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.
“You can live in a place for years and yet not know what is on your doorstep,” said the helmeted rider next to me. Yes, that’s right “helmeted rider,” and no I wasn’t astride a scooter or Harley Davidson. “I have lived here for seven years and never knew that this existed,” I replied. We were invited for a day of off-road fun in Zupa. Exploring the wilds of my adopted home on the back of an ATV.
“Are those like those quad bikes that we once rented on Mljet,” asked my wife when I proposed the adventure. “Yes, but that was years ago,” I replied. I knew where she was going with this line of questioning and was trying to block her path. Many, many years ago we rented a battered quad bike on Mljet hoping to explore the island. It was a mistake. The quad was about as stable as a rodeo horse and had the hidden ability to veer off in whichever direction it wanted without any prior notice to the drivers, in other words my wife and I. We spent twenty minutes trying to keep the rogue quad out of the undergrowth and out of the sea, and we had only got a couple of hundred metres up the road. Needless to say we gave up, returned the death machine and took two bicycles instead.
So quite clearly this distressing memory was still embedded in my wife’s memory. However when we arrived at the starting point for our Zupa safari it was immediately obvious that the world of quad bikes had moved forward considerably. These things were monsters, but monsters that could be controlled.
The group strapped on their helmets and like modern-day cowboys set out from the ranch for a day in the Wild West. Within a few minutes we were off-road, yeehaw cowboy! I felt a tap of the helmet, “is it going straight,” asked my wife sitting behind me. “As an arrow,” I should have added an Apache arrow just to keep up the cowboy theme. We were up close and personal with nature and it was exhilarating. I was humming the Easy Rider soundtrack “Born to be Wild” in my head...get your motor running, get out on the highway, looking for adventure, or whatever comes our way! The track, which was just about the same width as our monsters, led through farm land and untouched nature.
We then pooped out onto a road, then back onto another track, and before long we were climbing to the top of Srd Mountain. By the way you get a great view of Dubrovnik from a quad bike as you ride to the peak. We futuristic cowboys stopped for a break at the top, these horses are great they don’t need food or water. But we did. Onto the next stop, a light snack, prosciutto, cheese, bread, salad, and we were off again.
Now I was really getting into the cowboy mood, I felt confident and wanted to push my horse a little harder. So when we got out onto a long straight stretch of road I slowed down to let the metal horse in front of me to move away and give me some space. With enough room in front of me I opened up the monster to full volume whilst shouting Born to be Wild! Blimey! As we picked up speed rapidly I heard a voice in the wind from behind me, “slow down, what is wrong with you!” I tried to ignore it but as the countryside whistled past I was then greeted with a slap on the helmet and “if you don’t slow down I am getting off!” I wanted to ask how she was planning to jump off the quad monster at his speed but instead I harnessed my adrenaline and slowed down, still humming Born to be Wild. “That was fun,” I shouted. No answer.
On our way back we went a little “off-piste” to a track that we hadn’t followed before. We climbed up a small hill and in the middle of nowhere, literally, we came across a strange looking construction. “This is a water collection plant that was built in the early 1900’s by the Austro-Hungarian Empire,” explained out group leader. Fascinating. The water from a group of small natural springs had been directed into a central well system. It still had the Wasser markings clearly written in the decorative stonework. It looked like nobody had touched it since the Austrians shuffled back to the Alps. A little historical gem which was now an overgrown graveyard. From Ciro to this, those Austrians were certainly not lazy; I wonder if they would come back for a few centuries and fix all our other infrastructure problems.
“We spend all that money on travelling to tourist destinations and yet we don’t know the hidden diamonds we have within walking distance of our own homes,” concluded one of the cowboys. As John Wayne once said, yes we are keeping the cowboy theme, “Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.”
Mayor of Dubrovnik Andro Vlahusic met with Sandeep Kumar, the Ambassador of India in Croatia yesterday.
Ambassador Kumar informed the mayor about a significant increase in the number of Indian tourists in the first half of 2016, since there was 72 percent more Indian tourists than last year. Bollywood hit movie "Fan" with famous Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan, that was filmed in Dubrovnik, is partly responsible for growing numbers.
The Ambassador stressed the need for liberalization of visa regime in Croatia for Indian tourists, which he said to be unnecessarily bureaucratic. Mayor Vlahusic said he fully supports the initiative.
They also talked about potential cooperation in the areas of gastronomy, culture and film, and Ambassador Kumar is particularly interested in the involvement of Indian musicians at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, and celebrity chefs at Good Food Festival. Establishment of the direct lines between Istanbul and Dubrovnik by the Turkish Airlines will be helpful to Indian tourists coming to Dubrovnik as "it’s offering fast and reliable connection at affordable prices," he said.
In conclusion, the Indian ambassador presented the initiative of fraternization of Dubrovnik with the capital of the state of Goa. Panaji, the capital of the smallest state in India and the former Portuguese colonies, has 40 thousand inhabitants in the narrow urban area, while the number in the administrative district rises to 140 thousand. Ambassador announced that an initiative will be launched through official channels.
Real Madrid star Mateo Kovacic is the latest in a long line of footballers who have chosen Dubrovnik for the summer holidays this year.
The 22 year-old midfielder was spotted having fun on the beach in front of the Hotel Valamar Dubrovnik President and balancing a plastic football on his head.
Kovacic arrived in Dubrovnik with his family and fresh from the Euro 2016 Championships in France.
Readers photo of Kovacic in the Adriatic
Leighton Park School Band will perform in front of Cathedral at 8 pm. Dubrovnik Tourist Board is the organizer of the concert where it will be possible to see and hear three ensambles – Senior Choir, Orchestra and Brass band which are made of students, age 12 to 17. Lighton Park School every two years organizes the trip for its music ensambles and in 2016 the destination is Croatia.
This is what they will perform tonight:
Hallelujah Cohen arr Emerson ; A Chorus Line (Choral Medley) Hamlisch & Kleban arr Lojeski
Guys and Dolls loesser arr Mac Huff ; Somebody to Love Mercury arr Anders & Davis; Adiemus Jenkins ;
We Are The World Jackson arr. Ritchie
Rites of Tambura Star Wars Epic Part I Williams arr. Robert W. Smith; An American in Paris Suite Gershwin arr. Whitney ; A Hectic Overture John Lloyd ; Ashford Celeration Ralph Ford A Touch of Jazz arr Brubaker ;The Children of Sanchez Mangione arr Phillips & Dennison
Disney Film Favorites arr Vinson Myfanwy J Parry ; Great Escape Elmer Bernstein arr. Vinson; Sweet Dreams Soul Rebels
Young artist Luka Sulic, member od 2Cellos, is enjoying Dubrovnik, the town that is close to his heart because it's his father hometown. He published a photo from Lokrum on his official Instagram account with a caption ''In desperate need in vitamin sea''.
Just a reminder, 2Cellos are 2 young Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser. They are famous for taking cello to new level – they have no limits and they are equally good in preforming Bach, Vivaldi, as well as AC/DC.
Since 2Cellos are a big hit, guys are having a lot of work, traveling around the world and playing for the fans and always working on new songs.
There's no better place for vacation and relaxation than Dubrovnik, even though we would love to hear guys play!
According to announcements from the Croatian Ministry of Tourism, the 2017 tourist season is expected to be one of the best in recent years it terms of investment.
The Ministry has confirmed that fifty major projects are to be completed by the beginning of next season, including a great deal of major investments such as hotel complexes that will improve significantly the tourist image of Croatia.
''We are talking about fifty new hotels on the Adriatic coast and on the continent. At the moment, we are collecting precise information on the projects value. The fact is that we already have seven investments on the list of strategic investment projects and twelve more as potential candidates. Also, we are planning on activating the former military property that should be converted into tourist complexes. There are also a number of private investments that have already started this year and are to be completed in 2017'', the Croatian Minister of Tourism confirmed for Jutarnji list.
According to the list of investments collected by Jutarnji list, the value of projects that are to be completed by the 2017 summer season exceeds 300 million Euros with expectancy that this could rise to half a billion Euros due to the great interest of investors as well as domestic and foreign construction companies.
''Thanks to the present geopolitical situation Croatia proves to be a magnet for many investors. Investments in other destinations have recorded a decline due to safety reasons, and as Croatia is still perceived as a safe country, foreign companies are seriously thinking about taking their piece of pie on the Croatian market'', said a construction company manager for Jutarnji list.
One of the biggest investors in the Croatian tourism industry is definitely the American multinational diversified hospitality company Marriott International. According to information the company will invest in a hotel complex in Split that is to be completed by Easter 2017.
Positive news was also announced by the Valamar Riviera, the largest tourism company in Croatia, which has already announced its investment of a two billion Kunas in order to improve tourist offer in its facilities in Rabac in Istria, on the island of Krk, in Poreč and in Dubrovnik by 2020.
Whilst these investments are primarily the reason for satisfaction, an increase in accommodation capacity will once again activate the issue of the lack of workforce in the tourism industry which is already short 30,000 seasonal workers this year. Therefore, the Tourism Minister Kliman has already announced cooperation with the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) and the Croatian Tourist Board in order to organize a campaign for the retraining of all of those who want to work in the tourism business.
Last year over 200,000 Chinese tourists visited Croatia and registered 270,000 overnight stays which was an increase by 36 percent in arrivals and 37 percent in overnights. This year over 300,000 Chinese guests are expected in Croatia so direct flights between these two countries are definitely 'a must'.
According to Vecernji list, Beijing Capital Airlines has announced new direct flights between Zagreb and Beijing in 2017. The flights will be introduced in June 2017 and will operate twice a week with the 222-seat Airbus A330-200 jet.
Beijing Capital Airlines is a subsidiary of Hainan Airlines, the largest private airline company in China. It currently offers scheduled flights across China as well as to South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, the Maldives and Spain. The airline has planned to expand its business into Europe next year, i.e. to Helsinki and Zagreb and just recently the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) granted Beijing Capital Airlines a permit to operate services from Beijing to the Croatian capital.
Hainan Airlines already expressed interest in Croatia last year when it negotiated with Zadar Airport over possible charter services from China to Croatia. Unfortunately, that idea was never realized. Also Hainan Airlines was linked to a potential equity investment in Croatia Airlines.
Zagreb Airport Franjo Tudman is currently the only airport in the region of the former Balkan country of Yugoslavia to have been linked with the Far East. Korean Airlines maintains summer charters from Seoul to Zagreb operating a total of twelve flights with Airbus A330 aircraft.
Dubrovnik Summer Festival has started last night and like every year it offers a lot to see. Rich programme is cleverly presented in video on Youtube, showing the higlights of this, 67th, Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
During 47 festival days, more than 2000 artists from all over the world will take part in more than 70 theatrical, musical, operatic, ballet, folklore and other events in around twenty site-specific venues. It's clear that everybody can find something for themselves. Don't miss the video and if you want to more details about the program click here.