Monday, 24 September 2018
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

- Dubrovnik is still Dubrovnik, this is Ragusa, it is an entirely cohesive, architectural brilliant, city state and always will be. There is nothing like this city anywhere in Europe. And also this sense more than just normal civilisation that’s what Dubrovnik is for me. It’s living for something bigger, its Libertas, it’s a bigger ideal, it is not just urban living but a suggestion of something more. And none of that has changed over the years – Wise words and ones that I wish I had written. You either get Dubrovnik, the spirit of the city, or you don’t. And these beautiful words come from a foreign journalist who quite clearly understands the heartbeat of the cobbled streets.

I would suggest that there are many citizens who don’t understand the city like this foreign reporter. There are those who take it for granted. There are those who use it for their own means. There are those who are completely oblivious to the sheer magnificence. And to tell you the truth I feel sorry for all those people. Dubrovnik will outlive all of us. It has been that way for generations. If you only see the stone facades, the plazas, the proud walls and the glorious architecture as just buildings then you are missing the point.

Sometimes, but only sometimes I come across visitors to our city who have the spirit of the city in their blood. I had one such occasion last weekend. “It might seem stupid to say but Dubrovnik has changed me,” said the friendly lady opposite me in a restaurant. She has been coming to Dubrovnik with her husband for four years and after only a short time with them it was clear that they really understood the city. “I feel sorry for the cruise ship passengers that come every year, I really feel sad for them, they can never feel what Dubrovnik is,” she added obviously getting quite emotional. And if Dubrovnik doesn’t make you emotional in one way or another then again you don’t understand it.

So just to fill in why I sitting with a couple from Scotland. Social media has its disadvantages; in many ways it could be called anti-social media with users addicted to collecting likes. But there are rare occasions when it really pays off. It can make the world smaller. This couple had meet another couple in a restaurant and got talking. They soon found they had a common “friend” The Dubrovnik Times Facebook page. Incredibly the two couples had been following and actively commenting on our page for years. And to make the situation even more unusual the owner of the restaurant was also a fan of the page.

When I started the newspaper and the website I really didn’t know just how far it would go and just many people from all over the world would be part of it. Makes me feel a little humble. So when I received a call to come and meet them all I couldn’t turn it down. It felt like walking into a family meeting. And there in an essence was the absolute core of tourism, people and their interaction and friendships. I was sitting with six people who I didn’t really know but we all had a common love of Dubrovnik. “It is hard to put into words how we feel about this city. A big part of why we come back is because of the people, the friends that we have made here,” she continued. “Dubrovnik is part of us now and the thought of not ever coming back here is physically painful,” she added. If I could find some way to bottle this feeling I would be a millionaire. If this love, this undying emotion could be passed on to people in power, decision makers in the city then there would be no limit to our success. As The Beatles sang “Money can’t buy you love.”

If our combined energies could just all be challenged into preserving what we already have then we would all be winners. If we could convince these same decision makers to listen to the soul of the city. As the great Winston Churchill once said “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Seems to me that we need a few more listeners!

Spent a fortnight holiday in Dubrovnik this year and you’re missing the stone facades, the stunning nature, the blue skies and the impressive landmarks? This video released today will bring you back to when you were walking the cobbled streets and drinking coffee al fresco in a café bar on the Stradun. Produced and released by 4K Urban Life it is like taking a virtual tour of Dubrovnik in high definition.

“This 4K UHD documentary film will take you on a virtual tour to Dubrovnik, Croatia and show you its majesty! Lots of tourists call it one of the most charming cities they have ever seen. Dubrovnik boasts of rich architecture and history. It’s a cute city with fascinating buildings, clean streets, lots of churches, museums, parks, monuments, fountains, squares and of course popular fortifications. You will encounter lots of recreation opportunities: canoeing, kayaking, swimming, cruises, boat tours and more,” commented the makers on their YouTube channel and we have to say that it is certainly very impressive.

Check out the video below

Croatia’s population is ever decreasing and there are now an estimated 4,124,531 citizens. The State Statistics Bureau released figures today showing that from 2016 to 2017 the population dropped by almost 50,000, or more people than live in Dubrovnik.

Apart from Zagreb and western Istria every county in Croatia saw their population figure drop, and now the country has 1.2 percent less citizens than 2016.

Somewhat unsurprisingly the Slavonia region was the worst hit with some counties showing a massive 4 percent drop in population. Many people from this agricultural region of Croatia have emigrated to other EU member states in search of a better financial future. Whilst the drop along the coastline was less sharp thank manly to the employment possibilities of the tourism industry.

Men account for 48 percent of the population and women 52 percent, meaning there are 1,99 million men and 2.13 million females.

And the future certainly doesn’t look promising as Croatia has one of the oldest populations in the European Union. The average age of men in the country is 41.3 whilst women come in at an average of 44.8.

Ties between America and Croatia could become even stronger after a meeting with the Croatia Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and US Secretary of State, Michael Pompe, in Washington this week.

"For Croatian citizens, two specific issues in relation to the United States are extremely important: the abolition of visas and double taxation. Both the Croatian and the American side have the will and the energy to finally find a solution and that Croatia gains the same status as other members of the European Union," commented Pejčinović Burić the Croatia Radio Television (HRT).

With Croatians still requiring a visa to enter the US the country is less attractive to both Croatian tourists and investors. The drawn-out and complicated process of obtaining a US visa means a trip to the US Embassy in Zagreb and this whole procedure can take several days.

With new direct flights between Dubrovnik and Philadelphia about to be introduced next year the timing of this meeting in Washington was important. After a 28-year break Croatia and the US will once again have a direct, or non-stop, flight connection with American Airlines opening the door through which many other airlines are sure to follow. The abolishment of a US visa for Croatian citizens would make these flights even more interesting.

We could well be in for an Indian Summer as the long-range weather forecast for south-eastern Europe shows a period of warm and settled weather. According to reports on the website Severe Weather Europe Croatia will once again find itself in the middle of a heat wave. “Mid-range model trends are pushing for a new heat wave across Europe: temperatures may be 8-10 °C higher than average for mid to late-September in central, western, eastern and south-eastern Europe. This means temperatures in the upper 20s and low 30s again!,” states the website.

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Is September the new August? 

They add that daytime temperatures in Croatia could well reach 30 degrees and higher and that regions such as France, Italy and the Pannonian basin could see rising temperatures.

This August was one of the warmest on record in Dubrovnik with temperatures in the mid-thirties all month and rainfall minimal. And with the sea a warm and pleasant 25 degrees in Dubrovnik’s Adriatic and the number of tourists dropping Late-September and October could be the ideal time to visit the city.

It isn’t only the citizens of the European Union who are in favour of stopping daylight saving time, according to a survey by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce 90 percent of companies in the country are also in favour of ending the altering of clocks in the spring and autumn. The vast majority of companies would prefer that Croatia adopts summer time all year-round.

Almost 600 businesses were questioned for their views on stopping daylight saving time, a practice that has been in place in the country since 1983. And similar to the EU survey in which over 4 million people took part, they answered that changing the clocks has a negative effect on people’s health, also on energy saving and that moving the clocks makes them out of line with other international partners.

Daylight saving was first adopted during the First World War in the UK to give factories extra daylight to work in. It was introduced by European governments at the beginning of the 1980s to save on energy costs. Research has shown that the time change negatively affects people’s sleep patterns, especially with the elderly.

The Dubrovnik-Neretva County Tourist Board has presented a new promotional film produced by Balduci Film from Zagreb, highlighting all that the county has to offer.

The four-minute film combines authentic gastronomy, magical beaches of our islands, natural beauty, sports and recreation, entertainment, cultural and historical heritage and all the benefits of the destinations recognized by many tourists of all generations.

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The concept was jointly designed by Balduci Film and the Tourist Board of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. With this promotional film, the goal was to showcase the integrated tourist products and Dubrovnik Riviera encouraging guests to get acquainted with the traditions.

This promo video will be shown at all the tourist fairs and exhibitions that the Tourist Board of the Dubrovnik – Neretva County attends.

The popular low-cost airline, Transavia, will introduce new flight connections between Rotterdam and Eindhoven for the Dalmatian city of Zadar for 2019. The airline, which is a subsidiary of Air France – KLM will open flights to Zadar in April 2019 and tickets are already on sale on the airline’s website.

Transavia opened their connections to Croatia this year with flights from Rotterdam to Dubrovnik and Pula and both connections have proved successful. Zadar airport is now hoping these new low-cost connections will boost their passenger numbers for 2019.

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