Sunday, 04 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.


Work has begun on the restoration of the Great Onofrio Fountain in the historic Old City of Dubrovnik. The fountain, which was built in 1438, is currently in the centre of the Star Wars set as has been decorated with futuristic lights. However this didn’t stop the restorers going to work today, firstly by removing the old cement that had been used to patch up the fountain on previous occasions.

“This type of cement is actually quite harmful to the stonework,” explained one of the restorers. “We will slowly cut out all the old cement that has patched up the fountain for years and replace that with a much more suitable solution,” he added. And it certainly looks like being a long and drawn out project. When asked if the Star Wars crew were a hindrance he answered, “They will only be here for around ten days, we will need a lot longer.”

onofrio work 1

The Star Wars set in Dubrovnik as you have never seen it before. With this latest video released today you can explore the set of Star Wars in Dubrovnik on the Stradun, the main street.

We are on the eve on the filming of the eighth episode of Star Wars being filmed in Dubrovnik, from the 9th to the 16th of March, and the set on the Stradun is pretty much complete. With this new 360° video you can move your view around and get a real feel for the Star Wars action in Dubrovnik.

The Dubrovnik Times always brings you into the centre of the action, check out this amazing video and dont forget to move the arrows aound to get a full view. 

The fifth edition of the Aklapela Festival will take place in Dubrovnik, from the 8th to the 10th of April 2016. Numerous acclaimed vocal groups from all parts of Croatia will perform as a part of the Aklapela festival, a festival that fosters and respects traditional a cappella singing, recognized by the UNESCO as the world intangible cultural heritage. Twelve Croatian klapas, selected by Aklapela's artistic director, dr. JoskoCaleta, will perform at the historical venue Lazareti on the 8th and the 9th of April, while the Festival's final concert will take place on Sunday, 10th of April, at the spectacular venue of St. Dominic’s Church.

On Friday, the 8th of April, the following klapas will perform: Kapric,Luka Rijeka, Orca, Nostalgija, Subrenum and Luka Ploče. The Festival will continue on the 9th of April (Saturday),whenthe performances of the following vocal groups will take place: FA Linđo, Dišpet, Sinj, Kaše, Tragos and Bunari. Traditionally, the Festival ends with the klapa performances on Sunday, the 10th of April, when the groups will perform at the St. Dominic’s Church.

The Aklapela festival is the authentic Croatian musical product that, for the fifth year in a row, enriches the culture tourism of the city of Dubrovnik off the peak season.

In dr. Caleta’s words, 'the Festival is a humble sign of gratitude to all the generations of singers who left their hearts and souls in the klapa singing circles and handed down this tradition to new generation of singers', adding that he believes in preserving this authentic way of Croatian singing, as well as in further development of the Festival in the years to come.

We invite all music lovers and fans of the authentic Croatian klapa singing to join us at this year's fifth Aklapela Festival from the 8th to the 10th of April 2016.

The Dubrovnik Times is proud to be an official media sponsor of this years Aklapela Festival. 

The Dubrovnik Times has teamed up with the radio station Soundset Ragusa to bring you a weekly roundup of all the important information and events in Dubrovnik, the Voice of Dubrovnik's weekly review.

The Voice of Dubrovnik was the first English language information service when it was launched four years ago. The program runs through the summer months, from May to September, and has proved a valuable source of information to guests to Dubrovnik. However for this year The Voice of Dubrovnik has moved into the winter season as well, with the launch of the week in review in January. Every Saturday the Voice of Dubrovnik will broadcast twice a day in a roundup of the week’s events.

Now you can also catch this special program on the website of The Dubrovnik Times with our latest addition, the Voice of Dubrovnik on The Dubrovnik Times. Check out our new banner on the homepage and keep your finger on the pulse of Dubrovnik.

As part of the celebrations on International Women’s Day today, the 8th of March, the City of Dubrovnik have decided that all of the public buses in the Dubrovnik region are free of charge.

Libertas Dubrovnik, the public bus company in the city will operate a free service for all passengers today on the occasion on International Women’s Day.

March opened with rain and it looks like it will end with rain. It has been, and will be a wet month in the region with a south wind bringing rain and high seas. Yesterday in the Old City of Dubrovnik, in spite of the torrential rain, many tourists walked the Stradun and snapped the Star Wars film set.

The forecast for the rest of the week is for improving weather with more stable conditions. The rest of the week shows a ten percent chance of rain with scattered showers and a light southerly wind.

Check out our gallery by Tonci Plazibat

With less than a month left to register for the Dubrovnik Half Marathon the Dubrovnik Times caught up with the race director Alen Boskovic. Last year was the first time that Dubrovnik has organised such an event and it was an overnight success. With runners from all five continents in the first race the race organisers, with Alen at the helm; have their work cut out to move a step further. With the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, the stunning historic architecture and the guaranteed sunshine runners in the second Dubrovnik Half Marathon will have plenty of things to keep their minds off their aching limbs. Boskovic has a sporting background, he was a professional water polo player and represented Croatia at the Olympics, but the move behind the scenes to organising has proved to be a whole new challenge, a new chapter in his life.

How was the idea of a half marathon in Dubrovnik first born?
The very beginnings of a half marathon in Dubrovnik are closely connected to Dubrovnik's sister in California, Monterey. Fred Muir, the former Monterey City Manager, and Wally Kaster, the race director of the Big Sur Marathon in Monterey, gave the idea to make a similar event to the marathon in Monterey in around 2005. I took a few years for this idea to blossom, but in 2010 when the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, was visiting Monterey the idea picked up more steam. We agreed that the team from Monterey would help with their “know how.” Unfortunately Kaster had some health problems at that time so he couldn’t travel frequently to Dubrovnik, so following their recommendations we teamed up with the Next Events production team, a team that promotes the Portland marathon.

run the walls

Run the Walls held challenges for the organisers 

How did you become involved with the marathon and eventually find yourself in the race director’s chair?
When the idea of the marathon was growing the members of the American board came to visit Dubrovnik in 2013 and wanted to get the Dubrovnik Running Club involved in the project, this was my first involvement. In my role as the General Secretary of the Dubrovnik Sport Association we were asked to provide support for the marathon. I was asked by Miho Katicic, the Dubrovnik councillor for education, sport and social welfare, to be part of the team and join in the event.

The first time you heard the idea of a marathon in Dubrovnik what were your reactions?
I have to admit that I thought it was impossible. Firstly we didn’t have a culture of running in the city; we tend to play more team sports than individual sports. I thought it would be hard to get the amount of people needed to organise a marathon. I remember at one of my first meetings with Kaster, who has years of experience in putting these races on, that he explained the number of people that were needed behind the scenes. I couldn’t imagine just how much logistics were needed. It became clear that we needed hundreds of volunteers to make the race run smoothly, I had some doubts that we could raise that number of people. The whole culture of volunteering is still relatively new in Croatia. However one event changed my mind and opened my eyes to new possibilities. There was a huge gathering of all of the Catholic youth from all over the world in 2014, a meeting that included thousands and thousands of people, and this was organised mainly through the assistance of volunteers. This gave me the idea, and the hope, that we could also raise the volunteers we required.

alen press

Alen Boskovic in the media spotlight

How many volunteers were present on the day of the half marathon in Dubrovnik?
On the race day we had more than 300 people, all the way along the track and throughout the Old City of Dubrovnik. And if you count the lead up to the race and all the other extra events we managed to collect more than 480 volunteers. This was one of the biggest successes of the marathon. I have to take this opportunity to thank everyone who gave up their free time to help, and an extra special thanks to the members of the Catholic youth association. We hope that we will get even more volunteers this year and have already started our “volunteer campaign,” in schools and clubs.

You have described the Dubrovnik half marathon as “more than a race,” why do you think the half marathon is so important for the city?
We have a few goals that are attached to the marathon. Firstly we want to motivate more people in Dubrovnik to run, whether professionally or just for fun; we want more people to be active runners. Secondly to get more young people involved in the event, either as runners or as volunteers. The youth of today is our future and we need to do everything we can to help them. And last but not least, Dubrovnik is a tourist destination and it is important for the city that in May we have a world event that brings attention and tourists to the city. Don’t forget that this race opens up another type of tourism for Dubrovnik.

Even though last year was the first year of the marathon you still managed to attract many international athletes to Dubrovnik.
Yes, in the first year of the race we managed to bring athletes from all five continents to Dubrovnik, another great success. We had 350 runners last year from 36 different nations attending the Dubrovnik half marathon. For example we had runners from China, the US, New Zealand, the UK, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Brazil, Canada, to name just a few. It was great to have these international runners in Dubrovnik, to show them how beautiful our city is and to introduce them to all our traditions and cultures. We opened the door to international running in Dubrovnik. We offered all the runners a whole package of offers, such as free public transport, free entrance onto the city walls and into the museums, in order to show them all that Dubrovnik is more than just a sand, sea and summer destination.

alen learn

From playing sport to organising sporting events has meant a sharp learning curve 

Although the Half Marathon was the main event you also organised three other races, one of which was a race around the Old City Walls. How difficult was it to put on a race around the walls?
It was a challenge. The walls have many steps, low walls and above all they are relatively narrow. I walked around the walls twice before the race with the manager of the walls to find out the best way to protect our runners. The city walls have many sharp turns and don’t forget that they are built on cliffs thirty metres above the sea. So we organised more than thirty volunteers to be present at particular places around the walls to warn runners of any dangers. We put a lot of time and planning into the race around the walls, but I believe it was all worth it. We are blessed in Dubrovnik to live in such a spectacular city.

Although you were a professional water polo player you don’t have a background in either running or business. And yet in spite of this you won the award as director of the year after your first marathon.
Nobody was more surprised than me when I won this prestigious award at the director’s college event in Portland last year. I don’t know how I can start to describe how I felt. Yes, I was a professional sportsman but I was never really involved in the organising of sporting events. In many ways this is a new chapter in my life and I am very passionate about it. It was really inspiring to create something so successful, to see so many people helping and all the hard work that was put in. I am emotionally involved in the Dubrovnik half marathon.

2015 Dubrovnik Half Marathon

Get your running shoes on and sign up for the race!
Date: May 1st 2016
Start: 09.30am
The highlight of Du Motion – Dubrovnik Runners Days is the Half Marathon Race. Both the start and finish are on the Stradun, Dubrovnik’s most famous street and continues outside the old city walls into the picturesque countryside.
Find more details on the race and how to register HERE

The Dubrovnik Times is proud to be an official media sponsor of the 2016 Dubrovnik Half Marathon.

It was the one and only Groucho Marx who said “I'm leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it's not raining.” Apart from being asked “do you really all drink tea at five o’clock” or “can you explain the rules of cricket” and “is it true that all you English are unfriendly” the next question I always get asked is “does it always rain in London.” The answers to the first three are – yes, no chance and not really. The answer to the fourth one was a little harder. Whether it’s the power of the media or the press, I don’t know, but London has this image of rain, constant rain.

My mother-in-law still thinks that we have smog in the middle of London. But that's probably down to the amount of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie films she watches. For what is a good English drama without a murderer leaping from a foggy side street onto his next victim. Also the wet weather seems to hate tennis! I can’t really remember a Wimbledon tournament without a few drops of the wet stuff. I mean why do you think they built a roof on the centre court, it certainly wasn’t to keep the sun out! Although the one thing that you won’t see is many people cowering under an umbrella, at least the local Londoners.

The same as you don’t see a local in Dubrovnik wearing rubber sandals on the get acclimatised to the pebbles and we do to the rain. So yes, if you were to ask someone, well to be honest anyone, you’d get the reply that it rains more in London than Dubrovnik...I also wouldn’t argue with that. However it seems that you’d be wrong, believe it or not. If anyone knows the weather in Dubrovnik then it’s the guys at Dubrovnik Storm Chasers. I had the fortune to interview them once and anyone who literally chases storms, as their name suggests, is either mad or loves what they are doing.

So imagine my surprise when I read the headline “in Dubrovnik there is more rain on an annual basis than in London.” Were my eyes deceiving me! I read on...Dubrovnik is synonymous with sunny weather…London is synonymous with rain…tourists love the weather…London is a gloomy city.

And then a fact caught my eye, can that be true, listen if the Storm Chasers say it’s true then who am I to doubt them. This fact read, the annual rainfall in Dubrovnik is just over 1200mm whilst the average rainfall in London is a little under 600mm. Happy days! All those years of suffering the mocking and joking from friends and relatives in Dubrovnik that it rains every day in London and in reality the opposite is the case. Not only is the opposite true but there is twice as much rain here every year than in London.

So if you are looking for a break from the Dubrovnik rain might I suggest a long weekend in dry London? If the constant patter of raindrops on your window is getting you down, if trying to avoid the puddles or carrying an umbrella has you pulling your hair out in frustration then, again, may I suggest a short holiday in the capital of England to cheer you up. Let’s be honest compared to Dubrovnik the capital of England is like a desert. Oh, and if you are thinking of going to London you can leave your Dubrovnik umbrellas behind, you’ll just need a bottle of water to keep you hydrated and some sun cream and you’re good to go.

I read more of the article...maybe I should have stopped when I was ahead. It continued...rain is rarer in Dubrovnik than in London but it is heavier in Dubrovnik. Ah, that’s not such good news. What they were basically saying is that London has rain long and slow and in Dubrovnik it’s short and explosive.

I read on, London has 1500 hours of sunshine a year while Dubrovnik has 2500 hours annually. Ah, whoops, so when I said you need sun cream in London I was exaggerating a little. A thousand hours of sunshine a year is quite a difference. The article concluded...Dubrovnik is sunnier and has more rain than London every year. A little confusing, however I can still use this to my advantage. The statistics can be slightly bended to be on my side. “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital,” said the famous professor Aaron Levenstein.

I’ll just use the part of the statistics that suit me...and that is there is twice as much rain in Dubrovnik than London every year, full stop. When I meet tourists from the UK moaning about the weather back home I’ll remind them of this fact. And when I’m teased by a local about “rainy England” I’ll again pull this fact from my sleeve.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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