Thursday, 21 November 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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

The 2016 Dubrovnik Winter Festival opened last night and the fun continued today when the snow-maker brought a festive feel to the Stradun. Seeing the smiling faces of children playing in the artificial snow is a reminder of the Christmas spirit that the festival has brought to the town.

The snow might be artificial but the smiling faces are real. The Dubrovnik Winter Festival is proving a real magnet for locals and tourists with life brought back to the Old City of Dubrovnik. All we can say is “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

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It’s open! The Dubrovnik Winter Festival opened last night and the Old City looked resplendent in its festive colours. From the 19th of November until the 1st of March the city will offer festive treats as the festival includes daily events and celebrations.

Stands selling traditional Christmas souvenirs, cuisine and drinks will help bring life back to the Old City of Dubrovnik through the winter months. This is the third year in a row that the Dubrovnik Winter Festival has been held and this year it’s bigger than ever before.

Check out our photo gallery by Zeljko Tutnjevic and Niksa Duper

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The Old City of Dubrovnik is fully decorated for the Christmas period. The lights are ready to be lit and tonight at 8 o’clock the Dubrovnik Winter Festival 2016 will officially open.

The stands along the Stradun are already open and serving festive specialities and with 33 stands in total around the Old City this will be the biggest winter festival in Dubrovnik so far.

The famous giant size Teddy Bear has already found his spot in the middle of the celebrations and this year there are even more lights and decorations than last year.

Looks like being a Christmas to remember in Dubrovnik.

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As the rainy season approaches Dubrovnik the stone streets quickly turn into a slippery and dangerous. But now one of the three main entrances into the historic core will be a little safer.

The City of Dubrovnik administration has issued a directive to regulate the stone steps from the northern entrance into the city, the Buza entrance. A stonemason has been working away over the past few days “roughing” the steps to give more grip to pedestrians.

If I wasn’t sure before I am now, the one media platform that I will never work on is television. Ok, let’s be honest God blessed me with a face for radio to start with but that isn’t the biggest problem. So let’s rewind a little and fill in the gaps. Don’t ask me why but the main Croatia television company, HRT, asked to make a short documentary about me and my life in Dubrovnik.

“We are making a series of documentaries about foreign people living in Croatia and your name came up as a good candidate for Dubrovnik,” said the young voice down the phone. I was caught in a moment of weakness, wanting to help a colleague and thinking of promotion for The Dubrovnik Times, and answered “Sure no problem.”

I was guessing that it would be the same as all the other times I have been on the TV, none of which I enjoyed, a quick spot in front of the camera and then “cut.” I was wrong, not for the first time.

“Great, we will be coming down from Zagreb on Saturday, the film crew arrives on Monday, and we will be filming every day until the end of the week,” she then added. What! Did she say all week! Shit! But of course I answered “Yes that sounds fine, looking forward to it.” Big lie. “I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts,” once said the great Orson Wells. Well Orson I don’t like peanuts!

True to her word they arrived and wanted to scout locations for the documentary. “Your house, your work, places you like to walk, the Old City, with friends, with your wife, with your work colleagues,” the list seemed endless. Were we making a documentary or a feature film? And to make the whole thing “believable” I had to act in most scenes. I say “act” in the very widest sense of the word, I am to acting what Kim Jong-un is too diplomacy...zero! “Cut! Can we do that scene again,” shouted the producer, or director, I was getting lost.

A big “hats off” to my colleagues who seemed to be much more comfortable in front of the camera than I was. I was a rabbit caught in the oncoming headlights, shall I turn left, shall I turn right, shall I...whack! I had no lines to forget, I just had to remember my life, but I was having problems just acting walking let alone speaking.

But that isn’t why television is not for me, no. The main reason is that it is so slow. Mind-numbingly slow! Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t have a lot of patience, well not that’s exactly true, let’s just say that I can’t keep still for a long time. The idea of spending hours on end sipping coffee is a horror for me. It reminds me of Chinese water torture, when the victim was tied down and had a constant dipping of water aimed at his forehead for hours and hours, yes it drives you mad. No, I don’t have time to waste; I seem to be forever chasing the missing minutes.

Those filming days were some of the longest in my life! Over and over again, the same scene three times. And when I same the same scene I mean exactly, one hundred percent exactly the same scene. Chinese water torture! Although I do have an added sense of sympathy for my colleagues who work on the television. And I know that I only saw half of the process, they are probably still editing out all of my mistakes and swear words. That’s another thing I learned, don’t swear on TV, they don’t like it. Funnily enough my wife was also a natural. I wouldn’t say natural actress because she defiantly wasn’t acting, she was being her normal direct, bubbly self. I could live to regret her direct approach, especially when the documentary is broadcast. But life would be boring without some drama.

It could be that nowadays we are just used to a more instant form of journalism, well a more instant form of pretty much everything. We are living in a Nescafe 3 in 1 world and this whole television process was more like making Turkish coffee...slow as slow can be. So now we await the results, rather like planting a seed, then forgetting about it, and then being surprised when you see a daffodil in your garden. I will leave the final word to my favourite of the Marx brothers, Groucho, “I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book.”

The largest European television sports network available in 59 countries and in 20 different languages is coming to Croatia.

Victoria Davies (VP, Country Manager, Discovery Networks CEE) and Saša Kojic (VP of Sports, Discovery Networks CEEMEA), Croatian commentators and prominent athletes have officially announced the start of the Eurosport broadcast in Croatian.

This project will enable all sports lovers to enjoy in the Bundesliga football matches, the Olympic Games, four Grand Slam tournaments, broadcasts from athletics and all other relevant sport events.

Croatian athletes welcomed the arrival of the largest television sports channel in Europe adding that it would be a synergy of professional sports, sports journalism and the Eurosport media platform.

One of the greatest female athletes, the discus thrower Sandra Perkovic has also welcomed the arrival of Eurosport in Croatia, as she said, ‘’after so many major sports achievements of Croatian athletes’’.

Eurosport is to start broadcasting in Croatian on the 19th of November on Vipnet, H1, Evo TV, Hrvatski Telekom and B-net. MAX TV platform hasn’t been negotiated yet, however, the director of Discovery Network for Central and Southeast Europe, Victoria Davies said that they were open for such possibility.

‘’We came to Croatia and we will continue to invest. We want to get closer to this market having in mind the passion of our sports fans, spectators and sports lovers’’, said Davies adding that as far as the interest of sport journalists and professionals was concerned, the atmosphere was very optimistic.

On the occasion of Remembrance for the victims of Vukovar in 1991 tonight three hundred students from primary and secondary schools with teachers and fellow citizens lit candles in front of the Church of St. Blaise in the memory of the suffering of the hero city a quarter century ago.

Candles were lit along Vukovar Street too in memory of all participants in defense of the city - the symbol of Croatian freedom.

In Dubrovnik Cathedral there was a mass for all deceased and missing Croatian soldiers and civilians in the Serbian aggression on Vukovar.

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With the one day left to the Dubrovnik Winter Festival the Old City is getting it's Christmas groove on!

The historic center is full – festive stands, decorations, giant Christmas ball just before the entrance... With lot more surprises left to be presented.

Olive and sour orange trees are the novelty, check out the rest of Advent decorations in the photo gallery made by Zeljko Tutnjevic.

 

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THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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