Monday, 06 July 2020
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.


Ryanair is making the Dalmatian city of Zadar a mini-hub, the low cost airline already operates to thirteen European destinations from the city and has now announced a new destination for 2017.

From March Ryanair will add Glasgow to their Zadar operations, with seasonal flights which will run twice a week. Tickets are not yet available for purchase on the airline’s website.

Ryanair predicts that it will handle around 315,000 passengers on flights to Zadar this year. This is still no news as to whether Dubrovnik will become another Croatian destination for the budget airline.

Dubrovnik is the absolute magnet for cruise ships in Croatia. According to new data from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics a total of 395 cruise ships arrived in Croatia waters from the period of January to the end of July and over 63 percent of these ships came to Dubrovnik.

The average stay of a cruise ship is unsurprisingly very short, just two days in Croatian waters, and from the beginning of the year to the end of July 536,953 passengers arrived in Croatia. Compared to last year the number of cruise ships has increased by 2.9 percent and the number of passengers by 3.8 percent.

By the end of this year a total of 882,651 cruise ship passengers are expected to arrive in Dubrovnik on 636 cruise ships.

cruise graphic

Cruise ship movements in Croatia - Croatian Bureau of Statistics 

Croatia decides today in the general election. At seven o’clock this morning polling stations opened across the country for 3.74 million voters to decide the 151 members of parliament. Nearly 7,000 polling stations will be open until seven o’clock tonight and the preliminary results are expected to be announced at around 10 o’clock.

This is the second time that Croatian voters have been called to parliamentary elections in the past ten months after the previous government collapsed after just five months in charge. And according to pools it could be another close result with a possible coalition predicted.

The opinion polls show the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and their four party coalition leading and predicted to win 60 of the 151 seats. Whilst the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) forecast to win slightly less, meaning a coalition looks likely.
The former government, a HDZ/MOST coalition, collapsed after internal fractions and arguments after the political direction. The coalition started their short appointment on a wave of reform and change, however after five months of infighting reforms were still on the backburner.

Voters have been reminded that they are not allowed to use cell phones in the voting booths to take photos of their ballot papers.

A new world tourism trend has appeared in Croatia. It is all about walking holiday tours throughout Croatia and one of them was walked by an English couple who were more than happy to share their experience.

Rob and Jess Criswell from Manchester, UK, cycled in Istria from Motovun to Groznjan, and then walked to Roc and Ucka, and all the way to Moscenicka Draga on the Liburnia Riviera. ''We started from Motovun where we stayed for two days. The first day we rented e-bicycles and travelled 65 kilometres. We stopped in Groznjan where a jazz festival was being held, and then the next day we walked to Roc, from which we went on foot about 28 kilometres to Ucka. We'll stay in Moscenicka Draga for a few days and then we are heading to Pula. But we'll take a taxi to the largest Istrian city'', says Rob Criswell.

The English couple, in their early 50s, belong to a specific type of tourists who visit their desired destinations on foot. This type of active tourism has been popular in Europe for a very long time now, whilst it has becoming a trend in Croatia in the last 10-15 years. The English couple booked their vacation in Istria and Kvarner over the English agency Onfootholidays which organizes walking tours throughout Europe. It is a ''self-guided'' tour, a new trend where walkers travel by themselves with no guides but with detailed maps and notes provided for carefree walking to various paths and destinations.

The Croatian tour organized by the English agency includes forest and hiking trails from Motovun to Moscenicka Draga. The walking tours start in the late spring, whilst during August these tours are not organized due to the high temperatures. The price of the six-day tour organized by the Onfootholidays is £575 or a little more than 5,000 Kunas per person.

The Criswells from Manchester were the first group of walkers after the peak season. ''Everything was very well organized, the accommodation was provided as well as maps and directions with information on towns we planned to visit'', said the English couple. They also confirmed that walkers, when reached places to stay the night, enjoyed lovely food and excellent wines.

''We live in a city so this was a great anti-stress therapy for us. We enjoyed the landscape which is ever changing and absolutely beautiful. Nature is pristine and unspoiled, whilst towns like Motovun, Hum and Roc are really something special. This was exactly what we had expected, even more than that'', concluded Jess Criswell, the walker from Manchester.

This must go down as our weird story of the week, if not the month. A luxury cruise ship “Sverige Non Pasaran” has been rented by a group of rich Swedish ladies and they are currently travelling the globe. They have been cruising for around a month and on Monday they will arrive at their final destination, Neum in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the rich Swedish ladies will search for a Bosnian man to marry.

Yes, it all sounds rather strange, but the cruise ships carrying 2,000 unmarried Swedish ladies is, as reported by the Bosnian media, on the way to Neum.

The website states that the men don’t have to been good-looking or rich, apparently these Swedish ladies have heard that men from Bosnia are full of “male pride” which is exactly what they are looking for.

I guess we will have to wait to Monday to see if these rumours are true, it certainly brought a smile to our faces anyway.

The Brad Pitt and Croatia love affair seems to be continuing with news that the Hollywood star is considering constructing a film studio in the country. After the star of Mr and Mrs Smith visited Croatia a couple of weeks back for a flying trip to visit the Dalmatian coastal city of Sibenik where it is believed he will invest into a real estate project comes more breaking news.

“It is true that Brad Pitt has proposed building a film studio in Rijeka,” commented the actor and friend of the Pitt family, Rade Serbedzija. In fact according to reports in the Croatian press it was Serbedzija who persuaded Brad Pitt to invest in Croatia. It appears that Serbedzija, known for his numerous roles in blockbuster movies such as Batman Begins and Mission Impossible II, had already discussed with Brad Pitt the idea of building a film studio four years ago.


Rade Serbedzija

“Brad then I talked about the constructing a film studio in the wider region and I proposed the city of Rijeka,” said Serbedzija. “I told him that Rijeka would be a fantastic choice for several reasons, it is an urban centre but near forests, the sea, island and historic buildings, and he was very interested,” added Serbedzija. The actor has even spoke to the Rijeka city officials about the plan, but no specific location was mentioned. Brad Pitt has his own production company “Plan B Entertainment” Serbedzija has brought many A-list actors to Croatia already including Tom Cruise, Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Fiennes and Angelina Jolie.

After Brad Pitts recent visit to Sibenik he allegedly described Croatia as “the most beautiful country I have ever seen.”

The seventh annual Dubrovnik Foreign Circle (DFC) second hand sale will be held on the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of October in the Lazareti complex just outside of the eastern entrance to the Old City of Dubrovnik.

The second hand sale, which is being organised in partnership with the Lazareti Art Workshop, always has a humanitarian character and this year the beneficiary will be for “Dva Skalina” an association for children with special needs. The DFC plans to raise funds to assist in purchasing an outdoor wheelchair swing.

And the DFC have asked for donations for the second hand sale, from Wednesday the 28th of September to Friday the 30th of September your donations can be left at the Lazareti Art Workshop. As the DFC said in a statement “We accept adult, children and baby winter and/or summer clothing, shoes, accessories (jewellery, hats, bags etc.), household items (dishes, glasses, vases, paintings, small appliances etc.) As always, items must be in good condition and working order.”

The Dubrovnik Foreign Circle’s mission and vision is to actively serve the community by providing services that contribute to the health and vitality of the greater Dubrovnik Region. The organization’s goal is to provide friendship and understanding between its members and the Dubrovnik community at large by organizing cultural and social events. The Dubrovnik Foreign Circle engages in fundraising activities for the benefit of its community projects.

So save the dates – Dubrovnik Foreign Circle second hand sale 1st and 2nd of October.

Drvene konstrukcije d.o.o. is a small company from Vocin near Slatina in the Slavonia region which will build luxurious wooden apartment buildings for the city of Uppsala, the fourth largest city in Sweden.

The apartment buildings for Uppsala will be made of wood, whilst for the full visual impression they will be cladded by oak facade panels.

''We supply them with laminated structures, laminated oak elements and outer cladding panels for walls, roofs, external staircases, shelves and wine cellar staircases'', said Ivan Durcevic.

Radman Grupa from Zagreb initiated this small company into business with a final buyer in Sweden. Its ''entrance ticket'' for this job was recently completed project of the Pannonian wood competence centre in Virovitica, the building which was a prototype and the first of this kind in Croatia. The centre is a low energy building made of 400 to 500 cubic meters of wood material and one of the first projects which was implemented through the European Union Structural Funding.

''When the Swedish investors saw our centre, they were very impressed. The centre even resembles buildings that have been built in Sweden'', says the company manager Mario Abramovic.

At first only two houses will be built for the Swedish market, but there will be definitely more of them, some say, at least 600!

Last year Drvne konstrukcije d.o.o. exported 10 percent of its products, but the company expects these figures to jump 30 or 40 percent till the end of 2016. At the beginning the company had only eight employees but today it employs 40 people. The average monthly salary for workers is around 3,500 Kunas, whilst the average monthly salary for employees with a high education degree is 6,000 Kunas.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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