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.
Saint Nicholas is one of the favorite saints – he protects mariners, poor, bakers, fishermans, pharmacists, women... But he especially loves children and children love him!
In Croatia, children put a boot beneath the window on the night of December 5th. They clean it and prepare it for the arrival of Saint Nicholas. The story goes like this: if you've been good throughout the year you can expect your boot to be full of candy and if you've been bad you'll find thick piece of wood that is often connected with punishing the naughty children.
Saint Nicholas brings candy and he has a helper for the naughty ones – Krampus, that looks like devil and is often used to scare children when they are not behaving good.
On the morning of December 6th, children run to their windows to check what is placed in their boots. Most of them get both – candies and thick piece of wood, meaning that they have been good and bad throughout the year.
The biggest Christmas tree in Dubrovnik got covered with snow yesterday, just after the festive stands. It brought that special winter feeling and great joy to the children who immediately run to the tree to see the ''snow'' falling. Snow is maybe fake, but the winter magic is real.
Today, the 6th of December, marks one of the darkest pages in Dubrovnik’s long history. On this day 25 years ago the Serbian and Montenegrin forces launched an artillery attack on Dubrovnik, killing six people and wounding sixty.
It was the heaviest bombardment on the city during the Homeland War and some 650 shells fell onto the historic Old City of Dubrovnik damaging or destroying over half the buildings in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rockets and mortar shells crashed into the city as the bombardment lasted for 12 hours. The Imperial Fortress on the top of the Srd Mountain was attacked relentlessly; however the aggressors were defeated by Dubrovnik’s brave defenders.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of this horrific act, an act that will always be remembered.
It is sad but true, but according to data from the European Union Statistics office (Eurostat) 8,7 percent of Croatians aged 16 and older cannot afford to go out with their friends or family for a drink or a meal at least once a month. On the other hand, 9,3 percent of Croatians do not have enough money to participate in leisure activities on a regular basis.
In comparison, in 2014 around 13 percent of the EU population aged 16 and older reported that they couldn't afford to go out with their family or friends for a drink or a meal at least once month, whilst 17,8 percent didn't have enough money to regularly participate in leisure activities.
In Croatia, slightly more than 4 percent of young people aged 16 to 24 cannot afford a drink or a meal out, whilst 6,5 percent of them cannot afford to participate in leisure activities on regular basis.
As far as working Croats (aged 25 to 64) are concerned, almost 9 percent of them cannot afford a drink or a meal out with their family or friends, whilst 10,5 percent cannot afford regular leisure activities.
As far as some other EU member countries are concerned, surprisingly in Germany 14,3 percent of its population cannot afford a drink or a meal out (8,5% of young people, 15,8% of working age people and 12,9% of the elderly), whilst 12,5 percent are not able to regularly participate in a leisure activity (7,6 % of young people, 14,2% of working age people and 10,2% of the elderly population).
On the other hand, in Sweden the share was below one percent in all age groups. Less than 5 percent of the population feel unable to go out with friends/family for a drink/meal at least once a month also in Finland (1,5%), Denmark (3,2%), the Netherlands (3,3%), the Czech Republic (3,4%) and Luxembourg (4,1%).
The world famous chefs have been visiting Croatia for years and spreading the word about the quality of Croatia's gastronomy. But after the American chef and travel writer Anthony Bourdain visited Croatia in 2012 and from the Croatian coast said to the world ''If you have never been here, you're an idiot'', Croatia was launched among stars on the global scale of gastro tourism.
During his visit, Bourdain made another sequel of his popular TV show ''Anthony Bourdain: No reservations'' in which he recounted his food and wine experience along the Croatian coast. He was absolutely delighted and left speechless with the food in Croatia, whilst he heaped praises on Croatia's fine wines.
The world famous chef who visited Croatia this October was Buddy Valastro aka Cake Boss. He said that he had expected nice people, good food and a warm welcome in Croatia, but his expectations were far exceeded. This was Buddy's first visit to Croatia and Zagreb which he liked a lot. ''Whenever I'm in Europe, it feels like home. This was a very short visit, but I definitely must come back with my family to visit the beaches and the Croatian coast everybody talks about so much'', concluded Buddy.
Last year Croatia was visited by Donal Skehan, a young Irish chef and the Food Network star. On this occasion he was in Istria filming the material for the second season of his travelogue TV show ''Follow Donal''. This was his second visit to Croatia, the first time he visited the country was in his childhood when he sailed along the Dalmatian coast. Istria was chosen because he had heard a lot of its rich gastronomic scene, but once he was in Istria he couldn't hide the surprise with the abundance of groceries, food, fine wines and olive oil. He was most delighted by the search for truffles for which Istria is very famous.
Two years ago the beauty of the Croatian gastronomy was discovered by the famous Dutch chef Rudolph van Veen who participated in the gastro event ''Impress Rudolph'' by cooking live with the finalists of the event. Although he had visited countries in the region, he was especially surprised by the cooking time of Croatian dishes because the average time that people spend on cooking a meal in the Netherlands is seven minutes. FOX TV Croatia with the support of the Royal Netherlands Embassy organized Rudolph's visit to Zagreb and his participation in the gastronomic event.
Andrew Zimmern, the renowned chef famous for his TV show ''Bizarre Foods'' also discovered the local gastronomy and bizarre dishes on Croatian menus. Last year he was in Croatia filming an episode for his new season series broadcasted on the Travel Channel. Shortly after his stay in Croatia he gave an interview to Fox News and described Croatia as one of the best destinations, the country in which ''one can pull out fresh seafood and eat it immediately'' due to the exceptional clearness of the sea which is not the case in other Mediterranean countries.
Stand up comedian, musician and filmmaker Kenny Sebastian has recently published a video on Youtube called ''That time I went to Croatia'', featuring Sarah Jane Dias, Varun Thakur and Abish who sadly didn't make it to Croatia. Video is funny, relaxed and full of beautiful scenes from Croatia.
First they visited Zagreb and the famous Museum of Broken Relationships and then they came to Dubrovnik. They had fun on Lokrum but their favorite part was Game of Thrones City tour, which was led by Dubrovnik tourist guide Iva Nikolic, who is also part of the video.
- They were really great and funny. The video doesn't really show how much fun we had, that is one of my favorite tours this year. Great number of Indians in the tours that I led after heard about them, so this is truly a great promotion for our City – Iva commented.
Don't miss it!
Festive atmosphere in Dubrovnik has started weeks ago and now, just 20 days before Christmas, snow has covered all the festive stands placed on Stradun! Ok, we admit, it's fake snow but it brings that winter touch – it's hard to get the Christmas feeling since it's so sunny and quite warm. Take a look how the stands were decorated in photo gallery and video made by Dubrovnik Winter Festival. We are sure they have many more surprises hidden in their sleeve!
The first weekend in December was marked with bright sunshine, not really a Christmas feel, but at least the Old City has its festive face on.
The Dubrovnik Winter Festival has certainly helped attract more citizens to the historic core this winter, every day the festive stands throughout the city are busy.
Check out our photo gallery from this weekend