Thursday, 09 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.


The world famous confectioner Buddy Valastro, also known as the Cake Boss, is coming to Croatia today and he will be one of the judges choosing the best cake with Croatian motifs. 

Dubrovka Falkoni and Kate Perovic, cake masters from Dubrovnik, made the top 10 with their cake made in the shape of Konavle traditional costume and on Saturday they have made a beautiful cake in the shape of Onofrio's fountain. The cake is truly a work of art. Sadly, they didn't make it to the top three and they were out of the competition for the best Croatian cake.

The owner and head baker of the Carlo’s Bakery and the star of the culinary and family show ‘’Cake Boss’’ which is broadcast on the TLC reality TV show, will visit Croatia today. The Zagreb event will be held at the City Centre One West on the 17th of October at 6 pm. Visitors can also meet the famous chef in the evening.

Even though this talented ladies didn't make it to the top three we are still very proud of them. For us their cakes were the best!


We might be into the second half of October but the Adriatic is still tempting. In between the clouds and rain the sunshine peeked through and brought temperatures in the mid twenties, and with the sea temperature still around 20 degrees it was a perfect day to have the sea to yourself.

The main beach in Lapad and the long sandy in Kupari both proved magnets for swimmers and sunbathers. The end of the weekend in Dubrovnik was certainly stunning. “Is it always this warm in October,” questioned a young couple from France before diving into the Adriatic.

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The popular British artist and photographer, Bari Goddard, has presented the magical photos he took of Dubrovnik this summer at an exhibition in the middle of London. Goddard is a self-confessed lover of Croatia and Dubrovnik and this summer held an exhibition in Dubrovnik as part of the British Week in Dubrovnik and the Midsummer Scene Festival.

The exhibition in London opened on the 14th of October in the Croatian Embassy in London and will remain open until the 18th of November. Goddard highlights the Midsummer Scene Festival with their unique theatre performances in Dubrovnik and the beauty of the Old City of Dubrovnik in this latest exhibition.

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Next year Croatian hotels will need more than 15,000 new seasonal workers due to new investments in the tourism industry and good tourist prognosis for 2017. But it will be very difficult task for the country due to the deficit of workers and an increased emigration of people from Slavonia which is the traditional source of working staff for the auxiliary professions in tourism.

Due to the deficit problem they faced at the beginning of this season, the Association of Employers in Croatian Hospitality (UPUHH) and the Croatian Bureau of Employment (HZZ) have already started to actively work on gathering employees and on their education which may not completely solve the problem in 2017, but is as they say ''a good start and this situation should not be repeated again''.

At the end of June earlier this year the Croatian Bureau of Employment and the Croatian Chamber of Trade (HOK) signed a cooperation agreement on training for catering professions at the workplace for a specific employer. This education which emphasizes the practical skills and basic knowledge will encompass more than 1,000 unemployed people. The model has already included 240 participants.

Iva Bahunek, the director of the Association of Employers in Croatian Hospitality (UPUHH) says that data they have gathered from half of their members so far show that they will need around 7,500 seasonal workers.

''According to our polls we have estimated that Croatian hotels will need more than 15,000 workers next year. We are pleased that we have achieved a very good cooperation with our partners which is a good start to solving problems encountered by many tourist countries'', commented Bahunek.

The goal is to educate people through proven programs in the whole Croatia in order to get qualified workers for Croatian hotels by spring of 2017.

“Islands intrigue me. You can see the perimeters of your world. It's a microcosm of life,” wrote the artist Jamie Wyeth. It had been too long, far too long, since I had visited this good old friend. But to my obvious delight this old friend hadn’t changed one little bit. Mljet, how can I even describe the stunning beauty of this island paradise, my absolute favourite destination.

This time it was a teambuilding exercise, the Times team deserved a few days break and where better than Mljet. A long weekend of walking, kayaking, sightseeing and cycling was our challenge, and for one member of the team who had never sat on a bike before it was even more challenging. I thought that the island would have an “end of the season” feel, how wrong I was. The hotel, you know which one as there is only one, was a hive of activity. Walking groups, divers from all over the world and day-trippers had all descended on the hotel; the dining hours were a crush. The season was quite clearly ending with a bang for Mljet. But even with the heighted interest the shores on the lakes were peacefully quiet and as soon as we explored the rest of the island we felt like we were alone on the planet.

God was really having a good day when he created Mljet. As I am naturally curious, sometimes not always a good trait, I was keen to get a picture of the winter life from the locals.

However much I love Mljet I don’t know that I could live there for a longer period of time. “I guess you will all be hibernating in a few weeks time,” I quizzed the young receptionist. His eyes lit up. “Yes, we basically work for six months then hide for the other six,” he answered. But he seemed far from depressed at the thought of “hiding.” I pushed on “So how do you spend the colder it a little boring.” The smile across his face had already answered my question but his answer gave more insight, “Oh no, not at all. Luckily I am a fan of computer games so the winter gives me time to play,” he smiled. I was on the verge of a sarcastic answer, like “what good luck that is,” but held me tongue. “And then I sometimes help my parents in the fields,” he added.

I knew island folk had to be a special breed but here in front of me was the confirmation. He will probably live to be a hundred, as his parents and grandparents, in such a stress free environment. The culture shock would definitely be too much for me. “You basically passed through the same circumstances when you moved from London to Dubrovnik, you just adjusted your expectations and narrowed your possibilities,” explained my wife as I recounted the receptionists story to her. I had no argument. I had, and have, successfully adjusted to Dubrovnik life but the readjustment to life on an island through the winter would be just a step too far.

How to keep the island from dying then was my next thought. This was brought home when I spoke to more locals. “Our village is pretty much all pensioners, we can only hear the voices and laughs of children on the television,” commented one elderly man. Whilst a woman, quite possibly in her late eighties, harked back to another time when “the island was all about farming, wine and family,” I fear those days of her youth have gone.
We live in a world where over half of the total population live in cities. In 2007 this ugly landmark was reached and the trend shows that by 2030 over 5 billion out the global population of 8 billion will live in urban concentrations. For people who love the countryside this might be seen as a bonus, more freedom and more space to enjoy the peace. But the reality is that the countryside needs life as well. We passed countless untended olive groves, overgrown vineyards and agricultural land that had been reconquered by Mother Nature during a drive through the spine of Mljet. The odd farmer or at least farm land we saw was like finding a needle in a haystack.

One small cove which I particularly enjoy has a handful of houses. “It looks like a ghost town, every shutter is bolted and every house eerily silent,” I said to my wife as we explored this beloved bay. Weekend houses had taken the place of families. It was silent. Maybe the young receptionist and his luck with playing computer games wasn’t as bad as I had first thought. Maybe it was also our luck that he loved computer games for at least he wasn’t deserting his home of Mljet.

The seabed in Zaton near Dubrovnik was cleaned today in a special action by the Zaton Diving Club supported by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the public cleaning company.

Today’s action is part of a series of similar such events aimed at keeping the sea waters and nature clean and pollution free. In fact next week another cleanup day will be held in the waters around the island of Kolocep.

The Dubrovnik Tourist Board pointed out that such cleanup actions are important not only before the summer season starts but also at the end of the season. “It is extremely important to keep the seabed clean throughout the year to preserve the environment and biodiversity,” stated the tourist board.

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Apart from her talks to the Prime Minister Theresa May during her visit to the UK, the Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic met with Greg Clark, the British minister of economy in order to talk about strengthening the economic connection between the two countries and their citizens. She also met with representatives of Croatian start-ups and British investors in Bloomberg.

The Croatian president said that Croatia had to improve business conditions for innovative companies that relocated overseas because they couldn’t have realized their ideas in Croatia.

Hrvoje Prpic, the Croatian entrepreneur also attended the meeting of the Croatian president with the British investors. He is the owner of the Trillenium company based in London and one of the founders of the Croatian network of business angels. At the meeting he explained that British investors found Croatian start-ups interesting because they were much cheaper in comparison to those that could be found in the West.
‘’I think that all people who are in the start-up industry know that Croatia is only the first step, the next step is Europe, whilst the final destination is Silicon Valley’’, commented Prpic.

He also announced that an annual meeting of the European network of business angels would be held in Zagreb at the end of November with participation of the Iron Maiden singer and business angel Bruce Dickinson.

Tourists just love Croatia and there is no surprise that every now and then travel websites publish an article about our beautiful country. Escape here brings six essential Croatian destinations and Korcula and Cavtat have found their place amongst them. 

-This country is has everything- beaches, nightlife, history, culture, scenery… all at a relatively low price. So naturally, it is hard to find a time of the year when Croatia is not overwhelmed with tourists. But, there are still places you can go that are still undiscovered; little hidden pieces of paradise there just for you with all the wonders of Croatia and none of the crowds – writes the author of the article.

Cavtat, a town in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, located just 15 kilometers from Dubrovnik has been placed on the third place of the list.
- Cavtat is a relatively close escape from the crowds of Dubrovnik; it maintains all the charm, but has a slightly less stressful atmosphere – it's written in the article, with a small mistake: they call Cavtat a village, which is not. A small town would be more appropriate.

And the gold medal goes to... Korcula. This beautiful island is a perfect little getaway.
-The town is quaint and charming, although small, although it is the relaxing atmosphere people come here for. As with most islands in Croatia, it is surrounded by the clearest of waters and the whitest of beaches, but here there are less crowds, so you can have the experience nearly all to yourself – concludes the author.

Other places that are mentioned as an essential destinations are: Plitvice Lakes, Galesnjak, Losinj and Istria.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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