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.
Just the name intrigued us, “Once Real...Now Novel – A Little Taste of the Hinterland.” To be honest, and to steal a line from the movie Jerry Maguire, “You had me at Once Real!” And as the story unfolded my curiosity was raised even more, an evening intertwined with stories and tradition. Right up my street. We were headed into the wild Dubrovnik hinterland, for it is relatively wild. Pretty much as soon as you leave the main coastal road and get off the tourist path the landscape takes on a rugged look. This was an excursion with Croatia Excursions, and yes you already know the name - Once Real...Now Novel – A Little Taste of the Hinterland.
I have lived in Dubrovnik for almost two decades. And over that time have been lucky enough to experience the vast majority of what this region has to offer. However one thing that still to this day fascinates me is the hinterland, the interior of Dubrovnik away from the beaches and the Adriatic. As we made our way with a luxury coach away from the coastline I could almost feel the clock turning backwards. Every mile we pushed into the mountain felt like another century in reverse. Untouched, untainted, real – just three adjectives that sprung to mind. A simpler way of life, a way of life deep in culture and traditions, where values were still cherished and nurtured. This half-day excursion took us fifteen kilometres into the countryside; we were headed towards a small village, well hamlet, called Ljubač. “Look at those olive trees, they must be hundreds of years old,” pointed the couple from Belgium next to me. We carried on through more olive groves, vineyards and fields of vegetables in between the rocks and undergrowth. They were like small, manicured oases surrounded by uncontrolled Mediterranean flora.
“Have you been here before,” asked the English tourist as we descended from the coach in what felt like the middle of nowhere. To my embarrassment I answered, “My first time.” And I had no excuse as this was a truly picturesque valley, the valley of Ljubač. Our guide lead us to a collection of small stone outbuildings, “these have been here since the beginning of time,” joked the Belgium man. He wasn’t far wrong. Quaint and delightful they resembled those small stone houses you see for sale as souvenirs. “I would like you to introduce you to our blacksmith, Pero, or to anglicise his name Peter,” smiled the guide. My mind raced, this was probably the first time I had ever met a blacksmith! In one of those cute stone buildings was his workshop, a workshop that hadn’t been changed for centuries. Think I said things move slowly in the hinterland.
An interesting display of how to make tools, yes of course metal tools, followed. It all looked like hard work, but these villages and their inhabitants were not shy of hard work. And all that hard work, sorry I mean watching that hard work had made us hungry. Which was just as well as we were off to eat, well eat is too small a word; this would be a dining experience.
If I ever win the lottery I have now found the house that I want to buy, although I have a feeling it isn’t for sale. Our next stop was the Musladin household, again stone houses but this time with a residential touch, and the views from the terrace were to die for. Traditional aperitifs were waiting for us, lots and lots of aperitifs! The evening had begun in style. We were shown around the property, a labyrinth of delicious buildings all in harmony with their surroundings. They even had a small chapel. And here is a tip for when you go on this excursion, ask the hosts about the chapel, it has an interesting story.
We were shown how the smoked ham was made, how the vegetables were basically picked right out of the soil and served to us and the story of the production of olive oil.
And the terrace with the million dollar view was our “restaurant” for the evening. A British real estate tycoon named Lord Harold Samuel was once asked what the three most important factors were when buying a house; he answered “location, location and location.” I have a feeling that the English Lord would have been extremely happy with our dining location. Traditional dancing, named Lindo, followed. And even a few members of the group were happy to join in; in fact for a debut performance they were pretty impressive.
And the food, oh the food, food glorious food! An open-kitchen which was working overtime to deliver gastronomic delights to our tables. I am not sure if I want to give the game away too much as to what we were served, just so you will have a few suprises, but let’s just say it was finger-liking good!
“I can’t understand why you have never been here before; it’s so gorgeous and the people are so friendly,” asked the English lady at the dining table. A hard as I might I couldn’t come up with a good answer. “It has taken me two decades to find it, but I have a feeling we will be friends in the future,” I replied.
By Mark Thomas
Photos Ivana Smilovic
The Once Real...Now Novel – A Little Taste of the Hinterland is a half-day excursion offered by the Gulliver Travel agency. For more information, including prices, dates and how to book, please visit the Gulliver Travel website here.
There is no better way to start the day in Dubrovnik than visiting the Green Market in the Old Town. So much to choose from and vibrant colors are attractive to the eye, but to the stomach too! Domestic products, fruit, vegetables – you pick. And if you're not able to come, we bring you the atmosphere with beautiful photo gallery of Tonci Plazibat.
It's possible that we've got the best sefie of the summer 2016! Amazing photo was published at the Instagram profile ''johnlittlemoustache'' owned by Ivan Brcic. Photo shows girls at the sun and boys underwater and it attracted a lot of attention on the Instagram. We are not surprised, because nowdays selfie is such a normal thing so this is quite a refreshment to see. The photo was taken at Mali Losinj, a town and municipality in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, on the island of Lošinj, in western Croatia. The caption says ''This is what summer really is all about'' and we couldn't agree more!
Get ready for a mad three nights in Dubrovnik as the Culture Club Revelin holds their Revelin Festival. From the 11th to the 13th of August this leading Dubrovnik hotspot will be raising the roof with slamming dance tunes and booming bass lines!
The festival opens with the globally popular Dutch DJ Fedde Le Grand. Le Grand is a frequent headliner at mainstream EDM events like Ultra Music Festival and Tomorrowland as well as more unconventional EDM festivals such as Sensation and Coachella.
Fedde hits the turntables in Culture Club Revelin on the 11th of August, and this isn’t his first appearance in Dubrovnik, in fact Fedde loves smashing the tunes in Dubrovnik.
Fedde Le Grand on the Stradun
And then on the 12th of August the British producer, remixer and DJ, Alex Adair, known on a global scale for his remix of the popular Ed Sheran hit “Thinking Out Loud.” And finally on Saturday the 13th of August the Revelin Festival ends with a big finish, the Dutch DJ Joe Stone. Three crazy party nights in the Culture Club Revelin!
For more information, tickets prices and contact info follow this link!
As the world’s attention is pointed firmly on Rio de Janeiro at the 2016 Summer Olympics the Dubrovnik Tourist Board is also represented in Brazil. On Sunday the 7th of August the Croatia House, established by the Croatian Olympic Association, was opened by the President of the Croatian Olympic Committee Zlatko Matesa, and the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Romana Vlasic, was also in attendance.
The Croatia House in Rio is a meeting place for athletes, media and Croatian fans during the Olympic Games. The opening ceremony was also attended by the Croatian Ambassador to Brazil, Zeljko Vukosav, and the President of the Chamber of Economy, Tourism and Culture of Brazil-Croatia in Rio de Janeiro Ottavio Villarinho.
Numerous local businessmen and representatives of the media also attended the event and the fact that Dubrovnik was presented will surely be great publicity. In fact Vlasic held a presentation, along with her Luka Benko colleague from the Zagreb Tourist Board, in front of 150 Brazilian tour operators, travel agents and journalists.
In 2015 13,533 tourists from Brazil visited Dubrovnik, which was a 10 percent increase over 2014, and in total generated 35,689 overnight stays.
This month astronomy lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy in the brightest meteor shower ever during the overnight hours of the 11th of August into the morning hours of the 12th of August.
''The tears of St Lawrence'' as this sky watching event is known in Croatia, or the Perseid meteor shower is considered to be one of the most spectacular celestial events in the world of astronomy. According to the Croatian Astronomical Union, the celestial shower will begin with a large number of smaller meteors, whilst the bigger ones are expected to be seen from 1.23 a.m. till the early morning hours of Friday. At first enjoyment in the meteor shower could be interfered by the Moon but during the maximum activity of Perseids the conditions for observation will be ideal.
This year Earth is passing through a somewhat denser cloud of meteorites thus 160 meteors per hour are expected during the maximum activity of Perseids, which are 60 meteors more than the average. NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said - ''This year, instead of seeing about 80 Perseids per hour, the rate could top 150 and even approach 200 meteors per hour''.
Perseids can appear anywhere in the sky but they usually look like they are coming from the constellation of Persus. They are produced by the Comet Swift-Tuttle which produces gas and dust when it approaches the Sun. The encounter of Earth and the comet's tail takes place every year between July and August, whilst the collision of dust particles with the atmosphere produces Perseid shooting stars.
If you'd like to enjoy in this spectacular celestial event, the Croatian Astronomical Union advices you to find a dark place with clear skies away from cities' light pollution.
It is hard to find any other beverage on the planet that is more popular than beer. It is the world's most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. Almost everybody likes beer whether it is dark, light, wheat beer or non alcoholic, beer is a drink for all occasions.
Among the biggest European beer loving countries are definitely the Czech Republic and Germany where the consumption of beer is measured in hectolitres. Some of the largest cities of the Old Continent are usually referred to as ''the beer cities'' due to their citizens who ''drink beer like water''.
The TOP 10 heaviest beer-drinking European cities per capita in litres are: Prague (173), Krakow and Warsaw (152), Belgrade (143), Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich (128) and Helsinki, Vienna and Kiev (125).
Croatians haven't found their place on this list but Croatia's beer industry has proved to be quite successful. According to data from the Croatian Financial Agency (FINA), last year Croatia had 39 entrepreneurs with 1,661 employees in the beer industry. The monthly net salary was 9,000 Kunas or 79.3 percent more over the average monthly net salary in Croatia which was 5,019 Kunas.
The total income of the beer industry generated in 2015 was 2.4 billion Kunas which was an increase of 7.7 percent in comparison to the previous year, reported FINA.
The leading beer manufacturer was Zagrebacka pivovara with a revenue of 993,5 million Kunas, followed by Heineken Hrvatska which generated 682,9 million Kunas, Carlsberg Croatia (332,3 million Kunas), Agrolaguna (110 million Kunas) and Peto hrvatsko pivo 1664 with a revenue of 87,4 million Kunas.
The average monthly net salary in Zagrebacka pivovara which employs 540 employees was 12,198 Kunas in 2015, whilst Heineken's monthly net salary was 11,225 Kunas last year.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the American institute The Smithsonian has a job opening for a beer historian. It sounds like an imaginary profession but it really does exist. The job description says that a beer historian has to research, collect and document the American history of craft beer for the American History Museum. Monthly salary for this position will be $64,650 a year (around 430,000 Kunas). An ideal candidate has to have a degree in economics, food, culture or similar historical specialization as well as experience in research and must be prepared for lots of travelling.
All Nippon Airways, or ANA, will soon land at Dubrovnik with inaugural flights from Tokyo. On the 13th of August the first of a range of special charter flights to Dubrovnik with the largest airline in Japan will commence.
The flights will operate between Tokyo Narita and Dubrovnik on the 13th and 20th of August and again on the 3rd of September. As well as flights from the Japanese capital another service from Osaka will land on the 20th of August, from Sendai on the 3rd of September and Nagoya on the 17th of September.
All these flights from Japan to Dubrovnik will be operated with Boeing 777 airplanes which have a capacity for around 450 passengers.