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.
USA Today have published their list of the “World's most thrilling cliff diving spots” and, unfortunately, Dubrovnik is included on the list. Why unfortunately? A few years ago a popular Australian blogger wrote an article about cliff diving in Dubrovnik from the Buza Bar outside of the Old City walls. This article went viral and before long hundreds of Australians were leaping, like lemmings, from the rocks. Although the jump, or dive, is into deep water there are a few hidden rocks just under the surface. Over the past five years Dubrovnik’s emergency services have been called to the Buza Bar rocks at least three times a year, either for fatalities or severe injuries.
“I just can’t watch them jump anymore, I tried to warn them but they wouldn’t listen,” explained a local resident. “I just remember the sound as one poor girl hit the rocks, it was awful,” he added. The Australians were first, but soon the British followed and the Americans, the jump from the rocks of Buza Bar was a must do, and the injuries piled up. The locals tried to raise a barrier to stop the jumpers, it was ignored.
An article from the Croatian daily newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija, after another tourist was badly injured in 2012, read “Unlike similar accidents that have occurred in recent years, this time it was a Britain who was injured while jumping into the sea. Most of the people injured on these jumps are from Australia, for whom the Buza has become “cult place” to prove your courage.” Just after his article was published another young Britain jumped from the rocks and nearly died, she spent months in hospital having facial reconstruction.
And now the globally popular USA Today encourages more people to travel to Dubrovnik and jump of the Buza Bar rocks. Thankfully they do start the article with a word of warning, “just look at the activity's nickname, "tombstoning," to get some idea of its deadly reputation. This sport, in the wrong hands, is no laughing matter.” But then they also go onto to sing the praises of the Buza Bar jump, “either follow the handrails and walk down the steps, or follow the locals to a rock called lav ("lion") and dive right in!”
Our advice is to ignore USA Today! This is an extremely dangerous jump that has statistically over the years caused the most injuries in Dubrovnik. This is neither a cult place nor a proof of courage, don’t be another lemming.
Don't bring your summer holiday to an abrupt end - a scene from 2012 after another Buza accident
Croatian fresh bread is coming to Australia and Saudi Arabia. The oldest bakery in Croatia, Mlinar, has announced that they are to open stores in Australia and Saudi Arabia this May. Mlinar have said to the Croatian media that they plan to open franchise stores of their bakeries in Sydney and in Riyadh; they added that the stores will be run under a franchise agreement in which the interiors will mirror their Croatian bakeries.
This isn’t Mlinar’s first move into the international market, they already operate bakeries in Slovenia, Germany and in 2013 the first Mlinar shop was opened in the centre of Budapest, Hungary.
In fact the popular Croatian bakery has been operating in Australia since the beginning of 2015 when they started importing their bakery produce into the country. According to Mlinar the company sold over 250,000 bureks (a form of pie) in Australia in 2015 with outlets in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Wollongong, Newcastle and Geelong all reselling their products. As Australia has one of the largest Croatian expat communities in the world the step to open a Mlinar store seems a logical one. Mlinar owns and operates over 190 bakeries worldwide.
Wojtek and Agnieszka are simply mad about Croatia. This young couple from Lublin in Poland have travelled to Croatia five times and every time they come they collect information and photos. After writing down their journeys, documenting their discoveries throughout the country, they decided to turn these musings into a blog. To say it went viral would be an understatement; crolove.pl is the most popular travel blog on Croatia in Poland. Through the summer more than 100,000 people visit their blog to read about the couples Croatian adventure. The Dubrovnik Times caught up with the bloggers to find out why Croatia is so close to their hearts.
Your blog is the most Polish travel blog about Croatia, when did you first fall in love with Croatia? And how many people visit your blog?
It all started with Wojtek’s sister who instilled in us a love for Croatia. She visited this country soon after the breakup of Yugoslavia. We were fascinated with her stories of crickets and their constant roaring, the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, amazing views from Biokovo, and we decided to experience it ourselves. It really paid off. We will never change Croatia for any other country, despite the fact that when we came there for the first time, Croatia welcomed us with rain. Our fascination has lasted to this day and it will last forever. We went on our first tour in June 2012. We had no particular plans, even when it came to the destination. The only thing we knew was that it had to be Dalmatia. When we see every corner of Dalmatia, which will take some time, then we will go towards Istria and Slavonia.
Indeed, our blog is the most popular Polish travel blog fully devoted to Croatia. Last year our website was visited more than half a million times. In the peak of summer season our site was visited by over 100,000 unique users monthly. Every year these numbers are doubling. At the end of 2016 we want to reach 1 million visits. Unfortunately, our blog is only in Polish. Naturally, we would have more readers if we wrote also in English.
How often do you travel to Croatia and how many times have you been in Croatia?
We have been to Croatia only 5 times. Last year we managed to go there in May and again in July. We try to make the most of every hour spent in this beautiful country and to get to know it as much as we can. We take lots of photos and gather valuable information from inhabitants of a given area, so that we can use it for our blog. Unfortunately, our jobs do not allow us to visit Croatia very often. We do not worry about it, though. Instead, we dream about having a small house near Dubrovnik in the future.
Why did you two decide to write your blog about Croatia?
At the beginning the blog served as our notebook. Instead of writing everything down on paper, we decided to create an online notebook. In 2012 we started to write a professional blog thanks to encouragement from our friends who found our tips very useful. Writing this blog makes us feel fulfilled. We do something not only for ourselves, but also for others. Currently, our website is a big online Croatian guidebook, which has already helped many people, for instance, in deciding to visit the country. Thanks to the blog we also had a chance to meet many interesting people from Poland and Croatia. However, the most important thing is that this blog makes us love Croatia all year round, not only during our visits.
What are some of your favourite places in the country?
It is definitely Dalmatia! We have a special liking for Dubrovnik and the surrounding area. We fell in love with this place from the first visit. I have to mention that I proposed to Agnieszka at the Jesuits’ Staircase in the heart of Dubrovnik. We love the Mediterranean climate, palms and cypresses. In Dubrovnik we also met two wonderful Poles living near the city – Daria and Paulina. Paulina is a certified tour guide in Dubrovnik. They both are managing the company "I Do in Du" specialising in wedding organization in Dubrovnik and Montenegro. We are even more eager to visit this place because of our friends, Daria and Paulina. Apart from Dubrovnik we also like visiting Zadar, Trogir, Omiš, Cavtat and their surroundings. There are also our small magical places which we must visit every year. This is Srđ Mountain, where you can admire the wonderful view of Dubrovnik.
How often have you been to Dubrovnik and what would be your recommendations to our readers?
We visit Dubrovnik each time we come to Croatia. We cannot leave without seeing such a magical place.
Everyone who visits Dubrovnik should:
- see the panorama of Dubrovnik from the Srđ mountain during the day and at night
- visit numerous interesting museums in the old town
- find a medieval graffiti on one of the walls in the old town
- walk along the Walls of Dubrovnik
- see Sveti Jakov beach
- sail to Lokrum island
- come at dawn to the old town when there are no tourists yet, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the magic of this place
Polish people definitely should see the places connected with our country:
- the former monastery of St Jacob which became the home of Ludomir Michał Rogowski, the well-known Polish composer and writer, who was appreciated also in Dubrovnik. He was buried at the local cemetery.
- the statue of Ivan Gundulić, the author of "Osman". There are reliefs on the base of the statue which show scenes from the epos. One of them presents Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz who is coming back after a successful Battle of Chocim. On the other side of the statue another relief presents St Blaise blessing Polish armies which are preparing for the battle with Ottomans.
What are your Croatian travel tips, what do visitors need to see and what needs to be avoided?
There are lots of beautiful places in Croatia. It is difficult to list them all. In Dalmatia you definitely have to do the following things: see the sunset in Zadar, visit the Cathedral of St James in Šibenik, walk through Trogir at night, visit the ruins of Salona, do the Zip line and rafting in Omiš, drive up to Sveti Jure, see Pasjača beach in Popovići, go for the whole-day fish picnic, try fresh seafood in Ston, drink wine in a winery on the Pelješac Peninsula and eat Burek.
I will not list any places that we do not recommend because others can have a different opinion. We also apply this principle to our blog. We do not want to harm someone's business.
How popular is Croatia as a tourist destination in Poland?
Croatia is very popular among Poles as a tourist destination. Our two nations are on good terms and Croats are very accommodating to Polish tourists. I guess it is the Slavic blood! The data presented by the Croatian Tourist Community show that in the first eight months of 2015 Croatia was visited by over 575,000 Poles. Poland is the seventh largest incoming tourism market for Croatia. A car is the most popular means of transport. Poles love Croatia but we would love it even more if flight connections were improved. Unfortunately, there are not as many fast and cheap flights from Poland to Croatia as in the case of Great Britain or Germany.
How would you describe Croatia in three words?
Friendly, Tasty, Sunny
The UK airline Jet2 has launched cruise packages to Dubrovnik and Split for this summer season. The seven day cruise features seven different destinations and is sure to prove popular with tourists looking to island-hop along the Croatian coastline.
Passengers will be able to experience the islands of Brac, Korcula, Hvar and Mljet, plus the Makarska Riviera and Omis.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “It’s the first time we have offered cruises and we are really excited about the packages available. They are tailored to provide the very best value and are a fantastic way of exploring the Croatian coastline and islands. I’m sure they will prove very popular.”
The seven day cruise set sail from either Split or Dubrovnik, depending if you want to travel north or south, and will give a great opportunity to see the stunning coastline and islands. With only 18 cabins onboard guests are sure to have a relaxing and tailor-made experience.
“We are always looking for innovative new ways to give our customers the best choice of holiday experiences. This latest product is one of several new developments planned for 2016. It’s going to be a very exciting year for our customers,” added Heapy.
Dubrovnik in numbers - part one
14 – centuries since the founding of the city
45 – length of Dubrovnik Summer Festival in days
1979 – Dubrovnik was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
1234 – the highest mountain in the region, Snijeznica in Konavle
2629 – hours of annual sunshine (they aren’t all in the summer!)
20 – kilometres from the airport to the city
1317 – the year the first pharmacy opened (the third oldest pharmacy in Europe)
72 – the size of the Lokrum island in hectares
4 – the number of entrances into the Old City
1418 – the year that the Republic of Dubrovnik abolished slavery
29 – degrees Celsius – average summer temperature
1,940 – length of city walls in metres
Expect to see a few hundred Mercedes driving around the streets of Dubrovnik; the Mercedes Global Training Event is getting underway. The first charter planes full of participants to the Mercedes training program landed at Dubrovnik Airport today.
Sales staff and sales coordinators of this luxury German brand will arrive in Dubrovnik from all over the world. In total around 15,000 employees of Mercedes are expected to visit the city until April. The first two planes, one from TUI Airlines and the other from Transavia, landed this morning at around 11 o’clock. According to reports on the website avioradar.hr the two planes brought 322 passengers.
The participants to the Mercedes event will be based at two Dubrovnik hotel chains, the Valamar Group on Babin Kuk and the Radisson Hotel in Orasac.
According to the latest information from Eurostat a quarter of all internet users in the European Union had security issues such as viruses or data loss last year. And the country inside the EU with the most number of problems was Croatia!
The list of countries where security problems are the most common is headed by Croatia and followed by Hungary, Portugal, Malta and France. And the least number of virus attacks were in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Ireland.
The main problem for internet users was the so-called Trojan, which enters into computers and invites other viruses to attack. In comparison to 2010 the number of virus attacks inside the EU fell, expect for Croatia. The greatest progress was made in Slovakia where the percent of users with problems fell from 47 percent to only 9 percent.
However when it comes to using the internet to purchase goods or services Croatians are not shy, only 14 percent of Croatians polled said that they wouldn’t use the internet for shopping purposes. Whilst in other EU countries that figure was much higher, Romania 37 percent and Sweden 34 percent. And when it comes to internet banking Croatians also feel safe, only 6 percent of people said that they wouldn’t use the internet to check their bank accounts.
Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut who lived on the International Space Station (ISS) and who is famous for publishing photographs taken by the space, has today published on his Twitter account a set of photos entitled - Croatian islands.
Obviously the view of Croatia from space impressed the German astronaut. While the International Space Station, where he stayed from May to November 2014, circled around the Earth Gerst busily snapped the view.
Today he published two photos showing the Croatian coastline, and the island of Brac near Split can be clearly seen.