Thursday, 22 March 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.


Construction work has begun on the new animal shelter above Dubrovnik on Zarkovica. The earthworks on the new dog shelter have already been carried out and yesterday the first concrete work was started. In February the site preparation began and the whole process is planned to last for 120 days.

The first phase of the construction work, which is being funded by the City of Dubrovnik, will cost 1.8 million Kunas and according to a statement from the city the shelter for abandoned animals should start operating in the summer.

dog shelter 2

The latest promotional film from the Dubrovnik Tourist Board is picking up awards from all over the world. After winning the silver award at the prestigious ITB Tourism fair in Berlin the film has now been awarded a bronze medal at the New York Film and Television Festival.

With more than fifty countries competing for the awards the new promotional film “Dubrovnik and Time,” picked up the bronze medal. In fact the stunning new film was the only entry from Croatia, and the award was collected by the director of the Croatia National Tourist Board in the USA, Ina Rodin.

“Dubrovnik and Times,” was recorded in 2015 and produced by the Zagreb based production house “Balducci movie.” The New York jury was made up of 200 media representatives from 30 different countries.

“This year’s awards presented strong competition and we’re thrilled to be recognized for showcasing the richness that Dubrovnik and our country has to offer to guests. We love every opportunity to tell the story that Croatia is an unspoiled, beautiful part of the European Mediterranean region with a multitude of cultural, history and natural beauty,” commented the director of the Dubrovnik Tourism Board Romana Vlasic.

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My wife and I met eight years ago. We were a part of the same social circle. She was still in college and we would see each other occasionally during parties or dinners. Once, a few of us were to meet at her apartment and that was when the romance began. I was fashionably late as always and as I was entering the flat, greeting everybody inside, I heard someone making way through the crowd going straight towards me. It was a plump, snow white Maltese dog named Luna. She barked aggressively until she got my attention and as I reached down to pet her it became obvious a new love was being born.

Oh yeah, I conquered the heart of my wife's dog long before I got her to fall in love with me. More surprisingly, that dog really got to me as well. I never owned one while growing up and I wasn't at all prepared for the emotional connection you can get from these animals. Over the coming years, Luna became a part of our lives even though she lives with my in-laws most of the time. Today, she’s in poor health and the years are starting the catch up with her, but she still gets excited when she sees me. As for me, I still can’t resist smiling every time I see that happy little fur ball.

Dogs have that ability. They can get you to forget about your problems and simply enjoy the affection they are so eager to give. That’s a powerful thing, especially in this day and age. Perhaps that’s why the trend of owning dogs is on the rise in Dubrovnik. Even more, it seems adopting shelter dogs is more and more popular as well, which makes me especially happy. This is largely due to some very dedicated individuals in and around Dubrovnik that managed to make the public aware of the problems of shelter dogs over the years.

As the idea for writing about this came to me the other day while I was patiently scraping dog poo off the sole of my shoe, I can honestly say I would be even happier if the trend of picking up after one's pet would also grow stronger in our fair city. It seems not everyone realises these are living beings that require care and dedication. Let's hope we will one day learn to take care of our dogs as well as they take care of us.


Bozidar Jukic is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.

Readers of the popular UK newspaper The Telegraph have voted Croatia the fourth most enjoyable country to visit in Europe. Over 75,000 people took part in the newspapers 2015/2016 Telegraph Travel awards, which included reader’s favourite airlines, hotels, destinations and tour operators.

The twenty most enjoyable countries to visit in Europe were also chosen and Croatia came in at a lofty fourth position.

“Famously short on sandy beaches, Croatia makes up for it with dozens of holiday islands scattered along its fractured coastline. It's also helped by its excellent Italian-influenced cuisine, a short flight-time from the UK, and general all-round good value,” wrote The Telegraph about Croatia.

The top three in The Telegraph list were Greece in third place, Iceland in second place and Italy in first place.

“You’ve left the bloody head on!” I had to laugh this week whilst sitting with a colleague in the Old City over a coffee. He is involved in the hospitality business in Dubrovnik and it soon became clear that he has a wealth of juicy information about the tourists that visit the city. He reminded me of something, something that I have been thinking about after another conversation with a tour guide, and that is how much do tourists really want the local experience.

Pick up any holiday brochure, open any travel blog or flick to the travel section of most newspapers and I guarantee you’ll see this sentence, live the local experience! It is the “in” phrase, the fashionable piece of advice.

Long gone are the days when tourists travel to foreign lands and imitate lizards by spending two weeks soaking up the sun on the beach. No, now it is all about diving into the local culture, the local traditions, learning how the locals live and of course the local cuisine. Tourists aren’t….well they aren’t tourists anymore, now they like to describe themselves as travellers. Like Indiana Jones they cross the globe looking to discover lost civilizations and maybe uncover hidden gold.

The internet is mainly to “blame” for this new trend, well the internet and budget airlines. Now you can book your flights, hotel and excursions from your armchair and thanks to Ryanair reach a foreign land for a handful of Euros. All you need is an Indiana Jones hat and a travel guide and the world is your oyster! But there seems to be a slight problem with this trend, do people actually want it, or more importantly are they ready for it. Are they being sold something they don’t really want or need, like when we all rushed out and bought Betamax video recorders only for VHS to win the day! And the conversation I was involved in only brought home this theory.

So you want the local gastronomic experience in Dubrovnik? Ok, let’s start with the most traditional of local dishes, fish. You want to eat like a local, well firstly that means that the fish has to be fresh, not processed and coated in breadcrumbs. When it lands on your plate it will look like a fish not a dinosaur or a cartoon character. If I had a Euro for all the times I’ve beheaded a fish for family and friends in a restaurant I could pay the Croatian national debt...well not that much but you get the idea. And apparently I wasn’t alone in beheading fish; my friend across the table had had more than his fair share of chopping heads off.

A fish wouldn’t swim very far without a head! You want the local experience well this is part of it. And bones, yes just like us fish have bones, otherwise they would be jellyfish. The amount of times I’ve heard “Mummy this fish has bones in it,” coming from the next table. Probably the only other experience of fish these children have had is when the fish has been mashed up, squeezed into a block shape and covered in breadcrumbs, fish fingers. You want the local experience, well here is some news for you, in reality fish have bones but they don’t have any fingers. How many fish have you seen wearing gloves? Or playing handball? You want the local experience, well we eat fish with our fingers, and those tiny little fish well we eat them whole with the heads and we colour our risotto with squid ink. Still want the local experience?

And when we spit roast a lamb or goat we leave the head on as well. So when you sit down and see a perfectly formed lamb twisting over a fire, that’s a local experience, it might not be want you read in the guide book but that’s it. Oh, and with our fish we normally eat boiled vegetables, such as Swiss Chard, no, there is no chips, no tortilla, no processed food at all. Are you still ready for this?

Olive oil is the main seasoning, along with some rosemary, garlic and basil. You can forget any tomato sauce, chilli powder, artificial colourings and flavourings, sugar, E numbers, preservatives, additives....the list goes on and on. This is fresh fish caught on the day you are eating it a few hundred metres from where you are actually sitting. That’s the local experience, now if you still want that, and my advice is to grab it and embrace it, then we have plenty of that.

A week ago, they won their first ever tournament in Metkovic, and now have won their first home tournament in Cavtat.

“We will absolutely remember our first tournament of rugby "sevens '' in the Dubrovnik region,” commented Ante Stojan, a former Croatian rugby international and the president of the Invictus Dubrovnik Rugby Club. The club was formed only a few months ago and already they have an unbeaten record, played six – won six, the name Invictus, or Invincible, Dubrovnik seems correct.
After winning all of their three games at the tournament in Metkovic the weekend before last the club hosted their first tournament this weekend, on Sunday, and continued their winning ways.

rug 3

“We came to the pitch the night before the tournament and watered it thoroughly, then we sorted out the locker rooms, ensured the sound system and the catering,” added Stojan. Yes, the players have more to do than just win their matches. “This is the first time we have organised a tournament and we really wanted everything to run smoothly, I hope the spectators enjoyed themselves and will come back,” concluded Stojan.

Rugby is catching on, the newest Olympic sport, caught the imagination of several hundred spectators at this weekend’s tournament which was held in Cavtat.

Results of Invictus tournament

Invictus Dubrovnik – Herceg Mostar 22:19,
Metković – Ploče 35:14
Ploče – Herceg Mostar 5:29
Invictus Dubrovnik – Metković 14:7
Metković – Herceg Mostar 19:7
Invictus Dubrovnik - Ploče 21:7

rug 1

rug 4

Photos by Tonci Vlasic 

Croatia is on the verge of one of the most successful tourist season ever, according to a panel of experts from the World Tourism Organisation. 2016 could potentially be a very successful year, for world tourism in general and for Croatia, commented the organisation.

Analyzes indicate that the average expected rate of growth of world tourist traffic (measured by arrivals) this year will be four percent, whilst the growth in Europe will be in the range of 3.5 to 4.5 percent.

- Croatia as a tourist destination is most recognizable among European tourists, but all we are better positioned for more distant markets such as the US, China, Japan or Korea. We are very pleased with the results we achieved last year and we want to continue this positive trend this year. – commented the director of Croatian Tourist Board Ratomir Ivicic.

Analysis and indicators of tour operators in key source markets show that Croatia has performed well as a "first minute" sales. Compared to last year the number of bookings is well above 2015 and double-digit growth is expected.

The warm weekend in Dubrovnik brought people out to play, with temperatures in the mid twenties the Adriatic Sea proved too tempting for a few.

Even though the sea temperature is still “only” around 17 degrees this didn’t stop tourists diving into the crystal clear waters. The Bay of Lapad was busy yesterday as locals and tourists enjoyed an “al fresco” day.

Check out our photo gallery by Zeljko Tutnjevic











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The Voice of Dubrovnik


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