Sunday, 19 November 2017

A few days ago Telegraph travel writers joined together and wrote about their trips from hell. Even though most of the people find the job of a travel journalist a dream job, these stories reveal a different side of traveling around (and writing about it). 

Croatia has been featured on numerous lists by the Telegraph and sadly it found its place on the list of the worst holidays of all time too. Peter Hardy describes his Croatian experience with the title ' An unwanted houseguest in Croatia'.

- It was the stink of fried goat and onions at breakfast time, wafting up to our sun terrace, that first alerted us – it's rather an interesting intro of the Hardy's text. 

He continues to describe his experience on the island of Brac in a rather humorous, saying that his 11-old daughter discovered that someone was living in the garage beneath their holiday villa – the owner plus five members of his family.

- When he wasn't not cooking pungent food, he sat outside in his dirty string vest and shorts watching our every move with a scowl of suspicion. It seemed he'd not taken the "vacant possession" clause - and several others - far too literally in his contract with a long-established British villa company – says Hardy and adds that family's clothes were still in the bedrom cupboards and other belogings were scattered everywhere. There was even a dresser drawer full of sex aids and porno films – quite interesting for his children!

- Whenever we left the villa, the owner would leg it up from the garage and return to his home upstairs. He decided we were using too much air conditioning in August heat, so he removed the remote control and refused to return it. Washing facilities in his sweatbox of a garage were presumably non-existent, so we always knew when he'd been snooping – Hardy writes about his horror holiday.

To make things even worse, the location was described wrongly in the brochure, the water was polluted and his 14-year-old son developed a serious skin infection.

- At the end of our fortnight, home never felt so welcoming – concludes Hardy. After reading this, who could blame him?

See the full text here.

According to information from the Dubrovnik – Neretva Police Department there were eight road traffic accidents in the county last week, of which four involved injured drivers and passengers.

Last week the Dubrovnik Police took 506 measures against drivers for traffic offenses. From this total 181 were due to speeding, 54 due to improper parking, 59 drivers for not wearing a seat belt, 25 for improper overtaking, 18 for drivers who didn’t have their headlights on and 29 for drivers under the influence of alcohol.

Another indication of the social situation in Croatia is the dramatic increase in the number of employees and owners of small businesses. In 2007 there were 267,842 people employed by small businesses in Croatia, just ten years later and in 2017 that number has fallen to 198,699. Over the past ten years the number of employees has been constantly falling in Croatia.

This trend started in the early 2000’s and doesn’t look like slowing up. Compared to ten years ago just under 70,000 fewer people and employed in small businesses. These very businesses should be one of the cogs that creates new enterprises, export opportunities, financial benefits and more importantly offer new employment.

Over the past five years over 200,000 Croatians have left the country looking for employment in other European Union countries, with Ireland and Sweden high on the wish list.

On the occasion of Remembrance for the victims of Vukovar in 1991 on Friday, November 17th candles will be lit in front of the Church of Saint Blaise and along Vukovar Street.

The candles are lit in the memory of suffering of the hero city 26 years ago. Students from primary and secondary schools and their teachers, as well as fellow citizens will be part of this event. They will light up candles from 5:30 to 6:15 pm.

In Dubrovnik Cathedral there will be a mass for all deceased and missing Croatian soldiers and civilians in the Serbian aggression on Vukovar at 6 pm.

Dubrovnik is slowy, but surely starting to get ready for fourth edition of Dubrovnik Winter Festival. The decorations are being placed in the Old City and it can be seen that they are different than in last couple of years.

However, decorating has just started so we can expect many more surprises. The plan is to spread the Christmas spirit all over the city and to add that special bling to places that weren't included before.

With rainy weather, lower temperatures and no crowds, Dubrovnik is really getting that winter feeling. It's easy to believe that Christmas is just around the corner. 

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Even though it is not unusual to find picture books about national anthems, we have to admit that it is quite unusual to see a picture book about Croatia’s national anthem designed by a non-Croat.

At the recently held 40th International Book Fair Interliber in Zagreb, a Mexican Cynthia Martinez presented a wonderful picture book about Croatia’s national anthem. It is interesting to note that Martinez is a daughter-in-law of the popular Croatian sociologist and a university professor Slaven Letica.

The story about Cynthia’s picture book is very educational. As Mexico has had a picture book about the national anthem and her daughter learned to sing the Mexican anthem, Cynthia discovered that there is no such thing in Croatia.

Last summer, Martinez addressed to the president and the owner of Školska knjiga Ante Žužul with her idea about a picture book that would be titled ‘’Lijepa naša domovino’’, as is the title of Croatia’s national anthem. After a few months and thanks to Cynthia, the book editor Emica Calogjera-Rogic and the book illustrator Marsela Hajdinak, a picture book about Croatia’s anthem saw the light of day.

The picture book contains a music recording, a translation of verses into five world languages (English, German, French, Italian and Spanish), a short note about the creation of the verses and the setting of the anthem to music, as well as a useful explanation intended for small children about illustration symbolism.

This beautifully illustrated picture book is intended for children in Croatia and abroad in order for them to learn to accept other nations, to learn from other cultures and at the same time to promote their own identity and their values.

‘’With this book the Croatian anthem will travel around the world and gather together all our children wherever they are’’, commented Žužul.

If you are planning to drive up to Zagreb from Dubrovnik don’t forget you’ll need winter tyres or you could be facing a fine of 700 Kuna. According to a decision made by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure from today until the 15th of April 2018 winter equipment is mandatory regardless of weather conditions and road conditions for all vehicles on the so called “winter road sections” in Croatia.

These winter sections don’t include any inside the Dubrovnik – Neretva County, however drivers on the A1 motorway will need to have winter tyres if they plan on travelling the capital.

Under the winter section are all Croatian motorways except the Dalmatian section A1 from Maslenica to Vrgorac and the Istrian highway. Winter equipment is described as winter tyres on all wheels or summer tyres with the lowest depth of 4 mm tread profile plus snow chains. The penalty for not having the correct winter equipment is 700 Kuna.

Croatia is a country where rich people will spend their money and fall in love with the country as soon as they watch this interesting video, at least according to the words of Alux.

“Croatia has served as the set design of many famous films and TV shows including Game of Thrones. When you venture into this world of amazing landscapes and incredible culture expect to take a tonne of pictures, particularly in the city of Dubrovnik a medieval town located on the Adriatic Sea in the region of Dalmatia, which is one of the most sought after destinations in the world,” opens the text about Dubrovnik in a new promo video just released.

The British agency and website for Luxury and Fine Living Enthusiasts intended exclusively for millionaires and billionaires, recommends them the best ways where and how to spend their money. 

In Alux’s latest 17-minute video ‘’15 Things You Didn’t Know About Croatia’’ the agency reports about Croatia’s industry and the best spots for investment, as well as about natural beauty, cultural heritage, inventors and the fact that Croatia is one of the safest world countries for tourists to visit.

The video is very interesting however, Alux made a mistake related to Dubrovnik. While talking about ‘’The Pearl of the Adriatic’’ i.e. Dubrovnik, the video showed photos of the Old Bridge in Mostar located in the neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even though Dubrovnik is located on the Adriatic Sea in the Croatian region of Dalmatia, video featured Mostar in the background. Only few minutes later photos of Dubrovnik appeared on the screen. 

All and all, we thank Alux for this great promotion of Croatia; however, we advise them to pay more attention in the future to geography of Croatia and the neighbouring countries in the region. 

 

Croatia is a country where rich people will spend their money and fall in love with the country as soon as they watch this interesting video, at least according to the words of Alux.

The British agency and website for Luxury and Fine Living Enthusiasts intended exclusively for millionaires and billionaires, recommends them the best ways where and how to spend their money.

In Alux’s latest 17-minute video ‘’15 Things You Didn’t Know About Croatia’’ the agency reports about Croatia’s industry and the best spots for investment, as well as about natural beauty, cultural heritage, inventors and the fact that Croatia is one of the safest world countries for tourists to visit.

The video is very interesting however, Alux made a mistake related to Dubrovnik. While talking about ‘’The Pearl of the Adriatic’’ i.e. Dubrovnik, the video showed photos of the Old Bridge in Mostar located in the neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even though Dubrovnik is located on the Adriatic Sea in the Croatian region of Dalmatia, video featured Mostar in the background. Only few minutes later photos of Dubrovnik appeared on the screen.

All and all, we thank Alux for this great promotion of Croatia; however, we advise them to pay more attention in the future to geography of Croatia and the neighbouring countries in the region. 

It is a widely known fact in this town that the good burghers of the Republic of Dubrovnik were amongst the most enlightened of their time and banned slavery as early as 27 January 1416, which was a long time ahead of other European countries. It took one of the last countries, the United States of America, a further 450 years to ban slavery. Our former mayor, Andro Vlahusic, gave a speech in 2014 in that particular country boasting about this fact. Writing in the Huffington Post after the speech, journalist Regina Fraser said;

“I can’t help feeling that Dubrovnik showed us something — everyone should take a stand against slavery. Each of us needs to remember that there are people who stood for justice, equality and freedom despite pressure to do otherwise. Maybe we need to search for other countries and people like those from Dubrovnik, Croatia. “

Well here's the thing Andro and Regina, unfortunately slavery is alive and thriving in present day Dubrovnik.

I don't need to spend too much time discussing the abhorrent nature of slavery except to say in this day and age we all are evangelistic about our right to be free to do what we want when we want; including, unfortunately, driving whilst on the mobile phone in this town!

Of course slavery has at its core the profit motive. Its origins are lost in antiquity but some of its most successful proponents were the Vikings and the Romans. But none benefited more than the English who perfected the art of abusing less powerful people. From their small insignificant island they were able to build an empire which spanned the globe and were often heard to boast that “the sun never set” on it.

This heinous practice still finds a place in many countries and it has been suggested that the industry is worth some $35 billion today while the United Nations estimates that 30 million people are presently enslaved.

Most of us see slavery applying only to humans. But in my view, if you deprive the freedom of a wild animal then this too is slavery. Sure it is cruelty to animals but it also is tantamount to slavery particularly when it is done to ensure a financial gain for the slave master. Now if you take a walk down Stradun on any day during the season, you will witness the hideous sight of birds who have had their wings clipped and mutilated to ensure they can't escape. Indeed, some days it is more than a koala can bear! Imagine if you saw souls from your homeland harmed for the purpose of financial gain. I refer of course to the individuals who ask tourists to pay for photos with the birds they have disfigured.

The eastern Europeans seem to have a penchant for this kind of cruelty and I am sure you have all seen those terrible photos of bears who are chained and tortured so they will perform for the amusement of their cognitively challenged audiences. Thankfully there is widespread condemnation of this practice with numerous organisations and celebrities speaking out against this outrageous behaviour. When it comes to what occurs to the birds in Dubrovnik, the silence is deafening. Imagine what it would be like to have your leg cut short so you could not walk. Then try, if you can, to imagine what it would be like to be able to experience soaring through the sky and to have that taken away from you. In fact I have meet some locals that think abusing these birds is a good thing for the town.

What possible relevance can a bird from a country from a land which is on the other side of the world and was not discovered by white man until some 200 years ago have to a tourist’s experience in the Old City of Dubrovnik?

On the whole this is bad enough but when you realise that I grew up with one of the type of birds currently enslaved on Stradun, the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, flying free around my house. I am presently in the poor animal’s homeland: Australia, and I can hear its fellow comrades where they belong, outside in the garden chattering happily. These magnificent and highly intelligent birds can live to over one hundred years of age, often learning to say as many as 200 words and living for over 100 years. They exhibit some amazing behaviour in their natural habitat, including posting sentinels in a tree to warn off impending danger while the rest of the flock is vulnerable during feeding on the ground. In Australia our language has incorporated the word “cockatoo” to mean one who gives a warning.

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Free as a bird

These birds form part of my cultural heritage and I take great offence at their treatment in Dubrovnik when I see their wings mutilated for people's amusement and one selfish person’s financial gain. They are often cruelly smuggled out of Australia and the law demands that these birds must not be taken out of the country except if they are owned and kept by an Australian citizen. Perhaps this Dubrovnik local should consider getting a more productive job instead of praying like a parasite on the suffering of these creatures. In the end, of course, karma ensures that every act of cruelty is ultimately accountable.

So, what can we do to end this blatant act of animal cruelty? Well it would help if you joined me in suggesting to the gathered tourists every time you walk past the spectacle, that they should not encourage this slave master by giving him money.

The Wizard of Oz

Among the 600 best cafe bars in the world, according to the Phaidon guide ''Where to Drink Coffee'', Eliscaffe from Zagreb has also found its place in this prestigious group.

''Where to Drink Coffee'' is a famous guide made by professionals. Around 150 best baristas and coffee experts selected 600 places across the globe where the best coffee is served.

Since the opening in 2005, Eliscaffe and its owner Nik Orosi have received a number of awards. It is the first specialized coffee bar in Croatia and was the first smoke-free coffee bar opened in the region.

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Reputable newspapers such as the New York Times and the Financial Times wrote about Eliscaffe and its owner, however, including the cafe bar on the list of the best coffee spots in the world is perhaps the greatest recognition for their work.
It is interesting to note that Eliscaffe made it to the prestigious list thanks to the rating of Tim Wendelboe, a top-class and most award-winning barista from Norway.

''For a long time Eliscaffe was the only place in Zagreb where you could have a good cup of coffee, however, after winning numerous awards, Nik has never stopped improving the quality'', wrote Wendelboe in his review.

''I bought that book last week and when I went through its pages, I saw that Eliscaffe is on the list'', commented Nik, who was thrilled with the fact that his coffee is among the best in the world thanks to Tim Wendelboe. ''He does not praise very often. On the contrary, sometimes he is very harsh and speaks his mind’’.

Orosi also added that there are 1,300 cafe bars in Zagreb; however, Eliscaffe was the only one selected. ‘’Austria is not even on this list, and only six cafe bars from Italy were selected by the Phaidon Guide. Look at the size of Italy, and look at the size of Croatia!'', commented Nik Orosi with delight.

Cloudy

15°C

Dubrovnik

Cloudy
Humidity: 55%
Wind: W at 6.44 km/h
Monday
Sunny
8°C / 13°C
Tuesday
Partly cloudy
8°C / 14°C
Wednesday
Partly cloudy
10°C / 16°C
Thursday
Partly cloudy
10°C / 17°C

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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