Friday, 26 April 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

Once again Dubrovnik will reverberate to the soothing sounds of vocal groups as the popular Aklapela festival comes to town later this month. For the eighth consecutive year in Dubrovnik, from the 26th to the 28th of April, the Aklapela Festival will be held, a festival of top Croatian vocal groups (Klapa) that nurtures original klapa singing and traditional a capella singing. Klapa singing is included in UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage, and is also one of the trademarks of Dalmatia.

Every year the festival presents great vocal groups from various different regions of Croatia. This year's Aklapela will host the vocal groups Amorin - Zagreb, FA Linđo - Dubrovnik, Grdelin - Zagreb, Kaše - Dubrovnik, Mriža - Split, Oršulice - Vodice, Skontradura - Dubrovnik, Subrenum - Župa dubrovačka, Vinćace - Novi Vinodolski.

The original klapa songs, performed on the most beautiful stages of the city of Dubrovnik and its surroundings will delight many enthusiasts of traditional klapa singing this year.

More information about the program visit the festival’s website - www.aklapela.hr

I have been going to school every morning, writing homework, watching Nickelodeon, playing football with friends and going to bed at 9:30 all week. No, I am not stuck in a Back to the Future style film, or even a Back to the Past, I have been baby-sitting all week. I was though that phrase was rather strange “baby-sitting” as it has nothing to do with sitting on a baby, well at least I hope not.

A friend of ours had to leave the country for a week on a business trip and we volunteered to look after her two young children. Yes, when I said baby-sitting they aren’t really even close to being babies, aged 14 and 9. And over the past week I have learnt a few lessons about children.

Lesson 1 - Pizza must have some magical quality that addicts children to it. Hot or cold it attracts children like bees to honey. Lesson 2 – Children have problems judging lengths of time. “Turn off the laptop you’ve been playing games for too long.” To which the reply would come, “But I’ve only just turned it on.” And on the flip side “How have you already finished your homework you’ve only just started,” to which the reply would come, “I’ve been doing it for hours.” Lesson 3 – Children have a different idea as to what tidy means. Where a child sees order and tidiness an adult sees a bomb explosion. Lesson 4 – Tomato ketchup is magical. It seems to turn all meals into yummy feasts for children. Lesson 5 – All children are budding journalists. They have one question “why.”

Lesson 6 – Boys and girls are like magnets. Boys and the north pole and girls the south pole, they have differing views on life. Basically girls have an urge to grow up quicker and boys just want to be young forever. Lesson 7 – Chocolate at night is a bad idea. (that one is a note to self) Lesson 8 – Children are like sponges. In a positive way they will learn quickly and soak up knowledge. But on the other hand they have no “off button” so you have to be careful what you say and do at all times.

Lesson 9 - Laugh every day. This is probably one for me to learn from children. As Charlie Chaplin famously said “A day without laughter is a day wasted,” and children certainly don’t waste a day. Lesson 10 – Have no fear. The older we get the less courage we have. Children have no fear. When they want to sing, they sing loud. And when they want to dance, they dance with unbounded joy. As adults, we fear the unknown. We stay safely ensconced in our comfort zone and rarely venture out.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light,” – Plato.

If adults thought like children (at least for half an hour every day) life would not only be easier, it would be more fun. I have many more lessons from my week of pretending to be Mrs. Doubtfire, or Mary Poppins for the older generation. But seriously it was a joy to be around these two well-behaved children for a week. I also think that I learned more from them than they did from me.

Question - What do children know that adults seem to have forgotten? Answer – almost everything. All of life’s obligations clutter us up as we get older and somewhere along the way we lose our child-like love for life. Sometimes it feels that we spend our entire lives trying to return to who we were as children. Unfortunately, we never will succeed. Get excited. Don't be afraid of new things. Have fun. Be curious. Express yourself sincerely. Take advantage of each moment. Love fearlessly. Adapt to change.

And just as we waved goodbye to them, literally on the same day, my mother and young niece turned up from England for a week’s holiday. As they say at the end of serials…To Be Continued. (Baby-Sitting 2: The Sequel.) 

According to an official report by the State Statistics Bureau property prices rose by 6 percent in 2018 compared to the year before. The data from the report shows that housing prices across the country climbed by 6.1 percent in 2018, with new-builds climbing by 3.6 percent and 6.6 percent for pre-existing homes.

The capital, Zagreb, saw the largest price rises in 2018, with property prices climbing by 8.5 percent last year. Along the Croatian Adriatic, which is normally the highest growth rate, the prices rose by 4.4 percent last year, in other words the capital prices climbed by almost double compared to the coastline.

The climb in real estate prices in the capital is thought to be due to the increase in Zagreb as a tourist destination, and investors are buying real estate to cover the demand for tourists and short-term rentals.

At about 5:30 pm yesterday afternoon the Chinese delegation headed by Prime Minister Li Keqiang landed at Dubrovnik Airport, from where, with great security measures, he headed to Dubrovnik to take part in the 16 + 1 Summit. This Summit 16 + 1, which will be held today and tomorrow in Dubrovnik at the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, is the 8th meeting of the heads of the governments of Central and Eastern Europe and China.

The meeting will be a great opportunity for further deepening cooperation between Croatia, China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Prime Minister Plenković and the President of the State Council of the People's Republic of China will officially open a Business Forum for Entrepreneurs from China and 16 European countries.

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The Forum will bring together about a thousand participants, 400 of them from China, and the theme of the panel will be cooperation in infrastructure and investment, production, innovation, trade, tourism and culture.

The roads of Dubrovnik will see plenty of police restrictions whilst the congress is on, with traffic police and special police brought in from other cities to help protect the event.

London's Mid Europa Investment Fund has become the majority owner of the Croatian bakery company Mlinar d.d., while the current President of the Management Board and former owner of Mlinar, Mato Škojo, will remain the co-owner of the company.

"In the Mid Europa Investment Fund we have found a serious partner for realizing our planned company growth and expansion projects around the world. I'm sure this is a great step for the future of Mlinar and that the new partner synergies will accelerate the development of our business system," commented Mato Škojo.

Mid Europe is a proven partner of many large companies in Europe. With business knowledge and experience from different markets, they have managed to empower the companies they have invested in so far, so many of their acquisitions have gone expanded their markets.

The cost of a Big Mac in Croatia is twice the price of Moscow but considerably cheaper than in the USA and Norway, and half the price of the most expensive Big Mac in the world in Switzerland.

According to the latest Big Max Index a Big Mac in Croatia costs $3.3 which puts in midway in the global price for this popular burger. The most expensive Big Mac in the world is in Switzerland where the McDonald’s burger will set you back $6.6.

The Big Mac Index is a list of the prices of the popular burger all over the world and is published by The Economist as an informal way of measuring the purchasing power parity between two currencies and provides a test of the extent to which market exchange rates result in goods costing the same in different countries. The index, created in 1986, takes its name from the Big Mac.

Cost of McDonald's Big Mac - 2019

Switzerland: $6.6
Norway: $5.8
US: $5.5
Canada: $5.08
Brazil: $4.5
Australia: $4.3
UK: $4.07
S Korea: $4.02
Japan: $3.6
Croatia: $3.3
Pakistan: $3.3
Saudi: $3.2
China: $3.05
Poland: $2.8
India: $2.5
Mexico: $2.5
Indonesia: $2.3
Turkey: $2
Russia: $1.6

The European Union is aiming to tighten up security and have approved new laws establishing a uniform identity card format across all member states. Member States will be required to issue the new biometric ID cards in the next two years.

The new ID cards, aimed at cutting down on forgeries, will mean that new ID cards across the EU will in the future need to include secure contactless chips along with a photo of the holder and a fingerprint.

The EU released figures showing that around 80 million Europeans use ID cards that don’t have the possibility to be read by a machine and don’t have biometric identifiers. In the meantime, holders of ID cards that don’t conform to the new higher standards will have to be replace these within five or 10 years, depending on their security level with the exception of ID card holders over 70 years of age.

“In the future, all ID cards and residence documents issued in the EU should have the same minimum security standards. This will help us detect and prevent terrorists and criminals from using forged ID cards and from crossing our borders, whilst safeguarding the rights and freedoms of our citizens, including their mobility,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.

In 2018 a total of 251,000 people died in road traffic accidents in the European Union, down a small 1 percent on 2017, whilst compared to 2010 the number of fatalities decreased by 21 percent proving that safety measures are working.

Clearly the safety measures introduced, not only in the EU but across Croatia, are starting to have some effect. Largely new, stricter fines combined with programs of education for drivers has seen an improvement in road safety in Croatia. And this can be seen with the latest figures from the EU, in 2010 99 people (per million) were killed in road traffic accidents in Croatia and in 2018 there were 77, or 26 percent less. The majority of these fatalities were young male drivers, and this is a common problem across the whole of the EU.

But even though the numbers are promising for Croatia and are moving in the right direction there is clearly more work needed. In Great Britain 28 people per million were killed in road traffic accidents in 2018, making Britain’s roads the safest in the EU. The UK was followed by Denmark with 30 deaths per million, Ireland with 31 and Sweden with 32.

The average EU level in 2018 was 49 fatalities per million inhabitants, which means that Croatian roads are among the most dangerous in the whole of the European Union.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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