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.
According to data from the Society of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities for the Ston Walls, the fortress of Veliki Kaštio and other attractions in Ston and Mali Ston have seen a significant increase in visitors from the beginning of the year until the end of August. With a total of 51,657 visitors who purchased tickets, the number has risen by almost 15,000 compared to the same period last year.
Interestingly, there were fewer visitors this August compared to the same month last year, with a recorded 14,718 visits, which is about 2,000 less. This decrease can be attributed to the exceptionally high temperatures that marked that month.
Since the beginning of September, the Ston Walls have been visited by over 400 visitors daily, mostly day-trippers coming from Dubrovnik and neighbouring areas to visit Ston and Mali Ston. Ticket prices remain unchanged, and from September 16th, the walls are open to visitors from 8 AM to 6 PM.
Nestled in the charming town of Metković, lies a hidden gem that beckons both locals and travellers alike. Narenta, part of the Narenta Hotel, is a culinary oasis that promises an unforgettable dining experience. The first thing that catches your eye is the astonishing affordability; a three-course meal for just 10 euros. But Narenta offers more than just budget-friendly prices; it delivers exceptional quality. With an emphasis on using locally sourced ingredients from the fertile Neretva basin, the restaurant serves up fresh and flavourful dishes that showcase the region's culinary heritage. Join us as we explore the remarkable world of Narenta, where good food and great value converge.
"To be honest the majority of our guests are local," smiled the friendly waiter as I took my seat. That is not a good sign, that an excellent sign. My destination was Metković and a restaurant that you could easy whizz by on your way either to Dubrovnik or the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the future I certainly won't be whizzing by anymore! Narenta, remember the name, is part of the Narenta Hotel in Metković. And is a little gem.
I don't have to explain to you the restaurant prices in Dubrovnik, so what if I told you that I ate a three-course meal for 10 euro! And not just a meal, but an excellent meal. This is value for money with a capital V! Honestly, I was shocked at the prices of the daily menu. A starter for 2 euro! A main course for 6 euro and a dessert for 2 euro! Now, I was thinking to myself that this would probably be a very ordinary meal, I was wrong. And yes, the guests were mostly locals, probably a) because of the prices and b) because of the great food on offer. "We are one of the few places that didn't change prices with the introduction of the menu," explained my waiter Milenko (who, by the way was extremely knowledgeable and professional). Literally for the price of a starter in Dubrovnik you can get a three-course meal.
Narenta is well placed. If you are heading down to Dubrovnik from Split, or vice versa of course, it is only a few minutes from the main coastal road heading towards the Bosnia and Herzegovina border. Well worth the short detour. And after the completion of the new Peljesac Bridge it feels even closer. There is plenty of free parking and there is even a small shopping centre nearby if you need to pick up some shopping. There is both a spacious interior and wide terraced eating area.
So let's get down to the food. One very important point you need to know is that the whole of the Neretva basin is very much the "bread basket" of the whole region. With its fertile lands, constant water supply and guaranteed sunshine the huge fields of Neretva produce some of the best vegetables and fruit in the country. So needless to say the food on your plate is going to be locally grown. I have never tasted such crispy and crunchy vegetables in a restaurant. "Yes, we base our meals on what is grown in these fields around us," stated Milenko.
So I went for a mix of starters just to grab the opportunity to try everything. A traditional prosciutto and hard cheese plate and a salted anchovies and salad combination. The portions are huge. I almost over did it on the starters.
Then onto the main course, or maybe I should say main courses as clearly the restaurant was keen to show-off the best they had on offer. It is food like your mother or grandmother used to cook. Food cooked with pride using high-end ingredients, a real joy.
BRING AN APPETITE WITH YOU
Like I said there is "daily" menu which is superb value for money, however the restaurant also offers an a la carte menu. A few highlights would be the rolled chicken filled with cheese and spinach and served with a French fries. These home-grown potatoes were mind-blowing the flavour just exploded in my mouth. I also tried the beef goulash with peas, and that was probably my favourite. Did I already mention that the portions are huge! Bring an appetite with you. Of course I was in Neretva so I just had to experience their local dishes, and a frog risotto really hit the mark. All excellent and not one meal on the menu more than 20 euro, just superb value.
And I didn't even mention the wines. So a sister company of Narenta is one of the best known vineyards in the south of Croatia – Rizman. Their selection is comprehensive, the pošip (white) and mali plava (red) are both from the Rizman vineyard. So in other words everything on my plate came from just a few miles of where I was sitting. You can't get any fresher and more sustainable than that.
So, whether you're a local looking for exceptional value for money or a traveller seeking an authentic culinary experience on your journey through Croatia, Narenta is a dining destination that deserves a prominent spot on your list. Don't miss out on this opportunity to savour the flavours of the Neretva basin, served with pride and passion at Narenta.
Consumer prices in the Eurozone rose by 5.2% in August, according to Eurostat's report on Tuesday, slightly lowering the initial estimate, along with data indicating a milder increase in industrial product prices.
The estimate published at the end of August had indicated a 5.3% increase in prices, as measured by the harmonized HICP index, allowing for comparisons among EU member states.
In July, prices had risen by 5.3%.
Eurostat also slightly lowered the estimate for the monthly price growth in August from 0.6% to 0.5%.
The reduced estimate of the annual inflation rate reflects a milder increase in industrial product prices compared to the initial calculations, now at 4.7%, down from the 4.8% estimated at the end of August.
Fresh food prices increased by 7.8%, while energy prices decreased by 3.3%, Eurostat confirmed in its initial estimates.
When excluding food and energy prices, inflation in the Eurozone for August stood at 6.2%, in line with the end of the previous month's estimate.
The estimate of a 5.5% increase in services prices was also confirmed.
In the entire EU, prices rose by 5.9% in August compared to the same month last year, following a 6.1% increase in July.
On a monthly basis, prices increased by 0.5%, as indicated in the report.
Revised Estimate for Croatia
In August, Hungary experienced the highest year-on-year increase in consumer prices, at 14.2%.
They were followed by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with inflation rates of 10.1% and 9.6%, respectively.
In Croatia, the annual inflation rate measured by HICP in August was 8.4%. The initial estimate published at the end of August had shown a price growth rate of 8.5%, while in July, it stood at 8.0%.
The Consumer Price Index from the State Bureau of Statistics (DZS) indicated an increase of 7.8% in prices for August compared to the same month last year.
Denmark recorded the mildest price increase in the EU according to the HICP, at 2.3% compared to August of the previous year. Spain and Belgium followed with price increases of 2.4%.
While the domestic tourism sector in Croatia is grappling with criticism over high prices, neighboring destinations are reaping the benefits. British newspaper The Sun published a large article three days ago, spanning two pages, inviting potential visitors to choose Neum for their post-season vacation instead of Croatia.
The headline reads, "All the Joys of Croatia, But Half the Price," an attempt to grab readers' attention. Neum is described as an "unusual resort" where visitors can sleep, dine, and enjoy themselves for significantly less money than on the Croatian coastline. It is reportedly just as beautiful as the Croatian coast, as reported by Jutarnji list.
Indeed, while the Croatian coastline is stunning, Neum also offers its own charm. It is the world's smallest coastal strip after Monaco, with temperatures in September averaging 25 degrees. Neum is conveniently located near Dubrovnik and Split, with average prices for double hotel rooms starting at only £62, compared to the claimed £140 in Croatia, according to author Laura Sanders.
Moreover, it is emphasized that in the most famous Neum hotel, the Grand, you can get a last-minute room in September for just £49 per night, including breakfast and access to the spa. In Neum, you can also enjoy good food, with popular dishes like ćevapi costing around £5.
Its main drawback is the lack of a rich cultural offer, but it compensates with excellent beaches, affordable sports activities, and serves as an excellent base for exploring Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighboring Croatia. The article suggests visiting Mostar, where a night in a hostel costs about £12, exploring the Neretva River, and especially enjoying ice cream, as you can get a scoop for less than a pound in this destination.
Dubrovnik's Deputy Mayor, Jelka Tepšić, and the Head of the Administrative Department for the Mayor's Affairs of the City of Dubrovnik, Ivana Brnin, hosted a Thai delegation today, led by Asi Mamanee, the Chief Director of the Department for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand. One of the key topics of discussion revolved around the potential collaboration between the cities of Dubrovnik and Phuket, one of Thailand's most renowned tourist destinations.
Deputy Mayor Tepšić introduced them to the principles and outcomes of the flagship project "Respect the City" and the shift in tourism towards sustainability. This shift, as highlighted by analyses conducted by the University of Dubrovnik, has yielded positive results.
The Thai guests, whose tourist cities also grapple with over-tourism, expressed interest in the measures implemented by the city to address this issue. Deputy Mayor Tepšić provided insights into these measures, including tourist education activities, which involve an informative animated film providing guidance on respectful behavior at UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Thai delegation included Sirivilai Rojprasitporn, Director of the Department for Eastern Europe at the Department for European Affairs of the Ministry; Donlada Thongboon, Counsellor from the Royal Thai Embassy in Budapest; Amporn Ngampitakchok, Secretary-General of the Department for Eastern Europe; and Manchulika Wongchai, Attaché of the Department for European Affairs.
This meeting reflects the international interest in Dubrovnik's sustainable tourism initiatives and the potential for cross-border cooperation in addressing shared challenges in the tourism sector.
In a recent financial analysis of the food and beverage retail sector in Croatia, it has been revealed that Croatian consumers are increasingly turning to originally foreign retail chains. The analysis was presented at the "Economic Coffee" conference organized by the Croatian Employers' Association.
The study, conducted by Andrej Grubišić from the firm Grubišić&Partneri, delved into the operations of the 30 largest retail chains in the food and beverage segment over the past six years. These chains were categorized into several groups, including national, regional, foreign, domestic, originally foreign, and domestic retail chains that had been acquired.
One of the standout findings of the analysis was the significant growth in market share for originally foreign chains such as Lidl, Spar, Kaufland, and Eurospin. Their combined market share has increased by three percentage points compared to six years ago. In contrast, domestic chains that were subsequently acquired have seen a slightly smaller market share, while domestic regional chains recorded a market share nearly two percentage points lower.
Which supermarkets in Croatia have highest margins?
When examining gross margins, it was noted that Konzum, one of Croatia's largest retail chains, had a lower gross margin in recent years compared to the national average. On the other hand, Lidl typically maintains a slightly lower margin. Spar and Plodine have above-average margins, while Kaufland generally has a slightly lower one. Tommy and Studenac boast higher margins, while Eurospin, as a hard discounter, predictably maintains a lower margin.
In terms of revenue per employee, Lidl stood out with over 300,000 euros per employee in the past year, whereas Lonia reported 72,000 euros per employee. The overall average for all national retail chains was 166,000 euros, with regional chains averaging 105,000 euros.
Compared to six years ago, Lidl's revenue per employee has seen a total increase of 11 percent, while Kaufland's soared by nearly 40 percent, on par with Studenac's revenue per employee.
Over the past five years, approximately 32.5 billion euros were distributed to stakeholders within Croatia's top 30 retail chains. Of this amount, a significant 86 percent went to suppliers.
The analysis highlights the diverse interests at play in the retail sector, extending beyond the perspective of just the owners. Suppliers consistently hold the dominant position, followed by the state, and employees come in third, while investors occupy the last place.
The assertion that inflation impacts gross profit margins was refuted by the analysis. It emphasized that price increases in some sectors are often wrongly attributed to inflation, whereas inflation itself is a reflection of price increases. Addressing the root causes of inflation is crucial for its reduction.
Croatia's profitability low
HUP's Chief Economist, Hrvoje Stojić, noted that Croatia's profitability remains relatively low according to international comparisons. Croatia is among the six least profitable economies in the EU. Factors contributing to this low profitability include high taxation and inefficiencies within the judicial system.
Stojić highlighted that due to a high tax burden, Croatia is uncompetitive in terms of wages in Eastern European terms, even when considering a gross wage of two thousand euros.
The analysis also shed light on Croatia's increasing trade deficit in food products, beverages, and tobacco products. The trade deficit grew by about 56 percent compared to the previous five-year average, reflecting a significant increase in the deficit to approximately 1.7 billion euros.
This analysis offers valuable insights into the evolving retail landscape in Croatia and the factors influencing consumer preferences and profitability within the sector.
Croatia is once again becoming a sought-after location for international productions, with renowned actor Eddie Redmayne joining the ranks of stars heading to the picturesque country for an upcoming project. According to reports from Novi list, the Oscar-winning English actor will be filming in various locations in Croatia, including the stunning region of Istria.
The production in question is none other than the sequel to the popular British series "The Day of the Jackal," based on the eponymous novel by Frederick Forsyth. Redmayne's involvement in the series is generating significant buzz in the entertainment world, adding a touch of star power to the project.
"The Day of the Jackal" series already boasts an impressive ensemble cast, including Lashana Lynch, Adam James, Scott Alexander Young, and Hans Peterson. The central storyline revolves around a plot to assassinate former French president Charles de Gaulle, orchestrated by a French dissident group that enlists the services of the enigmatic assassin known as "The Jackal."
Eddie Redmayne, a name well-known to film enthusiasts and cinema-goers, achieved critical acclaim when he won an Academy Award for his masterful portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in the 2014 film "The Theory of Everything." He is also recognized by our readers for his roles in "Les Misérables" and the "Fantastic Beasts" franchise.
The filming of "The Day of the Jackal" in Croatia is scheduled to commence on September 27th, with locations spanning across the country. Rijeka, Pag, Dubrovnik, and the central Istrian region will serve as backdrops for this thrilling production.
Embassy Films Croatia is currently on the lookout for extras and supporting actors to join the cast. Those interested can find more information on their Facebook page. The producers have emphasized their commitment to staying true to the original source material, ensuring an exciting adaptation for fans of the novel and series alike.
As Eddie Redmayne brings his star power to the enchanting landscapes of Croatia, "The Day of the Jackal" promises to be a production that both showcases the country's beauty and captivates audiences worldwide. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting project!
Visiting Dubrovnik? Don't miss the iconic Dubrovnik cable car experience – a must-do for every tourist. Offering three compelling reasons, this breath-taking journey takes you from the bustling base station to the awe-inspiring summit of the 412-meter-high Srđ mountain. Revel in panoramic views, explore the region's history, enjoy thrilling buggy rides, and savour mouth-watering cuisine at the top.
Timing matters, so we recommend early mornings for fresh mountain air and serene vistas or evenings to witness captivating sunsets over the historic Old City's walls. As our cherished guest, embrace these three unforgettable reasons to ride the cable car and make your visit to Dubrovnik truly memorable.
1. Breath-taking Views: The journey from Dubrovnik's bustling base station to the awe-inspiring summit of the 412-meter-high Srđ mountain is nothing short of breath-taking. As you ascend, you'll be treated to panoramic views that will leave you spellbound, creating memories to fill your holiday album with stunning images.
2. A World of Opportunities: Once you reach the summit, a world of opportunities awaits. Explore the history of the region at the Homeland War museum, enjoy thrilling buggy rides over picturesque countryside, discover unique treasures at the top station's shops, and savour mouth-watering cuisine at the restaurant. There's something for everyone to enjoy.
3. Perfect Timing: The timing of your visit matters, and we recommend two ideal moments. Start your day early with a morning ascent to enjoy fresh mountain air, serene ambiance, and crisp vistas – the perfect start to any day. Alternatively, join us later in the day to witness one of nature's most cherished gifts in Dubrovnik – the mesmerizing sunsets. The golden glow over the historic Old City's walls at dusk is a sight that you'll carry in your heart forever.
As our treasured guest, don't miss the opportunity to embrace these three unforgettable reasons to ride the Dubrovnik cable car. It's not just an activity; it's an experience that will stay with you long after your visit to this enchanting city.