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.
Dubrovnik Airport is having a year to remember, with more passengers than ever before and more international flight connections as well. Figures just released by the airport show that July was yet another impressive month for the airport.
Out of all the airports in Croatia the southernmost one in Dubrovnik had the biggest increase in passenger numbers in July. 514,723 passengers passed through the airport in July this year, only the second time in the airport’s history that the half million mark has been broken. Last July 474,643 passengers travelled through the airport.
In the first seven months of this year a total of 1.57 million travellers have used the airport, which is over 200,000 more passengers when compared with the same period from last year.
The Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, has given an indication that she will once again run for the presidency. At a press conference in Knin after a ceremony to mark one oif the most important dates on the Croatian calendar, the Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Defenders, the President said to waiting journalists “I am here in my capacity as the president of the Republic of Croatia, we will see each other in the next five years.”
The next elections for the President of Croatia are due to take place on a date between the 21st of December this year and the 20th of January 2020. They will be the seventh presidential elections since the first direct ones were held in 1992.
So far Grabar-Kitarovic has yet to officially declare her candidacy, although it is strongly believed that she will stand again. When she was elected in 2015 she became the first female President of the Republic of Croatia. Eleven other candidates have thrown their hats into the ring already and openly stated that they will run. Although she has yet to declare the polls have Grabar-Kitarovic in first place, followed by the former SDP Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, and the independent candidate Miroslav Škoro.
With the opening of two exhibitions in the Homeland War Museum in the Imperial Fort on the top of the Srđ Mountain the two-day commemoration of Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving and the Day of Croatian Veterans began.
These new exhibitions were opened on yesterday, Sunday the 4th of August, and both feature numerous interesting objects. "Orlando War Years 1991-1995", exhibiting artifacts from the museums fund and created by Varina Jurica Turk and the exhibition "Prisioners”, a guest exhibition by authors Josip Ivan, Ivan Ivan and Gordana Čep. Both exhibitions marked different occasions but both were intertwined, celebrating 600 years of Orlando in Dubrovnik and 11 years since the museum on the top of the Srđ Mountain was opened.
The Orlando exhibition highlights what this iconic landmark of Dubrovnik passed through during the Homeland War and includes many original photos and images.
Whilst the "Prisoners" exhibition touches on a painful topic in a different way - with sculptures wrapped in bandages of wounded people, who are broken as they are in the prisoner camps during the war.
A joint exhibition that shows the suffering of war and informs visitors of the hardships that Croatia passed through, certainly well worth a visit.
One of the leading lights of the largest humanitarian organisations in the world recently visited Dubrovnik. Dr. Miguel Villarroel, one of the four vice-presidents of the Red Cross visited Dubrovnik as part of a family holiday.
The Director of the Dubrovnik Red Cross, Živko Šimunović, hosted the Villarroel and took the opportunity to brief him on the situation on the activities of the Red Cross in the city.
They also visited the sites where the project "Red Cross in the City" is being implemented as well as the volunteers who act as life-guards on the city’s beaches. “This is Miguel’s first visit to Dubrovnik and he is here with his family, he is very satisfied and impressed with the city,” added Šimunović.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 17 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide.
“For me it is a great honour to be here in Dubrovnik,” commented Villarroel, adding that “I have had the chance to speak to some volunteers in the city and it always makes me proud to see and to talk to these wonderful people.”
As Croatian tourism grows, chefs and food lovers continue to discover more about Croatia’s incredible cuisine. Laura McIntosh, television producer and host of PBS show “Bringing it Home with Laura McIntosh”, and her team were recently busy scouting Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast to explore its renowned wine, cuisine and sights. “Bringing it Home” is planning to produce a show in Croatia bringing its amazing food, wine and traditions to American viewers, who will certainly want to add Croatia to their travels.
The 10-day excursion was planned and facilitated by luxury Croatian travel experts, Adventures Croatia. Pamela Robinson, Adventures Croatia’s CEO who personally led the tour, crafted a customized itinerary that included numerous visits to wineries, including Grgic, agritourism sites, and fishing villages showcasing the best of what Croatia has to offer. With almost 10 years of creating such custom itineraries, Adventures Croatia incorporated a unique mix of cooking classes allowing Laura and her team to get hands on experience preparing Croatian classics such as Peka, Soparnik and makaruli pasta. Oysters right from the water were sampled along with a variety of local fish cooked in traditional Croatian style in wood burning ovens or above white-hot coals.
Laura and the Adventures Croatia team visited Split and Omiš before a week-long cruise taking in the islands of Hvar, Vis, Korcula, Mljet, Ston, Slano, finishing in the medieval city of Dubrovnik. As Croatia’s list of Michelin recommended restaurants grows each year, Adventures Croatia showcased a balance of fine dining and local experiences taking in a wide variety of Croatian cuisine and traditions.
Laura was able to savour the fresh and uniquely creative wines available at fish restaurant Proto while in Dubrovnik. Tastings were led by distinguished Master Sommelier, Siniša Lasan. Only 249 people in the world hold this advanced title, and as the list’s only Croat, Lasan’s knowledge is unparalleled in the region. These special types of experiences highlighting local cuisine and Croatian wines are reasons why sophisticated visitors continue to seek out Croatia as a top “foodie” destination.
After exploring the wide variety of tastes available, Laura exclaimed that “Croatian cuisine is fresh, delicious and steeped in tradition. There is no question the key ingredient to the amazing cuisine in Croatia is freshness. Either straight from the garden or directly from the sea the difference in the taste is exquisite.”
Combining the best of Croatia’s thriving restaurant culture with immersive experiences preparing, cooking and enjoying in-home dining with local families, savvy American travellers continue to discover Croatia. ‘Farm to table’ is not a fad here, it is a centuries old way of life.
Here’s one for the strange but true section. A well-known Croatian sport’s journalist found a lost mobile phone on the underground in the middle of Japan and on the screen he was shocked when he saw the screensaver, a photo of Dubrovnik.
Viki Ivanović, a sport’s journalist for Croatia Radio and Television, posted a photo of the mobile on his social media accounts with the comment “When you find a cell phone in the subway in Japan, and on the wallpaper is this beauty.” Now we know that Croatia, and especially Dubrovnik, are hugely popular in Japan but what are the odds that a Croatian would find a mobile phone on the busy metro with a photo of Dubrovnik on the screen?
This year’s newly introduced flights between the US and Dubrovnik are certainly proving to be a real hit. Dubrovnik has been on the radar for more and more Americans, thanks largely to the HBO serial Game of Thrones, over the past few years and now that a direct flight connection between Philadelphia and Dubrovnik has been introduced by American Airlines the number of US tourists is growing steadily. These flights are the first non-stop connections in 28 years and have proved so popular that American Airlines is laying on an additional service every week in September.
And the Dubrovnik Tourist Board is greatly helping to boost interest by co-operating with American Airlines to run a marketing campaign in their inflight magazine American Way.
Dubrovnik and a selection of interesting locals feature in the new edition of the American Airlines inflight magazine "American Way" which is now on-board every aircraft flying all over the world.
This is part of a major promotional campaign run by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, which includes a large editorial in the magazine about Dubrovnik through the eyes of its inhabitants and their work. It also includes a promo film about Dubrovnik which has been shown in all American Airlines flights as well.
According to information from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board there has been a boom in the number of US travellers visiting Dubrovnik. Since the beginning of the year to the end of July just over 90,000 Americans visited the city which is a massive 17 percent increase over the same period form last year. And they have achieved a whopping 252,517 overnight stays, again an increase of 17 percent when compared with the same period from 2018.
The promotional campaign's main aim is to promote new direct flights from Philadelphia to Dubrovnik by American Airlines.
Today, the 5th of August, is a national holiday in the Republic of Croatia. On this day in 1995 the beginning of Operation Storm began with the Croatian Army taking the city of Knin, which consequently lead to the end of the Homeland War. Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Defenders has been marked since the Croatian Parliament decided in 2002 to make the 5th of August a public holiday.
The main celebration is centered in Knin where there are festivities commemorating the event, beginning with a mass and laying of wreaths in honour of those who died in the war, and continuing with parades and concerts. The event is attended by thousands, including the country's leading politicians. The Flag of Croatia on Knin Fortress is ceremonially raised as part of the celebrations.