Thursday, 19 May 2022

HUB Director: We Don't Expect Extremely High Increase In Interest Rates

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - Croatian Banking Association (HUB) director Zdenko Adrović said on Thursday that interest rates were not expected to rise extremely high but at rates that most people would be able to bear.

Responding to questions from the press at a HUB conference on the impact of euro adoption on the Croatian financial sector, Adrović said he did not know at what pace interest rates would grow, citing discussions in the Council of Governors at the European Central Bank.

"Some are calling for a quick and sharp increase in interest rates of 0.5 per cent already in July so that there would no longer be negative rates, while others are advocating a slower and milder increase. We will have to wait for the middle of the year," Adrović said.

He said that interest rates would most likely go up, adding that statistically 39 per cent of all loans were agreed at a floating interest rate and 61 per cent at a fixed interest rate. "This means that nothing will happen to those with the fixed interest rate, while in the case of those with the floating interest rate, the changeable part of the interest rate will change, while the margin will remain fixed."

 "We don't expect an extremely high increase, but one that most people can bear. We advise citizens to check their annuities and talk to their bank about the possibility of fixing the interest rate for a future period of three or five years if they want to avoid this risk," Adrović said.

 

For more, check out our business section

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Split To Hold Early Local Elections On 26 June

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - The Croatian government on Thursday called snap elections in the City of Split for 26 June.

On 26 June, eligible voters will go to the polls to elect the mayor, the two deputy mayors and a new 31-seat city council.

The snap polls will be organised after Split Mayor Ivica Puljak (the Centre party) and his two deputies Bojan Ivošević and Antonio Kuzmanić -- stepped down recently after an indictment was upheld against Ivošević for threatening a reporter.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Floraart Opens At Bundek Lake

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - The 56th edition of the Floraart flower show was formally opened by Mayor Tomislav Tomašević at Zagreb's Bundek Lake on Thursday.

This year, there are 160 exhibitors with over 100,000 plants.

Mayor Tomašević particularly thanked guests from the Republic of Korea and Korean Ambassador Sung-Wook Hong, for attending the opening ceremony.

Also in attendance was Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković,  who hailed cooperation with Korea.

The minister said that local flower growers, particularly young entrepreneurs in this sector, had been supported under various schemes totalling HRK 15 million (€2 million).

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

PM Says Croatia Can Play Crucial Role In Providing Energy In Europe

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - Croatia can be a crucial country for future energy supply to the countries in its neighbourhood that now fully depend on Russian energy sources, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday commenting on the "REPowerEU" plan to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels in Europe.

Plenković told a news conference that the REPowerEU Plan, which the European Commission presented on Wednesday as its response to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, highlights the need to invest in gas and oil pipelines networks.

This is an opportunity for the Croatian companies Plinacro and Janaf, and talks are being conducted with them to see what can be done, said the PM.

Plinacro, a leading Croatian gas transport system operator, and Janaf, which manages the oil transport network, have initial projections of necessary investments, according to Plenković.

The EU has a high degree of understanding for Croatia's crucial role, and the Croatian energy companies "have important roles in the changed energy structure of Europe," he added.

The PM highlighted three aspects of the EC plan: saving energy, diversifying supplies and accelerating the rollout of renewables.

The €300 billion plan consists of schemes for the disbursement of €225 billion in loans and €75 billion through grants.

The investment in gas and oil infrastructure is important to us because they create possibilities for additional investment, enhance our capacity and help Croatia become a strategic country in the diversification of supply routes, said Plenković.

He said that the government was taking necessary steps to fill gas storage capacities, as required by the EU.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Latest Film by Director Stanka Gjurić Selected at CIFF in Dhaka, Bangladesh

May 19, 2022 - The latest film by writer and filmmaker Stanka Gjurić, "Son of a Prophetess", is now part of the official selection of the prestigious Cinemaking International Film Festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The latest film by writer and filmmaker Stanka Gjurić, "Son of a Prophetess", with award-winning classical guitarist Srđan Bulat and poetess Ivanka Blažević Kiš in the lead roles, has entered the official selection of the prestigious Cinemaking International Film Festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which will take place in November 2022.

The short thriller-drama film was shot in Croatia and follows a young man who arrives from a trip, expecting his mother who is a prophet by occupation, to bring him the dog that she was taking care of during that time.

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Stanka Gjurić is a poet, essayist, actress, columnist, and filmmaker from Croatia. She was born in Čakovec, but today she lives in Zagreb. She has published 20 books and received numerous literary awards for her poetry. Stanka is a member of Croatian Independent Artists and the Croatian Academy of Science and Art in Diaspora (Basel, Switzerland). With her first short film 'Ubojite misli' (Battle Thoughts) she gained international recognition.

‘CIFF’ is one of the most important international film festivals in South Asia based in Bangladesh. It is organized with the support of DHAKA Festival and the largest film distribution and co-production company in South Asia, Cinemaking24.com. ‘Cinemaking’ is an international distribution and co-production company that seeks to promote film globally.

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The last edition of the Cinemaking International Film Festival 2021 was a competition of 600 films from 121 countries, selected in a competition of thousands of films submitted to the competition. The festival was held in several places, such as the International Mother Language Institute, then in the main national cultural center, the famous ‘Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy’, and in the equally famous ‘Shahojpath’ school in Dhaka.

Croatian filmmaker Stanka Gjurić has presented her films all around the world: France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, Slovenia, Egypt, Canada, Serbia, USA, South Africa, Argentina, India, Russia, Austria, Brazil, Great Britain, etc. With her short films, to date, Gjurić has won 15 international awards.

For everything you need to know about filming in Croatia, in your language, be sure to check Total Croatia's page.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

HNB Governor: Switching To Euro To Strengthen Resilience To Crises

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - Croatian National Bank (HNB) Governor Boris Vujčić said on Thursday that the introduction of the euro in the country as sole legal tender would strengthen the resilience to crisis, bring about better terms and conditions for borrowing, boost competitiveness and improve cost-efficiency.

The highest share of exchange risk and foreign currency lending risk will be eliminated, and banks will have direct access to the euro-area and the eurosystem's monetary operations, all of which will make their performance easier, Vujčić said at the 25th expert conference on the financial market, organised in Opatija by the Croatian Banking Association (HUB).

He recalled that all the preconditions for the changeover to the euro on 1 January 2023 had been met and that the Council of the EU was expected to make a formal decision on Croatia's admission to the euro area.

Croatia expects the Council to give a nod in July.

The country will start minting euro coins in the second half of 2022.

Vujčić said that all the segments of society would be ready for the euro changeover, and that preparations were proceeding as planned.

The governor is confident that Croatia will meet all the convergence criteria, including price stability, sound public finances, sustainable exchange-rate stability, fiscal criteria and the criterion concerning long-term interest rates.

As for a one-off price rise during the changeover, consumer prices are likely to go up by 0.2 percentage points in the first year of the euro adoption.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Croatia Reports 468 New COVID-19 Cases, Five Related Deaths

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - Croatia has recorded 468 new coronavirus cases and five COVID-related deaths in the past 24 hours, the national coronavirus response team reported on Thursday.

There are 292 hospitalised patients, 11 of whom are on ventilators.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic in Croatia, a total of 1,133,139 COVID cases have been registered and 15,950 people have died as a consequence. 

Currently there are 3,897 active cases in the country and 1,727 people are self-isolating.

By Wednesday, 5,250,173 doses of a COVID vaccine had been administered, and 59.51 per cent of the total population, or 70.78 per cent of adults, had been vaccinated.

 

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Vela Luka in 48 Hours: Hum, Vela Spila, Martina Bok, and More

May 19, 2022 - Vela Luka, on the island of Korčula, is a popular destination in the summer for those eager to explore the Croatian islands. But even in May, there are many things to do in a short time, with great weather and fewer tourists.

If I blame myself for something in almost three years in Croatia, it is not having explored enough beyond the big cities and the most popular points of interest. The time has come to put excuses aside, the pandemic for example. It's definitely easier to point to a place on the Croatian map and venture out when something strong drives you there. In this case, I felt the need to be alone for a few days and visit a remote place that I had not visited before.

I live in Split, and perhaps the most practical would be to choose somewhere on the islands of Brač, Šolta, Hvar, or Vis. However, my desire to escape was so intense that I felt that these islands were not far enough to satisfy my desires. I saw what other destinations were reachable by sea from the port of Split, and I chose Vela Luka. Interestingly, before I moved to Croatia, Vela Luka was a destination I always browsed on YouTube with my father. For some reason, it caught our attention. Taking that into account and the distance, I didn't think twice.

There are two ways to get to Vela Luka from Split: by catamaran or by ferry. The catamaran is clearly faster, and the journey time is approximately two hours. The ferry, on the other hand, can take up to 3 hours and a half to reach Vela Luka. Something, however, made me opt for the ferry, and that is that in addition to not being in a big hurry, I felt that the size of the ferry offers you better observation points during the journey. My intention was not to sleep during the trip, but rather to take photos, record videos, and enjoy the views, so it makes sense. In case you ever ask yourself the same question, it is worth remembering that the price of the ferry and the catamaran to Vela Luka are the same: 54 kunas.

Leaving Split (First day - 10:30 am)

On a sunny and hot Monday, my ferry left the port of Split at 10:30 am as part of the Split-Vela Luka-Lastovo route. Around 11:15, the ferry crossed the passage between the islands of Brač and Šolta. Fifty minutes later, the ferry would pass in front of the town of Hvar, between the main island and the Pakleni islands. For a while, a thick mist replaced the scorching sun. Finally, at 13:20 pm, the ferry arrived at the port of Vela Luka, where the weather that greeted me was the same or even hotter than that of Split: 24 degrees.

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It's not that I travel all the time on ferries, but if the weather is good, you'll never see me inside one. Always on the deck enjoying the landscapes. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

According to Jadrolinija, the Croatian national ferry company, it would arrive at 14:00 but it was a pleasant surprise to arrive half an hour earlier. It may not be much, but on a short trip that half-hour can really make a difference.

Arriving at Vela Luka (13:30 pm)

I rented a very nice family apartment close to the ferry port but managed to keep the feeling of isolation away from the center. At that time, the first thing I did was check-in, leave my things, and look for something to eat by the riva.

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Arriving at Vela Luka. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

Coming from Split, or recently in Dubrovnik, I was surprised to see so little tourist movement in Vela Luka. I wonder if it was because it was Monday, but it didn't seem to go along with the tourist trends on the coast: silence, some empty restaurants, and bars. It's not something that bothers me, but the opposite. I imagine that in places like Vela Luka, perhaps not as popular as Hvar, Bol, or Korčula, this wave of tourism takes perhaps a few more weeks to manifest itself. If you are one of those who are looking to enjoy a paradisiacal place in solitude, May is your month. If, on the other hand, you want to enjoy Vela Luka at its best, you may want to wait a few weeks for June or July to arrive.

Lunch at Konoba Skalinada (15:30 pm)

The good thing about the location of my apartment was that it was very close to where the Vela Luka boardwalk basically started. That allowed me, perhaps, not to miss a great culinary opportunity along the way. I'm not going to deny that before leaving I took a look at Google Maps for some recommendations, and I was beginning to worry about the number of restaurants that weren't open yet or many that just opened after 5:00 p.m. I couldn't wait two hours for lunch. After walking for about 20 minutes, I found a restaurant that met all the initial parameters: next to the riva, good views, enough shade to protect me from the heat, and, above all, open.

The name of the restaurant was Konoba Skalinada, a family restaurant with more than 10 years of a strong presence on the gastronomic charts of the island of Korčula. As a starter, I ordered a large, ice-cold Karlovačko to think clearly. This is a custom that you will see convenient when summer arrives. I noticed that the restaurant's menu presented an abundant and diverse offer of seafood, and with great sadness, I realized that it would have been a better decision if it had been accompanied due to the enormous number of dishes for more than one person. But that is not a demotivation and much less an obstacle, and therefore I opted for some fried squid. Something told me that any dish is better served on an island, and I was not wrong.

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Spectacular food, excellent service, and ''još jedno'' for another Karlovačko did the job. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

Hiking the hill to Hum (18:00)

I walked back to my apartment to rest for an hour after the heavy lunch and the merciless sun, gather a few things, and embark on my next and last adventure of the day: climbing Hum Hill. From the Korkyra marina on the Vela Luka embankment, it can take about an hour and a half to walk up to Hum. Personally, I recommend doing it either early in the morning with a lot of energy, or in the afternoon after a good rest. I was inclined to go in the afternoon, even without the good rest, since I was curious to see the sunset. The road is suitable for hiking in the summer months, as it passes through shady forests.
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At the top, one encounters not only the Austro-Hungarian fortress of Hum but an unbeatable view of Vela Luka. (Image: Vela Luka Tourist Board)

After returning from the hike, I thought about going back to town for a beer or coffee to close the first day, but I was tired and had a lot planned for the next day. That is why I decided to close the day and sleep early.

Heading to Vela Spila (Second day - 10:30 am)

First on my itinerary for the second day was to visit the famous cave of Vela Spila, located on top of a hill behind Vela Luka's Obala 2. In Vela Luka, you will notice that unlike the vast majority of cities and towns in Croatia, the streets do not have a name, but are identified by numbers. After stopping by the nearest Studenac to buy provisions such as water, bananas, tuna and some crackers, I started the trip.

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Most of the old houses in Vela Luka were built between the 19th and 20th centuries. This one is from 1926. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

I'm not going to deny that it was a bit confusing to find my way around the numbered streets, but it wasn't a problem. Vela Luka, contrary to other Dalmatian cities and towns, does not display Roman heritage and architecture so prominently in its streets and avenues. Although the human presence in the Vela Luka area can be traced back thousands of years, the town of Vela Luka began to develop only at the beginning of the 19th century. However, not having ancient stone houses or churches from centuries ago does not make it less beautiful than other similar destinations.

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Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

After correctly locating the 16th street and then a strange steep passage, I managed to find the main track that leads to Vela Spila. After five minutes of walking, you will find a signpost that begins the relatively short uphill walk to Vela Spila. The route is as valuable as the destination, and on the way to Vela Spila you will turn your head as you climb the hill, and you will notice that the view makes everything worthwhile even despite the heat.

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Tansy (Tanacetum cinerariifolium), or Buhač in Croatia. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

In addition, you will find tansy, a tall and fragrant plant up to 60 cm that decorates the path to Vela Spila and that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was cultivated in the Vela Luka area as a natural insecticide to care for crops. You'll also notice the presence of carobs, a flowering evergreen tree also known as St. John's Bread, whose sweet, brown fruit has been a part of human nutrition for up to 4,000 years.

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Vela Spila is an enormous lit cave that measures 50x30 meters, 20 meters high with an 8 meters entrance. Archaeological research over the past 50 years, now approximately 11 meters in depth from the original surface, shows its use by early humans from at least 20,000 years ago. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

Getting to Vela Spila takes about 30 minutes from the center of Vela Luka, and it really is a great idea to include it as part of your itinerary on a sunny day in May or in the summer months. What better way to rest from the heat than in a cave? Even more so if the cave itself is a very important archaeological site, where remains and evidence of human presence in the Old Stone Age were discovered. The cave has only just been excavated to 7.5 meters deep, which leaves one's imagination how much more can be found about even older human habitation.

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Keep in mind that the entrance fee to Vela Spila costs 15 kunas. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

Hike to Martina Bok (12:30 pm)

After visiting Vela Spila, it sounds a bit strange not to choose a beach as the next stop on the itinerary. Vela Luka is well known for its countless beaches and coves along the west coast of the island of Korčula. I could have chosen any of the closest to the town, but to make the most of my short stay in Vela Luka, I set my sights on Martina Bok, a beach that is almost 7 kilometers from the center of Vela Luka and to get there a walk of approximately one hour and 45 minutes is needed.

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(Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

I will anticipate the facts to confirm that it is worth going on foot. Yes, I could have rented a bike or hitched a ride, but I don't know if I could have enjoyed those unique moments alone and pauses to appreciate everything I saw along the way. As well as being a great exercise for one, seeing so many olive trees, vineyards, fields, small old stone houses, and more is priceless. The heat was there, but a cool breeze accompanied me all the way to Martina Bok.

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A water reservoir I found on the way to Martina Bok. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

After an hour and a half of walking, I arrived at the entrance to the beach and it seems to have been naturally prepared to leave one speechless. After crossing a forest of pine and cypress trees, you come across Martina Bok, a beach characterized by its peculiar rock formation, its celestine waters, and the views towards the small island of Šćedro and the island of Hvar. Unbelievably, only one couple was on the beach and they were already coming back. A beach like this and only for me! It wouldn't have bothered me if there were more people, but I remembered that the reason for my trip was to be alone and clear my head, and it seemed that the gods were reading my mind.

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Martina Bok. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

It will not be the ideal beach to lie down and sunbathe, due to the shapes of the rocks, but with the heat and after the long walk that brought me to Martina Bok, I spent more time in the water than out. What pleased me the most was confirming for myself that the temperature of the water is already more than suitable for a dip.

Back in Vela Luka (16:30 pm)

At approximately 15:40 I started the way back to Vela Luka. This time I must admit that I regretted not having any means of transportation to return to town, but I had already assimilated going on foot again. The only thing that worried me was getting too tired to not take advantage of my last night in Vela Luka, but once again it seems that the stars aligned in my favor. 

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This was my route from Vela Luka to Martina Bok. Beautiful hike, but renting a bike isn't a bad idea!

After walking for half an hour, I heard a car that was going in my direction pull up behind me. I turned around and a lady asked me, "Vela Luka?" With a relieved and almost suffering voice, I replied, "Yes, please." I got on and thanked her for the ride, and I couldn't hide how happy I was to save myself so much time to get back. Her name was Aloisia, a Croatian-German who lives in Hamburg, but every year she returns to Vela Luka, where she grew up, to take refuge in paradise.

The kind-hearted lady dropped me off at the very center of Vela Luka. My plan for the rest of my stay will be simple: go back to the apartment, take a shower, rest a bit, and go back to town for ice cream and watch the sun go down. So it was.

Ice Cream at Diana Gelato (19:00 pm)

On my previous walks, when looking for a place to have lunch on the first day, or when looking for the way to Vela Spila, an ice cream stand with many customers on both days had already caught my attention: Diana Gelato. I mean, again one place ticked all the boxes: location, availability, menu, everything. Once I was sitting there, with a spectacular stracciatella ice cream in my hand and watching the sun disappear, I could say that my brief journey to Vela Luka had concluded satisfactorily.

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Image: Diana Gelato

The next day I was at 6:05 am in the port of Vela Luka to board the ferry that left 10 minutes later. Definitely, a precious hour to navigate the waters of the Adriatic, and even more so with my head in the right place knowing that I was able to make the most of my time in Vela Luka.

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Visiting the islet of Proizd is a must if you go to Vela Luka. (Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich)

Definitely, no destination can be covered in its entirety in just two days, and many activities could not be carried out for reasons beyond my control. For example, there is no trip to Vela Luka without a boat ride to the small and nearby islet of Proizd, famous for its spectacular beaches. Unfortunately, boat services to Proizd are not in service yet. Surely in the coming weeks, as we move further into summer, they will begin to set sail for that islet.

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Photo: Jose Alfonso Cussianovich

This was my itinerary, but I'm sure you can be even more creative than me!

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Klovićevi Dvori Gallery Marks 40th Anniversary With "Ukrainian Rhapsody" Exhibition

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - Zagreb's Klovićevi Dvori Gallery on Wednesday marked its 40th anniversary with an exhibition of graphics entitled "Ukrainian Rhapsody" and the screening of a film about the gallery.

The exhibition, initiated by former culture minister Božo Biškupić, was opened by Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, who said that Klovićevi Dvori was one of the most important world galleries, having hosted more than 1,500 exhibitions.

The exhibition, featuring works by 14 Croatian artists, is a token of solidarity with the suffering of the Ukrainian people, Obuljen Koržinek said.

Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych, who attended the event, thanked Croatia and its prime minister for their strong support to Ukraine.

Attending the opening of the exhibition were also Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, government ministers, members of parliament and other prominent public figures.

The exhibition "Ukrainian Rhapsody" lasts until 19 June.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Search Underway For Five Members Of Italian Tugboat Crew Gone Missing In Shipwreck

ZAGREB, 19 May 2022 - A search is underway for five members of the crew of an Italian tugboat gone missing in a shipwreck that happened in the night between Wednesday and Thursday, and one person has been rescued, the Croatian Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure said on Thursday.

The search for the five missing members of the Franco P tugboat crew is being coordinated by Italian and Croatian authorities for search and rescue operations at sea, and involved are also vessels that happened to be in the vicinity of the site of the shipwreck.

The shipwreck happened on the line of demarcation between the Italian and Croatian search and rescue regions of responsibility.

For more, check out our politics section.

 

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