Monday, 18 June 2018
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

According to a specialised website the carrier American Airlines is seriously considering opening direct flights from Philadelphia to Dubrovnik as a summer season link.

It is believed that a decision will be made as to whether this new American Airline flights will be introduced inside the next month. And presumably these new flights would start in the summer of 2019.

Dubrovnik has long been searching for an American airline to operate direct flights. In fact, last year tourists from the US were in the top five in the city and this is without any flights. Many American tourists currently use either London or Frankfurt as a hub before flying off to the States, however this also often involves another flight to Zagreb from Dubrovnik. Meaning a flight from Dubrovnik to the US can mean at least two stops.

American Airlines have been growing consistently out of Philadelphia, and have introduced new flights to many European destinations. It is rumoured that both Dubrovnik and Zagreb are on the radar for American Airlines, however the airline has still yet to make an official statement.

In spite of the changeable weather in Dubrovnik which saw blue skies one minute and rain the next the iconic Banje Beach, just a stone’s throw from the walls of the Old City, was busy today with swimmers and sunbathers.

The actual sea temperature in Dubrovnik is around 24 degrees, so jumping in the Adriatic is far from chilly. Many tourists rolled out their towels today, although the presumably had umbrellas handy just in case, and made the most of the weekend.

The unstable weather is predicted to last for most of next week, although temperatures will not drop below 25 degrees, there is a chance of a few spots of rain all week.

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The latest example of crazy coach driving comes from this bus driver who tried to make a three-point turn on a narrow Dubrovnik road. This “professional” driver surely must have known better that to attempt to turn around on such a narrow spot and in doing so he completely blocked both lanes of traffic.

An astonished eye witness took this photo as the coach made not a three-point turn but a thirty-three point turn on the only road out of the Old City of Dubrovnik from Pile. This road is extremely busy and used by both taxi drivers and public bus drivers as the main link into Dubrovnik. However, yesterday it all took longer than usual as this bus driver backed up traffic while he tried to turn round.

The Netherlands has become the latest European Union country to lift work restrictions on Croatian workers.

After the United Kingdom announced that from the 1st of July Croatian workers would no longer require a work permit the Netherlands has become the next open country for Croatians. The government of the Netherlands announced on Friday that they would instruct the European Commission that they would not extend the ban on Croatian workers for a further two years.

Croatian become a full member of the European Union in 2013 and the Netherlands, along with the UK, applied a five-year restriction on Croatians coming for work purposes. Immediately after receiving the news the Croatian government responded in kind and lifted any work restrictions on Dutch citizens in Croatia.

Dubrovnik has once again been included on a top ten travel list, and this time it comes from Italy. The Italian monthly travel magazine “Caravan e Camper” has not only published a travel report on Dubrovnik but also featured the city on the cover page of this popular magazine.

This latest travel report is the result of a study tour organized by the Croatian Tourist Board's representative offices in Italy, the Tourist Board of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County and the Tourist Board of the City of Dubrovnik.

The comprehensive six-page report in the magazine includes information on where to camp in Dubrovnik, but also reports on the Elaphite islands, the Dubrovnik City Walls and upcoming events in the city. And of course includes details on how Dubrovnik played a role in the filming of Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Robin Hood. Great publicity for Dubrovnik on the Italian camping market.

An Albanian family was stopped late last night on the border from Montenegro into Croatia and border security found 53 packages of marijuana stashed in the car. The 41-year-old driver, his wife and two young children, all from Albania were attempting to enter the country with 53 packages containing 23 kg of marijuana and a further 8 packages with 5 kg of marijuana.

The border security stopped the car after becoming suspicious due to a strong smell coming from the car. They then carried out a detailed search and found the drugs hidden under the driver and passenger seats.

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Even though Croatia became a full member of the European Union in 2013 it is still not part of the Schengen border-free zone. Along with Romania and Bulgaria, which both joined in 2007, and Cyprus, which joined in 2004, Croatia is legally bound by the terms of the EU accession treaty to join the EU border-free zone.

The Croatian MEP, Tonino Picula, recently organised a conference in Dubrovnik to discuss the preparation for Croatia’s entry into the Schengen area and the importance of security was stressed.

“That would make our EU membership complete and enable us to make the most of it. This is a time of extreme pressure on the Schengen area, and due to incoming migration and terrorism many are questioning if the area can be maintained at all. Croatia must meet the technical standards, as well as politically convince the European Council that it should be admitted as soon as possible,” said Picula.

"We have to meet 96 recommendations by the end of this European Commission's term (in 2019) because its President (Jean-Claude) Juncker has stated clearly that Croatia should be admitted as soon as it meets the technical criteria. It will also be necessary to convince those who have political or even bilateral reservations to our accession, however, this must not be a bilateral issue, but a joint European decision,” concluded the Croatian MEP.

Just as the summer begins and finding a parking space becomes like finding a needle in a haystack so the scooter season reopens. Buzzing around my car like bees around honey, or flies around s***, that your pick, I am constantly on the lookout for these two-wheeled menaces.

It would seem that many of them believe they have an invisible shield of protection around them, like some superpower that Ironman has. They throw themselves, almost literally, between vehicles with a belief that everyone sees them and every other driver should get well out of the way. On the roads there is one rule for car drivers and another for those on scooters, oh and a third one for that special breed – the pizza delivery scooters.

When I lived around the historic walls then owning a scooter was a must have. But now I am out in the wilds on Zupa my 50cc is just about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Once, or in fact twice, I rode my scooter into town from Zupa, never again.

Limited by my speed, or more precisely lack of speed, I was forced to eat dust at the side of the road as Libertas buses flashed past me. I am pretty sure that a tractor would have passed me by the speed I was going. As soon as you can’t keep up the speed of traffic then it seems to become extremely dangerous. Thinking about it I also feel sorry for the poor cyclist chugging up the road at walking speed with a nervous driver inches from his back wheel. Until some kind of cycle path for scooters is introduced, and that will be on St. Never, my scooter will not see my backside.

However, I still have to deal with them buzz, buzz, buzzing around me. Just the other day I was minding my own business, driving well within the limits, on a Dubrovnik road when I saw a scooter parked in front of a café bar with the rider seemingly chatting to his friends in the bar form the back of his stallion. I moved over slightly to pass me and just as I reached me his grabbed on the gas and jerked out into the middle of the road right in front of me. To make matters worse he had one hand on the scooter and the other waving at his friends. Yes, he was one of those so called “jacks.” I slammed on my brakes and swerved to avoid him. It was close. Really close. My wife screamed as we seemed to brush him.

The look on his face when he realised what he had done was one of complete horror. If we had been a few metres closer there is no doubt we would have hit him, no doubt at all. Of course he hadn’t used his indicators, because we all know that drivers here think indicators are optional. He pulled over. I wound down the window. I was just about to give me a volley of abuse when he shouted “I haven’t seen you for ages,” to my wife. “Oh it’s you,” she replied. It turned out that they old school friends. I felt like replying “If you had pulled out a second later then she wouldn’t have seen you for even longer.” I didn’t. he apologised for being a “kreten” I just nodded my head in agreement. He isn’t the only one riding a scooter.

I remember once being asked by a foreign journalist to describe drivers in Dubrovnik. “Predictably unpredictable,” was my answer.

They aren’t the worst I have seen, but they would be in the top three. I strongly believe that the major problem is that they become complacent. They get so used to driving the roads, and let’s face it there aren’t that many, that they could do it with their eyes shut. And it would appear that many of them do!

If something is not how it normally is then they become nervous and that’s when mistakes occur. Buzz, buzz, buzz. Strap on a helmet and they feel invincible. Of course I am not saying that all scooter riders are irresponsible, but it seems like all the ones that buzz and fart around me are. It seems that they are all in a terrible rush to get somewhere, to some life or death situation, when really most of them are just late for coffee with a friend. As Mahatma Gandhi once said “There is more to life than just increasing its speed.”

Mostly cloudy

22°C

Dubrovnik

Mostly cloudy
Humidity: 66%
Wind: NE at 17.70 km/h
Tuesday
Scattered thunderstorms
22°C / 29°C
Wednesday
Mostly sunny
25°C / 28°C
Thursday
Thunderstorms
22°C / 27°C
Friday
Thunderstorms
23°C / 26°C

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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