Wednesday, 23 October 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

Facts and figures about Croatia


In the 17th century, Croatian soldiers used to wear a little piece of cloth around their neck; this was the birth of the Cravat or necktie.

cravat

Among the 47 European countries Croatia is the 26th with respect to its population.

Croatia is slightly smaller than West Virginia.

The book 101 Dalmatians was written by British author Dodie Smith and published in 1956.

dogs

William Shakespeare set his comedy Twelfth Night in Illyria, by which he probably meant Croatia.

Croatia is bigger than Belgium, Denmark, Holland and Switzerland.

Croatia has borders with six countries, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro.

1936 is considered as the date of the official start of nudism on the island of Rab when English king Edward VIII visited the island and received the permission of the Rab authorities to bathe naked with his wife in Kandarola Bay.

At depths over 30 m the temperature of the Adriatic is mostly constant throughout the entire year.

Hum in Istria with a varying population of 17 to 23 people holds the Guinness World Record for being the smallest town in the world.

The White House was built using stones from the island of Brač near Split.

Croats had their own alphabet until the 18th century which was called “glagoljica” or Glagolitic.

The Amphitheatre in Pula is one of only 3 preserved in the world, which was once the site of gladiator fights. Built in the 1st century AD during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, it is the 6th largest amphitheatre in existence.

pula

The first torpedo was constructed by Ivan Lupis Vukic in the 19th century in the city of Rijeka.

With 13 entries on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Croatia is, with Spain, the European country with the highest number of entries.

Croatia was for the first time acknowledged in history on 7 June 879, when Pope John VIII granted Duke Branimir the title dux Croatorum.

The leading shares on the Croatian stock exchange for 2015 were the chocolate producers “Kras.” Throughout last year the shares in the chocolate giant Kras rose by an incredible 35 percent! Possibly fuelled by the launch of many new products as well as the break-through into other foreign markets Kras was by far and away the most successful company on the stock exchange.

The second most profitable stocks was the hotel and tourism chain “Valamar Riviera” whose share value rose by a healthy 21 percent in 2015. Valamar Riviera owns and operates hotels all along the Croatian Adriatic coastline including five hotels in Dubrovnik.

In third place on the rich list was another food producer “Podravka” whose stock price rose by 13.8 percent last year. Podravka produces the most popular Croatian food seasoning “Vegeta” and sells its products into forty countries worldwide. In the first nine months of 2015 Podravka saw profits rise by 60 percent and recorded a net profit of 131 million Kuna over that period.

After the completion of this year's tourism fair the New York Times Travel Show, which lasted from the 8th to the 10th of January the Dubrovnik Tourist Board pointed out that “we can optimistically expect a great tourism year with plenty of tourists with this enormous market.”

Last year was an amazing year for Dubrovnik in terms of guests from the US. Even without any direct flights from the US to Croatia the number of American tourists who visited the city was significant. In fact, in terms of nationality, American tourists were the second most numerous in Dubrovnik in 2015. This year's New York Times Travel Show attracted over 500 exhibitors from 150 countries. The Croatian exhibition was organized by the Croatian National Tourist Board and presented a large stand which included the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the Dubrovnik - Neretva County Tourist Board.

According to the Dubrovnik Tourist Board the interest in the city as a potential tourist destination was extremely high. Last year 76,913 Americans visited Dubrovnik; a huge increase of 23 percent compared with 2014, and achieved 238,226 overnight stays. The added value of the popular HBO serial Game of Thrones cannot be overlooked. Dubrovnik acts as King’s Landing in the serial and several locations around the region have certainly raised publicity in the USA.

The first day of the travel fair was reserved for business visits, while on Saturday and Sunday potential tourists were in attendance. The Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the Zagreb Tourist Board staged three special presentations which included special prizes of four-night stays in both cities.

tourist board travel

Works have begun on the first phase of the reconstruction and restoration of the Rector's Palace. The restoration of the stone pillars and arches in the atrium is the first phase and the investment is worth around 11 million Kuna.

The Dubrovnik Times has learned that the completion date for the construction works will be 24 months. However the works will be put on hold through the main summer tourist season so that visitors can enjoy one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The second phase will begin later this year and will invlove solving the former prision inside the palace. All of the works will, of course, be carried out in accordance with the guidelines of conservationists.

The Rector's Palace has repeatedly been subjected to reconstruction, the first time it was due to a gunpowder explosion in 1435.

rector

Popular British singer-songwriter Polly Jean Harvey, better known as PJ Harvey, is the latest act confirmed for this summer’s INmusic festival, schduled to be held at Zagreb's Jarun Lake on June 20-22, festival organisers announced earlier this week.

The famous vocalist and guitarist began her career in 1988 when she joined local band Automatic Dlamini. In 1991, she formed an eponymous trio and subsequently began her professional career. Since then she has released a number of studio albums and won a number of awards, including the 2001 and 2011 Mercury Prize for Stories from the City. She is the only artist to have been awarded the prize twice.

She has has 8 Brit Award nominations, 6 Grammy Award nominations and two further Mercury Prize nominations. Rolling Stone awarded her 1992’s Best New Artist and Best Singer Songwriter and 1995’s Artist of the Year.

In 2011, she was awarded for Outstanding Contribution To Music at the NME Awards. In 2013 she was awarded an MBE for services to music.

PJ Harvey joins Yeasayer, Florence + The Machine and Motorhead as confirmed acts at the 11th INmusic festival.

The price of the three-day festival ticket is EUR 40 (plus transaction fees).

Tickets are available here.

Hina 

Today is the final day that the festive Christmas stands will adorn the main street in the Old City of Dubrovnik; it’s the end of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival, at least for this season. In spite of the recent bad weather the stands were well attended and many people tasted the mulled wine and sausages for the final time last night.

The Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, Zeljko Raguz, confirmed to us that all of the companies that rented the stands for the duration of this year’s Dubrovnik Winter Festival were very satisfied with the results. In total eighteen stands were placed along the Stradun and this was the first time in history that such festive stands had been placed on the main street.

The initial reactions were mixed as some people thought that placing a Christmas market on the Stradun was in bad taste. “The negative comments were only at the beginning of the festival,” commented Raguz. Adding that many of the people who complained were later seen enjoying a festive treat at one of the wooden houses. The lease of the stands, from the 16th of November until the 10th of January, was set at a symbolic price of 5,000 Kunas. However this price could rise next year as the interest in renting a stand has grown considerably.

The Dubrovnik Sharks, Dubrovnik's American Football Club, held a try-out for new players this morning in Dubrovnik. “All that is required is good will and a pair of trainers,” said a spokesperson from the Sharks. And in spite of the terrible conditions, constant rain and wind, the Sharks are pleased to announce that six new players have joined their ranks.

The Dubrovnik Sharks are the first American Football club in the Dubrovnik County and only the second in Dalmatia after the Split Sea Wolves. With around twenty members the Sharks play flag football, a non-contact version of American Football. And with these new additions to their squad they are looking forward to another successful season in the Croatian American Football League.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination,” famously said the American psychologist Carl Rogers. Well I am not sure whether these guys have any direction, their boats seem to be floating adrift on the tide, but they are certainly enjoying the ride. I really don’t know how they do it! Hats off to them for I can’t understand their methods, but they seem to work.

“Ah, I recognisee youuuu,” I heard a drunken growl as I neared the small shop. It almost sounded like a bear awakening from winter hibernation. I looked around with some trepidation, not knowing what strange creature would greet me.

“Youuuu areee the Englishman, aren’t youuuu?” said the growling bear. Oh crap! Not only is he talking to me but he also recognises me. Not wanting to upset the bear I replied “yes, that’s me,” as I turned to see the bear was in fact a man sitting on an empty beer crate outside the shop. I wasn’t sure if the beer crate had been full when he first sat down and he had managed to empty it singlehandedly or if his friends had helped him.

“I readddd your columnnnn,” he murmured whilst at the same time slugging down another neck full of beer. I hope that I haven’t upset this bear, I thought to myself. “You areeee smart forrrr an Englishman,” another neck full of beer disappeared. Was that a compliment? Or had he just insulted an entire nation? I wasn’t sure but as it made me feel better I decided that he probably meant the first option. “Thank you,” I throw into the wind as I hustled into the shop door.

“I see that the government is in session today,” I joked with the shop assistant inside. She grinned back. “They get through five or six bottles a day,” she complained. “Don’t complain, these guys are great business, they are loyal customers and they always purchase the same products, beer and cigarettes, so they are easy to please,” I replied. “Yeah, I guess you are right,” she shrugged her shoulders in acceptance.
I jumped back in the car and then started to think. She said five or six a day, well that’s fifty Kunas a day. Add to that a packet of cigarettes and you are up to seventy something Kunas a day. At that’s before they have had something to eat, although maybe they prefer a liquid lunch, if you know what I mean. Seventy-five Kunas a day is 2,250 Kunas a month or 27,000 Kunas a year! Even if they have some days off, weekends and holidays, so let’s say half that amount, that’s still almost 2,000 Euros annually! That’s before they have paid the bills, the rent, the mortgage, their taxes, the food bills, etc. How on God's sweet and green earth do they afford it!

Forget David Copperfield, these guys are the real magicians. Forget Donald Trump, these guys are the financial wizards! There is no way that I could afford to do this; I would be homeless, hungry and bankrupt in a month. They seem to rarely work, if at all and yet they have money to burn. They are living the hedonist dream. Days filled with social encounters, cold beers, resting in the shade and a seemingly endless supply of money. Sounds like the script of a Hollywood movie where Tom Cruise would be in the leading role. The film could be called “The High Life.”
What is their trick, their scheme? I used the word government to describe them, but it seems they are closer to the government than I first realised. They spend most of the day putting the world to rights, they know everything about everything, a bottle or three of cold beer and they transform into Noble prize winning scientists, golden boot footballers and Winston Churchill trained politicians. There must be magic in those bottles. The bottles of beer are like the telephone box that would spin Clark Kent into Superman. A few sips of the brown liquid and they are world beaters, Einstein is in first grade put side by side with these heroes.

They seem to have no cares in the world, no stress from work (an obvious answer to that one), no pressures from society, no real care about their appearance, they are basically living for pleasure alone. Once again how do they do it? What is the magic formula? And why the hell can’t I find it! I just hope the bear doesn’t read this column as he might not be a gentle bear the next time we cross paths.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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