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 is turning into winter wonderland for the third time! Dubrovnik Winter Festival will again make people leave the comfort of their homes during the cold winter days and enjoy the Advent in our City.
Rich programme has been published on the Dubrovnik Tourist Board website and we're sure that everybody will find something to attend. From workshops, concerts, dance performances, free guided tours and plays to children festival, dance party, cake party and many more – the only problem will be that you might wish to attend them all. Almost every day in the next months is full of events!
Also, Stradun will be full of life with festive stands and live music on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday from 8 pm to 10 pm. Just a reminder – Dubrovnik Winter Festival will start on Saturday at 8 pm with an opening ceremony. See the full programme here.
Get your umbrellas and coats ready it is going to be a wet and windy weekend in Dubrovnik. After the recent north wind, that brought with it cold and sunny weather, the weather is about to take a turn for the worse.
From Friday the south wind will start to blow bringing with it rain, lots of rain. In fact torrential rain is forecast for this weekend in Dubrovnik with temperatures expected to reach 18 degrees Celsius.
The longer range forecast for the beginning of next week shows much more stable weather with clearer skies and rising temperatures. Highs at the beginning of the week will reach 19 degrees which is much warmer than average for this time of the year.
And Christmas, or at least December, in Dubrovnik lots like being a mixture of rain and clouds, in fact for Christmas day in Dubrovnik rain is forecast with temperatures around 9 degrees.
Smoked bellowed from a narrow street onto the Stradun this morning as a fire broke out at around 11 o’clock. The fire broke out in the air conditioning unit and was fortunately quickly extinguished by the Dubrovnik fire brigade. Foam was sprayed into the air condition unit as fire-fighters climbed ladders to tackle the blaze.
Thankfully this fire was easy to control and was relatively small, however it was an unpleasant reminder of the challenges that the fire brigade face in the historic core of the Old City of Dubrovnik.
The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahušić, and the director of the Lokrum Reserve, Mario Tevšić, met this week with representatives of families Malaga Galjuf, the co-owners of the island of Daksa.
The family owns 46 percent of the island, while the remaining 54 percent belongs to the family Ucović Dorsner. Both families live in Lima, Peru.
The reason for the discussion was the intention of the City of Dubrovnik to purchase the island from the families in order to preserve the island and to open it up for locals and tourists. “As Lokrum is a green oasis and a place of peace and tranquillity and unspoiled nature, the island of Daksa could be a similar island on the other side of the city,” commented the mayor. Adding that with adequate ferry connections the island is only a ten-minute journey from the Port of Dubrovnik.
The island of Daksa
If families are not willing to sell the island, the City of Dubrovnik is prepared, in consultation with the owners, to take into consideration other models for taking care of the island, especially in the form of cleaning, maintenance and fire protection of the island.
“Of particular interest to us is to protect the island as a city park and an oasis of nature, a place of special historical significance, which is now unfortunately unmaintained and almost neglected," said Vlahušić.
Mr. Malaga Galjuf expressed his willingness to find a solution with the City of Dubrovnik and it was agreed that the mayor would write a letter to the families which will explain the different models.
The latest European Commision Statistics (Eurostat) data show that the expected duration of working life in Croatia is among the shortest in the European Union.
Eurostat defines "duration of working life" as the number of years a person aged 15 is expected to be active, either employed or unemployed, on the labour market throughout his/her life.
The expected duration of working life in Croatia was 32.6 years in 2015 which put the country in a group with other EU countries such as Belgium, Poland and Hungary. The working life average in the EU is 35.4 years which was an increase of almost two years in comparison to 2005.
The shortest working life is expected in Italy (30.7 years), Bulgaria (32.1 years) and Greece (32.3 years), whilst the longest working life is expected in Sweden (41.2 years), the Netherlands (39.9 years) and Denmark (39.2 years).
According to Eurostat data in the period between 2005 and 2015 the expected duration of working life recorded an increase in all EU member countries, the most in Malta (+5,1 years), Hungary (+4,2 years) and in Luxembourg (+3,1 years). Eurostat explains this increase with the fact that duration of working life increased more rapidly for women (32,8 years in 2015 compared with 30,2 years in 2005, or +2,6 years) than for men (37,9 years in 2015 and 36,7 years in 2005, or +1.2 year).
In the same decade the duration of working life in Croatia increased by 1,2 years i.e. 1,9 years for women and 0,8 years for men.
"Our survey shows that 82.6 percent of Croatians believe that products intended for the eastern European market are of poorer quality than those intended for western EU member countries," the Croatian MP in the European Parliament Biljana Borzan said at the news conference held in the Europe House in Zagreb this week.
Biljana and Andrea Gross-Boskovic, the director of the Croatian Food Agency (HAH) presented their survey and announced comparative analysis and testing of 27 product types on the Croatian and German markets.
''Around 70 percent of our respondents showed a high level of scepticism and they believe that large European corporations treat us as second-class citizens'', said Gross-Boskovic adding that the HAH only wanted to determine a state of affairs.
The analysis will cover products such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestea ice tea, Heineken beer, Rio Mare tuna, pasta Barilla, Ariel laundry detergent, Silan laundry softener, Domestos household cleaning products as well as Nivea and Colgate products.
It is interesting to note that an earlier research carried out by the Czech Republic's MP in the European Parliament showed that one-third of the products on the Czech market were of poorer quality in comparison to same products on the German market.
It's that time of the year when a massive exodus of people from Dubrovnik occurs. The beginning of November marks the end of the shoulder season in Dubrovnik, meaning there are much more tourists leaving the city than there are incoming guests. Also, as the month progresses, more and more local people are heading out on their well deserved vacations after a long tourist season. This way the city is left half empty. Even those that remain are less likely to go outside of their homes due to the often gloomy autumn weather. The feel of Dubrovnik quickly turns from bustling to quiet. This is the part of the year when our little city feels a bit claustrophobic. That's why we choose November, December, and maybe January for travelling.
When it comes to international destinations, Dubrovnik people travel pretty much all over the place. On the other hand, when it comes to travelling within Croatia, there is probably no destination more popular for us than the capital city of Zagreb. It "helps" that our local airport is reduced to a few-flights-per-day parking lot in off season months; disabling us to fly anywhere without going through Zagreb airport (our government was always adamant in making the capital city a hub for everything in Croatia at the expense of the rest of the country). However, even without the traffic necessity of travelling via this city, Dubrovnik people seem to have a soft spot for Zagreb, although many will not admit to it. I definitely have no problem in professing my devotion to it. It's a beautiful city (for the most part) with a lovely historical district, good restaurant scene, plenty of amenities, and interesting surrounding areas. Most of what draws Dubrovnik people to it lately is the fact Zagreb in winter time is everything Dubrovnik is not - it's bustling, vibrant, full of options and activities. It's a really fun place, with something for everyone...a true winter wonderland. Luckily, there is a push towards making Dubrovnik more fun and interesting during winter, and even though one could argue there is not much imagination involved in the efforts to do so, at least there is a will to change a somewhat dull outlook of our city off season. However, even with this in mind, it is unlikely we will stop making the trip inland.
The only real threat for the number of Dubrovnik visitors to Zagreb is that there are too many of us up there. I remember when I started working in tourism, my British guests would ask me to recommend places for day trips and often their main condition would be "Please, somewhere where there's not a lot of Brits.". It struck me as strange, but now I completely understand the feeling. Working almost non-stop for three quarters of the year in Dubrovnik makes me want to take a break from the city as well as from its people. Working in this crazy business of tourism makes you care about, or at least relate to many of your friends and neighbours going through the same yearly struggle, but that doesn't change the fact I prefer not to see many familiar faces when I travel. Seeing people you see regularly during your work days on your vacation really does take away from the experience, as silly as that sounds. Walking through some of the main Zagreb squares sometimes feels like walking along our main street - Stradun. Actually, Stradun during summer might easily have less Dubrovnik locals per square metre than centre of Zagreb during December.
So, until we get to that point where we can't escape our aunts and uncles on the streets of this country's capital city, Zagreb is likely to remain the most important city break destination for us. I just hope they don't realise we're used to paying higher prices in restaurants and cafe bars at home.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.
When you get to Dubrovnik you can't escape the feeling that the holiday season has already came. The big Christmas tree is already up, Christmas decorations are everywhere and festive stands are just waiting to be opened.
Today the giant Christmas ball got back to its last years place, just before the entrance to the Old City. It was a big hit last year and everybody wanted to take a photo with it, especially during the night when it glows. This impressive Christmas decoration shows that the Dubrovnik Winter Festival is starting soon – on Saturday at 8 pm in the Old City.
All photos by Zeljko Tutnjevic