Tuesday, 17 September 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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

It is though it was planned, somehow prearranged, by a greater spirit. All the moons were in alignment when the Neretva Valley was created, and man helped along the way to polish this already shining diamond. From the first time you lay eyes on the Neretva Valley you’ll have the “wow effect,” and for good reason. The highway snakes along the coastline and then, almost in a Western movie, turns through a high mountain ridge and in a flash a panorama of a vast plain opens up before you. The Neretva River spears through this enormous expanse, like an arrow piercing through the air, long and straight. Stop for a while to take in and admire the view and it will become clear that this mighty river has been beavering away for centuries, slowly but surely forging a path to the Adriatic Sea.

aerial neretva valley

And what nature has brought, man has profited from. Known by many as the “mandarin valley” the Neretva basin’s rich soil, from years of sediment, has brought many a successful harvest for the inhabitants. Over the generations families have worked the land, cut their own channels from the Neretva River to feed their crops. The combination of rich soil and a constant supply of fresh water is a winning one. This region is the garden of Dubrovnik. These fields and plantations have supplied the Dubrovnik region and beyond with high quality fruit and vegetables. It is estimated that there are 1.4 million mandarin seedlings in the valley, producing over 60 tonnes of mandarins every year. Harvest time in the valley means all hands to the pumps. And it isn’t only the locals that pluck the fruit from the trees, tourists are also invited to help, let’s face it there is plenty of fruit to go around. As you drive through the valley you will notice roadside stands selling all kinds of local produce, from the tree to your mouth. Apples the size of melons, melons the size of beanbags, ruby sweet cherries, oranges that drip in flavour and juicy lemons, all of this and more grow in the Neretva Basin.

From its humble beginnings in the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina the Neretva River plays an important role in the life of the people it touches. It provides drinking water, drives hydroelectric power stations, is used as a means of transport and feeds the crops of the Neretva valley. Its final meeting with the Adriatic is a crescendo after its long journey. The river estuary opens its wide mouth to the sea and is still somewhat undiscovered by visitors to the region. Wetlands, marshes and lagoons that form as the river empties into the sea are abundant with wildlife, if you are a bird lover then the expansive estuary is a must see. Kingfishers, Oystercatchers, egrets and herons, amongst others, all live in harmony and in relative solitude in this stunning nature.


The river has also shaped the inhabitants, shaped their future and their past, brought trade, caused conflict and also prosperity. The Romans discovered the area and built a stronghold in the 1st century. The remains can still be seen today in the Narona archaeological museum where you will see relicts of an ancient civilization. In fact the Narona museum is the only one in the whole of Croatia that is constructed at the site of a Roman temple. The towns of Metkovic and Opuzen both lie on the banks of the Neretva River and have traditional restaurants offering the best of Neretva cuisine. Eels and frogs are a local specialty, as well as game and seafood. And if you really want a taste of Neretva then try the highly acclaimed “Nerevta Brodetto,” a stew like no other.

mandarins in neretva near dubrovnik

Neretva Valley will leave you with a smile on your face and a sense of harmony with nature. We'd also recommend taking a few bags of those juicy mandarins back with you!

The current Croatian Tourism Strategy is valid until 2020 and in the next month the Ministry of Tourism will announce a competition for the selection of contractors for the development of a new Croatian Tourism Strategy.

The current tourism development strategy was drawn up by the Institute of Tourism, and Horwath HTL consulting companies as well as HD Consulting.

Asked what the direction of the future development of Croatian tourism should be the Minister of Tourism, Gari Cappelli commented that “Let's not compare ourselves with Turkey and similar destinations, Croatia is not and will never be the same. We need to be aware that in the main season we can no longer expect a 10 to 15 percent growth in tourist numbers each year.”

“Reaching 20 million tourists and 100 million nights with our infrastructure is our maximum, Croatia needs to develop the pre and post seasons and to raise the quality,” concluded Cappelli.


Just when you thought that the extreme heat in Dubrovnik this August had finally subsided it looks like we are in for another mini-heat wave and a hot end to the week. The Dubrovnik – Neretva County have released a weather report of the county which states that there is a “moderate danger” of a heat wave this Thursday and Friday.

It has certainly been a summer to remember in Dubrovnik, and indeed across the whole of Europe, with mercury busting temperatures. In fact, according to data released July 2019 saw the hottest temperatures ever recorded globally.

drinking water from public founatin in dubrovnik

Take plenty of water onboard - Photo Tonci Plazibat 

And now the heat is expected to arrive again with temperatures on Thursday predicted to hit 32 degrees and on Friday 31 degrees. Although by the weekend the extreme heat and humidity should ease and highs should be under 30 degrees.

Once again experts are warning people to stay out of direct sunlight from midday to 5.00pm and to drink plenty of fluids. It seems that we have written those words many, many times this summer.


Living in Dubrovnik through the summer might have its challenges, overcrowded streets, traffic jams and lack of parking spaces, to name just three, but the sounds of music from café bars, restaurants and night clubs seems not to bother to many residents.

The City of Dubrovnik has commissioned a survey that sought to determine citizens' attitudes toward the time limit for playing music outdoors. More than half of the respondents said that there should be a limit for playing music outdoors, 55 percent, and the relative majority (40 percent) stated midnight as the preferred time of restriction.

The survey was conducted by the Ipsos Plus agency, on a random and representative sample of 679 adult respondents residing in the City of Dubrovnik, from the 15th to the 18th of this year.

When asked in the survey if music should be turned off at either 11.30pm or at 12.30am just over 70 percent of the people asked said at half past midnight. The survey covered the whole of the City of Dubrovnik and encompassed the Old City of Dubrovnik.

“It is true that we are a little surprised with the results,” commented the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic. “When you look at the results from citizens of the Old City when asked what time music should be allowed in public spaces the results were 50/50. Which goes to show that we have the possibility to satisfy both sides.”


July 2019 temperatures were the hottest ever recorded globally, said the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirming earlier observations by the European Union.

“Much of the planet sweltered in unprecedented heat in July, as temperatures soared to new heights in the hottest month ever recorded. The record warmth also shrank Arctic and Antarctic sea ice to historic lows,” the agency said.

According to the NOAA, the average global temperature in July was 0.95 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average of 15.8 degrees Celsius, making it the hottest July in its records, which go back to 1880.

The previous hottest month on record was July 2016.

“Nine of the 10 hottest Julys have occurred since 2005-with the last five years ranking as the five hottest,” the NOAA said.

Alaska had its hottest July since it began keeping records in 2005, several countries in Europe saw new temperature records, and it was also the hottest month ever across Africa as a whole.

Average Arctic sea ice meanwhile set a record low for July, running 19.8% below average, and surpassing the previous historic low of July 2012 according to an analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center using data from NOAA and NASA.

Average Antarctic sea ice was 4.3 percent below the 1981-2010 average, making it the smallest for July in the 41-year record.


Croatia has the fewest number of students travelling outside of the country to study in the whole of The European Union. Analysis has been carried out by the EU statistical body, Eurostat, and it shows that in 2017 only a mere 2.9 percent of all Croatian students in 2017 actually decided to travel out of Croatia to study, making Croatia the lowest in the EU.

Students from Luxembourg topped the survey, with a whopping 46.7 percent deciding to leave their home country to study at university. Whilst Cyprus was second with 23.1 percent, followed by Austria with 17.2 percent and the Czech Republic with 12.5 percent. The EU average was 8.1 percent, meaning that Croatia with only 2.9 percent was well below the average.


Somebody has translated a text, typed it, printed it and finally hung it on a public wall and yet nobody in this process noticed that one of the words of the sign was spelt wrong.

This new sign was recently hung in the Old City to inform pedestrians (yes, pedestrians and not pederstrain) to keep to keep moving and not to stop and cause unwanted crowds. However, clearly the spellcheck wasn’t working that day and now a new sign will be required.

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The Beatles Revival Band is one of the biggest European tribute bands, founded in 1994 in the Croatian city of Rijeka and this weekend they are coming to Dubrovnik.

Behind them are hundreds of concerts in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. This tribute band performed at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool, from which the Beatles themselves started to conquer the world.

The Beatles Revival band will perform live on the Fountain Square in Babin Kuk on the 24th of August and entrance is free of charge. This weekend’s concert kicks off at 9pm.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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