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.
We are trying to keep your spirits up with some beautiful Dubrovnik photos from Instagram this week, even though it would sem that the worst of Covid-19 is behind Croatia many of our friends around the world are still struggling.
Check out our top five spirit lifting Dubrovnik Instagram photos from last week and keep sending us your own photos and videos of the region.
The celebrated Croatian cellist Ana Rucner has announced that her annual summer music festival, “Ana in the City”, will go ahead this year in spite of the Covid-19 situation.
“I will hold the concert again this year on June 21 in the amphitheatre on Srđ overlooking Dubrovnik, only with a smaller audience and in conditions that will be possible given the situation. Until recently, I did not know if this would be possible at all, but as I already mentioned, there is no stopping and in these moments you need to plan and work from home as if everything is normal. One should believe that there will be a possibility,” commented Rucner.
She added that “This is the tenth year of my festival and I want to mark it in a special way, so with an intimate live concert that day at dawn and a television recording, which will be broadcast on the same day, a short documentary about all ten years of my festival will be released.”
In April, retail consumption in Croatia sank by a record 25.5 percent compared to the same month last year, and industrial production also recorded a large decline, which will herald a sharp decline in the Croatian economy in the second quarter.
The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) released a report on retail trade turnover on Friday, and according to calendar-adjusted data, consumption fell 19.8 percent in April compared to the previous month, while it sank 25 percent compared to April last year.
This is the second month in a row that consumption has fallen under the influence of the Covid-19 crisis, as it was 7 percent lower in March than in the same month last year.
The CBS also announced on Friday that industrial production fell 11 percent in April compared to the same month last year, its biggest drop since June 2009, when it sank 13.3 percent.
The sharp drop in consumption and production is the result of measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19, which came into force in the second half of March.
This slowed down economic growth in the first quarter, so gross domestic product (GDP) grew by only 0.4 percent on an annual basis, the slowest since the end of 2014, CBS data released on Friday morning showed.
In the second quarter, a sharp decline in the economy is expected, followed by a recession, that is a decline in the economy for two consecutive quarters.
New challenges in tourism, and especially in hospitality, are ahead of us this summer season in Dubrovnik and one restaurant has got extremely creative to handle these unparalleled times. It feels about as far away from the Covid-19 pandemic as you can get, although it is within touching distance of Dubrovnik. Surrounded by the scent of centuries-old pine trees and with the sea glinting on every horizon the Villa Rose restaurant on Koločep is an island escape, a corona-free island.
These days the iconic Villa Rose is reopening its doors to the public and they have certainly gone that extra mile to make sure their guests are safe. Social distancing on Koločep these days isn’t really that difficult. Robin Crusoe would probably feel at home on the island to be honest. And on a spit of land jutting out onto the sea lies the already isolated Villa Rose.
Danijela Vitez, the executive chef at Villa Rose, actually moved from her home and birthplace of Zagreb four years ago and has now made Koločep her home along with her young family. “We expect another successful season, of course we are well aware of the global situation with Covid-19, but I believe that we will win and come out of this whole experience stronger,” said Vitez. She added that for this season the restaurant has created special menus that are designed to attract more local guests and that the prices of these menus will reflect the overall financial situation. “We have also tried to rediscover some menus and dishes that people might have forgotten over the years and the reaction has been positive.”
And adapting to the challenges is certainly something that the Villa Rose has done, by making the most of modern technology. “To reduce the amount of social contact and to maintain social distancing with have introduced a system whereby guests can order directly from their tables via WhatsApp, Viber, email and just by calling us,” explained Ivo Sabljić, the General Director of TUI BLUE Kalamota Island Resort, of which Villa Rose is part of. “Guests can order directly via a mobile that we will place of every table, and of course we have a large outside space that can easily accommodate up to 150 guests so social distancing won’t be a problem. Just last year we held over fifty wedding ceremonies here, proving we have enough space and that Villa Rose is one of the most romantic locations in the wider area,” added Sabljić.
The "new normal" at Villa Rose restaurant is both creative, safe and romantic, an ideal combination.
One new case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in the Republic of Croatia in the past 24 hours bring the total number of Covid-19 in the country since the pandemic began to 2,246.
The National Staff has issued a new statement on coronavirus in Croatia today saying that “In the last 24 hours, one new case has been confirmed. Out of a total of 2,246 people who have contracted the virus since the pandemic began 2,063 people have made a full recovery. One hundred and three people have died. And a further 80 people are being treated.”
A total of 66,144 people have been tested so far, and 635 were tested in the last 24 hours.
For the 23rd day in a row there are no new cases of Covid-19 in the entire Dubrovnik – Neretva County.
Of the samples taken yesterday, 11 are negative, and results from the rest are still yet to arrive.
The Dubrovnik – Neretva County has now gone over three weeks without registering a new cases of Covid-19, and indeed the situation across the whole of Croatia has stabled with hardly any new cases being detected.
In the Dubrovnik General Hospital, the number of hospitalized patients positive for Covid-19 has not changed and still 2 patients are in the Infectious Diseases Department.
A total of 5 people are still in self-isolation, and no violation of the self-isolation measure has been established in the last 24 hours.
Roman Holiday, Sleepless in Seattle and Gangs of New York, we could quite easily add Déjà vu in Dubrovnik to this list of films. I hadn’t been to the Old City since the first case of Covid-19 reared its head in Konavle. My wife and I had been disciplined, only obtaining an e-pass to give blood. So after almost three months, well probably more, last weekend my feet once again felt ancient stone under them.
As I entered through the gates of Buža the echo of my footsteps increased. I was drawn towards Zlatarska ulica, and I was alone. I had felt this feeling before. If memory lane was a reality, then I was walking right down the middle of it. It dawned on me. This was the feeling I had had when I first arrived in Dubrovnik in 1998. The historic core was peaceful and somehow serene.
“That’s how we fell in love with it, without the crowds,” smiled an American friend that I bumped into. He has lived in the city for just about as long as I have and the broad smile across his face as he strolled down the Stradun answered every question. It was almost like a spiritual experience. I started to think about the centuries past, when the Republic was tourist-free, and was immediately envious. It took an unprecedented global pandemic to return the soul of Dubrovnik.
And as I bumped into a slightly elderly local he reminded me of this, “Englez…this city is now fantastic for the soul, but not so good for the pocket, the money will return but this moment probably won’t so make the most of it,” he said in a low whisper. You really see just how few people now call the Old City home when you strip all the tourists out and pour on sunshine.
Basically three café bars were working and the rest either had closed signs, or probably wished they had closed their doors. I carried on walking, the ferry for Lokrum seemed to be a hit, the back streets and squares were empty, the only thing green about the green market was the grass growing between the stone paving slabs. I actually felt privileged. I receive hundreds, literally hundreds, of emails and questions every week from tourists asking when they can come back on holiday. They are desperate for a dose of Dubrovnik. And there I was walking the streets with blazing sunshine with only the pigeons for company. “Every day feels like Sunday, the traffic feels like a Sunday, the shops feel like a Sunday and the bars have that Sunday feel,” commented an Australian friend who lives in the city. He had hit the nail right on the head.
To be honest this spiritual, soulful, Sunday experience was exactly what the city needed. For far too long it has been exploited with mismanaged tourism. Well, Dubrovnik never really had a tourism plan, the one they did make they pretty much ignored. In the world of tourism Dubrovnik has always played a passive role. “Tourism just happened to Dubrovnik, there was no short-term or long-term plan, is was as if the city was a small twig caught on a raging river,” explained one tourism expert to me. It is true. There are a handful of creative minds and future-thinking entrepreneurs but their voices often get drowned out by the mass of mediocrity. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be smarter after this Covid-19 pandemic.
We know have clear and precise evidence that if you leave the professionals, in this case, the doctors and medical experts, to do their job unhindered by politics then the results are almost guaranteed to be positive. Of course as soon as the pandemic died away the stench of politics rose into the air and the whole country (well apart from the ones who are sucking on the teat of a political party) groaned “here we go again, same shit different day.” Seeing the stone streets of Dubrovnik and soaking up the atmosphere, I couldn’t help but think that after this pandemic we deserve more, the Old City deserves better, the citizens deserve better.
The 15th of June, which was described as tourism D-Day by the Italian Minister of Tourism, is the date that the European Union reopens internal borders and the travel industry is planning to restart.
After almost ninety days Austrian Airlines will restart flight operations and flights to Dubrovnik and in the pipeline. June will be a busy month for the airline, with flights to most of the region to resume and flights to Dubrovnik planned between the 15th and 21st of June, reports Ex-Yu Aviation.
The Austrian airline has announced that they will fly to 37 different European destinations, including Dubrovnik, but Zagreb is still not in the plans.
Safety measures will be in place and the airline stated that passengers are required to wear a facemask whilst on board all planes.