Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Spectacular views could be seen today as Robin Hood:Origins filming came to the end. The whole set placed at Posat (right next to the Old Port) has been set on fire or at least it seemed that way. Actually, it was a stimulation with controled special effects. It looked quite real and it was a great ending to almost 2 weeks of filming in Dubrovnik. 

These two weeks were for sure exciting with celebrities like Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan and Taron Egerton walking through the streets of Dubrovnik. There were some problems like locals complaining that Stradun was damaged when the set was built, so many will tell that it's about time that Robin Hood leaves Dubrovnik. However, here is no doubt that Robin Hood: Origins will bring countless publicity to the city and quite possibly new tourists wanting to see the film sets.

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According to information from the Dubrovnik Police there were ten road traffic accidents in the past seven days, three of which involved injuries.

In the Dubrovnik – Neretva County the police have reported that last week they stopped and cautioned 463 drivers. A total of 251 drivers were stopped due to speeding offences, 51 drivers for not wearing seat belts, 20 for not having their headlights on and 12 drivers under the influence of alcohol.

If you go for a swim in the Adriatic off Dubrovnik you might be in for a shock! Floating packages of marijuana have been turning up all over the Dubrovnik region. So far eleven packages wrapped in aluminium foil and Scotch tape have been collected by the Maritime Police in Dubrovnik, amounting to an unbelievable 267 kilos!

All over the county marijuana has been spotted floating, from the islands of Lastovo, Mljet, Korcula and Lokrum.

Both the police and citizens discovered these first packages and after these first interventions the police have stepped up their search for more packs. How 267 kilograms of marijuana ended up floating in the Adriatic Sea is still unknown, however one theory suggest that this was part of an illegal shipment from Montenegro to Italy that fell overboard in bad weather. It certainly brings a new meaning to the term “sea weed.”

A recent research on representation of men and women in Zagreb shows that the system of the modern city of Zagreb has grown into a city of men, whilst women, despite their physical presence, are ''symbolically absent.''

Katja Vretenar and Zlatan Krajina, professors at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb carried out a survey in order to analyze the share of men and women in 3,861 names of public institutions and spaces such as streets and squares in the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

The survey data show that 1,032 streets and squares (27%) are named after men, whilst only 69 streets and squares (1,8%) are named after women. To make this statistics even worse, the survey also indicates that most streets named after women are usually some small side streets located away from the city centre or major roads.

The city of Zagreb has 70 squares and only three of them are dedicated to women, ''Dubravkin Trg'', ''Trg Katarine Zrinske'' and ''Trg svete Marije Cucerske''. On the other hand, around 60 percent of the city squares are named after men and they are located in the very heart of Zagreb.

Furthermore, according to some data, there were 292 sculptures and monuments at public places in Zagreb in 2007; 145 of them represented male characters and 108 were erected in memory of real male historical figures. However, only five monuments were dedicated to women who played important roles in the past.

In addition, the 51-seat Zagreb City Council has 36 male representatives (71%) and 15 female representatives (29%).

Traditionally marking the annual feast of St. Joseph in Ston and Mali Ston, The Festival of Oysters is the place to be. 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 from 11.00am until 16.00pm on the 18th of March 2017. 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.

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Cruise ship tourism in Dubrovnik is a bone of contention today; there are pros and cons to be weighed on both sides of the argument. But it certainly isn’t a new phenomenon. This Pathe News travel report from 1959 highlights the joys of cruising in the Mediterranean. In fact the cruise ship featured is the SS Arcadia built in 1953 and operated by the British company P&O, and the cruise ship carrying the same name “MV Arcadia” is still in operation today, and still run by P&O and has visited Dubrovnik.

A few points struck us as we watched this video, firstly there are cars driving down the Stradun and parking in the Old City harbour, and secondly the commentary “Feel the pulse of the two different ways of life, that of the European and that of the Slav.” Quite clearly this video was made long before the European Union, but surely Croatia or Yugoslavia at that time, has always been part of the European continent.

Check out Dubrovnik from 1959 from Pathe News

The Amazon rain forest is breathing a huge sigh of relief. Centuries old trees are now at peace, their branches waving in celebration. The English have a saying “credit where credit is due.” And, even though I never thought I would see the day, credit is due to the Croatian governmental system. The mountain of paperwork that has been slowly strangling the country and bringing it to its knees seems to be dying. Yes, believe it or not, Croatian bureaucracy is getting easier.

This statement isn’t based on any new European Union research or even propaganda from the government, no this is based on a much less complicated form of research, my own experiences. The labyrinth that I have got used to navigating, desperately searching for clues, for a signpost to find the end is now less complicated.

“Yes, but you need one more piece of paper,” will haunt me to my grave.

And always when you were close to the last piece of paper you'd hear, “yes, but you need one more piece of paper not older than six months.” I am having heart palpitations just thinking about the trek around offices in search of the golden egg, the final solution, the end of the rainbow. I have more copies of my birth certificate and my marriage certificate than I can ever use, if I could glue them all together I’d have War and Peace – the Croatian version. I have more marriage certificates than Hugh Heffner!

Why is it that a birth certificate in Croatia has a shorter expiry date than fruit yoghurt? Stupid question really. Think how much of our hard earned cash the government has sucked out of our pockets over the years, “you need another stamp, tax stamps, or anything we can think of to get a few more Kunas out of you.”

Where did all that paper end up, did those trees lose their lives in vain?

However there seems to be good news for the trees and bad news for the bureaucrats. I have actively avoided having any involvement in any business that requires paperwork from government authorities; I just can’t take the pressure anymore. But sometimes the path reaches a crossroads and you have no option but to cross your fingers and hope for the best, the path led me back to the city’s countless offices last month. And when it rains it pours! I didn’t have only one mission to complete, I had two.

I wasn’t looking forward to this. It was with a great deal of trepidation that I set out on the never-ending circle to collect the required paperwork. It started easier than I had expected, “blimey they have finally realized that computers are the future,” I whispered under my voice. Compared to ten years ago this was plain sailing, or was I dreaming. “You have all the papers you need, the certificate will be ready in around ten days and you can pick it up from the county offices,” said the jolly faced lady in front of me.

“You have all the papers you need,” did she really just say that!! I almost fell off my chair. Had I been transformed into a foreign county? My life was now complete “I had all the papers I needed!” Life is sweet. And she was right, around ten days later I picked up the certificate from the county office; this was too good to be true.

So now the second, more complicated mission, I nicknamed Mission Impossible 2. This process a few years back would have probably taken 3 months and half of the nerves in body to complete. Not to mention I would have had to sell a kidney to pay for it. But wait, were my eyes deceiving me, was this a new dawn or a false dawn, “your papers will be ready by the end of the week.” I felt like jumping over the table, grabbing the lady and planting a kiss on her cheek. Like I said, credit where credit is due.

When it was black, it was as black as a winter’s night. But now the dawn is coming. The nightmare is over, well maybe not yet but the green shots of hope are here. I have managed to get two missions completed without having to give my newly acquired birth certificate, blood group or dental impression. This was improvement, real improvement, a step in the right direction. The battle may have been won but the war isn’t over. There are many trees that still need saving from the swing of the Croatian bureaucrats axe.

Robin Hood is on his horse and slowly riding out of the city. The massive and intricate set on the main street through the historic Old City of Dubrovnik, the Stradun, is being dismantled. It would appear that the last scene to be shot on this set was yesterday, when Jamie Dornan lead a group of peasant rebels along the street.

Nottingham on the Adriatic is coming to an end with filming officially expected to be completed on Monday the 6th of March. And according to an inside source all of the sets will be completely gone by the 10th of March. The office of conservation in Dubrovnik has announced that the city must be returned to normal by the 6th of March.

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For many citizens and especially local stores and cafes the end of filming can’t come soon enough. Such a huge project right in the centre of the city has caused disruption on a massive scale and many business owners have complained that customers couldn’t even get to their premises. “In our fifty year history this is the worst period for business we have experienced,” commented a co-owner of a sandwich bar just off the main street. “We had our worst day even when we sold only two sandwiches,” she added.

Whilst there is no doubt that Robin Hood: Origins will bring countless publicity to the city, and quite possibly new tourists wanting to see the film sets, the organisation has been more than slightly unorganised. Compared to previous film productions, such as Game of Thrones and Star Wars, Robin Hood has been much more disruptive. So whilst the sets come down on the Stradun and the cast and crew move onto Hungary for the final filming we can only hope that when Robin Hood hits the screens it is a box-office hit and not a flop.

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Jamie Dornan on the final scene to be filmed on the Stradun in Dubrovnik 

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The peak and trough pattern of Dubrovnik’s tourism industry seems, if however small, to be raising the low points. The winter period has always been problematic for the region’s tourism business, Dubrovnik’s tourist arrivals basically skyrocket for six months in the summer then drop like a pebble in the Adriatic through the winter.

However slowly but surely more tourists are discovering the beauties of the city outside of the warmer months. According to figures just released by the Dubrovnik – Neretva County Tourist Board there was a healthy 6 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first two months of this year. In total 31,502 tourists visited the region in January and February this year, which although is still relatively small it is a least a step in the right direction.

One of the main reasons for the on/off tourist season is the lack of international flights. This has to some extent been eased this year with more direct flights, from destinations such as Istanbul, Frankfurt and Rome; however it is still far from ideal. For a city where the most numerous guests are from the UK it would make more sense to have links to London and Manchester. For travellers planning to visit Dubrovnik out of the main season you are almost guaranteed a layover in Zagreb. Fortunately tourists from South Korea have saved these figures.

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A few years ago a popular TV show in Korea featured Dubrovnik and since then tourists have flocked to see it for themselves, a little like the Game of Thrones phenomenon. And these very guests prefer to visit in the winter, they tend to go on a coach tour around the country and Dubrovnik is one stop. This is brought home if the tourist arrivals by nationality for the Dubrovnik region are studied, tourists from South Korea were the third most numerous. In first place are tourists from Croatia, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina and then in fourth place British.

In the first two months of 2017, around 392,000 tourists visited Croatia; and realized more than 1 million overnight stays or 13 to 15 percent more in comparison to the same period last year, the Croatian Tourist Board has reported.

According to data from eVisitor and eCrew systems, 210,600 tourists visited Croatia in February alone or 8 percent more compared to the same month last year. They realized around 540,000 overnight stays or 11 percent more than in February 2016. The winter period is traditionally a tough time for the tourism industry, however these figures are more than encouraging.

Furthermore, in the first two months, the number of domestic guests increased by 13 percent to 163,000, whilst overnight stays rose by 11 percent to 416,000.

On the other hand, the number of foreign visitors increased by 12,6 percent to 229,000, who realized 625,000 overnight stays, a significant increase of 18,4 percent compared to the first two months in 2016. The most numerous guests were from Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy and Austria.

By type of accommodation, the data also show that the largest number of overnight stays in the first two months of 2017 were realized in hotels (646,000), and household facilities (189,000), whilst among the counties with the most overnight stays were the Istria county (198,000) and the city of Zagreb (191,000).

As far as Croatia’s regions are concerned, the most successful was the Kvarner region with 163,000 overnight stays, followed by the Split-Dalmatia County with 108,000 and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County with 103,000 overnight stays.

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The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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