Thursday, 30 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

Croatia will not have a representative in the individual men's competition at this year's Wimbledon, because Marin Čilić, who tested positive for coronavirus, has dropped out.

“I am sorry to have to share with you that I am positive about Covid-19. I was in self-isolation and I was hoping to be ready, but I still don’t feel well and I’m not capable of playing at the highest level. My heart is broken that I miss Wimbledon and that I will end the season on the grass in this way,” wrote the best Croatian tennis player on Instagram.

"I am looking forward to competing again next year," Čilić told his companions.

Marin was scheduled to open Wimbledon today against American Mackenzie McDonald.

And this was supposed to be Čilić's 14th appearance at the All England Club, where he reached the quarterfinals three times in a row from 2014 to 2016, and in 2017 he achieved he best result by making the finals and playing against Roger Federer, losing 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.

 

The whole of the south of Croatia is a magnet for the rich and famous in the summer time. From world leaders, A-list Hollywood stars and sports stars. And two such sporting aces are currently enjoying the crystal, clear waters of the Adriatic on the island of Korčula.

Fresh from winning the Champions League Final with his club Real Madrid, the midfield mastermind Luka Modrić is currently enjoying a break with the Chelsea FC star Mateo Kovaćič and their families.

Modrić posted a photo to his 24 million followers on Instagram from a popular beach on an island near Korčula with the comment “Summer with the family.”

 

After two years of uncertainty and waiting the Dubrovnik tourism industry has something to finally smile about today, the landmark of passing the one millionth overnight stay. From the beginning of this year until June 25 a grand total of 1.02 million overnight stays have been achieved.

Tourism in Dubrovnik has very much been in a holding pattern since the pandemic begun. Two years later and the pattern seems to have been broken and tourism is returning. 2019 was a record year for tourism in the city, record numbers of guests and record financial results. But those records came at a price. The headlines went from the pearl of the Adriatic to overcrowded and ruined by cruise ships passengers. So why would we want to compare our figures with that? Do we even have to compare them to anything? Do we measure the success of tourism simply by head counting?

Of course, it is positive that tourism has returned to the far south of Croatia. For without tourism 75 percent (if not more) of the city’s budget would need to be filled from other sources. This is how reliant the city is on tourism. This isn’t unique, certainly on a global scale. London has its banking, Detroit its automobile industry and Reims its champagne business. Each have their own challenges and each have their own demands.

 

 

And whilst we should of course be celebrating, a fist bump is probably enough, this landmark after two barren years, it is also maybe a time for reflection. Are we just headed blindly back to those years of over crowdedness? Have we learnt anything during our forced hiatus? Let’s not aim for 2019, let’s aim for sustainability. Let’s aim for “less is more.”

Just today the Mayor of Dubrovnik was speaking in a Paris TV studio singing the praises of sustainable tourism and how Dubrovnik has coped with crowds. You could argue that it’s easy to cover these subjects after a global pandemic, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that this is a new policy going forward, and let the numbers speak for themselves.

As the summer turns up to full volume in Dubrovnik and temperatures soar into the mid-thirties the Adriatic Sea offers some welcome refreshment from the heat.

And throughout the summer months the sea water on all of the beaches of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County are checked to make sure that the water reaches the required quality standards. And the third such testing was carried out from the 13th to the 26th of June on the 121 beaches of the county, including the islands.

The crystal, clear Adriatic, which the legendary French diver Jacques Cousteau once described as the clearest he’d ever seen, is as clean as it looks. Of the samples of the sea water on the 121 beaches checked complied with the regulations of cleanliness and passed the test.

117 beaches passed the test with flying colours, with the excellent grade, whilst two beaches were rated as good, the Portina Beach in Ploče and the St. Nikola Beach on Korčula. Whilst the beaches on Hotel Park on Korcula and Trstenik on Pelješac were graded as satisfactory.

The current sea temperature in Dubrovnik is around 26 degrees, which is warmer than the air temperature is many European cities. So jump on in, not only is the Adriatic warm it’s is also truly crystal clean.

 

Get to know Konavle 

This region of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County is as far south as you can you in Croatia. Soaring snow-capped mountains, lush plains, dramatic beaches and an abundance of history and tradition. Konavle is often described as Croatia’s Provence, and there are certainly similarities. If you to Dubrovnik by plane, then you’ll actually visit Konavle as the Dubrovnik Airport is located in this region. However, the vast majority of passengers come out of the airport and turn right towards Dubrovnik.

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A region of contrasts - Photo Canva 

This is beautifully majestic region. Mother Nature was being kind when she visited Konavle. From active breaks, on horseback or on a bicycle, or simply soaking up the greenness from a tour by car will leave you with a much better understanding of the citizens and cultures of Konavle. Traditions are passed down through generations. Future generations not only cherish their ancestry, they build on it and develop it. From the dances and songs that you can see every Sunday in Cilipi, to the menus of the region’s restaurants to the wine growing and preservation of the sacral buildings. An absolute must see and a great idea for a daytrip. It is literally a 30-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik but feels a million miles away.

Did you know
The tennis star Marin Cilic was married in Cavtat in Konavle
Konavle gets its name from the canals that run through the region

What to see

One absolute must see is the Sokol Tower. The castle of Sokol was built on an inaccessible cliff more than 25 meters high. A natural fortress, its controls the main road leading from Konavle north into Herzegovina and the Balkan hinterland. This is the main reason why this town has been continuously inhabited since ancient times.

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Sokol Grad dominates the skyline - Photo Canva

Although its present name was first mentioned in August 1373, archaeological finds date the town several thousand years earlier. Research has proven that there was a prehistoric structure, an ancient and a late-antiquity fortress, and a medieval town that came under the authority of the city of Dubrovnik in 1423.

What to do

There is a rather special beach in Konavle, one that has found itself filling the pages and websites of international publications, often found on the lists of the best beaches in the world. Pasjaca Beach in Konavle is one of those hidden gems of the Dubrovnik region. Well at least it used to be hidden but in recent years it seems that the spotlight has fallen on it and turned it into an attraction. Located in the small village of Popovici in pretty much the heart of the Konavle wilderness the beach looks like it has especially created by Hollywood as a set for “From Here to Eternity”.

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With unbelievable translucent seas, sky scraping cliffs and a bright white beach edged in between you have the feeling that if you ever dreamt of the perfect beach it would probably look something like Pasjaca. And after a swim on Pasjaca make your way back to Cavtat for a coffee on the main promenade. Horse-riding, visits to vineyards, biking, hiking and diving are all possible and great fun in Konavle.

What to eat

As I’ve already pointed out Konavle and its people like to respect their traditions and this is also reflected in the meals. One meal that you absolutely must try is rather tricky to explain in English. In fact, it isn’t the actual ingredients that are important, more the preparation. It’s described as cooking under the bell. Which basically involves a long process in which a huge iron bell is placed over the meat, potatoes and seafood, and then covered with hot coals. It is a long, long process, and to order the meal in most restaurants you’ll have to order in advance.

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Tradition and wine meet in Konavle - Photo DNŽ Tourist Board 

We should have added an extra section – What to drink – as Konavle is famous for its wines. Over 40 quality wines are being produced in Konavle today. Among them autochthonous and international varieties such as “Maraština“, “Grk“, “Pošip“, “Plavac” and many more.

 

The number of new cases of Covid-19 is increasing throughout Europe, including Croatia. The director of the Croatian National Institute for Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, commented today.

“Most European Union countries have found a low proportion of SARS-CoV-2 variants BA.4 and BA.5, but many have seen an increase in recent weeks. In Portugal, BA.5 has become the dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2,” warn the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

An increase in the proportion of BA.4 and BA.5 infections has been observed in many countries - including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. They point out that these variants will become dominant throughout the European Union, which is likely to result in an increase in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.

Unfortunately, the increase in cases was also reflected in Croatia. More than a thousand new infections were recorded on Saturday.

"The number of new cases is growing, but there are not many hospitalized and severe cases. It is similar in other countries due to the arrival of variants BA.4 and BA.5. The situation is being monitored and for now we think that no additional measures are needed," stated Capak.

 

In the last 72 hours, 162 new cases of Covid-18 were recorded in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

These are 116 people from Dubrovnik, 16 from Župa dubrovačka, 9 from Konavle, 5 from Blato and Orebić, 3 from Korčula and Pojezerje, 2 people from Janjina and Metković and 1 person from Dubrovačko Primorje.

127 people recovered: 76 from Dubrovnik, 29 from Župa dubrovačka, 10 from Konavle, 8 from Metković, 2 from Ston and 1 person each from Korčula and Orebić.

In the last 72 hours, 415 samples were processed, and since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 249,628 samples have been analysed.

Currently, there are 9 people, tested positive for coronavirus, are hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital.

 

A fish market has been opened in Lumbarda on the island of Korčula.

Until now this Korčula town didn’t have its own fish market, so the opening of this new one has been clearly greeted with positive remarks from both locals and tourists.

This new Lumbarda fish market will sell various types of fish and seafood that come from the entire island of Korcula and the Pelješac peninsula.

With this new fish market, this popular Korčula tourist destination has finally solved another deficiency.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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