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.
On Monday the 1st of April 1 the City of Dubrovnik invites all those interested to attend a discussion by the historian, journalist and publicist Robin Harris in the City Archives Library in Sponza Palace.
Harris, the author of the book “History of Dubrovnik,” will be the first guest in a series of presentations entitled “Discussions on the City.” This is a project of talks with various guests with the aim of contributing to the future of Dubrovnik with new ideas about the issues that affect the city.
Robin Harris has a Ph.D. degree from Oxford University and was a special advisor to the British government, as well as a personal advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At this first "Discussions on the City” he will talk about the political, economic and social life of the former Dubrovnik, along with the mayor of Dubrovnik Mato Franković, Dubrovnik historians and students of history.
Dubrovnik’s own American football club, the Dubrovnik Sharks, started the new season on a winning note yesterday as the season kicked off with a tournament in Dubrovnik. Facing stiff opposition in the Split Sea Wolves, the Sarajevo Spartans and the Karlovac Dukes the Sharks came through with two wins and one defeat.
The new look Sharks with an impressive roster started against the team from Karlovac, and with an enthusiastic crowd cheering the home team on, came through winners in a high-scoring game 46 – 27.
Split take on Karlovac in Dubrovnik - Photo Mark Thomas
Another win followed as the Sharks defeated the Spartans convincingly 58 – 25, even though the match was close at the beginning the Sharks had too much in their locker for the new team from the Bosnian and Herzegovina capital.
The last match of the Dubrovnik tournament saw them face one of the favourites for this year’s Croatian Flag Football League (HFFL), the Split Sea Wolves. And in a tight game the team from Split finally came through winners 32 – 12. Two wins and a loss in their opening tournament is a great result for Dubrovnik’s American Football club and the team and coaching staff were more than happy with the overall result.
Sharks at the line of scrimmage - Photo Mark Thomas
“Great start for the Sharks! Two wins and one loss at the first HFFL tournament,” commented the club on their social media channels. Adding that “Thank you for the numerous public who turned up to cheer us on. In 7 days the Sharks will travel to Karlovac to play two matches, against the Zagreb Patriots and the Zapresic Saints. Go Sharks!”
The whole tournament was played in good spirits with great co-operation between all the clubs, which can only be a positive sign for the future of the game in Croatia and the wider region.
Well done to the Dubrovnik Sharks for this impressive start to the 2019 HFFL season and to the other teams involved in Dubrovnik for making the day so enjoyable.
Split Sea Wolves
Croatians seem to more than happy with the ruling party and will continue to support them in the upcoming European elections in May, at least according to the latest poll. The European parliament has carried out a poll on Friday and it reveals that of the 12 seats up for grabs in the EU parliament half are predicted to go to the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) with the other six divided between the opposition parties.
These latest projections show that HDZ would win just over 30 percent of the votes, meaning six seats in the new assembly, followed by SDP with around 19 percent of votes assuring them three MEP seats.
It is expected that the remaining three seats will be divided amongst the other opposition parties, with the populist party Zivi Zid (Human Shield) on course to win their first ever European seat. Zivi Zid has long since campaigned that Croatia should leave the European Union, as well as leaving NATO.
In spite of a number of political gaffs in recent time the support of HDZ remains strong and they should, if the predictions are correct, keep their stronghold on Croatian MEP seats.
In May, candidates across Europe will compete for seats in the new 705-seat assembly, downsized from the current 751 due to United Kingdom's pending exit from the European Union. The upcoming removal of UK's 73 seats resulted in a new apportionment for the remaining 27 EU member countries, with Croatia's quota increased from 11 to 12 MEPs.
At exactly 8.30pm tonight the iconic Dubrovnik City Walls went into darkness as the Earth Hour 2019 action was marked in the city. For an hour the lights around the city walls were turned off to mark the World Wide Fund for Nature global initiative “Earth Hour” which this year is being held under the slogan “#Connect2Earth”
Earth Hour started as a lights-out event in Sydney in 2007. It has grown in stature over the years, as more than 180 countries and territories are now involved. More than 17,900 landmarks and monuments turned their lights off during last year’s event.
Before the lights went out - Photo Mark Thomas
The summer is approaching and it’s time to make your vacation plans. Whilst the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dubrovnik is a magnet for tourists there are plenty of other interesting and attractive sights to see just an hour’s drive from the city centre.
Here is a list of our top six Dubrovnik day-trip ideas all within an hour’s drive of the ancient city.
An earthquake, with the epicentre in the vicinity of Sinj, rumbled through Dalmatia last night and was felt in the wider Split region.
The earthquake epicentre was 13 km northwest of Sinj and 31 km north of Split at a depth of two kilometres and the magnitude was 4.2 on the Richter Scale.
The Geophysical Department of the Zagreb Faculty of Science and Mathematics commented that “On March 30, 2019, the seismological services of the Seismological Service recorded a strong earthquake with the epicentre at Donji Muci 16 km west of Sinj.” No injuries or material damage has been reported.
Today at exactly 8.30pm lights will go off all over Croatia to mark Earth Hour 2019. Earth Hour started as a lights-out event in Sydney in 2007. It has grown in stature over the years, as more than 180 countries and territories are now involved. More than 17,900 landmarks and monuments turned their lights off during last year’s event.
This year's action, the largest global initiative in the world, is held under the slogan "#Connect2Earth". Today at 8.30pm to 9.30pm lights will be turned off all over the world to mark this day organised by World Wide Fund for Nature.
"Croatia has readily responded to the Planet Earth Plan and more than 80 cities on Saturday will darken their centres and recognizable landmarks at 20:30 for 60 minutes," commented Petra Boic Petrač from WWF Adria. Adding that "From the walls of Dubrovnik, the entire Makarska Riviera, the Diocletian Palace in Split and the coast front of Sibenik, the Arena in Pula, Osijek Fortress to the Zagreb Cathedral, tomorrow's many iconic world sights from the Eiffel Tower, London Tower Bridge, the Colosseum in Rome and the Egyptian pyramids will all be in darkness for an hour."
“That will be 40 Kunas please,” smiled the friendly waiter as he handed me the coffee bill. “You forgot to add their coffees,” I pointed to two friends who had joined our table, “so that’s 4 coffees.” He smiled back “That’s the bill for all four coffees.” Sitting on the middle of the Stradun and only paying ten Kunas for a cup of caffeine was something new. I would normally pay the same amount for a coffee to go at the petrol station. “Every morning until 9.00am we have a special offer for locals,” he added.
It was well before 9.00am and the early morning is probably my favourite part of the day in Dubrovnik. Watching the city wake up and stretch its arms wide with a big yawn is certainly entertaining. The delivery trucks rushing along the Stradun full of all sorts of products, from water to cement, and the pigeons diving out of their way. The pupils running to school, although spotting a pupil inside the walls is about as rare as seeing a dolphin in the Adriatic. Watching the mothers-in-law shuffle around the green market, or should I say what’s actually left of the green market, as they verbally wrestle with the sellers, its street theatre.
“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players,” well Mr. Shakespeare never has that phrase been truer than in the green market.
The “coffee club”, of which everyone in Dubrovnik is a member, sitting in their favourite café bar sipping at their macchiato and puffing away like a chimney in winter. And as the tourist season is slowly but surely starting there were a few sprinklings of foreign accents echoing in the air, and these groups of Asians got me thinking.
We are less than a month from Easter, meaning we are less than a month away from the tourist season starting. Are we ready? Probably the best answer would be that we are never really ready.
Without importing workers Dubrovnik couldn't function
All I have been hearing for the past weeks is director’s moaning that they can’t find staff. That’s mean I know that summer is approaching, not when I hear the swallow’s cry from the stone façades but when I hear a director complaining that all the workers have disappeared. And as Slavonia slowly turns into a green Sahara with everyone fleeing to Ireland and Germany, employers are casting their nets further afield. From Serbia, Macedonia, Ukraine and far beyond.
And as they look further afield a whole new set of problems arise. Firstly, language. There are more than a few cases of staff that work in shops and bars in Dubrovnik who don’t know more than a handful of Croatian. Not so helpful if you’re trying to buy of jeans in Sub City and you don’t speak Ukrainian. Second, culture.
With such a mix of nationalities it will be hard to maintain one of the things that sets Dubrovnik apart as a destination, its culture. It is complex and complicated, but it is extremely important. I have nothing against us importing thousands of foreign workers every season, for without them Dubrovnik couldn’t function, we simply don’t have enough people, enough bodies, to do all the jobs that need to be done.
And then there is the “rent syndrome.” Where younger generations don’t see the point in actually getting an education because they see their future as renting out their apartment to tourists and them sitting on the beach whilst the money rolls in. A dangerous and unfortunate situation for any society, we will end up with the lost generation. So this “lost generation” don’t, or to be honest can’t, work in the front line of the city’s tourism industry meaning that we are reliant on imports.
So watching the city awaken that morning I was also struck by the poor demographic situation that Croatia is suffering. Dubrovnik is insulated from the realities that are happening all over the rest of the country, we are in a bubble. Almost 3,000 foreign workers poured into Dubrovnik last season and there is no evidence to suggest that that number will be lower this summer. We both need each other, we both rely on each other, we have a joint destiny.