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.
This is what happened to me last week: together with my two small kids, I set off from the village of Brgat to Dubrovnik. Some 50 meters from our house, I saw a rather big snake in the middle of the road. I couldn’t have been mistaken: it was one of the local vipers, i.e. a venomous specie, and although it wasn’t moving, it was pretty clear that the snake was alive. However: it was calm, confident and in a way, it was beautiful, portraying perfection of nature. I stepped out of the car and within a secure distance, I tried to throw little stones at the snake so it bloody moves from the road and doesn’t get run over. While the viper refused to move, another car – one of our neighbours from the village – queued behind me. “What shall we do?” I shouted at him.
“This!” he shouted back and then, overtaking me in manner you can only see in the Balkans, he ran over the snake’s tail, obviously not killing it: it was just enough to cause pain to the animal which was now half stapled to the asphalt, struggling for life inside a ripped bloodied skin.
My kids screamed in horror. “Mom, the snake is hurt!”
The neighbour didn’t drive off. He observed the scene through the rear mirror, satisfied.
“Asshole!” I yelled, despite years of meticulous strategy and effort I invested into my good relations with the village. “You feel better now?”
“It’s the horned viper, stupid!” he yelled back.
“What does it matter? You f*cking go back now and end his suffering!”
Annoyed, the neighbour drove back and forth over the snake until it turned into a motionless stripe of bloody meat. Then, tyres squeaking, he took off.
Kids sobbed. I felt horrible. The snake was dead, as was my illusion that I could ever integrate here.
In the next days, I shared the story with about thirty random local people and asked them, what would they do: all of them answered the same – of course they would run over the snake! Wait, they actually did run over it the other day, yes, completely intentionally, and that is nothing – there was a neighbour, who once saw some peculiar kind of snake at his balcony, so he chased him into a hole in the façade and he sealed the hole with cement. You know, it’s bloody dangerous! It jumps at you to attack! It is totally coldblooded! Vicious! There was a case of a viper getting into somebody’s open trunk of a car! An airplane – there was even a movie about that!
Compared to all the stories and warnings about vipers in Dalmatia, Snakes on a Plane was a comedy. And I had to conclude, that being a snake in Dalmatia was often a very tragic fate.
Practically speaking, there are a few things to keep in mind about vipers in Dalmatia:
1) It’s your choice and right to panic, but feel free to tick off vipers from your “scared of” list (you can always keep drunk drivers and Donald Trump).
2) There are only two venomous species: the common viper and the horned viper (locally called a “poskok” or “crnokrug”), both easily distinguishable by a zig-zag dark pattern on their backs. They are both relatively common in Dalmatia, however, both are protected by domestic and international law, so intentional killing or torturing is strictly prohibited.
3) Neither of the vipers will attack unless physically irritated, stepped on or feeling considerably endangered. Common sense is required when hiking or walking in rural areas of Dalmatia (solid boots, long pants, making noise as you walk to warn snakes about your presence).
4) In the summer months, when the vipers’ natural habitat becomes very dry, they do get closer to populated areas and there have been rare cases of a snake entering a garden or a balcony in search of water. Also, horned viper sometimes rests on the lower branches of trees, so particularly when hiking, be careful when walking underneath the trees (consider alternative paths if possible).
5) If bit by a viper, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. If not treated, a bite by an adult horned viper can be fatal.
6) Vipers’ natural enemies are cats, mongooses (widely spread on Peljesac and Mljet) and glass snakes.
7) Vipers themselves feed mostly on mice, rats and other pests, hence keeping the numbers of small mammals within limits (particularly local farmers should keep this in mind next time before they decide to smash a viper with a hoe).
Blanka Pavlovic a.k.a. the Adriatic Bride is a Czech writer. She studied law (Prague) and creative writing (Oxford). As a lawyer, she specialized in international human rights law, first working for the European Court of Human Rights, then for a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. She wrote five books, among them Total Balkans, The Handbook of the Adriatic Bride or The Return of the Adriatic Bride. She now lives with her family between Dubrovnik and Donji Brgat. More information and English translations of her work are available through www.blankacechova.com
If you are in Dubrovnik or planning to visit it any time soon, it’s good to know that from today, June 15th, there will be a new bus timetable when it comes to urban routes, as reported by the Libertas Dubrovnik. Since the season has already started, buses will be driving longer hours. You can see the detailed bus timetable here. Just look at it carefully, because some of the late night drives will start running from July 9th.
Since we are on the bus topic, here is some more useful information. In Dubrovnik area, ticket bought in bus costs 15 Kuna, ‘’S’’ Ticket or one hour ticket bought at kiosk is 12 Kuna and daily ticket is 30 Kuna. For a bus to Zupa Dubrovacka you’ll pay 18 Kuna, to Cavtat 25 Kuna, to Ston 40 Kuna, while ticket for Slano is 23 Kuna. You can see the lines map here and also, you can download the app that will make your whole Dubrovnik bus driving experience much easier.
The main coastal road in the suburb of Nuncijata has one again proved a black spot for drivers. Yesterday at 5.30pm a police motorbike collided with a Smart car. According to a statement from a witness the police motorbike crashed into the Smart as the car was joining the main road from a side road.
The police officer was injured in the accident whilst the driver of the car was uninjured. This is just the latest in a series of accidents at this portion of the coastal road. The road was closed in both directions while the emergency services dealt with the situation.
Baggizmo has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the first smart wallet in the world, the so-called Wiseward.
Ladislav Juric, the team leader of the popular Croatian start up, says that with this new project they want to show technology and design their competitors have not dare to work with.
In terms of design, Wiseward is a classic handy minimalistic wallet that comes in six colours and has room for 15 credit cards. However, this wallet also has wireless charging so a user can remove a credit card or a banknote he or she wants while in the dark with a help of a RGB LED light integrated in the wallet.
The smart wallet also has an integrated small UV light that helps check if a banknote is original or fake by scanning for protective metal threads in the banknote. In addition, it also uses Bluetooth technology to connect to a mobile device and notify the owner with a sound alarm if he or she forgets the wallet or in case someone tries to steal it.
The Wiseward wallet is equipped with a gyroscope, a speedometer and a magnetic sensor that enables the owner to find out if anyone opened the wallet, messed about it, moved it etc. while he or she was not around.
Juric also explains that the wallet comes with RFID protection for ten credit cards against scanning without the owner's consent, as well as with five slots that can be used to scan credit cards without opening the wallet. Wiseward has an NFC chip that can be programmed by the owner via a mobile application.
According to information from the Zupa Tourist Board the number of tourists in the borough has risen impressively on last year. Zupa, a borough just south of Dubrovnik, has received 25,822 tourists in the first six months of 2017 and achieved 91,709 overnight stays.
Compared to the same period from last year this is a massive 39.72 percent increase in the number of overnight stays. And when you take into account that Zupa is still without the capacity of Hotels Plat, a hotel/resort complex that is undergoing total reconstruction, the tourist figures in Zupa are even more impressive.
Just before the summer months officially begin, most people are trying to decide where to go for their vacation.
Nowadays more and more people are looking for cheaper destinations outside their home country in order to spend their summer vacation exploring new places and nations.
For those who choose to stay in Europe, the London Evening Standard has published a list of the top 25 cheapest city breaks in Europe. It is interesting to note that two cities from Croatia, Zagreb and Zadar have also found their place on this list.
According to the British newspaper, the average spending in Zagreb per night is £32 or 260 Kunas, whilst in Zadar is £36.50 or 306 Kunas. The capital cities of the neighbouring countries of Slovenia (Ljubljana) and Serbia (Belgrade) are also on the list.
As far as other European cities are concerned, the average spending in Bratislava per night is £36 (around 300 Kunas) as much as in Athens and Riga. However, the average spending in Istanbul is much lower, around £27 (around 226 Kunas) just like in Belgrade.
The term ''nude swimming'' has a very long tradition in Croatia. However, only a smaller part of the population is willing to swim naked or to do ''things'' in front of other nudists.
It is interesting to note that one of the nudists who swam naked in the Adriatic was the British King Edward VIII. During his cruise along the Croatian coast in 1936 together with his wife-to-be Wallis Simpson, they used to take a dip in the Kandarola Bay on the island of Rab. This way they popularized this kind of swimming on the island and in the country as well.
Therefore, if you find yourself in Croatia wondering where to place your beach towel and your naked body, here is the list of the top ten most beautiful nudist beaches in Croatia. However, before you select one of them, do not ignore the rules of decent behaviour on nudist beaches or the so-called Freikorperkultur (FKK).
The top 10 nudist beaches in Croatia are:
1. Bunculuka beach on the island of Krk
2. Jelena beach on the island of Brac
3. Mekicevica beach on the island of Hvar
4. Crvena luka beach at Biograd na Moru
5. Kazela beach at Medulin, Istria
6. Podvrske beach on the island of Murter
7. Sovinje beach on the island of Pasman
8. Sabunike beach at Nin near Zadar
9. Sahara beach on the island of Rab
10. Strasko beach on the island of Pag
The Israeli police are so thrilled with the Croatian Air Force Canadair CL-415 planes that it has posted a video on its Twitter profile.
A few days ago, the Croatian Air Force fire fighters returned to Croatia after participating in joint training with members of the Israeli fire brigade. During their training, a fire broke out near the city of Bet Guvrin in central Israel thus the Croatian fire fighters were immediately redirected to the fire scene where they successfully put out the fire.
The Israeli police also posted a few more videos on joint action of the Israeli and Croatian Air Force fire brigades.
Just to remind you, upon invitation of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu in November last year, Croatia sent two Canadair CL-415 planes as an air assistance in fighting forest fires that broke out in northern and central Israel.