Saturday, 25 May 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

Croatia’s unemployment rate has fallen once again and in February stood at 10.2 percent, down 2.1 percent compared to the same month from last year. In February the number of unemployed people in Croatia was 156,400.

The unemployment rate might normally be cause for optimism; however, the real story is more depressing. By far the biggest reason for the decrease in unemployed has nothing to do with new companies opening or a more prosperous economy, no, the reason for the drop in the unemployment rate is greatly connected to the shrinking population as hundreds of thousands of people have left Croatia to find jobs in other EU members states.

The spring months are traditionally used to prepare for the summer tourist season, which means the unemployment levels are expected to continue dropping in the coming months, as increasing numbers of Croatians are likely to look for seasonal jobs in tourism and all sectors related to it, including retail and services.

The French Riviera is an attraction unto itself. It’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful areas along the Mediterranean Coast, and that’s saying something. As such, it’s often simply mentioned as a place to see or visit, and left at that. And this is perfectly appropriate! Despite the fact that it actually covers a fairly expansive area, ultimately the French Riviera is marked by a general setting and atmosphere that its largely similar from one town or beach to the next.

Wandering this part of the Mediterranean without aim is more than a little appealing. Yet realistically if you do end up visiting, you’ll ultimately benefit from having a few stops and sights in mind. It’s for this reason we’ve decided to identify a few of the experiences you really shouldn’t miss while you’re there.

1. La Croisette Boulevard

Croisette 1 2

Known as one of the most famous sidewalks in France, La Croisette is a seaside boulevard in Cannes that has come to be synonymous with the area’s general wealth and grandeur, yet which retains a sort of easygoing vibe. High-end shops and wonderful restaurants are all along the walkway, and the views to both sides - out toward the sea and in toward the city - are simply fabulous. There are a lot of specific things you can enjoy doing even along this boulevard, but above all else we’d recommend saving a few hours to walk along and explore it.

2. La Ponche 

SaintTropezOldPort 1 2

You’ll undoubtedly see St. Tropez high on the list of individual places along the French Riviera to visit. It’s a whole town on the coast, and well worth taking the team to explore. If you’re just passing through though, or have limited time, be sure to check out La Ponche. It’s the “old town” part of the city (something many cities around Europe have), marked by cobblestone streets and older buildings, and associated with the history of St. Tropez as a quaint but beautiful fishing village, long before it became a tourist haven. It’s a charming place to visit, and an interesting glimpse of something intimate and decidedly authentic within the greater city.

3. Casino de Monte Carlo 

CasinodeMonteCarlo 4 2

A casino may not necessarily sound like the purest of Mediterranean getaways, particularly the way we think of this type of entertainment today. Many will picture kitschy resort lobbies full of jingling slot machines. Some will consider the mobile sites full of games that arguably define casinos even more than the in-person experience these days. Monte-Carlo’s casino however, if you aren’t familiar with it, is something else entirely. It may feature some of the same games you’d find in a Las Vegas lobby or at a mobile gaming site, but it is ultimately a far more elegant building and experience. It’s an “old-world” casino known as much for its architecture and design, and its stunning location within the city, as for its high-stakes card tables. Whether or not you’re there for games, it’s well worth a stop, and gives you a great vantage point from which to explore an incredible city.

4. Mirazur 

Mirazur 1 2

One could write up a whole list like this, and in fact one five times as long, identifying amazing restaurants to try along the French Riviera. More than a few restauranteurs have recognized the unmatched benefits of Mediterranean views for drawing in crowds, but rather than relying solely on these views, most of them seem to have gone to great lengths to craft incredible culinary experiences as well. Mirazur, alongside the sea in the town of Menton, is an example of this, and perhaps the best of them all. Run by the Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco yet serving a Mediterranean menu, it boasts two Michelin stars and classification as the fourth best restaurant in the world. And, while it’s by no means a cheap dining experience, it’s not so unreasonable that you can’t swing it with a little bit of advance saving and planning.

5. Plage de la Paloma 

PlagedelaPalomaView 1 2

As is the case for restaurants, there are countless beaches that could be mentioned on a list like this, and for that matter you’re sure to be able to find lists and rankings of coastal spots on the French Riviera. The bigger point here is that you absolutely have to find a nice beach to hang out on for a bit. We’ve selected Plage de la Paloma as perhaps the best option. It’s known as a private beach, which can scare some people away, but all it really means is that you need to pay a small sum to get your own day bed on the shore - which is to say you don’t need to belong to a club, or be staying at a particular hotel. Paying for a day or afternoon is well worth it, as this beach gives you the best opportunity to enjoy the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat area near Nice, which is famous for its views, relaxing nature, and occasional celebrity visits.

Twice the amount of Croatians use the internet to follow the news than print copies of newspapers, according to a new survey. The global trend of printed newspapers losing their place on the market is mirrored in Croatia.

A survey conducted by the Ipsos market research agency, in which just over 1,000 people were questioned, shows that Croatians believe that the news portals offer the most trusted source of news.

A whopping 92 percent of people questioned said that they use the internet several times a day, and 78 percent said that it was their main source of information. On average Croatians spend four hours a day online during the week and even more at the weekend.

Some 54 percent consider the Internet the most reliable media, while 28.2 percent said so about television. 70 percent follow news websites, 35.6 percent read print editions, and 23 percent use mobile applications.

The Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister, Marija Pejčinović Burić, has entered the shortlist of candidates for the post of Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe's Council of Ministers today held a secret ballot at the meeting in Strasbourg with candidates for the post of Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Of the four candidates, two were selected: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia Marija Pejčinović Burić and Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs and Minister of Defense of Belgium Didier Reynders.

The candidate list will be sent to the Parliamentary Assembly of the EC which will make the final decision on the election of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe by secret ballot at the plenary session on the 25th of June this year in Strasbourg.

This is a view of Dubrovnik you will struggle to find in any travel guide; yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, that is a Zeppelin flying above Dubrovnik.

Eighty-seven years ago, on the 27th of March 1929, a Zeppelin flew above Dubrovnik; this was to be the first time, and the last time, that a Zeppelin would hover over the city. At that time is was a Zeppelin was the elite way to travel, although it may seem like flying in a death-trap nowadays.

The photo of the massive blimp over Dubrovnik is in fact a Photoshop trick; no photographic evidence of this historical event was taken. However, there was a witness, Antun Zago. He was on a ship, the Calgaric, at the time the Zeppelin flew over the city, anchored in front of Dubrovnik. He noted that the Zeppelin “moved quietly with the work of a single engine as it flew over the city.”

Historical archives in Dubrovnik have records on the movements of the monster blimp, which apparently arrived from the southeast and hovered over the city for a short time. It certainly must have been an attraction when it hung in the sky, possibly even blocking out the sun.

There were 41 crew members and 25 passengers on board the Zeppelin LZ-127 that day. The blimp was on a round journey from Friedrichshafen to Egypt. On its way south it passed over the Rhone valley, Basel, Marseilles, Corsica, Rome, Naples, Capri, Crete, Cyprus, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and arrived in Cairo. And on the way back the Zeppelin LZ-127 passed over the Aegean Sea, Athens, Dubrovnik, Zagreb and Vienna.

The whole adventure took four days and in that time the Zeppelin had passed a total of eight thousand kilometres. Graf Zeppelin, during its operating life, made 590 flights covering more than 1.7 million kilometers (over 1 million miles). It was scrapped for fighter plane parts in 1940. 

Among the passengers on this historic flight over Dubrovnik was the president of the German Reichstag Paul Loeb, and members of the then nobility, it must have been a flight and an experience to remember.

zeppelin over dubrovnik

 

Moving your clocks forward in the Spring and an hour back again in the Autumn is on track to become history as the European Union has voted to end daylight savings time in the EU by 2021. In a vote yesterday a large majority passed the regulation to stop daylight saving time across member states, now the problem is finding a compromise with each sovereign state, with a possible problem between Croatia and Slovenia already appearing.

The new EU regulation on daylight savings means that each separate member state would have the right to decide their future, and to make matters even more confusing they all have three choices – continue with moving the clocks twice a year, moving to a permanent summer time or changing to permanent winter time. These choice have already led to confusion as according to reports in Jutarnji List Slovenia is planning to stick to winter time whilst Croatia is proposing to move to permanent summer time. Crossing the Slovenia – Croatian border could well mean adjusting your watches in the near future.

daylight savings time zones across world

Daylight saving time regions: Northern hemisphere summer - Southern hemisphere summer - Formerly used daylight saving or permanently daylight saving - Never used daylight saving (Photo Wikipedia) 

Whilst it would make sense for Croatia to adopt permanent summer time in the future, due to the country’s reliance on the tourism sector, no decision has yet to be made by the government. In fact, it would appear that even though the government knew that vote was due in the European Commission they have yet to create a plan. “We have supported the principled position to stop moving the clock twice a year, though in Croatia we still have not decided whether to take winter or summer time. We have to conduct a public debate, include the tourism and transport sector, talk about it at the government level and then see what's the best option,” commented the Minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butkovic, to Jutarnji List.

 

Today, about 40 percent of countries worldwide use daylight saving time to make better use of daylight and to conserve energy. The majority of countries outside Europe and North America do not adjust their clocks.

The EU carried out a public survey back in 2018 to ask the public if they were in favour of banning daylight saving time in the future, and although 4.6 million people participated in the online vote it was later revealed that 3 million votes came from Germany. The online poll was criticized as being a vote of the German people and not a Europe-wide opinion. And the speed that the proposal was brought before the European Commission also led many experts to believe that it was rushed through before the upcoming European Parliament elections in May.

And as a reminder this Sunday, the 31st of March, at 2.00 am clocks across Croatia should be moved an hour forward, as summer time comes into force.

For every 100 Euros earned by a hotel in Croatia almost a third goes to pay taxes. According to new research by the Greek tourism organisation, Sete, Croatian taxes are one of the highest in the Mediterranean.

Sete’s research shows that the Greek tourism sector is the hardest hit by taxes. For every 100 Euros spent on accommodation by a tourist in a four-star hotel a whopping 33.4 Euros is paid in various taxes, making Greece the most heavily taxed country in the region. In order to make comparisons with their competitors in the tourism sector Sete carried out the same research in various other “hot” destinations such as Croatia, Turkey, Spain and Cyprus.

Croatia has the third highest taxes in the Mediterranean, for every 100 Euros that a tourist pays for accommodation in a four-star hotel the total taxes are 28.2 Euros, or almost a third of the income. After Greece, which has the highest tourism taxes, came Italy where hoteliers lay out 28.8 Euros in taxes and contributions for every 100 Euros earned.

Croatia will go to the elections booths on the 26th of May to vote in the European elections. A total of 12 MEP seats will be up for grabs with the ruling party, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), expected to win at least six, with the other seats divided between the opposition parties.

The Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, announced the European Parliament election date today and this will be only the second time that Croatians have had the chance to vote for their MEP.

Across the whole of the European Union elections will be held between the 23rd to the 26th of May.

Voters across the European Union will go the polls to select the MEPs to serve in the European Parliament for the next five years. Due to Brexit, the number of MEPs for the next five-year period was reduced from 751 to 705. And Brexit means that Croatia has an extra seat at the European table, as the number of MEP’s has been increased from 11 to 12 due to the UK leaving the union. The biggest beneficiaries of Brexit, as far as extra members of the European Parliament are concerned, is France and Spain, who will both have five extra members in the chamber.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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