Friday, 16 November 2018
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.


Have Croatian roots and looking to get Croatian citizenship? A new draft law could make it much easier to obtain Croatian citizenship. The Ministry of the Interior have put forward a draft law that would make serious amendments to the current law on acquiring citizenship.

On Wednesday, 24 October 2018, the Ministry of the Interior opened a consultation with the public about the Draft Law on Amendments to the Croatian Citizenship Act.

“Inclusion of Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia into the social and political life of the country is one of the strategic goals of the Government Program of the Republic of Croatia 2016-2020. The Government of the Republic of Croatia, with the support of the Council of the Croatian Government for Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia, is continuously working on the improvement of policies and programs for Croats living outside the borders of the Republic of Croatia,” commented the Ministry of the Interior on their website.

“With the proposal of the Act on Amendments to the Croatian Citizenship Act, we are seeking to help address demographic issues through making the process of obtaining citizenship for members of Croatian peoples abroad and Croatian emigrants easier,” added the Ministry.

Inside the draft law some of the main proposals are getting rid of the test of Croatian language and culture exam, increasing the age limit for registering a child from 18 to 21 and easing the generation limitations.

At the traditional annual tourism event - Days of Croatian Tourism, held on 24 and 25 October 2018 in Hvar, organized by the Croatian Tourist Board, Croatian Chamber of Economy and the Ministry of Tourism various awards in the tourism industry were presented. And the award for the best hotel in Croatia in 2018 went to the Hotel Esplanade.

esplanade interior zagreb 2018

In fact, this luxurious five-star hotel in Zagreb won two awards – the Best City Hotel and Hotel of the Year.

"The Esplanade is truly an exceptional hotel and today we are particularly happy and proud to be part of its lavish history. The Esplanade is an institution and icon of the Croatian hotel industry, gastronomy and design and has attracted guests with its famous charm and personality for almost 95 years,” commented the General Manager Ivica Krizmanić.

This year the Hotel Esplanade has received many prestigious awards and international awards and has been included in globally valued guides.

“Adopt a pet from animal shelters,” commented the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, today as she organised an open day in the President’s Office with the theme “Adopt and don’t buy.”

The President today received representatives of associations that care for dogs and cats and who operate animal shelters in Croatia.

She has recently adopted her own dog from an animal shelter, Kika, who she fell in love with during a visit to an animal shelter in Virovitica. During today’s event the President wore a T-Shirt showing her support for the action “Adopt and don’t buy.”

For the past few years, well more like 15 years, I have written a column entitled Englishman in Dubrovnik. This one however, could well bear the title of Englishman in England. Yes, I am back in the land of my forefathers. Back in the land that shaped me. Back in the land that educated me.

It’s a little bit of a flying visit, and “end of season” week in the rolling green hills of the English countryside. I feels a little like being in the middle of an episode of Midsummer Murder, in fact I believe they filmed the serial in very similar surroundings. Every village has its pub, its church, its Post Office and its pond. And every village looks like it has been cut from the pages of a nature calendar.

Of course the local pub is the hub. It’s a place to meet friends, exchange gossip, even exchange recipes…yes this is medieval Facebook. In fact, the pub in my mother’s village has recently been sold. And this highlights the prices of real estate in England, well away from London, and Dubrovnik. The building is a 17th century pub on two floors with around 450m² plus a large garden area, another building in the garden which serves as a café/club/cinema and parking. It has a large kitchen, bar area, small restaurant and lounge as well as two apartments upstairs for guests, plus an apartment for the owners to live in.

So the new owners basically bought a working business, or several businesses, a pub, a restaurant, a café and two apartments. And the final price was…£280,000 or about 315,000 Euros. Not bad! Just work out the price per metre squared and you’ll be in tears. OK, the same pub in London would be twice the price, but it still puts Dubrovnik’s prices in focus.

The weather has been unusually mild, dare I say actually hot, which has meant that the locals are out pruning their gardens and the farmers are busy collecting crops. Away from the hustle and bustle of London, or in fact any city with a population larger than Dubrovnik, I feel as close to Europe as Boris Johnson. I think it’s fair to say I’m in the very heart of Brexit country. And although I think anyone who voted for Brexit is a complete imbecile, I can kind of understand why they did it in this corner of the Queen’s land. You really get that island feeling. Far away from continental Europe. Brussels seems like light-years away and the policies from the EU just as distant.

So as I often do when I travel to a foreign land (ok, this one isn’t a foreign one) I have been comparing and contrasting the situation with that of Dubrovnik. Parking has been a delight. We have only paid once for parking and that was 5 Kunas for 2 hours, everywhere else it’s been free-of-charge. Entrance into attractions is pretty much on a par with Dubrovnik. The price of a cup of coffee is pretty much the same, although the measures are considerably larger, and I should have added that tea is really the beverage of choice.

Punctuality is a big thing. If you book a table in a restaurant for 12.30 then you had better turn up at 12.25. There is none of the Croatian time flexibility. Where timetables are merely guidelines and schedules are treated as loose proposals. People queuing for a bus, and yes they do queue, know that at 11.49 the bus will be there, not at 11.50 or 11.48. As both my wife and I have a much more liberal approach to timekeeping, mainly thanks to Dubrovnik living, getting back into the English groove has been interesting.

And then after buying our teas and coffees we have been waiting patiently for the bill. But when we were greeted with the option “would you like your bill or not” we were left scratching our heads.

By the time you read this I will be back in the Pearl of the Adriatic and showing off my bronzed English suntan. It’s been extremely satisfying to get back to my roots for a week, to catch up with my nearest and dearest and to enjoy some home comforts. It felt like rebooting myself in the English sunshine. For as Helen Keller once wrote ““Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”

Winter is coming! And no this isn’t a Game of Thrones article, winter really is coming and on Sunday the clocks go back an hour as summer time comes to an end this weekend.

During the last weekend of October winter time begins as people get an extra hour to sleep on Saturday night.

And the Dubrovnik – Neretva Police have announced that with the upcoming winter time drivers are obliged to follow the laws on winter driving. This means that on Sunday you’ll need to have your car lights on at all times and not only when it gets dark.

According to the law on winter driving vehicles must have their lights on at all times in order to make them more visible to other road users. In the event of non-compliance with the above legal provisions, the driver shall be punished with a fine of 300 Kuna.

And moped, scooter and motorcycle riders are obliged to have their lights on during the whole year.

Christmas in Dubrovnik, especially Christmas shopping, is normally a last minute custom, however it seems that Christmas has come early to the city.

With a full 60 days before Christmas Day a large department store in Dubrovnik has already launched its Christmas sales. With decorations, lights and gifts the store is the first in the city to jump on the Christmas bandwagon.

xmas shopping in dubrovnik 2018

Whilst many stores in Western Europe have already started to promote the festival season Dubrovnik has largely avoided this commercial face of Christmas. “Look what’s in the shops already!! It’s obviously NOT just the U.K. that has Xmas stuff in the shops far too early!” commented Kathy Steward along with these photos of the Christmas selection.

The flagship airline of Ireland, Aer Lingus, has announced that from next year they will fly directly from Cork to Dubrovnik through the summer months.

Starting on the 4th of May Aer Lingus will operate direct flights to Dubrovnik twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with A320 aircraft.

"We are delighted to see the airline continuing to grow and invest in Cork with Nice and Dubrovnik flights now bookable for 2019, along with the commencement this week of a new year-round Lisbon route," commented Cork Airport's Managing Director Niall MacCarthy.

And the Chief Strategy and Planning Officer at Aer Lingus added that “Aer Lingus is excited to announce two brand new routes to Dubrovnik and Nice for Cork in 2019, as well as additional seat capacity and the extension of the recently added Cork Lisbon route to all year round.”

The Croatian army is taking part in the largest NATO military exercise to be held since 2002. In total around 50,000 NATO troops from 29 member states are involved in the exercise in Norway entitled Trident Juncture 18.

The Croatian Ministry of Defence have announced that a small contingent of 25 Croatian soldiers are currently participating in the military exercise in Norway.

Trident Juncture 18 will last until the 7th of November and the Croatian army is providing communications support in the exercise.

Some 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 65 vessels will be used during the exercise, under the command of Admiral James G. Foggo III, United States Navy admiral currently serving as commander of US Naval Forces Europe.




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