Saturday, 24 September 2022
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

Karisma Hotels Adriatic has announced that the realisation of the Plat project should begin soon and expect that the first phase of the resort will be completed by 2017. The Plat hotel complex, which was devastated in the Homeland War, was purchased by Karisma Hotels Adriatic in a public tender for 118 million Kuna at the beginning of last year.

After Hotel Mlini and Hotel Sheraton, the Plat resort is the next hotel in the Zupa region to be reconstructed. Karisma has stated that the first hotel will be open in 2017 and will have five-stars. They have recently presented their plans to members of the urban and architectural commission which was appointed by the Borough Council.

“All submitted solutions that the investor supplied us were considered and in accordance with the Development Plan for Platt we have chosen the solution offered by the company Scott Brownrigg from London,” commented the head of the borough council for Zupa Silvio Nardelli.

Karisma Adriatic Hotels, which is owned by Karisma Hotels from Mexico and Agrokor from Croatia, have entered into the purchase and redevelopment of Plat with one of the biggest travel operators in the world, TUI. This connection should ensure that the future resort is busy for a large part of the season.

Plat resort in the future

The castle of Sokol was built on an inaccessible cliff more than 25 meters high. A natural fortress, its controls the main road leading from Konavle north into Herzegovina and the Balkan hinterland. This is the main reason why this town has been continuously inhabited since ancient times.

Although its present name was first mentioned in August 1373, archaeological finds date the town several thousand years earlier. Research has proven that there was a prehistoric structure, an ancient and a late-antiquity fortress, and a medieval town that came under the authority of the city of Dubrovnik in 1423.

Protecting the region for centuries
The role of the fortress changes over time. In addition to its religious function, the prehistoric fortress also protected the inhabitants of the village below it. Ancient Roman and late antiquity Byzantine fortresses had to defend the Konavle region from external enemies and barbarians. In the Middle Ages, Konavle was primarily under the authority of the neighbouring states, although it enjoyed a special political position. Fort Sokol no longer had to defend Konavle from neighbouring rulers because they were already in Konavle. These feudal lords now enforced payments from their lands in Konavle from Sokol. With the arrival of people from Dubrovnik this system changed radically. They oversaw Konavle and managed their revenues from the Rector’s Court in Saint Martin (Pridvorje) and Sokol took on a role similar to that of Justinian’s castrum from the 6th century: the defence of territory acquired from external enemies.

sokol grad museum

History explained in the museum 

Back to its former glory
Throughout the 15th century, the Republic of Dubrovnik invested considerable financial resources to make Sokol a fortress powerful enough to defend Konavle and the south-eastern borders of the republic. The small trading republic had many enemies. In addition to rulers in the hinterland and the powerful Venetian Republic, which was always lying in wait to conquer the city, a major new power on the European mainland was unstoppably approaching the borders of Dubrovnik: the Ottomans. Sokol also played an important military role in the 16th and the 17th centuries. However, after the Candian war in 1669, the fortress lost its significance and the Dubrovnik army abandoned it in 1672. The Association of the Friend of Dubrovnik Antiquities acquired Sokol in 1966. The restoration, which has taken more than half a century, has enabled the fortress to open to the public. After 350 years, Sokol is again guarded by a permanent garrison the watches over it.

sokol grad

Truly a magical place 

 

Members of the Croatian Star Wars Club shocked Dubrovnik early yesterday morning as they walked down the Stradun dressed as Darth Vader and two Storm Troopers. The trio travelled to the set of the eighth episode of Star Wars in Dubrovnik to act out scenes from the popular movie franchise.

The Croatian Star Wars portal published photos of Darth Vader and the two Storm Troopers in various locations around the Old City of Dubrovnik.

Check out the photos published on moscroatia.com

starwarsdubrovnik1

starwarscroatia

star wars in dubrovnik

All photo credits - moscroatia.com 

“Welcome to Franjo Tudman Airport,“ is the call sign the millions of passengers will hear in the future as they land at the new Zagreb Airport. The Croatian Government has decided to name the new Zagreb Airport after the former Croatian President Franjo Tudman.

The construction works on the capitals new airport is well under way and is on course to be completed by 2017. With a capacity of 5 million passengers a year, eight air bridges and a shining new terminal building the new airport will surely act as a hub for the region of Europe.

The new Zagreb Airport is being built a French company which has a 30 year concession to operate the Zagreb International Airport, or as it will be known the Franjo Tudman Airport. Whereas other international airports often carry the name of famous people, such as JFK Airport in New York and John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, the Zagreb Airport will be the first in Croatia to be named after a well-known person.

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal,” once wrote Paulo Coelho. I am always drawn towards proactive people; I love to feed off their energy and ideas. The idea of sitting and waiting for something to fall out of the sky into my lap has never been my style. Passivity is fatal to all of us.

I can judge within a few minutes if a person is “switched on” or “switched off.” Just the other weekend I had a coffee with a very rare breed, an extremely switched on person. Ideas are like uncut diamonds, creativity is the wheel that turns ideas into a 24 carat diamond ring. My coffee partner was a well-known Dubrovnik guide. I half expected to meet another tourist worker who was full of complaints about having not enough work, or even too much work…how wrong I was.

“I am always trying to think of new ideas for tours and excursions, from Game of Thrones to classical tours,” he started. OK, nothing new there I thought, every man, women and dog in Dubrovnik is running some kind of Game of Thrones themed business. “We also have some Star Wars tours starting,” he added. Now my ears pricked up. Star Wars hadn’t even confirmed that they would be coming and already this enterprising young man had dreamed up Star Wars tours. “And one of our biggest hits outside of the summer season are shopping tours,” he continued.

I looked at him with a blank expression, the kind of look that Donald Trump permanently seems to wear. “Sorry I thought you said shopping tours in Dubrovnik,” I confirmed. “That’s right, shopping tours in Dubrovnik,” came the reply. Was I going mad! Where? Who? Why? New York, London, Paris, Milan these are shopping magnets, Dubrovnik is, well, not! I pushed forward, he looked serious, this guide was running shopping tours to Dubrovnik.

“We bring coach loads of tourists from Albania throughout the winter months to go on shopping tours in SUB City,” he added. BOOM! WTF! I can’t actually write what I replied as it would be censored. So he wasn’t talking about shopping tours to Dubrovnik, what he really meant was shopping tours to Zupa. If someone had told me that Dubrovnik would have shopping tours when I first landed on these shores I would have said they were slightly deranged. If they had said the shopping tours would be in Zupa I would have strapped them into a straight jacket and wheeled them down the asylum. “We gave one agency in Albania the idea and they loved it, as soon as they heard there was a H&M and New Yorker in the centre they started organising tours,” he continued. I remembered to close my mouth which had been open, as if catching flies, for the past few minutes.

It turned out that not only Albanians hungry for Muller products were included in these tours, buses from Montenegro and BIH were also flooding here. “We get three or four bus loads of people who spend a day in SUB City, sleep in a Dubrovnik hotel overnight, and then go on a sightseeing tour of the Old City,” said the guide. My mouth dropped open again. I had images of this guide leading groups of Albanians through SUB City. My mind was spinning. Then came one of the daftest questions I have ever asked anyone, “Do you guide these tourists through SUB City.”

As soon as it came out of my mouth I knew it was moronic. My mouth was working faster than my brain. Images of him holding up one of those paddles and pointing out, “and on your left you can see Yamamay, and on the right is Mass shoes, and just round the corner is Tom Tailor.” Of course he greeted my dumb question with a laugh.

“These guests aren’t really interested in the historic tours, if we have 500 people maybe 30 will actually go on the tour of the Old City,” came my answer. I couldn’t help but think of all the local people that had moaned that SUB City was too small, too big, too close to the road, not close enough to the road…passive minds. Whilst this man had seen a business opportunity, had created that 24 carat diamond from an idea. If you approached the average person in the street and said “I want to run shopping tours in Dubrovnik,” I guarantee you that 99 percent would look at you as if you had just suggested putting a man on Mars. But one would have the foresight to stop and think. If we can have shopping tours in Zupa then surely anything is possible. What will you think of next?

Darth Vader with two of his Storm Troopers strode through the streets of Dubrovnik this morning, and no, it was not the beginning of filming of the eighth episode of Star Wars in the city.

It has to happen, the temptation was just too much to avoid. Croatian fans of the Star Wars franchise took advantage of the freedom to walk around on the set on the main street to have a little fun. Members of the Croatian Star Wars Fan Club dressed up and filmed themselves “on set” on the Stradun. Darth Vader, with two Storm Troopers to tow, strolled through the cobbled streets on Dubrovnik at 6 o’clock in the morning today. They pretty much has the Old City of Dubrovnik to themselves and made the most of the empty streets by acting out scenes from Star Wars with just a few early birds looking on.

However it didn’t take long for Darth Vader to cause a crowd, tourists and locals surrounded the “Dark Lord” and pressed for selfies, maybe even a few thought that recording had begun.

According to a report on starwarsdubrovnik.com the trio made a hasty escape from the main street and the fans and darted up a side street before finding refuge in a house. This is quite possibly the first time that Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers have run from tourists!

Darth Vader in Dubrovnik

Darth Vader escapes from the crowds - Photo starwarsdubrovnik.com

Storm Troopers in Dubrovnik

Winter tourism, or rather the lack of winter tourism, in Dubrovnik has been an unsolvable problem for the city’s tourism experts for years. The latest move to address this conundrum comes from the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, who has approached all the hotels in the region to cooperate in strengthening Dubrovnik as a year-round destination.

The core of the problem has been the lack of flights during the winter months. Although British Airways used to fly four times a week through the winter months this has now dropped to once a week, with no flights at all at the beginning of this year. Apart from British Airways no other international airline operates to the city through the winter. Tourists have been forced to fly through Podgorica Airport in Montenegro with Ryanair, or catch a connecting flight from Zagreb, to reach the “city for all seasons.”


In the mayor’s letter to the hotels in Dubrovnik he points out the importance of creating new programs outside of the summer season, he says that the intention is to change potential tourist’s perception of Dubrovnik as a summer holiday destination.

The first proposal is to offer subsidies to British Airways to fly outside of the main summer season. The mayor has sent a letter to BA offering to subsidise all empty seats on planes flying to Dubrovnik through the winter. In December the mayor met with representatives from the British national airline and presumably this move is in response to their conditions. For all empty seats, up to the average capacity, the City of Dubrovnik will pay BA £100 for flights from London and €100 for flights from Frankfurt and Istanbul. Britain’s favourite airline is yet to reply to the proposal, but an answer is expected in the coming weeks.

As a correct solution highlights the joint proposal for this purpose assembled a working group, which refers to the correction of residence tax season.

The idea is to raise finances through the summer months, with a slight increase in accommodation taxes, and for these extra funds to be dedicated to help fund winter tourism activities.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are set to pay an official visit to Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo in March. From the 14th to the 19th of March the Royal couple will tour the region and, according to a statement on the British Embassy in Croatia’s website, they will undertake a broad range of engagements to celebrate peace, reconciliation, youth empowerment and restoration.

On the 14th of March Charles and Camilla will begin their tour in Zagreb where they will be welcomed by the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. They also plan to visit the historic upper town of the Croatian capital and the Croatian National Theatre where the Royal couple will attend a performance by children celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

On the following day, the 15th of March, Charles and Camilla will travel to Osijek the largest city in eastern Croatia. This region was very much on the front line of the Homeland War between 1991 and 1995 and the Prince of Wales will attended a meeting with religious and community leaders.

The Duchess of Cornwall will also visit the State Stud Farm in Đakovo, one of the oldest horse farms in Europe, which was visited by Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1972.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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