Saturday, 25 June 2022

Zagreb Through the Eyes of a Sixteen Year Old Expat

June 25, 2022 - Zagreb, Croatia’s prized northwestern capital, has gained quite the attention recently – with its captivating architecture and an abundant amount of summer activities. But is it exciting to live in for teenagers? Does it truly have a lot to offer to the vast number of youthful souls living there? Find out in the first of a new TCN series - Zagreb Through the Eyes of a Sixteen-Year-Old Expat. Prepare yourself for the culture that I have experienced as an expat living in Croatia’s most important transport hub! In today’s episode, meet the art culture of Zagreb.

From charming scenery to a distinguishable amount of greenery, offbeat entertainment, and a low crime rate, Zagreb has grown detrimentally on me during the single year I spent here (with one more to conquer before leaving for university).  Nothing about this city seemed appealing to me when my parents unexpectedly told me that, in the next few weeks, we are moving abroad for their work.

Leaving my close ones. Having to carve out a new social life. Finding a new school. It was all out of my comfort zone – which I very rarely challenge. I was not prepared to be thrown into an entirely unfamiliar community but found comfort in the fact that no one ever is. And so, with time I found myself falling in love with the medieval “old city” with contemporary Croatian culture and art.

Although Zagreb’s established reputation as a destination of culture, music, and art becomes notorious throughout the summertime, it still exudes everything it has to offer on a day-to-day basis – no matter the season. During my time here I have noticed several events provided by the city to its citizens, such as the Advent, the festival of lights, and several museums hosting gatherings for art enthusiasts. With smiling faces all around you, excited laughs from children running by, and an intoxicating atmosphere spreading with each passing second, Zagreb knows how to bring people together and have them share a memorable experience with one another.

advent-g7e3e65ae4_1920.jpgMoreover, the city’s combination of modern pleasure with historic architecture seems to divulge contrasts unlike anything else. For example, the Croatian National Theatre (1895) has shown generations of artists showcasing contemporary beauty on multiple occasions – bringing entertainment to all age groups living in the city of Zagreb. Additionally, the National Museum of Modern Art and the Ethnographic Museum of Zagreb both interpret and spread numerous museum activities aimed to promote the culture of the past and present.

Overall, I believe the diverse experience provided by Croatia’s cultural centre nurtures and promotes art in all kinds of forms. It encourages us citizens to discover various talents and institutions that mirror how culturally rich the city is. From my experience, all the events seem to grant a large number of locals and visitors the ability to view such creations from various open spaces – providing a level of fulfilment to all who attend!

Do not miss out on the opportunity to discover the city’s distinct personality by finding out more about the art culture it is exceptionally known for and the enviable summer programme that has recently started.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Finnair Helsinki-Zagreb Route to End Two Months Early, Plans to Return Next Year

June 25, 2022 - The latest flight news to Croatia as the Finnair Helsinki-Zagreb route will end on July 31st this year instead of the originally scheduled end date of September 29. The airline still plans to return to the Croatian capital next year. 

Ex Yu Aviation reports that the Finnair Helsinki-Zagreb route will end on July 31, which is two months ahead of the originally scheduled end date. The final flight will be operated by Nordic Regional Airlines with its 100-seat Embraer E190 aircraft. The Finnair seasonal route was meant to run until September 29 and no reason has been given for its cancellation. The Helsinki-Zagreb route was launched on May 1 with three flights a week, operated on Airbus A319 aircraft. 

However, Finnair plans to return to Zagreb next year, on April 30, with three flights a week on the same line. It is interesting to note that Finnair is the only airline to operate the Helsinki-Zagreb service. While Croatia Airlines ran summer flights between Helsinki and Zagreb in 2017, the line was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and has yet to be restored, and without any plans to re-launch the service. Finnair will continue to operate to Split and Dubrovnik until October 29, or the end of the summer flight schedule. 

Finnair also sacked its plans to Ljubljana this year, which ran seasonally until the coronavirus pandemic and was meant to be relaunched this summer. However, the airline should return to Ljubljana from May 2, 2023, with four flights per week.

"Slovenia and Croatia are very popular leisure destinations from Finland. A lot of the travel is point to point but we do see an increase in transfer traffic as well, those destinations are becoming increasingly popular among our Asian customers, particularly from Japan", the airline said.

For more on flights to Croatia and other travel announcements, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Split International Food Scene: What's New in 2022?

June 25, 2022 - A look at the booming Split international food scene and what has opened this year. 

International flavors have increasingly shown their face in Split over the last few years, but it's hard to say if they've been as prevalent as in 2022. After the tastes of Mexico, China, and Japan became more common to find, this year, Split is alive with new international flair to the delight of tourists, expats, and locals alike. 

Here's a look at what's new in 2022. 

Siam Thai Food

Split finally has a Thai food restaurant! After Siam Thai opened in Kaštela over a year ago, the citizens of Split eagerly awaited its more central location - and this summer, we finally have it. Siam Thai opened in Pohodnik, or the tunnel underneath Split's Green Market (Pazar), offering takeout, delivery, and a handful of tables for those who want to dine in. With authentic pad Thai, curries, and spring rolls, Siam offers the best selection of Thai food favorites with hefty portions at reasonable prices. 

Rooh Indian 

And we finally have Indian food, too! One international cuisine expats especially have been waiting for is finally here. Rooh opened in the heart of Split a few months ago with everything one would expect from a traditional Indian restaurant. With a selection of naan bread, tandoori dishes, the popular honey chili cauliflower, samosas, and biriyani - Rooh has it all. And they know a thing or two about heat! Rooh has both indoor and outdoor seating and is located just off of Marmontova. 

Zuva

African is a rather unexpected cuisine you'd find in Split, that is, until now. But in an effort to make sure it appeals to more familiar tastes, Zuva mixes the flavors of the Mediterranean with Africa, offering sourdough toasties and shakshuka among their breakfast items to oysters, Cape Malay curry, crispy African 'sadza', chicken, steak, and pasta mains, and sticky malva pudding for dessert. Zuva has a large outdoor terrace just opposite the Cornaro hotel. 

Sanctuary Cantina

Everyone's favorite craft cocktail bar is transforming into a Mexican cantina this summer! Known for whipping up espresso martinis and old-fashioned's, Sanctuary Cantina is a new Mexican restaurant in town, with an extensive selection of tequilas, margaritas, mezcal, and authentic Mexican dishes, like beef barbacoa, ancho chicken, and pork carnitas as the stars of their burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and more! 

Casa de Fuego 

And if you're looking for something a bit more low-key? Casa de Fuego is a new Mexican fast food restaurant in town, where ground beef burritos, hard shell tacos, and churros are king. Casa de Fuego has limited seating inside and is great if you're on the go. 

Pinsa Romana

Considering Romans did rule Split once upon a time, it's no surprise that a Roman-inspired sandwich shop has opened in Split. Pinsa Romana brings Roman street food sandwiches and 100% Italian specialties to the center of town, right across from the famous fish market. Enjoy mortadella sandwiches with pistachio pesto, stracciatella, and the only original parmigiana in town!

Morfar 

Did someone say empanadas? An Argentinian deli has opened in Split in the tunnel next to HNK, offering handmade empanadas, yerba mate, dulce de leche, Argentinian wine, and more. 

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Wimbledon Draw: Croatian Tennis Players Learn Opponents in 3rd Grand Slam of Season

June 25, 2022 - The Wimbledon draw was held on Friday, revealing the first-round meetings for Croatian tennis players. 

Croatian tennis player Jana Fett, who made it through the qualifications to the main Wimbledon tournament, will play in the first round against the world's No. 1 tennis player, Iga Swiatek from Poland. 

Donna Vekić also got a tough opponent and will play against the eighth-seed American Jessica Pegula. It will be the first time they play each other. 

Petra Martić also drew an American as her opponent in the first round - the 37th tennis player in the world, Shelby Rogers. Martić achieved her two best results at Wimbledon in 2017 and 2019, when she reached the fourth round.

The best Croatian tennis player Marin Čilić will play against the 52nd player in the world, American Mackenzie McDonald, in the first round. Čilić and McDonald have played only once, and Marin celebrated at the 2019 Australian Open.

Borna Ćorić will play against the 12th seed Argentine Diego Schwartzman. It will be their fifth duel, and so far, they are 2-2 head-to-head. 

Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić will open the doubles tournament against Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Benoit Paire, while Ivan Dodig and partner Austin Krajicek will face Steve Johnson and Samuel Querrey. 

Wimbledon title defender Novak Djokovic will start the campaign for his 21st Grand Slam title against South Korean Kwon Soon-woo in the first round, while second seed Rafael Nadal plays against Argentine Francisco Cerundol, the 42nd player in the world.

The young Spanish rising star and fifth seed Carlos Alcaraz will face German Jan-Lennard Struff at the start.

Looking further into the draw, Djokovic and Alcaraz, and Nadal and Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime could meet in the quarterfinals if they are successful until then. 

Serena Williams, who has not played a single match for a year due to injury, will begin the hunt for her 24th Grand Slam title against French tennis player Harmony Tan, 113th on the WTA list. If she wins, she will face Sara Sorribes Tormo and last year's finalist Karolina Pliškova in the third round. 

You can read more here

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Croatian Police, Dinamo, Hajduk, and HNS Discuss Fan Safety at Croatian Super Cup in Zagreb

June 25, 2022 - The Croatian Police, Dinamo, Hajduk, and HNS discussed fan safety ahead of the Croatian Super Cup in Zagreb between the two clubs on July 9. 

A meeting of the Police Directorate and competent persons was held in front of Dinamo, Hajduk, and the Croatian Football Federation. The first derby of the season is being played as part of the Super Cup on July 9, and the goal is to prevent the incidents that accompanied last season's derbies.

The HNS press release is transmitted in its entirety below:

"On Friday, June 24, 2022, a working meeting was held on the official premises of the Police Directorate to prepare and implement security for the upcoming Super Cup football match between GNK Dinamo Zagreb and HNK Hajduk Split.

In addition to the representatives of the Police Directorate, the persons in charge of security on behalf of the Croatian Football Federation and the football clubs Dinamo and Hajduk participated in the meeting and discussed all segments of security preparation and implementation that affects security in this football match.

Namely, the Police Directorate declared the football match a high-security risk match and all participants in the meeting agreed on the importance of making every effort to play the match in the atmosphere of a football sports spectacle in which sport will be at the forefront with all necessary security measures for all participants and spectators." 

Recall, football fans and Croatian police clashed after Dinamo Zagreb beat Hajduk 3:1 in the final match of the season one month ago. Dinamo celebrated the Croatian championship title in front of their fans at Maksimimr Stadium, as Hajduk fan group Torcida remained outside protesting a new Dinamo banner rule. Later that evening, fans and police clashed at the Desinec rest area along the Zagreb-Split motorway. As a result, four men sustained shotgun wounds, and 35 people were injured. Forty-two people were in investigative custody and only released 9 days ago. 

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section

Saturday, 25 June 2022

The Guardian Ranks Lastovo Among Europe's Most Enchanted Islands

June the 25th, 2022 - The British publication The Guardian has made no efforts to hide its love for Croatia over the years, with destinations up and down the country making it to various lists. It has now published a list of the most enchanted, off-the-radar European islands, and the gorgeous southern Dalmatian island of Lastovo is quite rightly on it.

As Morski writes, The Guardian has included beautiful Lastovo on its recently published list of the ten most enchanted, off-the-radar European islands boasting untouched nature, which still aren't as attractive to tourists as other more popular ones might be. A trip from Split to Lastovo takes just under five hours, which is why tourists don't tend to be in any particular rush to arrive at this beautiful haven north of Dubrovnik.

Croatia's islands are no strangers to such lists, and Lastovo certainly deserves special recognition for the incredible combination of pristine vegetation and nature and stunning bays in which a refreshing dip results in a feeling of pure nirvana.

''It may take an arduous four-and-a-quarter hour ferry crossing from Split to reach Lastovo, but this chunky Croatian island is so different from its touristy sister, you’ll be glad you made the effort. Spend your time dawdling through pine forests, admiring the island’s Venetian-style houses, then exploring some of its 38 churches or swimming in the transparent waters off Skrivena Luka Bay. There’s just one hotel – the aptly named Solitudo, whose sea-facing restaurant serves up delicious Dalmatian-style spiny lobster.'' writes The Guardian in its description of this alluring island.

In addition to Lastovo, The Guardian's list also includes the island of Porquerolles in France, Tabarca in Spain, Bozcaada in Turkey, La Graciosa in Spain, Syros in Greece, Cabrera in Spain, Tinos in Greece, Île de Batz in France and Filicudi in Sicily.

For more on Croatian islands, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Porec Adrenaline Bike Park Opened, First of its Kind on Croatian Coast

June the 25th, 2022 - The Porec adrenaline bike park is now officially open, and it's the very first of its kind on the entire Croatian coastline which will certainly push this Istrian city's tourist offer further.

As Morski writes, the Porec adrenaline bike park has been opened at the Porec City Beach on the site of the former Colonia Iulia Parentium beach bar, the first of its kind on the Croatian coast.

With this move, Porec has enriched its overall tourist offer, which can be enjoyed by both all kinds of recreationists, as well as participants of the summer camp there. The Porec adrenaline bike park, which includes a pump track and skills polygons, is intended for bikes, scooters, skates and rollerblades, and is located near the beach. There's also an outdoor gym, a pump track and a newly renovated children's park.

The pump track extends to 902 square metres and is intended for all generations. It's a track that looks like a continuous loop of flatter planes and hills that can be ridden without pedaling. The shape of the track allows users to just have fun, and also functions as a relatively safe sports activity covering an area that can be smaller than a basketball court.

The pump tracks are suitable for all sizes of bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades, scooters and the like. Cyclists of all ages and technical readiness can ride on the track, and it's perfect for learning basic skills and tricks, as well as for training top cyclists, as it requires agility and speed. Instead of pedaling or pushing, users on the pump track track start by switching the position of their bodies up and down.

The city beach was chosen as the location for the new Porec adrenaline bike park due to the high frequency of cyclists which head in this direction, and the study of cycling development predicted a bike park right there, in accordance with current urban plans and with the approval of the Local Board of Anka Butorac, would do very well. Porec is continuing to invest in its cycling infrastructure, so the plan is to brand the Mirna - Limski kanal trail, install new signalisation, print new bike maps, arrange promotional actions for cyclist safety on the road and engage in similar infrastructure investments.

The pump track is integrated into the environment, and during the arrangement, the trees were not felled, but new ones were planted.

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

Saturday, 25 June 2022

For Many Croatian Exchange Offices, This Summer Will be the Last

June the 25th, 2022 - For many Croatian exchange offices, this summer season will be their last. Croatia's Eurozone entry is set to take place at the very beginning of next year, and for a number of offices, the doors are being well and truly locked.

As Jadranka Dozan/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the beginning of summer and the height of the tourist season is also the usual time of the "main harvest" for Croatian exchange offices, with the biggest turnovers in that niche market occuring during the months of July and August.

Last year, almost a third of the total annual turnover of authorised Croatian exchange offices was realised solely during those two summer months, and from the beginning of June to the end of September, 50 percent of the year-round turnover took place.

For many Croatian exchange offices, especially those for which these jobs aren't just a "side" activity, this summer, given the introduction of the euro at the beginning of next year, could be the last in which they remain in business.

According to the annual report of the Croatian National Bank (CNB) published this week, about 850 authorised Croatian exchange offices were active across the country at the end of last year, with a slightly higher number of them holding CNB licenses, a total of 1,146 of them.

Those who provided foreign currency trade services throughout the year or seasonally did so through approximately 3,500 Croatian exchange offices, where they traded a total of 31 currencies. However, out of 25.1 billion kuna in annual turnover (of which 18 billion kuna refers to purchases), more than 87 percent or 21.7 billion kuna was realised in euros (15 billion kuna through purchases, and the rest through the sale of euros). The majority of the remaining turnover refers to the US dollar (5.6%) and the Swiss franc (4.7% of the turnover).

Compared to pandemic-dominated 2020, last year's turnover within Croatian exchange offices increased primarily due to the recovery of the travel and tourism industry, by about 30 percent or almost six billion kuna. The first four months of this year also brought year-round traffic growth to offices.

According to the CNB, by the end of April, exchange offices across the country had generated a massive 6.73 billion kuna, compared to less than 5 billion kuna in the same period last year.

Authorised Croatian exchange offices achieved a record turnover back in 2017 (30.2 billion kuna), although in the meantime the inflows of tourist foreign currency grew. For example, in the record year of 2019, exchange offices made less than 30 billion kuna worth of foreign cash exchanges.

To a large extent, the explanation lies in the growing trend of non-cash payment transactions. By accepting foreign payment cards (cards issued outside of the borders of this country), transactions worth 20.8 billion kuna were realised last year.

Compared to the first year of the pandemic, 2020, it's equal to twice as much, compared to pre-pandemic 2019, not even four percent less, and compared to the exchange record in 2017, the value of transactions with foreign payment cards performed in Croatia last year was about 4.5 billion kuna higher.

There is no doubt that with the introduction of the euro in 2023, the number of CNB licenses for these jobs will fall even further. Most of the approximately (seasonally or year-round) 850 active Croatian exchange offices also perform other activities and currency exchange operations aren't their main activity.

The CNB estimates that they are the core business for approximately 200 legal entities, which in turn provide these services at approximately 400 exchange offices. It is also estimated that they employ between 600 and 800 employees.

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

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Croatian Company Koncar Signs 65 Million Euro Contract in Iraq

June the 25th, 2022 - The Croatian company Koncar has signed a contract in Baghdad with the Iraqi authorities worth a massive 65 million euros in total!

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian company Koncar, which is a well-known regional leader in the power industry, signed a 65 million euro contract with the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity (MOE) in Baghdad recently, the aim of which is to revitalise the Haditha hydropower plant.

This Iraqi plant, with an installed capacity of 6 × 128 MVA, represents one of the largest references in history for the Croatian company Koncar, given that the hydroelectric power plant was actually built by Koncar back during the first half of the 1980s.

Several companies within the wider umbrella of the Koncar Group, led by Koncar - Inzenjering/Engineering (KET), will participate in this large project. As part of the contract, the partial revitalisation of production units, the replacement of part of medium and high voltage equipment, complete power plant management systems, the excitation and electrical protection systems, as well as the renovation of all mechanical subsystems and hydromechanical equipment of the power plant will be carried out.

After a decade, negotiations with the customer continued, and after a little more than eighteen months of new talks in a completely new political environment, the Koncar Group achieved another historic step on the demanding global market, by signing a contract to revitalise this extremely significant Iraqi hydropower plant.

Moreover, in the last ten years, the Croatian company Koncar has already realised several smaller contracts, mainly involving the supply of equipment and spare parts for this power plant on the Euphrates River, as well as to other plants, such as HPP Hemren. This agreement achieved an important return to the Iraqi market, which once again confirmed the role of the Koncar Group as one of the most important domestic exporters to the global market.

"This is the final result of many years of negotiations, but also of already proven global references in this segment, which confirm the rich experience and unquestionable quality and reliability of our high-tech solutions. By signing this agreement, the preconditions for contracting new business in Iraq have been met, both at the Haditha HPP itself and at the rest of the Iraqi market,'' said Gordan Kolak, President of the Management Board of Koncar.

Koncar - Inzenjering/Engineering (KET) will implement this large and extremely important project in a consortium with a local partner, the company Al Rashak, and other companies within the Koncar Group will also be involved in the implementation. The fact that the Croatian company Koncar is very much at home when it comes to such projects is best confirmed by almost 400 hydropower plants across more than 50 countries around the world, which Koncar has fully or partially built and revitalised over more than seven decades.

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

Friday, 24 June 2022

EU Leaders Endorse Croatia's Entry into Euro Area

ZAGREB, 24 June 2022 - The European Council on Friday endorsed Croatia's entry into the euro area on 1 January next year.

"Today, at the European Council, Croatia received support from the highest political level for membership in the euro area. On 1 January we will achieve the Croatian government's strategic goal of joining the euro area. The benefits of membership will be felt by Croatian citizens and the economy, which will be even more resilient to crises," Prime Minister Andrej Plenović said on his Twitter account.

"The euro is the monetary expression of our shared destiny and has been part of our European dream. Now the dream comes true for Croatia," European Council President Charles Michel tweeted.

EU leaders supported the recommendation on Croatia's entry into the euro area on Friday. This is the second-last step in the decision-making process. The last step will be the adoption of three legislative proposals on Croatia's entry, which will take place at a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 12 July, and from 1 January next year the euro will be the official currency in Croatia.

Croatia will be the 20th member of the euro area. It will be the first enlargement of the euro area since 2015 when Lithuania joined.

Together with Slovenia, Croatia is the country that spent the least time in the euro waiting room, the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, the minimum two years, while Lithuania, for example, spent 11 years and Latvia nine years in the ERM II.

When first introduced in 1999, the euro was the so-called book currency, and the euro area consisted of 11 of the then 15 EU member states. Greece joined in 2001, just a year before the euro was physically introduced, followed by Slovenia in 2007, Cyprus and Malta in 2008, Slovakia in 2009, Estonia in 2011, Latvia in 2014 and Lithuania in 2015.

By adopting the euro as its legal tender, Croatia joins the Eurosystem, which consists of the European Central Bank and the central banks of the euro area member states, and the Governor of the Croatian National Bank joins the Governing Council of the European Central Bank. The Minister of Finance participates in Eurogroup meetings and the Prime Minister in eurozone summits.

Croatia also automatically becomes a member of the banking union, the banking supervision and resolution system.

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