Wednesday, 17 April 2024
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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

As the summer sun begins to beckon, travelers seek their next idyllic holiday destination. While Europe's renowned islands lure tourists by the masses, there remains a handful of hidden gems waiting to be explored. Nestled within the remote Mediterranean, Lastovo emerges as a sun-soaked time warp, offering an authentic escape from the bustling tourist trails.

Recognizing its intrinsic beauty and cultural significance, global travel site Big 7 Travel has crowned Lastovo as the 3rd Most Underrated Island in Europe for 2024. In a list curated to celebrate islands off the beaten path, Lastovo shines as a beacon of authenticity and tranquility amidst Europe's bustling tourist hubs.

Dubrovnik Bus Station Reports 8 Increase in Traffic for Q1 2024 1

Photo - Canva

Ranked according to criteria such as tourist footfall, local charm, natural beauty, and cultural significance, Lastovo emerged as a top contender for its untouched allure and genuine hospitality. Visitors to Lastovo are greeted with a warm embrace from the local community, fostering a sense of belonging and connection rarely found in more commercialized destinations.

Tucked away from the spotlight, Lastovo boasts a pristine natural landscape, with over 70% of the island cloaked in lush forests. Its coastline is a tapestry of crystal-clear waters, inviting visitors to lounge on soft-sand beaches or snorkel above vibrant coral reefs in secluded coves. The island's isolation nurtures unique flora and fauna, adding to its allure as a haven for nature enthusiasts.

Yet, Lastovo's charm lies not only in its natural splendor but also in its rich cultural heritage. Ancient stone villages dot the landscape, offering a glimpse into Croatia's storied past. Here, time seems to stand still as locals embrace traditional attire, music, dialects, and customs, preserving a way of life that resonates with centuries gone by.

As travelers seek authentic experiences and unspoiled landscapes, Lastovo stands as a testament to the enduring allure of undiscovered treasures. With its timeless beauty and captivating charm, Lastovo invites adventurers to embark on a journey of exploration, where the essence of Croatia's past meets the serenity of its present.

 

Positive economic indicators at the Dubrovnik Bus Station continued into 2024, as reported by the Public Company Libertas.

In the first quarter of 2024, the Dubrovnik Bus Station recorded 7822 arrivals and 8699 departures of buses. Compared to the first three months of 2023, this represents an increase of 8%.

Dubrovnik saw an influx of visitors during the Easter holidays, with over 6,000 tourists choosing the historic city as their holiday destination.

According to data from the eVisitor tourist registration and deregistration system, Dubrovnik welcomed a total of 73,866 arrivals and recorded 161,639 overnight stays in the first three months of 2024. This marks a 1% increase in arrivals and a notable 7% increase in overnight stays compared to the same period in the previous year.

Foreign tourists accounted for a significant portion of these numbers, with 55,832 arrivals and 120,919 overnight stays, while domestic tourists contributed 18,034 arrivals and 40,720 overnight stays during the first quarter. Visitors predominantly hailed from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Accommodation-wise, hotels proved to be the preferred choice for many visitors, recording 62,317 arrivals and 119,845 overnight stays. Private accommodations also saw activity, with 7,473 arrivals and 24,672 overnight stays.

In March alone, Dubrovnik saw 43,699 arrivals and 89,322 overnight stays. Despite a 6% decrease in arrivals compared to the previous year, the city experienced a 3% increase in overnight stays, reflecting the enduring appeal of Dubrovnik as a tourist destination.

Domestic tourists contributed 7,290 arrivals and 15,979 overnight stays in March, while foreign visitors accounted for 36,409 arrivals and 73,343 overnight stays. Once again, hotels were the preferred choice, registering 36,758 arrivals and 67,709 overnight stays, while private accommodations recorded 4,571 arrivals and 13,296 overnight stays.

Easter weekend, in particular, saw a surge in tourist numbers, with 6,314 visitors flocking to Dubrovnik on March 31st. The majority of these tourists hailed from the United Kingdom, Croatia, Germany, the United States, France, Spain, Albania, Ireland, Kosovo, and Slovakia.

"Spring Gourmet Week" - a gastronomic event organized in collaboration with the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and local restaurateurs, reserved for enjoying rich, imaginative, and delicious specialties prepared in Dubrovnik restaurants, is currently taking place and will last continue until the 7th of April.

Some of the various specialties inspired by fresh spring ingredients include asparagus with quail eggs, Dubrovnik-style stew, capon soup, asparagus risotto, and many other dishes designed and created for this year's gourmet experience.

Nineteen catering establishments participate in this gastronomic event, and you can see the complete offer of Dubrovnik restaurants here.

In 2023, the average hourly labor costs in the European Union were €31.8, while in the eurozone, they were estimated at €35.6. For comparison, in 2022, they were €30.5 and €34.3, respectively. This represents a growth of 5.3% compared to the previous year. The latest Eurostat data shows that there are still significant differences between EU member states, but labor costs within the eurozone have increased the most in Croatia.

The lowest labor costs were, as in 2022, in Bulgaria (€9.3) and Romania (€11), while the highest were again in Luxembourg (€53.9), Denmark (€48.1), and Belgium (€47.1).

Although Croatia recorded the highest increase in labor costs in the eurozone (by 14.2%), it still ranks near the bottom of Europe with an hourly labor cost of €14.4. Below Croatia are Bulgaria and Romania, and Hungary with costs of €12.8 and Latvia with €13.5 per hour of work. Polish employers pay only ten cents more per hour than ours.

Among the countries outside the eurozone, labor costs have increased the most in Hungary (17%), Romania (16.5%), and Poland (12.4%). They have increased the least in Denmark (2.7%).

In Austria, Germany, and Ireland, countries where Croats often go abroad for work, labor costs are incomparably higher. For example, in Germany, an employer pays €41.3 per hour of work, slightly less in Austria - €40.9, while Ireland follows with €40.2 per hour. In neighboring Slovenia, an hour of work costs €25.5.

Sometimes it seems that there are no such tourist wishes that cannot be realized in Dubai. Modern architecture, striking in its scale and high–tech solutions, snow-white beaches, warm sea water and endless deserts - all of them will give a lot of unforgettable impressions. In order not to regret the missed opportunities, it is worth paying attention to the recommendations that will help you get the most out of the trip.

How to Rent a Car in Dubai

When choosing a car renter, the main thing is not to encounter unscrupulous entrepreneurs whose services will not meet the wishes of the tourist. The situation is aggravated by the fact that when renting a car in Dubai, they are asked to provide a bank card to freeze the deposit. Therefore, the company must be as reliable as possible. In order not to make a mistake with the choice, learn more at Octane.Rent.

Your Travel Needs

When choosing a model, you need to take into account the purpose of the trip. There is a cult of premium class cars in Dubai. By renting a luxury car with an open top, travelers will feel the maximum level of comfort. They can enjoy every minute of the trip and get a lot of positive emotions. It is best to rent a convertible in Dubai at the height of the tourist season. In warm weather, you can drive with the roof open at any time of the day and enjoy the beautiful views that will open everywhere.

Sedan and hatchback will provide the optimal level of comfort for a minimum price. Crossovers and SUVs should be chosen when planning independent desert visits and long-distance trips. A comfortable minivan is ideal for large companies.

Explore Car Rental Options

You can find a lot of models of different classes on the service website for every taste and purse. It is convenient that the fares are shown for each car. Using filters, you can select a vehicle according to your budget. The cost depends not only on the car brand, but also on the rental period. For the longer period the more favorable price is provided per day. The most profitable option is to use a long–term lease for a month.

Easter Celebration Brightens Saturday in Dubrovnik 4

Choosing the Best Car Rental Service

What requirements the best car rental company meets:

providing a wide range of models – each client will be able to choose the best option according to their needs;

convenience of booking – the intuitive interface of the site will allow you to quickly make the right choice;

reliability of the service – users can get acquainted with the terms of the lease, which will avoid unpleasant surprises;

high level of information security – the best tenant uses proven data protection standards.

Representatives of the rental company provide instant customer support 24/7.

Understanding Typical Rental Costs

Car rental prices in Dubai vary depending on various factors: vehicle model, duration of use, the height of the tourist season. The average rental price starts at $50 per day. You need to take into account additional costs, which include insurance, making a deposit. Sometimes insurance is included in the price, but in some cases extra charge will be required.

How to Book a Hotel

You can use local booking systems to rent accommodation in Dubai online. The user will be redirected to the hotel that suits his request. He will need a foreign bank card to pay for the services. Most hotels accept full payment at the time of booking. The hotel management informs about the possibility of making an advance payment on the website.

Despite the technical departure of the Booking service from Russia, if desired, you can use it to book a hotel in the UAE. It should be borne in mind that you will need a foreign bank card for it.

Options According to Your Budget

The choice of hotel depends on the budget and the purpose of the trip. For a romantic trip couples choose premium class hotels. They will impress guests with a high level of comfort and spectacular views. Families with small children prefer beach hotels. The hotel usually has huge aquariums, water parks, and some of them have dolphinariums. Comfortable recreation areas allow you to have fun without leaving it.

Companies of young people prefer small city hotels located near the metro. The cost of living in them is budget compared to beach hotels. If you want a glamorous pastime, you can choose a hotel built on the artificial island of Palm Jumeirah. Fans of vibrant nightlife, discos and nightclubs will appreciate it.

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What to Avoid

Choosing a hotel in the UAE can be a daunting task, because of the huge number of accommodation options on the market. Unplanned expenses can spoil the impression of a vacation. In order not to encounter unpleasant surprises, you need to read the reviews of tourists in advance and find out how food and leisure will be organized.

When booking, you should contact trusted services or cooperate directly with the hotel representatives. This will help you avoid dealing with fraudulent organizations.

Must See places

Some of the most famous attractions are listed below. The full list of beautiful places to see in Dubai you can find in the article.

Burj Khalifa

The landmark is the tallest skyscraper in the world. The Burj Khalifa is not a separate building. It is called a city within a city that has its own boulevards, parks, shopping malls. Inside the skyscraper there are business centers, hotels, swimming pools, sports complexes, luxury restaurants, observation decks with stunning views.

Burj Al Arab

Among the recognizable symbols of Dubai, it is impossible not to mention the Parus Hotel. Its height is 321 meters. It's not just the unusual shape that makes Burj Al Arab stand out, making it the most recognizable building on the coast. The building is located on an artificial island in the middle of the sea. The unusual location attracts thousands of tourists to it.

Desert Reserve

The Dubai Desert Reserve is a popular destination among travelers because more than 50 species of rare plants can be seen there. The territory is home to about 120 species of birds and more than 40 species of various representatives of mammals and reptiles.

It is necessary to visit Dubai at least in order to see with your own eyes how the emirates managed to create a real corner of paradise in the middle of the endless desert. Plan your trip in advance and enjoy a luxurious vacation in the UAE, which leaves few people indifferent.

 

The heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik was lively yesterday on Easter Sunday. Sunshine warmed the whole of the south of Croatia and as this weekend marks the start of many international flights the stone streets of the city were very busy and it felt more like June than the end of March.

The festive and joyful atmosphere was enhanced by the program organized by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board. Alongside a performance by the vocal group, Klapa Ragusa, in front of the Church of St. Blaise, girls in traditional folk costumes handed out painted Easter eggs. Tourists particularly enjoyed this small gesture with symbols of the tradition of the Dubrovnik region.

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Easter Celebration Brightens Saturday in Dubrovnik 2

 

Spring is in the air. Ah, spring, that magical time of year when the world awakens from its winter slumber, and everything is suddenly covered in a fine layer of pollen. Yes, because nothing says "renewal" quite like the relentless assault of allergens on your respiratory system.

I didn’t even realise that the first day of the season had been and gone.

I have never understood why the Friday before Easter, or Good Friday as it’s called in the UK, isn’t a public holiday here. Whilst the Brits are enjoying a very long weekend, with both Friday and Monday holidays, we’re left with just the one free day.

It could be argued that in a country that is far more religious than the UK that we should also be enjoying some quality family time. But I guess there are already plenty of days off, so we’ll just make do with the one at Easter.

“Do you paint eggs at Easter like we do,” asked me a local the other day. “We used to, but they have been replaced by a much sweeter version,” I answered.

And an Easter card from my family said it all “Time for chocolate,” was the greeting inside. And yes Easter cards is also a tradition. Real eggs have long been replaced by hollow chocolate ones. So much so that on average 80 million chocolate eggs are sold every Easter in the UK alone.

In 2019 over £200 million was spent on this cocoa confectionery. I guess it could be argued that after the period of Lent that stuffing yourself with chocolate isn’t a bad way to break the fasting.

And on Good Friday we eat “Hot Cross Buns,” basically spiced and sweet buns that are marked with a cross on top, symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus. So that’s two sweet delights. Yes, Easter in England is a tough time of the year to be on a diet. You could probably compare these buns with pinca.

One thing that we don’t really do is the palm weaving, which is obvious really as palms don’t really enjoy the wet weather on my island. So does that mean with global warming we’ll soon see palm fronds in England as well?

But perhaps the most egg-stravagant tradition of all is the Great British Easter getaway. Like migrating swans, families across the country flock to airports to fly away to warmer climates in search of relaxation and rejuvenation.

As the days get longer, especially with the clocks going forward, this time of the year is symbolical as the start of the tourist season. So we get a day off before thousands of tourists descend this weekend as a certain Irish airline promises to pack our hotels.

The airline that makes you question whether you're flying or participating in a game of budget airline bingo. Who needs frills and fancy amenities when you can have seats that feel like they were designed by a medieval torture enthusiast? Are we ready for the new tourist season? I am not.

I am, or rather I was, quite enjoying the calm before the storm. This last weekend was the first time, for what seems ages, that traffic jams and parking problems raised their ugly heads again. “We’ve got a good seven months of this ahead of us,” I said to my passenger. “This is a light version of what’s on the way,” I smiled.

So, as we bid adieu to the chilly embrace of winter and begrudgingly embrace the unpredictable chaos of spring, let us raise a glass (or a box of tissues) to the season of allergies, awkward wardrobe transitions, and the eternal quest for a free parking space.

Here's to spring – may it be as delightfully frustrating as ever. 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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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

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