Saturday, 23 March 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.


The Croatian Parliament has almost unanimously ratified North Macedonia's accession into NATO with a massive 116 voting for and only 2 against. North Macedonia is on the verge of becoming the latest member of NATO, and the fourth member from the former Yugoslav states, after Slovenia and Croatia.

Croatia became a full member of NATO back in 2009 and Slovenia in 2004, and Montenegro joined in 2017.

The Parliament Speaker, Gordan Jandrokovic, congratulated North Macedonia on the achievement and added that Croatia will “continue supporting Macedonia on its journey towards the European Union".

The English have a saying that pretty much sums up my last week, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Yes, I am that old dog. I am finding that I am increasingly stuck in my ways. It isn’t that I don’t like learning, I always try to learn something new every day, it’s that I am developing a filter around my brain.

When I was young, or should I say younger, my brain was a sponge for all sorts of information that I needed and quite frankly didn’t need. Anything new and I wanted to know about it. Looking back pretty much 90 percent of that information could have quite easily been sent directly to the “delete” box. But I guess that’s the natural path of growing up and getting older.

When you are young you have a thirst for everything and a fire burning to explore, and as you get older you have experience to know what is the correct path and what is a dead-end.

I am finding it less and less easy to adapt to new ideas and new technology. Everything is just coming so relentlessly fast. When I was younger we would have maybe one new big piece of technology released a year. No internet, no mobile phones, no apps, no social media…no the one piece of new technology was normally a box-like computer game, like SEGA or Atria. The build up to this new device was the foreplay, and it would last for weeks. We would read reviews in magazines (yes, on paper) and listen to news on the radio. Then the arrival of the gaming machine was ecstasy. Today the process is not happening on an annual or biannual basis, but almost on a daily basis. There is just too much information, an information overload.

So when forced with the notion of having to buy a new mobile phone I did what almost everyone my age does, I first checked the price. The very kind lady in the shop enthusiastically tried to explain all the features at length, but really the only thing I was looking at was the price. “It has four cameras, fingerprint recognition….,” she was really trying her best. Of course my first thought was “Why do I need four cameras, unless maybe I take a photo of every wheel of a car in one shot.”

So after more than ten years of having an iPhone I moved into Android territory. The first few days were a disaster. After unpacking the new phone and pretending to read the instructions the very first thing, I mean the very first thing I did was enlarge the font size from normal to large. “Ah that’s better now I can see,” I said to myself.

Moving the numbers from one phone to another was a nightmare, I almost got a pen and paper out, but then saw I had over 500 numbers. I want to publically apologise to all the people I phoned, messaged and contact by mistake whilst I was learning the ropes of my new device. I was like Bambi on ice. Likely to fall at any moment. And then came the new apps. Again showing my age the first apps I downloaded were BBC News, CNN and BBC Sport. No Snapchat for me.

It reminded me of a book I was flicking through recently entitled “Are you turning into your Dad?” It is supposed to be funny but it’s a reality check for me now. Anyway one of the sections is a quiz to find out of you are, well, turning into your dad. The first three questions were - The Simpsons or the News? – A week in Ibiza or a walking holiday in the countryside? – A wildly coloured cocktail or a cup of tea? Yes, you’ve guessed it if your answers were, and mine were, B then you are turning into your dad, and it looks like I am, which I guess is a natural process. The filter is in place and catching all the BS.

I guess that’s what the wisdom of age gives you the most, the experience to know what is important in life and what is simply fluff. To rank information in order of importance – from the “least important” (or forget instantly) to “please right this down” as its super important (or tattoo it on your arse). It would seem that 90 percent of the things on my new mobile fell into the “forget instantly” category. “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional,” wisely said the Jamaican Chili Davis.

A Croatian hotel has found itself on the list of the best European family hotels for 2019. The Hotel Amarin has been placed by the biggest travel website in the world, TripAdvisor, in 15th position on the list of the “Top 25 Hotels for Families — Europe.”

“Located on a peninsula adjacent to Rovinj, amidst magical Mediterranean gardens, Family Hotel Amarin features 280 rooms. Various facilities, sports grounds, an attractive pool complex, wellness and spa, restaurants, snack bars, playrooms, and carefully designed Amarin Kids Club programmes make this hotel the best choice for families with children,” states the company’s website.


The first place on the TripAdvisor list goes to the Maxx Royal Kemer Resort in Turkey, followed by the Cavallino Bianco Family Spa in Italy, and third is the Turkish Otium Hotel Life.


“The Family Hotel Amarin is situated on a green peninsula, only a few minutes' drive from the centre of Rovinj. With its pebbly and rocky beach, Amarin is an ideal place for a carefree family vacation,” states TripAdvisor on the popular Croatian hotel.

2018 was a year to remember for the largest marina company in Croatia with recording breaking financial results. According to a statement from ACI, or Adriatic Croatia International, the huge financial gains last year were due to “a series of sales and investment activities meaning there was a significant increase in both total revenue and business revenue.”

Incredibly the company’s profits rose by a massive 54 percent in 2018 to a healthy 38.4 million Kuna. Total revenue increased by 7 percent when compared with 2017 and amounted to 216 million Kuna, whilst operating income increased by 11 percent to 210 million Kuna.

Almost of all the 22 marinas that ACI operates up and down the Croatian Adriatic coastline saw an increase in profits and an increase in interest from foreign sailors. The largest financial increase according to ACI were seen in Dubrovnik, Veljko Barbieri (Slano), Split and Korcula.

And ACI is looking to continue the rising interest for sailing in the Adriatic Sea and is set to invest in various projects this year. “In order to improve the quality of services, a number of smaller and larger investment investments will be carried out,” commented the company.

One half of the most musical duo in Croatia has been showing off his latest investment on social media. Stjepan Hauser, from the famous cello duo, took to Instagram to highlight his new luxury villa in his native Istria.

Hauser is clearly a fan of modern architecture as his new purpose-built home is far from being a traditional Istrian home.

With a swimming pool and beach volleyball court the three-storey villa is a well within walking distance on the Adriatic Sea. The 2Cellos are currently on a break from their US tour. 

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The access roads leading to the new Peljesac Bridge will be constructed by the Greek company J&P-Avax. The public company Croatia Roads announced today it had selected the Greek construction company to complete the roads in a deal worth around 470 million Kuna.

In total seven bids were received for the infrastructure project, which was then shortlisted to four. The access roads to connect the Peljesac Bridge to the existing road structure mean constructing around 13 kilometres of new roads. The terrain, across the Peljesac Peninsular, is particularly challenging and involves several tunnels and embankments, which is one of the reasons that the roads will cost just under 5 million Euro per kilometre.

According to Croatian Roads the new access roads will be completed by January 2022, at the same time as the new bridge is expected to be finished

The red palm weevil, an insect from Indonesia, unfortunately changed the coastline in Mlini last year when they ate and destroyed the palms that once lined the seafront promenade. These very palms had been iconic for this small village on the sea and almost overnight they were destroyed.

However, in place of the once iconic pal trees new ones have now been planted yesterday and brought a fresh look back to Mlini. The planting of the new trees was made possible with funds from the Župa Tourist Board and the installation of the new palms has begun. In fact, the palms are just one piece in the jigsaw as new public lighting will also be installed.

"The works include removing the old palms, extracting the roots and excavating new holes in order to accommodate a new palm-type that is not susceptible to the red palm weevil,” commented the head of the Župa Borough Council, Silvio Nardelli. The cost of the works is 300,000 Kuna.

The international Pink Shirt Day was marked in Dubrovnik today with studentsd and teachers of the Tourist and Catering Scholl in Dubrovnik wearing special T-Shirts.

The 27th of February is recognised as “Anti-Bullying Day” when people wear mainly a pink shirt to symbolise a stand against bullying, an idea that originated in Canada.

Pink T-Shirts with the message “Violence stops here” were worn today by many Croatians and even the President of the Republic of Croatia, but only this Dubrovnik school did they have such a glorious backdrop to the photo.


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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