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.
On the eve of the festivities of St. Blaise the new flexible buses have been pressed into service by the Libertas public bus company for the first time.
These new buses, often known as a bendy bus, will be used during the summer season to transport cruise ship passengers from the port to the historic Old City of Dubrovnik, therefore reducing the actual number of buses and coaches on the roads.
Following the trial run of three buses in early January, it was announced that the city’s public transport fleet will be rejuvenated, according to which Libertas will have a total of 27 new buses available in 2020.
And the fleet is about to get even bigger as the City of Dubrovnik have announced that a total of 11 EU-funded buses will be operating through the city streets by this summer. 5 mini buses and 5 suburban buses are expected to arrive, and the City Council will approve the purchase of an additional three bendy buses. The first flexible buses are made by MAN, and are 18 metres long, with 41 seats and room for 107 passengers to stand.
“Due to their capacity and the 3 in 1 effect, the introduction of these buses will have an impact on reducing the number of buses arriving in the Pila area and contact zones and thus reducing traffic congestion. The vehicles also meet the strictest environmental standards. The individual cost of a bus is 2.1 million Kuna, and Libertas Dubrovnik will independently cover the operating leasing obligations from its own revenues,” explained the City of Dubrovnik.
Do you know what makes this day unique, 02.02.2020? This is a so-called, palindromic date, in which the date, month and year are read equally back and forth.
It is interesting to note that this will be the only palindrome date until the end of this century.
Palindromic dates on the calendar are a rare occurrence indeed. One of the more unusual, for example, was recorded 909 years ago, 11.11.1111.
The next calendar 'phenomenon' will follow on 12.12.2121, and will be greeted by only a rare few of our contemporaries, today's babies, who will be 100 years old at the time.
The chances are fairly high that none of the Earth's current inhabitants will be see the third conspicuous 'palindrome' because it is scheduled on 03.03.3030.
Strawberries and cream, Mulder and Scully, gin and tonic, Tom and Jerry, some things are just meant to be together. They complement each other perfectly. Have you ever tried drinking gin without tonic? Don’t! And this weekend and the beginning of next week will see Dubrovnik with its perfect partner – St. Blaise.
The patron saint, the protector of the city and a foreigner. Yes, it is a day that Dubrovnik has been celebrating for centuries, a day that a foreigner saved their city from being invaded by more foreigners. Of course, St. Blaise was Armenian and was made a saint for saving a young boy who was choking on a fish bone, it was pronounced a miracle.
But what would the path of St. Blaise, or rather just Blaise without the saint title, have looked like if he were born in the 20th century as opposed to 280 AD. Firstly he would have a slight problem before he even started travelling to Dubrovnik. For he was born in Sivas, which although was in Armenia when he was born, is now in Turkey. Basically that would mean that he’d now need a visa to enter Croatia, or at least a Schengen visa. Sorry Blaise.
But the sheer journey would be tough as there are no real links to this part of Turkey, but there probably weren’t Turkish Airlines flights in the 3rd century either, so he’s used to walking. Of course he’d have a challenge at the border, or even getting a visa.
Imagine the scenario of a customs official questioning Blaise. “Excuse he sir, but what is your occupation.” – “I am a saint.” – “Don’t be funny sir and just answer the question please.” Let’s face it there is no way that Blaise is getting a visa.
And while I am on the question on his sainthood I have a question. He was made a saint for allegedly saving a young boy who had a fishbone stuck in his throat. When Blaise saved him it was described as a miracle. Now far from me to question this legendary act but I do have one concern. Blaise was educated as a physician, he basically studied medicine and was a doctor. Now bearing this in mind if a doctor in the Dubrovnik General Hospital today saves a child with an Orada bone wedged in his windpipe does that make him a saint? Surely he is just doing his job. Would an electrician be sainted for rewiring a house? Or a plumber sainted for fixing a leaking tap? I digress.
So Blaise is making his way to Dubrovnik after having obtained all the visas and proved that his full-time occupation is a saint. And of course as Sivas is an important connection to the East, as part of the old Silk Road, he has also had to prove that he isn’t infected with the Coronavirus.
He arrives in a 21st century Dubrovnik. Quite a shock. After he has navigated the hordes of tourists on Pile and followed the rope path that filters tourists in and out (yes, even St. Blaise has to Respect the City!) he would arrive on a Stradun filled with ATM’s, cheap souvenirs, ice-cream and chewing sweets. He’d wonder at the air-conditioning units, the satellite dishes and the tacky advertising signs that have all been drilled into the ancient walls and all hang like warts on a beautiful canvas.
He’d breathe in the smell of cheap frying oil coming from one of the lousy restaurants. Stare in awe as another Game of Thrones tour passes him by convince they have been to King’s Landing. Oh how he would be delighted at the sight of plastic bottles and waste floating in the old city harbour. And he’d taken aback at the taxi drivers yelling obscenities at tourists whilst lighting another cigarette. He’d be amazed at Pile and its collection of a hundred plastic kayaks. Oh how he would be lost for words on the ghost town, or rather apartment town, that Dubrovnik has become.
The question is would St. Blaise save us again. Would he consider that we deserved to be saved? Would he warn us of an attack by cruise ships in the same way that he warned us about Venetian ships? Or would he simply think that we got what we deserved. I have a feeling that Blaise would throw his rucksack on his back and turn around and head back south.
If you are waiting for a delivery of post or a package from China, then it looks like you will have to wait a little longer.
Croatia Post have issued a statement on its website informing the public that there will be no delivery of shipments from China until further notice.
"Croatia Post has received information from KLM, Lufthansa LH and Turkish Airlines that flights from the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Croatia will not be flown in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, which will affect the normal postal business of exchanging mail. We ask for your understanding, and we will keep you informed of any changes," the statement read.
Another floating hotel has chosen Dubrovnik as the port of its first Mediterranean trip. The “Seven Seas Splendor” cruise ship sailed into Dubrovnik this morning directly from the port of Ancona. This impressive cruise ship is one its test voyage and no passengers are actually on-board.
Seven Seas Splendor, which is part of the fleet of, the Miami-based Regent Seven Seas Cruise company, can carry 750 passengers, and has a crew 542 members.
In addition to the usual luxury amenities for passengers, the 200-meter long boat offers accommodation in 375 apartments each with its own private balcony. In fact, the cabin size is four times the size of an average family room on a cruise ship.
"The European Union will be smaller in numbers, but remains strong and unified as ever," commented the Croatian government after the UK’s departure from the European Union yesterday. The statement continued to say that the government regrets United Kingdom's departure from the European Union, but the Union remains strong even without it.
"We are heartened by the reinforced unity that the 27 of us have demonstrated in the past three years," the statement said.
Whilst Brexit will not doubt bring change to the European Union, not least with its future relationship with the UK, the Croatian government is convinced that this breakup doesn’t need to have long-term effects. “Croatia remains determined to invest all its efforts to keep the United Kingdom as one of our closest partners," the Croatian government added.
And the first step is the future deal between the UK and the EU which will cover everything from trade to human rights. The transition period runs until the end of this year meaning that the clock is ticking on arranging all new laws and regulations.
"Croatia appreciates the hitherto tireless work of EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and his team. They have our full support and confidence in the forthcoming negotiations about the future relationship with the United Kingdom as well," the statement from the Croatian government concluded.
The Dubrovnik Tourist Board will once again organize the traditional humanitarian raffle or tombola this year on the occasion of the festivities of the patron saint of Dubrovnik, St. Blaise. The raffle will, as ever, be held on the Stradun on the 3rd of February 3rd, starting at 4:00 pm.
Raffle cards can be bought, one hour before the start, in front of Luza at the end of the Stradun at a price of 10 Kuna. And all the proceeds from the sale of the raffles cards are earmarked for the Association of Children with Diabetes and their parents "Sweet Life".
This raffle is weaved into the history of Dubrovnik and its connection with St. Blaise, the game dates back to 1842.
Come on Stradun, do a good deed and have fun!
From today the 1st of February, the retail store DM permanently remove disposable plastic bags from their offer to encourage customers to live more sustainably and to contribute to environmental protection. DM offers customers different types of durable shopping bags as a replacement for plastic bags.
"At DM, we always act on the principles of social responsibility and strive to respond to the real needs of the communities in which we live and work. As a leader in the field of sustainable practices and the largest drugstore chain in Croatia, DM has a responsibility and a strong desire to contribute to a more sustainable future. Therefore, we have made the decision to completely remove the disposable plastic shopping bags from our range. DM shops in Croatia are visited daily by more than 86,000 people and we are firmly convinced that we can be a driver of positive change in society and encourage a large number of people to reflect on their environmental impact, change their habits and stop using plastic bags," commented Gordana Picek, a member of the Board of Directors of DM.
Instead of plastic bags, DM offers alternative solutions, such as paper bags made of at least 85 percent brown recycled paper and durable PET bags made from recycled PET bottles. Both options are certified by the "Blue Angel". DM also offers reusable polyester shopping bags, as well as DM's durable bags made of "fair trade" certified bio cotton, which customers at DM can replace for free with new ones in the event of wear and tear.
The complete elimination of disposable plastic bags from the supply is another step by which DM continues to invest in the development of its range and business processes in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.