Thursday, 08 December 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

With a new tax, cigarettes in Croatia would become more expensive by at least ten Kuna per pack.

The European Union is preparing a new tax blow to the tobacco industry, through a proposal to increase the lowest possible excise duty. This means that they will increase the price of cigarettes in Eastern European countries, where some cigarettes can still be bought for less than three euros, writes Jutarnji.

Thus, the minimum possible excise duty on cigarettes is expected to increase from 1.8 to even 3.6 euros for a pack of 20.

Thus, the minimum excise duty per pack of cigarettes will amount to 3.6 euros or 27 Kuna, which means that the entire range of tobacco brands will increase in price drastically.

Until now, the minimum excise duty on cigarettes in Croatia was 17.76 Kuna for a pack of 20, which leads to a retail price of 28.71 Kuna per pack. Therefore, there is talk of a price increase of at least 10 Kuna per pack in the Republic of Croatia.

It is expected that the increase in excise duties on tobacco products will raise the revenues of EU member states by 9.3 billion euros. Another idea of the EU administration is to have a "tobacco-free" generation by 2040, when the share of users of tobacco products would be less than 5 percent.

 

Croatian American dual citizen, Nancy Perovic, and her 24-year old daughter Ella, with a mild disability, set out to make something special for St. Nicholas for those with disabilities at the Josipovic Centre for Rehabilitation and the association Rina Masera as well as for one young lady who lives at home.

Perovic asked members of the community, via the Facebook groups "Mame iz Zupe" and "DU Mame", to participate in this project to create 43 St. Nicholas stockings filled with treats and warm winter socks. A special Christmas treat that shows the festive spirit.

“Many mothers contributed and when we didn’t have enough collected, a kind gentleman who lives in Mlini and owns a taxi company, but wishes to remain anonymous, bought all the treat bags for all 43 stockings. And taxis will bring the treats and St. Nicholas to both organizations on the 6th of December,” said Perovic.

This was a real community project and highlighted the goodwill at the festive time of the year, a time of giving. A local seamstress, Nikolina Dadic Superak, made and embroidered all the stockings for the Josipovic Centre for free and the rest at a discount just to cover materials. This was a real labour of love for her to participate. “Nancy bought five of my St. Nicholas stockings for her family. A few days later she texted me, if I can get donations can you sew them for Josipovic and Rina Masera? I said I would be happy to,” stated Nikolina. Another member of the FB group from Zupa, Romana Romanovic Markovic, from Petraća, will bake cookies for each stocking and a member from Cavtat, Anđela Katušić, who owns a photography business will donate the Santa Claus costume for the occasion. “Bringing a little joy to others fills your heart and soul,” says Ella Perovic, and that is the reason behind this project.

“I am a mother of a young adult with mild special needs and I know how important it is to socialize, make special time and special events for those with disabilities. We don't wish to forget them,” stated Perovic. Adding that “My daughter Ella loves to interact with people of all abilities and enjoys special projects like this. Christmas season is her very favourite. Ella very much enjoys putting the gifts together for everyone. So we hope to spread a little joy all around.”

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Former Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović arrived in Doha on Sunday before the match of in the Qatar World Cup against Canada. From the stands in Doha, the former president followed the match dressed in the national costume of Posavina, and after the 4:1 victory against the Canadians, she also sent a message to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“What a great match at the World Cup. I am very proud of the Croatian team. Canada fought bravely. Justin Trudeau, I missed your company tonight. I proudly wore the national costume from Posavina and presented our heritage and national colours," said the former president.

“Great atmosphere at #SouqWaqif with fans from all over the world. We fight on the WC sports field in Qatar, but we celebrate friendship at every moment. How nice to feel safe and welcome! Thank you to everyone for the friendship and support they provide to Croatia," the former president wrote upon her arrival in Qatar.

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The Croatian national football team beat Canada 4:1 in the second match of the World Cup in Qatar and are on the brink of qualifying for the later stages of the tournament. But what do Croatia need to do in their last match against Belgium to guarantee qualification?

At the moment Croatia sit top of the group, Group F, with 4 points from their first two games. And Canada have now been eliminated from the World Cup after their defeat against Croatia and sit bottom of the group with 0 points. This means that three teams, Croatia, Morocco and Belgium are fighting it to get out of the group.

In the final round of games in Group F on Thursday, 1 December, Canada take on Morocco and Croatia will play Belgium.

For Croatia a point against Belgium is enough to qualify for the next round, this would give Croatia five points and Morocco could have more points and top the group if they defeat Canada. Croatia would top the group if the defeated Belgium and Morocco failed to defeat Canada with a large enough goal difference.

Croatia could theoretically lose to Belgium in the last round, but then they need a defeat of Morocco against Canada.

The first criterion for determining the order in the group is the goal difference, then the number of goals scored and only then the ratio between them.

At the end of the group competition, Croatia can only tie with Morocco, with whom they played 0:0 in the 1st round. If those two teams finished with the same number of points, the same goal difference and the same number of goals scored, the final ranking would be determined by the fair play criterion.

 

Croatia’s World Cup journey is back on track after a 4- 1 win over Canada at the Khalifa International Stadium.

The Canadians started well and shocked Croatia with a goal in only the second minute from Alphonso Davies. A historic goal, as it was the first ever goal scored by the Canadians at a World Cup. However, goals from Andrej Kramaric in the 36 minute, and then Marko Livaja in the 44 minute gave the Croatians the lead at half time, in what was a furious and action packed half.

Croatia slowly took control of the second half and a goal in the 70 minute from Kramaric and a 94-minute goal from Lovro Majer saw the Croatians through with a 4 -1 win. That result now takes Croatia top of Group F with 4 points from their first two games. They now face Belgium, who currently have only one point, in the final group match on Thursday, December 1.

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The weather might have turned colder but that hasn’t stopped Croatia fans enjoying the match against Canada in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on a giant screen in the heart of the Old City.

The real feel temperature in the city is around 8 degrees, a great deal cooler than the Khalifa International Stadium, but fans are certainly getting behind the national team.

After a shock early start when Canada scored in the second minute, Croatia equalised through Andrej Kramaric in the 36 minute, and then took the lead through Marko Livaja in the 44 minute.

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The former president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, has arrived in Qatar and has been singing with Croatia fans before the match with Canada.

"Great atmosphere at Souq Waqif with football fans from all over the world. We fight on the field, but all the time we celebrate friendship! How wonderful to feel so safe and welcome! Thank you for your friendship and support for Croatia!" she wrote on Instagram.

The former leading politician in Croatia was a global hit at the last World Cup in Russia when the team made it all the way to the finals with France. She not only appeared at every match in the stands but also visited the changing rooms to greet and congratulate the players. Croatia fans will be hoping her magic touch helps them get their first win at the World Cup today.

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Coming back down to earth is proving harder than hiking the coast of South West England. Back to life, back to reality. Although one colleague did say “Why do you need to come down?”

However tough and challenging (and my knees are still aching) the walk was it also gave us a daily goal. Yes, our days were chaotic but we had a goal each day to walk a certain amount of kilometres. We’d set our minds on that daily target and keep pushing until we reached it.

Now we are home and slowly getting back into the swing of “normal” life we need a new daily goal to focus our minds. The multi-day drive across Europe from the UK back home to the far south of Croatia was like a flash insight into European geopolitics, culture and traditions.

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On the road again - Photo Mark Thomas 

The only physical connection between the UK and mainland Europe, the Eurotunnel, is eerily empty and seems like a memorial to times when the links, both with trade and tourism, were stronger. France is flamboyantly French. Agriculture, miles and miles of endless vineyards to crops of all shapes and sizes, is clearly a driving economic force, and the overall gastronomic scene is as strong as ever. We stayed in a picturesque plateau suburb of Dijon that looked like a set from a Alo’ Alo’. Clearly unscathed from any wars it was almost like walking around a model village, like a Monet painting. 

Then under the Alps and the organised chaos of northern Italy, where the amount of industry rivals the vineyards of France. The roads are literally heaving with trucks and the world brands that the Italians have are impressive, from Pirelli to Prada.

A night in the bright lights of Milan and then Trieste, a city that has seemingly made massive improvements and steps into tourism, and then the short green drive over the wilds of Slovenia to the empty roads of Istria and Dalmatia. Travel is certainly the best education. And then home. Back home after over 2 months on the road.

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Charming Trieste - Photo Mark Thomas 

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Sunset over the canals of Trieste - Photo Mark Thomas 

It is great to travel and even nicer to come home. That is what we would normally say. But this time was different. From the moment we put our rucksacks down we were planning our next trip. There is a reason why this project was called Travels with Toto 2022, because there will be a 2023 for sure, and so on and so on. Have we opened a Pandora’s box, we probably already opened that box a long time ago! Travel and adventures are addictive and we are addicts.

We are still floating somewhere on the clouds of euphoria. And a little bit of disbelief that we actually made it, that we walked that far. The only slight problem we have is that we kind of started at the top, with the longest and hardest walk we could find, so everything else will probably seem less challenging. We might need to get a little more creative. We’ve already had friends suggesting routes, apparently there is one that is the longest in the world from north Russia to the southern tip of Africa, and it takes about 3 years to complete. OK, we aren’t doing that one, but we do have a couple of ideas in our plans.

We have come home to a Dubrovnik in Christmas preparations. Getting ready for a New Year. And whilst we were away what changed, well from the looks of it, not much. After not reading Croatian news for 2 months you expect to see something different, something new. Instead I was greeted with Milanović still fighting with Plenković, petrol prices jumping up and down and headlines about the upcoming introduction of the Euro. Cleary I hadn’t missed much. Status quo.

We are now in this dead zone. The summer tourist season, with all its turbulence is behind us. Christmas and the festive period is still a month away. A dead zone that is matched by the weather. So we’ll slowly get back into the routine. We’ve already started to look back through the thousands and thousands of photos and videos that we have. Absolutely priceless. The memories that they invoke will last a lifetime. “Imagine looking at these when we are both grey and wrinkly,” smiled my wife. We’ll probably still have the feeling of “did we really do that.”

Make memories. Make as many as you can. You will never be lonely.

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Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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Toto on the final leg of his journey in Trieste - Photo Mark Thomas 

         

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