“So this couple had much more luck solving the task as they were allowed to speak to people in the streets;” explained the German TV producer in front of me on the Stradun. Dubrovnik has played host to many international travel documentaries in the past few years, but this latest one is a new idea. A crew from the German national broadcaster Deutsche Welle was currently filming a new travel show in southern Croatia and I bumped into them when they arrived in Dubrovnik.
Now I have to admit it was quite by chance. I saw a couple of guys carrying expensive looking cameras and one lady holding one of those big fluffy microphones on a stick, you know the ones that look like a terrier on a spike. So being the generally curious person that I am I asked what they were doing? I didn’t expect the answer that I received. “It is a new kind of travel show, a kind of travel and game show wrapped in one,” smiled the friendly German producer.
Two couples have to find their way around a city and solve various tasks. However there is a twist. One couple has to do it “old school” armed only with books, magazines, newspapers, basically analogue travellers. Whilst the other couple have a digital approach, they are allowed to only use smart phones, tablets, websites and other online equipment. It is a battle between 1960’s travel and 2000’s travel. And the other twist is that the digital couple aren’t allowed to speak to people on the street, whilst the “old school” couple can. Of course my first question was – it seems a little unfair, the analogue couple have no chance.
There was a wry smile from the producer; I am guessing she didn’t want to give away too much. “Well you would be surprised. We have just been in Makarska and one of the tasks there was to find someone famous,” she smiled. Ok, that is a tough task, is there anyone famous in Makarska at all! So the “old school” couple literally just walked up to someone in the street and asked. After about ten minutes they found the home of a famous chef. Whereas the digital crew had problems. If you have ever tried Googling famous people in Makarska you would know why.
According to Wikipedia you have a monk who died in 1760, so no chance of knocking on his door. There is the footballer Alen Bokšić, but who knows where he lives with all his millions. And rather oddly the Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov, who after becoming a naturalised Croatian citizen in 2014 presumably used an address in Makarska, again good luck finding him, he is on the run from Putin, and if Putin can’t find him no one can!
So the digital couple used their heads and Googled Radio Makarska and asked the DJ live on the radio if he knew the address of a famous person nearby. Oddly enough the DJ gave the address of another DJ who works for the same radio station; I am not so sure that being a Radio Makarska DJ counts as being famous. So the analogue couple won that round. However it seemed from the rest of the questions I asked that the digital couple had won every other round.
For example in Dubrovnik they had a task of finding how long the Stradun is. The digital duo found the answer as fast as their fingers could type into their smart phones, or around 30 seconds. But the elderly travellers were flicking through guide books, reading sign posts and asking people in the street. “It is amazing how many people gave us different answers,” said the couple. Yes, another lost round for the old school duo. An interesting travel show which only goes to highlight the death of books! And probably the death of newspapers!
Well nothing we didn’t know already, but the German TV program was hammering another nail in the coffin of the written word...as opposed to the typed word. And I have to be honest I can’t remember the last time I bought a guide book, well if you don’t include guide apps for my smart phone. I just don’t touch much paper anymore, which is probably good news for the rain forest; the only paper I regularly touch is toilet paper. So we wait to see the travel/game show on air.
Apparently, at least according to the friendly German lady, the program will be aired on German national television in the summer. So my final question to you is – how long is the Stradun – and don’t just open Google!
According to data from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics (DZS) on electronic communication services relating to phone calls, SMS and MMS as well as broadband internet traffic in the past few years, among all these services Croatia recorded the biggest increase was in internet traffic.
Last year around 8.9 billion minutes were spent on the three largest mobile networks in Croatia, or 1.6 percent more compared to 2015. On the other hand, 2.2 billion minutes or 8.1 percent less minutes were spent in fixed networks.
Furthermore, the data shows that internet traffic in 2016 was around 710 million GB, which was an increase of 200 million GB or 38.3 percent in comparison to 2015. The biggest growth in internet traffic of almost 42 percent was achieved only in the last quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.
As far as mobile networks and spent minutes are concerned, there were no big surprises; a 1.6 percent growth was stabile at the annual level and continued. Out of the total number of 8.9 billion minutes spent in 2016, little more than 2.2 billion minutes were spent only in the last quarter which was an increase of 2.5 percent compared to the same period in 2015.
On the other hand, mobile networks recorded a years-long decline in the number of sent SMS and MMS text messages. The data show that 9 percent less SMS text messages were sent in 2016 or 2.6 billion, whilst users sent 11.3 percent less MMS text messages, or 15,6 million.
Furthermore, fixed networks recorded a decline of 8,1 percent in 2016; out of the total 2.2 billion spent minutes, 559 million minutes were spent only in the last quarter, which was also a decrease of 7.2 percent in comparison to the same period in 2015.
The decline in fixed networks was recorded both in domestic and international traffic i.e. the decline in spent minutes at the annual level in domestic traffic was 8 percent, whilst in international traffic it was 15 percent.
The stones back, no not the Rolling Stones, but the three stones at the end of the Siroka Street in the historic centre of Dubrovnik.
The iconic stone pillars were removed during filming of the movie Robin Hood: Origins in Dubrovnik to make way for Robin and his merry men. However today they were returned to their original position and once again the view from the Stradun is complete.
Traditionally marking the annual feast of St. Joseph in Ston and Mali Ston, The Festival of Oysters is the place to be tomorrow from 11am to 4pm. After all Ston is renowned all over the world for the quality of its oysters, so were better to taste “nature’s aphrodisiac” than in the home of the best oysters in the region.
The tasting of oysters and Pelješac wines will take place on the seafront in Mali Ston. You will be able to enjoy the most renowned aphrodisiac alongside a glass of supreme wine of Pelješac at a reasonable price, or rather promotional prices.
Through an all day presentation of Croatian island products, the day will offer a variety of traditional products of the upmost quality. And your day enjoying these traditional specialities from the Adriatic will be a day to remember as Dalmatian music, a folklore performance and raffles will all be organised.
There is another great bonus of this day – the entrance to the Walls of Ston will be free of charge from 9 am to 3 pm.
Wanting to explore Dubrovnik? If you are in need for a unique experience and also love active vacation Dubrovnik Running Tours are the perfect choice. You can learn about Dubrovnik history and culture while running with your guides. We spoke to Damir Ovcina, Dubrovnik Running Tours manager, tour guide and runner about this interesting idea.
How did you get an idea for Dubrovnik Running Tours?
I run and that's an important part of my life, I just love it. I ran around Dubrovnik and discovered the most beautiful routes, like those by the sea and through nature. I saw a lot of tourists running on the road, avoiding cars, and it got to me – they just can't find those routes that I love. I got an idea for a tour – running with a tour guide and discovering different parts of the city that they would probably miss if they went alone. I researched it and discovered that in the most of the bigger cities in the world there are around 10 agencies that do that kind of stuff. I couldn't believe it! I thought that that was really my unique idea. (laughs) I decided to start it, form three different tours that go around the city, show interesting locations and have great photo opportunities.
What are those three different tours that you mentioned?
There is 'City and nature', 'Run Dubrovnik' and 'Lokrum Island'. For example, the first one is 7 kilometres long – we start at Orsan and run besides the sea, through Solitudo and Babin Kuk. We stop at beach Cava, where we talk about the beach itself and look at Elaphiti islands. There is possible to take photos while taking a break. We are not running during the whole tour, we run, then we stop and rest and then we run again. Level of the running tours is totally adjusted to the group.
So, anybody can be the part of the running tour? Not just professionals?
Yes. It's expected that the person is active, at least a bit. But you don't have to be a professional athlete or runner! Level of activity is low or from low to medium. We run around one kilometre before we stop and take some rest. If we notice that somebody's having a hard time, we slow it down and add one more rest location. Every group has its pace.
Is it hard to combine sightseeing and running?
No, it isn't, because we run through parts like nature, where there is not much to be said. We just enjoy the surroundings with light talk. When we stop at the location then we talk, look around and take photos. Sightseeing and running are not so combined, that would maybe be appropriate for the runners of higher level. This is really adapted to active people who get the chance to actively meet the city, have a light training and get valuable information about the city outside the walls and of course the Old City, where we end the tour.
Do you run in the Old City?
No, tours are formed in a way that they end in the Old City. No more running, we stop at a bar and get squeezed orange juice that it's included in the price. During their cool down they drink the juice with the Old City tour.
Was it hard to find tourist guides that will work on running tours?
It wasn't hard because I did most of them. (laughs) I have two or three people in mind that run with me and would love to do the tours. It's a dream for a runner – to get a training and get paid for it. It's ideal to do what you love and get money for it. That was my idea at the start.
You started the running tours last year. What are the reactions?
Response was quite good since we didn't really do much marketing and we were booked through our website. However, our social media pages were just opened then so it's hard to say if it was good or bad – it was a start. By the numbers, like 8000 likes on Facebook, I think this year will be much much better. People who went on the tour are delighted. Reactions are fantastic, on Tripadvisor all of our comments are ''excellent'' and everybody added the text, explained why they personally loved the tour. Because on this tour they meet the city, have beautiful photos and also get amazing amount of info for their further stay. From restaurants to field trips, from museums to attractions. We are available to them 24 hours a day even after the tour. We offer the whole experience. During the tour we become friends and I'm glad to help them with everything.
So, the only thing that is necessary for the tour is good will, running shoes and that's it?
Yes and just to relax and enjoy it!
I love Dubrovnik and I loved it more when Robin Hood was filmed here. I desperately wanted to be part of the set, so I dragged my husband and kids to the casting for extras (the only one of us who made it was my husband, because – as I put it – he is the slightly overweight cordial type, just like those medieval people, while I didn’t get in, because – as he put it – I was too uptight and skinny, like a vegan barrister from New York. Anyway.)
To forget about acting my fiasco, I refocused on Lent and its major idea, that is, I bit my fingernails and contemplated my life, trying to figure out what nasty habit should I give up in order to succeed. I Googled ridiculous articles like 50 Habits of Highly Successful People, or rather, the 85 Things Successful People Never Do, and I arrived to a surprising conclusion: all successful people and Hollywood actors had white teeth.
Now, the first advice that pops out of Google when you search for „achieve white teeth“ is „give up alcohol and coffee“.
My husband laughed, when I declared I wasn’t going to drink for six weeks, and he even said that my only really bad habit was that I never drank enough. Which was the final punch. I was going to do it!
Three days later, I felt miserable, experiencing all sorts of detox symptoms. To accelerate the process (Google), I started running – I jogged through the old town. Sweating, no makeup, dressed in colourless baggy clothes, plus displaying neither the $ 5000 purse or oversized sunglasses (forgot), I hurried through Stradun, earning scornful glances from all the ten people I passed. And then I saw him: at the sunlit little table in front of a café, there was a cool guy who looked like the Beverly Hills Cop, enjoying his early morning coffee, in slight disbelief that there was no buzz around him, that there were no people who’d care and who’d die for taking a selfie with him. He was…I mean….could he be…?
Of course all the daring scenarios flashed through my mind:
1) wave and smile at him
2) come to the table and say – Jamie Foxx? You are a damn great actor and musician, we all adore you, all the more that you also seem to be just a normal laid back guy who sits at Stradun in the morning, drinking coffee
3) approach him and say – I…err…excuse me, Jamie, but I, uh, write for the Dubrovnik Times and – see, I don’t want to interrupt your morning mantras, but do you think you could give me a two minute interview?
Passing by one of the polished shop windows provided me with a reality check. I saw a shapeless bundle with odd hair and pale face, making her way through one of the most charming promenades of the world and thinking about approaching one of the most famous contemporary actors.
I passed by him and did nothing. As if he could read my mind, though, Jamie Foxx had a sip of the coffee, smiled at me and revealed the whitest teeth I’ve seen in a while.
Back home, my husband was shaving, getting ready for another day of filming.
„I saw your colleague drinking coffee,“ I said.
„Taron?“ husband replied, uninvolved.
(Observation: In case you couldn’t decide what was the one most attractive thing about Dalmatian men, it is the zen kind of confidence they all keep up no matter what)
„Jamie,“ I said.
„He is cool, isn’t he?“ husband informed. „Did you join him for the coffee?“
„No,“ I replied, desperate. „I gave up coffee, remember?“
My husband rolled his eyes, patted me on the shoulder like a schoolteacher, who still hoped things were going to change to the better for me, and he was out of the door.
Next morning, no matter that I wore makeup and heels, there was no sign of friendly actors at Stradun café. Frustrated, I bought newspaper and learned that last night, Jamie Foxx got harassed by some drunkards at a restaurant, where he, ugh, drank red wine.
„Told yah he was cool,“ my husband commented when I returned home with fresh bread and the breaking news. „He drinks coffee, he drinks wine, he doesn’t stress and obsess around like someone.“
The media reported that Jamie Foxx fell in love with Dubrovnik, so in the next days, he was frequently spotted in the streets of the old town. That way, I could miss even more great opportunities of talking to him, passing by him two or three more times, unable to act.
On the last day of filming, I joined the modest crowd of locals who watched the wooden set burn down in a magnificent final scene.
I returned home that night, frozen, broken and depressed.
All hopes and bridges were now burnt. Robin Hood was over.
Without saying a word, my husband poured me a glass of red.
„I think you picked the wrong things to give up, darling,“ he concluded. „I’ll translate it into Dalmatian for you: Just like blood is the fuel of the body, red wine is the fuel of the soul. And chocolate. And coffee. Call it wrong, but in my opinion it has nothing to do with white teeth. And believe me, it feels much better to be cool than successful.“
How not to love that man? – I thought. And how not to love a place where such a philosophy dominates everyday life?
That night, I scribbled into my notebook: Give up fear. (Resolution for rest of Lent and, well - rest of life.)
Blanka Pavlovic a.k.a. the Adriatic Bride is a Czech writer. She studied law (Prague) and creative writing (Oxford). As a lawyer, she specialized in international human rights law, first working for the European Court of Human Rights, then for a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. She wrote five books, among them Total Balkans, The Handbook of the Adriatic Bride or The Return of the Adriatic Bride. She now lives with her family between Dubrovnik and Donji Brgat. More information and English translations of her work are available through www.blankacechova.com.
Interesting experiment found its way to Croatia– on Sunday, 19th of March, hundreds people in around 30 cities, including Zagreb, will stand united in eye contact. This special event will take place on Trg Bana Josipa Jelacica on Sunday, from 10 am to 3 pm.
- We will share a minutes eye contact with strangers in the heart of our cities and towns worldwide. Your participation in this global event demonstrates that beyond our differences there is love and humanity. You will be representing your country on this incredible day and what happens will forever change the social fabric of the present and future – it's written on the official page of the experiment.
This experiment is organized by Liberators International and it will happen in Croatia for the first time. Last year in October almost 200 cities joined this event.
It will be interesting to see if Croatians and their guests will be willing to share short but intense eye contact with complete strangers. In the time of new technologies, when we are so distant, a small eye contact could be a step to bring us back together. At least for a minute!
Dubrovnik is basking in warm sunshine today as temperatures reached 18 degrees. A warm front is currently hanging over Dubrovnik are set to remain sunny and calm for at least the next seven days.
Up until the end of this weekend the temperatures will stay constant at around 18 degrees. Today the city was a mixture of heavy coats and shorts as the bright sunshine keep people guessing on the right wardrobe.
Check out our gallery from today in the Old City
On the second day of his official visit to Russia, the Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli participated in a meeting of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA) and Russian Travel Agencies (ATOR), where he also met with Alla Manilova, the deputy Minister of Culture in Russia, in charge of tourism.
During the meeting, Cappelli presented the status of tourism in Croatia in 2017, with an emphasis on health tourism and investments in the tourism sector as a significant contribution to the further strengthening of Croatia's tourist offer and services in the country.
On this occasion, Maja Lomidze, the director of ATOR also participated in the meeting as well as representatives of TUI Russia, Coral, Paks, and Russian Express who presented booking figures and interest in Croatia for 2017 to the Croatian Minister Gari Cappelli.
Most tour operators have recorded an increase of early bookings by 20 to 35 percent for Croatia this year, and praised the excellent cooperation with the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ) in Moscow. They also pointed out that one of the competitive advantages of Croatia is that it is perceived as a safe destination.
Furthermore, the Tourism Minister Cappelli informed the representatives of the tour operators about new investments in the Croatian tourism industry, emphasizing the development of year-round tourism and stronger support to tour operators who bring tourists in the off-season period.
According to data, Russian tourists achieved 119,700 arrivals (+7%) and 879,100 overnight stays in 2016, most of which were realized in hotels and household facilities. The most visited Croatia’s counties by Russians were the Istria County (328,700), the Split-Dalmatia County (192,000) and the Primorje-Gorje County (102,000), whilst the most popular cities were Porec, Umag, Dubrovnik, Rovinj and Opatija.
Dubrovnik has been awarded as the best cruise destination in Europe for 2016. At the SEATRADE Cruise Global fair in the US the city was awarded by the British Cruise Insight magazine as the best destination for 2016. According to the website cruiseline.com, where cruise ship passengers left their impressions and rankings for each destination last year Dubrovnik was chosen as the leading port.
The SEATRADE fair is one of largest such exhibitions in the world and was held from the 13th to the 16th of March in Fort Lauderdale. Dubrovnik tourism industry was represented by the director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Roman Vlasic, who also collected the award.
During 2017 in Dubrovnik 577 cruise ships are expected to arrive in Dubrovnik with around 760,000 passengers. These figures are a slight decrease on last year, around 9 percent fewer cruise ship passengers are expected this year compared to 2016.