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.
Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Robin Hood and Bollywood have all used the beauty of Croatia as a backdrop for their productions, so why not an advert. An Indian company have recently filmed a television advert for soap in and around Split.
The ad was apparently recorded last autumn in Croatia and is currently being shown on Indian TV, and as it has a tourist feel it will not only help advertise the product but also Croatia.
The mega popular Indian model, Priyanka Bhardwaj, features in the advert and she can be seen posing in the waterfalls of the National Park of Krk as well as in the Diocletian Palace in Split. This new Bollywood style advert should help attract even more tourists from India to Croatia this year.
There is a new public bus in town and no it has nothing to do with a county in England. This Kent bus is apparently on trails at the moment in Dubrovnik and is running the line from Mokosica to the Old City.
It appears to be catching a few passengers out as it isn’t the traditional Dubrovnik orange bus that have become a symbol of the city’s public transport. Presumably if Libertas, the public bus company, plan on purchasing a few of these buses they be painted orange.
Don’t wash your car just yet. The south winds that have brought large quantities of sand from the Sahara will be blowing for at least another two days. The rains loaded down with sand from the dust clouds have caused cars and buildings in the Dubrovnik region to have a new “sandy” colour.
The gale force southerly winds have not only brought with them sands from the desserts of Libya but also rising temperatures. Yesterday was the hottest day on record for Dubrovnik in April as highs reached an amazing 30.2 degrees Celsius. But don’t reach for the hosepipe just yet as more dirty rain is predicted for tonight and tomorrow morning, wait until Wednesday before washing the car.
Here is the map showing the movement of the Sahara sand through the atmosphere from the last few days.
Not only has Croatia seen record numbers of passengers through airports at the start of 2018 but it would appear that the camping tourism industry is also having a booming start. From the beginning of this year until the 11th of April there were 19,097 campers in Croatia, which is an incredible 26 percent increase over the same period from 2017.
Germans were the most numerous, followed by Austrians, Slovenians and British campers.
"As we can see with our arrivals and overnight stays in the first four months, we have achieved great figures, and the indicators for the rest of the season are very good. A lot of facilities are open for the whole year, more and more campsites open on the continent as well as increasingly smaller family camps,” commented a spokesperson for the Croatian Camping Association.
One of the most concerning problems that faces Croatia today is certainly the population decline that has reached new heights over the past few years. According to new reports the most vulnerable group are the 25 to 45 year-old demographic who look to other European Union members, such as Germany, Ireland and Sweden, as destinations for migration.
The Department of History of the Croatian Catholic University have carried out a research, using a sample of 1,200 respondents, who have migrated to Germany in the past three years. This survey reveals that 79 percent of Croatian immigrants are “extremely happy” with their new life in Germany, and over 88 percent don’t regret leaving Croatia.
It is estimated that around 250,000 Croatians have left the country in the past few years and the country faces a serious decline in population.
The largest number of Croatians leave for “better economic conditions abroad” and a lack of employment at home. Regionally, the greatest tendency for migration is shown by respondents from Zagreb and Central Croatia, Slavonia and Baranja, which is also in line with the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics.
And worrying only 15 percent of the respondents in the new survey commented that they planned to return to Croatia in the future.
“And what is the purpose of your visit today?” asked the border control. “Business,” I replied. Yes, I had my first international business meeting for The Dubrovnik Times last week, well maybe not the first but certainly the most unusual.
One businessman called me and asked me for lunch, “Is it a problem if you come to me?” he asked. And so it was that I was waiting at the border for my international business meeting in Ivanica.
Strangely enough Wikipedia describes our neighbours as “It has an unobstructed view of the Adriatic Sea. Due to its close location to Dubrovnik Ivanica gravitates to Dubrovnik and many of its inhabitants work or live in Dubrovnik. Recently, the settlement has been experiencing rapid development and expansion due to construction of many new apartment projects.” And it was due to this “rapid development” that I found myself abroad!
I must say that the new border on the neighbour’s side is very impressive. But although the hardware may be first class the software is still lacking behind. “Can you show me your green card for insurance’” asked the border control, which would be a normal question in normal situations, but as the border control man was asking me with a stamp in one hand and a burning cigarette in another it probably wasn’t up to the level of the EU imagined when they signed an agreement in Schengen. I crossed the border with a smile on my face but little did I know that this would be a theme for the day.
“Welcome to chaos,” joked my business connection as he met him within spitting distance of the new border. “First let me give you the grand tour of Ivanica then we’ll have some lunch,” he added. I must say that the number of new apartments, houses and villas is impressive, they have sprung up like mushrooms after the rain. “And many, many people from Dubrovnik are buying them,” he smiled. And who can blame them. Whilst real estate prices in Dubrovnik are spinning out of control just across the border you can buy a brand new, fully furnished stone villa with a swimming pool and Jacuzzi for 250,000 Euros. Or a two-bedroom house, again with all the furnishings, for 150,000 Euros. British, Germans and of course people from Dubrovnik are snapping them up like hot biscuits.
Interestingly the company selling them always tells their clients that in the summer “expect a wait of at least 2 hours at the border.” Enough real estate on to lunch.
We parked in front of what appeared to be a private house. No signs that it was a restaurant, no Michelin Star, no menu and no tables outside. Walking through what seemed like someone’s front door we were greeted with one of those scenes from a cowboy movie when a stranger walks into the local saloon. A handful of tables and turbo folk blasting out. On the walls photos of Dubrovnik and the aroma of homemade food, well manly onions.
With no menus on the tables the owner leaned around from the table behind us and proclaimed “We’ve got cabbage stew with lamb today,” and got back to his work. It was then that I spotted numerous passports all over his table. “Bloody Albanians, look at this one’s name,” he swore to himself. Yes, thirty Albanian passports filled his table and he appeared to be filling out visas. To make matters even more surreal a border control man was sitting at another table eating the cabbage stew. I later found out that all these Albanians were working in Dubrovnik for a construction company but quite clearly sleeping above the city in Ivanica.
The waiter appeared with a small plate, “try this and if you don’t like it we will make something else,” he dropped the cabbage stew on the table. I looked unappealing, no awards for plate appearance, but tasted yummy. Seeing us raise our thumbs he came back with two mountains of cabbage-filled plates. Again this would have all been pretty normal behaviour had it not been for the burning cigarette hanging from his hand.
The cook, was from Serbia, the waiter from Ivanica and the owner from Croatia, yes I was having lunch in Yugoslavia. “Do you want to pay in Euro, KM or Kuna?” asked the waiter as he collected our plates, which we had wiped clean. I thought to ask if he accepted Yen or Ruble, but stopped myself as he would probably have even accepted dukats. “So in your opinion when do you think BIH will be a full member of the European Union?” asked the businessman in front of me. I had no answer.
Today was a record breaking day in Dubrovnik! Temperatures reached an amazing 30.2 degrees Celsius which is the hottest ever day in April since records began.
Dubrovnik was the warmest city in Croatia and the sun didn’t even break through the clouds today. According to information from the Dubrovnik Meteorological Office the temperatures reached a mercury breaking 30.2 degrees at 3.00 pm this afternoon.
And not only was it the hottest day on record in Dubrovnik but it beat the record by over 3 degrees. The highest recorded temperature until today was 26 degrees.
The sun broke through the clouds, well at least on Saturday, and the temperatures rose as Dubrovnik enjoyed a warm spring weekend.
The tourist season feels like it is already underway as the historic Old City was awash with tourists from all over the world. The ferries to the island of Lokrum are running, and are full, and the queues for the city walls are slowly forming. The café bars along the Stradun were doing a roaring trade all weekend.
Check out our gallery from the weekend in Dubrovnik