Saturday, 27 November 2021

Croatian Tunaholic to Take to Streets of Belgrade, Budapest...

November the 27th, 2021 - The Croatian Tunaholic is set to spread its wings (or perhaps fins) to pastures new, including outside of Croatian borders, to Belgrade and Budapest.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, when Patrik and Vesna Janko Finderle opened a fish bar called Tunaholic in Porec last summer, which was a natural upgrade of their fishing business in their hometown, they never dreamed that guests from other cities would come just because of their street food, let alone that they'd expand their business so quickly beyond Istria, including Croatia.

After taking to Rovinj this summer, the Croatian Tunaholic franchise is currently being sold in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, while negotiations with Zagreb and Budapest are underway, and Rijeka is also expected soon. Inquiries and interests also exist for Belgrade, Novi Sad, and even Sarajevo, and they've also had invitations from Germany.

A combination of an offer and a story...

Vesna Janko Finderle believes that the Croatian Tunaholic franchise's success so far is due to a combination of a high quality offer and a well-designed story, which combines tradition and modern performance, good design and nice packaging… although she admits that they didn't expect such levels of interest.

“Tunaholic isn't an ordinary fish bar, it's a story designed down to the smallest detail, from the preparation and name of the dishes, the packaging, all the way to the design of the facility. We tried to enrich simple foods with a modern gastronomic approach, whether it's just sardines, squid or tuna, and we named the dishes after the streets of Porec and designed the packaging so that it would be convenient to carry and eat.

We found a great position in the very centre of Porec which is difficult to bypass and so the first guests came to us, and now many come to us because they've heard about us online.

Customers wait in lines during the season, so next year we're going to introduce a quicker way of ordering electronically, but our guests don't really mind waiting a bit,'' said Vesna Janko Finderle, an interior designer who is responsible for designing the equipment, packaging, the menu layout and the interior.

The Finderle family has been involved in the fishing industry for almost 30 years and they offer tourists fishing trips on their Hedonist boat, including big game tuna fishing. In addition to their own catch, they procure fish from reliable sources, and this is a condition that future franchisors of the Croatian Tunaholic brand will have to meet.

In addition to fishing, Patrick Finderle is in charge of gastronomic offer and the recipe design. Lawyer Matko Sanjin Jovanovic, who is in charge of concluding deals, as well as Andrija Colak, the owner of the Surf’n’Fries franchise and a franchise consultant, who helped them set up the entire concept of the Tunaholic Fish Bar franchise, also have a significant role in the project.

A great contribution is also made by the Bold agency, which has taken on the role of PR in all potential franchises, in order to keep the brand recognisable and unified.

“Important links in our chain are also the two Anas, one is a photographer and the other is a graphic designer. During the first season alone we saw that there is great interest in our story and we decided to protect the name and trademark as soon as possible. In addition to Croatia, we're currently looking at the wider European market. Rovinj was followed by inquiries from Croatia and the immediate region, some we rejected, some we negotiated with. It's important for us to have serious and reliable partners to guarantee the quality of the Croatian Tunaholic brand.

Ljubljana is being realised and some partners in Budapest are also interested in the food truck concept, so we're now looking at how to solve all of that.

In Zagreb, we've had several inquiries from the city centre, which is important for our location as it should be in a busy place, preferably in the city centre. Large shopping malls are also possible. Now the summer season is over and we can dedicate ourselves to franchising, in the summer we told everyone to wait until October for the crowds to pass,'' said Vesna Janko Finderle.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Dubravka Mandic Returns from Paris to Croatia, Creates DermaWise

November the 27th, 2021 - Dubravka Mandic from Eastern Croatia has been in the challenging corporate world for a long time, but upon returning to Croatia from the French capital of Paris, she decided to enter entrepreneurial waters.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ivan Tominac writes, Dubravka Mandic from Osijek has been a part of the corporate world for a long time. She has worked in the automotive industry for the last ten years, and has spent the last five in Paris working for the PSA group. After the expiration of her contract, she decided to stay in Paris as a ''tourist'' of sorts and enjoy life.

She took a step back and decided that she would no longer be part of the corporate world and that she wanted to do something that made her happy. While still living in Paris, she began to take her long-term hobby, the production of cosmetic products, more seriously, attending various educational workshops, seminars and online courses.

Dubravka Mandic pointed out that her love for cosmetics has been present ever since she was a child, when her mother watched her walk around the house with strange masks on her face. “In our teens, we sat down together, drank chamomile tea and put face masks on, we used to set our own little spa up. Thanks to my mum, I discovered very early on how to make some macerates and hydrolates. Then, of course, I couldn't even dream or imagine how important it would become in my life and how much it would ultimately determine my life path,'' says Dubravka Mandic, who, after returning to Zagreb, decided to establish her own company for the production of cosmetic products - DermaWise.

“We're a young, energetic and innovative company. Our vision is to produce specific products that are intended primarily for health, and then for entertainment and beauty. Be Wise, Use DermaWise is our logo that clearly sends a message to our customers. We believe that it is wise to use products whose manufacturers have focused on quality rather than quantity. I'm the owner and creator, but also the ambassador of my brand, so when you ask me which model is behind the brand, I'd say an authentic, social model that is miles away from the traditional, corporate model. Today, customers want to see the people behind the brand, and I want to make that possible for them.

All of our products have been tested and their effectiveness has been proven. It was very important for us to confirm the effectiveness because there are a large number of preparations on the market that promise miraculous results without any studies done. Dubravka Mandic pointed out that they plan to expand the range of products in two directions - cosmetics for intimate care and special preparations for targeted dermatological problems.

“We are preparing some very interesting products and we're currently testing four new products. We hope that we will be able to launch all four of them over the next six months,'' concluded entrepreneur Dubravka Mandic.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

80-100 Million Euro Costs for Croatian Banks to Switch to Euro

November the 27th, 2021 - Croatian banks will have a hefty sum on their hands as the country's Eurozone entry approaches. The costs of the transition alone are eye-watering.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, based on the Action Plan for the Adjustment of the Financial System to the Introduction of the Euro as the Official Currency, about a month ago the Croatian National Bank instructed commercial Croatian banks to prepare a simulation of the costs of adjusting to the euro.

Estimates of the expected effects on revenues and expenditures directly related to the adjustment process, from the beginning of this year to 12 months after the date of the introduction of the euro, must be submitted to the CNB by the end of this year.

According to the CNB's instructions, the simulation includes all points of the Action Plan related to the implementation of the conversion, the double reporting of prices, the notification of users and adjustments following the introduction of the euro.

Among other things, it should include all foreseeable costs of pre-supply, indirect pre-supply and the cost of additional processing and the transportation of cash and additional cash insurance in branches of Croatian banks, as well as all foreseeable costs related to changes in the operation of payment systems. In addition, Croatian banks are expected to calculate related to regulatory reporting requirements, but also with all the expected savings associated with the conversion.

On their behalf, the Croatian Association of Banks provided a rough estimate. "For the needs of the technical process of adjusting the banking system, one-time costs are estimated at between 80 and 100 million euros. In addition to the above, the turnover on the foreign exchange market of kuna/euro will stand at about one billion kuna per year,'' stated the director of HUB, Zdenko Adrovic. One-time costs related to the introduction of the euro, he says, are primarily related to the adjustment of information systems and ATM networks.

However, HUB emphasised that both Croatian banks and their clients will find it easier to manage any currency risk in the long run, which means that risks will generally be reduced, and the collectibility of placements will be higher on average than it would be if Croatia were to keep the kuna.

HUB also emphasised that the introduction of the euro is extremely important for increasing investment, financing conditions and long-term growth of the Croatian economy. They add that the technical introduction of the euro is a very complex process that requires intensive engagement and cooperation of all bank employees.

"Croatian banks will play an important role in the whole process, given that they'll adjust the software of their POS devices and digital services and the entire ATM network so that people have the opportunity to use all banking services and withdraw their cash from the moment the euro is introduced. In addition, banks will convert deposits and loans and inform their clients in a timely and detailed manner about all they need to know,'' they concluded.

In any case, despite the instructions of the CNB to Croatian banks, this year was largely marked by the preoccupation with the euro project and all of the related preparatory activities. Although the Government continues to insist on the "fast track" move, so the target date for entry into the Eurozone is still the 1st of January 2023 (the earliest possible date according to the rules related to ERM II), the exact date will be known only next year.

Whether it is the beginning, middle or end of the year, operational activities to replace the kuna require very careful coordination. This is especially true for IT system customisations, which also account for a large share of the aforementioned costs. Regarding technical and technological adjustments to the transition to the common European currency, it is enough to mention, for example, that the number of devices on which payment cards are accepted in Croatia exceeds 113 thousand.

Most of them, slightly less than 108 thousand, refer to EFTPOS devices for payments at points of sale, and despite the long-term trend of reducing the ATM network, there were almost 4900 ATMs at the beginning of this year. Like most other banks, Erste Bank says they're already working intensively on the euro adjustment process to prepare in time for the introduction of the new currency. In terms of costs, most of it relates to the IT segment.

For more, follow our politics section.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Lorena Boljuncic Develops Idea Istra, Focuses on Cultural Heritage

November the 27th, 2021 - Entrepreneur Lorena Boljuncic from Pula was named the most innovative Croatian entrepreneur this year in the selection of the Women in Adria network. Her entrepreneurial story, which focuses on her Idea Istra concept, is an interesting one.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, Lorena Boljuncic’s story is one of those that inspires and gives other women the courage they might be seeking to do something brave even when it seems impossible.

From a secure job in an international company, Lorena switched to the far less stable, far more challenging waters of entrepreneurship and launched several successful projects in Pula with her agency for the development of new cultural and tourist products, Idea Istra.

“My entry into private business wasn't accidental, it was a conscious decision. After years of working in international companies, I felt I was ready for entrepreneurship. The different things that interested me during my life finally came together and I knew what area of ​​work I wanted to create something in,'' Lorena Boljuncic said.

Although culture is usually not a field, at least not here in Croatia, to which business is connected, Lorena took culture as the focus of her business development. “I was born in Pula, which is rich in historical heritage, I studied art history and I was always interested in how we talk about it and how we present our culture and history... how we present our destination through cultural heritage. During and after college, I travelled along the Croatian coast and collected materials/brochures from our historic cities. Culture has always been just an ornament, a beautiful picture in one general brochure, without much content. The museums had classic exhibits which were several decades old, with many artifacts, and without a story, without something whole, so few people entered, and no one cared about it,'' explained Lorena Boljuncic.

She added that she also realised that Croatia as a tourist destination has many great opportunities to attract guests who aren't only interested in the sun and the sea, but also travel because of cultural heritage, that this can be a reason to come and that various cultural and tourist products in a given destination must be made profitable. She says there are examples of this all over the world, especially here in Europe.

"Today, in general, everything is changing rapidly, we have an increasingly extensive network of heritage interpreters, great people who create interesting content, interactive museum exhibits are being created, cultural monuments are being restored. However, I have to say that there are a lot of projects that lack an entrepreneurial approach where you want to have as many guests as possible, making money from it so that you can reinvest and create new content. A lot of museums are still "waiting" for something to happen to them, for some money to come, instead of making a move on their own. On the one hand, there's certainly a lack of knowledge in cultural management, and on the other hand, the owners, the public administration, don't ask for specific goals to be met from the heads of institutions,'' she stated.

Her most famous project is the House of Istrian Olive Oil, which is the first project, and not only in Croatia, which moves away from the classic settings with a lot of artifacts and gives a wide approach to knowledge of olive growing.

“There's certainly an interesting historical story about the development of olive growing in Istria, from the Roman period until today. Modernity is quite well represented through the display of the assortment, which all olive growers must pay attention to in order to obtain quality extra virgin olive oil, which we learn through chemical and sensory analysis, etc. After that, each guest goes through a guided tasting session - a form of education where, according to international standards, we learn different categories of olive oil and how to recognise them. Our guests are incredibly surprised when they realise that most of what they buy in their stores isn't real extra virgin olive oil, and that quality and healthy olive oil has different flavors and aromas,'' Lorena Boljuncic noted.

She explained that her idea behind Idea Istra is a more transformational form of the presentation of cultural heritage, where guests not only get better acquainted with part of the cultural heritage and the present, but also learn something new that benefits them in everyday life.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

2021 Zagreb Advent Features in The New York Times

November 27, 2021 - Ahead of the opening on Saturday evening, the 2021 Zagreb Advent event features in the online edition of The New York Times.

As Zagreb prepares for the opening of Advent on Saturday, November 27, the award-winning event was featured in the online edition of The New York Times through the presentation of Zagreb fashion accessories and designers, reports Jutarnji List.

The Zagreb Tourist Board (TZGZ) reported on Friday, noting that a feature on Zagreb and fashion in The New York Times was prepared by journalist Kristin Vukovic, presenting a tie, handmade bags, hats, and umbrellas as authentic Zagreb fashion accessories.

The report features statements by well-known Croatian fashion brands and designers, such as those from Croata, Ethno Butik Mara, Kobali šeširi, Kišobrani Cerovečki, and goldsmith Marija Nokaj, while Zagreb is described as a city with a style that through influences from nearby Italy and the Austro-Hungarian past, together with traditional symbols combined with contemporary design, creates a distinctive flair.

The Tourist Board points out that The New York Times is one of the most popular daily newspapers in the United States, and that by cooperating with them, as well as many other media around the world and appearing at tourism fairs and congresses, they are working on the promotion of the Croatian capital, noting that the invested funds are returned many times over through various media announcements.

The opening of Advent Zagreb on Saturday, November 27, begins with the symbolic lighting of the first Advent candle on Manduševac on the central Ban Jelačić Square, followed by the illumination of pine trees on the Gradec Plateau, and the main lighting on Zrinjevac.

Advent will be held until January 6, 2022, at multiple central locations.

Every year and despite the pandemic, the Tourist Board believes that the event will attract many domestic and foreign tourists, who are recommended to adhere to the prescribed measures at Advent locations. Note that many hoteliers and caterers in Zagreb are ready for Advent with special offers.

It is also expected that December could further improve the results of tourist traffic in Zagreb. This year, from 1 January to 25 November, it is significantly increasing compared to the same period in 2020.

According to the Tourist Board, by October 25 this year, about 555,000 tourists visited Zagreb, who realized 1.2 million overnight stays, which is an increase of 69 and 63 percent compared to 2020, with both domestic and foreign tourists achieving more overnight stays than last year, i.e., 305,000 and 920,000.

Compared to 2019, the total number of overnight stays in Zagreb this year until October 25 was at 52 percent from that record pre-pandemic year.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Autumn Rhapsody of Camellias: Lavish Opatija Flowers Paint the Town Pink

November 27, 2021 - Autumn Rhapsody of Camellias is a new offseason event to celebrate the popular pink Opatija flowers.

The Association of Camellia Lovers from Opatija does not stop. They started the event "Autumn Rhapsody of Camellias" and organized a lecture by Dr. sc. Romana Lekić, Head of the Tourism Department of the Zagreb Bernays College of Communication Management. Opatija presented the topic: Parks as a dream come true - the magic of Angiolina Park and camellias, and the beautiful accordionist Dorian Rubeša played a beautiful melody.

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Slobodan Kadic

"Opatija abounds in park architecture with preserved historical ambiance and historicist features. In addition to Angiolina Park and the magical power of the camellia plant, other historical gardens of our villas and parks stand out," said Lekić and introduced the project to interpret and reinterpret the park through the economy of experience and methods and techniques of animation and storytelling.

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Slobodan Kadic

The association has launched an initiative to create the conditions for Angiolina Park to "develop" towards the Historical Park of Excellence. The goal is to involve those interested in "The European Network of Historic Gardens" (REJHIS), consisting of 28 historic gardens and parks.

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Slobodan Kadic

"They have eight million visitors a year, which is solid proof that they contribute to developing tourism of special interest, and the local population can enjoy them," explained Mira Shalabi, president of the Association of Camellia Lovers from Opatija.

After the lecture, all those present gathered with blooming camellias in the Park where the "Little Camellias" of the Opatija Elementary School Rikard Katalinić Jeretov performed. The plan was to listen to a choir that prepared two commemorative songs and a recitation, after which ten little painters were to draw and paint the blooming camellias. While the rain stopped them from drawing, the choir left everyone breathless.

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Slobodan Kadic

"It is at this time of year that blooming camellias with their supernatural colors disperse the gray of late autumn and paint them pink, so then the whole world is pink for us. We hope that our manifestation Autumn Rhapsody of Camellias will continue next year and become an interesting and new tourist product," concluded Shalabi.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

2021 Sinj Advent Program is Here!

November 27, 2021 - The 2021 Sinj Advent program is here, with many festive things to enjoy this year, from an ice skating rink to gramophone records fair! 

The sweet anticipation of Christmas is slowly approaching. Socializing with the enticing aromas of mulled wine and delicious snacks guarantees a good time for all those who want to feel the Christmas magic through a handful of fun and unique events in a festive atmosphere.

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Many different events have been prepared for the youngest. They even have their own Children's Week called "Days of Joy, Games, and Peace" organized by the association Whole Life, which begins on the feast of St. Nicholas and lasts until the feast of St. Lucia. The Cetina Region Museum brings an edition of an exciting publication, and on the eve of St. Lucia, the customs and traditions associated with its feast. After polishing their boots well, the little ones will enjoy (but also perform) plays, music and dance performances, choir performances! The Sinj Tourist Board, organized by the Association Prokultura and in cooperation with the City of Sinj, the Sikirica Gallery, and the Cultural and Artistic Center, is setting up an exhibition of photographs "Angels" by the famous photographer Ivo Pervan.

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Numerous valuable and active associations from Sinj and Cetina region have taken several exciting events and actions. Visitors will enjoy concerts by Adastra, Piroman, Vocal Ensemble Jedinstvo, Ana Malovan, Sinj City Music and Mixed Choir, KUD Osinium, Vrilo, and in Disk pod Zvijezda, and the Sinj Majorettes Christmas show. KUD Cetina will take us back in time with its staging of Christmas Eve in the Cetina region, Sinj ferali will delight with an invitation to an evening of poetry and prose with music, and Sinj Folk Theater will contribute to the festive atmosphere with performances. Associations SRMA and Sinjski ferali will decorate the city. The commendable humanitarian action Santa's Equestrian Caravan will delight many children in this most magical time. On the eve of the Advent candle lighting, pilgrimages will be organized along the Path to Our Lady of Sinj from Dugopolje, Dicmo to Sinj. After the Holy Mass in the church of Our Miraculous Lady of Sinj, pilgrims will join in the Advent candle lighting. There will be a gramophone records fair for the first time and, after many years, a skating rink!

The New Year's Eve celebration will begin with style: the youngest will be given a children's New Year's Eve organized by Sinj ferali, followed by Sinj culinary specialties, and finally, everyone will welcome the New Year.

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The Sinj Advent is organized by the City of Sinj, the Sinj Tourist Board, the Shrine of Our Miraculous Lady of Sinj, and numerous institutions and associations from the Sinj area.

The Advent program in Sinj will take place following the recommendations of the Civil Protection Headquarters and the current measures of the CNIPH.

For more on Inland Dalmatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

October Blues: Imagine the Global Economy Had a Dalmatian Work Ethic

November 27, 2021 - Some in Dalmatia want winter tourism, others are exhausted after the season. How would things look if the global economy adopted the Dalmatian work ethic? 

I love Dalmatia.

I love Dalmatians. Hell, I married one, and she is as lovely as ever, as well as one of the most dedicated and hard-working people I know. 

My wife got that work ethic from her father, who is from the village of Brusje on the island of Hvar. One of ten kids, there was never money for anything, and the 12-kilimetre round-trip walk to school in Hvar Town each day certainly kept him fit. Without ever taking a kuna of credit in his life, he managed to buy land in the most prime part of Jelsa, build a 4-storey house and put all four kids through university, while at the same time spending hours in the family field each day, supplying the family with much of its food. 

Total respect, and I am only sorry that he did not get a proper son-in-law who loved to spend time in the field and not on a laptop, or at least one who adored blitva... 

When people say that Dalmatians are lazy, I always smile and think of my father-in-law, who is always on the road about 5 am each day to tend to the field before his daily chores. I think of the many Dalmatians who left the country in the 19th century, who emigrated out of economic necessity with little more than the shirts on their backs and went on to build incredible businesses and new lives in countries where initially they did not even speak the language. Seriously impressive stuff, and I read somewhere that if the Croatian diaspora was its own country, it would be one of the richest in the world in terms of GDP. 

And yet... 

I know I am going to get slaughtered on social media for this article (particularly by those who don't read beyond the title), and I am ok with that. When you have a double lawsuit ongoing from the Kingdom of Accidental Tourism, a little additional social media abuse it like water off a duck's back. 

I am also aware that nothing will change with anything that I write, for a learned a long time ago that there is a reason that Dalmatia seems to be a little slower in time, without all the latest brand stores and latest technology - the locals like it that way. Like many foreigners coming to Dlamatia over the years, I used to get frustrated at the lack of local interest in embracing change and things that I called 'progress'. The reason these things did not exist were because locals did not want them. It took me 15 years but I managed to condense my advice to incoming foreigners into one sentence. If they could accept and live by this sentence from day one, they would truly have found paradise. But if - like me - you spend years fighting against that sentence before finally accepting its truth, a long period of frustration ensued. The sentence is this:

Do not try and change Dalmatia, but expect Dalmatia to change you. 

Dalmatia definitely changed me - for the better - and I long ago gave up trying to change Damlatia. But there is one small area where I think I can contribute to a small change  that I think would be beneficial to all, and it is one which divides locals. 

Winter tourism. 

Not many people know that organised tourism in Europe began in Dalmatia. 

With a focus on the winter. 

The founding of the Hvar Health Society in 1868 attracted convalescing aristocrats in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rest in the temperate climes of the island known as the Austrian Madeira. Even as late as 1990, winter tourism was rocking, with Americans coming for up to 6 weeks for the art, nature, food and wine - read this fascinating interview with a UK tour rep based here from 1986-91. Croatian Winter Tourism in 1990: Full of Life! Tour Rep Interview.

The issue of winter tourism comes up each year, and I always smile at the responses. We are tired, we have worked so hard in the season. We made enough in the season, we don't want it. I have to attend to my olives and fields etc. It is October after all, and the season has now been a full six months. 

While I used to smile at this more when I actually lived in Dalmatia, it is somehow a little less amusing living in continental Croatia, where people work equally as hard, usually without the benefit of lucrative tourism that happens accidentally, and they have to slog it out 12 months to survive. 

But that I guess is one of the joys of being born a Damatian in Dalmatia - it really is God's own paradise. 

The thing is, though, that this seasonality is - at least in the humble opinion of this foreigner, if he is allowed one - is that it is really affecting the quality of life in Dalmatia, and I think this seasonality is becoming a real issue. Living on Hvar was an incredible experience, and running TCN kept me shielded from the extremes due to the interesting assignments that constantly popped up. But the reality is that during the season, most people are working 5 jobs to make the most they can in the season, and in the winter, there is nothing open to enjoy. 

I was in both Osijek and Split this month, and there is no question which is the better city to live in during the winter. And it is not the Dalmatian capital. Split SHOULD be one of the top cities in Europe for lifestyle. It has so much to offer, and it has the potential to be one of the most attractive remote work destinations in Europe. And yet sadly, it is showing signs of esging towards overtourism in summer and a strangulation of life in winter. It really doesn't need to be that way. 

One of the most interesting points in TCN's recent winter tourism initiative (which has led to the Split winter tourism round table with Mayor Puljak and others on December 13), was in this great interivew with the team from The Daltonist, who lament the lack of local life in town. This is detrminental both to tourism, as people want to exeprience the local vibe (did I mention Osijek?), but also it is not that much fun for locals either. 

Not all people want to work all year in Dalmatia. And that is fine - that is one part of the essence of the Dalmatian lifestyle. But others do. Why not look at rather than working 12 hours a day 7 days a week for a seasonal worker, who is then unemployed during the winter, perhaps closing for a day or even two each week to give the staff a chance to breathe and enjoy life a little. At the same time, work with others to develop content and local life, so that things are open longer. By moving away from seasonality, workers can be given permanent contracts, find stability and become invested in the company's success. 

And there would be life in winter. And that would be a win for both tourists and locals. 

And creating content and fun out of season need not be that complicated or successful. Build it and they will come. Check out Nomad Table by Saltwater Nomads at Zinfandel each Friday through the winter in Split. A sell-out each week. 

But imagine that Damatian work ethic of only working for half the year was applied to the global economy. Those Wall Street brokers and the like who work 50 weeks a year so that they afford the fortnight in Croatia on the Dalmatian coast - now working for just 26 weeks and staying home, with the appropriate mild negative effect on Dalmatian tourism. In fact, if all of Dalmatia's visitors only worked half a year, how many would be able to afford to come to Dalmatia at all? 

The difference is, of course, that they are not Dalmatian, living in God's Own Paradise. 

 

Do not try and change Dalmatia, but expect Dalmatia to change you. But build in a little winter tourism for those who want it - it will improve the quality of life all round. 

Read more about the Split Winter Tourism initiative, which will take place on December 13. 

Friday, 26 November 2021

Danube Full of Life: American Cruise Guests Still Visiting Vukovar

November 26, 2021 - The Dalmatian coast may be sleeping through winter, but out east it is very much the Danube Full of Life, as the river cruise ship tourists keep on comin'.

One of the most controversial aspects of tourism on the Adriatic surrounds cruise ships. With over a million passengers a year, they undoubtedly bring traffic, but at what cost? There are pros and cons to the argument, and it has been a hot topic of discussion, at least until the pandemic temporarily halted that discussion. 

But Croatia has another cruise ship sector which receives much less attention, and one which is still going today at the end of November - Danube river cruising. 

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CRUISE FROM : BUDAPEST TO GIURGIU

Touch history in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, as you sail along the exotic lower Danube. Celtic fortifications, medieval towns and grand cities, along with the natural beauty of pastoral landscapes and the Danube’s famed Iron Gates, showcase the best of eastern Europe. Nature lovers will relish the opportunity to see Bulgaria’s natural wonder, Belogradchik, a fairytale stone world of fantastic shapes associated with interesting legends; or to bike through Belgrade’s sprawling Kalemegdan Park. Wine connoisseurs will have a chance to taste history from the centuries-old wine-growing hills dating back to the Romans in Ilok, a royal and vinous town. Be treated to the flavors, sights, sounds and cultures of this diverse swath of the continent.

Some 60 American guests arrived in Vukovar today as part of their cruise. Three buses were waiting to take them on their excusions. And there were two choices on offer. Two buses took the tour of Vukovar, Eltz Palace and Ovcara, while one bus headed for one of the best wine tasting exepriences in Croatia, the fabulous Ilocki Podrum in Ilok. 

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We visited Ilocki Podrum last week. Where else in the world can you hold wines that were served at the Queen's coronation in 1953, as well as the weddings of both Prince William and Harry? You can try them too. There are 92 bottles of the Traminac 1947 left, the wine that the Royal household served 11,000 bottles of at the coronation. A bottle of this unique wine today will set you back 55,000 kuna.

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Our fearless guide from last week, Dom Butkovic, was on hand to take the American guests around Vukovar, and I am willing to bet that there are at least four bottles of rakija just outside this shot. 

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Today is the last cruise of the year, but cruise ships in November show that there is plenty of life in eastern Croatia, even if few people write about and promote it. 

For more news on Vukovar, follow the dedicated TCN section.  

Friday, 26 November 2021

The Vukovar You Never Hear About: Igor on 'Dinner for 5'

November 26, 2021 - The people of Vukovar live 365 days a year, and not just on November 18. Nice to see the fabulous Vrhunsko Vukovar food and wine garden featured on RTL's popular 'Dinner for 5' show. 

One of my top finds on our recent trip east was the Vrhunsko (Excellent) Vukovarsko Cooperative Food and Wine Garden and Shop. If you were looking for a symbol of the new Vukovar, then this was it. Around 20 top producers of local products have come together to offer the finest gourmet products the region has to offer, direct from the small local producers. 

Located in the city centre on the main route of the November 18 Remembrance Day Parade, I spent quite a bit of time with the fabulous team at the shop, and it was a strange contrast sipping a glass of refreshing Grasveina as we took a break from filming as the estimated 50,000 participants walked by.  

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We will be doing a LOT more on this wonderful place and the personalities who run it in the coming months, but I was very pleased to notice that the wine garden was featured on national television earlier this week on the popular RTL show, Dinner for 5. Below is the report from 24 Sata. Photos are from the cooperative's Facebook page, as I don't have permission to use the ones from the show. Great place, check it out on Facebook, and feel free to order from their online shop

Igor’s burger surprise in “Večera za 5”: The food was so greasy, it was dripping all over”

As a gift, the contestants received products from the cooperative where Igor works, which made everyone happy. As a special surprise, they sang famous Slavonian songs on karaoke.

Today's host in the Vukovar edition of “Večera za 5 na selu” was Igor, an agricultural technician, who served his guests a Black Burger, the Šokačko-srijemski Steak and Drunken Crepes. Some people didn't like the appetizer, while others loved it, the main dish was mostly well received, and the wine chateau crepes didn't sit equally well with everyone. Despite having prepared interesting dishes with a lot of effort to prepare dinner, Igor only scored 35 points and missed out on taking the lead.

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He greeted his guests with plum brandy (šljivovica), pear brandy (viljamovka) and cherry liqueur and they toasted for a good dinner and even better company. "The best choice of aperitif so far, I adore viljamovka," said Marina, and the others praised the brandy. For starters, they ate burgers with black Slavonian pig bacon. Everyone liked the wine that the host served, however they had some objections to the meal. "Grease was dripping all over, I don't like it when it's too greasy," said Marina, while Nenad disagreed: "Tasty, good, juicy, greasy, yummy… I swallowed it in three bites."

The host then brought out two main dishes in one - veal steak and stuffed breaded pork steaks in a sauce, and everyone noticed how nice the plate looked.

“It's hard to describe. It was as if I had tasted a ray of sunshine, as if I had tasted a piece of paradise…, the mushrooms, the sauce… It was very, very good“, Lorena praised the main course, and Marina and Nenad found it tasty even though they found the pasta to be a bit much. “The veal steak was fine, though it could have been a little less cooked so that it preserved a little of that juice. You can tell he made an effort, so thumbs up for that”, concluded Mario.

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Dessert was wine chateau crepes. Nenad especially looked forward to that because his mother used to make it for him, while Mario found that his plate was too full. “It was difficult to start eating the crepes without having the chateau overflow” he said, adding that the chateau was unfinished. The others thought it was delicious.

As a gift, the contestants received products from the cooperative where Igor works, which made everyone happy. As a special surprise, they sang famous Slavonian songs on karaoke.

Lorena and Nenad rated Igor's dinner with tens because they thought everything was great – the food, wine, ambience and the mood, while Marina and Mario were more critical - Marina didn't like the appetizer because it was too greasy, so she rated it with an eight, and Mario said, “I rate it with a seven because the appetizer was too greasy, the main course bulky, and the dessert was average.”

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

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