Tuesday, 21 August 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

Every month of 2018 has seen an increase in passengers through the Croatian capital’s airport and July was no different. Zagreb airport had its busiest July on record and handled a massive 379,193 passengers a solid increase of almost 8 percent compared to the same month from last year.

In July alone the number of aircraft landing and taking off at Zagreb airport was 4,461 which again was an increase over last year this time by 7.2 percent. From the beginning of this year until the end of July the airport greeted 1.85 million passengers, a whopping 9.7 percent increase over the first seven months of the year from 2017. And the indicators for the rest of the year are just as positive.

Zagreb has rapidly become a tourist hotspot in the region, attracting tourists on weekend breaks and during the city’s winter festival. The airport is the busiest in the country, with Split the second busiest, and 2018 could well be the best ever year in terms of passenger numbers.

Dubrovnik rocked this afternoon as an earthquake rumbled through the city. The epicentre of the earthquake was in Albania and it measured 5.3 on the Mercalli scale.

According to official information the quake was centred at a depth of 10 kilometres and was based 38 kilometres northeast of the capital Tirana.

The earthquake was certainly felt in Dubrovnik and another quake, earlier in the afternoon at 2.30pm, was felt in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

With temperatures touching 37 degrees in Metković yesterday it was important to keep cool. People sat on shady benches in the park, hid under sun umbrellas in the café bars, but some took more drastic measures to fight the heat wave.

With the temperature of the Neretva River only around 14 degrees these children found an instant cure to the rising temperatures. Jumping from platforms and even from the main bridge in Metković it certainly looked like fun and as these children explained “We do it every day in the summer…we don’t feel the cold.”

Check out the video

I think I might be turning into a nudist. It is ever so liberating. The cool air rushing over every part of your body. Uninhibited by clothes. As naked as the day I was born.

Yes, August is upon us and I am melting. This has to be my least favourite month in the year. The sun is just punishing, the crowds frustrating, the traffic disastrous and the heat at night unbearable. Who would go on holiday in August? Maybe only to Finland or Siberia.

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it, once said the writer Russell Baker. Well Mr. Baker I am not really liking it at the moment. It seems strange an Englishman moaning about having too much good weather but I am really missing rain. I have never been one for lying on the beach. It seems a wholly pointless exercise. Maybe I have some Asian blood in my family tree. For the Japanese rubbing your body with sun cream and then frying in the sun is simply off limits. They hide, rather sensibly, behind umbrellas and flowing white clothes and do their best to stay in the shade. Now that is a clever nation. I would prefer to spend a day under the air-conditioning than a day under the sun on the beach. And there lies the problem.

We are currently in our summer residence, yes like the rest of the city we rent out our apartment in the summer and move. Now whilst our summer residence is charming and spacious it lacks one vital ingredient – air conditioning. Our only form of cooling is a fan that blows constantly. In fact, it is just circulating the warm air around and around in circles, so far from cooling it is really a free-standing hairdryer. This means that we aren’t spending too much time in the apartment, or as my wife says “our oven”, but living an al fresco lifestyle.

And that got me thinking. The air-conditioning, although it has its obvious advantages, has killed some of our social interaction. Whereas before, especially in the Old City, families and neighbours would gather outside their homes on summer evenings, now they are locked in their homes with the doors and windows firmly shut. It would seem that many life’s modern technologies are forcing people apart. The mobile being thee absolute worst example.

So with a lack of air-conditioning I had to invent a way of helping us sleep at night. It involved a hose pipe, a sun umbrella and a pallet. I fixed the hose to the tap of the shower in our bathroom, ran it out through the front door and then I needed some height. So the sun umbrella had more than one use for keeping us cool. I wound the head of the hose over one of the arms of the sun umbrella and then took an attachment for the hose which would normally be used for watering the grass and “hey presto” we had an outside shower. The temperature of the water could be controlled from inside and the shower head could be twisted to turn it off. This was showering “au naturel” as the French would say. We stand of the pallet so that the water from the shower runs away into the grass. We even hang the shower gel and shampoo from hooks on the umbrella. And I have to tell you it is bloody lovely, truly refreshing.

Of course the advantage that we have is that nobody looks directly into out garden. Otherwise they would think that a nudist camp, or a swinger party was being held in Zupa. At least I hope that nobody looks directly into our garden. And if they do please remember that the water is normally quite cold (if you know what I mean.) And yes I sing under the outside shower. Covered in bubbles from head to toe and completely naked I often spark up a tune. This could all prove rather embarrassing if a visitor turned up unannounced.

But I must say that being a nudist, well a nudist in my own garden, is therapeutic. And when the water stops and the cool air whistles around the cooling effect is better than any air-conditioning. And yes the whole family is enjoying the shower, even the dogs. No more sleepless nights. I am now a night-time nudist and I love it.       

Zlatko Dalić will continue is his role as the coach of the Croatian national football team. There had been some speculation that Dalić (51) would walk away from the role after taking Croatia to the silver medal in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. However, after meeting with the president of the Croatian Football Association, Davor Šuker, this week in Novi Vindolski he has decided to continue in the position.

“It was nice to remember all those beautiful moments from the World Cup with Zlatko, and the silver medal was proof that everyone who was involved done a top job. I am glad we openly discussed what could be better in the future and that together we will fight for new victories,” commented Suker after the meeting.

And it was clear that Dalić had had some reservations about his relationship with the president in the past. “It was important to talk openly with the president about topics and I thank Davor for understanding what I thought were not correct. I hope that we have sorted all those things out and I look forward to the new challenges ahead,” concluded Dalić.

The French government have brought in measures this year that could well be welcomed in Croatia. Smoking has been completely prohibited on 50 French beaches this summer in a campaign for “smoke free spaces.”

The Ligue Contre le cancer Association launched the campaign and have managed to get the help of local authorities across the country to participate. Apart from public beaches smoking has also been banned in parks and other public outdoor spaces with a total of 29 cities signed up to the initiative.

Nice was the first city to ban smoking on one beach back in 2012, and now there are four such beaches in the city.

Croatia has the unfortunate position of being one of the leading European Union countries in terms of numbers of active smokers. Warnings of packets, bans in restaurants and a hike in prices have done little to lower the number of smokers and quite clearly more proactive measures are required. A ban on smoking on Croatian beaches would not only lower the risk from passive smoking but also help to curb the problem with litter, cigarette butts, polluting Croatia’s greatest natural resource.

The lead singer of the U2, Bobo Vox, is back in Croatia and enjoying life on the Adriatic coast. Yesterday Bono arrived on the Paklinski islands near Hvar and visited a restaurant he first came to in 2016.

In the summer on 2016 Bono had lunch at Laganini Lounge Bar and was so satisfied with the meal that he promised to come back in the future. Yesterday he was back and this time he took the time to meet and chat with the chef Hrvoje Zirojević.

According to reports in the Croatian press the two shared a glass of wine and had a chat before Zirojević prepared a two-course meal which included homemade macaroni, shrimps and truffles, smoked risotto and cannelloni with octopus.


Anyone who has ever dived into the Adriatic Sea in Croatia knows that it is one of the cleanest seas in the world. And the popular website housebeautiful.com has recognised its beauty by naming the Dalmatian coastline as one of the 11 clearest bodies of water in the world.

“The Adriatic Sea along this coast is part of the reason Croatia has become one of the hottest new destinations to visit in Europe. Dramatic limestone cliffs line the water and make it a totally unique experience,” writes the website placing Croatia as the eight clearest seas in the world.

Cala Macarelleta in Spain is placed on top of the list, which also includes Jenny Lake in Wyoming, Koh Phi Phi Don in Thailand and The Maldive Islands.

Read the full article on housebeautiful.com here




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The Voice of Dubrovnik


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