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.
According to the latest forecasts from Croatia Airlines 2016 should be a year of growth for the Croatian national airline. The expectations are that this year passenger numbers should increase by around 6 percent, which would mean that the airline has seen an increase in passengers over the past four years.
By the end of 2016 Croatia Airlines hopes to have carried 1.97 million passengers, an increase of 6 percent over 2015. If these expectations are correct then the national airline will record its best ever year, the busiest until now was 2012 when it transported 1.95 million passengers. The airline hopes to hit these heady heights with the introduction of many new flights, including new lines from the capital Zagreb to Prague, Milan and Lisbon.
The airline has also given a promise to introduce new flights from Dubrovnik this year, more importantly through the winter months, with three flights a week to Frankfurt in the pipeline. In a statement the airline said that “The expansion of the European network of destinations has been enabled by the successful completion of Croatia Airlines' restructuring program in 2015, which concluded the company's obligation to operate with a reduced market capacity. This way, the company will be even stronger in contributing to the development of Croatia's tourism potential and the Croatian economy, and further strengthen its position as a regional leader.”
- Art is the other face of life, something we carry with us every day. What does the average person think about art? He might say that he doesn’t know what art is, but then again he knows what he likes,” commented Maro Kriste at the opening of his latest exhibition. Entitled “New Views of the City” the exhibition by this renowned Dubrovnik artist opened last night in the Association of the Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities hall on Siroka Street in the Old City of Dubrovnik.
Kriste with his new exhibition has presented his image of Dubrovnik in a new and interesting way. Ten images full of colour are on show in this new exhibition, the sixth solo exhibition that Kriste has held and is certainly worth visiting.
The opening night of “New Views of the City” was packed with media, friends, family and members of the art world.
The children of the Dom Maslina home enjoyed an exciting outing on the 29th of April to the Kojan Koral horse ranch in Konavle, thanks to the continuing commitment and support of the Dubrovnik Foreign Circle. The day included riding and caring for the horses, outdoor games and lunch.
The Dubrovnik Foreign Circle is a non-profit organization which supports the Dubrovnik community through social and humanitarian events. This excursion was the third event organized by the group to benefit the children of Dom Maslina.
Photos by Tonci Vlasic and Tonci Plazibat
The second Dubrovnik Half Marathon was held yesterday, the 1st of May, and attracted runners from all over the world. More than 400 runners lined up at the start line on the Stradun waiting for the starter’s pistol.
Unusually for this time of the year in Dubrovnik rain fell all day on Sunday, and whilst this probably helped the participants it also cause a few problems. The director of the Dubrovnik Half Marathon, Alen Boskovic, commented that, “the bad weather will be an advantage for the runners but has meant that the organisation has been more challenging.”
Some of the streets around Dubrovnik were closed as the athletes made their way from the historic Old City of Dubrovnik towards the Ombla River, and the 21.09 kilometres back to the finish line on the Stradun.
The winner of the second Dubrovnik Half Marathon was Danijel Fak from Croatia with a time of 12 minutes and 22 seconds, whilst the fastest of the women was Nikolina Stepan with a time of 21 minutes and 33 seconds.
Nikolina Stepan and Danijel Fak with their winner's medals
With almost a million cruise ship passengers arriving in Dubrovnik every year it can be a challenge to steer clear of the cruise ship crush. With the historic old city of Dubrovnik acting as a magnet for the thousands of cruisers your “Dubrovnik Experience” could easily be trampled under foot...thousands of feet. Through the summer months it isn’t unusual that five mega-ships, or more, dock in the city unloading upwards of 7,000 guests. If you were thinking of sipping an al fresco coffee in the stone laden architecture of Dubrovnik whilst listening to the swallows twitter in peace, think again. Avoiding the cruise crush isn’t easy, you are heavily outnumbered, but with a little help you can at least miss the peaks.
Three or more cruise ships means long delays
Here are our tips for evading the Dubrovnik cruise crush
Plan ahead – there is an ace of your sleeve, you just need to know when to use it. If you already know in advance when the peaks of cruise ships passengers will be then you can make plans to be elsewhere. The Port of Dubrovnik publishes every year a full list of all the cruise ship movements into Dubrovnik; this includes the cruise ships that dock in front of the old city and in the Port of Dubrovnik. It is a relatively easy document to follow, you choose which month, then scroll down looking for the dates that are important to you. Each date has a detailed breakdown of the number of ships, the number of expected passengers and the times of departure. The opening menu for the document is in Croatian, but the rest is in English, it is easy to follow. You can even look a year in advance. If you can see that 7,000 passengers are on their way then adjust your own plans.
Here is the link - http://www.portdubrovnik.hr/girica1.php
Know where to go and where not to go – not only do you know the dates and numbers of the cruise ship passengers you also know their movements. Even though some of the cruise ship passengers have been to Dubrovnik many times before they are still only really attracted to one point - the old city of Dubrovnik. Travel agencies and even the local government have been trying for years to introduce new attractions to spread the masses around. They have had only limited successes with these new projects. Dubrovnik for the vast majority of tourists is the walled city, end of story. Coaches and taxis ferry thousands of passengers from the Port of Dubrovnik to the entrance of the old city on Pile Gate where they wait to be greeted by their guide. The Pile entrance through the summer looks like Piccadilly Circus in rush hour. If you really want to visit the historic old city then use another gate, such as the east entrance, the Ploce gate. Basically if you can see that there are three ships or more planned to anchor then don’t visit the old city of Dubrovnik.
Enjoying your day?
Timing is vital – most of the cruise ships that steam into Dubrovnik are on a day-trip, there are very few that spend an evening moored. The schedule of modern cruising is to sail through the night and arrive in a new destination as the sun comes up, and Dubrovnik isn’t an exception. With this in mind you can still enjoy the beauties of Dubrovnik even when a few thousand cruisers are in town. As the ships will sail off into the sunset in the early evening the passengers will be called back on board in the mid afternoon. Our advice is to avoid the historic core from 10.00am to 4.00pm. Which means you can have breakfast and evening dinner in Dubrovnik, but find somewhere else for lunch.
Now that could cause a traffic jam!
The leading marina company in Croatia, ACI Marina, is on the verge of opening a new marina in the Dubrovnik region. The new marina, “Veljko Barbieri,” will be opened in Slano this summer. This new marina will be the third in the region, after Dubrovnik and Korcula, and extends the portfolio of ACI in Croatia to twenty-two.
New look marina should prove a hit
The new marina will have moorings for 200 vessels, between 11 and 20 metres, and a reception area, restaurant and even an outdoor swimming pool. Slano is located around 33 kilometres north of Dubrovnik and is a quiet and picturesque bay, it is also well protected from high seas and winds and should prove popular with nautical tourists and locals.
Around the marina will be fauna and flowers indigenous from the region to give an authentic feel, and the promenade of Slano will be upgraded in line with the new marina.
ACI have released a new video mock-up of the marina in Slano...check it out!
At first it seemed far in the distance, “oh, we have plenty of time, don’t worry.” But then the months slid by, the nights became lighter and the temperature ever warmer. The months turned into weeks, the weeks into days and we went from having plenty of time to chaotic last minute rush. Yes, the tourist season, or should I say the “booking season,” has come around again.
“I think we need to repaint some of the rooms,” was the last thing I wanted to hear from my wife’s mouth, but just as the swallows do, it echoed around the house. The time to move all our belongings, like snails carrying their homes on their backs, has reemerged. At every opportunity I have been collecting cardboard boxes to load our belongings into. Make way for the guests!
We are still fairly new to the game of renting to tourists; this will only be the second year that Thomas Towers has seen guests. But experience is everything. The first year it was a little of a struggle. We didn’t know what we wanted, what the guests wanted and so it was a year of learning. Now with just a year “in the locker” we are much better prepared. It still doesn’t mean that I like painting! It funny how experience brings more confidence, we are even giving out advice to friends who are jumping in the rental business. We haven’t yet go to the “old school” stage where you always tell everyone that “it is a terrible season,” or “we have had bad guests.” As we all know this is just a smoke screen put up to deflect interest from the tax man or prying neighbors.
So for the past few weeks I have been in handy man mode. Armed with a screwdriver, paint brush or hammer I have slowly been fixing things around the house. “First we will paint and fix a few things and then we will clean,” another sentence I hate to hear. To be fair I do tend to avoid a great deal of the cleaning duties. And the new season means that once again we will be turning the red bank statements into black one. We are very much like hamsters, storing away hard earned cash from the summer season to last the black winter days. I expect we are not the only ones in that particular boat. It’s a seasonal business, we live in a seasonal city and we are forced to live seasonal lives. And the hamster is getting hungry, he needs feeding quickly to keep the wolves from the door.
The smell of summer coming means sun, sea and fishing for a few people, but the smell of summer for many other people means existence. “Don’t forget you need to look at the washing machine, it is making a horrible noise,” come another suggestion my way. I can certainly look at the washing machine but if I can stop it from making a noise like Concorde taking off I am not so sure. “And there is the garden that needs sorting out,” the preparations for the guests arrival are coming thick and fast. To be honest if it wasn’t for the imminent arrival of guests the garden would probably ever get sorted out. “And there’s that tap that needs fixing in our summer house,” another idea echoes around. It isn’t really a problem, it will all be worth it at the end of the end, or should I say at the end of the season, the hamster will be full!
Of course working in the tourism industry we are always brutally aware of just how fragile this business is. Bookings are down by up to 30 percent in Paris and I am sure that Brussels is still reeling from the after affects of their terrorist attack. This is an industry are fragile as a crystal vase! One small problem and the whole thing comes tumbling down like a house of cards. And let’s be honest Croatia is a country that lives from tourism, a massive chunk of our GDP comes either directly or indirectly from the summer sunshine. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed, touch wood and hope for the best. “Have we still got those miniature jams from last year for the guests,” another order distracts my mind from the fragility of tourism.
How lucky we are to live in Dubrovnik. How lucky we are that we are able feed all the hamsters from the summer months. It could be much worse. We need to make the most of what has landed in our laps. Carpe diem! There is a rather nice saying in England that sums up the summer in Dubrovnik perfectly, “make hay whilst the sun shines.”