Friday, 19 July 2019
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.


Just a few years ago drone owners in Croatia were few and far between, but today their number has gone massively and there are over 2,200 registered drones in Croatia.

The growth of drone use has been steadily rising in Croatia, in 2016, when the drone boom began there were only 299 registered, in fact in 2015 at the very beginning a mere 99 drones were used in Croatia. Over the past five years the number of unmanned drones has risen to 2,200 according to new data from the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (HACZ). There are also considerably more drones registered in southern Croatia.

"The Croatian Civil Aviation Agency began to keep track of the unmanned aircraft system operators in 2015 when the Ordinance on Unmanned Aviation Systems came into force," commented the agency to the news agency HINA.

And the increase in drone users in Croatia has obviously brought with it new laws to maintain safety, including insurance, drone registration and flight plan notification.

"Upon receipt of a certificate of entry into the Register of Unmanned Aviation Operators, the operator can perform scheduled Flight Operations within the category for which he has been registered,” explained HACZ.

The twelfth edition of the International Music Festival "Tino Pattiera" will be held in Dubrovnik from the 28th of June to the 5th of July. The tireless Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra doesn’t cease to delight with their rich repertoire and festivals that they organize for their citizens and guests of the City, and the published program for this year's festival has won praise from critics and audiences.

Croatian and internationally acclaimed soloists with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marc Tardue and Ivan Josip Skender will perform some of the most beautiful arias in the history of opera. The soprano Katarzyna Holysz (Poland) and Nikolina Pinko, mezzo-soprano Dubravka Šeparović Mušović, tenors Domagoj Dorotić and Paulo Ferreira (Portugal), baritone Matija Meic and Melih Tepretmez (Turkey), violinist Đana Kahriman, pianist Stefani Grbić and hornist Toni Kursar, a festival that is held in honour of the celebrated tenor from Cavtat Tino Pattiere.

Katarzyna Holysz

Katarzyna Holtz

The festival opens with Italian and Croatian arias of great opera works such as Verdi's "Un ballo in maschera” and "Il trovatore", Puccini's "Tosca" and "Turandot", and then the most famous Zajc's opera "Nikola Šubić Zrinjski" and Gotovčev's opera "Milka Gojsalić " and "Ero the Joker”. These Italian arias and the beautiful pearls of Croatian opera will be performed by Croatian opera singers Nikolina Pinko, Domagoj Dorotić and Matija Meić, under the guidance of the great master Ivan Josip Skender.

The second evening of the festival, the music goes literally under the stars and under the cover of the Dubrovnik Sun Gardens with a performance called "Guardi le stelle", while an evening of Croatian and German solo songs will bring a more intimate atmosphere in which the soloists will explore the romantic spirit of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This is an unavoidable event for all Lied fans.


Paulo Ferreira and Matija Meić 

The festival ends with a gala concert dedicated to the greatest genius of Italian opera Giuseppe Verdi, which will include his entire musical career - from "Nabucco" via "La Traviate" and "Il trovatore" to the most beautiful fragments from his Don Carlos epoch-lyrical drama. An event not to miss! Top quality music, the beautiful ambience of irreplaceable Dubrovnik and great Croatian and foreign soloists and are all a great invitation for all lovers of opera to be in Dubrovnik from June 28 to July 5 and enjoy the most beautiful operatic arias through four concerts!

All concerts start at 9:30pm

How many times have you stood before a restaurant, looked at the awful photos of food and walked away? Yes, catching just that right photo, making that special meal look even more yummy is an art form. And we caught up with one of the best in the business as he snapped away at Sesame Restaurant in Dubrovnik. Award winning Xavier Buendia is a master at food photography.

And he has an international feel, based in Brighton in the UK, Xavier is, as he says, a beautiful mix of Mexican and Catalan. “I was raised to think of myself as a citizen of the world,” says Xavier. We caught up with him whilst he put his camera down for three seconds to find out why Dubrovnik inspires him and why food photography is an important tool for restaurants today.

How did you come into the world of photography?

From a very early age. I have always been taking photos and I always have a camera with me, but it started really as a hobby. I never really considered photography as a career. I can remember looking through pages of my grandfather’s Life magazine and Vogue being really blown away at the images. I used to be a sommelier, I did that for 15 years in fact. But I guess I had a midlife crisis and changed my career path. I really wanted to find something that made me happier. I’ve always been creative and artistic. In fact, it was my wife’s idea, she always said that I was very good with food and wine so why not combine this with my love of photography. My passion turned into my business. Like many things in life it all started with a friend who had a restaurant, I took some photos for me and then it exploded and within months I had lots of interest. Maybe I was in the right place at the right time. But you also make your own luck.

How important do you believe it is for restaurants to have good quality photos of their food?

The way you present yourself is very important. And restaurants should present their food in a way that truly represents the creative work that has gone into making the dish. It is a selling point of course. The food can be the most delicious homemade stew but if it doesn’t have the right attention to detail then it just isn’t going to succeed. One of the first lessons that I learned in the industry is that people eat with their eyes. You can have the most amazing gazpacho but if present it poorly it will just look like a tomato juice. Photos tell stories.

Xavier Buendia food dubrovnik

Everyone today is a budding photographer; everyone has a camera on their phones with enough megapixels to make a billboard advert. How has the rise of social media affected your industry?

It doesn’t affect us at all. I have seen it all before. I’ve seen owners ask their staff to take a quick photo of the meals with their smartphones. There is a very big difference between taking a photo and making a photograph. As professionals we are thinking about the light, the highlight, the background, the frame and the story we want to tell. Setting up the picture takes experience. But this takes a lot of experience.

Have you ever been to a restaurant and the food they produce for you to take images of isn’t up to standard?

Yes, it does happen sometimes. I tell them to take it back and tidy it up, or give them tips on how to make it look more presentable. I have to think firstly about my reputation and secondly that I am getting paid to do a job.


Is Dubrovnik a photographer’s dream?

Simply put yes! It is a very photogenic city, the light is changing all the time and there are interesting lines and contrasts. It has all the things that photographers are looking for. When I walk around the city I am never without my camera.


You have been fortunate to collect some recognition for your work, there are a few awards on your mantelpiece I believe?

Yes, the first award I won was back in 2016, in fact my first year working as a professional photographer. It was really a kick start for my career. I had two images selected for the finals and one got an award and the other a mention. I entered the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year awards, more out of curiosity. I believe it was pure luck but it's nice to get my work recognized.


“Excuse me could you come and remove an animal from my house,” – “Is it a cat in a tree,” – “No, two large snakes.” This could well have been the telephone conversation between the Dubrovnik Fire Brigade and a resident in Zaton.

The Dubrovnik Fire Brigade received a call on Sunday afternoon from a resident of Zaton, near Dubrovnik, who had noticed two large snakes hiding in the shade. The fire brigade sent two firefighters to deal with the slippery problem and they quickly scooped up the snakes, which weren’t poisonous, and released them into the wild away from homes.



As the summer sun pours down on the Adriatic in Dubrovnik so the number of luxury yachts dropping anchor increases. The latest mega yacht to arrive in Dubrovnik waters is the impressive 46 metres long “Lucky Me.”

If you are going to have a super yacht, then Lucky Me seem like an appropriate name. Built in 2010 this all aluminium built ship was resold back in 2016. However, the new owner’s name has never been released, and all that we could find out is that the yacht was sold by a company based in the Cayman Islands called Deep Blue Yachting and that the new owner is from the Mediterranean.


Lucky Me steamed into one of the bays of Cavtat this afternoon after coming down the Adriatic coastline. With five cabins for guests and a crew of nine there is plenty of space for passengers to spread out, either in the Jacuzzi, various sundecks or having fun with some water sports.


Lucky Me joins a long list of luxury yachts who are currently in the Dubrovnik Adriatic.

Ryanair could well add another flight to its Croatian portfolio by operating flights to the capital, Zagreb. The website EX-YU Aviation has reported that the low-cost Irish airline is looking to expand even further into the Croatian market.

Currently Ryanair flies to Zadar, Rijeka, Pula, Dubrovnik and Split and have recently commented that "Ryanair has held positive discussions with the Croatian Minister for Tourism regarding longer term traffic growth and route development at its existing Croatian airports as well as potential new airports like Zagreb." Ryanair connects Dubrovnik with Dublin and has announced that these flights will continue one week into the winter.

On an annual basis Ryanair flies around 550,000 passengers in and out of Croatia every year and has the fifth largest market share in the country, behind Croatia Airlines, EasyJet, Eurowings and Lufthansa.


It’s a traditional event and one that always brings a smile to visitors faces, the Small Festival of Folklore and Heritage was held yesterday. For the eighth year in a row that wonderful festival saw the younger generations of the region respecting the history of past generations as they twisted, twirled and sung in the sunshine on Saturday.


The Cultural and Artistic Society of St. Juraj Osojnik organised this display of folklore dances and heritage from the region as well as guest groups from Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nine children’s and youth folklore groups from Dubrovnik and beyond entertained the numerous spectators, including the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, with their interpretations of centuries old dances and songs.

A great event and the perfect way to pass on these traditions to future generations.

mali festival osojnik

The Croatian Insurance Bureau (HUO) reported this week that there are around 35,000 uninsured vehicles driving on Croatian roads, and if these drivers have an accident they will face fines up to 50,000 Kunas.

Unregistered and uninsured vehicles endanger the general state of traffic safety and cause huge material losses to citizens. Such vehicles are often technically incorrect, and the consequences of traffic accidents are in most cases more difficult than those with technically inspected, registered and insured vehicles – said the HUO in a statement.

HUO and the Croatian Police Force, within the National Road Safety Program of the Republic of Croatia, are carrying out a campaign "Stop uninsured vehicles", with the aim of further reducing the number of uninsured and unregistered vehicles and improving awareness of the importance of compulsory registration and insurance.

And it isn’t only Croatian registered cars that are targets, there have been reported cases of foreign drivers who enter the country without the correct papers, as well as some owners some have falsified their foreign driving documents.

“The campaign started in 2009 when we recorded 300,000 uninsured vehicles, while today we estimate that this figure is around 35,000. This is a great success we have achieved over the years,” - said HUO Director Hrvoje Paukovića

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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