Monday, 28 November 2022

Zlatko Dalić after World Cup Win: Canada is a Small Step, Croatia Must Confirm it Against Belgium

November 28, 2022 - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić addressed the press after Croatia's crucial World Cup win against Canada on Sunday night at Khalifa International Stadium. 

Zlatko Dalić opened the conference by saying he was surprised by Belgium in their first two World  Cup matches. Belgium beat Canada 1-0 and lost to Morocco 0-2. Croatia will play their last Group F match against Belgium. A draw is good enough for Croatia to advance into the last 16.

"In the first game against Canada, Belgium had a bad start, but they managed to win. Big national teams win games even when they don't play well. Against Morocco, they had several opportunities, and when they went for it all or nothing, they conceded the second goal. However, they are not happy with their performance, and I expect a much better Belgium against us," he said. 

Dalić was asked if he was under stress ahead of Canada. 

"Every game is stressful for me. It's like that; that's us. I have no problem with that. We played well against Canada, but it's a small step; if we don't confirm it with Belgium, we haven't done anything," he added. 

"We can't get carried away with the match, we had a little fun, but now the preparation for Belgium begins. We have quality, I believe we can, and we will look for it. The data that we ran 120 kilometers is great; we outran and outplayed Canada. A very good match. We haven't been this good in all segments of the game for a long time."

He also spoke about Andrej Kramarić and his position in the team.

"Media are creating that drama around him. Instead of asking about his scoring, you ask what his position is. Got some better questions? The two of us resolved everything two years ago. He will play what he is told; he understands that and made up his mind. So be silent, work, and it'll come back to him."

The midfield played together for several years, culminating in the silver medal in Russia.

"It is difficult to replace Rakitić, but we need Kovačić as he was yesterday. With his vertical conquest of the pitch. When the team struggled yesterday, he kept the game's rhythm. In preparations, we said that the most important thing is to break through the first block; if we break through that, everything opens up. The team was fantastic, but Andrej and Mateo might have been a shade better."

The coach spoke about whether he knew the squad for Belgium.

"We will see the situation with the players today at training. I think everyone who entered justified their role. We planned to start with Marko Livaja, so later, Bruno entered the game. We were thinking about whether it would be Budimir or Petković. We ran enough, and the solution was to put a player to guard the ball. He replaced Marko, and I think that was good. I am happy we have guys on the bench who can come in and continue in the same rhythm."

A Belgian journalist asked Dalić to explain why it was difficult for Croatia to play against Belgium in the last ten years.

"For the last ten years, Belgium has been at a high level. For five years, they were first in the FIFA ranking. They played great, won bronze at the World Cup, and were always in the finals. That's why it was difficult to beat them because they are a great team."

Canadian coach John Herdman did not congratulate Zlatko Dalić after the game.

"I experienced that twice in my career. When we beat Argentina and now. I don't remember leaving the pitch in my career without congratulating whoever beat me. I think it's basic culture, but I won't get into that. As far as I have seen and filmed, the gentleman is a good coach, promising, and has ambition, but he is young and will learn the latter."

Belgium is a crucial match. The most important thing is that Croatia rests well in the next two days.

"To repeat the approach, the same desire, and energy. We still have good reserves. Ivan Perišić was very dangerous, and he set up two goals. A slightly different role than against Morocco. He played more forward, like Kramarić. It is very important against Belgium that our midfield is at a high level. It is important not to make these small mistakes because the opponent will punish them. We mustn't have black holes like in the first 10 minutes against Canada."

When asked who he would like in the round of 16, Spain, Germany, or Japan, Dalić concluded:

"Japan."

Source HRT

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

Monday, 28 November 2022

Exploring Croatian - A Brief History of the Istro-Romanian Language

November the 28th, 2022 - Have you ever heard of any Balkan-Romance languages other than Romanian? Unless you happen to be a linguist, the term is probably somewhat alien to you, especially given the fact that the languages spoken across much of the region (but not all of it) are Slavic. Let's get better acquainted with the sparsely spoken Istro-Romanian language.

We've explored many of the dialects, subdialects and indeed languages in their own right as some linguists consider them to be which are spoken across modern Croatia. From the Dubrovnik subdialect (Ragusan) in the extreme south of Dalmatia to Northwestern Kajkavian in areas like Zagorje, the ways in which people speak in this country deviate from what we know as standard Croatian language enormously. That goes without even mentioning much about old Dalmatian, Zaratin, once widely spoken in and around Zadar, Istriot, or Istro-Venetian

Istria in particular is full of culture, and its rather complex historic relationship with Italy and in particular with the formerly powerful Venice has a lot to answer for in this regard. That brings us to a language that actually has nothing to do with Venetian, and is only spoken by people who call themselves Rumeni or sometimes Rumeri. It can only now be heard in very few rather obscure locations and with less than an estimated 500 speakers of it left, the Istro-Romanian language is deemed to be seriously endangered by UNESCO's Red Book of Endangered Languages.

Who are the Istro-Romanian people?

The Istro-Romanians are an ethnic group from the Istrian peninsula (but they aren't necessarily native) and they once inhabited much of it, including parts of the island of Krk. It's important to note that the term ''Istro-Romanian'' itself is a little controversial to many, and most people who identify as such do not use the term, preferring instead to use the names taken from their villages. Those hamlets and small settlements are Letaj, Zankovci, the wider Brdo area, Zeljane, Nova Vas, Jesenovik, Kostrcani and Susnjevica.

Many of them left to begin their lives in either larger Croatian cities or indeed in other countries as the industrialisation of Istria in the then Yugoslavia progressed at a rather rapid pace. Following Istrian modernisation which had enormous amounts of resources pumped into it by the state, the number of Istro-Romanian people began to dwindle rather significantly, until they could only really be found in a handful of settlements.

The origins of the Istro-Romanian people are disputed, with some claiming they came from Romania, and others claiming that they arrived originally from Serbia. Regardless, they have been present in Istria for centuries and despite efforts from both the Romanian and Croatian governments to preserve their culture and language - the Istro-Romanian people are still not classed as a national minitory under current Croatian law.

Back to the Istro-Romanian language

Like many dying languages, the Istro-Romanian language was once much more widely spoken across the Istrian peninsula, more precisely in the nothwestern parts near the Cicarija mountain range. There are two groups of speakers despite the fact that the language spoken by both is more or less absolutely identical, the Vlahi and the Cici, the former coming from the south side of the Ucka mountain, and the latter coming from the north side.

Back in 1921, when the then Italian census was being carried out, 1,644 people claimed they were speakers of the Istro-Romanian language, with that figure having been deemed to actually be around 3,000 about 5 years later. Fast forward to 1998, the number of people who could speak it was estimated to stand at a mere 170 individuals, most of them being bi or trilingual (along with Croatian and Italian).

The thing that will be sticking out like a sore thumb to anyone who knows anything about language families - the fact that this is called a Balkan-Romance language. While it is classified as such, the Istro-Romanian language has definitely seen a significant amount of influence from an array of other languages, with approximately half of the words used drawing their origins from standard Croatian as we know it today. It also draws a few from Venetian, Slovenian, Old Church Slavonic and about 25% or so from Latin.

Istro-Romanian is very similar to Romanian, and to anyone who doesn't speak either but is familiar with the sound, they could easily be confused. Both the Istro-Romanian language and Romanian itself belong to the Balkan-Romance family of languages, having initially descended from what is known as Proto-Romanian. That said, some loanwords will be obvious to anyone familiar with Dalmatian, suggesting that this ethnic group lived on the Dalmatian coast (close to the Velebit mountain range, judging by the words used) before settling in Istria.

Most of the people who belong to this ethnic group were very poor peasants and had little to no access to formal education until the 20th century, meaning that there is unfortunately very little literature in the Istro-Romanian language to be found, with the first book written entirely in it having been published way back in 1905. Never used in the media, with the number of people who speak it declining at an alarming rate and with Croatian (and indeed Italian) having swamped Istria linguistically, it's unlikely you'll ever hear it spoken. Some who belong to this ethnic group who live in the diaspora can speak it, but that is also on a downward trajectory.

This language has been described as the smallest ethnolinguistic group in all of Europe, and without a lot more effort being put into preservation, the next few decades to come will almost certainly result in the complete extinction of the Istro-Romanians and their language.

For more on the Croatian language, dialects, subdialects and history, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 28 November 2022

Croatian Economy Slowing Down, Recession Coming in 2023?

November the 28th, 2022 - The Croatian economy is slowing down, with a recession more than likely to come knocking at Croatia's door in 2023, at least according to some experts.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, forecasts that the Croatian economy will have its "handbrake" pulled as the end of the year approaches have begun to come true. After experiencing impressive growth of 7.8 percent in the first and 8.7 percent in the second quarter of this year, the annual domestic GDP growth rate in the third quarter stood at 5.2 percent. Although there have been strong quarterly dynamics, certainly among the better ones in Europe, the problem is sliding downwards. Seasonally adjusted data shows that compared to the previous quarter of 2022, growth slowed by 0.4%, suggesting that the Croatian economy entering a difficult and uncertain 2023.

The all important three months of summer show the positive contribution of all components, at least when it comes to the domestic component. As expected, personal consumption with +5.6 percent and investments with an increase of 8 percent lead the way, while the state's contribution was a slightly positive 1.3 percent. The negative contribution to growth came only from net exports, as imports with a 30.5 percent increase exceeded exports with a 30.5 percent increase, but this is nothing unusual when tourism demand is booming.

While the quarterly growth figures outline an excellent tourist season, some will note that real GDP expectations were even higher if the precision of inflation coverage is taken into account. In other words, if the real price rise is to be assumed to be higher than what government statistics manage to capture (given the changes in behaviour and consumption patterns that go hand in hand with a prolonged period of high inflation), the GDP growth rate could have been better.

This year, summertime optimism and tourist euros that place an alluring but perhaps not quite accurate shine on the Croatian economy's results, can't camouflage the echoes of the fall in industrial production, retail sales and construction at the quarterly level. This year, the Croatian economy will draw the line under that previously rather reassuring GDP growth of 5 to 6 percent.

At the same time, there is more and more irrefutable evidence that out-of-control inflation is dangerously eroding peoples' purchasing power, narrowing the room for maneuver for companies to amortise cost shocks and shut down orders, meaning that a real recession is increasingly likely to be knocking on Croatia's door in 2023 as well, even without the further escalation of the war in Ukraine and the spiralling energy crisis.

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

Monday, 28 November 2022

Vrbovsko Giving Land to Those Who Move There Under Certain Conditions

November the 28th, 2022 - Vrbovsko, located among the beautiful rolling hills of Gorski kotar, is set to provide land to those who decide to move and set up their lives there, but only under certain conditions.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Vrbovsko will give those who move there some land for use, but the condition is that they build a house within a period of three years. If they fulfill that request, then the land in question will be transferred entirely to them.

Memories of the days when Vrbovsko teemed with life are now as deep in the fog as the tops of the trees and buildings are at this time of year in that part of the country. Every ten years, Vrbovsko loses around one thousand inhabitants. This isn't a large area at all, and this new measure is intended to become the drop that fills the well of hope that things could eventually be like they were there once before.

"Vrbovsko is dying ff, more and more young people are leaving, so these measures contributed to us creating more jobs, and something that for me as a young boy would've been... a much more normal life,'' Neven Sulic from Vrbovsko tells Danas.hr.

"We believe that people can start building houses even in their fifties and sixties. These houses will be able to be either for residential purposes or for tourist purposes,'' says Marina Tonkovic of Vrbovsko's local administration.

The previous measure showed that changes are indeed possible, and 200,000 kuna was allocated from the local budget. Two families each received a hundred, which was part of the amount for the purchase of houses. Vlasta also moved from Solin with her husband and ten children.

"First we were in a smaller place, we waited for the loan to be granted, it took a year and finally everything opened up. We bought a house there and settled in Vrbovsko, living there permanently. Our experience was good, the locals welcomed us very warmly and I think that whoever moves here will be satisfied with it all,'' says Vlasta Majic from Vrbovsko.

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

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Kramarić, Livaja, and Majer Bring Croatia Crucial World Cup Win against Canada (4-1)

November 27, 2022 - With two goals from Andrej Kramaric and one each from Marko Livaja and Lovro Majer, Croatia topped Canada 4-1 in their second 2022 World Cup match on Sunday at Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar. 

After drawing 0-0 against Morocco, expectations were high for Croatia to get a good result against Canada. The two teams met at Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar on Sunday, November 27, at 19:00 local time. Canada lost their 2022 World Cup opener against Belgium 0-1. 

But the group got a lot more interesting an hour before Croatia and Canada met. Morocco defeated Belgium 2-0. 

This means that Morocco will have enough points to qualify for the last 16 in their last round against Canada.

Croatia's fate largely depends on the result against Canada tonight. If Croatia wins, they also need a point in the last round against Belgium. And if they lose? Only a win is good enough in the last round.

Even if Croatia lost to Canada, there is still some hope. A win against Belgium would bring them four points. In theory, Canada and Morocco can have that much, and the goal difference will decide. 

Recall, leading up to the match tonight, Canada coach John Herdman stirred the pot by saying, 'eff Croatia.' You can read Dalić's response and plan for Croatia in the press conference roundup yesterday. 

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković, Sosa, Gvardiol, Lovren, Juranović, Brozović, Modrić, Kovačić, Perišić, Kramarić, Livaja

Canada: Borjan, Miller, Vitoria, Johnston, Davies, Eustaquio, Hutchinson, Laryea, Buchanan, Larin, David

Match report

The match couldn't have started with a bigger wake-up call for Croatia. Tajon Buchanan crossed into the penalty area in Canada's first attack, in the first minute of the match. The ball found Alphonso Davies, who found a hole in the Croatia defense to head the ball in for 0-1 Canada.  

Croatia attacked in the 6th minute, with Kramaric crossing into the penalty area at the Canada keeper.  

Another dangerous Canada attack saw Larin 1-on-1 with Livakovic. Luckily he was called offside. 

Perisic attacked up the left wing in the 10th minute and forced the ball out for a corner. Modric played short. The ball ultimately went out for a Croatia throw-in. 

Croatia started to find their rhythm in the 16th minute with quick passes through the midfield. Sosa crossed into the box in the 17th minute, forcing the Canada keeper to punch the ball out. Juranovic played it back in, but the ball finished in the hands of the Canada keeper. 

A Canada corner in the 19th minute was fortunately cleared by Gvardiol. Croatia looked tired, and it was only the 21st minute. 

Kovacic played a brilliant ball to Livaja in the penalty area, which was just slightly too quick to get a shot off. 

Canada was looking dangerous, and their quick legs were running circles around Croatia. 

Croatia finally looked like they had a chance to score in the 26th minute. Croatia's midfield moved the ball up the pitch to Livaja, who played through to Kramaric to score. Kramaric's goal was called offside. 

Lovren fouled Davies outside of the box in the 30th minute, giving Canada a dangerous free kick. 

Croatia attacked well from the 30th minute. Livaja got a shot off in the 35th, which the keeper pushed out for a corner.

But Croatia's chance finally came. Perisic nutmegged Johnson on the left wing to find Kramaric. Krama shot far post for the equalizing goal in the 36th minute! 

Croatia picked up their game until the end of the half. And Hajduk Split's Marko Livaja was the hero for Croatia this time. The striker beat the keeper and found the back of the net in the 44th minute for 2-1! Marko Livaja is the first Hajduk player to score for Croatia at the World Cup. 

Five minutes of additional time were added. Croatia had a corner to finish the first half, which ended 2-1. Croatia had five attempts on goal, 4 shots on target, and 3 corner kicks in the first half. 

The second half started without any changes for Croatia. Stephen Eustaquio subbed off for Ismael Kone, and Cyle Larin subbed off for Jonathan Osorio (Canada). 

Canada had a dangerous chance in the 48th minute. Fresh-legged Osorio just missed the goal. 

Croatia almost found the back of the next again in the 50th minute. Kovacic attacked up the midfield and played Krama on the right wing. Krama crossed it over the box to Sosa. Sosa played it back into the box and just missed Perisic and Livaja in front of the goal.

And another Croatia chance in the 54th minute. Brozovic faked and played the ball through the right wing. Juranovic crossed it into the box, and Krama's shot was hit out for a corner by the keeper. 

Canada threatened again in the 55th minute and took their second corner of the match. The ball was cleared by Gvardiol. 

The Canada keeper nearly made a catastrophic mistake in the 57th minute, passing the ball straight to Perisic outside the box. Perisic crossed the ball back in, but it went straight to the keeper. 

Dalic made his first sub in the 60th minute. Goalscorer Livaja was subbed off for Dinamo's Bruno Petkovic. For Canada, Richie Laryea subbed off for Junior Hoilett. 

Canada was awarded a dangerous free kick just outside the box in the next play. Davies played into the Croatia wall. 

By the 67th minute, Croatia's experience was outclassing Canada. The defense was calm and collected and first to every ball, while Canada was making careless mistakes and misjudging passes. 

Big-tournament-player Andrej Kramaric wasn't done, either. Perisic crossed the ball from the left to find Krama in the box. Krama faked the Canada defense to score far post for 3-1 Croatia in the 70th minute!

Both teams made substitutions in the 73rd minute. Jonathan David went off for Lucas Cavallini, and Atiba Hutchinson went off for Sam Adekugbe. Dalic brought off Kramaric for Nikola Vlasic. 

Vlasic forced a Croatia corner in the next play. Perisic called to the Croatia fans in the crowd to make noise. 

Another Croatia chance in the 78th minute. Persic played around the Canada defense on the left wing. His shot was saved by the Canada keeper. The ball ultimately found Kovacic alone in the penalty area, who decided to play Vlasic instead of shooting. It could have easily been Croatia's 4th goal. 

Perisic tried shooting again in the 82nd minute but was wildly off target. 

Dalic made three more subs in the 86th minute. Perisic for Orsic, Modric for Pasalic, and Kovacic for Majer. 

Six minutes of stopped time were added. 

'Veceras je nasa festa' could be heard in the stands, and rightfully so, as we awaited yet another goal. A quick counter saw Orsic 1-on-1 with the Canada keeper and Majer to his left. Orsic played Majer in the box to make it 4-1 Croatia! 

The official attendance at the match was announced - 44,374. 

Croatia meets Belgium in their final Group F match on Thursday, December 1, at 6 pm local time. 

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

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Andre Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra in Sold Out Arena Zagreb

November 27, 2022 - On Friday the 25th of November, I had the pleasure of attending the concert of the year and enjoy the legendary conductor Andre Rieu's performance with his Johann Strauss orchestra. The concert took place in Arena Zagreb, which was completely sold out for this event. The performance in Zagreb was part of the Andre Rieu 2022 World Tour, which included concerts in South America and all over Europe.

Andre Rieu and the orchestra

This 73-year-old Dutch King of the Waltz is best known for his performances with the Vienna Philharmonic Crchestra for their New Year concerts. As the name of his orchestra reveals, he finds a lot of insipration in the music of the great German composer Johann Strauss. He has been the orchestra's conductor for over 35 years. The members of his crew come from all over the world. The fourteen nationalities include the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Belgium, even Tasmania. Though the music they play belongs to the classical genre, the overall style in which they do it is a lot more quirky and fun. From start to finish, Andre's comments made the audience laugh, and even the musicians behind him would get in on the jokes. Winking to the cameras, little waves and nods, making faces, they do it all to make sure that everyone has a great night. And they genuinely look like they're having the same amount of fun as well. Even if you're not a big fan of classical music or simply do not know enough about it (like me), the experience is definitely worth the hefty price and three hours of your night.

andre_rieu_5.jpg

Set list

The ensemble entered the arena at 20:00 sharp, playing Georges Bizet's Toreadores, setting the tone for the concert and the atmosphere that they were about to ensure. What followed was a mix of tunes which captured everyone from opera lovers to those completely uneducated who were there just for the experience or as a plus one. Giacomo Puccini's Nessum Dorma performed by the Platin Tenors received a standing ovation, while the three beautiful sopranos left the full arena in awe. The Phantom of the Opera was there, and so was Scheherazade. The Berlin Comedian Harmonists also made an appearance, singing Veronika der Lenz ist da, followed by more of their repertoire. Johann Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz (An der schönen blauen Donau) marked the beginning of the end, with all the audience members who had access to the floor waltzing it away, while Radetzky March had the entire arena stomping to the rhythm. The final part of the evening even included the romantic notes of Elvis Presley's Can't Help Falling in Love.

Production

Though all twenty five thousand seats in the Zagreb Arena were sold out, the entrances were well organised and the queues took no longer than 5-10 minutes. The same cannot be said for the traffic in Zagreb, though, which was really busy for a number of reasons, including Black Friday and the first weekend of Advent in Zagreb. As for the organisation of the concert itself, the festive atmosphere was enhanced with fake snowflakes during the first part of the concert, and balloons for the energetic, joyful ending. Drinks and popcorn were served in the lobby before the performance and during the break. Unfortunately, that was it. Sharing the experience with other members of the audience, it seems that the venue did not meet expectations to do justice to the overall mood and aesthetics of the orchestra. With most of Andre Rieu's concerts held in castles and theatrical venues, the Zagreb Arena felt a little cold and basic. 

andre_rieu_6.jpg

The verdict

All in all, the experience of going to a classical concert that does not take itself too seriously is a lot of fun, and like stated above, worth the investment. Even that of taking a train in Croatia (50 minutes late on arrival to Zagreb from Vinkovci, only 30 on the way back). The three hours of the concert really flew by, even for someone with a very basic education in classical music. The extra touch of communicating with the audience and even with the Croatian interpreter made it all that much more fun. 10/10, would go again.

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

Sunday, 27 November 2022

12 Croatian Companies on Deloitte's List of Growing Companies in Central Europe 2022

November 27, 2022 - Deloitte reported the results of their latest contest of the fastest-growing technology companies for the Central Europe, and 12 Croatian companies found themselves on their lists.

Companies from 9 countries found themselves on the prestigious list, assembled for the 23rd time by the consulting giant Deloitte. The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Central Europe lists 17 Polish companies, 13 from Czechia, 8 Croatian companies, 4 Slovakian, 3 Hungarian, 2 Bulgarian and one each from Lithuania, Romania and Serbia. The software companies dominate the list, with 33 companies being from that field, however, the first three positions were taken by companies from fintech and life science (FTMO, PayPo and Multiplex DX). X).

The eight Croatian companies on the list are: Aircash, placed fourth, with a growth of almost 6 percent, Devot Solutions placed 19th, Netgen 28th, Uprise 35th, CircuitMess 40th, Amplifico (Parklio) 41st, Async Labs 42nd, and Cinnamon 46th.

The additional category "Companies to Watch" includes: Firefly Studio, Identity Consortium, Brightdock, and Hivetech.

The special category "Impact stars", started last year, includes three Croatian companies: Axilis, Notch and Robotiq.ai.

Interestingly, six out of the eight Croatian companies on the Technology Fast 50 Central Europe are newcomers on the list. Async Labs were on the list last year as well, and CircuitMess was on the Companies to Watch list last year, and made their way to the main list this year.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Central Europe is a Programme that ranks 50 fast-growing technology companies, public or private, based on percentage revenue growth. Winners are then selected by ranking their revenue growth over the four years from 2018 to 2021. In addition to the Technology Fast 50 ranking, Deloitte Central Europe ranks companies that show great potential but are too young to meet criterion for the main Fast 50 category.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

When Will the Ston Bypass Get Opened?

November 27, 2022 - Five months after the Pelješac Bridge opening, and after we've last asked the same question, today we have some more answers regarding the Ston Bypass.

A key segment of the road which will connect Dubrovnik area with the rest of Croatia (and hopefully, the rest of the Schengen area) over the Pelješac Bridge is the so-called Ston Bypass. It has not been finished yet, although the bridge itself has been fully operational for quite a while now. The bridge itself has proven to be a success, but the opening of the bypass will make it even more popular, as currently the trucks and buses are still not allowed to go over the bridge on their way to Dubrovnik. The reason for that is that the heavy vehicles would currently need to go through Ston itself, which is a problem that gets solved once the bypass is open.

Ahmet Kalajdžić reports today for Slobodna Dalmacija that 90 per cent of the work has been completed. At the construction site where, at first glance, only a few workers can be seen, he spoke with Ivica Tutman from Hrvatske ceste. Construction works will be completed by the end of this year, but he emphasized that the equipping of the Ston bypass includes operations that are not of a constructive nature. We expect that this will also be completed by the end of February, followed by a technical inspection and the obtaining of permits and soon the bypass will be put into circulation. He points out the quality of the work performed so far. The Zaton Doli junction will be completed by mid-December, when the traffic lights will be removed and traffic on the state road D8 will follow without light regulation. The junction is already largely asphalted, but there is still some work to be done that depends on possible extreme weather conditions. On that part of the Jadranska magistrala, the complete normalization of traffic will follow by Christmas at the latest, and after the completion of the entire Ston bypass in February, technical acceptance is expected, which is a prerequisite for obtaining a use permit and putting that section into traffic.

There are currently more than 220 workers on the construction site, most of whom are inside the tunnel, and the people in charge highlight that the only factor that can slow them down currently is the weather. The design solution of the Ston bridge does not include the installation of a windbreaker, as the intensity of the wind here is not very low, but the wind probably does not have an intensity that can significantly endanger traffic. The predicted speed in the tunnels and on the bridge is limited to 80 kilometers per hour. 

Despite some scepticism by the locals in Ston, caused by worries of a significant increase in summer traffic, the tourist season has successfully ended. The Ston municipality head, Vedran Antunica, says that they estimate that 70 per cent of the approximately one million vehicles that crossed the Pelješac Bridge passed through the centre of our municipality. This is a lot for our Ston, but I can say that everything went smoothly and without any delays. We are completely satisfied with the work done by the Traffic Police. We know that the huge crowds that we had through Ston will no appear next year, with the completion of the construction of the Ston bypass and that in the future only those who want to visit the cultural and historical sights of Ston will come to us. We can already see the positive effects because the opening of two larger restaurants is already being prepared, but we still lack quality accommodation. However, there is a strong interest in the construction of these capacities in Prapratno and the Marčuleti bay, and along with the removal of the soil piled under the Ston Bridge, the road to Kobaš will finally be improved, Antunica announces.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Pandemic Who? Advent in Zagreb Returns to 2019 Glory

November 27, 2022 - And so we go back in time to a pre-pandemic world, as the award-winning Advent in Zagreb returns to its former glory with last night's opening.

It is a very cosy feeling walking out of your apartment on a crisp November evening to find Christmas lights all the way down the street - a reminder somehow of a world we used to know just a few years ago. 

Walk through the imperious Tunnel Gric, whose 500m under the old town of Zagreb is steeped in history, only to find it transformed. 

Emerging from the tunnel was like entering a time warp - we had gone back in time at least three years, a world where was no pandemic, and where Advent in Zagreb was internationally accepted as one of the best Christmas markets in the world. As if to confirm this time warp, The Guardian used a photo of Zagreb for its lead picture in this week's Santa shops here: 10 of Europe’s coolest Christmas markets

It felt like we were walking into the peak season of Split or Dubrovnik. Zagreb was packed! So nice to see so many people on the streets having fun and in obvious anticipation of seeing an Advent in Zagreb as it once was. Remember that the Croatian capital was voted Best Christmas Market in Europe three years in a row from 2014-2016.

And, as the opening ceremony began, so the city came even more to life... and light.

4:30 pm Manduševac Fountain, Lighting of the first advent candle.

5:30 pm Gradec Plateau, opening ceremony.

6:30 pm Ice Park, ceremonial opening.

7:30 pm Zrinjevac, Lighting of the Christmas lights.

Advent in Zagreb has steadily grown from humble beginnings since its first branding as Advent in Zagreb in 2010 to European champion just four years later (you can learn more about the story so far in this TCN feature story, From Zero to European Champion: a History of Advent in Zagreb), until the pandemic stopped the event in its prime in 2020. Last night showed that things had returned to normal, and the huge presence on the streets showed that locals and tourists were ready to enjoy the next few weeks on the streets, parks and squares of the capital. The opening of the iconic ice rink on King Tomislav Square was perhaps the biggest symbol of a return to normality. 

And far from trying to merely emulate the Advent of old, this year's event has a very ambitious programme, and is taking Advent in Zagreb into new parts of the city for the first time. For a full guide to this year's Advent in Zagreb, including maps where things are taking place, check out the comprehensive TCN guide to the next few weeks - Advent in Zagreb 2022, Winter Fun is Back: Your Full Guide

You can also check out the official website for more details.

If you have never been to Advent in Zagreb, or if you came in the last two pandemic-restricted years and left disappointed, this is the year to try again. The atmosphere in town is magical. 

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Sunday, 27 November 2022

Some Croatian Exchange Offices Preparing to Close Doors Forever

November the 27th, 2022 - As we head towards the final month in which the kuna will remain the country's official currency, many Croatian exchange offices are counting their final few weeks of business operations. Many will close their doors forever as of January 2023.

As epodravina/Sonja Badalic writes, as of the first day of 2023, the kuna will be sent to the history books with so many of the other pre-euro currencies which were once legal tender in the Eurozone. Euros will then take their place in our wallets, bank acounts, and of course - in our sock drawers. The euro is currency that we've all had dealings with by now, but still to a lesser extent, purchasing them only when going abroad.

Despite the fact that the kuna is tied to the euro in many ways, the withdrawal of the kuna from circulation will bring with it numerous changes for this country. While there is constant talk about whether the introduction of the euro will bring new price increases with it, an increase in wages or perhaps less volatile, more favourable loans, it is rarely mentioned that with the disappearance of the kuna, very many Croatian exchange offices will also close their doors for the very last time. In continental Croatia, more specifically in Koprivnica, we're talking about two Croatian exchange offices whose owners and employees are now in their final month of conducting business.

Nino Juric, the owner of the Marko exchange office in Koprivnica, is closing his doors after 23 years.

''We opened on November the 29th, 1999, and now we'll be putting the key in the lock almost on the anniversary. There are currently three of us employed here. My wife, me and another guy to who we're going to need to say goodbye to. Fortunately, he's already found a new job, but the two of us still don't know what we're going to do. First, we will dismantle the branch office, and then we'll take a short break to think about things. We'll certainly start something new, although we aren't yet at clear terms when it comes to which direction we'll go in,'' says Nino.

''When we started working, there were still German marks and Austrian shillings in circulation. The euro came to be only in 2002, and with its introduction, there were rumours about a possible switch from the kuna, which would have seen us close much sooner, so it's nothing new. We heard about it and we've discussed it for years, there was constant speculation about whether or not it would happen and now, unfortunately for us, the date is known and that day is getting closer and closer. No one is forcing us to close, but it simply doesn't make sense to do business without the kuna, because everyone who comes to us has kuna or euros.

Sometimes, but very rarely, someone asks for dollars, while there's really no demand for other currencies. As a result, our business loses its meaning and we aren't going to just sit here for days on end without work. For the minute, we're calm, we've mentally prepared for the fat that an era of our business journey is coming to an end,'' says Nino, who thinks that it's not exactly the right timing for Eurozone accession due to ongoing inflation and the war in Ukraine causing continued economic issues.

People have been changing more money lately, they've been buying euros, so now there are none left, there's a shortage, we have kuna, but nobody wants that anymore. Croatian exchange offices have always done solid business, they worked non-stop, especially during Christmas, and during the summer months, when Croatian people return home from Germany,'' says Nino, adding that Croats, especially the older generation, are quite distrustful of banks, so they prefer to come to the exchange offices and buy at a higher price.

With Eurozone accession rapidly approaching, the very many Croatian exchange offices dotting the streets throughout the country will become a thing of the past.

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

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