Wednesday, 23 October 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.


I was 21 the first time I left. I was standing in the Chicago O’Hare airport, holding back tears and feeling that uncomfortable knot in my throat as I hugged my mother and said “I’ll see you soon, don’t worry.” The next 16 hours I sat with anticipation, wondering what life in Dubrovnik, Croatia would be like. I didn’t know a single person. I didn’t speak the language. I had only heard stories from my mother and Croatian grandfather.

Yet I had this overwhelming sensation that something was waiting for me in Dubrovnik. The minute I saw the sparking Adriatic from the airplane window, I felt like I was coming home.

My story with Croatia started when I studied abroad at Dubrovnik International University in the spring of 2015. Prior to this, I left home at 18 to study at Loyola University of Chicago. I spent three years falling in love with the Windy City and building a life for myself. I decided I needed a break from the fast-paced city life and my mom’s pictures of Dubrovnik’s Old Town began to pull at my heartstrings. In a matter of months, I found a study abroad program where I could continue my studies in political science and took the first step of a new chapter.

Studying abroad in Dubrovnik was a magical experience, and quite possibly some of the best 5 months of my life. Not only did I get to travel all around Croatia, I traveled around Europe as well. Unlike Chicago, I felt completely safe walking the streets alone in Dubrovnik and within a matter of months knew half the town. I made both American and Croatian friends. I felt my Croatian roots come to life, like I was reliving my heritage.

The biggest game changer was falling in love with my classmate, a Croatian local from the Zupa area, who’s currently my boyfriend. It started as a “forbidden love”, being both emotionally unavailable for our own reasons, and blossomed into serious feelings we couldn’t ignore. When my study abroad program ended, I knew my chapter in Croatia wasn’t over. I knew I would be back; it was rather a question of when.

I didn’t realize how much Dubrovnik changed me until I came back to the United States. I had reverse culture shock, and many days felt overwhelmed to be back in a big city where I always had to watch my back. I watched as my career goals of becoming a lawyer started to change. I realized I just wanted to do what makes me happy. I felt like in America, that wasn’t enough.

Coming back to Dubrovnik at Christmastime was a no-brainer when my boyfriend wasn’t able to visit me in the United States. Staying with him and his family in a small village gave me a more authentic Croatian experience. Experiencing Badnjak and the Christmas festival along Stradun didn’t compare to any Christmas parades I saw in Chicago or Minnesota. It was my first Christmas in 22 years away from home, yet I realized I was building a new home in Dubrovnik.

I returned to Chicago to finish my final semester of college, but I was already ready to leave. The only thing keeping me was my incredible support system of friends and family, but I felt like half of me was across the world sitting on the rocks overlooking the Adriatic.

I once felt rushed to get into graduate school right away after college, but my time spent in Croatia reminded me that there’s still time. I was always highly ambitious in college, getting straight A’s while working and being involved in student organizations. Yet, I began to see that I was overworking myself. For once, I realized that if I kept going, I would get caught in a vicious cycle of unhappiness.

While my peers’ post-graduate plan was to find a shiny corporate job, mine was to find a one-way ticket back to Dubrovnik. After spending quality time with my friends and family, I was right back where I was a year and a half ago in Dubrovnik with my now boyfriend. I wanted to give myself time to relax after college, before hopefully finding a job or internship elsewhere in Europe. I came prepared to not return to America for a while.

In all honesty, living here, now immersed in local culture, is challenging. My Croatian is still terrible. I instantly cough in clouds of cigarette smoke. I always drop my coins everywhere at the Konzum checkout line, while the cashier is already ringing up the next customer. I’m the only one not singing every lyric at Croatian weddings. I’m an outsider on the inside.

But the fact that I keep coming back should say something. I gave up a lot to be here, but I regret nothing. Croatia has given me all the things the things my life in America was missing. I’m not staying in Dubrovnik forever, but when I do leave, I know I’ll be back again.


Alexandra Schmidt, also known as The Mindful Mermaid, is a globetrotting writer and travel blogger, who finds her self always coming back to Dubrovnik. She was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota and later moved to Chicago to study at Loyola University. She first came to Dubrovnik when she studied at Dubrovnik International University, and has returned to Dubrovnik several times since. She’s a mermaid-obsessed yogi, who passes her time playing guitar, exploring the great outdoors, and planning her next adventure. To find out more about Alex, you can visit her website or Facebook page.

Donald J Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. In a historic win for the Republican candidate, this is the first time that a President with no political or military experience has been elected.

Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman, defeated Hillary Clinton around 7.30 CET when he took both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to break the magic number of 270.

Clinton phoned Trump to congratulate him on his victory and moments later he addressed a packed victory audience with the words “I will be a President for all Americans and I want all Americans to work together.”

Ivanka Trump, Donald’s daughter, raised eyebrows this summer when she holidayed in Dubrovnik on her father’s yacht with her friend and former wife of the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Wendi Deng Murdoch. It was rumoured that Wendi was dating Russian President, Vladimir Putin, rumours that Wendi later denied.

ivanka trump in dubrovnik

Ivanka Trump with Wendi Murdoch in Dubrovnik this summer 

Beliebers are ready! The big Justin Bieber concert in Zagreb is just a day away and all the fans are really excited. Where he will stay and when he will come are two big secrets, but the organizers have discovered his wishes – writes It seems that Justin has reserved rooms in three luxury Zagreb hotels – Sheraton, Esplanada and Westin under secret names, so he can be sure that the army of fans doesn't jump on him as soon as he arrives. 

To feel like home Justin has requested a jacuzzi, since he relaxes in it after every concert. Because of that, it has to be right at the place where the concert is held. Some of the things that Justin just can't live without must be imported from Canada, such as Big Foots and Sour Patch sweets and Captain Crunch cereals.

Also, Justin's private chef who follows him on his tour will make meals from fresh and domestic products bought on the famous Zagreb green market – Dolac. One of the specialties that Justin will eat is fresh fish right from the Adriatic and he also wants to try 'strukle', one of the traditional Croatian meals. Since he's a big pizza lover, he also demanded to try the best pizza in Zagreb, made with finest ingredients and baked in a wood oven.

Bieber has prepared a great concert for his audience and he also plans to play guitar, piano and drums. His crew consists of over 150! We're sure that his fans will enjoy the spectacle in Arena Zagreb.

In September and October this year Jadranski Galenski Laboratorij (JGL), the Croatian pharmaceutical company from Rijeka, exported the first quantities of its product line Aqua Maris to the markets of Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.

This export is a result of cooperation with the company Favorex, the branch company of the renowned Swiss company DKSH, which has operated the markets of ASEAN region for more than 150 years. Considering the fact that the ASEAN region has a great potential of growth, the beginning of JGL's sales activities in this area is a significant step forward for the Croatian company in the business globalization.

Apart from the export markets of Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia, it is interesting to add that the cooperation with Favorex was expanded to the market of Philippines last month.

The JGL company in cooperation with the Port of Rijeka organized the delivery of the goods with so called reefer containers in which the goods are insured by special air bags, which is the latest innovation in the world of logistics.

Ever wondered what was down in the depths of the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik. Well this latest video taken by the diver Niksa Ivancevic shows that the bottom of the sea in the Port of Dubrovnik is largely a graveyard for anchors.

Check out the video.

''For Croatian tourism the British market is strategically important, this year it placed as the 7th among the top ten world markets with which Croatia recorded the highest tourist traffic and there is great potential for further growth'', said Ratomir Ivcic, the director of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London.

The World Travel Market (WTM), one of the world's largest tourist exchange markets began on the 7th of November in London and will last until the 9th of November. It gathered more than 5,000 exhibitors from around 200 world countries, whilst Croatia is led by the HTZ and more than 50 individual exhibitors, companies and tourist boards.

On the first day of the event the Croatia's exhibition place was visited by numerous business partners from the UK as well as from other world markets, who discussed cooperation and operations with Croatian hoteliers, transporters and others. They were all optimistic because great results were recorded this year from the British market.

''The UK market is very important to us because its guests are at the top of the average daily consumption of over 120 Euros, whilst over the last five years the arrival of British tourists has been increasing constantly. In addition, they are among those who accepted and understood the best new brand messages and promotional activities from the Croatian Tourist Board'', explained Ivcic.

In the first ten months of 2016 more than 624,000 British tourists visited Croatia and achieved almost 3.3 million overnight stays or 25 percent more in comparison to 2015. The similar trend of growth is expected in 2017.

Ivcic also emphasized that the British mostly opted for Dubrovnik, but also for the Split region and Istria. As these are mostly air guests, ten more new flights are planned for next year. Thus the tour operator Thomson as part of the TUI Group will introduce two new flights in 2017 from Great Britain to Pula and Dubrovnik, Jet2com announces four new flights to Dubrovnik, Pula and Split, Thomas Cook will operate a new flight to Split, whilst Ryanair and Easyjet also announced new flights for Croatia in 2017. They all expect an increase in tourist arrivals of up to 100 percent in comparison to this year.

Every now and then Dubrovnik pops up as a topic in world media. Recently British Telegraph has published a list of 10 fascinanting things you probably didn't know about Dubrovnik

1. It once saved an English king's life
- Richard the Lionheart was caught in a storm in 1192 off Croatian coast and legend says he promised to God that if he survives he'll build a cathedral on the land where he gets off the ship. It was on Lokrum, but apparently, he was convinced to make it in the Old City.
2. It’s best mates with the USA
- Dubrovnik had a key role in the blossoming independence of the United States. The newly-born US did a deal with Ragusa and hides arrived from Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia. It is also said that Dubrovnik was the first state in the world to recognise the United States of America back in 1783.
3. Its thicker-than-thick city walls have never been breached
- The City Walls are truly a wonder of Dubrovnik.
4. It was involved in Europe’s most recent war
- Dubrovnik was really affected by Croatian War of Independence or the Homeland War – 88 civilians and 194 military personnel died and there was a severe damage on the buildings.
5. It’s a regular on the silver screen
- Game of Thrones, Star Wars and now Robin Hood!
6. It’s cut off from the rest of Croatia
- The city of Neum, placed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, cuts Dubrovnik from the rest of Croatia. Republic of Dubrovnik was forced it to sell two patches of land to the Ottomans, and the Bosnian corridor was one of them, all in order to raise a bit of cash and halt the Venetian forces advancing from the north.
7. It’s home to the world’s oldest pharmacy
- Europe's longest operating pharmacy, and one of the oldest in the world, is located inside Dubrovnik's Franciscan Monastery, founded in 1317.
8. It has some famous fans
- Lord Byron called it 'Pearl of Adriatic' and George Bernard Shaw said: ''Those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik''.
9. It's always been against slavery
- 600 years ago slavery was banned in The Republic of Dubrovnik and just to compare: the slave trade was not banned in Britain until 1833, and in the US until 1865.
10. It shows its age
- Due to its age and civilised start to life, Dubrovnik lays claim to a number of world firsts (not just the pharmacy). It has one of the earliest medieval sewage systems, installed in 1296, and still used today, as well as one of the first quarantine facilities, established in 1377. Likewise, the orphanage set up in 1432 as part of the Monastery of St Clare was one of the first such institutions in the world – writes the Telegraph.
For more details visit the original article.

The British national air carrier, British Airways, will add another Croatian destination to their schedule for 2017. From the 1st of July British Airways will fly twice a week to Pula from London’s Heathrow Airport.

This will be the fourth destination that British Airways fly to in Croatia, after Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik.

The flights to Pula will be operated throughout the summer season, from the 1st of July until the 30th of September. And Pula Airport has announced that the new route comes after several years of negotiations between the airport and the national airline.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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