Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Croatia is preparing for the big game tonight against Portugal in the last sixteen of the Euro 2016 in France. The game kicks off at 9pm in the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens a battle that will see both Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic return to the side, however they will be up against a back in form Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We are facing a team consisting of extremely talented individuals. They perhaps weren't exceptionally impressive in their group in terms of points won, but they really played well. If we look back, we will remember that they were the dominant team in their matches and created many opportunities,” commented the Croatian coach before tonight’s match.

History is not on Croatia’s side, Portugal have won all three previous matches against Croatia without conceding. However many are backing Croatia to progress further in the competition and a win tonight would open up a relatively straight forward path into the finals, as all the main seeds and favourites are grouped in the other side of the draw.

Many UK journalists have been backing Croatia to do well in the tournament, the respected BBC sport journalist Alan Green said that Croatia was the best team in the competition this year. And praise has also come from the England captain Wayne Rooney who said that “I think they are the team I have enjoyed watching the most.”

French DJ, David Guetta, has recorded a special song for the Euro 2016, the official UEFA Euro theme song, and there is a Croatian video version.

“Can you just drop down to the bus station and buy a ticket for Zagreb,” asked my sister-in-law at the weekend. It was a fairly harmless question and one that I was happy to oblige. “Of course I will go on Saturday morning,” I answered. Mistake! In all my time in Dubrovnik I can’t remember going to the bus station on a Saturday morning in the summer. It isn’t something I physically avoid I just don’t have the need. It was a summer’s weekend, probably like any other summer’s weekend. I drove around a corner and was met by three gigantic floating white bricks. They blocked out the early morning sun. “MSC something,” “Costa something else” and “Celebrity who knows what” was printed in letters that looked like a giant had spray painted graffiti.

Ants busily poured from the white bricks, some scurrying in all directions and some seemingly following a mother ant. Bing...bong...bing...bong echoed around and a man’s voice that sounded like he was talking directly into the toilet bowl filled the air. I could pick out the words “Dubrovnik” and “food” and quite possibly “zebra” although my ears could have deceived me. I parked in the near the shade of a brick and made my way to the ticket office.

As I turned a corner I was greeted with the biggest crowd of ants I have ever seen. It looked like someone had dropped a half-eaten Mars bar on the floor and all the ants were frantically feeding. I waded through the crowds. “Where the hell is the ticket office?” I couldn’t see it anywhere. And then a whole hole opened in the crowds and TICKETS could be seen. This was a bad idea. Unless I could find Moses there was no way of parting this sea of people and reaching the gold at the end of the rainbow.

I moved to the side and decided just to observe, this was people watching on a monumental scale. The vast majority of the ants seemed to be fluent in Italian. Arms were being waved, overweight ladies in brightly coloured outfits, young men with Italia branded T-shirts and children screaming for gelato! Half of the population of Bari had been dumped on the shores and were looking to get to the “città vecchia.”

And if I thought that the queue for the bus tickets was impressive that was nothing compared to the rugby scrum forming around the taxis. Although this was no queue! It was a survival of the fittest. Whistles, flapping arms, screaming and leaping out in front of passing taxis, this was a drama unfolding before my eyes, a Greek tragedy or comedy. Taxis constantly flowed in at high speeds, almost squashing ants in their paths, pulling their handbrakes whilst performing a 180 degree turn, ejecting the passengers and scooping up more without even stopping. How nobody got hit by the Mad Max taxi drivers I will never know.

I stood, rooted to the spot, watching the street theatre unfold. One Italian waved a bunch of Euros at the half open window of a taxi and received a nod from the driver. Another couple followed and wafted dollars at another taxi, another nod of approval. World currency was being waved around as if the ants were bidding at auction for an original Picasso.

Tensions were getting frayed, nerves were close to breaking point, this had all the ingredients to be a Shakespeare classic. A quick look back over my shoulder and the other ants were still busy “feeding” at the ticket booth. Although to tell the truth I had given up getting a bus ticket, at least until the Mars bar had been consumed.

I wandered off to grab a coffee, bemoaning my bad luck and muttering a few swear words at the “MSC who knows what.” All it took was one espresso. The time it took me to drink one tiny cup of coffee. To be honest I had given up on getting the ticket, but as I was wandering back to my car I threw a glance at the ants nest. Empty! Where had all ants gone? Had someone throw boiling water over the bus station? Was anti ant powder being sprinkled from the sky? One espresso and the crowds had evaporated. The taxis were all neatly lined up and the ticket office empty, no sign of the ants. Of course they hadn’t disappeared; they had simply moved their nest to the Old City.

Ancient ships, scenery, flags and props, Dubrovnik is getting ready for another major international film production. The American historical series “Knightfall” is about to be filmed in Dubrovnik. The series follows the fall, persecution and burnings at the stake of the members of the ancient order of the Templars. The History Channel is behind the latest film production in the city and the famous American actor Jeremy Renner will play one of the main roles and is also the producer.

The series follows the life one of the Templar leaders in search of the Holy Grail. And the History Channel has been recently searching for extras who are “bearded men with long hair between the ages of 25 and 50.” There will be, according to info from the History Channel, ten episodes in this new series and it is hoped that it will be just as successful as the recent “Vikings” serial which was also a History Channel production.

After the success of the Game of Thrones and Star Wars, which were partly filmed on location in Dubrovnik, Knightfall will also bring international publicity and recognition to the city.

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knightfall dubrovnik filming

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"I think that their purchasing power will fall to some extent, but that should bring about a significant drop in consumption or the number of arrivals in the Republic of Croatia", commented Marko Babic from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce today after the results of the referendum in the UK.

According to statistics British guests spend the most on the summer holidays in Croatia, with an average daily spend of 122 Euros, this is almost double the spend of guests from other countries.

The British are one of the most numerous tourists in Croatia and with the vote for “Leave” winning today many British tourists might well be changing their holiday plans. Within hours of the result the pound dropped in value, to its lowest level in thirty years, making holidays on the continent considerably more expensive. The number of guests from the UK visiting Croatia has been growing constantly, but with the weakening of the pound this could change. The consequences could be felt in the Croatian economy.

The long-term effects could also negatively affect British tourism in Croatia, with more questions than answers at the moment. And it isn’t only tourism that will be affected, second home buyers and business investment could also feel the pinch. An English businessman in Dubrovnik said to The Dubrovnik Times that “we only opened our company here two and a half years ago and of course Croatia being a member of the EU was an important factor, now we are no longer in that union which brings us an uncertain future.”

Great Britain has voted to leave the European Union. In yesterday's referendum the “Leave” campaign picked up 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent from the “Remain” campaign. More than 30 million people voted in the referendum, or around a 71 percent turnout.

Whilst the UK and the rest of the European Union comes to turns with the future consequences, many of which are still unknown, here is the reaction from the Croatian media on the exit of the UK from the European Union.

Exit from the EU decided by villagers, the elderly and people on benefit - INDEX

Did the Brits even know what they were voting for? - 24 SATA

United Kingdom Leaves The European Union! “The whole world faces a period of great insecurity' - JUTARNJI LIST

Great Britain leaves the EU! The pound at its lowest level in 30 years - SLOBODNA DALMACIJA

"It is unclear how long it will be before the situation stabilizes, a new recession on the way” – DNEVNIK

What does BREXIT mean for Croatia? “This decision will certainly reflected in our tourism industry” – NET

BREXIT will shake the global economy; the UK rating falls – MONITOR

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A screenshot from Sky News was used by one Croatian media outlet

While the temperatures are hitting their peek this season, Dubrovnik still stays full. The most wanted accessorize on Stradun is bottle of water or – umbrella! Well, keeping your head safe from the sun is important during this heat so if you don't have a hat, umbrella can always work. Onofrio's fouintain is one of the most visited places to recover from the high temperatures, as well as some shade – and there's not many of that in the Old Town.

Croatian make-up artist Marina Mamic, famous because of her transformations to celebrities has been a hit last couple of days. In this time of football mania and Croatian success on Euro2016 Marina has decided to transform to Croatian footballers.

First, she has drawn attention transforming into Vedran Corluka, a player who has been injured at the first game. He even commented on the transformation, praising Marina's talent.

Her latest transformation involves Ivan Perisic, who delighted the football fans during the game against Spain. Her transformations really show the power of make up. We can't wait into who she will transform next!

More fun for all fans of the world DJ scene this summer! Croatia Music Adventures is organizing a festival on one of the most beautiful Croatian beaches the Banje Beach in Dubrovnik on the 28th and 29th of July. The main partner of the Festival is Corona and Dubrovnik has been chosen as the only European destination of the Corona Sunset Festival in 2016. In two days dozen of DJ's will perform on five different stages but the headliners of this exclusive festival will be SIGMA and CLEAN BANDIT DJ SET.

CMA is a music and stage project whose aim is to merge exceptional Croatian locations and world famous music stars limiting the number of tickets at each concert. It distinguishes this unusual project from the mass of festivals or concerts usually organized along the Adriatic coastline or on the continent.

This year the organizers have chosen the Banje Beach as their destination for the summer festival. The attractive pebble beach near the very heart of the Dubrovnik offers an unsurpassable view of the Old City and the city walls and the island of Lokrum one of the five stages of this year CMA Festival.

Apart from sunbathing and swimming one can also enjoy a wide selection of sports and entertainment activities on the Banje Beach and with the sun slowly setting on the west the most famous city beach turns into an elite place for an exciting night out. See you on the 28th and 29th of July on the CMA Festival!

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Dubrovnik faced soaring temperatures today it what was the hottest day of the year so far. The public fountains in the historic Old City of Dubrovnik, which was busy with cruise ship passengers, were doing a roaring trade as locals and tourists cooled off.

Temperatures were measured at 32 degrees Celsius today, making it the hottest day of the year so far. Yesterday the thermometers climbed to 31 degrees as the summer in Dubrovnik rolls on. The forecast for the next seven days is for more sunshine, blue skies and climbing temperatures.

The weekend will be warm with temperatures on Saturday potentially reaching 33 degrees. After a mild start to the spring and summer the warmer weather is here in full force. Experts are advising people to take plenty of water on board and to stay out of the sun from 11am till 5pm in order to avoid sunstroke.

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Photos Niksa Duper 

Apart from the Croatian team winning the game against Turkey at the opening of the European Football Championship at the Parc des Princes in Paris this match will be remembered for one more important detail – for the first time in the history of the Croatian national football team a woman was sitting on the bench among the Croatian footballers.

Iva Olivari the team manager of the Croatian national team started working for the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) in 1992 when the team was in the making after the Croatian War of Independence. At first Olivari worked in the international department of HNS. When Davor Suker, the former Croatian footballer, took over the presidency of HNS in 2012 she made a step up and became the team manager of the Croatian national football team. She was a part of the national team in 2014 in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil but instead of being on the bench she was in stands.

Iva Olivari is a firm favourite among the Croatian football players. She performs logistical functions from organizing trips to solving all kinds of personal problems of the players.

‘’The guys are great, I love them very much and they respect me. With previous football generations I had a brother and sister relationship because we were the same age. But these youngsters refer to me as “Aunt Iva,” she smiled.

Olivari has been in sports from her young days. At the age of 14 she was the women’s tennis champion in Croatia and in the former Balkan country of Yugoslavia. In her sports career she had noticeable international results, for example, on one of the tournaments in Germany she beat Steffi Graf the former German world no. 1 professional tennis player.

''People say that I had a talent but after I experienced a bad wrist injury I stopped playing tennis. If someone had told me that I would end up in football, I would have never believed it,” commented Olivari.

It is said that a woman on board is bad luck but so far this woman has brought nothing but good luck to the Croatian football team. Let's hope that Olivari will continue to be a lucky charm for Croatia in the further stages of the EURO 2016.

Iva Olivari 2




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The Voice of Dubrovnik


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