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.
“Walking gets the feet moving, the blood moving, the mind moving. And movement is life,” once wrote Terri Guillemets. Very true, movement is life.
So after much deliberation and planning my wife and I are going on a walk, well an adventure. And we’ve decided to jump right in at the deep end by taking on the longest continuous path, the South West Costal path. It is a mammoth walk. A grand total of 630 miles or almost 1,100 km, so basically like walking from Dubrovnik to Zagreb, turning around and walking back to Dubrovnik.
And with so many hills that it is equivalent to climbing up Everest four times. And if you’ve got one of the step counters on your mobile we will roughly be taking 1.6 million steps!
Why, I can hear you ask. Well, my first answer would be because I can. Life is short. And facing challenges like this will be an unforgettable experience. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And years ago when I was undecided as to whether to move to Dubrovnik from the capital of the UK a good friend said, “If you really want to do it then just do it, or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.” He was right.
There is also a much more important reason for going. My father loved this coastline, he liked it so much that we moved from the south east of England to the south west when he retired. And he loved the coast and the coastal path. I’m guessing that he would have loved to have walked the path. So after he died I made a promise to myself that I’d walk the path in his honour.
I’m not really the most religious person but I do believe that whilst we are walking that he will somehow see the walk through my eyes. And I can’t let him down, I’ve got to finish.
Am I ready? Well, probably not. But are you ever ready? We’ve bought all the gear, so on that front we are ready. Rucksacks, tent, walking boots, dried food and jackets are all packed. Yes, tents because we’ll be doing a lot of camping. And on a physical level, probably more important, I have been doing some training, I did 10 km a day for six months, rain and sun.
But I still don’t feel that prepared. However, I do have one ace in my sleeve. You can prepare, pack your rucksack and plan your route, but the one thing that you can’t pack is determination. I have this is abundance, sheer bloody-mindedness, like a horse with blinkers only seeing one goal. Yes, I get that from my father.
How long will it take? Roughly two months of pretty much continuous walking. In fact, not many people do it in one go, most split it up into sections, we are going hard-core. So almost all of September and October we’ll be “on the road” and out of office. In fact, I’ll be a digital nomad, literally, as I’ve found room in my rucksack for a laptop.
Now, it is important to both of us that the walk has a connection between Croatia and the UK. We are linked. So we’ll be raising money for two charities, one in the UK for dementia and one in Croatia for animal welfare. Animal welfare is an obvious one given our love for animals, and in fact my dog (Toto) will be joining us (although he doesn’t know this yet) and dementia in my father’s name. And of course we’ll be spreading the word about Dubrovnik on the walk. The more publicity the more money we’ll raise for these worthy charities.
Have I ever attempted anything like this before? NO. Not even close. It’s like a learner driver sitting in a Formula 1 machine and making a few laps of a face course. There will be ups and downs, bumps along the road and hairpin bends, but we’ll reach the finish line. Of that I am sure.
Life flashes by in the blink of an eye, a fact that I was sadly reminded of with the passing away of a colleague and friend last week. He was someone who lived their dream, who pushed his boundaries and grabbed life with both hands. Above all he was kind, a gentleman who understood honour.
So, we’re in our final stages of preparation. Toto Travels is the title of the social media that we’ll be uploading almost every day, both to open this stunning part of the UK to a larger audience, as well as to help raise funds. It is without doubt the most difficult thing, both physically and mentally, I’ve ever done in my life. But with determination, and the knowledge of why we’re actually doing it, we’ll do it.
Wish us luck, we’re off in a few weeks, let the adventure begin!
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to
The World Cup in Qatar is getting ever closer, and the coach of the Croatian national team, Zlatko Dalić, spent a few days in Vela Luka on the island of Korčula.
He firstly attended the concert dedicated to the memory of the singer Oliver Dragojević, and then took some time out to relax and prepare for the upcoming World Cup.
Dalić was happy to chat with locals and talk football as well as pose for photos.
Currently, almost one million and 100 thousand tourists are staying in Croatia, of which about 942,000 are foreign.
Most of the tourists are from Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and the Netherlands.
A big jump in the number of tourists has been seen in parts of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, since the opening of the new Pelješac Bridge. The number of tourists on the island of Korčula has also increased drastically as it is now considerably easier to reach the island by car.
“The number of guests has increased significantly on the entire island. The fact that the journey has been shortened and made easier has resulted in more tourists coming, there is a lot of pressure on the ferries from Orebić to Korcula, new lines have been introduced and larger ferries have been brought in,” said Miljana Borojević, the director of the Korčula Tourist Board.
There are currently more than 82,000 Italian tourists in Croatia, making them the third most numerous foreign guests, right after Germans and Slovenians, and the largest influx of Italian guests is expected this weekend, the Head Office of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) announced on Friday.
Ahead of the “Ferragosto” holiday, there is currently great interest in Croatia in Italy, and Italians singled out Croatia, Greece, Spain and France as the most desirable foreign destinations, the director of the HTZ representative office in Italy, Viviana Vukelić, points out in a press release.
According to her, the HTZ representative office in Milan has been recording increased interest in all Croatian destinations since June.
"Bus, ferry and air lines to our country have been strengthened, especially now in the month of August, when most Italians go on vacation. We are also noticing significant interest in organized trips for young people to Croatia, especially in Novalja, and the demand for trips in this period will be most pronounced as part of last-minute arrangements", Vukelic pointed out, adding that Italians, considering the war events in Ukraine, inflation and numerous price increases in Italy, but also the fact that they themselves have the sea, they still come to Croatia.
At the same time, HTZ presents data from the eVisitor system, according to which 136,000 arrivals and 634,000 overnight stays have been achieved in Croatia in the current part of August from the Italian market, which, compared to last year, is a growth of 73 percent in arrivals and 68 percent in overnight stays.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 50,000 Russian citizens have resided in Croatia, and even now, according to calculations, more than 7,000 of them reside in Croatia, writes Večernji list on Friday.
The number of Russian citizens is slightly lower compared to the same period last year, but arrivals have not only not stopped. In the shadow of the war in Ukraine, there remained a large number of Russian tourists who, more or less, continue their normal life, with numerous trips, both tourist and private.
This large number of Russians in Croatia shows something else - despite the fact that officially Moscow has declared Croatia an enemy state, "ordinary" Russians do not care and are coming. Obviously, the fact that there are no flights from Russia to any destination in the EU only bothers them a little, so they come by plane or via Serbia or Turkey. It could also be said that since the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, more Russians have come to Croatia than Ukrainian refugees, of whom there are around 20,000.
It should be emphasized that Russians - except for those who are on the black list and under EU sanctions - can normally travel throughout the Union, for tourism or for some other reason, and use their property that they have in Croatia as well. They need a valid visa issued by all EU countries, including the Croatian consulate in Russia, which was confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
As Croatia, albeit in smaller numbers, remains a destination visited by Russians, so are other tourist destinations in other EU countries. As it turns out, the issue of Russian visas and tourist visits will be the topic of a meeting of foreign ministers at the end of this month in the Czech Republic, the country that is currently presiding over the EU Council, writes Večernji list journalist Sandra Veljković.
In the last 24 hours, 1,094 new cases of Covid-19 infection were recorded and unfortunately 11 people died.
The number of active cases in Croatia today totals 7,760. Among them, there are 631 people are receiving hospital treatment, of which 25 patients are on ventilators.
From February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, until today, a total of 1,198,898 people have been infected, of which 16,472 have died, a total of 1,174,666 people have recovered, of which 1,508 recovered in the last 24 hours.
There are currently 5,276 people in self-isolation.
To date, a total of 5,086,169 people have been tested, of which 3,264 have been tested in the last 24 hours.
As of August 11, 2022, 5,266,467 doses of vaccine were administered, and 59.58 percent of the total population, or 70.86 percent of the adult population, have been vaccinated.
Yesterday, a forest fire broke out in the area above Slano in Dubrovačko Primorje, and unfortunately the fire reactivated later in the evening.
Yesterday, the fire started as a result of a thunderstorm, on very inaccessible terrain, on top of a hill, so the firefighters asked for help from specialised firefighting aircraft. Members of Dubrovačko Primorje fire brigade and firefighters from Majkovi and Slano, 25 members with five vehicles, participated in the extinguishing operation yesterday. This photo was sent to us by Robin Silverman, a reader of The Dubrovnik Times, and highlights the battle the fire brigade had last night.
Good news for winter tourism in Dubrovnik, the UK flagship airline, British Airways, will restore their flights from London Gatwick to Dubrovnik this winter.
British Airways will restart flights from London to the southernmost airport in Croatia on the 5th of December and will operate two flights a week until the end of March, reports EX-YU Aviation. For almost three years the airline has not operated winter flights to Dubrovnik, and the news that two flights a week will land form this European hub will be welcomed by the city’s tourism industry.
Flights will operate on Mondays and Fridays, meaning a good option for people looking to take a weekend break over the winter period. And tickets are already available for purchase on the British Airways website.