Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Slavonia Full of Heartbreak: Demographic Decline of Vukovar-Srijem County

January 18, 2023 - Slavonia is trying its hardest to remain full of life, but how is everything in and around it doing in reality? Not well. Vukovar-Srijem County is indeed still full of heartbreak. As much as things are starting to look up in some ways in the county's central point with the city of Vukovar looking better and better, some of its citizens deciding to stay, fight, and drive the economy themselves, tourists visiting more and staying longer; the area is still in significant social, moral, and demographic decline. 

As SiB / Danas.hr write, after the final results of the population census were finally released last year, there was a decrease in the number of inhabitants in the Vukovar-Srijem County compared to 2011. The county lost 35,083 inhabitants (a drop of 19.54 percent), with 13.6 percent fewer residents in Vukovar.

The Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat) has published data on the places where the most significant depopulation occurred from 2015 to 2020 and the most significant increase in the number of inhabitants

The Vukovar Srijem County has had the highest rate of population emigration in the European Union, amounting to -2.5% per year. On the other hand, the Greek island of Ikaria recorded the highest increase of 2.8% per year.

Recall, after the final results of the population census were finally released last year, there was a decrease in the number of inhabitants in the Vukovar-Srijem County compared to 2011. The county lost 35,083 inhabitants (a drop of 19.54 percent), and there are 13.6 percent fewer residents of Vukovar.

Požega Slavonia County ranks second in the EU in terms of emigration rate, with it being -2. From 2015 to 2020, Osijek-Baranja County recorded an emigration rate of -1.7%. Brod-Posavina recorded -2.1%, and Virovitica-Podravina -2.1%. The Sisak-Moslavina County is also ranking quite high (or low) with -2.1%, while all other Croatian counties recorded a much lower rate of emigration, around -1% or less. The City of Zagreb, on the other hand, has seen a positive change of 0.2%.

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

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Croatian Glovo Tipping Culture Tops List in 25 Countries

January the 18th, 2023 - Croatian Glovo tipping culture has well and truly topped the list when it comes to the 25 countries in which the wildly popular delivery service operates.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Glovo delivery service, recognisable for its bright yellow bags, is one of the world's leading applications for the delivery of several product categories. It recently presented its ordering trends for the year 2022 based on the activities of Croatian Glovo users spanning 29 cities.

When it comes to ordering food, users of the Glovo application here in Croatia prefer American, Italian and Middle Eastern food, and their favourite dishes are hamburgers, pizzas and of course - kebabs. However, Glovo data shows an encouraging and growing preference of Croatian residents for traditional food (+118% in orders when compared to 2021) and healthy food (+60%).

One of the most popular categories in the Q-commerce vertical of the Glovo application for year 2022 was the products "Flowers and gifts" with 65% more orders having been processed by the company.

That romance is still alive and kicking was shown by the data for Valentine's Day last year, when Croatian Glovo users ordered flowers most of all in 2022. Moreover, one Croatian Glovo user made as many as 65 flower orders throughout one single year!

Pet owners also made 162% more orders through this vey handy app last year. What is particularly interesting is that most orders intended for animals were made during the morning hours - between 10:00 and 11:00. When we hear Glovo delivers anything, we first think of food, but Glovo is much more than that and that will have become obvious to anyone who has ever used the service. One of the requests with the most comments registered in the "Anything" section of the app was for: moving boxes, curtains and bicycle tyres.

Croatian Glovo users utilise this application the most on Fridays, and the time of day with the highest consumption in 2022 was between 19:00 and 20:00, most likely for ordering dinner. During 2022, the day with the most orders on Glovo of all in Croatia was February the 4th.

The Croatian record holder for the number of orders in 2022 is a user with a total of 648 orders, while the highest order value in 2022 was achieved by a user from Split: 8,500 kuna for a smartphone.

How much Glovo means to those of us living in Croatia has also been showcased by the large number of tips given to Glovo delivery people, and Croatian residents have ranked first place out of the 25 markets on which Glovo operates. Last year, the cities where Croatian Glovo users tipped the most were Sibenik (with more than 23% customers tipping), Cakovec (22%) and Rijeka (21.5%). Zagreb is only 11th place in the list of tipping cities in Croatia (with 19.21% of users in Zagreb tipping Glovo delivery people).

In 2022, an increase in scheduled orders of as much as 174% was recorded by Croatian Glovo users. Although the people of Zagreb used the "Scheduled orders" option the most, Bjelovar and Cakovec are the cities where this trend recorded the highest growth of all, with it increasing +572% and +426% respectively when compared to 2021.

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

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

How To Deal With Online Trolls in Croatia (and Beyond)

January 18, 2023 - A look into the realities of running a news portal in the modern era, and dealing with an unavoidable reality - online trolls.

I don't think I have ever had as much abuse in my life as running a news portal in Croatia. At first, I was a little shocked and intimidated, but after a while, I came to appreciate my online trolls, and to celebrate them. So much so that I dedicated a whole chapter of my latest book to them.

When I started Total Hvar almost 12 years ago, I was SO sensitive about comments, and I would consider changing articles on the basis of comments. I didn't want to offend people. It wasn't long before I learned that you can't please everyone in this beautiful land, and that being true to oneself was the best course. 

And, slowly, over time, I came to quite enjoy the abuse, and I decided to celebrate it. I even started to feel a little affectionate towards my online trolls. So much so in fact that I genuinely find it hard to get out of bed unless there is a ton of abuse in my inbox. 

And now, a vlog on my new YouTube channel, Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert. To the Keyboard Warriors of Croatia, I salute you.

As true patriots, may I suggest that for every negative comment you post on the trip, you pick up a piece of trash on a Croatian beach. What a clean country we would have then.

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert YouTube channel.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Wednesday, 18 January 2023

How to Croatia - New People, Expat Groups, Homesickness and More

January the 18th, 2023 - In this edition of How to Croatia, I'm going to take you through some of the sometimes rather surprising and unpleasant motions (and emotions) living abroad can stir up. From expat groups to dealing with homesickness and more, making it work means getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Remember when you were a kid and it was enough to tell another random kid you’d never met before that you liked his toy dinosaur and that was it, you ended up being friends with no questions asked. How simple life once was. As adults who obsess over our insecurities, what others might think of us, and worst case scenarios, we tend to overcomplicate making connections, especially genuine ones. Spoiled by being older and wiser, we add layers of complexity to things that should be simple, create barriers where there doesn’t need to be any, and sometimes even seek to protect ourselves from discomfort or embarrassment by not putting ourselves out there.

Did you know that we make our minds up about others within about ten seconds of meeting them? It’s subconscious and automatic. This is because back when we were living in caves and trying to avoid being killed by sabre toothed tigers, we didn’t have the time to spend getting to know others on a deeper level. I suppose when your life is all about churning out offspring and becoming old and decrepit at about 25, things like that aren’t quite as important. Times have changed dramatically, but we still tend to make up our minds to a certain degree about others based on the energy we feel from them when we first meet. First impressions are everything, as they say. Meeting people in Croatia might be a bit more complicated because of the language barriers, but deep down - we all speak the same language, and decency transcends everything else.

Many foreigners tend to think Croats are a bit standoffish because they tend not to walk around with beaming smiles plastered across their faces. While people in the UK have even been known to apologise to inanimate objects when bumping into them, you’ll likely not notice that here. Despite typically not being seen grinning from ear to ear, the truth of the matter is that Croatian people would usually give you the shirts off their backs if asked. 

Croats speak English to an extremely impressive standard, but even an attempt at speaking Croatian (which is notoriously difficult and most Croats are aware of that), will win you instant appreciation with most people. A friendly ‘dobar dan’ (good day), ‘dobro jutro’ (good morning) or ‘doviđenja’ (or just ‘đenja’ for short) will elicit a smile and help develop connections. I’ll jump more into language a bit later on.

Expats who like to live their lives in expat bubbles full of their own nationality or indeed different nationalities who have also come to live in Croatia do so understandably. Humans are social animals, we seek out what feels most comfortable, and the craving for something familiar can be extremely strong when spending extended periods of time abroad, and that doesn’t really fade no matter the length of time spent outside your home country. 

I still have cravings for Greggs sausage rolls and every time I go to England, which is every few months or so, I transport myself back in time with the taste of them, proper fish and chips and Irish bacon. My mum’s Sunday dinners are something irreplaceable, and even if they could somehow be made in Croatia, I honestly don’t think I’d want to eat them anywhere else but in my childhood home. I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here (the thought of sausage rolls does have that effect), but my point is that feeling homesick and longing for home comforts isn’t unusual, and what might be a hard pill to swallow is the fact that while it will fade in and out, this will likely never go away. It’s human, and while frustrating, it’s completely natural.

Don’t limit yourself to other expats only

Feeling like you don’t quite belong here (being home) or there (being Croatia) often leads expats in Croatia to associate and build relationships solely with those from their country of origin. While understandable, doing so will limit your understanding of Croatia and Croats enormously. Becoming friendly with the locals will see doors open up to you in a way you might not expect, despite how obvious and logical it might seem to read it. Understanding the country you’re in on any deeper level gives you the opportunity to see the wood from the trees, broaden your horizons and grasp another way of life, even if not entirely. 

While I’m a huge proponent of immersion, I am absolutely aware that saying ‘just speak to people’ is a daunting task and much more easily said than done. Feeling comfortable in a new place is a gradual process which happens over time and isn’t straightforward, so if you’re just interested in meeting others who will more than likely share the same struggles, have the same problems, and be feeling the same feelings as you for now while you get settled and find your feet, I’d recommend introducing yourself to some expat groups. There are several large and very active and helpful ones to be found on - you guessed it - Facebook.

Expat groups

There are expat groups for various locations all over the country, from Osijek to Dubrovnik and everywhere in between, and most of them are very active. Asking questions there will help get you realistic answers from people who have experienced things themselves, introducing yourself there will quickly gain you some friends, and observing what’s posted there will keep you up to date on events and the like which you might not have known about otherwise, especially if you’re still working on learning Croatian.

Expats in Zagreb [Official], Expats meet Split, Dubrovnik Foreign Circle, Expats of Dalmatia, Expats in Dubrovnik, Expats on Brač, Korčula, Hvar Comunita Degli Italiani Spalato, Croatian Australian NZ-ers and Friends in Split, Expats in Trogir, Americans in Croatia, Chilenos en Croacia, Indians in Croatia, Latinos en Croacia, Svenskar i Kroatien, South Africans in Croatia… I could go on, but you probably get my drift. These are just some of the expat groups on Facebook, so you’ll find something that suits you without any problem at all.

There are usually local Croats who are members of these groups, too.

For more on finding your feet in Croatia, be it regarding setting up your health insurance and finding a job and somewhere to live, to driving and learning to avoid snakes and bears, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section and our How to Croatia series, which is published every Wednesday.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Krsko Nuclear Power Plant Verified to Operate for Another 20 Years

January 17, 2023 - The Krsko nuclear power plant, co-owned by Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP) and Slovenia's GEN Energija, can keep operating for another 20 years until the end of 2043.

As Jutarnji List/Index write, the decision was made by the Slovenian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Spatial Planning, which issued an environmental permit for the extension of the Krsko nuclear plant's operation.

HEP points out that this decision "has strategic importance, both for the Croatian Electric Industry, as a 50 percent co-owner of NEK, and for the entire Croatian energy sector, from an economic, energy and environmental aspect, especially in the circumstances of the current energy crisis."

The Krsko nuclear power plant, which was put into operation in 1983, produces an average of 5.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, divided equally between Croatia and Slovenia. This means that the Krsko plant annually covers about 20 percent of Slovenia's needs and about 16 percent of Croatia's needs for electricity.

A long and complex procedure

HEP points out that in 2022, the Croatian share of production from the Krsko plant amounted to 2.65 TWh, which accounted for 14.42 percent of the total available electricity in Croatia. This year, the Krsko plant is expected to produce more than six billion kWh of electricity.

The process of obtaining environmental consent was long and highly complex. Several scientific institutions from Croatia and Slovenia participated in the preparation of documentation, analysis, and expert evaluations, as well as the preparation of the environmental impact assessment, and a cross-border environmental impact assessment was also carried out with the neighboring countries of Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Austria and, additionally, Germany.

According to the available information, in addition to the environmental consent, the condition for extending the operation of the Krsko nuclear power plant was the successful completion of the modernization and increase of the safety of the power plant, which was fulfilled by the conclusion of the Nuclear Safety Modernization Program.

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

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

K9 Croatia: Meet Maya, Proud Service Dog of Požega Slavonia Department

January 17, 2023 - After completing the course, the Police Department of Požega-Slavonia has had a new service dog since the beginning of the year, licensed to follow human tracks. K9 Croatia, Maya, a two-year-old Belgian shepherd, arrived at the police department from the Ministry of Interior's guide training and service dog training centre.

As 24Sata writes, Maya, the search dog, is on a special diet, eating once a day, as determined by the Ministry of Interior, and has certain limits and a schedule that her handler, police officer Barbara Čutura, must adhere to.

From May to December 2022, the Centre for Training of Service Dogs in Zagreb held a course for handlers of service dogs, training them in following a human trail and tracking.

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Maya and Barbara

Her handler, police officer Barbara Čutura, a longtime employee of the Police Intervention Unit, stated that she is delighted with her dog's abilities and added that she is brave, strong, fast and has all the necessary qualities of service dogs.

During the seven-month course, training was carried out on following a human trail, obedience, and a quality relationship between the handler and the dog, after which the dog received a license, which is renewed every year in accordance with the prescribed procedure.

Maya is a working dog, not a pet, and her life is very different from the lives of pets. Belgian shepherds are known for their need to be active. In the morning, when she wakes up, she must go for a walk of a couple of kilometres. After that, she rests a bit and goes to work, where she goes for a walk and a light run, followed by rest, tracking practice and obedience exercises.

Since Maya is a working police dog, she lives on a slightly different 'regime,' and passers-by are not allowed to pet her; she is on a special diet, eating once a day, as determined by the Ministry of Interior. She has certain limits and a schedule that her handler must follow.

The Ministry accepts dogs aged 12 to 36 months because this is the time when they need to start more serious training. So the criteria they must meet are pretty high. The tests include a health examination and tests of working abilities, which check the dog's socialisation, stability on a shot, stability on surfaces, its instincts, etc. Maya passed all of those.

After completing a task, a reward follows. And what might that be? Kong, a special toy for dogs. According to her handler, police officer Barbara Čutura, she is over the moon every time she gets it.

"After all, we believe that the acquired knowledge and ability of this special team will contribute to the better and more successful work of our Police Department," announced the Požega Slavonsia Police Department.

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

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

2023 World Handball Championship: Croatia Beats Morocco 36:24, Moves to Second Round

January 17, 2023 - Croatia closes out the group stage of the 2023 World Handball Championship with a win against Morocco. Croatia moves to the second round against Denmark, Bahrain, and Belgium.

Croatia played their third and last group stage match against Morocco at the World Handball Championship held in Sweden and Poland.

Coach Hrvoje Horvat made one change in goal, so instead of Dominik Kuzmanović, Mate Šunjić was in the lineup.

Croatia was the big favorite, but after opening with a loss to Egypt, they couldn't afford another shock.

Unfortunately, points from this match did not bring Croatia any advantage in the next round because Morocco is last in their group.

In the second round of the competition in Malmö, Croatia will play Denmark, Bahrain, and Belgium.

Match recap

Morocco scored the first goal of the game. Ivan Martinović equalized for 1:1. Duvnjak stole the ball, and Jelinić brought Croatia the 2:1 lead in the 3rd minute. 

Morocco equalized in the 4th minute and then took the lead in the 5th. And Morocco was up by three goals in the 9th minute. 

Cindric reduced their lead to 4:8 in the 12th minute, and after being down by five goals, Croatia was behind by two in the 17th minute. Jelinić scored an empty goal for 8:9 in the 18th minute. And it was 9:10 a minute after that. 

Glavaš scored a penalty for 10:10 in the 20th minute, and Cindric put Croatia back ahead at 12:11 in the 24th minute. 

Martinović scored for 14:12 with two minutes left in the first half, and Cindrić made it 15:12 with a minute left!

The first half ended at 15:13 for Croatia. 

Glavaš scored to open the second half for 16:13, Croatia's most significant advantage. Cindrić scored for 18:14 in the 33rd minute. 

Cindrić was on fire - scoring again for +5 - 19:14 in the 34th minute! Then, Jelinić and Martinović scored for Croatia's biggest advantage - +6.

And it was 24:17 Croatia in the 41st! And 26:20 in the 47th. 

Sebetić scored for a convincing 27:20 with 12 minutes to go. 

Cindrić nailed his ninth goal in the 53rd minute for 29:23, and Sipic scored for 30:23 in the next play. 

With two minutes left in the game it was 34:24, and with a minute to go - 35:24. Šarac scored for 36:24, which was the final result. 

Luka Cindric was named the man of the match!

Croatia and Denmark play next in the second round on Thursday. We are still waiting for the confirmed time.

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

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

WineOS Osijek Wine Festival Goes from Strength to Strength

January 20, 2023 - And you thought Croatia was dead in January? Head on East to WineOS and the Osijek Wine Festival, which was a great success in its 8th edition.

Croatia in January.

Advent in over, the summer is far away, everything is closed. 

Now imagine Slavonia in January. Even worse, right?

You couldn't be further from the truth. One of the early season fixed highlights in my calendar each year now is a weekend in Osijek in mid-January. I first went to the WineOS Osijek Wine Festival seven years ago, a very local affair with just a few producers. 

The organisers have worked very hard to expand the event, while maintaining the quality. In addition to the many wines to try, there are outstanding workshops of both days, as well as an excellent after party both nights - this year hosted at Peppermint. More details in the press release below, as I will confess that my judgment got a little cloudier as the days went on. 

Two highlights for me were learning about the wines of Vina Papak in Ilok, officially the easternmost winery in Croatia - for years I thought that Ilocki Podrum was the only name in town there.

And the black Slavonian pig kulen from former Croatian national footballer, Domagoj Vida (I met it last year) was absolutely sensational. 

Much more below, and I heartily recommend you look out for the dates in 2024 - an excellent event powered by fine wines and true Slavonian hospitality. 

You can follow the official WineOS website here.

 

THE RECORD EIGHTH WINEOS ATTRACTED NUMEROUS EXHIBITORS AND VISITORS

The previous weekend, on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th January, the eighth international fair of wine, delicacies and pleasant living WineOS was held in the Gradski vrt hall. According to announcements, it was the largest WineOS ever, where over 115 producers of wine, spirits, desserts, cured meats and other delicacies presented themselves.

During the two days of the fair and three days of workshops, almost 3,500 people passed through the hall: exhibitors, visitors, business guests and everyone who worked hard to make this event look spectacular. On both exhibition days, there was a big crowd in the hall in front of each exhibitor and the stage where Saša Vojnović from the Lug Hotel restaurant, Nebojša Rajković from the Čingi Lingi čarda restaurant and the famous gastronomic educator from Split Željko Neven Bremec demonstrated their culinary skills.

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"Record numbers, great interest in participation, reactions of the exhibitors and the audience are confirmation that we succeeded in surpassing previous editions. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the organization and realization of the biggest January public event in Osijek; Osijek-Baranja County, the City of Osijek and the Vinita wine shop as co-organizers, the tourist associations of Osijek-Baranja County and the City of Osijek, the Osijek Fair as a sponsor, and our partners from the Catering and Tourism School. Without their help and engagement, this event could not have been realized", said the president of the organizing committee of the fair and the president of the association Dekanter Boris Ocić.

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"Eight years after the first edition of the fair, WineOS truly became what we wanted - one of the biggest wine events in Croatia and the region. Osijek is increasingly recognized as a wine tourist destination, a city of hedonism and good food, and a place where guests from other parts of Croatia like to come and stay more and more. We will continue in the same direction, we will offer something new every year and we will not rest on our laurels. We want to progress even more", said WineOS founder and CEO Vinko Ručević.

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"The reactions of the exhibitors and the audience, the praise that comes from all sides, the words of praise sent to us by the media, guests, and guests are really pleasing. However, the most important thing is that we have permanent partners who are of great help to us, but also the fact that our exhibitors get better and better jobs precisely thanks to the contacts made on WineOS. We want to continue in this direction and offer everyone an even better and more attractive WineOS next year and provide an opportunity for exhibitors and business visitors to do even more work. And we will do all this with another big step forward that we are planning for 2024. However, we will say more about that in a few months", concluded the executive director of the fair, Denis Despot.

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Finally, here are some concrete figures. The 1,900 square meters of the Gradski vrt hall housed 97 exhibition spaces where over 115 exhibitors from Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina presented themselves. More than 2,800 guests, invitees, business visitors, protocol representatives and journalists passed through the hall, totaling almost 3,500 people with the organizers and exhibitors. Visitors tried more than 500 different wines and spirits in almost 3,000 glasses, about 2,500 liters of water were drunk, a ton of ice was consumed, and workshop participants had the opportunity to taste about eighty different wines, many of which you can no longer buy even in wineries.

All this is a lure for guests to visit WineOS next year as well, and while they wait they will be able to enjoy the many wine events in Osijek and the surrounding area that await us in 2023. At the end, the organizers send another big thank you to everyone with a message - see you in 2024 at the ninth WineOS!
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Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Rare Endangered Bald Ibis Female Spotted in Neretva Valley in Croatia

January 17, 2023 - The bald ibis became extinct in Europe and Croatia in the 18th century. In Croatia, the last individuals nested in Istria. The bird is a migrant that lives in semi-desert or rocky areas, often near watercourses.

After flying from Brač and staying briefly on Hvar, the female bald ibis (Gerinticus eremita) named Gipsy continued her journey, stopped in Slano, and then arrived in the Neretva valley, the Dubrovnik-Neretva County reported on Monday, writes 24Sata. The County Public Institution for the Management of Protected Areas of Nature received notification of this from the Biom association.

"The reappearance of the bald ibis in Croatia is possible thanks to the LIFE Northern Bald Ibis project, which is dedicated to reintroducing individuals from captivity in Germany and Austria. A feeding ground has been arranged for these birds in northern Italy, but before going there, they often decide to fly through Croatia as well," the County said.

They state that all individuals are equipped with GPS devices that track their flight, and this rare bird can be tracked through the Animal Tracker application, where photos and information about their sightings can be entered.

The bald ibis became extinct in Europe and Croatia in the 18th century. In Croatia, the last individuals nested in Istria. The bird is a migrant that lives in semi-desert or rocky areas, often near watercourses. The ancient Egyptians worshiped it, and today there are only about 200 individuals living in North Africa and the Middle East, the press release points out.

When hatched, the bald ibis have feathers on its head. But as they grow, their feathers fall off, and their heads remain bare, hence their name. The rest of their body is covered with black feathers with a copper-green and purple glow in the sun.

The bald ibis have red beaks and red skin all over their body, except for the top of their head. They have long feathers on the back of their necks. Under normal circumstances, they live between 25 and 30 years. They feed on insects, lizards, and even small mammals.

Since Gipsy is not shy and can be approached, the County asks the citizens not to disturb her if they spot her.

"If she decides to spend the night at your house or somewhere nearby, observe her from a distance and let her decide for herself when she will go on her way," the press release emphasizes.

"If you spot her or by any chance take a photo, please send the information to the contact of the Public Institution This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., so that we can all contribute to the preservation and return of this extinct species to Europe," the County said.

 For more, check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Croats Living in Croatia, Earning Abroad: Stjepan Mijat Zaninović, Zastražišće, Hvar

January 17, 2023 - The Croatian dream - to live in Croatia and get income from abroad. Meet the locals who are living that dream, and find out how you could, too, in a new TCN series. In the latest in the series, meet Stjepan Mijat Zaninović, who is enjoying life on Hvar.

Croatia, great for a 2-week holiday, but a nightmare for full-time living unless you are very rich, so the perceived wisdom goes. The Croatian dream is to live in Croatia with a nice income from abroad, as many foreigners and remote workers do. For Croatians, if I read the comments in my recent video, Croatia is the Best Place to Live: 8 Reasons Why (see below), salaries are too low and people are forced to emigrate in search of a better life.

While there is definitely an element of truth to this, it got me thinking. The era of remote work is here, and the workplace is increasingly global, with a labour shortage for many skills. It doesn't matter if you are from Boston or Bangladesh if you have the skills, desire, and work ethic, and are able to work remotely online.  And while it is certainly true that salaries in Croatia are low, what about the opportunities that the global online marketplace offers? If foreigners can find ways to live in Paradise and work remotely, why not locals? Curious, I posted this on my Facebook and LinkedIn:

Do I know many Croats who are living in Croatia, but working remotely for international companies who would be interested in being part of a TCN interview series showcasing living in Croatia but earning online, including advice to others on how to get started? It could be an interesting series. If interested, contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

Some 15 emails - and several inspiring stories - later, and I think we have the makings of what could be a rather interesting series, Croats Living in Croatia & Earning Abroad. Next up in the series, Stjepan Mijat Zaninović, from the village of Zastražišće on Hvar.

My name is Stjepan Mijat Zaninović. I’m from Zastražišće, a small village on Hvar island.

And if you aren’t from Croatia, the line above probably made you feel something like this.


But from this point, there won’t be many č,ć,ž,š, and other elvish letters. I hope my story helps you realize what it takes to make it in Croatia. And by the end of the story, you’ll see why donkeys are sacred animals in Dalmatia.

You managed to achieve the Croatian dream - living here and working for international companies. Tell us how you did it.

The short answer is that I had no other choice. But that’s not how interviews work, so I have to take you back to 2017. 

I was a night receptionist in a 4* hotel in Split and karate sensei.

After finishing high school and dropping out of college, I was destined to spend my life in positions no one else wanted. I was ok with that. But with a job no one wants comes the boss no one wants. And I’m not the type of person who sits and complains. I complain a lot, but I can’t sit still. So instead of crying over my destiny to work for the minimum wage, I decided to cash in on the only other skill I had. Something I call connectivity, but for the sake of avoiding elvish, let’s call it writing for now.

Nights in a hotel were long, so I decided to write a book to honor my path, mission, and the lady who made that path brighter. The one who made my mission clear. That’s how “The Girl With the Fire in Her Hair” was born.

But this is Croatia, and I’m no one, so no one wanted to publish my book.

So I started looking for ways to make money through writing, which led me to Freelancer.com. A platform where cheap people go to find affordable talents to take care of gigs no one else wants. But I was happy with every project I could get because I was finally getting paid to write. I worked a week for a dollar, but I made money online doing something I liked.

Soon after, I started writing landing pages for natural supplements and taking care of social media for one American holistic brand. I was underpaid, but I was happy.

Today, 500+ landing pages and 3,000,000 words of blogs later, I’m still underpaid and happy. I’m also self-employed and working almost exclusively with foreign companies. I just wrapped up a long-form sales letter for a tantric retreat in Costa Rica. Next week, I'll start doing cold email outreach for a growth agency with an office in Chicago. But I’m an introvert like many copywriters. Blowing my own horn isn’t really my thing, so let’s move to the next question.

Looking for jobs based in Croatia can be a challenging task. How challenging was it for you to get where you are today - it must have taken a lot of determination and rejection.

It was the ultimate test of willpower, partially because I was ignorant (and poor as a mouse). It took me 2 years to realize that I wasn't a writer but a copywriter. And I couldn’t afford any mentors, so I had to do everything the hard way. I was bidding for numerous jobs left and right. I won some but lost many more. Every time a prospect would ghost me felt like a head kick. I hate getting rejected. I wanted to give up many times. Until October 2021, I was working full-time and writing full-time. Working 2 jobs drains a person.

But remember, I’m a stubborn Dalmatian donkey.

So now I’m a proud owner of a marketing agency Ihneumon Connectivity. Now, I cooperate closely with 6,7, and 8-figure companies. I even sometimes help other copywriters get to the next level.

3. If you can do it, presumably others can too. Are you aware of others who have had similar success, but maybe in different industries?

If I can do it, anyone can.

I’m focused on foreign markets, so I’m not networking with Croats that much (and being 100% introverted doesn’t help). However, I heard about many people from Croatia who “made it” without leaving Croatia.

So yeah, it’s possible. Difficult, but possible. Even though someone with enough money to pay for mentors and enough friends to help them can climb much faster than I have. Being one of the stars of the mentorship program by Stefan Georgi and Justin Goff (huge names in direct response copywriting) changed my life. That and the fact that I was too stupid to give up brought me where I am today.

4. What is the general feeling among people in Croatia today? Is it possible to have a good life here, or is the grass greener on the other side?

I won’t go all political here, but I have to say that one of the first articles I’ve ever written was “Croatia - the Rotten Diamond.” Croatia is the best place in the universe in many ways, but it’s terrible at the same time.

I’d say that the general feeling today is that honest work almost isn’t enough to survive in Croatia while being an Uhljeb (let’s say a parasite) is the Croatian Dream. The problem is that some people in Croatia live great, relaxed lives while most struggle to make ends meet. That creates gaps between people and divides us. But in the end, I guess that’s all part of the bigger plan. Divide and conquer is one of the most powerful techniques in every aspect of life. Yet, let’s jump to the next question before I get myself in trouble by revealing painful truths about Croatia.

5. Apart from corruption and nepotism, low wages are often cited as a reason to emigrate. But with the remote work revolution, as your example has shown, as well as the influx of many foreign workers to the likes of Rimac and Infobip for example, show that a good quality of life IS possible in Croatia. What are your thoughts on that?

I agree. Good quality of life is possible in Croatia. But even when you work remotely, you’re still in this rotten diamond. That means you still need to deal with prices that fit Scandinavian countries more than Balkan. That means you still have to deal with injustice on every corner. And I’m not worried about myself. I’ll deal with it. Other young people will deal with it (or leave the country).

I’m worried for my mom and dad. I’m worried for people who must work until they drop dead because we need to feed all the parasites. I hate to imagine the future in the country that has repaired 6 (in letters - SIX) houses since the earthquake 2 years ago.

*deep breath*

Let’s move on. There’s no need to ruin this beautiful day.

6. What advice do you have for others who would like to stay in Croatia, but have no idea where or how to find a possible remote work job or business as you have managed to do?

I could write a book of tips on that topic, but I don’t want to waste everyone’s time, so here are some bullets.

  • Network - Take this from the demigod of introverts; you can’t make it alone. It’s simply impossible.

  • Keep honing your skills - But it’s impossible to make it if you suck at what you do.

  • Keep learning new skills - And if you decide that there’s nothing new to learn, you won’t stay on top for long. Last month I learned how to use ClickFunnels. In the past 6 months, I worked in 7 new niches. You must be hungry all the time. If there's more to be done, you've done nothing yet.

  • Become a donkey - this one is the most important. Without this one, everything else is futile. Donkeys are noble animals, but they’re stubborn as hell. You must be so determined that nothing can stop you. And I know that’s true everywhere, not just in Croatia.

7. Three reasons you decided to stay in Croatia, and the one thing you would like to change in this country.

I’ll start with things I’d love to change because I want to finish this in a happy tone. I’d change the fact that Croatia has 555 local government units while the UK has 333. Can you imagine the number of parasites we need to feed?

I’d change the fact that the entire country depends on the weather. And not in a good way. I’d love to see more windmills, solar panels, and stuff. But sadly, we depend on the weather in a silly way. If the weather during Summer isn't perfect (or there’s some virus in the air), there’s no tourism. If there’s no tourism, well…

Croatia earns most of its money from tourism. More than any other country in the EU. Tourism brought a staggering 21% of the Croatian GDP in 2019. I heard 2022 was even better, so I don’t want to imagine what would happen if tourists decide to avoid this Rotten Diamond.

Now, let’s move to the reasons why I decided to stay:

  • My mom would cry forever. My brother is in Ireland. Losing 2 of her kids would probably kill her.
  • My wife wanted to go to Ireland. I wanted to go to Japan. The weather in Ireland sucks, and Japan is too expensive. For now, Stari Grad is home.
  • I feel deeply connected to Hvar. My soul belongs here.

I appreciate this chance to share my story, Paul.

 You can connect with Stjepan on LinkedIn and on Facebook

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Thanks Stjepan, very inspiring, and congratulations on all your success.

You can follow the rest of this series in the dedicated TCN section here.

If you would like to contribute your story to this series, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert YouTube channel.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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