Saturday, 21 July 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.


What is going on with this weather? Has summer been cancelled this year? Is Mother Nature so furious with Mr. Trump that she has sent cloud loads of rain to pour down on us? Whatever the reason it is driving me crazy and not just because I am getting continually wet.

I can probably count the number of hours sleep I have had over the past week on one hand. And it isn’t because these regular night storms have crashed down on my roof and woke me up. No, something much more sleep disturbing. As you may already know my wife is a keen animal lover. When I say keen maybe fanatic is a better word. She will feed, save, cuddle and look after just about everything with four legs. And I mean everything. Although the number of legs is probably irrelevant as I once caught her cutting up an apple to feed a snake! Yes, our house resembles a zoo. I could almost sell tickets on the door for the grand tour.

We have dogs, cats and now even a family of hedgehogs. Yes, that’s right a family of spiky hedgehogs. Animals seem to wander in and out of our door like a visitors entering the Rector’s Palace. And not just through the door but through the windows! We seem to be constantly feeding something.

Maybe I should get some shares in Whiskers. Now there is one thing that cats like less than water and dogs less than cats and that is storms. They can hear them coming way before we even see a dark sky. Apparently dogs hearing is more than a hundred times better than a human. Yet that doesn’t explain why when I call my dog he ignores me. Now I can sleep through a hurricane but our animals obviously can’t. Just the other day when a particularly bad storm was brewing I was awoken to a vibrating bed. Literally the whole bed was shaking. Was it an earthquake? No, it was out little dog having a fit of anxiety as a storm approached. For some reason she had decided to do this a few millimetres from my ear. So as the trembling bed jolted me out of my dream I was greeted with a heavy panting right into my ear. And then the vibration went to a whole new level on the Richter scale as our overweight Labrador scaled up onto the bed. It seems that anxiety is contagious. The bed was now creaking. I am not sure what the neighbours thought. They were hearing heavy panting and the monotonous creak of the wooden bed. Make your own conclusions.

“I am awake,” said my wife from the darkness. The “disco” on our bed then got even more crowded. “Is that one of the cats?” I quizzed my wife as a bright pair of eyes blinked from the end of the bed. “Yes, and the other one is curled up on my shoulder,” she replied. This was going to be another sleepless night in the Thomas house. The first explosion of white as the lightening hit and through the open window jumped two more cats. On seeing these new intruders, the dogs forgot their fear of thunder and leaped from the bed like jaguars and chased them out. Yes, the two dogs are on the bed with two cats but they recognise who is friend and who is foreign.

We had had exactly 45 minutes’ sleep. Then second flash and the dogs forgot their prey and returned in a hurry to the security of our bed. This went on for a further hour! Cast in, dogs jump, flash of lightening and back to the bed. I had resigned myself to a sleepless night and got up to have a drink. “Oh, I forgot the hedgehogs,” screamed my wife from the bed. That is a sentence you don’t often hear. I heard a rustle of sheets as she got out of the overcrowded bed and peaked her head out of the door. So to cut a long story short we have a small overgrown garden. When we started to cut the grass we found a nest of tiny hedgehogs buried in the undergrowth along with a rather grumpy mother hedgehog. Five little faces peered through the grass. Needless to say the grass cutting stopped and we built a larger nest around their nest just to keep away cats and dogs.

Over the past week my wife had been regularly feeding them and again needless to say they were now part of the family. So what else to do than to cover them up in a rain storm. With two dogs and two cats standing in the doorway watching my wife she carefully placed a cover over their nest.

By now the sun was almost coming up. The rain had stopped. The storm had rolled out over the Adriatic and it was time to get ready for work. Completely exhausted I rubbed my eyes as I got out of the shower to discover two dogs and two cats loudly snoring from our bed. Lucky for some!

With the convincing 3 – 0 victory over Argentina last night Croatia have qualified for the second round the World Cup for the first time since 1998. Croatia are almost certain winners of group D, however with Nigeria’s win over Iceland things have got more complicated and Croatia might not win the group.

All three teams, Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria, have a chance of progressing into the final rounds.

With a win over Nigeria the South Americans could join Croatia in the second round, provided that Iceland don’t beat Croatia. If Argentina beat Nigeria and Iceland beat Croatia then the two national teams will have the same number of points then goal difference will decide who comes second in the group. Currently Iceland have a slightly better goal difference than Argentina, so if they want to pass Iceland they’ll have to beat Nigeria by one more goal than Iceland over Croatia.

Nigeria could still win the group. If Nigeria beat Argentina and Croatia lose to Iceland then Nigeria will be group winners and Croatia will be second. However, Nigeria will have to beat Argentina by a healthy margin to better Croatia’s goal difference which is currently plus five. The Super Eagles could pass in second if they draw with Argentina and Croatia beat Iceland. Iceland need to beat Croatia to have any chance of progressing into the second round.

group d

NEM 2018, an event dedicated to the television industry with an emphasis on the CEE region, was held last week from June 11 to 14 in Dubrovnik in the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel. For the sixth year in a row, NEM opened its doors to media experts and this year it gathered more than 800 participants, which marks a new record for attendance. With a little over 50 panelists, top professionals in the television industry who shared their experiences and knowledge with the audience and colleagues, this year's NEM attracted a variety of visitors from all over the world.

Hottest topics and emotional presentations

NEM 2018 will be remembered for its interesting panel discussions, such as “Pay TV: Keeping up with… The Digital Content Game”, where Salim Mukaddam, General Manager and Vice President of BBC Worldwide for CEE, stated that “people are platform-agnostic, wherever the content is, they’re going there”. NEM 2018’s focus on locally-produced content was once again confirmed by Katharina Behrends, NBCUniversal’s Managing Director for CEE, who pointed out that Pay TV should be adjusted to local communities.

One of the hottest topics out there, just a day before the start of the football World Cup, was a panel about the high prices of football rights, which are a result of a multitude of factors. Alex Pinheiro Rotter from Mediapro put it the following way: “Sports is the only property that can bring a lot of audience in a specific time slot, unlike any other property. Even though the interest is highest in the local league, the demand for premium international content, such as the UEFA Champions League and the Big Five, definitely exists.“

The two panels dedicated to local production showed us that local content seems to perform best with the audience for most of the FTAs. Henning Tewes, CEO of RTL Croatia, Matthias Settele, General Director of TV Markiza, Dražen Mavrić, Head of the Management Board at Nova TV, Gabriella Vidus, CEO of RTL Hungary, and Pete Smith, Managing Director of Antenna International, concluded that there is a need for quality screenwriters and that the main drawbacks of local production are its price and the risks that come out of it when discussing younger demographics and digital trends.

nem goodbye

Discussing piracy in the region, Damir Novinić, Advisor to the General Manager of Croatian Radiotelevision, said we got ourselves to blame: “Piracy is growing because we are allowing it. We are very inert, very slow to react.” Damir Hajduk, Chairman of the Croatian Agency for Electronic Media, concluded “there is a culture of piracy we have to address”, agreeing with other panelists that enforcing cooperation between all stakeholders is a crucial step in addressing the problem of piracy.
One of the most interesting presentations was surely the one by Arash Pendari on applying AI in the TV industry. Unlike the traditional shallow metadata, Arash’s team at Vionlabs worked in a completely new direction using emotional audio data to provide an advanced user experience for the consumers with individualized content and AI-generated movie trailers.

Another look into the future was provided by LG Electronics which gave insight into a whole new era of television with a presentation by Gyorgy Takacs. The endless possibilities of this amazing TV as well as the best viewing experience make LG OLED TV the leader in premium technologies with ultimate picture quality, ultimate design, and smart artificial intelligence.

How to revamp a 130-year-old brand was a question answered by Christian Brent, SVP of Research & Strategy at National Geographic, in an amazing and emotional presentation.


Exclusive screenings were also part of NEM 2018 and, as every year, participants and guests could see new formats by renowned distribution companies (Global Agency, Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, MGM, BBC Studios, Keshet International).

Abundant networking opportunities

Opportunities for networking and socializing were at every turn, with coffee breaks being sponsored by renowned companies such as Viacom, Comcast, A1 Broadcasting and Turkish Airlines. There were also wine tastings organized by Irdeto, as well as a fabulous Wine Tasting with Pickbox in cooperation with Jakovac Wines.

Nevertheless, true networking was happening at traditional NEM evening parties. The first day started with a wonderful sunset and welcome drink by NBCUniversal & Comcast, the second day was concluded with an exclusive party by NEM’s long-time sponsor Eutelsat at the Vala Beach of the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel, whereas FOX Networks Group took care of the exclusive ending of NEM 2018 at the Banje Beach Club in the old town of Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik was well represented at the biggest night for Croatian football in recent years. A group of dedicated Croatia fans from Dubrovnik made sure that Dubrovnik was in the front row of celebrations from the stadium in Nizhny Novgorod.

Four friends, Hrvoje, Pavo, Mate and Marin, all from Dubrovnik sent these photos of their Russia adventure. “Today is beautiful to be Croatia. Thanks to the team and we will be with them till the end,” commented the Dubrovnik supporters.

Croatia dominated Argentina in front of 45,000 fans in Nizhny Novgorod last night in the second group game of the 2018 World Cup. Goals from Ante Rebic, the captain Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic saw Croatia crush the South Americans 3 – 0.

“We travelled by car to Tivat in Montenegro and then flew directly to Moscow where we were for two days and then arrived in Novgorod by train. Everyone wants to have a photograph us: Russians, Argentines, Moroccans, Japanese. People, in general, all Russians are really friendly,” commented the friends.

dubrovnik supporter in moscow for world cup 200

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The IT industry in Croatia continues to top the highest salary list. In March this year the average net salary in Zagreb was 7,302 Kuna or around 990 Euros. However, average salaries in the computer and electronics industry were almost that figure at 12,799 Kuna or 1,734 Euros.

According to date released by the Zagreb development and strategy bureau wages in the Croatian capital were up by almost 5 percent in March this year compared to the same month from 2017.

Most of the highest paid jobs are in the IT industry in the capital, telecommunications were the second highest paid jobs at 11,535 Kuna, financial services at 11,252 Kuna and crude oil and gas extraction close behind at 11,230 Kuna.

At the other end of the scale the lowest salaries were seen in metalworking, an average of only 3,662 Kuna and garment manufacturing at 3,936 Kuna.

Austrians love Croatia. According to new figures just released by the Austrian National Automobile Club Croatia is the number one destination in the world for Austrian tourists.

The survey, which was carried out in spring this year with more than 800 participants, showed that Croatia was the favourite destination, followed by Italy and Spain.

Austrians have arrived in Croatia in large numbers this year, in fact 440,000 have visited the Adriatic coast already this year, and have achieved 1.8 million overnight stays. The number of Austrians holidaying in Croatia is 6 percent up on 2017.

Traditionally the north of Croatia and the Istrian peninsular are the most popular holiday spots for Austrians. However, there are more and more visiting the south of the country as the number of airlines flying directly between the two countries are increasing.

Austrian tourists generate around 8 percent of Croatia’s annual tourist traffic, coming in third after tourists from Germany and Slovenia.

It wasn’t only the Croatian football team that shone in the Russia sunshine at the World Cup yesterday. Two Dubrovnik sisters stole the show as they arrived at the stadium in Novgorod, Adriana Durdevic and her sister Antonela Durdevic Bujak.

The Dubrovnik beauties were shopping in the official World Cup shop and were the centre of attention for the waiting media. Adriana is the girlfriend of Croatian striker Duje Caleta.

wag croatian russia

wag croatian 2018 909

Adriana and Duje in Dubrovnik before the World Cup 2018 - Instagram 

On the occasion of marking the Anti-Fascist Struggle Day, which is a national holiday in Croatia, a delegation of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County headed by the deputy prefect Žaklina Marević laid the wreath at the Memorial Tomb of the People's Liberation Army fighters at the Boninovo cemetery this morning.

A wreath on this occasion was also laid by representatives of the City of Dubrovnik, headed by the councillor Zdenko Medović.

Anti-Fascist Struggle Day is a national holiday and celebration in Croatia. It is celebrated on June 22, as it marks the beginning of the uprising of Croatian anti-fascist Partisans against German and Italian occupying forces, that started with the forming of the First Sisak Partisan Detachment on June 22, 1941 near Sisak, Croatia.

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