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.
Croatia will play in the finals of the 2018 Davis Cup against France in Lille from the 23rd to the 25th of November, the International Tennis Federation announced this week.
The Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Lille will host the Davis Cup for the second consecutive year, as the French have beaten Belgium in the same stadium and have been triumphant ten times in the competition.
Croatia will be aiming for their second victory in the Davis Cup after winning for the first time in 2005 in Slovakia. And in 2016 Croatia reached the finals for the second time where they lost to Argentina.
This will be the second time that Croatia and France have met each other in the Davis Cup with France holding two wins to Croatia’s one.
Are we living in a “fix it” or “throw it” world? Do we even bother to try and fix things anymore? Is it even worth the time to try and mend something? No, to answer my own question we are absolutely living in a disposable society.
I remember when I was a young adult spending half my weekend under the bonnet of my car trying to fix a problem. OK, my first car, a Mini Morris, cost me about 2,000 Kunas so there was always plenty of work to be done. We, my father and I, even took the whole engine out once and replaced to with a new, or rather second hand one. I would honestly spend hours unscrewing things to see what they did, and then putting them back on. Sundays were reserved for wandering around scrap yards trying to pick up “new” bits and bobs for this old Mini.
I guess my father was the inspiration for this curiosity. I never ever remember a plumber, electrician, mechanic, engineer, builder, carpenter or brick layer ever coming to our home to fix or build something. Why, because my father would do it all himself. What he didn’t know he would learn, and when he made a mistake, and he made a few, he would learn from them. And it wasn’t only he who was learning. Lots of the time I was on his shoulder passing him screwdrivers, hammers and cement.
These were also days before the internet. You couldn’t just Google “How to fix a washing machine.” No, you tried and tried to find the problem by yourself. The “hard disk” that we now all carry in our pockets in the form of a smartphone wasn’t there to back you up. He built walls, garages, ran electricity, changed bathrooms, fixed exploded toasters, maintained the car, sculptured the garden and fixed the leaking roof all with a tool box and logic.
It was a “DIY” or Do It Yourself generation. If you couldn’t fix it yourself then you went without. Oh, how times have changed. Finding someone today who is good with their hands is like finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I was fortunate. Shadowing my father taught me many invaluable lessons. And although I don’t have the practical skills that he acquired I still can do many of the jobs that most people would call for outside help.
And calling for outside help is becoming harder and harder, especially it seems in Dubrovnik. “He told me he could do it but not for six weeks,” said my friend thee other day who helps a small wall building in his back garden. It is probably a three-day job maximum, but this particular builder has so much work that he can’t come for six weeks. It seems that you wait longer for a builder than a doctor in Dubrovnik! And that’s a good builder, for there are many, many, many who are, well, not so good.
As we force all our younger generations into desk jobs, management and pushing paper around an office we are seriously lacking in the practical skills department. You may argue that Dubrovnik is a city dominated by tourism, and therefore a need for tourism workers. It is true. But who services the bus in which tourists go on their day-excursion, who fixes the air-conditioning that keeps them cool at night, who maintains the ice-cream machine, who builds the new apartments to rent on Airbnb and who repairs the leaking swimming pool. The list could go on and on, but the list of actual trained and qualified workers on the other hand is surprisingly short.
Often the marketing or sales or human resources department is overloaded with staff whilst the technical department is seriously understaffed. And it isn’t only the technical department, finding a good chef in Dubrovnik is like finding a four-leafed clover. We have plenty of people to sell rooms and meet and greet the guests but finding people to feed them and fix their leaking shower isn’t so easy.
We are living in a throwaway society. In a society that doesn’t value the skills and knowledge of people who work with their hands. “On the right side of the pendulum, consumerism has reached an all-time high, with products reaching their planned obsolescence within absurdly short timespans and new products being rolled out (and bought) by the millions every day. And, since every action has an equal and opposite reaction, we have to expect consequences,” wrote an expert of waste management Kristi Gartner. It is true. We are already feeling the consequences.
Croatia will have direct flight connections with the US in 2019 after American Airlines announced that they would connect Dubrovnik with Philadelphia and now news has broken that the popular airline is looking to recruit cabin staff with a knowledge of Croatian.
The airline is looking for trainee flight attendants according to their official website, presumably for the Philadelphia – Dubrovnik connection for next year.
“We are looking for people who want to be a part of the largest airline in the world. American Airlines is in the business of serving the travel needs of our customers. A warm welcome, gracious service and a safe and comfortable feeling, makes our customers' journey something they will always remember,” write American Airlines in the job advert.
And one of the job qualifications you must have is to read and speak Croatian fluently. Find more info here.
Summer will come to an end in Croatia with a severe artic outbreak set to hit at the beginning of next week, according to the website Severe Weather Europe.
“The air mass behind the Arctic front will be extremely cold for late September, such outbreaks are actually quite rare and it could potentially bring first frosty mornings in some regions across east-central Europe and the Balkan peninsula mid next week,” commented the website. Adding that the changing weather could start tomorrow throughout the region.
But the good news is that the cold snap will not last long and the wider Dubrovnik region won’t feel the full force of the arctic blast with temperatures only expected to drop to the low twenties.
In fact after this short cold spell the Dubrovnik area will once again see temperatures rise to the high twenties and thee long-range forecast for October also predicts milder weather with plenty of sunshine.
If its beaches and glorious nature you are after, then take a trip to the stunning Srebreno. With semi-sandy beaches that are perfect for children, a host of eateries and café bars and numerous water sport opportunities, Srebreno certainly has some of the best beaches in the Dubrovnik region.
Located in the borough of Župa, just south of Dubrovnik, Srebreno has a rich and interesting history. It was first mentioned in writing in 1272. The name Srebreno come from the historical name “Sub Burnum” which literally translates as “under Župa.” In fact, coins and amphorae have been unearthed from Roman times suggesting that Srebreno had a history long before the 13th century.
But its beaches and fun that the area is best known for today. With a long semi-sandy beach and plenty of eateries on the promenade behind it is ideal for families. The Adriatic is relatively shallow for around 100 metres so it’s a great spot for messing around in the water.
Srebreno is also home to one of the leading hotels, and one of only two brand name hotels in the Dubrovnik region, the Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera. Although, unsurprisingly, the grounds and the outside swimming pool are out of bounds for non-residents you can use the café bars, restaurants and even a day pass in the spa centre. And as part of the Sheraton there is a restaurant, Lungo Mare, located in front of the hotel with views over the Adriatic.
The newly developed seaside promenade has a number of café bars and restaurants, although most of them offer only a fast food style menu. If you are looking for something a little more high-end then the trendy bistro-style Ruzmarin just opposite the entrance to the Sheraton is a great option.
Parking is abundant but in the summer time it can be tricky to find a free space. Our tip is to park in the underground carpark near the Sheraton. Prices are reasonable and your car will remain cool in the shade.
And for shoppers Srebreno is home to the only real shopping centre, mall style, in the Dubrovnik region – Sub City. If you are used to the mega sized shopping centres then it will be a little disappointing but it has two-hours free parking, a range of clothes shops, chemists and shoe shops, amongst others.
Srebreno – the home of glorious beaches only 15 minutes from the centre of Dubrovnik.
Looking for a night of traditional music and sing from Croatia? Well in Lapad there will be a concert from the renowned Slavonian group “Slavonske Lole.”
The concert, which is sponsored by the City of Dubrovnik, starts at 8.00 pm on the 28th of September in the tennis courts in Lapad. Entrance into the concert is free of charge. Expect a night of song and a real sing-along with Slavonske Lole in Lapad.
Airports throughout the country are having a bumper year with more passengers and more flights than ever before. From the beginning of this year until the end of July almost six million passengers travelled through Croatia’s airports and in July alone two million passengers used the country’s airports. This figure this year is a massive 11.5 percent higher than the same period last year.
The busiest airport in July was Split which saw 692,000 passengers, an increase of six percent when compared with 2017, and then in second place came Dubrovnik with 470,500 passengers followed by the capital Zagreb with 378,000.
The highest number of foreign passengers came from Germany, the UK, France, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
In July, airports recorded a cargo turnover of 1,157 tonnes, up a healthy 25.5 percent on the year, while in the first seven months of 2018, cargo turnover jumped 51 percent compared to the same period in 2017, to nearly 7,000 tonnes.
“It is different from a normal tourist activity, it’s a good thing to get deeper into the culture and of course what better window into a country’s culture than through language,” commented Sophie, one of four young Australian students and tourists who decided to learn Croatian at the Europe House Dubrovnik.
These four students, Sophie, Monica, Rossini and Thea, are on a gap year travelling around Europe and wherever they have been along their adventure they have dipped into the local language. “We have been to Greece and Turkey and whilst there we picked up some phrases,” added Thea.
They found the flyer for the language course in their hostel and immediately grabbed the opportunity to get a taster of Croatian at Europe House Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik was their first taste of Croatia, the group had never been to Croatia before, but they were planning to travel further throughout the country, to Split, the Dalmatian coast and the Plitvice Lakes, along the way. “Dubrovnik is such a beautiful city, the Old City is spectacular,” added Rossini.
People start learning languages for many different reasons – sometimes it is because they simply love how certain language sounds, or they are in love with the certain country, its history, culture, people, literature, music... Sometimes their friends or family members speak different languages. It can all start out of curiosity, as a challenge – especially if you are learning one of the more difficult languages as are Chinese, Hungarian or – yes- Croatian. No matter what is the reason behind it, to successfully “tackle” the challenge of learning foreign languages, you will need to have the motivation, and to keep the motivation – love can be an important ingredient.
And picking up at least a few Croatian phrases and words will help you interact with the people in the city. “We love to be able to pick up a word or two so that we don’t feel completely isolated from the people, and not completely relying on other people speaking English,” said Thea. “Yes, it really feels quite ignorant going around Europe and only speaking English,” added Monica.
So why not let these four friendly Australians inspire you. Take the opportunity to learn some Croatian whilst you are in holiday in Dubrovnik. For the fourth year in a row the Europe House Dubrovnik is organising free-of-charge Croatian language mini-courses for tourists.
Find out more information on the Europe House Dubrovnik website and start learning Croatian today.
And the girls left a nice note
Europski dom Dubrovnik / Europe House Dubrovnik (EHD) was founded in March 1995 as a non-profit, non-party and non-governmental association. The founding goals were to affirm the concept of European unification, to inform Croatian citizens, especially young people, on the progress of European integration, to foster their understanding, tolerance and dialogue with the citizens of other states, and to promote Croatia through cooperation with foreign governmental and non-governmental organizations.
EHD organizes educational workshops, lectures, exhibitions, round tables, media campaigns, celebrations for Europe Day, international seminars and conferences. Besides releasing its own publications, EHD also collects and distributes publications on various aspects of European integration, in several European languages.
Association's activities are mostly youth-oriented. One of EHD's current programmes is therefore Regional Youth Info Centre. But the doors of Europe House Dubrovnik are open to foreign visitors of Dubrovnik, too, as the association organizes every summer free-of-charge mini courses of Croatian language. More information about the courses, which, after four seasons, became the landmark of the association situated in an easy-to-find environment of Nikole Tesle Street in Dubrovnik, you can find here.