Thursday, 22 February 2024
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.


Dubrovnik could well see another record this weekend, a record for the coldest ever temperature. The city awoke to freezing temperatures this morning as temperatures dropped to 3 degrees and a north wind made the wind chill factor even colder. Light snow has already started to fall in the regions around Dubrovnik, the hills of Konavle and Zupa are white, and more snow is predicted to fall this afternoon.

The forecast for the next few days is for more snow and colder temperatures as a polar front hits the region. The coldest ever temperature measured in Dubrovnik was in January 1968 when - 7 was recorded. However on Saturday this record could be broken as forecasters predict temperatures down to – 8 as the Siberian weather continues.

Every time I leave the United States to return to Dubrovnik, I get bombarded by the alarmed “please be safe over there” comments. But the truth is, there’s nowhere else in the world I feel safer than in Dubrovnik.

Of course with the present-day context of terrorist attacks throughout Europe stirring the pot of international turmoil, I understand why family and friends would want me to be safe while living across the world.

It’s just that many Americans, especially those who have never left, fail to see that the United States is actually the dangerous place.

I must admit that I am coming from a place of immense privilege in that I have been mainly untouched by the violence in America. I grew up in a relatively quiet suburb in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where the only crime was teenagers causing trouble around town.

However, because of my family background, I’ve been surrounded by crime since the day I was born. I come from a family of criminal defense lawyers, where I’ve heard everything from stories of the wrongly accused to housewives with a secret drug addiction. Though these were mostly petty white-collar offenses, I always lived with the very real threat of crime, which has at times put my family’s security at risk.

Moving to Chicago for college was a whole new world for me, one filled with both opportunity and violence. Like most metropolitan cities in America, inner-city crime is rooted in a sharp opportunity gap. Sadly enough, crime flourishes in the areas of Chicago that are completely neglected, occasionally trickling into the areas deemed “safe”.

The perimeter of my former liberal bubble of a college campus was a ripe opportunity for theft. I was desensitized to getting e-mails once a week about students being held at gunpoint, and some cases of sexual assault. There was even a time I was volunteering in a rougher neighborhood, and a shooting between gangs broke out while I was inside tutoring kids.

Thus with this background, coming to study abroad in Dubrovnik was quite a contrast for me. Because it is such a small town, crime and violence seemed practically impossible when everyone knows each other. There were no stories of murder, gun violence, or gangs, instead stories of the passed Homeland War. I remember us American study abroad students saying we’ve never felt safer. It’s no surprise why Dubrovnik has been said to be one of the safest places in the world.

Yes, there were some situations with “cat calling” and strange men, being a young woman in Dubrovnik. But I never felt very threatened. It was such a relief to be able to walk home in the dark without the extreme paranoia and to be able to go for a run without the fear of being abducted.

It was when I returned back to the United States that I realized how unsafe my country is. While I was gone, there were numerous mass shootings and cases of police brutality. Even one of my classmates had been shot and killed after being robbed. A few months later, another classmate was shot outside her apartment. I couldn’t help but feel the violence was out of control on all ends, and it kept hitting closer to home.

Later that year, I saw headlines for a shooting in the Twin Cities, where a disgruntled client went into a criminal defense law office and shot and killed the receptionist. My heart sank when I saw it was the law firm of our family friends. My heart broke when I saw the murder victim was my friend from high school.

In a matter of months I become furious with my country’s apathy towards violence, and especially lack of gun control. I was worried for my family, friends, and my own safety. There were many days when my anxiety peaked and I had to take myself back to a safe place in my mind. That place was Dubrovnik.

Before I came back to Dubrovnik after graduating college, I lost count of the number of times people warned me about being safe, as if I was going to somewhere more dangerous. It is somewhat ironic that I would feel significantly safer somewhere that was bombed to the ground less than 30 years ago.

Over the past 6 months living in Dubrovnik again, I truly was filled was gratitude to live in a bubble of paradise, untouched from the world’s chaos and violence.

But I’ll never forget one night I was at the beach with my Croatian friends, when someone started throwing the “Petarde“ fireworks at the ground. I immediately jumped to my feet with terror in my eyes, as they sounded exactly like gunshots to me. I put my hand on my fluttering heart, and looked at my friends who barely flinched, still laughing and singing under the moonlight.

I reminded myself that I was in Dubrovnik now, and I was safe.

Alexandra Schmidt, also known as The Mindful Mermaid, is a globetrotting writer and travel blogger, who finds her self always coming back to Dubrovnik. She was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota and later moved to Chicago to study at Loyola University. She first came to Dubrovnik when she studied at Dubrovnik International University, and has returned to Dubrovnik several times since. She’s a mermaid-obsessed yogi, who passes her time playing guitar, exploring the great outdoors, and planning her next adventure. To find out more about Alex, you can visit her website or Facebook page.

The ever popular animated characters Pat and Mat are heading to Dubrovnik at the end of this month. The popular television characters will brighten up January in Dubrovnik with a performance in the Rixos Libertas Hotel on the 28th of this month at 11.00am and again at 5.00pm.

Pat and Mat is a Czech stop-motion animated series featuring two handymen: Pat and Mat (Czech for "stalemate" and "checkmate"). The show was created by Lubomír Beneš and Vladimír Jiránek. The show features the two characters facing mostly self-made problems, trying to solve them using any possible and impossible tools and construction gadgets. This leads to even more problems and yet, eventually, the two manage to get a working result with a mostly surprising solution.

pat and mat rixos

According to the authors, it is the manual ineptitude that inspires the stories. The humour is not the only feature of the show. Another feature is having an optimistic approach towards life. The two characters always get into problematic situations, but they never give up until they solve the problem in imaginative ways.

The show is also memorable for its soundtrack, composed by Petr Skoumal, of which the main parts consist of the theme song and a harmonica tune.

Tickets for the Pat and Mat show in Dubrovnik are already on sale and can be purchased online at for 60 Kuna.

New year brings new travel lists and if you were wondering where to go this year The New York Times has published a list of 52 places to go in 2017.

- There are thousands of getaways to explore this year. Here are some ideas to get you started – it's written in the intro of the article.

And, with the great choice of thousands of getaways, Dubrovnik still made it on the list and it's located on 6th place!

- With its limestone-paved streets and 80-foot-high walls surrounding Old Town, this star of the Dalmatian Coast has long been able to rest on its aesthetic laurels — you might recognize it as King’s Landing on “Game of Thrones.” In recent years, though, it has been adding to the luster – writes David Farley about the Pearl of Adriatic.

Destinations that made it higher on the list are Canada, Atacama Desert – Chile, Agra – India, Zermatt – Switzerland and Botswana.

At the Hong Kong Food Festival which was held from the 24th to the 28th of December 2016 in the category of meat products, PIK Vrbovec and the Belje company presented their traditional products for the first time on the Asian market.

The Croatian meat industry exports its products to the CEFTA market and to more than fifteen EU countries such as Italy, Romania, Sweden, Hungary, Germany, Austria and others. The sales share of the range of products on foreign markets accounted for 19 percent in 2016.

The 14th Hong Kong Food Festival gathered renowned manufacturers from all around the world and over 1.25 million visitors. On this occasion the Croatian manufacturers had the opportunity to present their indigenous products because Hong Kong is also important as the starting point for the markets of China and the Pacific.

''The PIK's quality and innovation in the manufacture of meat products and fresh meat are recognized on the foreign markets so we believe that our participation at this fair will contribute to our further business expansion on the Asian market particularly interesting and challenging for us'', said Boris Cvetkovic, the export director of the PIK Vrbovec company.

At the latest Asian food festival the Croatian agricultural and processing industry Belje presented its famous sausages Kulenova seka and Baranjski kulen which have the Protected Geographical Indication label.

''Baranjski kulen and Kulenova seka are high quality products of our rich tradition which are manufactured at Belje according to traditional recipes of old masters. Such authentic products are specialty which we have presented on export markets worldwide. The Asian market is very interesting to us due to its tendency for spicy food and products made of the best pork meat such as Baranjski kulen'', commented Ivica Starcevic, the Sales, Marketing and Tourism director at the Belje company.

2Cellos received an invitation from the staff of President-elect of United states Donald Trump. In fact, they have contacted them because they wanted them to play on Trump’s inauguration.

However, the duo had to decline Trump because of pre-planned business commitments. Although they will not be able to play, Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic thanked for the invitation.

Trump’s inauguration will be held on January 20th and it seems that his staff is having some problem finding musicians who will play on it.

The Dubrovnik cable car is back and running after preventive checks were carried out last week. Excelsa Real Estate, the company that operates the cable car announced today that safety checks were carried out by the manufacturer the Austrian company, Teufelberger.

The checks proved that the cables were not damaged in the recent fires on the Srd mountain, so the cable car is back working as normal as of today.

From the 1st of January 2017 a ban on breeding animals for fur production came into force in Croatia.

The ban was adopted by the Animal Protection Act in 2006 and ''thanks to the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture which listened to the public and protected the animal rights in Croatia, the country finally celebrated the entry into force of a fur farming ban’’, said from the Animal Friends Croatia association.

The association stated that the enforcement of the ban was a result of a long-lasting and persistent struggle of citizens, professionals, politicians, vets, members of the EU parliament, institutions and associations for the protection of animals during a ten-year long transitional period in which chinchilla breeders had tried to have the ban abolished.

Since the ban on breeding furry animals became part of the Animal Protection Act in 2006, most breeders of chinchillas, the only fur-breeding animal in Croatia, stopped with fur production, but a minority continued, with the main goal of having the ban abolished.

''Ethical awareness of our citizens managed to overcome the petty profiteering interests and placed Croatia on the map of civilized countries that respect public opinion and adopt high ethical and environmental standards in the treatment of animals'', Animal Friends Croatia said in its statement.

Apart from a cake for the Ministry of Agriculture as a sign of gratitude, the Animal Friends Croatia association will also send a letter of thanks to the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and the Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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