Thursday, 15 December 2022

Euro in Croatia: Changes on ATMs Effective From Today

December 15, 2022 - Croatia, one of the countries with the most widely developed ATM network, is gradually adapting to a new currency due to the introduction of the euro on the first day of the next year. The arrival of the euro in Croatia is affecting the ways in which cash will be available in the transition period.

As N1 writes, ATMs of commercial banks are the most important channel for the supply of cash in kuna in the Republic of Croatia and will also be the key channel for the supply of citizens with euro banknotes.

They should be adapted so that from January 1, 2023, they pay out exclusively in euros, while banks are obliged to ensure adequate availability of the Croatian kuna covering all of the ATM network until December 31, 2022.

ATMs are being gradually temporarily shut down during December and early January to allow the banks to adjust their ATM network for euro withdrawals by January 15, 2023.

In order for this adjustment process not to negatively affect the availability of cash in kuna in the period until the end of December 2022 or the availability of euro notes after January 1, 2023, in the period from December 15, 2022, to January 15, 2023, a few changes will be introduced to the ATM network in Croatia. The banks will temporarily abolish fees for cash withdrawal transactions with debit cards at ATMs outside the ATM network of a particular bank (at ATMs of other banks) in the Republic of Croatia.

Thus, from December 15 to 31, the Croatian kuna can be withdrawn free of charge at any ATM in Croatia, while from January 1 to 15, euros will be available for withdrawal from ATMs free of charge as well.

Considering the density of the network of ATMs in Croatia, it should provide citizens with a high degree of availability of cash in Croatian kuna until December 31, 2022, and cash in euros after the first day of the new year 2023.

The Croatian Bank Association has published an interactive map of all available ATMs during this period.

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

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Zadar Turisthotel Plans to Invest 113 Million Euros Over Next 5 Years

December the 15th, 2022 - The Zadar Turisthotel is set to invest 113 million euros into its offer and facilities over the coming five years, aimed at not only improvement but sustainability.

As Marija Crnjak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, over the next half a decade, the Zadar Turistihotel plans to invest 113 million euros in the renovation and construction of new accommodation facilities and entertainment, which was approved by the company's Supervisory Board and presented by the Management Board on Tuesday at the first open day for Turisthotel shareholders.

Financial strength

"Since we started with the construction of a new entertainment and catering and establishment on the beach, which is worth more than 8.7 million euros, Zaton has been a large construction site. At the Zadar Turisthotel, we haven't had any significant investments since back 2018, and we recently adopted a strategic capital investment plan for the next five-year period with the aim of increasing the quality of our offer and content, higher revenues and ensuring the further growth and development of the company.

The Zadar Turisthotel has managed to enjoy significant financial stability, liquidity and creditworthiness, and we're confident that, as long as there are no major global disturbances and instability, we'll manage to realise our plans. In order to ensure success and future growth, we must invest in our offer, our employees and the destination as a whole, all while making sure we're engaging in sustainable and socially responsible development,'' explained Meri Matesic Sicic, the president of the Turisthotel Management Board, adding that the legislative and tax framework is stable and encouraging, as is the financial stability of the company, which remains the basis for planning and implementing new investments in tourism.

Annual figures

The new investment cycle of the Zadar Turisthotel will include the additional improvement and raising the quality of its existing facilities, new catering, hospitality and entertainment facilities, the complete remodeling of the main street within the resort, the reconstruction of the remaining apartments from 3 to 4 stars, the construction and introduction of new facilities, and the Aenona Park project, which includes a new camp, hotel and sport and entertainment facilities in the northern part of the settlement in Zaton.

In Zadar, there are also plans to build a city hotel located within the city centre on the site of the former Pobjeda (Victory) cinema, and to convert the Boutique Hostel Forum into a hotel. According to the plan, Turisthotel will annually invest approximately 22 million euros in those new projects.

As is already fairly well known, the Zadar-based shipping company Tankerska plovidba entered Turisthotel back at the beginning of November, becoming the largest single shareholder of the company by purchasing 24.53 percent of the shares. With the transaction, former longtime director Frane Skoblar dropped to second place with 11.8 percent, and the rest of the shares are held by around 600 small shareholders.

Mario Pavic, the president of Tankerska plovidba, explained that the company wants to diversify its operations as part of its long-term strategy of alignment with the global direction of decarbonisation, although the core business remains shipping. As the largest single shareholder, they plan to coordinate with the co-owners the way the company will be managed as we go forward.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Rijeka City Museum Nominated for Title of European Museum of the Year

December 15, 2022 - The Rijeka City Museum has been nominated for the flattering title of European Museum of the Year. The competition is fierce, and the winner will be announced at the conference of the European Museum Forum in Barcelona in May 2023.

As Poslovni / HRT write, the Rijeka Museum will compete for the title of the best with 32 other European museums. This is the first nomination at the European level.

"This would be the greatest recognition and success, but being nominated is a success in itself. Even the nomination for an Oscar counts, and we already had two awards from the Croatian Museum Society," said Ervin Dubrović, director of the Rijeka City Museum. Those were for the exhibition of restored works by Gustav Klimt and Merika - an exhibition dedicated to emigration. The permanent display in the magnificent Sugar Refinery Palace also received awards. It covers two floors and thirty rooms.

In the museum, you can learn about the first torpedo in the world, the history of the theater, or the legendary rock music scene in Rijeka, which is only the beginning of the story. The home of the permanent museum exhibition has been attracting many curious visitors for two years since its opening.

"In two years, 32 thousand people visited the Palace. From the beginning, it was our fellow citizens who wanted to see the new city attraction; tourists came to the fore later," says Velid Đekić, head of public relations at the Museum of the City of Rijeka.

This is not an empty, lifeless space; quite the opposite! It breathes and lives alongside its fellow citizens; many find inspiration in the space. "The sugar refinery is a representative object that we found fits very nicely with our models, which will fit well into the space so that they can show all their beauty," pointed out Renata Štefan Barišić, a professor at the Rijeka Trade and Textile School.

The European Museum Forum will decide the best museum on our continent, and the winner will be announced in May next year.

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

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Croatia and Morocco to Fight for 2022 World Cup Bronze Medal

December 14, 2022 - After Croatia lost to Argentina in the 2022 World Cup semi-final on Tuesday night, they will play the match for 3rd place on Saturday. After losing to France tonight, Croatia will fight Morocco for the 2022 World Cup bronze medal. 

It wasn't Croatia's night on Tuesday. A penalty that likely should have never been called disrupted Croatia's otherwise stunning football in the first 34 minutes of their semi-final match against Argentina. And that was all the Messi-led Argentina needed to come out and score another two goals to win 3-0, ending Croatia's World Cup final dreams. 

But not all hope is lost, and not only is Croatia still among the four best national teams in the world, but they have the chance to win their third World Cup medal since 1998. They fight for the bronze on Saturday at Khalifa Stadium in Qatar against Morocco. Recall, Croatia opened their 2022 World Cup campaign against Morocco, drawing 0-0 in their first match of Group F at Al Bayt Stadium on November 23. 

France and Morocco met at Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday night. France's first goal came early - in the 5th minute. A lapse in the Morocco defense was followed by a failed save from Bono. Hernandez was alone on the left to score for 1-0 France. 

But Morocco wasn't far from a goal, either, and managed to attack most of the first half. Their best chance was a bicycle kick by Jawad El Yamiq, which got caught between the post and Lloris' hands. The entire stadium was painted red for Morocco, and their fans did not stop with synchronized chants and songs the entire first half. 

Morocco was playing far more physically than they did against Croatia, and France was not having an easy time, especially with their chances on goal. 

Morocco tried dominating much of the second half, too but failed to capitalize on their chances at goal. France had a few good chances but nothing good enough to increase their lead. But their golden opportunity finally came in the 79th minute. An Mbappe masterclass in the penalty area found Kolo Muani alone on the far post to make it 2-0 with 10 minutes to go.  

Croatia will have no easy task going up against Morocco for the World Cup bronze medal. Khalifa Stadium will be dominated by Morocco fans, and after the display the team put on tonight, it will be a much different game than their World Cup opener almost one month ago. 

Croatia and Morocco will meet at 6 pm local time on Saturday, December 17. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Croatia’s Border Disputes with Neighbours in Light of Schengen Entry

December 14, 2022 - As the day of the Croatian entry into Schengen area approaches, we take another look at the border disputes Croatia has with its neighbours.

(This is an updated article from the original back in 2016)

The total length of the land borders of Croatia is 2,370 km, and all of those borders will experience a change on January 1st, when Croatia joins Schengen: the borders to Slovenia (659 km) and Hungary (355 km) have been the outside borders of the Schengen area until now, and will become much less important now as Croatia joins the Agreement and all border controls within the Area are abolished. The borders to Croatia's other neighbors, the longest one to Bosnia and Herzegovina (1011 km) as well as to Serbia (326 km) and Montenegro (20 km) are set to become the outside borders of the Schengen area.

Among many problems which burden relations between republics of former Yugoslavia, one of the main issues are numerous border disputes which are a consequence of the fact that Yugoslavia, while having strictly defined borders with other countries, did not have precisely marked or defined borders among its constituent parts. That fact explains why Croatian relationship with Hungary is not burdened by yet another problem, unless you count the current Hungarian Prime Minister recently claiming most of the Croatian territory.

While the disputed areas between the former republics are usually relatively small, they represent a major headache for governments of now independent states, since they are under pressure from the media and voters not to compromise and “give away” an inch of supposedly their territory.

Slovenia
Border disputes with Slovenia and Croatia are certainly the most well-known of all. Not only do they burden the bilateral relations, but they even delayed the entry of Croatia in the European Union. The most important part of the dispute concerns the border at sea. At issue is whether the border should follow the middle line between Croatian and Slovenian coast (which would mean that Slovenian sea would border just Italy and Croatia), or should be drawn in a way which would allow Slovenia to reach international waters. The dispute has been unsolved since early 1990s, with occasional incidents at sea between police and fishermen’s boats. There were repeated attempts by the two governments to come to an agreement, but they would inevitably be impeded by pressure from the media and public against any compromise.

Border piran

Slovenia knew that the best time for an agreement to be reached was during Croatia’s accession negotiations with the European Union. Since Slovenia had entered the EU earlier, it was able to blackmail Croatia and that is exactly what it did in 2008 when it blocked the negotiations. The move caused a complete breakdown in relations, with Croatia accusing Slovenia of hostile behaviour. After Ivo Sanader, Croatian Prime Minister at the time resigned in July 2009, new Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor prioritised the unblocking of negotiations. Later that year, Kosor reached an agreement with Slovenian government that negotiations would continue and that the border dispute would be decided by arbitration proceedings. In return, Slovenia unblocked the negotiations and Croatia became a member of the European Union in 2013.

After that, there was an entire international scandal during the arbitration process, in which the media published evidence of collusion between a supposedly independent arbiter and Slovenian Foreign Ministry, which led to Croatia dropping out of the arbitration process completely. The arbitration concluded in 2017 with a win for Slovenia, and Croatia still not acknowledging that decision as binding.

And that's more or less where we stand today still. Once the decision of Croatia's entry into Schengen was announced, both Croatia and Slovenia issued their reaction to their border dispute, and it seems the disputes are here to stay. Both Croatia and Slovenia issued one-sided statements upon the confirmation of the decision, both standing firmly at their previous stances.

There are several disputed sections of the land border as well, with the one in Istria being very important since the endpoint of the land border will influence the sea border as well. River Dragonja in Istria used to be a border, but when an artificial channel was made about 500 metres in Croatian territory in order to control flooding decades ago, Slovenia decided that this was now Dragonja and that the border should be there.

Border istria

Another point of contention is Sveta Gera peak in Žumberak hills. Actually, even Slovenia more or less accepts that the peak itself and a military installation which is located there belong to Croatia, but that has not prevent its army from “occupying” the facility for the last 25 years. This was the first major border dispute between the two countries, but in recent years it has been somewhat overshadowed by the sea border issue. There are also several other sections of the land border that both countries claim for themselves.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Compared to Slovenia, the border disputes with Bosnia and Herzegovina seem insignificant, but listening to some politicians in the past, you could get the impression that it was the most important thing in the world.

The entire disputed area is around Neum, Pelješac Peninsula and, obviously, the Pelješac Bridge, whose exact location was one of the reasons so many unimportant problems kept being brought up. The first is the small Klek peninsula, rather, its very tip, which Croatia has claimed as theirs for a while, together with two small islands next to it, Veliki Školj and Mali Školj. Both islands are uninhabited and too small to serve any useful purpose, but Croatia insisted that it should have control over them. While Croatia has hundreds of similar islands in its part of the Adriatic Sea, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a very short coast around Neum, and these two islands would virtually be the only ones it would have, so they have great symbolic importance for it as a supposedly “maritime” country. Another disputed area is a part of the border near Hrvatska and Bosanska Kostajnica, where at issue is a small castle currently controlled by Croatia, with both countries claiming it as theirs.

Border Klek

In the late 1990s, then presidents of the two countries, Franjo Tuđman and Alija Izetbegović, signed an agreement on the border demarcation, which provided for the disputed area at Neum to be given to Bosnia. However, the Croatian Parliament never ratified the agreement, claiming that a mistake was made by experts who were working on maps which are part of the agreement. Interestingly, then Croatian President Tuđman was never accused by “patriots” of being a traitor for signing such an agreement, as opposed to Prime Minister Račan, who in early 2000s tried to solve border problems with Slovenia by almost coming to an agreement with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek and who is still being blamed for all the border problems with Slovenia (any many other things). Luckily, these days, with the project of Pelješac Bridge finished in spite of the opposition by (some) Bosnian politicians, nobody is really talking about the tip of Klek or the small islands any more. 

Montenegro
Montenegro is the smallest of all of Croatia’s neighbouring countries and its part of the border is the shortest one, so it is understandable that there is just one disputed area. It again concerns sea border, at the Prevlaka peninsula, which is with its Oštra Cape the southernmost tip of Croatia. In 2002, Croatia and Montenegro signed an agreement on temporary border regime. There have been no major incidents since, but it has still not been defined whether the temporary line will be turned into a permanent one. There were some disputes between the two countries when both of them announced tenders for oil and gas exploration in the area, with both countries claiming that the other one had no right to publish such tenders, but tensions soon calmed down.

border prevlaka

Serbia
Every list of Croatia’s problems has to include Serbia, and this one is no exception. If you think that the fact that the border between them is in a large part defined by the Danube, one of major European rivers, would make it easy to know where the border is, you would be wrong. The Danube has an unfortunate habit of changing its course, which leaves an open question of whether the border moves with it or not. Croatia claims that the border should follow an old course of the river, while Serbia wants the border to follow the middle of the current course.

According to Croatian proposal, both countries would have significant parts of territory on the “wrong” side of the river. While a perhaps logical solution would be for the two countries to exchange these pieces of land, the problem is that Croatia has about 10,000 hectares of land on the Serbian side of the Danube, while Serbia has just 1,000 hectares on the Croatian side.

Border Dunav

Any compromise about borders is difficult, but when it comes to the border with Serbia, it is absolutely impossible that any Croatian politician would survive giving an inch of territory. Since the border area was occupied during the Homeland War and was only returned to Croatian jurisdiction after seven years, in 1998, the pressure from the public and the media would be impossible to resist. And, while “our people have bled for this land” argument is being used against compromise for all the disputed territories, in the Danube area that is literally true, making any compromise virtually unattainable.

The border on the Danube does not involve just the territory on the other side of the river, but also the issue of small pieces of land in the middle. And that leads us to Croatia’s final border “dispute”.

Liberland (?)
While border disputes usually involve two or more countries claiming that the same piece of land or sea belongs to them, due to peculiarities of the border dispute on the Danube, there are several areas which Croatia claims belong to Serbia, and Serbia claims belong to Croatia. One such area is Gornja Siga, a 7-square kilometre large uninhabited area on the Croatian side of the river. In 2015, Czech libertarian politician and activist Vit Jedlička proclaimed “the Free Republic of Liberland” there, saying that, since both countries claim that they do not want the territory, it was “terra nullius” and could be claimed for a new state.

Border liberland

Reactions from Croatia and Serbia were different. Serbia announced that, although it considered the whole affair to be a trivial matter, the “new state” did not impinge upon the Serbian border, which it believes should be on the Danube river. Croatia, which currently administers the land in question, has stated that, after the resolution of the border dispute, the territory will be awarded to either Croatia or Serbia and therefore cannot be considered as “terra nullius”.

People coming to the island, including “President” Jedlička, have been occasionally arrested by Croatian police, which appears confused whether people should be arrested when coming from Croatian or from Serbian side of the river. Croatian courts first ruled that it was forbidden to cross from Serbia to Liberland, but then realized that they were actually confirming that the area was not part of Serbia, which was precisely what Serbia wanted. In later verdicts, courts ruled that it was forbidden to enter Liberland from Croatia. In recent years, it seems that everyone's interest in the stunt has subsided, probably around the time when the Liberland government announced that they would be issuing their own cryptocurrency. In light of the newest developments, with Croatia getting rid of any border controls with Hungary, it would be interesting to see what would happen if "President" Jedlička or some of his supporters decided to take a river boat from anywhere within Schengen and come to the island following the Danube, thus not entering from Croatia nor from Serbia.

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Five Ways You Can Donate to Charities in Croatia in Time for Christmas

December 14, 2022 - Christmas time often inspires generosity. In Croatia, like in many other places, it is the right time for dinners, receptions, parties, and events organised for charity. There are plenty of those happening all around the country, but there are also many other ways to practice helping those in need. For this holiday season, we are presenting some of the charities in Croatia which accept donations and help. You can, of course, donate and help any other time as well.

The Croatian Red Cross

The international Red Cross movement is one of the best-known humanitarian organisations in the world. With a branch in every Croatian county, they are easily accessible and help by acting in every aspect of life where help might be needed. From providing first aid education and blood donations to crisis preparedness and ecological protection, the list of everything they do is quite long and all-encompassing. The ways in which everyone can help include donating blood, household items, and money, volunteering, or becoming a member. You can do that from the position of an individual, a company, or an organisation. The donations part of their website has all the useful information in English, including their account info and a list of needed aid items.

SOS Children's Village (Dječje Selo) Hrvatska 

The SOS Children's Village Croatia Association has been operating since February 25, 1992, as an equal member of SOS-Kinderdorf International, the world's largest non-governmental organisation that operates in 135 countries around the world. The executive part of the SOS Children's Village Croatia Association consists of the National Office, which coordinates all SOS programs in the country. Besides volunteers and hands-on help, the organisation accepts one-time, as well as regular donations, of products and services or money, by individuals or companies. One-time donations can be made using the information provided here, and you can use cryptocurrency to do so as well.

The Perfect Circle (Savršen Krug) Humanitarian NGO

The humanitarian organisation Perfect Circle (Savršen Krug) regularly provides children in student homes, families with many children, and families with elderly and vulnerable people with clothes, food, and hygiene items. They are organising a Christmas action to help children, young people, and socially disadvantaged families, which lasts until December 23.

This year, the plan is to brighten the holidays for 230 families with children and 30 children and young people without adequate parental care.

Last year, in this way, they helped 140 families with children and 50 children and young people. They distributed over 150 packages but, unfortunately, did not collect enough monetary donations. They are optimistic this year and hope to collect almost twice as many packages!

Collection of monetary donations, as well as donations of food items, is underway. This December, the plan is to distribute around  300 Christmas packages in seven counties.

If you would like to donate food and hygiene items, you can follow the list provided on the website and by calling Aleksandra at +385 91 3773 771. If you would like to make a monetary donation, you can use the account information below:

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BEA Centre for Eating Disorders

With a donation to Rijeka's Bea Centre, you can help provide psychological help to people suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and non-specific eating disorders. Children and young people suffering from anorexia and bulimia usually hide their pain; they think that no one understands them and that the world does not care about their suffering. The BEA Centre is there for them, offering free advice and conversations with experts.

Your donation will provide a free consultation for a child or young person suffering from an eating disorder who will receive support, understanding, and expert advice on further treatment. You can donate directly to their bank account using the information provided below:

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Pula: Christmas stand of the Homeless Shelter

As part of Pula's December in the City, a stand with Christmas wreaths and decorations whose profits will be directed toward the users of the Homeless Shelter has been set up at the market. The products were made in workshops throughout the year.

As Glas Istre wrote, the donations were one year used to buy a television, another for a clothes dryer, and there was something left over for pocket money for the volunteer Vesna Biritteri, who has been volunteering at the stand and the Shelter for 12 years. Now retired, she used to work at the homeless shelter as well.

She says that the turnout of Pula's residents is always very good, and so is this year. At the start of December, you might have visited the stand at the market, from where it moved to a small stall at Giardini with a more generous offer, including handicrafts, knitted scarves, hats, and leg warmers.

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

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Stricter Controls Surrounding Proper Zagreb Waste Disposal Planned

December the 14th, 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic has stated that he thinks that more than enough time has passed since the introduction of the new Zagreb waste disposal system and the much talked about ''ZG bags (vrecice)'', and that it's time to come down harder on those still bypassing the new rules.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Tomasevic recently said that he really things we've had enough time to adjust to the new way of doing things here in the capital, that there are enough blue ZG bags for communal (mixed) waste being sold in stores, and that it doesn't make sense that some are still refusing to stick to the new Zagreb waste disposal rules and use the blue bags for that.

''It really doesn't make any sense that only 60 or 70 percent of people are correctly using the blue bags and the rest don't bother and thus don't pay for the variable part of the waste collection service,'' he said.

With these words, Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomasevic announced that from this week onwards, municipal wardens and Cistoca employees will intensify their control of the use of blue ZG bags for mixed municipal waste across the capital.

They will, he added, check whether people are actually using the blue ZG bags for the disposal of mixed municipal waste. To just go back quickly for those who might not be aware, as of October the 1st, 2023, a new collection system and a new Zagreb waste removal system was introduced, whereby a variable part of the service price is paid through the purchase or use of blue ZG bags, while the fixed part is paid through Cistoca or Zagreb Holding.

Tomasevic also announced that in January 2023, wardens and Cistoca employees will start checking waste containers that are located still on public areas, especially those where the co-owners of the buildings haven't checked with Cistoca about whether they can be removed from public areas or if they should be put elsewhere out of sight.

He didn't mention the fact that many people never received a decision from Cistoca about their waste containers remaining on public areas or the specification of an alternative location for their relocation.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Future Bjelovar Communal Geothermal Power Plant to be First in Croatia

December the 14th, 2022 - The future Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant will be the first in all of the Republic of Croatia, and despite already being the very heart of the use of geothermal power in this country, this will throw the spotlight on Bjelovar even more.

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as stated, the continental Croatian town of Bjelovar is already the national centre of the use of geothermal sources, and the only geothermal power plant for the production of electricity (GE Velika Ciglena) is located on its territory. This town will raise its leadership position in this segment to the European level in the coming period with the construction of the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant.

Although electricity can be produced from hot water, this technology is much more useful for thermal energy, especially for public hot water systems, in which Bjelovar will also lead the way. Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak announced that this town will embark on just such a project - the construction of the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant that will supply heat to the majority of public and apartment buildings across the area.

"The documentation regarding the boreholes made by INA over the past 60 years, done in search of gas and oil, shows that our entire area, including the centre of Bjelovar itself, is very suitable for the application of geothermal technology. We estimated that the green area next to the stadium is the location where we'll start the feasibility study and the investment in the first communal power plant of this kind in all of Croatia. It's an ideal position because within a small radius of just 800 metres, there are a large number of public buildings and large energy consumers - three high schools with a sports hall, a primary school with a hall, the police station, a retirement home, student dorms, and, in particular, a hospital that needs very large amount of heat to function. In addition, there are two districts with multi-apartment buildings, and it's clear what the benefits of this project would be", Hrebak explained, adding that the necessary infrastructure is relatively small because everything is already located nearby.

If this project is implemented according to plan, they expect to be able to build two to four more such thermal power plants in Bjelovar over the coming years and thus cover the entire area with hot water pipes where the water temperature is higher than 70 degrees Celsius.

They don't want to speculate about the specific deadlines and costs of the so-called "Operation Stadium" because the project has only just started, that is, a feasibility study is underway, which should be completed by the end of the year. However, Hrebak is more than sure that it will show profitability and expects that it should all have a similar process to the deadlines and dimensions of their already advanced Veliko Korenovo project on the outskirts of the town, next to the Bjelovar Fair. This was a large investment of 3.5 million euros that was developed over two years.

He estimates that Bjelovar has a total potential of around 30 MW of installed energy capacity in geothermal technology. Given that the town has a maximum, or peak, consumption of 40 MW of electricity, it's clear that with only its hot water sources, Bjelovar could become a very elegant, long-term and inexpensive energy-neutral environment. So far, there is only one operational geothermal power plant in all of Croatia, Velika Ciglena near Bjelovar with a capacity of 10 MW, and there are about ten more such projects in some stage of development.

Despite the ownership struggles of Dragan Jurilj and his Turkish partners from MB Holding, GE Velika Ciglena has shown that such projects can be realised in this country despite issues and that energy can be produced. Although they also plan to produce electricity in Bjelovar, currently their primary focus is being placed on heat. The construction of a well for the use of geothermal energy in the settlement of Veliko Korenovo will also soon begin. It is a project whose goal is to increase the production of energy from renewable sources, reduce CO2 emissions and increase security of supply. The total value of the project stands at 3.47 million euros, of which 1.3 million euros are grants.

A quick return on investment

Hrebak pointed out that the return on the investment poured into the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant is planned in just a few years after exploitation, and it will indirectly create a large number of jobs. He added that a public procurement for the contractor is planned to be announced some time this month, and drilling is expected to begin in the middle of next year. Drilling will take a little more than one month to carry out, and it is expected that they'll find a source of water with a temperature of around 70°C, which would be used to heat the greenhouses, the Bjelovar Fair, and the Veliko Korenovo business zone. The mayor noted that it could be the first real "district heating" project in all of Croatia.

The project was co-financed by the "Energy and Climate Change" Programme of the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union (EU) Funds, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland as donor countries and the programme partner of the Hrvoje Pozar Energy Institute.

Along with the Bjelovar communal geothermal power plant, they also plan to build a Thermal Riviera, or a spa, on the basis of geothermal sources. The plan, as explained by Mayor Hrebak, is to submit the Spa and Stadium project to the tenders of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in February next year, from which the majority of the investment would be financed.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

Hospitality Establishments Seeking Lower Pula Advent Cottage Rent

December the 14th, 2022 - Catering and hospitality establishments located in this beautiful Istrian city are seeking lower Pula advent cottage rent, as they deem the current price too high and too difficult to imagine making much of a profit from.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the ''tenants'' (if you can call them that) of Pula advent cottages never dreamed that the weather forecast would be so unfavourable for them at this time of year, and the duration of their Pula advent cottage leases, which stretches for just over one month, is very short indeed. Owing to not only the poor weather but ongoing inflation and people's pockets being shallower than ever, it's already showing that their rental payout and their work, especially with such an expensive lease, will not really pay off for them in the end.

Continued weather problems have very significantly reduced the income of catering and hospitality establishment owners who rented expensive Pula advent cottages, which is why they decided to turn to the City of Pula's administration itself and request a reduction in the rental price, according to local portal Glas Istre/The Voice of Istria.

Yesterday, as Glas Istra learned, the catering and hospitality establishments facing these issues with Pula advent cottage rent prepared a joint letter which they claim that they intend to send to the local authorities. Whether the City of Pula will actually see what they're saying, meet them halfway and lower the price of cottage leases that they paid in advance, will only be known later. No matter how valid their reasons, there's no saying that they'll get a positive outcome when they receive a response from the city administration.

To briefly go into how who gets what is decided for the festive period, the Pula advent cottages were awarded to catering and hospitality establishments previously at a public tender, and the most expensive one among them costs a massive one hundred thousand kuna.

Danijel Britvic, one of the tenants who offers homemade local Istrian dishes on the edge of Giardino, has set aside a considerable 75,000 kuna, including VAT, for his Pula advent cottage, which likely isn't making him anywhere near as much of a return as he had expected and hoped.

For more, check out our dedicated news section.

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

How to Croatia - Getting Around on Land, at Sea and in the Air

December the 14th, 2022 - In this edition of How to Croatia, let's explore the numerous ways you can get from point A to point B (and to the points dominated by a few other letters, as well), be that by using the roads, maritime transport, or the air.

For such a small country, Croatia has numerous transport options which are generally very good. An array of bus companies, both domestic and foreign, operate on Croatia’s roads, and while Croatian trains are another kettle of fish entirely, bus, maritime and even domestic air connections and the ease of which public transport generally works is praiseworthy for such a small nation which doesn’t exactly have huge sums of cash to blow on it.

Bus services

Jumping on a bus in most places across Croatia is often the most efficient way of getting from A to B, and to a few other letters should you so wish. Croatia’s overall bus network is extremely comprehensive, and even the smallest villages are usually still connected. This is very impressive when you think of far richer countries such as the UK which has horrifically poor bus connections the further north you move, with some rural villages being almost entirely cut off.

Generally faster than the train (for reasons we’ll delve into later on), buses are the main travel choice for tourists and locals alike. Journey times are mostly reasonably quick on direct routes, but do be aware that bus journeys from let’s say… Dubrovnik to Zagreb, do take a while. Nobody can do much about that distance.

Online information on bus options is constantly improving and has done quite remarkably over the last few years, as is the option of buying tickets online. Expect to stop at least once on longer journeys, which will be welcome news for smokers, those who really need to stretch their legs and those in need of a toilet.

From Flixbus to Čazmatrans, a fantastic way to learn all you could possibly want to know about bus services in Croatia, from local lines which get you from A to B to large companies taking you to one end of the country and back again or indeed outside of its borders, is to pay a visit to the website Get By Bus (getbybus.com), and then enter ‘Croatia’.

Trams

Zagreb’s trams are without a doubt the most famous Croatian trams, but there is another city which boasts this handy and very environmentally friendly method of getting around too - Osijek. Trams were once present in both Istria and Dalmatia, with a very beloved (and very charming) one once operating down in Dubrovnik, but unfortunately they are a thing of the past.

As touched on above, the City of Zagreb has a very well developed central electric tram network called Zagreb Electric Tram, or ZET for short. These trams are generally blue, but also come in other colours, and sometimes with imagery promoting everything from Zagreb University to Gavrilović meat products. They make their way through the streets in all directions like a steel snake slithering through a concrete jungle during the day and late into the night. You can get from just about anywhere to anywhere else in Zagreb using the tram network, and timetables can be found at tram stops dotted all over the city or by visiting ZET’s website (zet.hr), and selecting English (EN) as your preferred language.

It’s worth noting that ZET also runs Zagreb city bus services, and those buses are of course also blue.

Further east in the City of Osijek, the only tram network still in existence outside of the capital is a favourite method of public transport. Having begun way back in the 1880s as a horse-car tram line, this way of getting around is still going strong. All information and timetables can be obtained by visiting gpp-osijek.com and searching ‘vozni red tramvaja’ (tram timetable).

Renting a car

There are many rental car companies dotted all over Croatia, and during the tourist season it’s always a bit of a game when driving along the motorway to count the amount of them you see. In Croatia, all driving licences are accepted, but if your licence is printed using a non-Latin script for instance in Cyrillic, Arabic or Chinese, you will need to get an International Driver's Permit (IDP). An IDP can only be obtained before you leave your own country, usually with the country's automotive association or a similar institution. You’ll also need to be 21 or older.

Crossing borders in a rented Croatian car

There’s usually no problem at all with taking a rental car across an international border, but the best thing to do is to specifically check with your rental company. You should also check the insurance situation if you intend to leave the European Economic Area (EEA) and visit neighbouring Montenegro or Serbia, neither of which are EEA member states. A green card will usually be required if you intend to do this and most rental companies in Croatia will have this included in the price because of how common it is for people to drive in and out of these countries, but definitely check before you book. There was a requirement to have the green card for Bosnia and Herzegovina as well, but it isn’t required any more. This is good news for many drivers as crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croatia and back again is very common.

Is it possible to organise one-way car rental in Croatia?

Yes, and it’s a very popular thing to do. This can be an extremely cost effective way of travelling if you’re in a small group, and journeys such as Split to Dubrovnik or even Dubrovnik to Zagreb are good examples of popular one-way rental routes. It may also be possible to do one-way rentals across borders in some situations but you must absolutely check with your car rental company before you book, and let them know your plans.

Things to note

Due to the sheer amount of companies offering car rental services across the country, do shop around. It’s wise to organise a plan with a rental car away from the airport, as what you might deem to be more convenient will almost always be more expensive. You will get a better deal elsewhere in almost every single circumstance.

If you are planning on crossing borders, make your plans explicitly clear and ask for confirmation that this won’t be a problem. Each company has its own set of rules and what they are willing or not willing to facilitate. Don’t leave it up to chance.

On a less serious note, if you do rent a car and want to see parts of the country (especially down by the coast) that you wouldn’t usually get to, skip the motorway and take the old road. It takes longer, but you’ll get to see some absolutely jaw dropping mountain and coastal scenery and visit some places along your route you’d otherwise bypass entirely by jumping onto the motorway. You won’t regret doing this, I promise.

Maritime travel

Being a country with a history so inextricably tied to the sea, Croatia naturally has some excellent connections with ferries and catamarans, not to mention water taxis, from the mainland to the islands. 

Incredible sunsets, gorgeous mountain views with the breeze blowing through your hair, nothing quite beats ferry travel on the Adriatic. Alternatively, the quicker catamarans cutting through pristine Croatian waters taking you to your next destination can be exhilarating. While jumping on a boat may seem like a carefree thing, unless you’re seasick of course, there are a few things worth bearing in mind, and a few pieces of advice worth taking on board (no pun intended), before you head off on your Adriatic adventure. Just a few minutes invested in learning how things work might save you hours in ferry queues in the scorching summer when, trust me, hanging around boiling alive isn’t much fun.

Let's start with the main player, the Big Daddy, if you will - Jadrolinija

Jadrolinija (Adriatic line) is by far the most well known and largest company engaged with the transport of people and cars between the mainland and the islands. This Croatian shipping company is headquartered in Rijeka, is state-owned and was founded in 1947 in that same Kvarner city.

Whether you want to get from Dubrovnik to the nearby islands, from Makarska to Brač or from Split or Zadar to Ancona or Bari in Italy, this company is where you need to be looking. You can find all of their timetables on their website (jadrolinija.hr). You can book online and purchase tickets on the Jadrolinija mobile application (app). Jadrolinija’s ferries are surprisingly punctual but summer and the crowds can cause delays. If things are problematic, the company usually puts more ferries into operation on particularly busy lines.

The Jadrolinija ferry schedule changes with the seasons, meaning that there is a summer and a winter schedule. The winter schedule usually starts in later October and runs until late May. During this time, there is a severe reduction in ferry services to the islands, even the busiest and most popular ones. If you’re planning on doing some out of season travel, you should plan extra time to travel between the islands. Things pick up again in May with the summer schedule, with even more crossings during the peak summer season weeks.

Ferry or catamaran? That is the question!

There are several key differences between jumping on a ferry or a catamaran in Croatia when planning your Adriatic sea journey. If you’re travelling with a car, then the catamaran is not an option at all, for example. Another example is that smoking is not permitted inside a ferry, but you can smoke outside on the deck. Catamaran journeys are almost always without an option to go outside.

While catamarans (the company you need to look for in this regard is Krilo/krilo.hr) are undoubtedly quicker, they are also typically more susceptible to cancellation due to bad weather conditions. If you’re planning on taking pets or bicycles on board, both are no problem at all if you’re going to take the ferry. But both are problematic if not totally impossible on some catamarans.

Things to note

While it is relatively simple to get from Croatia to Italy, getting to other Adriatic or Ionian countries is quite poor. There has been talk for years, for example, of establishing a route between Croatia and the popular Albanian port of Durres, but nothing has been set in stone so far. There is also no connection to either Montenegro or Greece, with Corfu in particular being an interesting and wildly popular destination not currently served in any way at all.

Facilities on board vary a lot, depending on both the season you’re travelling and the route you’re travelling.

Most ferries and catamarans will have at least some form of refreshment, usually in the form of overpriced drinks, pringles and sandwiches which consist of cheese or ham, or ham or cheese, or ham and cheese, or cheese and ham… You get the idea. You can typically only pay in cash and the ATMs on board usually rip you off or simply don’t work at all. I know I’m probably not selling this mode of transport to you, but it’s worth mentioning as you will save yourself a decent amount of money if you buy your food and drink before you board. You can take it on board with you without a problem.

WiFi does exist on some ferries, especially on larger vessels running on popular lines, but it can be erratic and unreliable, especially when the journey passes through weaker signal areas out on the open sea.

There are toilets on board all ferries and catamarans operating in Croatian waters. Although I definitely wouldn’t say they are the cleanest or most modern in the world, they do get the job done, or perhaps it’s better to say that they allow you to.

It is very important to note that if you buy a ticket as a foot passenger, you’ll be guaranteed a space on the vessel, but with cars, it’s all about where you are in the queue. During the peak season, that means you might be waiting a while.

Buying tickets online and offline

Like much of the rest of the country, Jadrolinija was also living in the dark ages and resisting entering the digital age until quite recently. It finally brought in the option to buy tickets online several years ago. All ferry companies now offer online sales through their websites, and as I mentioned a while ago, Jadrolinija now even has an app!

One useful tip, especially on popular routes such as Split to Hvar which can sell out quickly, is that if the boat is going on to another destination, a percentage of the tickets should be allocated for the final destination. So if Hvar is sold out, ask for a ticket to the next place and jump off on Hvar. It may cost you a little more, but your time, if not your money, will be saved.

Pets, bikes and cigarettes

You can take pets and bikes on ferries but there are restrictions on both on catamarans. Bikes are not allowed on catamarans while pets can go aboard under specific conditions. For regular ferries, such as those operated by Jadrolinija, you don't have to pay anything for having your pet with you. Any damage your pets do when on board the ferry is your responsibility, and they must not pose any sort of danger to other passengers. Animals aren't allowed inside, with the exception of guide dogs. Dogs must always be on a leash, while cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, mice (the list goes on) must remain in their pet transporters.

Some catamarans will transport your pets but only if they have conditions which include cages or pet transporters in which they can be held for the duration of the journey. You’ll also usually have to buy your pet a ticket, the price of which is the same as for regular (human) passengers.

Smoking inside is forbidden on both ferries and catamarans, and as there is no outside access on the catamaran at all, this means that there is no smoking at all, either. That said, you may smoke freely out on the deck on the ferry.

Air travel

For such a small country, it is remarkably well connected by air. Domestic flights operated by Croatia Airlines are a regular sight in the skies heading from Dubrovnik to Zagreb and back again, and this 50 minute (ish) flight is very popular, as is the even shorter flight between the capital and Split.

There is also Trade Air, which is a small Croatian passenger and cargo charter airline which was founded back in 1994 and based at Zagreb International Airport. Its primary activities are operating passenger charter flights and cargo operations.

Of course, Croatia is extremely well connected to a wide variety of European cities as well, and while this is especially true during the summer months, it’s true to a great extent for the majority of the year, particularly if you’re travelling from Zagreb International Airport.

Domestic flights

During Croatia Airlines’ summer flight schedule at this moment in time, and likely for the foreseeable future, you can fly to…

Zagreb from Pula, Split, Zadar, Dubrovnik and even from the island of Brač which has its own airport.

Split from Zagreb and Osijek

Dubrovnik from Zagreb and Osijek

Pula from Zagreb and Zadar

Zadar from Pula and Zagreb

Brač from Zagreb

Osijek from Split and Dubrovnik

The flight schedule is of course subject to change, but for the current schedule at any time of year, which includes domestic flights, head to the Croatia Airlines website and select ‘current flight schedule’ which also offers more detailed information and will let you know of any changes as and when they happen.

International flights

Croatia Airlines is very far from the only one connecting Croatia with the rest of Europe. With Ryanair now more or less totally dominating, cheap flights from Croatia to an incredible array of European destinations are now very easily accessible. During the summer months, a huge number of carriers from across the continent fly to and from Croatian airports up and down the nation, and there is never a problem getting into the country. During the winter months, while things do generally thin out, especially for Dalmatia and Istria, getting to Zagreb is just as easy as it is during summer, with the likes of Croatia Airlines and Ryanair flying from Zagreb International Airport to many major European cities and the likes of London Heathrow and London Stansted on a daily basis.

This is an extremely easy thing to Google (or jump onto Skyscanner) for, so I won’t go into the tiny details which can of course change, but put it this way, British Airways, Air France, Ryanair, Croatia Airlines, Lufthansa, KLM, Jet2, easyJet and more all offer direct flights into Croatia, and that’s just some of them.

Taxis

There are a number of taxi companies operating in Croatia and the market is very liberalised (which was a thorn in the side for some at first). There are many apps you can download, and of course there’s the much loved Uber. Bolt is a favourite taxi service in Zagreb in particular, as is Cammeo. Both of these services have apps which are easily downloaded, and you can link your bank card so that when you book, you pay and you don’t need to worry about looking for change in your pocket when you’re dropped off. You can also follow the car you’ve ordered as it makes its way to you, you’ll be told the time it will need to get there, and you’ll be told the name of the driver (with a photo), the car’s licence plate number, and the type of car coming. Like with Uber, most taxi companies big enough to have apps will also give you the opportunity to choose the size of vehicle you need, as well as approximate prices.

Things to note

As with just about anywhere, there are private taxi companies operating in Croatia which seek to do little else but rip you off. This is especially the case if you’re travelling from a Croatian airport to your destination and you’ve hopped in a taxi waiting like a vulture just outside arrivals. Try to avoid this unless you have absolutely no other choice. This is advice that probably applies anywhere and is a trend most prominent in tourist hotspots such as Dubrovnik and Split.

Some companies which are larger and have apps have fixed rates to take you TO the airport.

Trains

Croatia does of course have a rail network, but it has faced endless issues. Train drivers and other staff simply not turning up to work, falling asleep and so on has happened (and will likely happen again). They take a very long time to reach their destinations, the system has suffered a great lack of investment over the years and while Croatia does have high hopes to alter this, especially given the fact that the European Union is pushing for more and more electric, environmentally friendly methods of transport (meaning trains), it will take a long time before Croatia catches up with certain other European nations. I’ll be honest and tell you to avoid travelling by train in Croatia, there are so many other options (and great roads!) which will be more satisfying to you. If you’re set on travelling this way despite these warnings, your best bet is to check out www.interrail.eu and choose Croatia by Rail.

For more on Living in Croatia and Moving to Croatia, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

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