Saturday, 25 June 2022
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

Organized by the Public Institution for Management of Protected Areas of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, with the support of the Blue Promotion Agency (Agencije Plava promocija), activities were held this weekend that included an ecological action of cleaning the seabed and educational workshops on diving.

In addition to the local population, who had a unique opportunity to learn about the charms and beauties of diving and marine ecosystem and associated biodiversity, through educational workshops there was also an ecological action of cleaning the seabed. Eco actions were held over two days at four different locations: Hodilje, Mali Ston, Zamaslina and Zaton Doli. Larger quantities of discarded waste were removed from the sea. As in other actions of cleaning the seabed, car tyres, plastic, discarded fishing tools, various small waste, but also waste generated during shellfish farming, were the most dominate type of waste removed.

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Mali Ston Bay is an extremely important and valuable protected area that is recognized at the national and European level as it is a protected area in the category of special marine reserve and is a European ecological network Natura 2000. Also, it is home to 16 strictly protected marine species. In addition to its importance in nature protection, Mali Ston Bay is economically important for shellfish, European oysters and mussels.

Due to the exceptional importance of the marine ecosystem for human life, it is important to educate the population about the impact of marine waste on marine biodiversity, fish stocks and shellfish that are our food source, all to preserve protected natural values for future generations and preserve a healthy marine ecosystem.

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It is important to emphasize that there is less and less waste in the sea as a result of public awareness of the importance of preserving and protecting the marine ecosystem for human life, said Marijana Miljas Đuračić, director of the Public Institution for Protected Nature Protection of Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

The action of cleaning the seabed was also welcomed by the Association of Ston Shellfish, which is also a partner of the Eco Mali Ston Bay project.

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“We always have irresponsible individuals to whom such actions should be a message, this bay has given to so many people through generations that we must protect and care for it in a way that there is no waste in its submarine and coasts. The Bay of Mali Ston should become a model example of sustainable development, and the impeccable cleanliness of the seabed and coast should be our goal and continuity,” said Vedran Kunica, from the Association of Ston Shellfish.

The cleaning of the seabed was also supported by the Municipality of Ston.

 

It’s taken me over two years of living here, but finally this week, I figured it out.

Why is that I love both cats and Croatia so much?

And what is it about Croatia that makes it so suited to cats?

Even though he’s up in heaven now, my own travelling cat Lucky Boots, whom I brought from the UK, was in his element here. He had the time of his life. He lasted only one day indoors until I felt he was ready to go outside, and he just slotted straight into life here in Konavle, as if it was where he was always meant to be.

Perhaps he was, and I am reminded of this every time I explain that the fact that I arrived here “just in time” is actually down to him. We did not know if his EU Pet Passport would be valid after January 31st 2020, so I was in a race against time to get him out of the UK before that deadline. Without that deadline, I imagine I would have had to spend lockdown in the UK, in a place that I no longer wanted to be, without the Adriatic Sea on my doorstep.

A lucky escape, some might say. I would say that is a huge understatement. I am thankful of this every single day.

Since then I’ve observed how cats and Croatia just seem like the perfect pairing. It just makes sense, but why?

It’s not like they are pampered here like back in the UK or other countries. Most of them don’t even seem to have a name and if they do, it’s usually “macka” – the Croatian word for cat. Not that imaginative.

However, go into any restaurant and there’s usually a well-fed looking cat wandering around looking like he owns the place. Out for lunch the other day, I am surprised to see a cat with a collar, and I ask the waiter if it belongs to the restaurant.

“Oh no”, he tells me, “he just eats here”.

Of course he does. Oh, to have the life of a cat, just finding his favourite eatery, popping in when he’s a bit peckish, and leaving without having to pay the bill. Nice work, Felix.

cat in dubrovnik 2022

This is part of what I love about cats, they’ve just got it all worked out. Unlike dogs, cats don’t have masters, they have staff. People just to run around tending to their every need.

In Croatia, this is typical that cats not only find somewhere to eat, they choose where they want to live.

You don’t have to look through endless photos on the Homes4Cats website, or check out the local animal refuge, if you’re a half decent human being here, then it’s likely you have at least one cat who shows up each day to get fed, and you have no idea where he came from.

Just don’t expect unconditional love. Unlike a dog who will come running back to you if you kick it, a cat will just bugger off and find somewhere else to live and eat.

I love this about cats.

They’ve got “boundaries”.

They know what’s ok, and what’s not ok, and they’re not going to put up with any of your bull****.

They don’t hide their feelings like human beings. Whatever they’re feeling, it’s fairly obvious.

So I can see why they fit in here in Croatia, and (being British), I really hope I don’t offend anyone here, because this is meant as a compliment.

There are no false “niceties” when you walk into a café bar, or you’re trying to buy something. There’s no bartering.

“That’s the price”, they are very clear (although this doesn’t mean to say they aren’t very generous with their discounts, especially once they get to know you and trust you).

I find it so refreshing.

No one is telling you that you look good when you don’t. They’re going to tell you if your bum looks big in it, and personally, I am good with that. I appreciate the honesty.

In conversations, there’s no “would you mind awfully if I …..?”. It’s just straight to the point. In fact, you’re just going to annoy people if you’re overly polite.

After a rocky start thinking no one liked me here, I have grown to love this more direct approach. I recall one day having coffee with Mark T in Cavtat, and he was laughing about how British I still was when ordering a coffee.

Now I say just two words: “Veliki Machiatto”. In fact, in some places, “veliki” will do.

I’ve noticed I’m more likely to get a smile than if I tried to add any kind of “please” or “may I?”.

The people-pleaser in me is slowly fading, and this is a good thing, it’s so exhausting. I’m becoming more Croatian by the day, in that I really don’t give a rat’s ass if you like me or not.

Because I’m like the cats, I’m a bit more discerning nowadays, and there’s always another place to eat down the road if you’re mean to me.

Read more Gillie here...  

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Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Cavtat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to www.behappyfit.co.uk

In the last 24 hours, 182 newly infected people with coronavirus have been recorded in Croatia, and there are a total of 1,891 active cases of Covid-19, the National Civil Protection Headquarters reported on Sunday.

Among them, 190 patients are in hospital, of which seven are on respirators.

Not a single person has died in the past 24 hours, and 907 people are currently in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 4,891,472 people have been tested, of which 1,758 were tested in the last 24 hours.

 

The EU is preparing special regulations for the cryptocurrency market, Večernji list writes on Sunday, stating that the situation with cryptocurrencies is now on shaky ground.

Anyone who has been dealing with Bitcoin and the crypto market for a long time is used to periodic price fluctuations up and down, but currently cryptocurrencies are among the biggest losers in the investment market. Bitcoin was traded at $29,500 on Friday, at $64,000 back in November.

To predict the mood of investors in this market, financiers regularly calculate and monitor the so-called ‘fear and greed’ index, which, with cryptocurrencies in recent days ranged from 8 to 13 compared to the maximum and optimistic 100.

Only once in history has a lower value of the index of fear and greed been recorded, in August 2019 with a value of five, when Bitcoin struggled with the price of $10,000. Bitcoin has already set a historical negative record because for the first time in the ten-year history of that cryptocurrency, its price fell for eight weeks in a row.

One of the largest stable coins, Terra Luna UST, which had a market capitalization of about $18 billion, first collapsed in the crypto market, and investors in the project lost almost the entire amount of investment.

As the losses grow, the attempts of the states to regulate that market are intensifying, so these days even the strongest industrial states from the G7 group have declared themselves for fast and comprehensive regulation of cryptocurrencies.

Hanfa says that special regulations are being prepared at the EU level that will comprehensively regulate the cryptocurrency market, and Hanfa is actively participating in its adoption.

Hanfa emphasizes that it has limited data on cryptocurrency trading, compared to the companies that informed them that they are engaged in the exchange of virtual and fiduciary currencies.

In the first four months of 2022, the volume of turnover at domestic crypto exchange offices amounted to 461.8 million Kuna, which is a drop of 30 percent compared to the first four months of last year, writes Večernji list.

 

Dubrovnik is the fifth most desirable holiday destination for travellers according to a new survey by the website TripAdvisor. In the selection of the best holiday destination for 2022, the Traveller's Choice 2022 - Best of the Best, Dubrovnik came in at a high fifth position.

“Dubrovnik has recovered from the war damage it suffered during the 1990s, and visitors have returned to this tranquil city. Nestled between the Adriatic and the Dinaric Alps, it’s an accessible and affordable city break for many European travellers. The pedestrian-only Old Town is especially charming,” writes TripAdvisor about Dubrovnik

The top five most desirable world destinations for 2022 according to TripAdvisor are –

1. Majorca, Balearic Islands

2. Cairo, Egypt

3. Rhodes, Dodecanese

4. Tulum, Mexico

5. Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

“Do you really think that the introduction of the Euro is good news for Croatia?” asked a friend recently. Yes, I do, is the short answer. The advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages, and we basically have a Euro-light currency anyway as the Kuna is linked directly to the Euro anyway.

But the introduction of another currency, a digital currency, will have much more of an effect on us in the future.

“We didn’t even think of a bank when we wanted to take credit, the Euro and the Kuna weren’t even in our thoughts. We work digitally, online all the time, and have just got used to paying in digital format,” explained a young couple the other day. They started to explain but most of it flew over my head.

However, the point of the story was that this couple had bought real estate in Dubrovnik in Bitcoin!

We are all thinking about how the Euro will change our lives and the younger generations have moved a step further and are paying in digital gold.

“It literally took us five minutes to get the credit approved, we spend more time having our morning coffee,” they smiled. I seem to be meeting more and more people who earn and spend almost exclusively in Bitcoin. And I have the same problem with all of them, when they start explaining my brain just shuts down. The whole system is just so radically different to what we are all used to, I’m just not sure I’ve got room left in my brain to add digital currency.

“The main difference of Bitcoin from traditional currencies lies in the fact that no one controls Bitcoin as it is decentralized,” stated a professor to me once.

I’ve got a feeling that Bitcoin might be a step too far for me, but clearly not younger generations. And this is the clash of the analogue world and the digital world. We’ve seen it so many times, from climate change to how we consume the media and to travel and much more.

Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against digital currency and I know that our great grandchildren will probably only be using Bitcoin, it’s just that I have probably come too late to the party.

Yes, before you ask there are already companies accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment in Dubrovnik. And hats off to them for being ahead of the curve. And I believe that they have clients, normally digital nomads, who pay them in crypto currency. I suppose that this is just the next natural step. We moved from paper money and coins to smart cards and paying with our phones, so why wouldn’t we flip to another digital currency.

Banking has moved online, I can’t even remember the last time I physically went into a bank. We not only use our mobiles to access our traditional bank accounts but we’ve also moved into digital banking.

One of the true visionary minds of our generation is Elon Musk. He isn’t just ahead of the trends; he actually sets the trends. In 2000 he formed the online bank PayPal and just two years later he sold it for $1.5 billion. Creativity, and above all innovation, have made him the richest man on the planet. Yes, the richest man in the world is African!

“Bitcoin’s structure is very ingenious. The paper money disappears, and crypto-currencies are a much better way to transfer values than a piece of paper, that’s for sure,” once said Musk about Bitcoin.

One day in the not too distant future we’ll be buying our daily bread in Bitcoin, getting our salaries in Bitcoin and buying houses as well. Oh, wait that is already the present not the future.

“I couldn’t imagine dealing with a conventional bank anymore,” said another friend. “Just look at those bank charges every month and for every transaction and interest rates, imagine how much better off you’d be without those,” he added. I guess I will have to start to learn, I’m just going to make some room in my brain.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this old dog is going to try. Who knows, I also might end up buying real estate with Bitcoin. 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to          

Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved said on Saturday that he believed that the government would adopt measures at the session earlier this week to stop rising energy prices, and said that citizens would not be left to fend for themselves.

"I believe that these measures that we will adopt at the session of the Government, which, as the Prime Minister said, will be at the beginning of the week, will again be in the direction of stopping growth, that is, helping our population, as we have done all this time,” said Medved.

He noted that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, together with the Minister of Economy Davor Filipović and the Minister of Finance Zdravko Marić, is working interdepartmentally to devise concrete measures, including excise duties, but also the possibility of reducing margins.

"We are witnessing a rise in energy prices. So far, Croatia has been really successful in dealing with this, using all the available measures we have," said Medved.

"Our people will certainly not be left at the mercy of rising energy prices. As we have done so far, so we will do in the future," he added.

Asked if he was late with the measures and his position on the floating excise duties mentioned by the opposition, the minister said that the opposition "proposes and constantly criticizes without responsibility, which is understandable", but the government is responsible and the government has reacted in that direction, and so it will be now.

 

This year's Dubrovnik Summer Festival will be held under the auspices of the new visual identity of the title “Between the Stone,” created by the visual communications designer Zoran Đukić.

During the 73 years of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, renowned artists such as Ed Murtić, Fedor Vaić, Branko Kovačević, Ivo Grbić, Ed Kovačević, Tom Gusić, Luka Gusić, Boris Ljubičić, Orsat Franković, created posters and covers, and some even the entire visual identity individual years. After two pandemic years, the festival has returned to the conceptualization of visuals as a carrier of communication, this time inspired by ambience and a natural element, plants between the stones, which is an important part of the City's scenery.

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“The performing arts are mostly enjoyed in completely controlled conditions - air-conditioned halls with designed acoustics and lighting. The Dubrovnik Summer Festival is special precisely because of its magical atmosphere, which is partly due to the scenography of the City, but partly to something neglected and seemingly invisible - an element of nature that is an integral part of every performance. Through portraits of wild local plants that can be found emerging from the white stone, the visual identity of the festival draws attention to precisely this delicate, ephemeral layer, providing a different angle of view. The almost black-and-white silhouettes of plants recorded in the counter-light become symbols, opening to the observer the possibility of inscribing a wide field of meaning,” pointed out Đukic.

Zoran Đukić is a visual communications designer with over 15 years of experience, specializing in creating thoughtful and innovative visual identities, publications and exhibitions for a wide range of clients from the cultural sector.

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