“Is this one of the sets for Star Wars...how cool,” shouted a group of Korean tourists today on the Stradun in Dubrovnik. Filming of the eighth episode of Star Wars begins on the 9th of March but already the set on the main street in the Old City is taking shape. Souvenir shops, bakeries and jewellery boutiques along the historic street now have a sci-fi facade. Shoppers were also seen entering the shops and trying to press the fake buttons that have been installed in the fibreglass sets.
Although the production company stated that the set would be under high security today there were only a few security guards present. Whilst the filming is taking place security levels will raise, as one waiter on the Stradun explained to The Dubrovnik Times today, “they have asked us to close the cafe bar at 2 o’clock in the afternoon so that they can film in peace.” In fact the Stradun will be closed during recording dates and pedestrians will be diverted onto a parallel street. The filming of the VIII episode of Star Wars in Dubrovnik begins on the 9th of March and continues until the 16th of March.
Check out our photo gallery from the set today.
It was a day of preparation and pruning for employees of the Dubrovnik parks department today. They had their hands completely full getting things ready for the summer season. With the help of the Dubrovnik fire brigade branches were trimmed on the plane trees on the Pile area in order to eliminate the danger of falling branches, as was the case last summer.
The director of the parks department commented that today’s action was part of the annual overhaul and that the palm trees on Pile would also be treated for red palm weevil, a species of beetle that has been attacking palm trees in the Dubrovnik region.
High up in the trees on Pile
The travel section of the popular UK daily newspaper “The Daily Mail” featured Dubrovnik on its front page today with the headline, “Adventures waiting to be discovered...”
The Daily Mail is one of the most popular newspapers in the UK with a daily circulation of around 1.7 million copies; it is also one of the oldest being founded in 1896. In fact after The Sun newspaper it is Britain’s second biggest selling newspaper.
The travel section highlighted the destinations that are popular for 2016 and Dubrovnik and Croatia were included. The UK is the top marker for Dubrovnik’s tourism industry with the most numerous guests to the city over the past five years coming from Great Britain.
Zagreb will be connected with direct flights from Seoul this summer season. Korean Air has announced that they will resume operations on the link between the South Korean capital and Zagreb.
Korean Air is the largest airline in South Korea. Korean Air operates flights to a range of European destinations including Prague, Frankfurt, Milan, Rome, Vienna, Paris, Moscow, Madrid and London.
Flights will start on the 20th of May and in total eleven planes from Korean Air will land at Zagreb Airport, from May to October. Around 350,000 Korean tourists visited Croatia in 2015, according to information from the Korean Embassy in Zagreb, and this direct air link will help to make those numbers even larger this year.
If you’ve ever visited a Croatian family home and you're not Croatian yourself you might think people there are plotting to kill you by trying to induce a lethal surge of cholesterol in your system. Especially if the home is populated by a granny or two. They can be pretty relentless in offering homemade food to all those who venture over the threshold.
Traditionally, when it comes to feeding our guests we tend to go a bit overboard as a nation. Our intentions are good, homemade food is usually nothing short of mouth-watering, but you better leave your caloric intake guidelines at home. Recommended serving size? Hah! We laugh in the face of international nutritionists. Yes, you can always choose not to eat what’s put in front of you. If you like causing international scandals, that is.
The lifestyle of Croatian Millennials may be similar to their Western counterparts, which was not the case with past generations, but we are still keen on putting out a decent spread when entertaining guests. My wife and I are no different. Just the other day we were expecting company and were preparing more food than would be humanly possible to eat. She was in charge of most of the preparation so she retreated in the kitchen some two hours before the guests were due to arrive and began churning out dishes as if we were catering a Christmas party for the European Parliament.
Ten minutes before guests arrived we packed the table with food until there was no more room for a toothpick. When our friends finally showed up, my wife did another very Croatian thing when hosting a dinner party:
“Hi! Welcome. We’ve had one hell of a day at work so I just whipped up a little something to eat at the last minute. Gosh, I hope it’ll be enough.”
Bozidar Jukic is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.
A stone throw from the busy road that ferries millions of tourists from the Dubrovnik Airport to the city of Dubrovnik every year is a tiny seaside village that still bears the scars of the darker times in Croatia’s history. Kupari, just another sign post that flashes by coaches and cars, is a former military resort built for the elite of the then Yugoslav army. In its prime the resort in the borough of Zupa was busy with thousands upon thousands of officers and their families, those heady times are long gone. It is now a resort in ruins.
In the 1960s a resort on a sandy bay was constructed, including five hotels, a camp site and many villas. In fact the Kupari was one of the pioneers of Dubrovnik’s tourism industry. Between the two world wars the Grand Hotel was constructed by a Czech investor. Grand by name and certainly grand by nature, the hotel was the height of elegance. Around this centrepiece four more hotels were added, less attractive more functional.
In the height of its former glory
The resort with its long sandy beach and pleasing nature was a hit from the 1960s onwards, up until 1991 when the Homeland War broke out and the Yugoslav army bombarded and burned their former holiday spot. In the early 1990s, when the Yugoslav army left the resort was almost unrecognisable. Almost all of the valuables from the five hotels were looted and then phosphorous bombs were used to systematically burn the hotels, floor by floor.
Scars of war - Photo Selma Shah
When in 1998 the Croatian Army set up base in the resort they stayed in three of the hotels. In 2001 they left and the process of privatising the resort began. The shells of the hotels of this once great resort were left standing as monuments to darker days. Anything left in the shells, from tiles to copper piping, was then stripped and “liberated” by locals. What is left is a ghostly reminder. Over time nature has started to claim back the five hotels. In cavernous halls that once held fancy balls now grows ivy and weeds. Trees have sprouted up in former reception areas and lounge bars are now home to stray cats. And in a strange twist of irony one of the old hotels is now used by a local paint ball club as a battle ground. In between the wounds of shrapnel you can see the bright flashes of paint. In fact the old hotel that is used wouldn’t look out of place in a Call of Duty video game.
Like a scene from Call of Duty
The beach, stretching out in front of the former hotels, has brought people back to Kupari. Swimming in the crystal clear Adriatic Sea with a background of facades peppered with shrapnel and missile holes, the concrete blocks have become something of a tourist attraction. “I heard about this place and the chance to see the effects of war and I just had to come,” exclaimed Janet, a tourist from the UK. “This might be the last chance I have to experience the horrors of war and I want to take a many photos as possible,” she added. She isn’t the only one. Kupari resort has become a reminder of another time, a time of the last war on the European continent.
The Grand Hotel is now not so grand - Photo Selma Shah
And now might be your last chance to see it. The resort has finally been privatised after waiting patiently since 2001. Bulldozers and diggers will soon be moving in and flattening what is left. The old monsters are to be replaced by a shining new five-star Marriot resort. Only the Grand Hotel will remain, as it is protected as a building of historical interest. Some might argue that the whole resort is of historical interest, but times and the face of Kupari is about to change. If you have the chance to visit Kupari this summer season grab it.
Swimming pool has seen better days
The Dubrovnik Police Authority carried out an action yesterday to crack down on drivers using their mobiles phones. The penalty for taking on your mobile phone whilst driving in Croatia is 500 Kunas, unless you are using a hands free device.
In yesterdays police action 132 drivers were stopped for driving offences with a 120 of them due to talking on their mobiles phones.
Zadar is looking to forge ahead in the Croatian tourism market; it is already one of the fastest growing destinations in the country and has just been awarded the prestigious “Best European Destination in 2016,” recognition.
However the city isn’t resting on its laurels, plans have been released of a project to construct five new hotels in Zadar. According to an article published by a local media outlet kalelargainfo.hr the first hotel to be built will be a five-star Hyatt in the centre of the city.
After the Hyatt hotel comes news that a Hilton is planned to be constructed in Zadar as well, as the destination attracts another international brand name. The plans for the city centre don’t stop there as apart from the new hotels there are plans to add other tourist attractions.
The Hyatt Hotel in Zadar should be completed by the summer season of 2018 and will be the first Hyatt hotel in Croatia.
The news in Dubrovnik is being dominated by the upcoming filming of Star Wars Episode VIII and as the set goes up along the main street, the Stradun, the excitement is rising. Already the scenes of Dubrovnik as a location for Star Wars have filled social media and the international press, with even a report on the BBC today.
Check out our photo gallery by Tonci Plazibat
As Star Wars starts preparing for filming in Dubrovnik, some scenes on the main street through the Old City are already being built, the production company are trying their best to keep away from prying eyes. Already key members of the Dubrovnik City Council have signed contracts of silence and tents have been erected in the Old City to hide away cast and crew. However according to reports in the media the levels of security will be even higher than for the Game of Thrones filming.
Filming of the eighth episode of Star Wars in Dubrovnik is due to begin on the 9th of March and will continue for seven days, but if you were thinking of grabbing an exclusive with an aerial view from a drone – think again. The security team hired to protect the Star Wars set will deploy a team of drones that will remove uninvited drones from the recording area. We are not quite sure how the drones will be removed safely, but as there will be an estimated 500 security guards around the set it could just be a case of hunting down the controllers.
“I know there is a capture system, like a net, that looks like a spider’s web that can be used to snare drones; however this would be very dangerous over populated areas. I am not sure what rights the production crew of Star Wars has to bring down personal drones over the skies of Dubrovnik,” commented a Dubrovnik drone owner for The Dubrovnik Times. Adding that “If the drone is not being used for commercial purposes, and is compliant with all the laws and conditions, then surely bringing down a drone is illegal. Does Star Wars own the airspace over Dubrovnik?“
A statement from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board has asked for people to have consideration whilst Star Wars is filming, "For couple of days in March, movement in the old city centre shall be subject to special regulations. We trust that this situation will not cause you any inconvenience and that you will have a pleasant time in Dubrovnik. Scene preparations for filming will take place on March 9th and 10th from 6 pm to 12 am (midnight). Filming preparations and filming itself will take place every day from March 11th to 16th. Preparations will be carried out from 4 am to 4 pm and filming itself will take place from 4 pm to 4 am of the following day."