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.
After the recent positive news from the Dubrovnik City Tourist Board on the increasing number of tourists who visited Dubrovnik in July comes news from the County Tourist Board. In the first seven months of this year a total of 889,449 tourists arrived in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, almost a million tourists from January to the end of July, which is a healthy 12 percent increase on the same period from last year.
The majority of these tourists came from the United Kingdom, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Poland, Slovenia and the United States. July seems to have been a very successful month for the county, with 359,058 tourists arriving or a 16 percent increase over July last year.
From the beginning of January until the end of July a massive 3.77 million overnight stays were recorded, again an increase over the same period from 2015 this time by 11 percent.
Dubrovnik was visited by more than hundred journalists and their teams this year and the visits were mostly organized by Dubrovnik Tourist Board. During March, April, May and June journalists from UK, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Turkey, Finland, Australia, USA, Japan, China, Korea, Canada, Argentina and Brazil came. The biggest group was made of 36 journalists on the press trip which was organized by Turkish Airlines and Dubrovnik Tourist Board, with support of the Croatian Tourist Board.
Evertyhing that was published after those trips is the strong contribution to promotion of Dubrovnik.
'GEO SAISON', magazine published monthly on German in 92 thousand copies, with over 600 thousand readers, brings some sort of guide of our town, which Natalie Schweiger made after her visit in April.
After the visit of 36 journalists in May, they were many reports, such as last weeks article by the Japanese journalist Aisha Takasa on the website www.crea.bunshun.jp. Many texts were published before, for example in papers and website Hankook Iibo by the Korean journalist Lee Sung Won, on the Kookmin Iibo by Nam Ho Chul with the title „Blue beyond Orange … Jewel of the Adriatic Sea“. In daily newspapers Chosun Ilbo, article about Dubrovnik was titled „ Red wave welter in alleys meeting sea“, by Heo Yoon Hee.
In May, Dubrovnik was visited by French journalists of the Air France Inflight magazine Cécile Balavoine i Tadzio Pacquement who described Croatian sounds on interesting way. Air France Inflight magazine is distributed in more than 4 million copies every month, which includes over 930 thousand readers from Europe and 398 thousand French readers, and estimated value of the article about Dubrovnik and Croatia is about 390 thousand Euro.
„A DAY IN IN THE LIFE OF Dubrovnik“, report of the author Lars Collin with photos by Mauro Rongione, who have visited Dubrovnik in 2015, has been published in the SAS Inflight magazine Scanorama in June, on five pages, with the interview with Jadran Gamulin, famous Croatian sailor and shipbuilder from Dubrovnik. Scanorama has around 2 million readers mothly and it's distributed in the planes of SAS airlines.
These days it's also quite dynamic in Dubrovnik, many bloggers and freelance journalists are coming. At this moment Judith Servin, journalist from Mexico is in Dubrovnik, as well as the bloggers from USA, the owners of the blog ''Just a pack'' and many others, whose articles we expect during the autumn.
While everybody seems to talk about the 'bikini ban' in Dubrovnik these days, the new trend is on the rise. To take your picture, looking at Dubrovnik – naked. Sam Lyons has posted a photo on his Instagram profile, not trying to hide anything - it seems that Dubrovnik has litteraly blew his pants off.
If there wasn't the similar case of 'nakedness' last month, we would think that this is some sort of protest to the new law that will make you pay a fine if you walk around the Old Town of Dubrovnik in bikini or showing your torso.
Well, we guess this is some kind of promotion for Dubrovnik too. Good or bad, you decide!
The spectacular new passenger terminal at Zagreb Airport ''Franjo Tudman'' which is to be opened in March 2017 will soon get an equally impressive hotel in its neighbourhood just opposite the main entrance of the new terminal, reports Jutarnji list.
Branko Kincl and Velimir Neidhardt, the architects and the designers of the awarded urban and architectural design of the new passenger terminal have revealed to Jutarnji that they have just completed the preliminary design of the airport hotel for their client Zračna luka Zagreb Ltd. and that they are waiting for the building permit to be issued.
According to the words of Kincl, the new four stars medium-sized hotel will have 150 rooms (standard, de-luxe, suites, special rooms for the disabled and a presidential suite) with a maximum of 300 beds. The hotel will also have a congress centre, shops, wellness facilities and an indoor parking garage.
The ground floor of the hotel will have a restaurant with a bar, shops and a wellness centre. The first floor is intended for business purposes; there will be office spaces, several multi-purpose halls for large meetings and a few smaller function rooms for smaller meetings. A terrace for organizing receptions in the open air is also planned with this project.
The roof of the hotel has been designed as a terrace for recreation – an open space for exercising and sunbathing with a fresh juice bar and hydro massage facilities.
''The plan is also to connect the hotel to the airport building by an underground pedestrian tunnel and an elevated 200-metre pedestrian walkway. A corridor for railway or tram rails construction between the hotel and a road is also planned with this project'', said Velimir Neidhardt.
The total investment of the hotel is estimated at around 15 million Euros and currently partners are being selected to undertake the project.
The latest addition to the ACI Marina group will open tomorrow. ACI Marina Slano, or “Veljko Barbieri,” will open its doors to the public tomorrow. The marina was planned to be opened on the 1st of July this year, but due to a lack of agreement with the head of the Borough of Dubrovnik Primorje, Nikola Knežić, the grand ceremony was called off.
The PR representative of ACI Marinas, Gracia Krainer, has confirmed for the local media that the ACI Slano marina will open tomorrow and officially become the 23rd member of the ACI family. Krainer added that no special ceremony was planned but that sailors who arrived in the marina tomorrow would be welcomed.
ACI Slano's planned opening on the 1st of July was cancelled after a disagreement as to the construction of the access road to the marina.
Costume designer Ieva Immertreija from Latvia fell in love with Croatian nature, warm and kind people and their true respect for art and fashion last year when she came to work with the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. This year, Ieva got an opportunity to come back to the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and in addition, to make a photoshoot with young and talented photographer Doris Raguz, who is known in Dubrovnik for her beautiful fashion photographs.
This photoshoot is made in honor of hast 21st Century, because people nowdays forget what they are and where are they coming from. They are living on pavement and are always in a hurry.Women are becoming more and more grounded, more and more business ladies in man's suits..
Magic island of Lokrum where 1000 rabbits are running around your feet and peacocks are screaming at the beautiful sunset is great for the role of Fairy and Pixie land where magic can happen. There is no rush, there you can feel unconditional love and be gorgeous as you are. And also: wear Fairy dresses and Pixie crowns!
Ieva Immertreija is an ex dancer who is not dancing for two years now, but at the moment she owns a ballet studio "Baleta Klase" located in Riga. As ex dancer she was interested in costume art and that's the reason why she finished University of Fashion art and style. In several years of working in Latvia National Opera as technical costume designer and other Opera houses in Europe she were making costumes for ballets and operas and worked with a lot of famous choreographers, producers and costume designers as: Mauricio Wainrot (Argentina), Aleksandr Titel and Vladimir Arefjev (Moscow), Marcello Lomberdero and Luciana Gutmane (Argentina), Demiss Volpi, Bridget Breiner, Thomas Lempertz (Stuttgart ballet), Hanss van Manen and Jean-Paul Vroom (Amsterdam) and Valentina Turcu and Leo Kulaš ( Slovenia ).
Beside work with ballets and operas she have her own fashion line with beautiful lace dresses that have a hint of stage art.
All photos by: Doris Raguz
The European Commission for Gender Equality has requested from Croatia and other European membership countries to report on the implementation of the European Council recommendations on the balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making.
The Government Office for Gender Equality of the Republic of Croatia has submitted the answers to more than hundred questions about the participation of women in the three branches of government – the legislature, executive (the state and local level) and judiciary, as well as in diplomacy. This data will be used for a comparative analysis i.e. study on the position of women in public and political life in the Council of Europe membership countries. Also, this study will be made public.
Due to the upcoming early parliamentary elections in Croatia scheduled for the 11th of September, 2016 the Government Office for Gender Equality has strongly advised all political parties and other authorized applicants to comply with the EU regulations and include at least 40 per cent of women in their candidate lists.
''According to the classification of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Croatia placed as the 92nd among 193 countries in the world with only 15.2 percent of women elected to the parliament at the 2015 Croatian parliamentary election in November last year. This figure is notably below the world average of 23 percent'', said Helena Stimac Radin, the acting director of the Office for Gender Equality.
Stimac also pointed out that in all previous parliaments women had been disproportionately represented considering their share in the membership of political parties. Data from parliamentary parties submitted to the Office show that women account for on average for 32 percent in the political parties' membership.
Even though the total number of women candidates in the Croatian parliamentary elections increased from 24 percent in 2000 to 41 percent in 2015, the number of women elected at the last parliamentary election in November 2015 was only 15.2 percent which was the lowest percentage ever in last 15 years of the Croatian Independence.
The sheer geographical position of the Elaphite islands makes them the perfect opportunity for some Dubrovnik island-hopping. These untouched islands are a wonder of nature and also provide an experience of true island life, Dalmatian style. Situated to the north-west of Dubrovnik this group of islands is made up of thirteen islands, the majority of which are uninhabited, and with this full-day excursion you will have the opportunity to visit two of them – Šipan and Lopud. Take a dip in the crystal clear seas, stroll in the shade of Mediterranean vegetation, explore quaint hamlets and even enjoy a meal at sea, this was going to be fun. I hopped onto the charming wooden boat and was greeted with a smile, “Welcome to the Elaphite Islands excursion,” explained my tour guide for the day. As my feet were no longer on terra firma so I guessed my Elaphite Islands excursion with Croatia Excursions had begun.
“I never knew that there were so many islands along the Croatian coastline,” explained a couple from North London as the boat eased away from the Dubrovnik shoreline. “Yes, over a thousand, but not many of them are inhabited, there are so many I don’t know who had time to count them all,” I joked. We were off to see two of those islands, Dubrovnik islands, the Elaphite Islands.
I have to be honest I am not a great sailor. Although I was born on an island, well the UK is slightly larger than the two I would be visiting today; I have never found my sea legs. “There is no need to worry, she is very stable,” added the captain, “And the seas in this region tend to be as flat as a pancake most of the summer,” he reassured me. Just the idea of island-hopping seemed so exotic, so very Mediterranean. It might seem plainly obvious but the great thing about island-hopping is that you get the chance to see the Dubrovnik countryside from a completely different angle, from the sea. As we sailed out of the Port of Dubrovnik the only sound that you could hear above the wash of the Adriatic was the click of cameras. “I have to be honest I didn’t expect it to be so mountainous,” said my new friends from the UK capital. No I guess you don’t see that in the brochures.
The Elaphite Islands stretched out in front of us. Glinting green humps in a sea of turquoise blue. Throughout history these island have been treasured, firstly by the Greeks and later by the noble families of the former Republic of Dubrovnik. It is easy to see why. They are so serene and peaceful, like natures own spa centre. The nobility of the Republic built many summer residences on the islands in order to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Five centuries later we were doing the same thing, although just for a day, we were kings for a day.
The first stop was the island of Lopud. The island is considered by many as the most beautiful of all of the Elaphite islands as well as being blessed with stunning sandy beaches. This is the ideal spot to unwind and take a swim on this island tour. It is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of life as there are no cars on the island. A morning coffee on one of the many seafront cafe bars and then some free time to explore. For such a small island there is certainly plenty to see, the place is rammed packed with history. Our guide for the day highlighted the main points of attraction and told us to meet by our boat at 1 o’clock. Great, plenty of time to explore, a sandy beach just near the harbour is a top spot to cool off, but first I wanted to work up a sweat.
The Franciscan monastery was larger than expected; the grand Lopud Park was inviting and the stone facades along the coastline charming. Back from a dip in the Adriatic, and I wasn’t the only one. Here I have a quick tip – you can rent a bike right in the harbour which will give you more time to see everything. Right back onto the ship.
“That was a charming island, a true Mediterranean feel to it,” now I had jumped into conversation with a mother and daughter team from Wales. “I agree, it feels like life is much simpler there, more laid back,” I replied. We were off to our next island in the sun, Sipan. But, and as I was feeling peckish, not before a meal at sea. With a choice of a meat lunch or a fish lunch I had plumped for fish, well I was on the sea after all. We glided over the Adriatic with the Elaphite Islands all around us and we were all enjoying a great lunch with wine, this was the life!
We were moving onto the largest of the Elaphite islands, Sipan. Well to be more precise the picturesque village of Suđurađ of Sipan. And if you have problems pronouncing that village name don’t worry, I have lived here for eighteen years and it still ties my tongue in knots. It is only a short hop from Lopud to Sipan, but enough time for lunch. We docked in the quaint harbour and once again were given instructions on the highlights. Many of those summer residences I was talking about were constructed on this island. Remains, and a few intact ones, can still be seen today. According to the information from our guide there are a grand total of 42 summer residences on Sipan. And once again we had plenty of time to explore, basically to follow our noses. I hitched up with the North London couple and we made our way up to the impressive 15th century church that overlooks the village. Time for another tip! When you get to the church, and it is about a ten-minute walk, climb to the top of the bell-tower the panoramic views are breathtaking.
Enough time for another swim in the Adriatic Sea, well I was island-hopping after all, and back onto the boat for the sail home to Dubrovnik. My face clearly wasn’t the only one covered with a smile from ear to ear. The whole ship was in jolly mood and who could blame them. We had experienced so much in one day, seen so much, learned so much, swam, walked and eaten. We had every right to be more than a little contented. Dubrovnik’s islands in the sun, the Elaphite Islands, were a joy and they had all given us memories to last a lifetime.
By Mark Thomas
The Elaphite Islands is a full-day excursion offered by the Gulliver Travel agency. For more information, including prices, dates and how to book, please visit the Gulliver Travel website here.