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.
Recognise the problem, have a debate, win the debate. How would you describe quality of life? Think about it for a few minutes. It isn’t as easy as you first might think. This very question was raised and debated last week at a congress I attended. I was asked to be a moderator at a conference on “Growth in Transition” and it started my brain juices flowing. It was only a day event, but a day of being bombarded with information, an information overload. The theme was also connected to local communities and how they can and perhaps should be the key to success.
One quote stuck in my mind, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Of course the story of local boroughs and administrations in Croatia was brought up, I remembered the fact the island of Korčula, with a population of only 12,000, had five boroughs. It was then mentioned that Croatia had a grand total of 555 boroughs, a very large total, I think you’ll agree. I have to admit that I had my mind changed through the congress, I was convinced that the lower the number of boroughs the better. Think of all the cost of running these boroughs, or rather don’t think about it if you want to remain sane. However, with a bit of help from measures arguments, my mind was changed.
“Every community desires to be a location where people want to live, engage in meaningful work and pursue their passions. In short, every community wants to be a vibrant, safe and livable place,” read the opening line of the congress papers. How true!
A full day of debate and then the panel discussion at the end of the day and the question of quality of life was raised. It turns out that a very similar question had been asked at a previous conference in Vienna. Out of all the answers they received only one was a material object, financial stability, all of the others were nonmaterial.
It was interesting to see the different answers in Dubrovnik. One of the panelists asked me why I lived in Dubrovnik; the answer I gave was because of the quality of life. “Are you honestly saying that your quality of life is better in Dubrovnik than in London?” she pressed. “Absolutely, in order to see the trees you have to move away from the forest,” I replied. “If you are saying that your quality of life was worse in London why didn’t you stay in London and try to improve the situation?” she followed up. “Just because I choose quality in the first position that doesn’t mean that I took the easy option, quite the contrary, I think I took the harder option in search of a quality life,” I answered. “It would have been much easier for me to stay in a familiar community rather than uproot myself and move to a new one…don’t you think?” I answered.
At the same time of debating with this lady I was answering the question about quality of life, at least from my perspective. As one delegate had said in the day, less income is not equal to less quality of life. “I have time for my family and friends and time for me,” I started to explain to the lady delegate. “In the life balance of standard and quality, I chose quality, but of course that comes at a price,” I continued. “Most people choose standard of life, and that’s fine, life is all about choices and everyone makes their own,” I concluded.
The Oxford dictionary describes quality of life as “Daily living enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from harm. Quality of life may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life's challenges.”
I think that they have just described how I feel living here in Dubrovnik! Every point on their list is covered living here; I have ticked all the boxes. So did you think about your definition of quality of life? Did I cover any of them? Are yours the same as mine? Think about it for a few minutes…it is worth it.
As the carrier's privatisation process enters its third year and despite many recent speculations it seems that Croatia Airlines will not find a buyer after all. Kresimir Kucko, the CEO of Croatia Airlines, says that foreign carriers haven't shown any real intention of purchasing stakes in the company, despite initial interest from Turkish Airlines.
Last May the Croatian government selected the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to look for potential investors by October 2015. Mr Kucko says that the company should be recapitalised in order to develop and expand at respectable pace using its own resources.
Mr Cay, the Turkish carrier's Chief Human Resources Officer, confirmed interest in Croatia Airlines in May this year by saying that his company saw an equity investment in the Croatian counterpart as a good business opportunity adding that a potential deal would benefit both sides. However, Mr Sirac, the Croatia Airlines' Chief Operating Officer, says that the Turkish offer is far from a serious and firm offer adding that at this point, there is no interest from other foreign companies in purchasing the company's shares.
Mr Kucko emphasizes that the company has developed a strategy for the next five years without strategic partners and using their own resources. If a potential buyer appears than the state will have to decide about a possible sale. However, as new parliamentary elections are scheduled for September 2016 it will be up to the next government to deal with Croatia Airlines' future.
The European Commission yesterday approved the major project of the new terminal of the Dubrovnik airport to the amount of 214.9 million Euros. This will, as they say in the, make travel through this important airport faster and easier and help Croatia prepare for the accession to Schengen open-border agreement because the entire airport will be equipped according to the standards of Schengen.
From the total amount of funding agreed for the new terminal project 134.6 million Euro will be provided from the Fund for Regional Development. The Dubrovnik Airport is included in the list of priorities because it belongs to the Trans-European Transport Net (TENT). This project will improve to the international and national access to the Dubrovnik-Neretva County and directly benefit the Croatian economy.
Corina Crețu, the incumbent European Commissioner for Regional Policy, said on the decision that "this is great news for business, tourism and for those who use the airport in Dubrovnik."
She added that "I had the opportunity to visit the works on extending the Dubrovnik Airport in May this year, and I think that is one of the most visible investment projects in the field of transportation.”
Croatia is without doubt one of the most desirable holiday spots in Europe. According to Rough Guide, the leading publisher of travel and reference guides, Croatia has everything that tourists like – great food, awesome festivals and beautiful nature.
The British travel publisher made a short and very flattering video about Croatia. In ''A one minute guide to Croatia'' video they have provided tourists with a plethora of useful information illustrated by a perfect produced video.
Rough Guides describes Dubrovnik as a seaside city suspended in time and recommends the island of Korcula to those eager for good domestic food and wine. The island of Hvar the publisher describes as a destination for those who look for an active night life as Hvar is already known for the best nightlife in the Adriatic. Split as the main capital of the Split-Dalmatia region is ideal for spending time on beaches and having a coffee in numerous seafront cafes. Skradin is recommended to those who would like to taste the best of the Dalmatian cuisine.
One minute journey from Dubrovnik to the Plitvice Lakes also leads viewers to Pula in Istria which is famous for its ancient Roman ruins and the small Istrian city of Rovinj known for its Venetian architecture. The Croatian capital the city of Zagreb offers urban pleasures (art festivals, theatres, events etc.) to its guests. The final destination of this short video finishes at the National Park Plitvice Lakes which the publisher recommends to those who want to spend their time in pristine wilderness surrounded by turquoise waterfalls.
When going to family vacation, you need to have a lot more on your mind and you can't be so relaxed as when traveling solo. Website Tourism review has published an article with a list of top 7 European beaches for children, aiming at families with children in the age group 6 to 13 years. Croatia has found its place on this child friendly list with Makarska, a small city located on the Adriatic coastline.
The author writes about all the benefites of Makarska.
- You can go to the nearby islands on excursion boats. You can cycle or walk along a promenade lined with trees to the main beach and go on a peddle-boat ride or a banana ride. While the Buba beach bar with its straw umbrellas and wooden sun-beds offers low-key DJ music, Punta Rata, the shallow pebble beach in Brela, with its turquoise waters is one of the best beaches for children – says the author.
Of course you can enjoy vacation with children and some places are just better than the others to do that. Maybe Makarska is the right choice for you.
Coca Cola is really into Dubrovnik! Ater making the bottles with the town on them and fountain with empty Coca Cola bottles that will be painted by locals and tourists, the company now offers a refreshment right before the entrance to the Old Town, at Pile.
Special city light advert works in the way that you push the button and the water mist sprays you. Quite an interesting idea of advertisting, but we're glad that nobody thought about spraying Coca-Cola all over our faces because that could end quite awkward.
- The best way to fight against hot temperatures is the bottle of fluid and refreshing, cold Coca-Cola. But if you don't have it with you when you're in this part of town, and you're yearning for refreshment, Coca-Cola offers you salvation right around the corner – said Vesna Vlahovic Dasic, Coca-Cola Adria Marketing director.
- Bus station on Pile is our little oasis that we've prepared for all the passengers and travelers because we now how standing and walking in the sun can be hard to handle. We hope that this zone of refreshement will make the stay easier for our fellow citizens and that they will enjoy the sunny days ahead of us – concluded Vlahovic Dasic.
This special way of advertising is made in cooperation with Europlakat and it's part of the newest Coca-Cola marketing campaign 'Taste the feeling'.
A young Croatian is proving that with a good idea you can create a market. Ivan Mrvos, a 20 year-old Croatian innovator from Solin near Split, has had his invention recognised on a global scale with the signing of an agreement worth 5.33 million Euros with MTK Renewable Energy Investment to deliver 2,700 smart benches to Australia.
The Steora solar smart benches designed by young Ivan Mrvos have recently been introduced and placed all over Croatia, Montenegro, in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in Hong Kong and in front of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg.
The smart bench includes batteries which are powered by solar panels; they provide internet access and the possibility to charge mobile phones and laptops by USB charger. It also gathers data about air quality, humidity, city noise, displays advertising, amongst other features as well as providing light at night. This is truly a green invention.
This innovative product is ideal for cities, parks, airports, marinas, businesses and shopping centres. The objective is to raise human awareness about renewable energy and environmental protection. Interestingly Mrvos and his team developed their own battery system based on the model of Tesla Motors which is famous for the production of electric cars.
According to Ivan Mrvos and his team, they had only one Skype meeting with investors from Australia where they presented their product. The investors passed on the information to their partners and after a few days they visited them in Solin. ''They were impressed with our benches and plan to put them in a few cities across Australia'', said Mrvos adding that he thought these benches would be a success in Australia as they had a lot of sun “down under.”
The Steora smart benches with a special monitor for advertising will be shipped to Australia at the price of 1,800 Euro per bench. Ivan Mrvos and his team are waiting for further business proposals as they have sent smart benches to USA, Qatar and Switzerland for testing.
“We are not excluding the possibility to open a production plant in Australia in the future if the need arises, but for now I am not thinking about leaving Croatia,” Ivan said.
One of the most popular American online portals BuzzFeed, which creates articles with various topics mainly intended for social networks, once again wrote about Croatia and its beauties.
In its latest article with a headline ''24 Reasons Croatia Is The Ultimate Vacation Spot'' the BuzzFeed portal writes about Croatian beauties and gives 24 reasons for visiting Croatia in this lifetime even though most of them refers to the Adriatic coastline region.
According to the article one of the most important reasons for visiting Croatia is the clear blue sea water which owes its crystal clearness to the lack of big off shore industries. The author emphasizes that every region in Croatia is beautiful in its own way but that the region of Dalmatia is the most popular holiday destination ''....right across from Italy. It includes Dubrovnik and the surrounding islands''.
Furthermore, the author says that tourists will also find filming spots of the popular series Game of Thrones and Star Wars VIII. She hasn't missed to mention a rich history that dates back to the 2nd century BC even though she refers only to Dubrovnik.
As the fourth reason for visiting Croatia she states numerous boats and sea transport possibilities whilst ferry catamaran routes in Split and Dubrovnik coastal area she rates as one of the most favourable and most attractive.
''You can swim basically anywhere you want'', says the article adding that the Croatian coastline is full of rocky beaches with cliff jumping possibilities. Even though she never confirmed it directly, Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z decided to name their daughter Blue Ivy while they were on a holiday on the island of Hvar, states BuzzFeed.
There are lots of small alleys, so called ''kalete'', abandoned villages and ruins for those who like to explore as well as promenades and hiking spots. Croatia is the best country for bike lovers and adventurers.
''Accommodations can be pretty affordable, if you know where to look'', is on the 12th place of ''must visit Croatia'' reasons followed by the Dalmatian cuisine and various local drinks.
BuzzFeed also praises handmade souvenirs made from lavender and agave lace as well as people who are cheerful and very proud of their country.
''Croatia is home to one of the sunniest spots in Europe'', says the author referring to Hvar, whilst sunsets and dawns are perfect for taking photos of stunning nature. ''But perhaps most of all, it’s a great place to just take a deep breath of fresh air, admire the serenity and remember that sometimes, concluded the author of the BuzzFeed article.