Tuesday, 18 September 2018
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

Dubrovnik has found itself on another international list for the best filming locations to visit in the world, this time for Star Wars.

“Dubrovnik, Croatia is not just a popular filming location for Star Wars, but also an important one for Game of Thrones. The location apparently lends itself to particularly otherworldly settings in both franchises,” writes the Canadian website thetalko.com.

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Dubrovnik was used as a location for the Casino City of Canto Bight in “The Last Jedi” and has already attracted many fans of the franchise. There are specialised tour companies offering tours of the city and many of the souvenir shops also sell merchandise from the film.

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“Dubrovnik's iconic stone-wall defences regularly invoke platitudes of otherworldly-ness, according to Time Out. Built in the 12th century to ward off invasions from seafaring foes, the walls of Dubrovnik slot nicely into Star Wars multiverse,” concludes thee website which also lists the Yuma Desert in Arizona, Guilin in China and the Mayan Ruins in Tikal, Guatemala as must visits for fans of Star Wars.

We just love catching up with the most important cog in The Dubrovnik Times watch, you the readers. And this week we had the opportunity to meet two couples who have been following us and Dubrovnik for years, they are truly Dubrovnik lovers. We meet the two couples, Caroline and Phil Walter, from England, and Jenny and David Pirie from Scotland, in their favourite restaurant in Dubrovnik, Konoba Veranda in Štikovica. They aren’t even really guests of the restaurant any more, far from it, they are friends. Without doubt one of the key factors of tourism in people, friendly welcoming people, and Maja and Mirko Andrić from Konoba Veranda are just the perfect hosts.

When did your love affair with Dubrovnik start? Why did you decide to come to Dubrovnik for the first time four years ago?

Jenny Pirie – It was our 25th wedding anniversary and I was looking around for destinations and after I read the reviews and did my background we decided to come to this villa and we really haven’t looked back since. We wandered down to the beach and were amazed how clear it was and how many fish we could see. David found an octopus and was running along the beach like a little boy telling everyone about it…just fantastic.

David Pirie – The first morning when we were standing on the balcony looking out at the sunshine and the twinkling Adriatic Sea we knew we had made the right decision.

When did you first discover Dubrovnik?

Phil Walter – We first came in 2015 and have never looked back. And every year since then we’ve been coming back.

What were your expectations before you actually came to Dubrovnik? Did you have some preconceived opinions?

DP – I personally thought that Dubrovnik would be much bigger than it actually is. We’d friends who had been before and they told us it was lovely but very hilly. Going up the cable car and looking down on the city, all those terracotta roofs, just magical.

JP – (laughing) Yes, I nearly did the first time I walked up the stairs to the Old City Walls. But when we saw the historic city for the first time…well it just takes your breath away. The pavement of the Stradun is just beautiful and we admire it every time we walk along.

Is Dubrovnik a victim of its own success and is now facing overcrowding problems. Can you feel a difference in the four years that you have been coming here?

DP – Yes, it can get crowded but we have one good tip and that is to look at the Port of Dubrovnik website in the morning to see how many cruise ships are coming in on a particular day and then just plan your visit around that information.

JP – We really don’t mind if its busy, I know a lot of people do mind if it gets too busy, but we come from Edinburgh and when our festival is on you really can’t move for people. We really don’t mid the crowds although we know that for people who live here, especially in the Old City, that it must be a huge problem. I actually feel sorry for the people who come on cruise ships as they can’t get to experience what the heart and soul of the city is all about. It is such a shame for them.

What advice would you give to people thinking of coming to Dubrovnik on holiday?

PW – Come with an open mind.

Caroline Walter – There is nothing that we don’t like about Dubrovnik, we just love it all.

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Are there any other tips that you picked up during your time here that you could pass on?

JP – Do your research for restaurants on TripAdvisor. In fact, do your background and research on the whole destination. Get your snorkel and get in the sea. And don’t be go…go…go all the time. Take your time enjoy it. Have a coffee and people watch on the Stradun. Just enjoy it and relax.

DP – Most of the beaches are pebble so don’t forget your sea shoes and don’t worry about stepping on a sea urchin although it might hurt they aren’t poisonous.

But you don’t just spend two weeks lying on the beach?

JP – No, we do like to spread our wings a little. We’ve been to the local Elaphite Islands, to Mostar, to Cavtat and many of the local sights. Although we combine this we taking things easy as well.

What keeps bringing your back? Can you put your finger on what is special about Dubrovnik compared to other holiday destinations?

PW – The people, they are just so friendly and welcoming. We can also honesty say that we have never had a bad meal in Dubrovnik, we just love the food.

CW – Yes, the people have made our holiday.

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Konoba Veranda 

You’ve been here for two weeks and eaten in Konoba, or Restaurant Veranda every night? Does that mean you’ve eaten the whole menu? And has Croatian cuisine changed your eating habits?

DP – (laughing) Yes, pretty much every night and yes we’ve probably tried the whole menu.

JP – Yes, Croatian cooking certainly has changed my eating habits. I didn’t really eat fish or seafood before I came here. But now I’ve had not only fish but octopus, black risotto made from the ink of octopus, in fact I very rarely eat meat when I come here. The octopus salad here is absolutely wonderful. And I also love the anchovies here.

It seems like Dubrovnik has been almost a life changing experience for you?

JP – It is difficult to explain. I am not a very brave person, but Dubrovnik has made me realise I can be brave. To do things in the past that I’ve been scared of, I feel like Dubrovnik has given us a different outlook on life. It has broadened our life and our way of thinking. It is really hard to put into words just how special this place is. Dubrovnik is part of us now. This will sound strange but the thought of not coming back here is physically painful.

DP – A big part of why we come back here is the people, the friends that we have made. They have helped us and made our stay so unforgettable.

Will you come back? Has Dubrovnik become part of your annual holiday plans?

CW – Oh yes, we will always come back at least once a year. Not only that but we will continue to recommend Dubrovnik, Cavtat and all these lovely places to all our friends and family.

PW – The Old City of Dubrovnik is just so special that we can’t think of not coming back. I am also a huge Game of Thrones fan so Dubrovnik has even greater appeal for me. Fantastic city, great ambience and really great food.

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Konoba Veranda 

Croatia is hoping to attract more investment from China and ties in the tourism industry are growing year-on-year commented the Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli.

Dubrovnik will host the 4th High-Level Meeting of Tourism Cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) from the 18th to the 20th of September.

Around 200,000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit Croatia this year and next year the number will grow even further.

"This is primarily about simplifying and accelerating visa procedures, opening and introducing new direct airlines with China, and adapting Croatian destinations to online payment services through Chinese mobile applications," commented the Minister for the Chinese publication Xinhua.

Adding that "Croatia is also represented in China through the participation of famous Croatians who are well-known persons in China through programs broadcast on Chinese TV shows, such as football coach Miroslav Ciro Blazevic, singer Jelena Rozga, musicians Maksim Mrvica and Ana Rucner," the minister said.

Croatia secured the bronze medal at the IV Balkan Bowl in Sombor with two players from the Dubrovnik Sharks starring in the tournament. This was the fourth time that the Balkan Bowl Tournament in the flag version of American Football has been held and national teams from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and an All Star North all took part in the tournament that kicked off at today at 11.00 in the PIK Stadium.

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The Croatian National team had two Dubrovnik Shark stars in the line-up, Marko Miletić and Lujo Domaćin, as well as players from Osijek Cannons, Bjelovar Greenhorns, Zaprešić Saints, Karlovac Dukes and Split Sea Wolves.

Croatia picked up the bronze medal after defeating the All Star North team and Bulgaria. Serbia won the gold medal after winning all their matches, with Slovenia taking the silver.

Speaking to The Dubrovnik Times, Marko Miletić commented that “Playing for the national team of your sport in any way is the biggest honour that I can feel as a player. We played well, and gave our best and take a proud bronze home, knowing there is room to improve. I'm especially honoured to be named MVP of the tournament and see my hard work pay off.”

1. round
Slovenia vs Croatia 44-19 (19-12)
Bulgaria vs Serbia 0-49 (0-21)
2. round
Slovenia vs Bulgaria 39-6 (20-0)
Serbia vs All Star North 43-0 (22-0)
3. round
All Star North vs Slovenia 6-48 (6-34)
Bulgaria vs Croatia 0-53 (0-28)
4. round
Croatia vs All Star North 28-0 (14-0)
Slovenia vs Serbia 20-28 (18-20)
5. round
All Star North vs Bulgaria 13-0 (6-0)
Serbia vs Croatia 52-19 (33-19)

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So how would you describe the Old City of Dubrovnik in only three words? We took to the streets of Dubrovnik today to ask tourists to see if they could put their finger on it.

Beautiful was a word that came up on more than one occasion, but so did overcrowded. From France to the USA and Belgium…see how tourists to Dubrovnik sum up the city in only three words.

Check out the video below and let us know which three words you'd choose 

The tourist season doesn’t look like coming to an end any time soon in Dubrovnik. The streets of the historic Old City core were just as busy today as they are in the middle of the summer season.

Cafes and restaurants were full and ice-cream parlours were doing a roaring trade. Hotels and private accommodation are reporting great capacity numbers for September and October and as the long-range weather forecast looks like delivering an Indian Summer it would seem that the city will go directly from summer into Christmas this year.

Check out our photo gallery from today

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A young German tourist is in critical condition in Dubrovnik General Hospital after falling from a rooftop terrace in the historic Old City of Dubrovnik. A group of five young German tourists, who according to reports were all drunk, when one of them apparently tried to jump from one rooftop to another and fell and landed on the stone street below.

The accident happened last night in Petilovrijenci Street in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik late last night. The 24-year-old suffered serious injuries and is in the emergency department of the Dubrovnik General Hospital.

The Dubrovnik Police Force commented that “A 24-year-old German citizen fell from the roof terrace due to alcoholism and has suffered severe injuries.”

- Dubrovnik is still Dubrovnik, this is Ragusa, it is an entirely cohesive, architectural brilliant, city state and always will be. There is nothing like this city anywhere in Europe. And also this sense more than just normal civilisation that’s what Dubrovnik is for me. It’s living for something bigger, its Libertas, it’s a bigger ideal, it is not just urban living but a suggestion of something more. And none of that has changed over the years – Wise words and ones that I wish I had written. You either get Dubrovnik, the spirit of the city, or you don’t. And these beautiful words come from a foreign journalist who quite clearly understands the heartbeat of the cobbled streets.

I would suggest that there are many citizens who don’t understand the city like this foreign reporter. There are those who take it for granted. There are those who use it for their own means. There are those who are completely oblivious to the sheer magnificence. And to tell you the truth I feel sorry for all those people. Dubrovnik will outlive all of us. It has been that way for generations. If you only see the stone facades, the plazas, the proud walls and the glorious architecture as just buildings then you are missing the point.

Sometimes, but only sometimes I come across visitors to our city who have the spirit of the city in their blood. I had one such occasion last weekend. “It might seem stupid to say but Dubrovnik has changed me,” said the friendly lady opposite me in a restaurant. She has been coming to Dubrovnik with her husband for four years and after only a short time with them it was clear that they really understood the city. “I feel sorry for the cruise ship passengers that come every year, I really feel sad for them, they can never feel what Dubrovnik is,” she added obviously getting quite emotional. And if Dubrovnik doesn’t make you emotional in one way or another then again you don’t understand it.

So just to fill in why I sitting with a couple from Scotland. Social media has its disadvantages; in many ways it could be called anti-social media with users addicted to collecting likes. But there are rare occasions when it really pays off. It can make the world smaller. This couple had meet another couple in a restaurant and got talking. They soon found they had a common “friend” The Dubrovnik Times Facebook page. Incredibly the two couples had been following and actively commenting on our page for years. And to make the situation even more unusual the owner of the restaurant was also a fan of the page.

When I started the newspaper and the website I really didn’t know just how far it would go and just many people from all over the world would be part of it. Makes me feel a little humble. So when I received a call to come and meet them all I couldn’t turn it down. It felt like walking into a family meeting. And there in an essence was the absolute core of tourism, people and their interaction and friendships. I was sitting with six people who I didn’t really know but we all had a common love of Dubrovnik. “It is hard to put into words how we feel about this city. A big part of why we come back is because of the people, the friends that we have made here,” she continued. “Dubrovnik is part of us now and the thought of not ever coming back here is physically painful,” she added. If I could find some way to bottle this feeling I would be a millionaire. If this love, this undying emotion could be passed on to people in power, decision makers in the city then there would be no limit to our success. As The Beatles sang “Money can’t buy you love.”

If our combined energies could just all be challenged into preserving what we already have then we would all be winners. If we could convince these same decision makers to listen to the soul of the city. As the great Winston Churchill once said “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Seems to me that we need a few more listeners!

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Dubrovnik

Clear
Humidity: 85%
Wind: N at 6.44 km/h
Wednesday
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Thursday
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Friday
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Saturday
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