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.
So that’s that. The airplanes have stopped flying and we are now a ghost town. Not that I’m complaining, far from it, it makes a nice change to finally get to see the stone façades without Chuck from Texas blocking it with his ice-cream.
If you want to visit Dubrovnik in the winter you really, really need to be prepared for some hard work.
“I can’t believe everyone is wearing jackets and jumpers,” smiled a man with a strong Cornish accent. I had bumped into him in Kupari. He was travelling with his campervan and was making the most of the November sunshine in his shorts and T-shirt. “Just been swimming, it’s lovely,” he smiled.
They build them strong in Cornwall. It is the rugged part of the UK that sticks out into the far South-West and is almost cut-off from the rest of the country. I know it quite well as my feet passed around the whole of the county’s coastline last year.
Could we see a new form of winter tourism in Dubrovnik - Photo - Mark Thomas
Swimming in 20 degrees in November in Dubrovnik probably felt like Hawaii for this friendly chap. “Is there anyone I can pay for camping here,” he asked.
So I want to rewind a little. Campervans in the south of Croatia get a bad name, mainly due to the fact that they seem to park everywhere and anywhere in the summer. This could easily be solved in a win/win/win situation. I saw the solution with my own eyes.
So on our recent road trip to Slovenia we were slightly worried that we wouldn’t find anywhere to stay overnight. That was until we stumbled over a website offering so called “autostops.”
The principle is that dotted around Slovenia there are camper stops that offer all a camper need. Basically they are smallish carparks only for campervans and have electricity hook-ups, water and waste disposal. I soon realised that these were being run by the local councils. You buy a ticket to park and enter your number plate. An overnight stay costs between 10 and 15 euro.
Like I said a winning solution in many ways.
Firstly, you help solve the problem of wild camping. Next the local authority is earning, and earning all year round. After the initial capital investment, the sites basically run themselves, there is no need to employ anyone and the actual costs are minimal.
Plus (and it is a big plus) it helps attract tourists out of the main summer season.
Camping in style - Photo - Mark Thomas
One camp we stayed at near Lake Bled had six other campers, and all had different countries number plates. So clearly there is a need.
Almost every day in Kupari I see a new campervan. And this man from Cornwall was clear evidence that campers are willing to pay. “I seem to see more campervan signs not allowed than open sites,” he said to me.
All it would take is 10 to 12 camper stops dotted over the county and we have a new form of tourism.
And these sites don’t need to be close to the Old City, quite the opposite, place them in a disused piece of land in a small village and overnight you have regenerated the tourism in that place. It isn’t really thinking outside of the box; it just seems like common sense.
Dubrovnik has just been awarded as the Champion of Croatian Tourism for 2023 so maybe now it is time to get more creative and extend our offer away from cruise ships and day-trippers. It is a solution that quite clearly already works, so there is no reason why it wouldn’t work in the south of Croatia. Again, minimum investment, maximum return.
“I’m off for another dip in the sea,” smiled the Cornish man. Adding that he was heading to a new destination. I have no doubt that he’ll be swimming there as well.
It would seem that we have a year-round tourism idea staring us right in the face. The airlines might stop when the north wind blows but the campers don’t.
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to
About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik
After completing the criminal investigation by the police officers of the Metković Police Station, a 52-year-old Croatian citizen is suspected of the criminal offense of fraud.
The criminal investigation revealed that the suspect, posing as a clairvoyant with natural spiritual abilities, took advantage of the emotionally fragile state of a 48-year-old and, over an extended period, fraudulently appropriated 132 thousand euros from him.
Namely, the suspect convinced the victim that he would pray for him and his family, which would ultimately improve his difficult life situation. However, in return, he requested money, starting with small amounts that gradually became larger over time.
Due to the suspicion of committing the criminal offense of fraud, the suspect has been criminally reported to the competent state prosecutor's office in Metković.
FOR THE SIXTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR: '24 Hours Without Compromise' for the Paediatric Department of Dubrovnik General Hospital.
The action kicks off on Saturday, November 25, at 6 am, and as in previous years, guests will not pay for food and drinks; instead, all the money will be donated to the paediatric department of Dubrovnik General Hospital.
Photo - Fabijan Drnas
After last year's funds were used to purchase vital signs monitors and pulse oximeters for the needs of Dubrovnik General Hospital, the good and noble staff and owners from the restaurant “Veranda konoba” will continue their commendable tradition of helping the youngest. For the sixth consecutive year, within their well-known tavern located in Orašac, they will cook for exactly 24 hours, offering various traditional delicacies (until supplies last). The action starts on Saturday, November 25, at 6 am, and as in previous years, guests will not pay for food and drinks; instead, all the money will be donated to the paediatric department of Dubrovnik General Hospital. Additionally, it's worth mentioning that food can be ordered and delivered, so if you are unable to come to the tavern that day, you can still do a good deed.
Photo - Fabijan Drnas
"The humanitarian action '24 Hours Without Compromise,' which we organize, has become bigger than all birthdays and other celebrations. Because even for birthdays, we don't receive as much love, hugs, and support as on that day. An entire year revolves in those 24 hours. It's a day we look forward to and eagerly await. We feel like little children the day before a field trip," said Maja Andrić, who, along with her husband Mirko, is once again preparing a new humanitarian action '24 Without Compromise' in their tavern.
Photo - Tonci Plazibat/CROPIX
While this action started in 2017, the humanitarian association Saudade was founded in 2020. It carries melancholy, nostalgia, longing, joy, and sadness within itself, as well as one name – Nina Marija Andrić, the beginning and end of Saudade. After only twenty days of life, Maja and Mirko's daughter was diagnosed with a spinal cord tumour, the first of its kind and stage in the Republic of Croatia. She left the world at just two months and one day. The tragic loss of their daughter prompted Maja and Mirko to find additional strength every year and help the youngest residents of Dubrovnik in need. Through their actions, CTG devices, vital signs monitors for premature babies, and a table for their resuscitation were purchased, but these brave restaurateurs have no intention of stopping there.
Photo - Fabijan Drnas
"We want to help others who currently need it much more. Without people, there is nothing. The least we can do is dedicate 24 hours of our energy. Surrounded by our friends and loved ones, it's a pleasure to prepare meals for a common goal," concluded Mirko Andrić.
By participating in the humanitarian action '24 Hours Without Compromise,' each of us can support the work of the Saudade Association and contribute to creating a better community with one goal – to provide assistance to the youngest. Those willing to support this commendable action can also contribute by making a donation to the Saudade humanitarian association's account HR8324020061100952123, as every bit of help is welcome!
Citizens aged 65 and older make up less than two percent of all employees in Croatia. However, their number has doubled in the past three years. Most of them work alongside their pensions, but an increasing number have no plans to retire even after meeting the eligibility criteria. The state rewards them with up to a 27 percent higher pension.
Croatia has a total of 30,199 workers over the age of 65, constituting 1.8 percent of the total workforce, which may seem insignificant, but it is double the figure from three years ago. The ratio of employed men to women over 65 is two to one, as reported by Mirovina.hr.
A considerable portion of them has not yet considered retirement. Among the 30,199 workers over 65 in Croatia, many are retirees working part-time or full-time, with their pension payments suspended. In September, there were 28,165 retirees working part-time. It is important to note that there are still many retirees working part-time who are younger than 65, meaning they are in early or family pensions or some special pensions allowing them to retire earlier.
The Croatian Institute for Pension Insurance statistics by age groups does not differentiate whether older citizens work full or part-time, or under fixed-term or indefinite contracts. However, some information is available about the industries where those over 65 work, regardless of whether they are retirees or still active in the workforce.
The largest number of workers over 65, over 4,500, are employed in professional, scientific, and technical activities. More than 4,300 work in trade, and the processing industry ranks third with 3,326 workers, followed by construction with 2,839 employees. The fifth position, shared by several industries, each with just over 2,000 employees, includes transportation, tourism, administrative and support services, and health and social care.
Those who continue working after meeting the eligibility criteria for retirement will be rewarded. For each month worked beyond the age of 65 (or earlier for women, as they can currently retire at 63 years and 3 months), the starting factor increases by 0.45 percent. Over a maximum of five years, this results in a 27 percent higher pension. To qualify for the bonus, the retiree must have at least 35 years of effective work experience.
The average monthly net salary per employee in legal entities in Croatia amounted to €1,156 for September, showing a nominal increase of 14.2% and a real increase of 7% on an annual basis, according to data released by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics (DZS) on Tuesday.
The highest average monthly net salary per employee in legal entities for September was paid in air transport, amounting to €1,857, while the lowest was in clothing production, at €754.
According to the DZS report, the median net salary for September was €998, indicating that half of the employees earned less, and half earned more than that amount.
This year, like the previous one, employees of the DM drugstore chain will receive Christmas bonuses in record amounts, as reported by Danica.hr.
Specifically, at the end of each year, their employees receive a bonus equal to the individual amount of the employee's monthly salary. The average net salary for saleswomen at DM this year is 1670 euros, 12 percent higher than last year, so their Christmas bonus will be exactly that amount.
At the beginning of this year, Podravka and Belupo increased salaries for their employees; however, despite this, their Christmas bonus will reportedly remain the same as last year: 1500 Kuna, or 200 euros.
Kaufland has announced that they have "ensured that all employees in non-managerial positions receive appropriate employer gifts in the form of gift vouchers worth 331.81 euros" during the pre-holiday period.
Lidl employees will also receive the same annual bonus amount as last year when they received 2500 Kuna, or 331.81 euros.
As for state-owned companies, the HEP Group tops the list, also providing Christmas bonuses of 2500 Kuna to its employees, the same amount received by employees of Hrvatske šume (Croatian Forests).
The Bonsai Association, in collaboration with the UR Institute, invites you to a themed evening celebrating the American Thanksgiving Day on November 23 at 6 p.m. at the Youth Center Dubrovnik.
"As an increasing number of our fellow citizens and students hold U.S. citizenship, we wanted to share a touch of culture and learn more about the origin and significance of this holiday. We are preparing a traditional dinner, short lectures, entertaining games, a quiz, and suitable music, along with a few surprises. The celebration, like everything else, is free, but the number of seats is limited, so we encourage fellow citizens to sign up at the link," say the organizers.
The activity is part of the Youth Center Dubrovnik project co-financed by the City of Dubrovnik and led by the UR Institute Association in partnership with other organizations.
Dubrovnik has just finished a successful tourist season, with early figures suggesting that the number of tourists who visited the Pearl of the Adriatic was up almost 10 percent on last year, and the build-up to next year has already begun. One of the most popular travel websites travelandleisure.com has published an article entitled “The Most Beautiful Cities To Visit In Europe,” and Dubrovnik features.
“Wander through Bruges’ fairy-tale lanes, feel the pulse of Prague’s historic charm, or lose yourself in Dubrovnik’s cinematic beauty,” opens the lengthy article and continues “Whether you crave the romance of Prague’s cobblestone streets or the seaside allure of Dubrovnik, there’s an idyllic European city for every traveller.”
Travel and Leisure magazine is one of the most respected travel publications in the world and the print copy of the magazine was initially published in 1937.
“A weekend suffices for the main sites, but extending your stay allows island hopping to Elafiti and exploring Lokrum, a serene islet. Avoiding cruise ship crowds, revel in panoramic Adriatic views, visit historical landmarks like St. Blaise Church, and Rector’s Palace, and walk the sublime city walls. Dubrovnik’s enchanting allure makes it one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe,” writes the article, which also includes Bruges, Prague and Florence, about Dubrovnik.