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.
An old colleague where I used to work in London was full of these strange and seemingly senseless phrases. He literally had a phrase for every situation, every eventuality. I was never sure if he just made them all up or was quoting other more famous people.
We often used to try and catch him out, by throwing an unusual situation in his path. He always, always had an answer. Advice – his answer “Good rarely came from good advice.” Religion – “If there were no God there would be no Atheists.” And Politics – “He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. A long career in politics awaits him.” Another dozen or so have stuck in the deeps of my brain and every now and then they appear. One that we all used to hear on a weekly basis was “If things don’t change, they stay the same.”
This is a phrase that I could use time and time again in Dubrovnik. But this week’s selection involves my adopted home of Zupa. I think pretty much the first day I landed in Dubrovnik twenty something years ago I heard the story of how a “fast road” was going to be built between the airport and the city. A perfectly logical idea as Mr. Spock would say. As the vast majority of our visitors come via the airport a fast link seems not only logical but absolutely imperative. And bearing in mind that it is the only connection, i:e there is no other way to get to the airport, it surely must be top of the list of importance, if there is such a list?
Depressingly not only has that road never materialised but in fact the situation has gone into reverse. When I first moved to Zupa I could drive from my home to the city without hitting a traffic light before turning off the coastal road. Now it seems that the number has quadrupled. I will pretty soon face four sets of traffic lights. What joy! OK, I would agree that the ones on the crossroads by Sub City are required. Even though a roundabout might have been a smarter plan, but I can live with those and they seem to function relatively well. Why, oh why we need another set that leads to a graveyard that isn’t working is beyond me. Why we need them at all for a graveyard is puzzling. And the few cars that come out of Lidl never really had a problem waiting for a space in the traffic.
These lights have in fact proved more dangerous than safe. As frequently I see cars screeching to stop in time to avoid careering into the line of traffic.
And now another two will soon be in function. What joy! I remember once talking to a representative of Croatian Roads Authority who said that a roundabout on the main coastal road was not a good plan because it would slow cars down to under 40 km/h, which was something they had to avoid. Surely traffic lights slow cars down to 0 kph.
I am assured that these new pedestrian traffic lights are only a temporary measure and will, at some point in the future, be replaced by a tunnel or bridge. My fear, and this is a fear that comes from experience, is that these bridges and tunnels will never appear and the “temporary” lights will remain temporary until the day I die. Another classic example of short-term panicking rather than long-term planning.
There has been a problem with pedestrians crossing the roads in certain sections for years, this is nothing new, or surprising. In fact, it isn’t even an expensive solution. But heads of power have been buried in the sand. Time has passed and now we are left scrabbling around for a temporary fix, rather than a permanent answer. So we have gone from a planned fast road with multiple lanes, to an absolute bottleneck in Zupa. Come rain or shine, summer or winter, the drive from the airport to the city, and vice versa, will take longer than ever. Whilst many other destinations are planning new eco-friendly transport connections from major hubs we are doing pretty much exactly the opposite. I should be shocked, but I’m numb.
If things don’t change they stay the same – maybe in our case it would be better if things just stayed the same.
Split is absolutely one of the rising stars of the Croatian tourist scene and its airport is receiving more new international flights than ever before. The latest airline to connect Split with London is the national airline of the UK, British Airways.
It’s the first time flights to Croatia have operated from London City Airport and British Airways will fly three flights a week through the peak summer months to September.
Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer at London City Airport, said: “Croatia is a new destination for us and one which our customers have told us they want from London City. It is one of the fastest growing holiday destinations and we are delighted to offer new direct flights for the summer.”
Peter Downes, Aviation Director at London City Airport, said: “The new seasonal service to Split in Croatia epitomises how our home carrier, British Airways, is broadening our offer of leisure routes from London City Airport. It’s the latest in a stellar selection of holiday getaway options that our passengers will love, as we prepare for our busiest summer yet.
The first flight from London City Airport to Split landed yesterday, the 21st of June. British Airways also operates flights to Split from Heathrow Airport and has increased frequency there from five to seven flights a week this year.
From today Air Serbia now flies to six different destinations in Croatia as flights resumed to the Dalmatian city of Zadar after a 28-year long break. The national airline of Serbia already operates flights to Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Pula and Rijeka and these new flights to Zadar will attract even more tourists from the Serbian capital, Belgrade to the Croatian coastline.
"We are proud to be able to help bring closer the people and economies of the two countries. We are confident that the flights will enhance travel options and will further contribute to the development of bilateral trade and tourism. Our intention is to further develop year-round inbound tourism, by offering our guests all of these destinations in Croatia", reported Air Serbia.
And EX-YU Aviation reports that Air Serbia is offering over 165.000 seats between Belgrade and its Croatian destinations this summer season.
The bays around Cavtat are awash with luxury mega yachts as the summer season has quite clearly arrived. A plethora of super expensive private and charter yachts are dotted around Cavtat today as the rich and famous enjoy their luxury playthings.
One yacht that particularly caught the eye is the 41 metre long Waverunner. Built in 2007 this mage yacht certainly cuts an appealing look anchored just in front of Cavtat.
With space on-board for 10 passengers and seven crew members Waverunner has an impressing cruising speed of 30 knots.
But you’ll need deep pockets to afford a week on this mega yacht as seven days in high season will set you back a mouth-watering 140,000 Euros plus expenses around 160,000 Euros or just under 23,000 Euros a day.
The ATMs that have overnight grown to incredible proportions will soon be a thing of the past after a new directive from the Mayor’s office.
On the main street through the Old City of Dubrovnik, the Stradun, a street that is the main attraction for tourists, there are now an incredible 26 flashing ATM machines. Given the fact that the Stradun is approximately 300 metres in length that’s one ATM every 11.5 metres. And inside the ancient Old City walls there are 37 bank machines, whilst in the close vicinity of the walls there are another 9, or 46 ATMs inside a radius of around 500 metres.
But now comes news that the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, has had enough and is proposing new tough sanctions. The Mayor has put forward a proposal that “All ATMs will be removed if the owners do not obtain approval from the Conservator Office.
In accordance with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, Mayor Mato Frankovic sent to the City Council of the City of Dubrovnik a proposal to amend the Decree on the Municipal Order. According to the proposed modifications at the openings of the building in the historic core of the City it is forbidden to set up ATMs as well as other devices and advertising cabinets.
Regarding the existing ATMs in the historical core, it has been established that these must be removed within 30 days from the date of entry into force of the decision if the owner / user of the space does not obtain consent or approval from the Ministry of Culture's Conservation Department.
“Following the appointment of Slaven Bilic at our local club I decided to set up a Croatian supporter’s club and its hit 1,400 followers in 3 days!!” commented Daniel Butigan to The Dubrovnik Times.
Former West Ham and Croatian National Team manager Slaven Bilic was named as the new boss of English Championship side West Bromwich Albion last week, reportedly signing a two-year contract and he succeeds from Darren Moore who lost his job in March.
Daniel and his family are Croatians living in Birmingham and as he says “come and go between Birmingham and Dubrovnik several times a year.” Following the appointment of the Croatian born coach Slavan Bilic as the manager of their local club they decided to start a Croatian supporter’s club and interest has gone through the roof.
Talking to the publication Express and Star Daniel Butigan and his close friend David Djalilian (both 26) have followed Bilic’s career ever since he was a player and travelled to both Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 when he was Croatia manager. At the start of this week they set up a Croatian supporters group and have already attracted more than 1,400 followers on Twitter. The response amazed them so much Dan offered a five-night stay in Dubrovnik at an apartment to one lucky fan who helped spread the word.
“I’m not doing it for any self-benefit, it’s to show off the country and celebrate the fact that Bilic has come. We want to create a bond between the fans and Croatia,” commented Daniel to the Express and Star.
Bilic is clearly big news in West Brom with Daniel adding that “The people of West Brom love Dubrovnik and Croatia!”
And these two Dubrovnik fans aren’t the only Croatians that love this Championship side, the former Wimbledon Champion, Goran Ivanisevic, is also a West Brom fan.
You can check out Croatian West Bromwich supporters club at their Twitter account here
Luxury cruise specialists Cruise Croatia have launched a brand new Pride of Croatia Tour, in honour of LGBT Pride Month. The specialist Croatia cruise operators are also celebrating the launch of their new Pride of Croatia Tour with a £2,500 donation to Zagreb Pride, the biggest Pride event in Croatia.
The newly-launched Pride of Croatia Tour is a luxury cruise and land exploration of Croatia, exclusively designed for LGBTIQ+ vacationers. The deluxe 9-night tour begins in Zagreb before taking in the stunning beauty of the Plitvice National Park and island-hopping from Split to Dubrovnik via the idyllic paradise of Vis, Hvar and Korcula.
This exclusive, small-ship tour travels as a group of just 38 people, allowing for everyone to meet new people and build friendships. The luxury tour is suitable for couples, groups of friends and solo travellers, and has been exclusively created to provide a sociable travel experience for LGBTIQ+ people to travel in style and luxury as part of a friendly group.
The Pride of Croatia Tour begins in the bustling capital city of Zagreb – home to Croatia’s best LGBTIQ+ nightlife. Here, guests will stay in an extravagant 4* hotel with the opportunity to explore Zagreb’s rich cultural diversity, including art galleries, museums and independent cafés. The first night in Zagreb includes a welcome dinner and drinks, offering the opportunity for the group to get to know each other and socialise into the late evening among Zagreb’s vibrant nightlife.
From Zagreb the Pride of Croatia Tour continues on to UNESCO-listed Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of Croatia’s most magnificent natural sites, before heading on to the beautiful city of Split – the capital of Croatia’s Dalmatia region.
In Split the cruise begins, starting with a Pride of Croatia Cocktail Party on-board. From Split the Pride of Croatia cruise sets sail to some of the country’s most paradisiacal islands, including the opportunity to swim next to the magical Skradinski Buk waterfall and a wine tasting experience in Vis, which is the island where Mamma Mia 2 was filmed.
Onwards through Hvar, Korcula, Mljet and Slano, the cruise continues to the walled city of Dubrovnik. Here you can soak in the history of the city, visit the locations made famous by Game of Thrones, and enjoy the city’s rooftop views and lively nightlife.
All of Cruise Croatia’s small ships provide first-class comfort and style, including a private balcony, open-aired Jacuzzi and fine dining cuisine options. Excursions on the Pride of Croatia tour include wine tasting, oyster farming, entry to national parks, private guided tours, and more.
In line with the launch of the new Pride of Croatia Tour, Cruise Croatia are donating £2,500 to Zagreb Pride which is the biggest Pride celebration in Croatia.
Graham Carter, Managing Director of Cruise Croatia says, “We are delighted to be launching our Pride of Croatia Tour in celebration of LGBT Pride Month and to be providing a fun, safe and luxurious Croatia travel experience exclusively designed for LGBTIQ+ holidaymakers.
It was also important to us to take this a step further, by offering support to Zagreb Pride via our donation. We know that LGBTIQ+ equality and awareness continues to be an important issue in Croatia and we are proud to do what we can to help support this.”
Zagreb Pride first took place in 2002 and has since become an annual event, celebrating LGBTIQ+ diversity and raising awareness for LGBTIQ+ acceptance and rights.
Homosexuality has been legal in Croatia since 1977 and discrimination based on sexual orientation is classed as a hate crime in Croatia. However, LGBTIQ+ people do still face some inequalities in Croatia – such as same-sex marriage not yet being legalised, and while homosexuality is accepted in Croatia it is not always celebrated to the same extent as other countries.
Organisations such as Zagreb Pride continue to increase acceptance and awareness of LGBTIQ+ equality and rights in Croatia, while specially created travel experiences such as the Pride of Croatia Tour provide LGBTIQ+ people the opportunity to travel to Croatia in a safe, secure and sociable group.
For the eighteenth time in a row a Blue Flag was raised over the beach of Hotel Valamar Collection yesterday. The Blue Flag is a prestigious international ecological acknowledgment for the purity and cleanliness of beaches, and the flag was raised over this Dubrovnik beach by one of the most loyal guests of this hotel.
Blue Flags in Croatia are awarded by the organisation “Lijepa naša” and the Hotel Valamar Collection Dubrovnik President's beach this year fulfilled the demanding criteria that are prerequisites for this honourable acknowledgment regarding the complete arrangement of the beach and the safety conditions at the beach. Since 2002 this Dubrovnik beach has proudly flown the Blue Flag and in fact it was the first hotel beach in Dubrovnik to be awarded this international recognition.