Wednesday, 24 November 2021

The Realities of Life as a Vukovar Tour Guide (Interview)

November 24, 2021 - As the annual November 18 interest in Vukovar subsides, TCN's interest in this majestic city on the Danube is only just beginning. In the first of a series of interviews with the people of Vukovar, new CROMADS recruit Katarina Anđelković on life as a Vukovar tour guide, and tourism and the future.

Vukovar lives 365 days a year, not just on November 18, and there is plenty to see and do apart from doing a war tour, as Katarina explains in our first interview in an occasional series on the people of Vukovar. 

Vukovar is globally known for the horrendous events of 1991, which brought tremendous suffering to Vukovar's residents. What is it like to do war tours with something which has affected you and your family so personally and recently?

It’s never easy. I don’t mind talking about it at all and I am of the opinion that history definitely needs to be taught. However, sharing stories feels very different to me than doing a whole war tour. That should be just a part of your visit to Vukovar.

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What are the general reactions of tourists who come, and how much do people from other parts of Croatia know about what actually happened?

It’s very hard to generalize, as we get different reactions from different groups. The one thing that our visitors have in common is that they are touched by the bravery and humanity of those who helped Vukovar.

As for the history, foreigners will usually not know that much and will react in an empathetic way, genuinely wanting to learn about the events. Croatian tourists are more likely to come here with assumptions, attitudes, opinions and tend to be more interested in politics and the way things are now. Which is not necessarily a bad thing when we get to focus on the future.

All in all, however, I would say that people are interested in learning, and that is quite encouraging.

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30 years later, Vukovar is still known mostly for the war and not about its tourism offer. How do you feel about that?

I am on a mission to change that. Even though war tourism will always be a part of our offer, it should not be our identity. We are the cradle of civilization in Europe, we offer the finest dining, the purest nature and the warmest people. Come and check that out.

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The water tower has reopened and is now in use again as a museum and viewing point, while keeping its damaged exterior. What are the opinions about the project locally? 

Just like with anything, opinions vary. There is a lot of pride in calling the water tower our symbol of perseverance and unity. For some, it’s a painful reminder, for others it stood even though it was beaten. It’s all about perspective. For me, the views from the top are undeniably magnificent.

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November 18 is obviously a very emotional day each year. How do you spend it, and how do you feel about the influx of tens of thousands who come?

I am touched by the rivers of people who flood in to show support and walk the walk, and I am especially moved by those who do so by walking, running, cycling. What I don’t like (and many will tell you this) is that the next time you will hear about Vukovar in the media is around the same time next year.

As for how I spend the day – it depends. Some years I walk and some years I do something else in an attempt to distract those who lived it all. The same thing does not always feel right.

Now let's talk about tourism of the future. What incredible things do you have to show us? Give us a flavour with your top 5 things to see and experience.

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Vučedol, Vučedol, Vučedol! When was the last time you visited a museum that was built on the very site where an ancient civilization lived? Completely blended into nature as well, with a number of awards for its architecture! Everyone will tell you about Egypt and Mesopotamia, but not many know about their contemporaries who lived right here. It never fails to leave our guests speechless,

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The Austro-Hungarian legacy and the Eltz castle. With our city museum displaying historical as well as contemporary artifacts in a wonderful area right next to the Danube, an afternoon spent learning and sipping coffee with a view will surely leave you feeling fulfilled. Can you tell I kinda like museums?

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The baroque city centre. With its architecture completely reconstructed to showcase the decorative style of the era, today it houses traditional artisan shops as well as some modern endeavours to tickle your senses. I’ll keep that one as a little secret to share with those who visit around lunchtime.

 

Cruising the Danube with a glass of wine. Take the Vukovar WaterBus into the sunset, witness the beauty of this powerful river and forget about worry for this truly relaxing experience. 

Its people! Wherever you go you will be met with a smile, a shot of rakija and some kulen just to start you off. What follows is stories, experiences, places, just incredible things. I especially love talking to our older residents who will happily tell you about the times of glory in Vukovar.

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I have not even scratched the surface there. The fabulous food, wine and craft beer, our parks and forests, our river island, the murals done by some amazingly talented artists, the tradition, the future in the form of VR and AR, so so much to discover.

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You are the tourist board director of Vukovar for the day. How would you brand Vukovar for tourism, and what are its key strengths? 

As much as it pains me as a tourist guide, the key strengths of Vukovar might lie in what’s been hidden for so long. It is so rewarding watching people react to all that we show them which they had absolutely no idea about. And the magic behind that. You will find something in the east that is quite unique in Croatian tourism – we try so hard. We don’t see others as competition but rather as allies in bringing people here and showing them what is there to see, experience and taste. All chased down by some unbelievable stories.

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Tell us a little about the energy of the small but fabulous eco-system of tourism businesses and offers which are emerging in Vukovar. 

As I said in my previous answer, the uniqueness of Vukovar’s tourist offer lies in the fact that all the businesses work together rather than against each other. The quality of their products is just outstanding, everything works so well together and choosing just one thing to take home sometimes seems impossible.

For more news and features from Vukovar, follow the dedicated TCN Vukovar section.

Do you have a business or social initiative in Vukovar that you would like to have featured on TCN? If yes, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Vukovar. 

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Fully Developed and Modernised Croatian Railway System in 10 Years?

November the 24th, 2021 - The Croatian railway system has needed a ''lick of paint'' for some considerable amount of time now, and with this more sustainable way of travel being promoted on all levels by the EU, the Croatian railway system hopes to be fully developed and modernised in 10 years.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, railways are the main and key mode for the development of the sector of the future in the whole of the bloc, including Croatia, it was said at the panel discussion "Modern railways in a liberalised market" organised by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Hakom and the Alliance for Railways held on Monday in Zagreb.

Tonko Obuljen, President of Hakom's council, pointed out that a regulated market in which the exact rules will be known and within which everything will adhere to the precondition for the good functioning of the railway system is key. State Secretary at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Alen Gospocic announced that after the stabilisation of the situation in the road sector, the ministry is now moving towards the restructuring and modernisation of the Croatian railway system.

“Over the next decade, we want to have a developed railway system that provides quality services to society and is fully integrated with other branches of transport. There's also the establishment of a single European railway area which will lead to the consolidation of rail transport through long-term investment in infrastructure. First of all, I'm referring to two corridors which will run through Croatia, one of which leads from Slovenia to Serbia and the other from Hungary to the Port of Rijeka,'' said Gospocic.

EU funding for the Croatian railway system...

He added that he expects that most of these investments will be realised through the European Recovery Plan, from which more than 4.5 billion euros could be withdrawn for precisely that. According to him, what has already started is the restructuring of HZ Infrastructure so that they can be more functional, and also so that they can apply for EU tenders.

The pandemic is a circumstance that has caused great damage to rail passenger transport across the world, due to lockdowns, the general lack of travel, but also the requirement to limit the number of passengers who can be in one car at any one time. The State Secretary announced that there will be reorganisations of HZ Passenger Transport, which will receive about 80 new trains in the next 3 to 4 years, mostly from the local Koncar plant.

The European Commission has declared 2021 the European Year of Railways, as part of European Union efforts under the European Green Plan, a plan drawn up by the EU with the aim of creating a sustainable economy and achieving climate neutrality by the year 2050. One of the key elements of this plan is to launch cleaner and healthier modes of transport, as the transport sector is currently responsible for 25 percent of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Green Plan calls for a 90 percent reduction in emissions in the transport sector by 2050 and the activities within the European Year of Railways are intended to provide momentum to increase the share of rail transport across the bloc's transport market as a whole.

Through various events, projects and activities held across the bloc, different dimensions of railways stand out, from the world's leading European railway innovation industry to the role of railways in European culture and heritage, the important role of connecting regions, people and businesses and the role of sustainable tourism, as well as its involvement in Europe’s relations with neighbouring non-EU countries.

A sustainable mode of transport

While the European transport sector is responsible for 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, at the same time, railways across the European Union are responsible for less than 0.5 percent of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. This makes it the most sustainable mode of passenger and freight transport we currently have.

Among other advantages, travelling by rail is extremely safe and connects European people and the economy via the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). Despite these benefits, only about 7 percent of passengers and 11 percent of goods are actually transported by rail. These are all facts that prompted the European Commission to launch a complex project to organise the European Year of Railways.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

1.58 Million Officially Employed Croatian Residents at End of October 2021

November the 24th, 2021 - The end of October this year saw 1.58 million officially employed Croatian residents as the domestic economy continues to grow steadily as we emerge delicately from the global pandemic.

The rocky situation with the global economy has made sure that no country could easily escape the dire economic consequences that this truly unprecedented situation has caused, and countries like Croatia, which relies very heavily on tourism, took a very heavy blow indeed. It seems however, that things are on the up.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at the end of October this year, there were 1.58 million officially employed Croatian residents, which is 0.2 percent more than in September and two percent more than in October last year, while the registered unemployment rate in October stood at 7.2 percent, which is an increase by 0.2 percentage points on a monthly level, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

According to the CBS, there were 1,581,743 officially Croatian residents during the month of October, which is 3,599 or 0.2 percent more than at the end of September this year. At the annual level, the number of total employees in the country increased by two percent.

1,368,324 persons were employed within legal entities, which is 11,746 persons or 0.9 percent more than a month before. Compared to the same month last year, this growth was stronger and amounted to 1.8 percent.

According to the data that the CBS takes from the records of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, there were 194,810 employees in crafts and trades at the end of October, which is 8,165 or four percent less than in September 2021. At the annual level, the number of officially employed Croatian residents in crafts and trades was higher by four percent.

More detailed statistics on the number of employees in legal entities show an increase on a monthly basis in most activities, with the largest increase in the number of employees in the education sector, by 8.2 percent, to 121,331 persons.

For more on working in Croatia, and employment, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Kvarner Luxury Tourism Opportunities There if Country Grabs Chance

November the 24th, 2021 - There is a fantastic opportunity for Kvarner luxury tourism if Croatia decides to grab its chance. 

Rijeka and its surroundings might have a firmly industrial past, the city even invented the Torpedo, but there is much more to this more Northern Adriatic part of the country than meets the eye, especially for those who perhaps don't look much further north than Split, or maybe Zadar at a push. 

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Republic of Croatia has a great opportunity to develop luxury tourism, especially in destinations that offer luxury hotels and villas, marinas and restaurants of high quality, said Minister of Tourism Nikolina Brnjac at a conference entitled "The potential for luxury tourism in Kvarner", which was held on Monday in Opatija.

Minister Nikolina Brnjac pointed out that there are ten Michelin-starred restaurants dotted across Croatia, adding that gastronomy is an important segment of tourism of the highest level, as Croatian cuisine is popular and extremely varied from region to region, despite the country covering quite a small surface area in the grand scheme of things.

"This season we've been one of the most successful tourist countries in the entire Mediterranean, and luxury tourism has certainly contributed to that, with an important role for the safety of guests," said Brnjac.

The president of the hotel group Stories, Nenad Nizic, said that this year the opportunity was used for guests who normally go on long trips to come to Croatia, and because of the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, things have been made much more difficult. That said, Croatia has proven to be a very good destination for guests looking for luxury and a special approach.

In the first place, they require the level of service, which must be fast and high quality. The director of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ), Kristjan Stanicic, assessed that simultaneous luxury and mass tourism in the same destination is possible, but with the smart management of the destination, citing the example of Dubrovnik.

For more, check out our travel section.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Croatian Q Agency Embraces Remote Work as Digital Age Edges Closer

November the 24th, 2021 - The Croatian Q Agency has embraced the modern remote work trend whole-heartedly as it offers the possibility to its employees, be they in their apartments in Zagreb or in a treehouse on a tropical island.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Q Agency will permanently enable its employees to choose the model of work that suits them best - from the office, remotely or combined. They also decided on this move based on employee information, and to make it easier to hire people outside of the City of Zagreb.

The Croatian Q Agency is thus following current global trends that show that an increasing number of companies in the sector are giving employees the choice of whether they want to work from the office or from home. This sort of work has been popularised to unexpected levels as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which saw many companies make it an option when lockdowns were in force.

They are also announcing the further expansion of their business and the employment of yet more experts, who will be able to work from any city across Croatia thanks to this model of work.

The Croatian Q Agency's Filip Ljubic stated that it is perfectly fine for someone to apply for a job with them and ask to work from Bali, Zanzibar or from some small lighthouse in the middle of the Adriatic. "That's why we'll never ask anyone to come into the office again," Ljubic said.

The head of the People & Culture department at Q, Anja Oppenheimer Baresic, pointed out that their internal survey showed that 61 percent of their employees want to come to the office occasionally, while 21 percent want to work completely outside the office and do all they need to do remotely.

It's worth mentioning that this Zagreb-based company's multiple offices have been closed since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, while employee satisfaction indices and general feelings of belonging and loyalty to Q are extremely high.

For more, check out our business section.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Flavors of Croatia: From Local Specialties to Michelin-Starred Restaurants

November 24, 2021 - What can be said about Croatian cuisine? Are the old clichés still true? Are Croatians still carnivores who eat everything with bread? A look at the flavors of Croatia, from local specialties to Michelin-starred restaurants. 

As Croatia Luxury Rent reports, Croatia has a heterogeneous and regional cuisine in which each part of the country has its own culinary tradition. And given Croatian history, the regional cuisines often resemble the styles of other countries, some of which have long since ceased to exist.

The influence of antiquity, Illyrians, Mediterranean cuisine, and Italian, French, Viennese, and Hungarian can be felt on the Adriatic. Austro-Hungarian cuisine sends greetings from continental Croatia, as does Turkish.

While you'll find mostly fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil on the coast and islands, in continental Croatia, you'll find more meat, grains, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and dairy products - and the preparation methods are more complex and dishes more nutritious. Both cases boast seasonal cuisine.

Croatian regional cuisines are divided into Istria, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Lika, Zagorje, Međimurje, Podravina and Slavonia. Each region has its own specialties, which are not always so well known to everyone at the national level.

So, what is the DNA of a Croatian kitchen? What are Croatian specialties? What makes them unique? Who are the pioneers of Croatian gastronomy? What is the future of Croatian cuisine? Which restaurants are especially worth visiting?

To that end, Croatia Luxury Rent spoke with industry leaders and restaurants.

Despite all the influences, there are many Croatian specialties that you will not find anywhere else except in Croatian regions, and there are also dishes you may not have heard about!

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Sinj arambaši: Arambaši - a traditional dish from the Croatian town of Sinj - is an unusual variant of sarma and consists of a combination of minced beef, onion, garlic, pork belly, and parsley. The mix is usually seasoned with pepper, salt, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated lemon zest.

This mixture is then wrapped in sauerkraut leaves and placed in a pot. Before cooking, arambaši is covered with chopped sauerkraut, beef bones, tomato juice, water, and various dried meat products. The dish's name comes from the Turkish words 'harami', which means sinful or unacceptable, and 'başi,' which implies commander or chief. It is traditionally served at festivities such as Easter or Christmas, but arambaši are especially popular during the Feast of the Assumption and the popular Sinjska Alka.

Požeski pijanci: Pijanaci is a traditional cake originating from the town of Požega. The cake is made of flour, eggs, yolk, lard, and sugar. The dough is cut into pieces that are shaped into coils with a hole in the middle.

After baking, the tops are dipped in egg whites and sugar and then dry in the oven.

In the past, pijanci were traditionally consumed in the afternoon while drinking wine with friends and neighbors, and the cakes were soaked in wine, hence the name!

Šurlice sa škampima: This specialty originates from the Croatian island of Krk. It consists of a local variety of pasta known as šurlice, combined with onion, garlic, shrimp, tomato juice, white wine, and stock. The pasta is sometimes sautéed in butter before being combined with the other ingredients. It is recommended to supplement the dish with grated cheese before serving.

Learn more about how experts or the kings and queens of Croatian specialties see their products and work, and what makes Croatian cuisine so unique HERE

Croatian restaurants are impressive, as well. Not only did Croatia receive three new Michelin-starred restaurants last year, but the country also has several Bib Gourmand restaurants and one Michelin Green Star restaurant for exceptional sustainability.

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1 Michelin star:

  1. 360⁰, Dubrovnik
  2. Draga di Lovrana, Lovran
  3. Monte, Rovinj
  4. Pelegrini, Šibenik
  5. Noel, Zagreb
  6. Boškinac, Novalja
  7. LD Terrace, Korčula
  8. Agli Amici, Rovinj
  9. Alfred Keller, Mali Lošinj
  10. Nebo, Rijeka

Bib Gourmand:

  1. Batelina, Banjole
  2. Dunav, Ilok
  3. Konoba Mate, Korčula
  4. Vuglec Breg, Krapina
  5. Konoba Vinko, šibenik
  6. Konoba Fetivi, Split
  7. Agava, Zagreb
  8. TAČ, Zagreb
  9. Konoba škoj, šolta
  10. Zlatne Gorice, Varaždin Breg
  11. Izakaya by Time, Zagreb
  12. Konoba Malo Selo, Buje
  13. Alla Beccaccia, Valbandon

Michelin Green Star:

  1. Zinfandel's, Zagreb

    You can read more about Croatia's haute cuisine in an interview with LD Restaurant's Marko Gaski HERE.

    For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.
Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Pope Francis Gifted Dinamo Jersey at Vatican ahead of Friendly Football Match (PHOTOS)

November 24, 2021 - Pope Francis has been gifted a jersey of the Croatian champion Dinamo Zagreb as part of a Vatican trip that featured a friendly football match between the World Roma Organization in Croatia and the Pope's team Fratelli tutti, hosted by Italian club Lazio.

Croatian champion Dinamo was the main sponsor of a trip to the Vatican, organized by the Croatian delegation and the World Roma Organization in Croatia. The Zagreb club was represented by club president Mirko Barišić, reports HRT.

As part of the Vatican trip, a friendly football match was organized between the World Roma Organization in Croatia and the Pope's team Fratelli tutti, and the host of the match was the Italian club Lazio.

Before the match, the Holy Father received both teams and members of the delegations from Croatia and Italy, and on that occasion, Mirko Barišić presented the Holy Father with gifts, including the Dinamo jersey.

The event was organized by Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca, head of the Vatican's Council for Culture and Sports, in collaboration with Nikola Kriković, Toti Dedić's assistant.

"This was an extremely pleasant and beautiful trip. For me as a Christian and a Catholic, this moment of meeting the Pope means a lot, and it means a lot to Dinamo. I was pleasantly surprised that people around the Holy Father know the name Dinamo well from the sports world. Pope Francis is a very simple man, he is very careful, he cares and advocates that "small" people should not be excluded from society, and he especially cares about minorities such as the Roma. He is particularly sensitive to this topic, advocating for all people to be given equality and to be shown that they can participate equally in society. He was delighted with the role of Dinamo as a top football club that actively supported this match as a sponsor and who showed that in addition to sports results, he takes care to respect and appreciate everything that makes a man a man. Dinamo sticks not only to the results but also to the general social values. He gave us great recognition there," said the Dinamo president.

The Holy Father had a special message for the World Roma Organization, which is extremely active in Croatia and which makes great efforts to promote equal opportunities for all, and which Dinamo has repeatedly supported through various projects and cooperation over the years.

"Dear Roma friends, I know that in Croatia you are launching many sports inclusion initiatives to help each other know each other and friendship. It is a sign of hope because big childhood dreams cannot be limited by our barriers. All children have the right to grow up together, without obstacles and without discrimination. And sport is a place of encounter and equality and can build communities with bridges of friendship."

It should be reminded that Dinamo has supported the work of the World Roma Organization countless times by promoting the fight against racism and discrimination. Likewise, the club is continuously committed to providing equal opportunities for all regardless of diversity.

At the competition of the Foundation No surrender, entitled "Equal Opportunities for All", the World Roma Organization received a donation of HRK 40,000.00. The donation was given for the project of football camps for girls and boys belonging to racial and national minorities in several different parts of Croatia.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

TCN Announces Split Winter Tourism Round Table: Mayor Puljak Confirmed

November 24, 2021 - TCN is delighted to announce a Split winter tourism round table on December 13, with Mayor Ivica Puljak and several key stakeholders already confirmed. 

The older I get, the clearer I see things, and the easier it becomes to get things done in Croatia. 

The timeline:

October 2 - a TCN editorial: Could Digital Nomad Concepts Solve Croatian Winter Tourism Problem? (Please note, digital nomad concepts, not digital nomads)

October 3 - the article is shared on my Facebook page, and the first comment is from Martin Gannon, who was a UK tour rep based in former Yugoslavia from 1986-91:

Both the Amfora and now Riva in Hvar Town were open all winter plus a few restaurants and cafes looking after Mainly American tourists for walking, history and Arts, that was up to 1991.

October 4 - Martin kindly agreed to an interview, which turned out to be quite astonishing - Croatian Winter Tourism in 1990: Full of Life! Tour Rep Interview

I invite anyone interested in developing Split winter tourism and with something to offer to contact me, just to see what might come out of the woodwork. 

There were two big gold nuggets.  

Maria Mustapic, co-owner of the excellent Zinfandel, Brasserie on 7, and Split Hostel, contacted me about efforts she was involved in, together with Jelena Tabak, President of the National Association of Restaurants.

I am also put in contact with Mario Seric, a tourism consultant who was heavily involved in a similar initiative back in 2008-9, and one with produced the concrete result of the Split-Munich year-round flight, which continues today. 

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October 28 - I raise the subject at Days of Croatian Tourism at the Sheraton in Dubrovacka Zupa in a panel of experts including TUI Nordic and easyJet holidays. This leads to a meeting and fruitful discussion with Jelena Tabak.

October 29 - Jelena raises the issue with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic at the closed session on tourism at Days of Croatian Tourism. 

November 5 - Sensing an opportunity, I drive from the Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference to Split to take part in Nomad Table, the excellent weekly gathering organised by Saltwater Nomads and Zinfandel, showing that Split is indeed full of life in winter. A fabulous evening and a complete sell-out (you can reserve your Friday night table here). I tag the Mayor of Split, Ivica Puljak and his wife Marijana, suggesting I reserve their table for next Friday. They both confirm. 

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November 6 - A very productive meeting with Maria Mustapic of Zinfandel, Jelena Tabak, and consultant Mario Seric, who was involved in that 2008 winter tourism initiative. 

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November 8 - Based on comprehensive data supplied by Mario, I publish Wow! Comparing Split, Dubrovnik Winter Flights to ExYu, Mediterranean Competition, to show just how nuts the situation is. 

November 10 - The inbox gets busier, with lots of people having suggestions and wanting to share their views. TCN offers a free promo article plus interview on winter tourism for any business with a winter tourism offer in Split. First up, the Daltonist, with an excellent contribution to the debate

November 12 - Mayor Puljak comes to Nomad Table at Zinfandel and has fruitful discussion with the Digital Nomad Association Croatia in the form of Jan de Jong, Tanja Polegubic, and Michael Freer, as well as Jelena Tabak. Check out the atmosphere in the video above. 

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November 14 - Jasmina Garbin from CHOPS Grill contacts TCN to say that there is considerable interest in developing winter tourism. Jasmina offers to host and help organise a round table of key stakeholders and give them lunch afterwards. 

November 15 - CHOPS Grill is the second interview to be featured in the new TCN series.

November 18 - I sound out Mayor Puljak about his interest and availability for a Split winter tourism round table with lunch. He confirms his interest and attendance, suggesting a 10:00 start on December 13.

November 24 - Invitations are sent out to key stakeholders, with the aim of keeping the initial meeting to a maximum of 15 people. These include the City of Split and tourist board, Split-Dalmatia County and regional tourist board, Split Airport, representatives from the hotel, restaurant, and MICE industries, as well as tourism experts Mario Seric and Zoran Pejovic. Most have already confirmed.

December 13 - The round table will take place. 

Not so hard, is it?

Let's see what will be. 

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Croatian Brands for Your Christmas Shopping Inspiration

The season of gift-giving is upon us! We bring you a list of ideas for unique Christmas gifts to inspire you to shop local and support small Croatian businesses

How’s that Christmas shopping list going? This holiday season, we encourage you to skip the big retailers and e-commerce giants in favour of supporting small local businesses run by creative, talented and passionate people.

We’ve put together a list of 10 ideas to kickstart your holiday gift-giving, featuring Croatian brands and their amazing products that would make perfect gifts for your loved ones.

Think of this list as a starting point: once you start following any of these creatives on social media, you’ll quickly discover other entrepreneurs, artists and manufacturers showcasing their work and supporting each other in the online space. As far as rabbit holes go, this is quite a lovely one to go down, and we guarantee you’ll find plenty of inspiration along the way.

 

naOtoku jewelry

naOtoku is a jewelry brand whose name literally translates to ‘on the island’, pointing to the main source of inspiration for its owner Petra Markusović. While the artist is based in Zagreb these days, she originally comes from Brač island which she calls ‘a place of peace, relaxation and endless inspiration’.

This is clearly reflected in her gorgeous jewelry. It’s not only aesthetically evocative of nature, the sea and island landscapes, but quite literally contains them. Petra collects pebbles, sea glass and other bits washed ashore, then cradles them in silver and brass to transform them into unique earrings, rings and necklace pendants.

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Beautifully designed and expertly crafted, naOtoku creations are statement pieces and conversation starters - whoever wears them is sure to get asked where they got those every once in a while. You can follow naOtoku on Facebook and Instagram - and good luck trying to settle on just one favourite piece.

 

Love around the world by Anđela & Davor Rostuhar

What do a pair of world travelers do for their honeymoon? They sure don’t go to Paris for a week. Anđela and Davor Rostuhar, a Croatian couple known for their love of adventure and awe-inspiring expeditions, got married in 2018 and then launched quite a special project. They travelled the world for an entire year, interviewing couples of all ages and backgrounds to explore what love means in every corner of our planet.

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The project resulted in a poignant documentary film and a beautiful book sharing the same name, Love around the world. As described on their site, the book is ‘an intimate essay, a travel diary and an ethnographic study’, and we think a book about love would make a perfect gift this holiday season.

You can learn more about the project and purchase the book (in Croatian or English) on their website.

 

Chia Cups Studio

Chia Cups are one of those brands that are instantly recognizable from a single product: in their case, a beautiful white ceramic mug covered in black polka dots with the handle painted gold.

They’re so popular, there’s no shortage of copycats out there trying to imitate the famed design. And while the pattern itself is a classic you can’t exactly patent, it’s easy to spot the superior product in the bunch: Chia Cups are handmade, hand painted, glazed to glossy perfection and presented in style by their makers Filipa and Antun.

They’re about to launch their annual holiday collection on their website, so keep an eye out for festive designs featuring timeless Christmas motifs. And if you’re considering getting one as a gift, don’t wait too long: since all the cups are handmade, they are only manufactured in small quantities which typically sell out at the speed of light.

Check out the webshop here and follow Chia Cups on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Croatian Classics by Andrea Pisac

Few things have the ability to inspire, provide comfort and get people together like food does, and there's no better time to gather around the table and enjoy a traditional meal than the holiday season. Andrea Pisac of Croatia Honestly recently came out with a cookbook named Croatian Classics, featuring 100 recipes for savoury dishes originating from all parts of the country.

The recipes are grouped into themed chapters - not by region, ingredients or courses, but a set of Croatian-specific phrases that describe both the cooking method and the essence of a certain dish. Tell any Croatian to name a few meals ‘na žlicu’ (by the spoon) or ‘za dušu’ (for the soul), and you’ll probably find them all in this cookbook.

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Image © Croatia Honestly / Andrea Pisac

The book is written in English, features hundreds of colour photos and detailed step by step instructions, and the ingredients are listed in metric and imperial measurements. It’s a great gift for any recipient: based in Croatia or diaspora, novices or experienced home cooks, everyone is sure to enjoy delving into this book. Whether you want to tackle our national cuisine or perhaps wish to reconnect with your roots, the Croatian Classics cookbook is a great way to start exploring the traditional Croatian gastronomy. If you want to go all out, pair it with Andrea’s first cookbook, Croatian Desserts.

The cookbook is available for purchase in the Croatia Honestly webshop.

aDORAble

Speaking about food… Let's add a dash of unique flavour to our list. Meet aDORAble, a family-run agricultural business known for organic products of outstanding quality that will take your cooking to the next level.

They make wonderful jams and hot sauces, but they’re best known for their flavoured salts. Hand-harvested in Nin, the coarse sea salt is combined with Mediterranean herbs and other organically grown ingredients such as dried fruit, vegetables, mushrooms - and even red wine! This results in over a dozen flavour combinations, varying from lemon or basil to more complex mixtures such as orange, rosemary and thyme or tangerine and fig leaf. aDORAble control every step of the production process and grow the majority of ingredients themselves.

adorable.jpgA nice combo of Mediterranean herbs, chilli and lemon. Image © aDORAble 

All aDORAble products can be purchased individually, but they also sell gift boxes that anyone who loves to cook would be happy to find under the Christmas tree. Check out their shop here - international shipping is also available upon request.

 

Take tha break

Why yes, we'll gladly take a break. This design brand specializes in stylish home decor and accessories made of high quality fabrics: pillows, shopping bags, totes, towels, and headbands, to name a few.

Our favourite? Their beach towels, made of waffle cotton that’s highly absorbent and doesn’t shed - the two main features you’d want in this particular item, and yet surprisingly hard to find these days. Aside from checking off all the practical boxes, they come in an assortment of dreamy summery colours and in several sizes; the bigger ones double as throws that will come in handy during those chilly, early-morning ferry rides.

And yes, December might not seem like the best time to gift beach accessories, but in our opinion, it’s never too early to start planning a summer vacation. Fancy something more seasonally appropriate? Their holiday collection is sure to bring some Christmas cheer into your home.

Follow them on Instagram and check out the products in their webshop.

 

Matinata - premium organic skincare

Matinata is a Croatian skincare brand whose name, philosophy and ingredients all stem from Mother Nature. Their line of active organic skincare currently counts six top-notch products, made from botanicals, plant extracts and naturally derived ingredients that have all been proven to have beneficial effects for the skin.

The organic components are carefully sourced worldwide from selected fair trade partners, thoroughly tested in collaboration with the Faculty of Pharmacy in Ljubljana, and then used to manufacture Matinata products in Croatia in small batches. The brand is based on transparency and their website offers a thorough breakdown of ingredients they use (as well as those they don’t), their purpose and benefits for the skin. 

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Image © Matinata skincare

From the exquisite dark glass packaging to the hypercharged formulas, Matinata products feel luxurious and transform a simple daily routine into a cherished ritual. Our favourite: re.glow, a potent nourishing oil serum that restores balance to the skin, looks like liquid amber and has an intoxicating scent that will make you want to bathe in the stuff. (No need; a few drops will suffice.) Not sure which product to go with? Their Discovery set features mini versions of all Matinata products and would make a great gift for anyone looking to explore natural cosmetics. 

Learn more about Matinata on their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram

 

Better Bread by Kroštula: panettone

Okay, panettone isn’t exactly an authentic Croatian thing, but this delicious Italian sweet bread is such a Christmas classic, it’s become a holiday staple in countless Croatian households. While we’re usually happy to go with tried and tested Italian brands, it’s nice to know we have a fantastic local version as well.

This year, skip the imported stuff and try an artisan panettone instead, courtesy of Better Bread by Kroštula. They’ve got the recipe down to a T (not an easy feat, as they like to remind us in their social media posts), resulting in ethereal, fluffy goodness you can basically smell through your screen:

Two versions of panettone are available at the moment (candied fruit and chocolate), with more flavour combinations to follow. It can be purchased in their webshop and in selected stores across Croatia - check the list here and follow Better Bread on Facebook.

 

Bradonja i plava

Bradonja i Plava (the bearded guy and the blonde) are Josip and Maja, two creatives running a lifestyle brand formerly known as Papa Joe design. We love their jewelry and home decor inspired by traditional Croatian lace and recreated in birch wood.

bradonja.plava.jpgYep, that's wood up there on the wall! Image © Bradonja i Plava 

Adorn your walls in intricate designs based on Pag, Hvar and Lepoglava lace; if you’re looking for something on the smaller side, check out their delicate wooden earrings which literally represent small sections of authentic lace patterns.

Follow them on Facebook or Instagram and check out their webshop.

 

Likamee wool

Likamee wool is a small family business producing felted mat rugs out of sheep wool, sourced from the region of Lika and its indigenous Lika Pramenka sheep variety.

likamee.jpgImage © Likamee Wool
An incredible amount of time and work is invested in every single piece, as all Likamee rugs are manufactured entirely by hand. It’s truly a labour of love, resulting in unique, eye-catching home decor which is also animal friendly and sustainably made.

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram, where they also share snippets of the manufacturing process that will make you appreciate their craft all the more.

  

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Croatia Readies for 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers

November 23, 2021 - A press conference ahead of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers and Croatia's first match against Slovenia on Thursday in Zagreb. 

A press conference of the Croatia men's senior national team was held today at the KC Dražen Petrović Press Center ahead of the first qualifying matches for the World Cup, held in 2023 in Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, reports HKS.

At the conference, basketball legend Dino Rađa was available to the media for all questions, this time in the capacity of the president of the HKS Expert Council, national team coach Veljko Mršić and national team members Pavle Marčinković and Lovro Gnjidić.

Dino Rađa immediately drew attention to the national team youth: “As you can see, we have rejuvenated the team as much as possible. The atmosphere at training is very good; you feel a good vibe. The guys work as honestly as possible and are unencumbered. As much as youth and inexperience can be their flaw, so much so that it can be turned into an advantage because they don't carry some former results. They have only one task, and that is to get off the court with bloody knees, and everything else will be forgiven. I wish them good luck!"

Coach Veljko Mršić continued Dino's thoughts: “True, a new national team. A combination of youth and experience will be the best possible in the last two windows in late autumn 2022 and early 2023. We will certainly be good even now because, as Dino said, the guys are doing really well. The atmosphere is great; from the first day of the gathering, they look very good in training and commitment and behavior on and off the court. I'm sure it will lead us to play good basketball, without worrying about the result, and burdened only with one thing: to be very concentrated and think of each possession as if it were the last. The players have a lot of room for improvement, and I expect us to be better from game to game."

Pavle Marčinković is one of the national team members with the most experience: “The atmosphere is excellent. Not to forget, there are those of us who have been through a couple of cycles, so even though this is a newer and younger team, our goals, postulates, and principles are still the same. We will continue to build the result on a good defense and a strong transition back and forth. I think that we have a lot to look forward to with these young players; they play important roles in their clubs, and they are full of self-confidence.”

Twenty-year-old Lovro Gnjidić is part of the senior national team for the first time: “Coming to the senior national team, after all the younger categories, is a dream come true. The team is great, we get along great, and I think we clicked well."

When asked if he was nervous about his debut, Lovro answered: "It may be small, but I am focused, and I will do my best."

Croatia - Slovenia is scheduled for Thursday, November 25, at 20:45 in KC Dražen Petrović in Zagreb. Tickets can be purchased through ulaznice.hr and at the box office on Wednesday from 10 am to 6 pm and on Thursday from 10 am until the end of halftime.

Finland - Croatia is played in Espoo, part of the metropolitan area of ​​the more famous Helsinki, on Sunday at 18:00. You can watch both matches on the SportKlub program.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

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