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.
The sheer geographical position of the Elaphite islands makes them the perfect opportunity for some Dubrovnik island-hopping. These untouched islands are a wonder of nature and also provide an experience of true island life, Dalmatian style. Situated to the north-west of Dubrovnik this group of islands is made up of thirteen islands, the majority of which are uninhabited, and with this full-day excursion you will have the opportunity to visit two of them – Šipan and Lopud. Take a dip in the crystal clear seas, stroll in the shade of Mediterranean vegetation, explore quaint hamlets and even enjoy a meal at sea, this was going to be fun. I hopped onto the charming wooden boat and was greeted with a smile, “Welcome to the Elaphite Islands excursion,” explained my tour guide for the day. As my feet were no longer on terra firma so I guessed my Elaphite Islands excursion with Croatia Excursions had begun.
“I never knew that there were so many islands along the Croatian coastline,” explained a couple from North London as the boat eased away from the Dubrovnik shoreline. “Yes, over a thousand, but not many of them are inhabited, there are so many I don’t know who had time to count them all,” I joked. We were off to see two of those islands, Dubrovnik islands, the Elaphite Islands.
I have to be honest I am not a great sailor. Although I was born on an island, well the UK is slightly larger than the two I would be visiting today; I have never found my sea legs. “There is no need to worry, she is very stable,” added the captain, “And the seas in this region tend to be as flat as a pancake most of the summer,” he reassured me. Just the idea of island-hopping seemed so exotic, so very Mediterranean. It might seem plainly obvious but the great thing about island-hopping is that you get the chance to see the Dubrovnik countryside from a completely different angle, from the sea. As we sailed out of the Port of Dubrovnik the only sound that you could hear above the wash of the Adriatic was the click of cameras. “I have to be honest I didn’t expect it to be so mountainous,” said my new friends from the UK capital. No I guess you don’t see that in the brochures.
The Elaphite Islands stretched out in front of us. Glinting green humps in a sea of turquoise blue. Throughout history these island have been treasured, firstly by the Greeks and later by the noble families of the former Republic of Dubrovnik. It is easy to see why. They are so serene and peaceful, like natures own spa centre. The nobility of the Republic built many summer residences on the islands in order to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Five centuries later we were doing the same thing, although just for a day, we were kings for a day.
The first stop was the island of Lopud. The island is considered by many as the most beautiful of all of the Elaphite islands as well as being blessed with stunning sandy beaches. This is the ideal spot to unwind and take a swim on this island tour. It is a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of life as there are no cars on the island. A morning coffee on one of the many seafront cafe bars and then some free time to explore. For such a small island there is certainly plenty to see, the place is rammed packed with history. Our guide for the day highlighted the main points of attraction and told us to meet by our boat at 1 o’clock. Great, plenty of time to explore, a sandy beach just near the harbour is a top spot to cool off, but first I wanted to work up a sweat.
The Franciscan monastery was larger than expected; the grand Lopud Park was inviting and the stone facades along the coastline charming. Back from a dip in the Adriatic, and I wasn’t the only one. Here I have a quick tip – you can rent a bike right in the harbour which will give you more time to see everything. Right back onto the ship.
“That was a charming island, a true Mediterranean feel to it,” now I had jumped into conversation with a mother and daughter team from Wales. “I agree, it feels like life is much simpler there, more laid back,” I replied. We were off to our next island in the sun, Sipan. But, and as I was feeling peckish, not before a meal at sea. With a choice of a meat lunch or a fish lunch I had plumped for fish, well I was on the sea after all. We glided over the Adriatic with the Elaphite Islands all around us and we were all enjoying a great lunch with wine, this was the life!
We were moving onto the largest of the Elaphite islands, Sipan. Well to be more precise the picturesque village of Suđurađ of Sipan. And if you have problems pronouncing that village name don’t worry, I have lived here for eighteen years and it still ties my tongue in knots. It is only a short hop from Lopud to Sipan, but enough time for lunch. We docked in the quaint harbour and once again were given instructions on the highlights. Many of those summer residences I was talking about were constructed on this island. Remains, and a few intact ones, can still be seen today. According to the information from our guide there are a grand total of 42 summer residences on Sipan. And once again we had plenty of time to explore, basically to follow our noses. I hitched up with the North London couple and we made our way up to the impressive 15th century church that overlooks the village. Time for another tip! When you get to the church, and it is about a ten-minute walk, climb to the top of the bell-tower the panoramic views are breathtaking.
Enough time for another swim in the Adriatic Sea, well I was island-hopping after all, and back onto the boat for the sail home to Dubrovnik. My face clearly wasn’t the only one covered with a smile from ear to ear. The whole ship was in jolly mood and who could blame them. We had experienced so much in one day, seen so much, learned so much, swam, walked and eaten. We had every right to be more than a little contented. Dubrovnik’s islands in the sun, the Elaphite Islands, were a joy and they had all given us memories to last a lifetime.
By Mark Thomas
The Elaphite Islands is a full-day excursion offered by the Gulliver Travel agency. For more information, including prices, dates and how to book, please visit the Gulliver Travel website here.
Apart from its beauties and its globally recognised destinations Croatia is also famous for its nudist and naturist beaches.
The naturist camps in Croatia are attracting more and more foreign guests every year. Swimming and sunbathing without any clothes in clear blue water surrounded by pristine nature makes it a perfect holiday. ''This is freedom, if you try it once, you'll know why it is so good'', said one of nudist guests from Austria.
The most important thing is that these camps remain as natural as possible. ''People feel free here, when we say that we would like to make some improvements they say 'no' without thinking'', emphasized Drago Bonifacic, the director of the nudist camp in Punat on the island of Krk.
Out of 21 nudist camps in Croatia most of them are located in the region of Istria. The tradition of the ''naked'' swimming and sunbathing started in the Kvarner region way back in 1936 when the British King Edward VIII swam without any clothes on the island of Rab.
According to wonderlusteurope.com, one of the leading travel sites, among the Top 10 best nudist beaches in Europe a beach from Croatia has also found its place on this prestigious list.
The complete list of the Top 10 best nudist beaches in Europe includes:
Linguizzetta Beach, Corsica, France
Studland Beach, Dorsett, England
Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn), Brac, Croatia
Es Cavallet, Ibiza, Spain
Plage de Tahiti, St Tropez, France
Elia Beach, Mykonos, Greece
Agesta Beach, Stockholm, Sweden
Red Sand Beach, Crete, Greece
Buhne 16 Beach, Germany
Guvano Beach, La Spezia, Italy.
‘’Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) on the island of Brac in Croatia is one of the most famous in Croatia, a country known for its spectacular coastline. By taking a trip here you will be able to relish the surroundings of one of the most popular beaches in the Mediterranean as well as having the ability to catch some tan-line-free rays in the designated nudist area. This area is perfect for those who want a bit of seclusion by tucking into one of the many small coves dotted around the beach’’, reported wonderlusteurope.com.
Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn)
Croatian skier Ivica Kostelic has spend his vacation in Croatia with his ''skiing buddies'' Mitja Dragšič, Mitja Valenčič, Christof Innerhofer, Cristian Deville, Manfred Mölgg, Jeffrey Frisch, Warner Nickerson, Petter Robertsson and Magnus Andersson.
Some of them had to leave early, but all of them enjoyed their special vacation! Especially Warner Nickerson, who captured everything with his camera and made couple of videos from Mljet and finally – Dubrovnik. He has published his videos last week.
Dubrovnik was reserved for day six.
- It was an amazing week and this was the final day checking out Dubrovnik. What a beautiful city it is with so much rich history. Yes they were very very rich in the past and had a very powerful value system based on freedom - wish we could have talked about that more, but I didn't totally dominate taking video of everything – wrote Nickerson.
Check out the video about Dubrovnik and visit Nickerson's Youtube channel for the other five days.
Dubrovnik is constantly having great results in tourist traffic and July didn't disappoint either – record breaking tourist resluts were achieved in July and in the first seven months of the year.
According to the program eVisitor, made for registration of tourists, 179.642 tourists have visited Dubrovnik in July, which is 12 percent more than in July last year and had 688.138 night stays, 14 percent more than last year. Last month, most of the tourists were from United Kingdom, France, USA, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Australia, Finland and Belgium.
According to available data from the system eVisitor, Dubrovnik achieved record-breaking results in all types of accommodation in the first seven months of 2016.
From 1 January to 31 July 2016 in Dubrovnik generated 547.248 arrivals, for a total of 10 percent more arrivals than in the same period last year. During the first seven months 1.824.702 overnight stays were recorded, which is an increase of 10 percent compared to 2015.
Top-list of countries from which Dubrovnik tourists came in the first seven months of 2016 are: United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, Croatia, Sweden, Spain, Finland, Norway, Australia.
When it comes to nautical tourism, from the beginning of the year to the end of July 12.911 arrivals were recorded and 108.920 overnight stays, which is an increase of two percent compared to the same period last year.
Every weekend our resident "Style Guru" will be scanning the streets of Dubrovnik for the latest and greatest in fashion.
On the Puca Street in the heart of the Old City is a store that is well known by all citizens of Dubrovnik. It is affectionately known as “the fishing supplies shop,” and “Kate’s,” although these aren’t the official names.
The owner, Katarina Dadic, known as Kate started working in the shop in 1985, this a love story between Kate and fishing that has been going on for three decades. If you are looking for filling up on fishing supplies whilst in the city pay a visit to Kate.
“I have been here for thirty years and at times I feel like a mascot for the city. In the winter the boutique almost gets converted into a living room, we get out the coffee machine and the debates begin. In the summer the whole face of the shop changes and we have plenty of interest from tourists,” explained Kate.
The shop is a treasure trove of fishing supplies, beach wear, snorkels; flippers...pretty much everything you need to be in or near the sea. The Puca Street, which runs parallel with the main street the Stradun, is a lively mix of small shops and local trades. It is a busy and atmospheric journey.
“If someone asked me to move my shop to make way for a souvenir shop I would tell them no way, before you used to be able to buy everything you wanted inside the walls, those days have long gone,” adds Kate. “People drop by just to pass the time of day, from all over the region; we have become a soul of the city, some drop by just for a coffee. I think the tourists appreciate the heart that the shop has,” smiles Kate.
She adds that she isn’t really a keen fisher, although of course she is well versed in all the necessary vocabulary. Drop by to Kate’s, pick up a new swimming costume or just catch up on the news around the city.
Game of Thrones will finish with season eight! The producers of the globally popular series have confirmed for the Rolling Stone magazine that season eight will be the final season.
HBO programming president, Casey Bloys, stated for Rolling Stone magazine the shows executive producers have already made up their minds, “Benioff and Weiss have a very specific plan about the number of seasons they want to do.” And with season seven due to be filmed this winter, and quite probably not in Dubrovnik, it will leave final season showdown as Dubrovnik’s farewell to the series.
Dubrovnik, which acts as King’s Landing in the serial, has featured as a location since season two of the show after problems in Malta. Since those early days the city has been in the limelight of the world’s media and huge fan base. Last year the second most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik were from the USA, and bearing in mind that there are no direct flights from the States to Croatia this is quite a feat. The pull of the Game of Thrones has been a massive boost for the tourism industry, with a whole host of spin-off business opening up in Dubrovnik. One of the most popular tours in Dubrovnik is the Game of Thrones themed tour which highlights the locations used in the historic walled city. And with the series coming to an end we can expect that the finale will be largely based in Dubrovnik.
The show’s producers have already stated that season seven requires colder and darker locations and that it will be largely filmed during the winter months. Although Dubrovnik has yet to be officially ruled out as a location for the upcoming season it seems unlikely, Northern Ireland, Iceland and Spain have all been confirmed. However it can be presumed that the grand finale, as season eight will be, will be coming back to Dubrovnik. King’s Landing is the capital of the seven kingdoms in the series and we can only hope that this means a big finish in the capital.
Dubrovnik, with its unique historic walled-city, has inspired many an author, painter and poet over the centuries. But now it is also enthused a range of furniture. A stone coffee table that takes its origins from the stone city walls, a lantern and a Adriatic coloured couch.
“Add a Touch of Croatia to Your Abode,” is the title of an article that was recently published on the American website laduenews.com, although it could have been titled add a touch of Dubrovnik.
The article features three Dubrovnik inspired household accessories each with a short description as to why they are reminiscent of the pearl of the Adriatic. “The stone veneer and hand-forged iron base of this coffee table reflect the powerful, historical walls that once protected the city of Dubrovnik,” is the description of a charming table that will set you back $1,299.
Whilst the furniture descriptions have some sense the opening paragraph leaves a lot to be desired, as it notes that Dubrovnik was “the birthplace of Marco Polo.”
This Adriatic themed couch will cost you just over $3,000