Sunday, 20 September 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.


Forget Prince Harry and Meghan Markle the wedding of the year took place last weekend in Cavtat! Marin Čilić and our own Katarina Milković tied the knot it what was a truly romantic ceremony, elegant indeed.

I followed proceedings with interest to see if the a, b and c conditions of Dubrovnik weddings were respected, and yes of course they were. “If you have been to one wedding in Dubrovnik then you have been to them all,” once told me a wise old friend. I wasn’t so sure that I understood him…until I went to my second wedding.

So did the Čilić’s follow the three golden rules. A) wave a Croatian flag the size of a King Kong’s blanket – check. Yes, of course there was a flag, as well as a man desperately struggling to check it moving whilst giving himself a hernia. I am not sure if it was hanging out of the car window, or sunroof, as they made their way to the party but the flag was certainly spotted…well difficult to miss. And of course all the drivers leaned constantly on their horns as they formed a convey to the party. Maybe the horns should have been rule D. I was about to say that waving the British flag at a wedding isn’t really the done thing, but on the 19th of May, when Megan says “I do,” there will be more British flags flying than there is rice in China.

But I digress. And then one of the most important rules, rule B, sing the same songs your great-great grandparents sung at their wedding. Yes, I took my just two weddings to get into the swing (and learn the lyrics) to all of the cheerful songs. I wonder of the songwriter gets royalties every time there is a wedding. Basically these songs are all based around love for Dalmatia, where people were born, how they are now married, their love of the sea and sorrow at the loss of a son. Rule B should be repeated several times throughout the day until you are brainwashed and singing the songs for the next two weeks. Now there were a few traditional tunes sung around the church, so I can only presume that the “love for Dalmatia” continued in the evening with Mr. Gibonni.

The only rule that I am not sure about is rule C. This rule involves a Croatian invention, an uncle and a vast amount of alcohol. You’ve all seen it, maybe even you are the drunk uncle. Yes, at a certain point in the evening, normally just as an old classic song starts, an uncle who has had rather one to many glasses of wine jumps up onto the dance floor and feels the need to remove his tie and wrap it around his forehead. As I say I wasn’t invited to the big party in Revelin so I can’t confirm that a slightly older man with a tic was bouncing around the dance floor, however I am willing to bet that there was. I can only hope that the three golden rules were followed.

And while I am talking about uncles, or should I say all slightly older men, why is it that they still think they have those Travolta moves. You can guarantee that after a few glasses of bubbly the uncles will explode onto the dance floor thinking they are re-enacting a scene from Dirty Dancing, you half expect them to lift Jennifer Grey above their heads. “Come on darling, this is our song,” they scream as they try to drag wives, and in fact anyone who they pass on their way to the centre of the boogying. And inevitably their spin on the floor (with their tie waving around their head looking like a Red Indian) is short lived as their bodies aren’t quite as young as their minds think they are. That was always one of the highlights of a wedding here for me. In fact, I think I even joined them with a tie around my own head once…if you can’t beat them join them. Could Prince Harry be spotted with a tie wrapped around his forehead…well I wouldn’t be overly surprised.

Whereas the British follow the traditions of - something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – here it is more of – something to wave, something to sing and something to tie around your head.

We are certainly in wedding season, and over the warmer summer months we can expect another influx of foreign brides and grooms taking their vows in Dubrovnik. And why not. Who wouldn’t want to tie the knot in such a romantic city? Weddings just have the certain special feeling with St. Blaise looking down on you. You just get caught up in the romance. And it isn’t only us mortals that fall in love at weddings, “When I was a seminarian, I was dazzled by a girl I met at an uncle's wedding. I was surprised by her beauty, her intellectual brilliance... and, well, I was bowled over for quite a while.” Who said these passionate words - Pope Francis.

More flights to Ukraine could soon be in the pipeline as the Ukraine Deputy Minister for Infrastructure is pushing to ease the current restrictions. In 2021 Ukraine International Airlines will launch flights between Zagreb and Kiev, but there is the real chance of flights earlier if the restrictions are lifted.

Speaking to EX-YU Aviation the Viktor Dogvan, the Ukraine Deputy Minister, commented that "In order for us to implement these plans, it is very important for a bilateral air agreement to be drafted between our two countries, which is in line with EU legislation." Adding that “We must remove restrictions currently imposed on airlines in order for them to launch operations between the two countries.”

There are, according to research, a number of airlines interested in operating flights between Croatian and Ukraine. The Croatian national airline, Croatia Airlines, even expressed an interest in opening direct flights, but later reversed any planned move.

"While Ukraine International Airlines and Croatia Airlines do not plan to introduce flights in 2018, we as a regulator should provide such opportunities. This is how nonstop flights from Ljubljana, which are operated by Adria Airways, recently resumed", commented the Ministry. Adding that "In addition, Croatia is a member of the European Union with which we wish to liberalise air transport".

The German supermarket giant, Lidl, is planning to sell cannabis in their stores in Switzerland. The cannabis, which will be locally grown, and a gram and a half will cost around 15 Euros or a 3-gram bag for just over 16 Euros.

Croatia made the news earlier this year when it was announced that first cannabis treatment centre in Europe opened in April. The well-known Croatian wellness resort Terme Sveti Martin (Spa Resort Sveti Martin) in the Međimurje County is the first destination to introduce the first European Canabio centre, where preparations of medicinal cannabis will be used for regenerative purposes.

In Switzerland it is legal to sell cannabis, it has been so since 2011, for over 18s and as long as the cannabis has less than 1 percent THC.

Lidl commented that “The manufacturer relies on sustainable agriculture and refrains entirely from adding chemical, synthetic or genetically modified substances.”

Indications on the market and the results of sales promise a good tourism year which has already been seen in turnover in the first few months of the year however the problem of the lack of staff is bothering a lot of companies, particularly smaller companies in hospitality, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said this week. The lack of labour in the tourism sector was one of the main topics at a meeting between the HGK and representatives from the tourism sector. Hospitality and restauranteurs underscored that for months noone has responded to vacancies for waiters, particularly in continental parts of the country, including Zagreb.

Workers are lacking in hotels too the director of the National Association of Hoteliers UPUHH, Ivan Bahunek, said and added that the problem of workers can be felt throughout the tourism world and that Croatia, like other countries, will have to increase its imported labour.

Ivana Maltar from the UHPA - national association of travel agencies - said that the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation too will further burden business in tourism.

Nevertheless, hoteliers and agencies and camps all expect good results this year the director of the KUH -National Association of Camps - Adriano Palman, said as summer capacities in Croatia have virtually already sold out.

In February a total of 229,139 passengers passed through Croatian airports, which is 13.9 percent more than in the same month last year, while the number of passengers rose by more than 14 percent in the first two months of this year, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

In the first two months of this year, 481,000 passengers travelled through Croatian airports, or 14.7 percent more than in the same period last year.

The latest CBS data show that the largest number of passengers in February was recorded at capital’s airport in Zagreb, through which about 169,600 passengers or 10 percent more than in the second month of last year.

Zagreb was followed by Split Airport, with 29,109 passengers and a 28.5 percent growth, and Dubrovnik Airport, with 24,181 passengers and a growth of 6.2 percent.

Official statistics show that most passengers who used Croatian airports in February were on airplanes arriving from or traveling to German airports.

An official trailer for the latest Robin Hood has been released by Lionsgate Movies and Dubrovnik features heavily. The blockbuster, which was shot in Dubrovnik in February 2017, stars Jamie Foxx, Taron Egerton, Eve Hewson and Jamie Dornan.

Set for release on the 21st of November this year the lengthy teaser trailer shows all the explosions and action from what would appear to be a high-octane version of Robin Hood. The original release date was set for march this year, but was then pushed back to September, but now it is clear that an autumn date of November 21st has been decided on.

all action robin hood in dubrovnik 2018

All action Taron Egerton as Robin Hood - Screenshot  

The all action movie features Taron Egerton as Robin Hood, Eve Hewson (the daughter of Bono from U2) as Maid Marion, Oscar award winning Jamie Foxx as Little John and the Irish heartthrob and star of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, Jamie Dornan, as Will Scarlet. However, and spoiler alert, it would appear from the trailer that Dornan comes to a sticky end as he can be seen falling to the ground, presumably shot by arrows.

stardun in final robin hood 2018

The main street in Dubrovnik, Stradun, in the final version of Robin Hood - Screenshot 

Dubrovnik was one of the main locations for newest Robin Hood flick, and acted as one of the sites for Nottingham. Interestingly the film originally carried the title of Robin Hood: Origins, but this seems to have been dropped and the teaser advertises just Robin Hood. “Dubrovnik is a vital part of Robin Hood: Origins and in the final version the whole city will be visible,” commented the director Otto Bathurst, and from this latest trailer it is clear he was on the money.

The cobbled old stone streets of the historic Old City of Dubrovnik are supposed to be a haven for pedestrians, but this morning they resembled a busy highway. Trucks, cars and delivery vans of all shapes and sizes piled onto the ancient streets, streets that weren’t constructed with vehicles this size and weight in mind.

Trucks delivery produce to the restaurants, construction lorries picking up broken cement and even a gas bottle delivery van, the peace of the Old City of Dubrovnik was broken by the sound of coughing exhaust pipes.

A reader of The Dubrovnik Times filmed this video yesterday morning in the Old City of Dubrovnik, we counted 12 vehicles in total. What makes it even worse is that the video was filmed at 8 am when children were making their way to school.

Whereas restaurants and shops need to receive deliveries of fresh produce there is a regulation that these deliveries must be carried out between 6 and 8 in the morning. And as every vehicle that enters into the Old City Walls needs a permit it surely shouldn’t be too complicated to limit the numbers. And finally would it not be more environmentally friendly if only electric vehicles were actually given permission.

Dubrovnik has achieved record tourism results for the first four months of this year! From the 1st of January to the 30th of April a total of 154,220 tourists stayed in Dubrovnik, which is 4 percent more than the same period from 2017, which was a record breaking year.

There were 436,121 overnight stays, or 3 percent more than last year. In the first four months the most numerous tourists were from the United Kingdom, Croatia, USA, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, France, Spain and South Korea.

In the first four months of 2018 hotels had the most tourist arrivals, 118,644 guests, followed by private accommodation with 27,476 guests.

In April alone there were 88,115 tourist arrivals, a one percent increase over April last year, and most of the guests were from the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Austria, Croatia and Finland.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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