Sunday, 16 June 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

Game of Thrones will finish with season eight! The producers of the globally popular series have confirmed for the Rolling Stone magazine that season eight will be the final season.

HBO programming president, Casey Bloys, stated for Rolling Stone magazine the shows executive producers have already made up their minds, “Benioff and Weiss have a very specific plan about the number of seasons they want to do.” And with season seven due to be filmed this winter, and quite probably not in Dubrovnik, it will leave final season showdown as Dubrovnik’s farewell to the series.

Dubrovnik, which acts as King’s Landing in the serial, has featured as a location since season two of the show after problems in Malta. Since those early days the city has been in the limelight of the world’s media and huge fan base. Last year the second most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik were from the USA, and bearing in mind that there are no direct flights from the States to Croatia this is quite a feat. The pull of the Game of Thrones has been a massive boost for the tourism industry, with a whole host of spin-off business opening up in Dubrovnik. One of the most popular tours in Dubrovnik is the Game of Thrones themed tour which highlights the locations used in the historic walled city. And with the series coming to an end we can expect that the finale will be largely based in Dubrovnik.

The show’s producers have already stated that season seven requires colder and darker locations and that it will be largely filmed during the winter months. Although Dubrovnik has yet to be officially ruled out as a location for the upcoming season it seems unlikely, Northern Ireland, Iceland and Spain have all been confirmed. However it can be presumed that the grand finale, as season eight will be, will be coming back to Dubrovnik. King’s Landing is the capital of the seven kingdoms in the series and we can only hope that this means a big finish in the capital.

 

Dubrovnik, with its unique historic walled-city, has inspired many an author, painter and poet over the centuries. But now it is also enthused a range of furniture. A stone coffee table that takes its origins from the stone city walls, a lantern and a Adriatic coloured couch.

“Add a Touch of Croatia to Your Abode,” is the title of an article that was recently published on the American website laduenews.com, although it could have been titled add a touch of Dubrovnik.

The article features three Dubrovnik inspired household accessories each with a short description as to why they are reminiscent of the pearl of the Adriatic. “The stone veneer and hand-forged iron base of this coffee table reflect the powerful, historical walls that once protected the city of Dubrovnik,” is the description of a charming table that will set you back $1,299.

Whilst the furniture descriptions have some sense the opening paragraph leaves a lot to be desired, as it notes that Dubrovnik was “the birthplace of Marco Polo.”

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This Adriatic themed couch will cost you just over $3,000

Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user contributed data about the quality of life in cities and countries worldwide, has published a price comparison for July 2016 between the four largest cities in Croatia – Zagreb, Rijeka, Osijek and Split. And according to their findings Rijeka is the most expensive city among the four largest Croatian cities.

Its citizens have to spend most of their money on groceries thus the groceries index of this city is 42.38. In terms of the apartment rent, the rent index is 11.27 which is slightly lower in comparison to Zagreb's rent index of 12.84 which is the most expensive in Croatia. Food in restaurants is the most expensive in Split with 48.64 restaurant price index. Among these four cities the lowest cost of living is, as expected, in Osijek with the rent index of 6.99 and the groceries index of 37.01.

For an apartment of 85 sqm Croats pay 1,200 Kunas worth of household bills monthly whilst the rent of a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre amounts to around 2,100 Kunas. The average net salary in Croatia is around 5000 Kunas.

The cost of living in Croatia is 32.78 per cent lower than in the United States (aggregate data for all cities, rent is not taken into account). Whilst the rent in Croatia is 73.66 percent lower than in the United States (average data for all cities).

Even though Numbeo didn't include Dubrovnik in its cost of living comparison survey among the four largest Croatian cities, it should be noted that the cost of living index (excluding rent) of Dubrovnik is 57.32, which is significantly higher in comparison to Rijeka (50.77), Split (50.70), Zagreb (49.87) and Osijek (45.13). Making Dubrovnik the most expensive city to live in Croatia.
The cost of living in Dubrovnik is 16.8 percent more expensive than Zagreb, 19 per cent more expensive than Rijeka and 16.7 per cent more expensive than Split. The biggest difference in the cost of living is in comparison to Osijek i.e. Dubrovnik is 49.2 per cent more expensive than Osijek.

I have to admit that I am in a dilemma. I really don’t know which way to turn, both sides have their arguments. On the one hand it seems like an invasion of civil rights and on the other respecting the culture of the city. What am I talking about, the decision of the city to punish people for dressing inappropriately on the Stradun. Well, presumably not just on the Stradun but on all the hollowed stone streets of the Old City.

No, I am still not decided. Walk through the gates of the city and face a fine of 1,000 Kuna if you are dressed in a bikini, bare-chested or completely naked. Of course, if you are completely naked then you deserve everything you get, remember those crazy German guys who wandered around in the “birthday suits.” Apparently signs are going to be placed on the three main entrances into the Old City with signs explaining what not to wear. I guess a “no bikini” sign. What happens if the offender gets stopped on the gate, then fined, but doesn’t have any clothes to cover up. Are they then going to be banned from entering the city?

Enforcing this law is the first problem I foresee. Making law is child’s play, enforcing them is a different story. Will there be security guards on the gates scanning people for the hint of bare skin? Even better, will there be security guards scouring the streets looking for offenders.

I would like to publically put myself forward for that job! I will need a few pieces of equipment of course. Firstly some super strong binoculars so I can spot the thong bikinis from a distance. Secondly a camera so that I can photo the sexy offenders, just for the purposes of evidence you understand. Then I am going to need some kind of uniform, I don’t want to get confused with a pervert or a stalker. I know just the uniform, I bought one when I went to Tenerife in my youth, if I remember correctly it said “Licensed Bikini Inspector” I am sure that you can still buy them online. Or maybe F.B.I - “Female Body Inspector.” Of course the flipside, or the downside, of being a Dubrovnik FBI is that I would also have to search for male offenders. OK, note to self. When applying for the position of security guard I need to emphasise that I will only be arresting female lawbreakers. I wonder who will set out the standards; I mean what is conservative for one might be slutty for the next.

Will the bikini brigade get special training? Imagine that – “OK now look at this photo, is this distasteful or not.” I guess that rules out filming an episode of Baywatch in Dubrovnik? Poor Pamela would break so many laws she would have to divorce again just to pay the bills. That’s a point; the fine is 1,000 Kuna or 500 Kuna if you pay on the spot. If someone is wearing a micro bikini where would they be keeping 500 Kunas to pay on the spot? Like I said I am in a dilemma. Telling people what they can and can’t wear goes totally against my liberal beliefs. It is a short jump to telling people that they can’t do many other things. It’s the Erdogan form of politics, my way or the highway. But then again there is a part of me that wants people, visitors, to respect the pearl of the Adriatic.

Of course I would never dream of walking along the Stradun dressed like Borat. It just seems a little bit bad taste, but should it be illegal...well probably not. If you want to enter a museum, church, restaurant, etc then yes you need a little dress sense, well more common sense really. But fining someone for walking down a public street because they are showing too much skin, well that is a little harsh. I am guessing that it will be a storm in a teacup, just another one of those laws that will be forgotten in time.

We have had so many new regulations that were introduced with a bang, like a firework, and then were swept under the carpet. The fun thing will be watching how it is enforced. The Stradun is almost bulging with potential 1,000 Kuna fine payers. I can’t wait to see the “bikini brigade” stop a group of drunk Australians stripped down to their waists at 3 o’clock in the morning and tell them that they are violating the dress code. They are probably violating many things; good taste will probably be their biggest violation.

The latest promotional video for Croatia has pulled out all the stops, entitled “Dive into Summer,” the new video highlights the beauties of the Adriatic coastline. The producers have pushed their GoPro cameras and Phantom drones to the limits to create a great advert for holidaying in Croatia.

“Summer can be exciting because there's a lot going on. From crystal clear waters to beautiful sunsets, Croatia has it all,” writes the Slovenian film director, Aljaž Čuček.

Underwater scenes, speedboat rides and birds eye panoramas using the drones has brought the stunning Croatian coastline to life.

 

On the 26th of this July the Council of the European Union decided that Croatia would hold the rotating presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2020.

As the United Kingdom voted at the referendum in June to leave the EU its government decided to abandon the EU presidency which the UK was to assume in the second half of 2017.

In regard to the UK decision the European Council decided to move forward the order of presidencies by six month starting from the 1st of July 2017.

According to the EU Council decision Estonia, whose presidency was initially scheduled for the first half of 2018, will now be the first on the list to take over the rotating presidency in 2017. Austria and Bulgaria will follow Estonia and assume the rotating presidency in the first and the second half of 2018. The EU presidency of two other EU membership countries Finland and Romania is scheduled for 2019.

Croatia joined the European Union three years ago, on the 1st of July in 2013, and was scheduled for taking over the EU helm in 2026. But regarding the new situation after Brexit, Croatia will become the EU president in 2020, six years earlier than planned and six years after becoming an EU member.

Dubrovnik turned into a party zone last night with the CMA 2016 Corona Sunsets Festival! The centre of the Festival was at the Banje Beach, a world-famous beach and tourist pearl of the city of Dubrovnik. The stars last night were Sigma, who made people dancing with their world famous hits like 'Nobody to love' but also presented some new songs.

The festival was also held at Lazareti and Komarda, were DJ's were in charge for the atmosphere.

The Festival continues tonight and the headliners are Clean Bandit on the Banje Beach from 10.30 to midnight. Of course, the party continues all night long, so don't miss it.

A full ten days ahead of last year Dubrovnik Airport welcomed its millionth passenger today on a flight from Istanbul. A Turkish Airlines flight, TK439, arriving this morning Heather Noelle Rhine, an American living in South Korea became the millionth passenger to travel through the Dubrovnik Airport this year.

To her obvious surprise the millionth passenger was greeted by representatives of the airport, including the director, Roko Tolic, and a whole host of media. She was presented with gifts from the airport and from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. She commented that she had chosen to visit Dubrovnik after hearing many positive reports from her friends; also she is a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones which uses the city as a filming location. On her wish list in Dubrovnik were visits to the local islands, a trip to Montenegro and, of course, a tour of the filming locations from the Game of Thrones. She had flown alone but planned to meet some friends from Norway who were already on holiday in Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik Airport is having an extremely successful year, with an 18 percent increase in the number of passengers recorded already. And the simple fact that the millionth passenger arrived a full ten days before 2015 indicates that this year will be a record breaking one.

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