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.
Plenty, believe me. I know as I’ve been around during months as awkward as March or December, when rain and bad weather is not as uncommon as now, on the verge of the season. Still, even in May or June, you can experience an occasional bad weather day. Or two. What do you do, then?
Put your towels and sunscreen away and hurry to enjoy at least some of the locals-proven tips of spending a wonderful day off the beach:
Breakfast at Tiffanys - In case you are renting an apartment, start the day off in style: go and have breakfast in some of the fanciest hotels in the area! Most of them offer breakfast for those who are not guests of the hotel. Think Excelsior, champagne, salmon and strawberries with cream at half eleven, sheltered on a stylish terrace, overlooking the old town of Dubrovnik. It is worth way more than the 100- 150 Kuna the experience would typically cost you.
Run to the hills - If you are from Scotland or the Netherlands and you really hate the idea of rain on vacation in the Mediterranean, then check the forecast and escape the rain. Often, the rain or wind would be just a local matter, and sunshine can be mere two hours’ ride away. Go to Peljesac, Korcula or Mostar. If you are an early riser, you can even try Sarajevo.
In Vino Veritas - Talking of Peljesac: you can go there even if the weather is bad, in fact. Do a wine tour! There is no rain in wine cellars, and tasting the different varieties of plavac mali and dingac wines will make you forget about bad weather, or, more precisely, anything bad or disquieting there might be in your current life. In vino veritas, and joy. Check out Peljesac winemakers websites, but make sure you don’t skip Grgic in Trstnik and Milos in Ponikve. Both worth a treasure (I personally witnessed some French wine connoisseurs nearly faint of envy when they tasted their casual house wines). For lunch or dinner, choose the legendary Kapetanova Kuca in Mali Ston (do order at least a few oysters even if they are out of season – in Ston, they are always IN season, and you might very well change your classification of what’s really fresh and tasty in the fruits de mer section). Equally good is Seosko domacinstvo Ficovic in nearby Hodilje. (Best fish soup ever.)
Inside information - If you can’t or simply don’t feel like leaving town, there is a wealth of indoor attractions in Dubrovnik: first, check out ToDu site on Facebook for events (there are plenty every day, but often they are advertised just among locals). Explore museums (museum Rupe for ethnographic stuff, the Aquarium for fish and the Natural History museum), churches (even if not religious, take the extra half hour to dive in the quiet of St. Domenic church – it is magical or at least very relaxing).
Shop till you drop - Shopping is a good idea on a poor weather day. There are several options. In town, there is Robna kuca Minceta and a bunch of brand and/or cool shops around Stradun. If you are looking for a mall-kind of experience, take a bus to Srebreno’s SubCity Centre. (my personal addiction is the Muller paper and perfume shop).
We all scream for ice-cream - You’ve got small kids and a sweet tooth? Then you need to go to Trgoviste, a neighbourhood in Mlini (about 5 miles south form Dubrovnik). There is Tik-Tak playroom (for reasonable charges, you can leave your children in this tastefully decorated and equipped playroom for an hour or two, while you enjoy your coffee and some of the best ice-creams and cakes in the area at the Ice Café, precisely five steps away from the playroom). There is also a very nice playroom inside the Natural History museum downtown – plenty of science and art material for your little ones to enjoy.
Get down on the farm - In need of an authentic cultural experience? Nothing better than an evening at a farm, a seosko domacinstvo. There are plenty and plenty around Dubrovnik (particularly the region of Konavle is known for traditional farm family-ran restaurants serving delicious home-made food and wine). Ask for live music, it upgrades the experience by 100% even if you don’t understand the lyrics of the local songs. The melodies, the nostalgia and the general atmosphere is unforgettable – you’ll end up loving your rainy day in Dubrovnik and hoping for more!
Blanka Pavlovic a.k.a. the Adriatic Bride is a Czech writer. She studied law (Prague) and creative writing (Oxford). As a lawyer, she specialized in international human rights law, first working for the European Court of Human Rights, then for a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. She wrote five books, among them Total Balkans, The Handbook of the Adriatic Bride or The Return of the Adriatic Bride. She now lives with her family between Dubrovnik and Donji Brgat. More information and English translations of her work are available through www.blankacechova.com
Whilst Germans love to spend their summer vacations along the Adriatic coast it isn’t all one way traffic. According to the latest data from the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), Croatian tourists are among the top ten fastest growing foreign markets in Germany.
The data showed that Croatian tourists achieved an increase of 14.6 percent in terms of overnight stays in Germany in 2016. Most of them or 42 percent travelled to Germany for a holiday vacation and on average spent 66 Euros a day.
Noting that Croatian citizens-tourists in Germany realize four overnight stays on average, Tijana Djuricic, the representative of the regional Belgrade office of the GNTB for Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia, emphasized that among all these countries Croatian tourists had recorded the largest increase in overnight stays (42,000) in Germany in 2016.
''We are very pleased with the fact that Croatian tourists do not travel to Germany mostly to visit their relatives (27%), but on vacation (42%) and for business reasons (31%). Our data also shows that 51 percent of travellers from Croatia are aged 35-54, followed by younger population aged 15-34. Most of them (61%) travel by car, whilst a significantly lesser percent of them travel by plane, bus and train'', commented Djuricic.
She also added that Croats are the number one in the region in terms of online bookings, and that their favourite destinations are Bavaria, and the regions of Baden-Württemberg and Hesse.
Picture postcard Bavaria
Golf has arrived in Dubrovnik! No, it isn’t the grand opening of the multi-million dollar golf resort on the top of the Srd Mountain, it’s a much smaller affair. The ACI Marina in Dubrovnik have opened a “Golf Range Concept.” It isn’t so much a golf course more of an opportunity to train and practice your swing and putting. This unique golf training course and mini golf course will be opened at the end of May this year and is the brain child of a company from Zagreb called Sport Concept Ltd.
The basic idea of a gold range concept is building golf training course on artificial tennis courts and will include six practice putting holes, a sand bunker, a chipping green to improve your short game, a driving net for bringing out the woods and a mini golf course with nine different holes. ACI Marina will become the first marina in Croatia to offer this unique attraction to its guests. And is reported that this is a pilot project for ACI Marina and if it proves popular with guests the same courses will be introduced in every ACI Marina in Croatia.
As the golf concept uses artificial grass, grass specifically designed for golf practise courses, it can be open in all weather and will be open all year round. Equipment will also be available to rent at the course so there is no need to lug your golf bags to Dubrovnik. And a golf “animator” will also be on hand to teach new golfers and give information on the course.
''The visit of the Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Davor Ivo Stier to Moscow is very important for the Croatian business community in Russia and will improve the political and economic relations between the two countries'', commented the representative of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) in Russia Jakov Despot in Moscow a few days ago.
According to Despot, the crisis and problems in the political relations between Russia and Europe led to a significant exports decline of Croatian companies to the Russian market. However, things have improved to a certain extent lately.
On this occasion, the head of the Croatian diplomacy emphasized that a new phase in relations between Zagreb and Moscow began after eleven years of stagnation. ''It has been almost eleven years since the last visit of the Croatian Foreign Minister to Moscow. Therefore, what we are doing here today is the opening of a new phase in the dialogue between Croatia and the Russian Federation'', commented Stier at a press conference.
On the other hand, Stier's counterpart Sergey Lavrov commented that this visit took place two days before the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries, and that ‘’the political dialogue is developing dynamically and there is an effort on strengthening the relations between Croatia and Russia’’.
Two countries also expressed their interest in the development of further cooperation especially in the field of economy, thus the two ministers agreed and announced the meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission for Cooperation in Moscow in early autumn.
It is interesting to note that there is some unofficial information about a possible meeting of the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic with Vladimir Putin ''as soon as conditions allow''.
After three and a half year project the reconstructed Rector’s Palace in Slano was reopened last week. The Association of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities invested around 15 million Kuna into the reconstruction project and now this important landmark in Slano is back and shining again.
This is the first of the 11 Rector’s Palaces that the association looks after that has been restored. During the time of the Republic of Dubrovnik the Palace in Slano was the seat for the Rector of Primorje. In 1806 the palace was burnt to the ground. Then again in 1991 the palace suffered a similar fate. Now the palace has been completely restored and is sure to be an attraction for tourists.
Once again the renowned cellist Ana Rucner will welcome in the first day of summer with a spectacular concert overlooking Dubrovnik. As the sun comes up for the first day of summer 2017 Rucner will perform a concert on the Srd Mountain. This is the sixth year that this concert has been held and entrance is free of charge. You will have to get up early as the concert starts, well at the crack of dawn of course, at 5.00am.
Rucner is one of the most innovative classical artists to emerge over the past several decades with numerous national and international awards. Rucner is one of Croatia’s most successful performers whose shows are well received all over the world. And with two concerts, in Zagreb and Osijek, she recently marked 15 years of artistic activity.
On the 21st of June at 5.00am Ana’s cello along with beautiful vocals from guest performers, will be the perfect start to summer in Dubrovnik. And as the date also coincides with World Music Day is seems a fitting way to bring in summer.
The Rail Freight Mediterranean Corridor Conference “Extension to Croatia” was held in the Croatian capital of Zagreb on the 23rd of May 2017.
The theme of the conference was the expansion of the Mediterranean Rail Freight Corridor 6 to Croatia. Based on the EU regulation 913/2010/EU, the Mediterranean Corridor 6 links the Iberian Peninsula with the Hungarian-Ukrainian border and was established on the following route: Almería – Valencia / Algeciras / Madrid – Zaragoza / Barcelona – Marseille – Lyon – Turin – Milan – Verona – Padova / Venice – Trieste / Kopar – Ljubljana – Budapest– Zahony (the Hungarian-Ukrainian border).
However, the EU regulation has been supplemented by a new regulation which will extend the Mediterranean Corridor to the Republic of Croatia on the following routes of Rijeka-Zagreb-(Budapest), and (Ljubljana)-Zagreb.
Croatia became actively involved in the Mediterranean Rail Freight Corridor 6 on the 10th of November 2016 to have more effective cooperation between EU member countries. And now as a member of the rail freight corridor Croatia will have better quality and better delivery of rail freight services.
Gentlemen start your engines! Screeching tyres, mind blowing speeds and the thunder of engines could be heard at the Dubrovnik Airport yesterday but it had nothing to do with aviation. Millions of dollars worth of high end sports cars including Porsche, Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, McLaren sped over the runway of Dubrovnik Airport in an event organised by the Hoefnagels Grand Tour.
StreetGasma, as the day of racing was named, crowned the final day of a multi-day rally all over Europe. Hoefnagels Grand Tour is a unique tour in which participants do not know the route and the destination in advance all the directions are received on the race day. The rally is run once a year, and these premium cars cross over 2,000 miles of different European landscapes within a week. In all destinations drivers enjoy VIP treatment, stay in top hotels and taste original delicacies.
Photos - Tonci Plazibat