Tuesday, 21 May 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

Swimming in the rain, just swimming in the rain! Yes, swimming in the rain, not singing in the rain, although we were singing as well. “Uncle Marky we are wet anyway so what does it matter if it is raining,” said Millie as she dived into another wave.

The last of the summer guests have just gone home, it’s been yet another busy summer season. My “baby” sister and my niece, my soft spot, Millie were the final chorus in this year’s summer song. And what a way to finish, a crescendo.

How a nine-year old girl can wrap a whole family around her little finger is fascinating. We pretty much did what she wanted when she wanted, although nobody minded, far from it. And yes we went swimming, and yes it was raining. But for Millie the sea was like a bath, a warm bath. She crashed through the waves and had the whole beach to herself.

The culture clash was interesting to observe. Here she was running up and down the beach whilst on the promenade behind us parents had wrapped up their children like it was a polar winter. Swimming suits versus thermal underwear. And at home she ran around barefoot with all the doors open, no fear of any draft from Miss Millie.

Now she is getting “older” she is no longer a little baby. The questions came thick and fast, many of them tricky to answer. She has a very open view of the world, she is the product of a different surrounding. Race, creed, colour and religion, or maybe I should say differences in all of these, are completely normal for Millie. She has even already been to a gay wedding. “Have you got a boyfriend,” asked my wife. “No,” she Millie with a cute smile. To which my sister asked in a flash, “Well maybe she has a girlfriend.” I could see the confused look on my wife’s face. “Yes, Boba, love is blind,” added Millie. “We don’t differentiate between people, it’s what’s inside that is important,” added my sister. I was having flash backs to my childhood and my upbringing. A liberal view on life.

Moments like this were broken up with funnier times, more awkward times. “When will I get fluff on my fufu,” she asked once. Just to fill you in “fufu” is her word for...well...ladies parts. How do you start to answer that? She is getting older. Gone are the days when she was happy watching Mickey Mouse, now we had Nickelodeon on at every possibility.

Brainwashing! I was going mad watching teenage programs featuring all the angst and insecurities of the pimpled part of growing up. But she was happy, letting out a chuckle every minute.

How refreshing it is to be young. I was accused of being nostalgic, and yes I admit it, I was. Although everything seems so much more complicated today, in these instant times there doesn’t seem to be any time. She was two-screening most of the time. Yes, two-screening, watching Nickelodeon with one eye and surfing Youtube on her iPad with the other eye. This was multitasking taken to another level. I soon lost my nostalgia. It seemed like all too much hard work.

“What do you want to eat tonight,” I asked her. “I don’t like Japanese or Chinese or Indian,” she replied. Thank God because we don’t have a great choice of those cuisines, I thought to myself. I was thinking of a pizza. She has a Dubrovnik memory based around food and shopping. As she has been here many times before she has learnt to navigate via ice-cream shops and shops. “Shall we go to the Stradun this morning,” I asked. “Oh yes then I can have an ice-cream in Dolce Vita and have a look in the Christmas shop,” she replied. She hasn’t been for a year but remembers her “important” spots. “Where shall we go for lunch then,” now I was intrigued. “How about the fish restaurant in the harbour,” she answered. “Haha, you are like a mini Tripadvisor,” I replied automatically. “What’s Tripadvisor...is that an app,” she answered. I basically followed her around the city; she seemed to know where she was going. And yes we had an ice-cream, bought a Christmas souvenir and of course had a fish feast in Lokanda.

The week flew by, and then Millie flew home. After taking them to the airport I slumped down into the couch, hit the remote control and was greeted by SpongeBob on Nickelodeon.

The Croatian Association of Employers (HUP) has urged the Ministry of Labour and Pension System and the Croatian government to reach an agreement with social partners about the number of working permits for foreigners that are to be granted for 2017.

Any delay in making this decision has a negative effect on the Croatian economy because apart from all existing problems it additionally limits possibilities for economic growth. This year many employers faced serious problems in finding a work force.

Although the number of unemployed people in Croatia is quite big, employers cannot find enough workers on the labour market with the required skills and qualifications. This problem has been present in several industries such as construction, shipbuilding, tourism and transport.

The situation of the lack of a labour force on the one hand, and the large number of unemployed on the other, is not characteristic only for Croatia. The same problem has been observed at the level of the entire European Union, where despite the number of 21.5 million unemployed, 40 percent of employers say that they cannot find adequate labour force.

''Due to the lack of the labour force numerous companies are unable to make new deals and develop their business which has negative impact on the whole economy. The only solution for now is an increased import of workers. Therefore, we require from our government to urgently find a solution for this problem in order to avoid the same situation or even worse one in 2017'', said Davor Majetic, the director of the HUP.

According to a survey carried out by HUP among its members, companies in Croatia have 5,099 job openings for which they cannot find adequate workers. At the moment the biggest problem is in the shipbuilding industry which is short 2,024 workers, followed by the construction industry (1,213 workers), tourism (885 workers), whilst the ICT industry has been indicated for some time now that they require at least 1,000 experts.

Three members of the Dubrovnik Sharks American football club have been selected to represent the Croatian National Team. Lujo Domaćin, Otton Roca and Marko Miletić will all play for the Croatian team in this flag, or non-contact, version of this all-American sport.

After more than ten years of active work in this sport in Croatia, the first national team has been formed and it will consist of players from each team participating in the annual competition – the Croatia Flag Football League. Players from Zapresic Saints, Osijek Cannons, Bjelovar Greenhorns and Zagreb Thunder, amongst others have all been chosen in the national team.

And the newly formed Croatian team will have their first outing on the 29th and 30th of October when they will play against in Serbia in this year's Balkan Bowl II tournament.

This tournament has been held for the second time and aims to strengthen cooperation between the Balkan and neighbouring countries, establishing and helping the popularization of American football in the region.

Well done to our Dubrovnik Sharks and we wish them well at this tournament.

sharks croatia national team

Otton Roca, Lujo Domaćin and Marko Miletić heading off to represent national team 

Within the next month gangsters and mobsters will take over the main capital of Croatia but only on the big screen! Croatia has once again attracted the international film industry, but this time it will feature the city of Zagreb and not Dubrovnik.

From the 5th of November to the 2nd of December a BBC film crew will shoot the new series ''McMafia'', a TV drama about the Russian mafia in London starring James Norton.

The shooting will take place at some of the most popular locations in Zagreb such as the Palaca Dverce (as the HQ of the Russian mafia), the Mirogoj cemetery (as the big cemetery in Moscow), the St. Marko church in the Upper Town, Kamenita Vrata, the Strossmayer Square and in a number of streets in the city's centre.

The eight-part BBC drama is based on the bestseller of the Guardian's reputable journalist Misha Glenny about organized crime, whilst the main character, the British actor James Norton is best known for his roles in the British TV series ''Happy Valley'', ''Grantchester'' and ''War & Peace''.

The recently published World Bank report ''Doing business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All'' ranked Croatia in 43rd position among 190 countries which is slightly lower when compared to last year.

Croatia biggest failing was in the ''Starting a business'' category where it ranked as the 95th on the list (83rd last year) as well as in the ''Paying taxes'' category ranking 49th (38th last year).

On the other hand, the country made improvement in the ''Protecting minority investors'' category ranking as the 27th (29th last year), whilst in the ''Trading across borders'' it achieved solid results and remained at the same level as last year.

Croatia also improved in the "Resolving insolvency" category, ranking as the 54th (59th last year) and in the "Enforcing contracts" category, ranking as the 7th (10th last year).
However, the country was ranked worst in the "Dealing with construction permits" category in which it placed as the 128th (129th last year).

The ‘’Doing Business 2017’’ list was topped by New Zealand, followed by Denmark and Singapore, whilst Somalia placed as the worst on the World Bank’s list.

Among the countries in the region, Macedonia placed as the 10th, Slovenia as the 30th, Serbia 47th, Montenegro 51st and Bosnia and Herzegovina as the 81st.

The ‘’Doing Business 2017’’ report covered a twelve-month period including June 2016, showing that over three-fourths of 283 reforms undertaken in developing countries were carried out, and that a record 137 economies adopted key reforms which facilitate starting a small or medium business and doing business.

Apparently, every country is the best at something, at least that's what the website Information is beautiful claims. 

They've made a special world map called 'International number ones', according to the data that they've collected from BBC, Reuters, The Economist, Forbes, The Guardian and others. It shows that every country is the best at something and it has funny and sad parts.

For example, France is the best when it comes to whiskey drinkers, Norway for pizza eaters, Colombia because of happiness, Tanzania for female workers and Singapore for healtiest people.
On the other hand, Togo is ''the best'' because of unhappines, China for jailed journalist, Honduras for murder and Georgia for homophobes.

And Croatia? Well, we're the best when it comes to liver and kidney transplants! We didn't expect that one, did you?
Check out the whole map, it's quite interesting!

Dubrovnik is the champion of Croatian tourism in 2016 and the best City Break destination – it was declared during the Days of Croatian tourism in Bol, Brac. 

Dubrovnik hotels demonstrated their high quality by winning numerous awards, especially Villa Dubrovnik, which was declared the 'Hotel of the year'.

Vlaho Margaretic, head of the Office for entrepreneurship, tourism and the sea received the recognition in the name of City of Dubrovnik. This is the second time this year that Dubrovnik was declared the champion of the tourism, since it already got that title from the newspapers Vecernji list. Well done!


On Sunday the 30th of October the island of Lokrum will be free for everyone. The Lokrum Reserve have announced that this Sunday the island will open its doors to all visitors for free, which means that not only is entrance into the nature reserve free but also so are the ferries from the Old City harbour.

The weather forecast for this weekend predicts sunshine and temperatures in the mid twenties, in other words an ideal opportunity to visit Lokrum.

lokrum 12

Catch a ferry from the Old City harbour 

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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