Sunday, 28 May 2017

As part of the celebrations on International Women’s Day today, the 8th of March, the City of Dubrovnik have decided that all of the public buses in the Dubrovnik region are free of charge.

Libertas Dubrovnik, the public bus company in the city will operate a free service for all passengers today on the occasion on International Women’s Day.

March opened with rain and it looks like it will end with rain. It has been, and will be a wet month in the region with a south wind bringing rain and high seas. Yesterday in the Old City of Dubrovnik, in spite of the torrential rain, many tourists walked the Stradun and snapped the Star Wars film set.

The forecast for the rest of the week is for improving weather with more stable conditions. The rest of the week shows a ten percent chance of rain with scattered showers and a light southerly wind.

Check out our gallery by Tonci Plazibat

With less than a month left to register for the Dubrovnik Half Marathon the Dubrovnik Times caught up with the race director Alen Boskovic. Last year was the first time that Dubrovnik has organised such an event and it was an overnight success. With runners from all five continents in the first race the race organisers, with Alen at the helm; have their work cut out to move a step further. With the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, the stunning historic architecture and the guaranteed sunshine runners in the second Dubrovnik Half Marathon will have plenty of things to keep their minds off their aching limbs. Boskovic has a sporting background, he was a professional water polo player and represented Croatia at the Olympics, but the move behind the scenes to organising has proved to be a whole new challenge, a new chapter in his life.

How was the idea of a half marathon in Dubrovnik first born?
The very beginnings of a half marathon in Dubrovnik are closely connected to Dubrovnik's sister in California, Monterey. Fred Muir, the former Monterey City Manager, and Wally Kaster, the race director of the Big Sur Marathon in Monterey, gave the idea to make a similar event to the marathon in Monterey in around 2005. I took a few years for this idea to blossom, but in 2010 when the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahusic, was visiting Monterey the idea picked up more steam. We agreed that the team from Monterey would help with their “know how.” Unfortunately Kaster had some health problems at that time so he couldn’t travel frequently to Dubrovnik, so following their recommendations we teamed up with the Next Events production team, a team that promotes the Portland marathon.

run the walls

Run the Walls held challenges for the organisers 

How did you become involved with the marathon and eventually find yourself in the race director’s chair?
When the idea of the marathon was growing the members of the American board came to visit Dubrovnik in 2013 and wanted to get the Dubrovnik Running Club involved in the project, this was my first involvement. In my role as the General Secretary of the Dubrovnik Sport Association we were asked to provide support for the marathon. I was asked by Miho Katicic, the Dubrovnik councillor for education, sport and social welfare, to be part of the team and join in the event.

The first time you heard the idea of a marathon in Dubrovnik what were your reactions?
I have to admit that I thought it was impossible. Firstly we didn’t have a culture of running in the city; we tend to play more team sports than individual sports. I thought it would be hard to get the amount of people needed to organise a marathon. I remember at one of my first meetings with Kaster, who has years of experience in putting these races on, that he explained the number of people that were needed behind the scenes. I couldn’t imagine just how much logistics were needed. It became clear that we needed hundreds of volunteers to make the race run smoothly, I had some doubts that we could raise that number of people. The whole culture of volunteering is still relatively new in Croatia. However one event changed my mind and opened my eyes to new possibilities. There was a huge gathering of all of the Catholic youth from all over the world in 2014, a meeting that included thousands and thousands of people, and this was organised mainly through the assistance of volunteers. This gave me the idea, and the hope, that we could also raise the volunteers we required.

alen press

Alen Boskovic in the media spotlight

How many volunteers were present on the day of the half marathon in Dubrovnik?
On the race day we had more than 300 people, all the way along the track and throughout the Old City of Dubrovnik. And if you count the lead up to the race and all the other extra events we managed to collect more than 480 volunteers. This was one of the biggest successes of the marathon. I have to take this opportunity to thank everyone who gave up their free time to help, and an extra special thanks to the members of the Catholic youth association. We hope that we will get even more volunteers this year and have already started our “volunteer campaign,” in schools and clubs.

You have described the Dubrovnik half marathon as “more than a race,” why do you think the half marathon is so important for the city?
We have a few goals that are attached to the marathon. Firstly we want to motivate more people in Dubrovnik to run, whether professionally or just for fun; we want more people to be active runners. Secondly to get more young people involved in the event, either as runners or as volunteers. The youth of today is our future and we need to do everything we can to help them. And last but not least, Dubrovnik is a tourist destination and it is important for the city that in May we have a world event that brings attention and tourists to the city. Don’t forget that this race opens up another type of tourism for Dubrovnik.

Even though last year was the first year of the marathon you still managed to attract many international athletes to Dubrovnik.
Yes, in the first year of the race we managed to bring athletes from all five continents to Dubrovnik, another great success. We had 350 runners last year from 36 different nations attending the Dubrovnik half marathon. For example we had runners from China, the US, New Zealand, the UK, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Brazil, Canada, to name just a few. It was great to have these international runners in Dubrovnik, to show them how beautiful our city is and to introduce them to all our traditions and cultures. We opened the door to international running in Dubrovnik. We offered all the runners a whole package of offers, such as free public transport, free entrance onto the city walls and into the museums, in order to show them all that Dubrovnik is more than just a sand, sea and summer destination.

alen learn

From playing sport to organising sporting events has meant a sharp learning curve 

Although the Half Marathon was the main event you also organised three other races, one of which was a race around the Old City Walls. How difficult was it to put on a race around the walls?
It was a challenge. The walls have many steps, low walls and above all they are relatively narrow. I walked around the walls twice before the race with the manager of the walls to find out the best way to protect our runners. The city walls have many sharp turns and don’t forget that they are built on cliffs thirty metres above the sea. So we organised more than thirty volunteers to be present at particular places around the walls to warn runners of any dangers. We put a lot of time and planning into the race around the walls, but I believe it was all worth it. We are blessed in Dubrovnik to live in such a spectacular city.

Although you were a professional water polo player you don’t have a background in either running or business. And yet in spite of this you won the award as director of the year after your first marathon.
Nobody was more surprised than me when I won this prestigious award at the director’s college event in Portland last year. I don’t know how I can start to describe how I felt. Yes, I was a professional sportsman but I was never really involved in the organising of sporting events. In many ways this is a new chapter in my life and I am very passionate about it. It was really inspiring to create something so successful, to see so many people helping and all the hard work that was put in. I am emotionally involved in the Dubrovnik half marathon.

2015 Dubrovnik Half Marathon

Get your running shoes on and sign up for the race!
Date: May 1st 2016
Start: 09.30am
The highlight of Du Motion – Dubrovnik Runners Days is the Half Marathon Race. Both the start and finish are on the Stradun, Dubrovnik’s most famous street and continues outside the old city walls into the picturesque countryside.
Find more details on the race and how to register HERE

The Dubrovnik Times is proud to be an official media sponsor of the 2016 Dubrovnik Half Marathon.



It was the one and only Groucho Marx who said “I'm leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it's not raining.” Apart from being asked “do you really all drink tea at five o’clock” or “can you explain the rules of cricket” and “is it true that all you English are unfriendly” the next question I always get asked is “does it always rain in London.” The answers to the first three are – yes, no chance and not really. The answer to the fourth one was a little harder. Whether it’s the power of the media or the press, I don’t know, but London has this image of rain, constant rain.

My mother-in-law still thinks that we have smog in the middle of London. But that's probably down to the amount of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie films she watches. For what is a good English drama without a murderer leaping from a foggy side street onto his next victim. Also the wet weather seems to hate tennis! I can’t really remember a Wimbledon tournament without a few drops of the wet stuff. I mean why do you think they built a roof on the centre court, it certainly wasn’t to keep the sun out! Although the one thing that you won’t see is many people cowering under an umbrella, at least the local Londoners.

The same as you don’t see a local in Dubrovnik wearing rubber sandals on the beach...you get acclimatised to the pebbles and we do to the rain. So yes, if you were to ask someone, well to be honest anyone, you’d get the reply that it rains more in London than Dubrovnik...I also wouldn’t argue with that. However it seems that you’d be wrong, believe it or not. If anyone knows the weather in Dubrovnik then it’s the guys at Dubrovnik Storm Chasers. I had the fortune to interview them once and anyone who literally chases storms, as their name suggests, is either mad or loves what they are doing.
So imagine my surprise when I read the headline “in Dubrovnik there is more rain on an annual basis than in London.” Were my eyes deceiving me! I read on...Dubrovnik is synonymous with sunny weather…London is synonymous with rain…tourists love the weather…London is a gloomy city.

And then a fact caught my eye, can that be true, listen if the Storm Chasers say it’s true then who am I to doubt them. This fact read, the annual rainfall in Dubrovnik is just over 1200mm whilst the average rainfall in London is a little under 600mm. Happy days! All those years of suffering the mocking and joking from friends and relatives in Dubrovnik that it rains every day in London and in reality the opposite is the case. Not only is the opposite true but there is twice as much rain here every year than in London.

So if you are looking for a break from the Dubrovnik rain might I suggest a long weekend in dry London? If the constant patter of raindrops on your window is getting you down, if trying to avoid the puddles or carrying an umbrella has you pulling your hair out in frustration then, again, may I suggest a short holiday in the capital of England to cheer you up. Let’s be honest compared to Dubrovnik the capital of England is like a desert. Oh, and if you are thinking of going to London you can leave your Dubrovnik umbrellas behind, you’ll just need a bottle of water to keep you hydrated and some sun cream and you’re good to go.

I read more of the article...maybe I should have stopped when I was ahead. It continued...rain is rarer in Dubrovnik than in London but it is heavier in Dubrovnik. Ah, that’s not such good news. What they were basically saying is that London has rain long and slow and in Dubrovnik it’s short and explosive.

I read on, London has 1500 hours of sunshine a year while Dubrovnik has 2500 hours annually. Ah, whoops, so when I said you need sun cream in London I was exaggerating a little. A thousand hours of sunshine a year is quite a difference. The article concluded...Dubrovnik is sunnier and has more rain than London every year. A little confusing, however I can still use this to my advantage. The statistics can be slightly bended to be on my side. “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital,” said the famous professor Aaron Levenstein.

I’ll just use the part of the statistics that suit me...and that is there is twice as much rain in Dubrovnik than London every year, full stop. When I meet tourists from the UK moaning about the weather back home I’ll remind them of this fact. And when I’m teased by a local about “rainy England” I’ll again pull this fact from my sleeve.

It is going to be a day of rain and thunderstorms in Dubrovnik. The south winds have picked up over night and the waves are lashing against the shoreline and the waves are picked up by the gale force winds.

However the forecast for next week in Dubrovnik looks much more promising. Sunday will be the height of the storm and then at the beginning of next week the winds will start to die out leaving scattered clouds and the occasional shower. Good news for the Star Wars crew who are planning to start filming on the 9th of March.

Temperatures next week will range between 14 and 19 degrees Celsius. The long range forecast for the rest of the month in Dubrovnik shows much calmer and more settled weather with mostly clear skies and temperatures in the high teens.

Check out our gallery of the heavy seas in Kupari, near Dubrovnik, today.

rain

kupari storm

waves

rain kupari

One of the most prominent guides for olive oil in the world, Flos Olei, has declared that the world's best olive this year is from the Croatian region of Istria.

This year’s guide included the top 500 olive growers from 59 countries, and featured 50 Istrian olive growers. This meant that there were more olive growers from Istria than the Italian region of Tuscany, which until this latest issue had been dominated the publication.

Many of the top olive oil producers in the world tussle to be included in the Flos Olei guide. In 2005 the region of Istria had only two olive producers in the guide, now eleven years later that number has grown to fifty.

The quality of Croatian olive oil has never been in doubt, however due to the relatively small quantities produced compared to other European countries Croatia has found it hard to break into foreign markets.

olive oil flos olei

One of the most trusted travel guides in the world, Rough Guide, has published a list of the “10 most beautiful places in Europe,” and Croatia is number one! The popular website asked their readership, via their Facebook and Twitter accounts, to vote for the most beautiful place in Europe…and Croatia came in at the top spot.

“Consistently one of the most popular destinations on RoughGuides.com, it’s no surprise that Croatia featured heavily in our followers’ comments on the most beautiful places in Europe,” wrote Rough Guide.

The article even had a touch of Dubrovnik as a photo of the bay of Trsteno, along with the description, “From gorgeous islands like Hvar to little coves like this one below (Trsteno, Dubrovnik), Croatia has some serious Adriatic eye-candy.”

The full Rough Guide list was:

10. Iceland
9. France
8. Spain
7. Norway
6. Italy
5. Slovenia
4. Greece
3. Wales
2. Switzerland
1. Croatia

Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a Stormtrooper in Dubrovnik...has filming already started for the eighth episode of Star Wars in Dubrovnik? No, although many tourists to the city believed they were watching the first scenes as characters from the film wandered around Dubrovnik.

Our man on the spot, tourist guide Ivan Vukovic, captured the opportunity to have his photo taken with these fans of the movie just outside of the Dubrovnik City Walls.

These members of the Croatian Star Wars Fan Club dressed in the outfits of their heroes and caused a stir as they walked around Dubrovnik.

star wars filming

Star Wars fans dress as their heroes in Dubrovnik 

On the last weekend before filming of Star Wars VIII begins in Dubrovnik the final touches are being made to the set on the main street, the Stradun. The ancient stone facades of the city have been transformed into a sci-fi set complete with flashing buttons and droid control panels.

Filming is set to begin on the 9th of March; however we understand that the first two days will be used as a dress rehearsal, with the real filming beginning of the 11th of March.

Speculation is rife on who will be appearing “on stage” in Dubrovnik, with one name, Mark Hamill, repeatedly mentioned. There is also a rumour floating around that Oscar award winning actor Benicio del Toro will be filming in Star Wars in Dubrovnik, we hasten to add that these are all rumours and that as yet the production team are keeping tight-lipped.

Check out our video on the set of Star Wars episode eight in Dubrovnik

There could well be an invasion of Russian tourists into Croatia this summer season. According to reports on the Russian news website balkanpro.ru the number of Russian travel operators who are organising deals to Croatia has increased by nearly 300 percent on 2015!

Several major Russian tour operators have shown an interest in dealing with Croatia, including Coral Travel, Natali Tours, Spektrum and the PAC Group. There will be regular flight operations between many Croatian cities, including Dubrovnik, this year. The Russian national airline Aeroflot and S7 airlines will fly directly from Moscow to Dubrovnik for most of the summer. There are even negotiations from another Russian airline, Red Wings, to fly every day to Dubrovnik from the Russian capital.

Last year, Croatia was visited by 113,000 Russians and if the news that the number of Russian travel operators have increased drastically is any guide that number could be much more for 2016.

In the opinion of Mr. Ruzicka, tourists could be and more. In this season, says Rajko Ruzicka, due to the redistribution of tourist flows in Europe, in Croatia has increased the number of reservations from Germany, Great Britain, Austria, Italy and others.

Clear

19°C

Dubrovnik

Clear
Humidity: 45%
Wind: NNW at 11.27 km/h
Monday
Sunny
17°C / 23°C
Tuesday
Mostly sunny
17°C / 22°C
Wednesday
Mostly sunny
18°C / 22°C
Thursday
Mostly sunny
19°C / 23°C

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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