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.

Lokrum island near Dubrovnik

Lokrum – the green oasis of Dubrovnik

It is an island of legends, love and lush green vegetation. Located just a stone’s throw from the historic city walls of Dubrovnik the island of Lokrum has always had a strong position in the rise of the city. With hidden coves, covered walkways and untouched nature the island is THE place to escape the hustle and bustle of Dubrovnik through the summer months, go where the locals go.

Lokrum island near Dubrovnik

Lokrum – an island waiting to be explored

The earliest mention of Lokrum stretches back to 1023 when Benedictine monks became owners of the island; you can still see their influence today with the monastery in the centre of the island. In fact most of the manicured gardens you see on the island also come from the monks, they were certainly busy! Over the years the island has changed hands a fair few times, it has been a turbulent history. There is even a legend that King Richard the Lionheart landed on the island after being shipwrecked nearby.

Modern day Lokrum is an oasis of tranquillity, a green island in a sea of turquoise. Just a short ten-minute ferry ride from the Old City of Dubrovnik and you are a world away, a haven of peace. Our advice is to get a morning ferry and spend a whole day on the island; there are plenty of cafes and restaurants so you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Here are a few tips to make your Lokrum day go with a bang. If you are a family then one of the best places for children to swim is the so called “Dead Sea” which is a shallow lake-like area on the east of the island. If you fancy exploring a little then take a circular walk, start at the “Portoc” where the ferry lands and head west. A sunning pathway takes you through Mediterranean nature and fauna, the views back to the Old City are panoramic and unique. Just keep following the path, you can’t really get lost as after all you are on an island, and after 40 minutes you will get to the northern side where many beaches and attractions are located. And when on Lokrum you just have to dive into the crystal clear Adriatic. Search for a cove of your own, find the shade of a pine tree, roll out a towel, open a good book and unwind in the sunshine.

Peacocks on Lokrum

The peacocks are always happy to pose for photos

Time for lunch, wander off to the monastery where you’ll find a good restaurant or over to the playing fields and another great restaurant, and take a few photos of the peacocks along the way. The peacocks were introduced a few years ago and are protected on Lokrum, they are always happy to pose for photos. They aren’t the only protected species; the whole of the island was proclaimed a Special Forest Vegetation Reserve in 1976.

Lokrum is truly a summer joy, a sanctuary for a romantic day, a heaven for families and an island waiting to be explored.

Dubrovnik sunrise

Make 2016 your year – write your Dubrovnik story

The new year is here, seems to come around at the same time every year. Dubrovnik is calm and peaceful at this time of the year. The harsh winter that has embraced most of the rest of Europe has avoided, once again, Dubrovnik. Winter time in Dubrovnik, if you can call this mild weather winter, is a time for reflection, a time for new beginnings. With the start of the new year comes optimism, we have 360 empty pages of our life in front of us. Fill them; fill every minute of every day. Travel as much as possible, make memories, meet new people and dive into new experiences.

So what can we expect from a fresh summer in Dubrovnik this year? Already the international media is falling over itself to heap praise on Dubrovnik. Reports in publications, such as the New York Times and Condé Nast Traveller, have positioned Dubrovnik on their lists of places to visit in 2016. With all this publicity the region is certainly to be near the top on the lists of many world travellers this year. We can expect another great summer.

There will be events, concerts, drama and ballet…and that is just in the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The number of festivals in Dubrovnik, a city of culture, is growing year on year and we will welcome back many “old friends” this year. Why not jump on a flight and spend a weekend in Dubrovnik whilst a festival is on…you won’t regret it. And with more flights from more destinations expected to land at Dubrovnik Airport this year the opportunities are endless. Fly in on a Friday afternoon, spend a weekend in the Mediterranean sunshine and catch a concert, then return on Monday ready for another working week. Fill some of those empty pages.

guaranteed sunshine in Dubrovnik

Weekend in the sunshine

We will also be welcoming back our friends from HBO and the whole crew of the globally popular Game of Thrones series. Dubrovnik, which acts as King’s Landing in the serial, is forever bound to the Game of Thrones. And apart from bringing us yet more exposure it has also acted as a fuse paper for many other international production companies. Already, at the beginning of 2016, another film crew will shoot a Greek epic movie, “Alexandra,” in the city’s historic cobbled streets. You can be sure that others will follow.

Make 2016 the year that you fill the pages of your life with a trip to Dubrovnik. If you have already been then you are probably waiting to come back, if you’ve never been then…what are you waiting for.

Port of Dubrovnik

Aerial view of Dubrovnik

Discovering Dubrovnik region

One of the activities not to be missed during your stay in Dubrovnik is to discover Elafite islands. It is a group of 13 islands and islets in Dubrovnik surrounding of which only 3 are inhabited.

Amazingly intact nature, crystal clear sea, picturesque villages, hidden bays, incredible sunsets – the photos below show it all.

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Perfect vacation in Dubrovnik

Based on our local knowledge and experience, this is what we recommend as your perfect vacation in Dubrovnik. No matter if you are staying here a weekend or the entire week, all your days can be filled with great activities, visits to picturesque historical towns or amazing natural sites.


After landing at Dubrovnik airport, you will enjoy less than 30 min scenic drive to Dubrovnik center.


Make sure to book a window seat when flying to Dubrovnik

The afternoon activities will depend on the season, type of the accommodation and weather conditions, so you will probably enjoy one of the following activities: relaxation at your hotel or villa pool, maybe nearby beach or orientation tour of Dubrovnik Old City.


Boutique Hotel Kazbek pool area

4 - Villa Franica Pool

Luxury Villa Franica pool


Morning: visit of UNESCO protected Dubrovnik Old City including 2 km long City Walls (or at least its southern part). If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you can join tours that will take you to the filming locations of this mega-popular TV show.

Afternoon: don’t miss a short boat ride to Lokrum island (small and quiet island with many beaches (mostly rocky), botanical garden, walking paths, restaurant…)


Lokrum island


Crystal clear sea on Lokrum island


You will be welcomed by Peacocks on Lokrum island

As a highlight of the day, take a cable car from Dubrovnik Old City to the top of the Srd hill and enjoy breathtaking views of entire Dubrovnik region, Adriatic sea, Elafiti islands. The sunset from here is simply amazing.



Elafite islands – a group of 13 islands and islets with small historical and picturesque villages, natural sites, beaches.


Elafite islands activities

Mljet – definitely most beautiful Croatian National park and greenest island in the Adriatic. This is the place where you go to enjoy untouched nature and exceptional peacefulness.

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Islet with Benedictine monasery on Mljet lake

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Mljet lake



Korcula island and Peljesac peninsula – on the way to Korcula island which is believed to be a birthplace of Marco Polo, the drive will take you through the small town of Ston, a historical place town with 5km long city walls (second by longness in the World after China wall). This is also the place where top quality oysters are cultivated so don’t miss a chance to stop by at one of the restaurants for tasting. The drive continues then along the Peljesac peninsula, famous Croatian vineyard area so it is a must to visit some of the wineries and taste their great wines (particularly Dingac).


Peljesac vineyards


Oyster cutivation in Ston

Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – not even 2 hours of drive from Dubrovnik, this is the place where so many cultures and religions left their traces, but most visible ones are from the time of Ottoman empire. The symbol of this interesting town is UNESCO protected Old Bridge. This tour can be combined with the visit of Medjugorje, one of the most famous pilgrimage places in the Catholic world.

Montenegro – our neighbouring country situated not even one hour drive from Dubrovnik. you will be amazed by its historical beauties and incredible natural contrasts.



If you are flying back from Dubrovnik airport, a visit to the small seaside town of Cavtat is a must. It is located in between the magic city of Dubrovnik on one side and beautiful Konavle on the other. There one can still feel the spirit of the past time and experience the centuries old tradition of our ancestors. It is also possible to arrange the boat transfer from Dubrovnik to Cavtat and then not more than 5 min car drive to Dubrovnik airport.


Cavtat by night





Have you heard of most romantic Croatian couple?

This is now the fifteenth time in a row when the male stork named Klepetan flies a long journey from South Africa to Croatia to meet his handicapped mate Malena.

Malena has a broken wing and can not fly. She stays in the Croatian village Brodksi Varos in Slavonia and awaits the return of her partner every spring.

What a great reminder that the true love and commitment really exist.

Klepetan & Malena video