KENOVA? An essential Dubrovnik ritual decoded

One of the harder things to pick up on when just passing through a region is to sound like the natives. Everyone knows how appreciated (and funny) it is when you try to use their language, dictionary in hand, trying to decipher the correct pronunciation. But no dictionary will ever help you with the subtle differences that you sometimes notice when moving from one part of a country to the other.

Dubrovnik introduces a great experience language-wise. In general, the sound of Croatian spoken here is beautifully rounded, slow and melodic. It is also intriguing that most people, both men and women, have deep, low voices which sometimes makes it difficult to tell words apart. Still, nowhere else are entire words used like here, mixed up with authentic expressions found only in this region.

One warning is necessary, though, when in search of the Dubrovnik patois: most of the staff that works here over the summer season is from a completely different part of Croatia – if you ask them what Kenova stands for, you might just get a blank stare and a wave to the colleague that hopefully holds an answer.


It is that more confusing because a good number of places bear an original Dubrovnik word for a name: Pantarul (fork), Moskar (hand fan), Kopun (rooster), Preša (haste), Đardin (garden), Makarul (type of pasta), Lucin Kantun (Lucy’s corner), Orsan/Arsenal (shipyard), Tavulin (table), Buža (hole), Poklisar (ambassador), Portun (entrance), Karaka/Argosy (Dubrovnik galleons) and so on…

Dubrovnik traditional boat Karaka

A Dubrovnik-type galleon called Karaka in the Old Town Port, next to the arches of the Arsenal, shipyard – now a restaurant

Throughout history, languages like today’s Italian, Turkish and German influenced our language strongly – the ties with powers like the Venetian, Turkish or the Austro-Hungarian empire are illustrated in these examples; that is why so many words are recognisable to our main guests and are easier to learn than their Croatian equivalents. Funjestra (window), skalini (steps), marenda (brunch), fen (hairdryer), palačinke (pancakes), krevet/postelja (bed), pamuk (cotton) are just some of the words that have been integrated into the everyday spoken language of the Town.

Celenga Apartments by Pervanovo, Dubrovnik

Funjestra, Dubrovnik word for window – a view to the street and your neighbour’s kitchen (view from Celenga Apartments)

So what does Kenova mean? Kenova is as authentic as the city walls of Dubrovnik – it is the one frequently asked question you don’t really have to answer. It is shouted out instead of a Hello, whispered when you accidentally cross paths with someone in a narrow street. Obviously influenced by Italian as Italy is just on the other bank of the blue Adriatic sea – Kenova directly asks what is new in your life.

A regular conversation goes like this: « – Đe si, kenova? – E, a evo, ide pomalo.. / u preši sam nekoj, ne pitaj.. Kod tebe? – Dobro je! Adío! – Adío!» – This loosely translates to the following: – Where are you («Đe si» pronounced like Jessie, derived from «gdje» – where, used only in Dubrovnik), what’s new? – Oh, you know, it’s going… («pomalo» stands for another local philosophy of «taking things easy») / I’m in a bit of a hurry, don’t ask… How about you? – All good! Adio!/Bye! (Adio is also taken from Italian and, like Ciao, is used regularly.) – Adio!/Bye!

Kenova asks you to share your life’s events with fellow citizens. It is done out in the open, in form of a short break between errands you need to tend to, no fuss, just point and shoot. Those more intimate questions that ask how you are or how everyone is doing are reserved for relationships that are closer or for an occasion like a cup of coffee over the weekend.

You see, Dubrovnik people live in a tight-knit web. Grad, pronounced with a round “A”, like in broad, is a term used by the locals for Dubrovnik. Stari Grad is Old Town, so Grad is Town, City, Dubrovnik. And in this Town, everyone knows everyone. Kenova is the reason why. Some people are just naturally more curious than others and they perfected this art of casual catching up, Dubrovnik style.

For this reason, in particular, try to pay attention to the gestures and tone in which two locals participate in this little ritual – use your intuition and enjoy the theatre unfolding before you. You will be proud of how much you got to understand a language that you thought you barely spoke.


Springtime kick-off the right way

First days of spring knock on the door. Meteorologically only, of course – we need to wait a few more weeks for real spring to start. The trees grow new leaves and the daffodils bloomed, too. Dubrovnik was showered with heavy rain in the morning but already by early afternoon the wind changed direction, the air became crisper and the humidity went away. The remaining puddles of water mirrored the sun’s reflection and the city soon buzzed with life again.

All of a sudden, there seems to be something new going on in Dubrovnik. The long beauty sleep is finally finished, all the dreams people had for the Town are coming true. Even though the time of the mascarade is over, the main street and the old port still wear a disguise.

Just like with Game of Thrones, Star Wars or the Indian spectacle Fan, Dubrovnik is once more the perfect set for another long awaited blockbuster: Robin Hood: Origins. The preparations lasted longer than usual, the scaffolding and the decor for the film-shooting grew in shape slowly. This gradual development allowed the locals to use their imagination about how it might all look like on the big screen.

Set up of Nottingham on Stradun

Stradun becomes Nottingham

Film tourism - Dubrovnik

Robin Hood filming in Dubrovnik

Hollywood movie shooting in Dubrovnik

View to Robin Hood filming from our Domino Apartment

Now, the newspaper headlines and social networks are full of juicy titles and photos featuring the stars of Robin Hood: the Academy Award-winning Jamie Foxx and the very popular Jamie Dornan. The filming is undergoing day and night on different locations, parallel to the everyday town life. The film is set for release by end of March 2018 and Leonardo Di Caprio, another famous Oscar awarded actor, will be producing this atypical interpretation of a well-known classic. All the facts point to a major success; Dubrovnik is again honoured to play a significant role in the process.

Tourists are a rare sight to see, but not completely absent. There are enough connecting flights and accommodation options but the most important part is the weather. It is much better than in most European countries! There are some surprises from time to time, but the average winter temperature of 10°C/50°F and plenty of sun exposure vouch for a relaxing weekend getaway.

Snow in Dubrovnik in January 2017

Dubrovnik Winter Wonderland (photo by 2THESign)

What could attract you to visit Dubrovnik during low season is the fact that you can do it even on a tight budget – the basic prices are much lower than the very popular summer months. An added bonus that is definitely an important highlight: you do not need to elbow your way through the crowds and all the beauty of the city and its surroundings seem almost heightened by the quiet tones of the mild springtime sun.

The openness of the space around you and the simplicity of the locals’ lifestyle will enchant you. Everything seems to move at a slow pace, the mood is lighter, the smiles on peoples’ faces genuine. When you are not hunting for a glimpse of a famous Hollywood star or researching the museums for more stories about different habits, rituals and cultural heritage, you will be out and about.

If you are a food enthusiast, keep in mind that March is the perfect time to be in this region! The oyster season is celebrated in Ston town on St Joseph day, March 19th. The oysters from Ston are unique in the world, small in size but full of flavour; a true delicacy enjoyed only in Croatia.



Oyster Festival in Ston


Those first-hand impressions of faraway places stick with you forever and spark the curiosity to find out some more. So, for this spring keep Dubrovnik in mind.

Wedding in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Happily Ever After starts in Dubrovnik

How weddings became The Thing to Do

Many people come to Dubrovnik to admire the best known UNESCO site in Croatia, many more to see the Game of Thrones filming locations, but what stands out as a trend now is to get married in this historical setting, paved with polished stone and breathtaking facades. How could one resist the allure of such a perfect stage? When flying in, the shimmering blue sea opens the scene to a city carved in the cliffs, surrounded by walls built centuries ago and filled with distinctive red rooftops.

Dubrovnik as seen from plane

Arrival in Dubrovnik

The bell towers of churches ornated in styles of renaissance and baroque announce the beginning of another love story. Every year, couples from around the world come to inhale this magical atmosphere and walk hand in hand down Stradun, the main promenade where no person is spared the attention. Picking a time to take photos of that special day has become a demanding task – Dubrovnik is always full of people! Nevertheless, when a Bride to Be starts walking towards a camera, everyone around smiles and lets her enjoy her glory. The fact is that those are going to be outstanding and unrivaled photos.

Weddings and honeymoons in Dubrovnik

Just married

Wedding planners, hotels and all the necessary arrangements can be found with ease. Organising such a joyous ceremony has become a matter of prestige and more and more people want to engage in making it as perfect as possible. The choice is yours, from a traditional wedding in one of many churches like the patron St Blaise’s and then a dinner on a lush hotel terrace or something more laid-back like a beach wedding. Why not consider sailing into the sunset, literally, on board a real 17th-century galleon replica, (maybe even with a pirate theme)? How about saying I DO on top of mount Srđ with a post-card view of the whole region? If you want a big celebration or just an intimate gathering of the people you hold most dear, Dubrovnik has the choice for you.

Wedding ceremony at the Kazbek hotel, Dubrovnik

Cheers to the Newly-Weds

Croatian Wedding Traditions

The locals favor their own traditions: most weddings take place Saturdays and then the bells are ringing all over town. The custom demands that the groom’s party comes to pick up the bride at her parents’ house with a lot of music and singing to set the mood. The road to the church and then to the dinner venue must never be repeated and every car honks the horn during the drive to chase away any bad spirits. You will often see the couple enter the church together and walk down the aisle accompanied by the best man and maid of honor. When exiting as newly-weds they are showered by the crowd with applause, flower petals, rice and more singing – sometimes even rain is considered welcome as it is a sign of a prosperous marriage.

Since the locals need to find a different location for their honeymoon and not many spots compare to Dubrovnik’s beauty, the choice is hard. It is almost enough to just take time off work and enjoy the romantic setting of the town where they fell in love in the first place like so many couples come to do.

Honeymoon at Hotel Kazbek, Dubrovnik

I DO in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik has the ideal aura for all things romantic – weddings, honeymoons and special anniversaries. It is a small town full of charm, its hosts do their best to make you feel right at home. How not to think about coming back again on that significant date, relive a moment that is all about a perfect union? After all, your happiness is key to Have and to Hold – Dubrovnik will always give its finest for your adventure to be remembered as your most remarkable yet.


Dubrovnik, a perfect background for your wedding photos

Photographs courtesy of Ana, Sandra and Kristina

Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik and the Game of Thrones – best friends forever

If you have ever been to Dubrovnik then it will be clear why Game of Thrones loves the city. The two are inseparable, a match made in heaven. Six years ago when the producers at HBO decided to film a historical fantasy series you would have been forgiven in thinking that they always had Dubrovnik on their minds. The truth was that they had never been to the city; Dubrovnik was not ever at the back of their minds. But a twist of fate, could well have been destiny brought the Game of Thrones cast and crew here.

“As soon as I walked through the city gates I thought I was walking into a dream, is was as if I had entered a living breathing scene from the series,” said one of the producers of the show to us on a visit here. He isn’t wrong. From that day, five seasons ago, Dubrovnik has been the capital of the seven kingdoms, Kings Landing. It has also been the capital of the world for the millions of fans of the popular series. Little did we know all those seasons ago what the Game of Thrones effect would be, we are truly best friends forever.

At King's Landing during GOT filming

Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) – a scene from GOT filming in Dubrovnik

“Where did they film Game of Thrones,” if I had a Euro for every time I had been asked that question we would be sailing off into the sunset on a mega yacht. There are around twelve locations in and around the city, from the island of Lokrum, the Trsteno Arboretum and the historic walls themselves. Pick up a “GOT” map at the Dubrovnik Tourist Board and follow your nose. Yes, lots of computer generated graphics were used but the scenes where the Lannister family did their deeds are easily recognizable. These walls haven’t changed their look for hundreds of years; with a map you’ll soon be able to relive the action scenes in your imagination. There are many, many Game of Thrones tours in the city, some great, some a rip-off, but with a good map and an imagination you can pretty much do it all yourself.

Filming of a scene of Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik

Lena Heady as Cersei Lannister during filming of GOT in Dubrovnik

But if you are looking for the inside scoop then why not visit the city when they are actually filming the series. There is a chance of seeing Tyrion Lannister up close and personal. The cast and crew normally make their way to our city on the Adriatic at the end of summer, September and October are popular months for filming, so keep your ear to the ground and your eye online and you find the dates. After all when the Game of Thrones comes to town it is hard to keep it a secret.

King's Landing

“The Greatest City that Ever Was or Will Be!”