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.
If its peace and tranquillity you’re after then the Trsteno Arboretum is a must. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens which contain more than 300 species of trees and numerous plants from around The Mediterranean and the world. Together with the architecture from the Gothic-Renaissance period this makes The Trsteno Arboretum one of the finest gardens in this part of Europe. The pride of the arboretum, two Oriental Planes located on the central market place of Trsteno, survived both disasters undamaged. They are over 500 years old and are unique specimens of its kind in Europe. The ancient trees are both about 45 and 60 metres tall and their trunks are 5 metres in diameter.
Exotic plants in magical surroundings
The Trsteno Arboretum is about 25 minutes from Dubrovnik by car. It is located in the small hamlet of Trsteno, and the Arboretum covers an area of 63 acres. It was established by the end of the fifteenth century as a park and summer residence by the family Gučetić. It has been the property of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts since 1948, when it was donated. The Arboretum reserves a very special place among the old Ragusan, Dalmatian and Mediterranean parks due to its five-century-long continuous development from Gothic-Renaissance, Renaissance-Baroque and Romantic forms to the present. It includes a Gothic-Renaissance park surrounding the fifteenth-century summer residence. Its collection of exotic and decorative trees and shrubs includes over 300 species and cultivars. The arboretum passed into Yugoslav state ownership in 1945, and was declared a natural rarity in 1948. Since 1950 it has been managed by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. In 1962 the Arboretum Trsteno was registered in the list of protected natural monuments list as a monument of landscape architecture. The protected area covers around 255,000 square metres.
Under fire from all sides
On October 2 and 3, 1991, the Serbia -Yugoslav army launched a series of gunboat and air attacks and set the Arboretum ablaze. Most of the Arboretum was destroyed by the fire. Fortunately, the summer residence and the oldest part of the Arboretum were only partially damaged. The arboretum was further severely damaged in 2000 by a forest fire during a drought, when around 120,000 square meters were lost in fire.
In the spirit of the new time, today the Arboretum of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Science in Trsteno is open for visitors again. I have recently visited the Arboretum and the gardens have recovered well from the fires of 2000. The gardens are extremely tranquil and the assortment of trees offers plenty of shade for the wandering guest. After you have spent some time admiring the Arboretum I would suggest dropping down to the coast. There is a marvellous small bay under the gardens and although there isn’t a real beach the rocks give you plenty of swimming opportunities. The whole scene is set by a waterfall that cascades down into the bay refreshingly. In recent years the Arboretum has been the location for the popular television series Game of Thrones.
In September 2015 Croatia's public debt was reduced by 1.4 billion kuna to HRK 285.9 billion, however, the public debt growth rate remained high on the year as the debt increased by HRK 15.9 billion mostly as a result of the need to finance the high budgetary deficit generated by the central government, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said on Monday.
The HGK said that public debt in September 2015 was up 5.9% on the year, caused mostly by the central government whose debt increased by 6.1%. Local government debt at the same time was reduced by 5.2%.
In the first nine months of 2015, public debt was up HRK 6.3 billion, with domestic general government debt going up by HRK 6.2 billion and foreign debt by HRK 100 million. During that period central government debt increased by HRK 6.4 billion while local government debt decreased by HRK 412.4 million.
The HGK said that the state had borrowed the most on the domestic market by issuing bonds -- in the first nine months the debt increased by HRK 9.7 billion. Loans were up by one billion kuna in the said period, while short-term financing through treasury notes was reduced by HRK 4.4 billion.
The HGK said that a high budgetary deficit and strong public debt growth kept the country's credit ratings by all three main credit rating agencies below the investment level with negative outlooks, which increases the costs of borrowing.
The director of the Korcula Port Authority, Vedran Lelekovic, has stated that the cruise ship season on Korcula last year was slightly down on 2014. In 2015 128 cruise ships arrived on Korcula carrying with them 42,355 passengers. In 2014 there were 175 cruise ships and 52,500 passengers, which means that there were 47 fewer cruise ships and around 10,000 fewer passengers last year.
“The movement of cruise ships in the world market is unfortunately like that, and we had a small number of ship arrivals and therefore passengers,” said the technical director of the Korcula Port Authority, Zarko Klisur. He went on to add that this year there will be more cruise ships on Korcula but fewer passengers. In 2016 there will be a total of 175 cruise ship arrivals to Korcula with around 37,797 expected.
Dubrovnik has once again found itself on the radar of Hollywood! After the success of the popular HBO Game of Thrones serial comes news that Dubrovnik will be the backdrop for another film production. The film series Alexandra will be shot in Dubrovnik from the 24th of January and features actors from all over the world.
The film production company Star Life Films will bring actors from India, Croatia, the UK and the US together in their latest project.
“Alexandra is a story of the events happening during the dark ages in ancient Greece,” commented the film makers. Adding that “they excited and looking forward to filming in Dubrovnik.”
The average age of vehicles driving on Croatian roads is 13 years now, while in 2007 it was 9.95 years, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) says, adding that this is a direct consequence of the prolonged economic crisis.
The Vehicle Centre of Croatia (CVH), which is in charge of technical inspections of vehicles in the country, has stated that the median age of cars that underwent technical inspection in 2014 was 13.07, as against 9.95 in 2007 when it was close to the median age of cars in the European Union.
In 2014 the average age of cars used in the EU was 9.65, according to statistics provided by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).
The HGK says that Croatians are increasingly buying used cars, as evidenced in the fact that in 2014 as many as 39,124 second-hand cars were brought by their new owners for their first technical inspection as against 35,315 brand new cars.
The number of brand new cars undergoing first technical inspections is decreasing, while the number of second-hand cars undergoing technical inspection upon purchase is redoubling, according to the HGK.
Do you speak English? Govoriš engleski?
You're welcome Nema na čemu
Where are you from? Od kuda si?
Where are we going? Gdje idemo?
Happy birthday Sretan rođendan
I'm hungry (masculine) Gladan sam
I'm hungry (feminine) Gladna sam
What's your name? Kako se zoveš?
How old are you? Koliko imaš godina?
No problem Nema problema
See you Vidimo se
Call me Nazovi me
Some other time Neki drugi put
How much does that cost? Koliko to košta?
How are you? Kako si?
What time is it? Koliko je sati?
Where is that? Gdje je to?
Quick guide to Croatia
Croatia: Croatia is a country at the crossroad to Europe. Croatia is a country with a rich and turbulent history which has always been at the heart of Europe and connected with all things European. The population of Croatia is 4.3 million, with almost a million living in the capital city Zagreb.
Croatia is a country of contrasts. Snow covered mountains, idyllic beaches, rich farmland, an abundance of water, dense woodland, national parks, metropolitan centres and over a thousand islands. A country with strong links to its past and tradition as well as looking forward to a bright future.
Croatia has been a full member of the European Union since the 1st of July 2013.
Capital – Zagreb
Population – 4.3 million
Language – Croatian
Currency – Kuna (100 Lipa = 1 Kuna)
Surface area – 56,590 km² (21,849 mi²)
Time zone – GMT plus one hour
Electricity - 230 volts
Telephone Country Code - +385
Religion - Roman Catholic (87.8%)
Climate - Mediterranean and continental; continental climate predominant with hot summers and cold winters; mild winters, dry summers along coast
Internet domain - .hr
Life expectancy - 73 years (men), 80 years (women) (UN)
Interesting Croatia facts:
The total length of Croatia’s mainland coastline is 1,777 kilometres
The official flower of Croatia is the Iris
Croatia has 1,185 islands along its coastline
Croatia invented the necktie
Even though Dubrovnik was gripped in a wet and windy day it didn’t stop tourists from enjoying the attractions of the Old City today.
After a relatively calm and mild Christmas and New Year period the heavens opened in Dubrovnik with rain falling from the early morning. However despite the wet weather the tourists in the city were determined to historic city centre and browse the stands of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival.
Check out our photo gallery from Niksa Duper