric among the greats. We very quickly became friends,” said Luka and Stjepan.
Whilst Lionel Messi picked up the main prize of the evening the Croatian and Real Madrid midfield ace Luka Modric was named in the FIFA team of 2015.
The City of Dubrovnik has launched an initiative for people to adopt dogs from the animal shelter in Dubrovnik. As a motivation for people to offer a home to a dog from the shelter the city has stated that they will finance the food and health care for the dog for a year.
A statement from the City of Dubrovnik explains that citizens who give a home to one of the dogs from the animal shelter in Zarkovica need to contact the public company Sanitat in order to arrange finance for food and vet bills.
Depending on the size of the dog citizens who adopt a dog will be entitled to the provision of food during 2016. The City of Dubrovnik is also offering health care for the new pets, including vaccinations against infectious diseases, castration and passports for dogs. The provision of food and health care will last for a period of twelve months from the date of signing a contract on adopting a dog.
More detailed information about this program can be found on the official website of the company www.sanitat.hr under “Home to an animal from Zarkovica.”
At the end of December last year there were 285,468 registered unemployed people in Croatia. When compared to November from 2015 the number of unemployed had risen by 0.3 percent, however when compared with December 2014 the number of unemployed has fallen by 9.9 percent.
According to new data from the Croatian Employment Bureau December last year was the fourth month in a row that the number of unemployed in Croatia increased.
This increase is mainly due to the ending of the seasonal work connected to the tourism industry. The data also shows that the trend has continued into January this year, as of the beginning of this week there were 290,574 people registered as out of work.
The start of another year and once again Dubrovnik is the centre of the international media. The latest report on Dubrovnik has appeared in the popular Condé Nast Travel website in a list of the 50 most beautiful cities in the world.
“There are few places that better capture the grand soul of maritime Old Europe,” comments Condé Nast Travel on Dubrovnik. And goes on the mention that the city features in the HBO serial Game of Thrones as King’s Landing. “The city currently plays King's Landing in Game of Thrones, and was formerly the capital of the Maritime Republic of Ragusa, rival to Italy's Venice and Amalfi.”
Other cities on the Condé Nast Travel list are Jerusalem, Edinburgh, Rome, Lisbon and Cape Town. In the number one position of the list is Venice.
Over the years Dubrovnik has inspired many a painter to create stunning scenes, an author to write the perfect poem and a sculpturer to bring life to stone. The historic architecture inside the ancient city walls have also enthused Renata Debeljak to design beautiful and stylish bags. The Dubrovnik Times caught up with this up-and-coming Dubrovnik based designer to learn why her brand RDCode is causing so many ripples in the design world. Through her work as a journalist she came in contact with world famous artists, their magic rubbed off, and now her unique bags are extremely sought after. “I believe that bags are much more than a fashion detail; they have a much more complex story,” commented Debeljak.
Where do you get the inspiration for the designs of your bags? Is it true that every bag is unique in design?
RDcode bags are my creative way to tell some of my stories, what I am currently experiencing, to “write” through them about my travels and the cities that have impressed me and left their mark on my soul. My inspirations are inexhaustible. Sometimes it is the windmills of Holland and Germany, sometimes the seashore, for some bags the German island of Sylt, and for some the old doors of Dubrovnik. Quite often my hometown of Bremen in northern Germany is a big influx. In modern and especially historical architecture I find inspiration for my bags. I don’t want to put bags in the context of the seasons or of current trends, or even to create some kind of collection, because each one has a separate story and I want them to be unique and timeless. It is true that all of my bags are unique, no two are identical.
What gave you the motivation to start your own company? Is this a hobby and a passion that has transformed into a business?
As a journalist, I most frequently write about topics of culture and lifestyle. Through this journalistic work, I have been able to meet many interesting artists and creative people from all over the world who came to Dubrovnik and whose work I admired. Their ability and talent fascinated me. They created amazing works, from sculpture, to glass reliefs, and jewellery made of unusual materials as well as bags that were real works of art. I am convinced that all those talents with which we are born will sooner or later come to the fore. I have always loved and had unusual handbags. It is important that the bag I carry reveals a story of my personality and not that it is part of the serial production. It's been hard, therefore, to find exactly the kind of bag that would suit me. I believe that bags are much more than a fashion detail; they have a much more complex story. So I got the idea to start designing them myself. I taught myself, with the help of foreign internet sites, how to go about creating a bag, putting it together. Before I decided to make my first bag back in 2006, I knew absolutely nothing about cutting out and sewing; I only had ideas in my head that were waiting to be brought to life. I tried to explain to others my ideas, but it would ultimately always turn out differently than I imagined. So with a great deal of hard work and determination I taught myself the techniques required to create a bag from scratch. I make all of my bags myself. Handbags have always been a hobby of mine, but two years ago I transformed this into a business and launched the fashion brand RDCode, however I still have my “day job” as a journalist.
Are handbags an extension of your personality? Do you find yourself "handbag watching" as you travel or during your time in Dubrovnik?
Yes, my bags are really copies of my personality. I started to design them primarily for my own personal style, which is along the lines of casual chic, not really connected to any fashion trends. I love to wear bags that last longer than a season, but also big, oversized bags, with which I can travel. Trips inspire me as well as the timeless beauty of my Dubrovnik.
What is the most important possession in your handbag? Do you have a favourite handbag or do you change them daily?
Depending on my day and my obligations in that day, but I like to say that my bags are along the line of that old Roman saying “bring all of your things with you.” Even though I design my bags I don’t change them every day. Sometimes I carry my same favourite bag in the summer and in the winter, and they are never big enough to carry all of the things I need. Most often I have a grey or some earthy coloured bag. I love simple designs without unnecessary details. Therefore the details of my bags are commonly found in the shape of a windmill and bags are generally made of different varieties of organic skins.
What are the plans for the future?
I have a lot of plans; one of them is to offer my designs onto foreign markets.