Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Bol Through the Lens of a Croatian Digital Nomad Permit Holder

June 7, 2021 - Digital nomads give back to communities in various ways. A new series on TCN, following the lens of Steve Tsentserensky, one of the early recipients of the Croatian digital nomad permit. Where better to start than photogenic Bol on Brac?

One of the discussion in Croatia these days surrounds digital nomads. What EXACTLY does Croatia get from digital nomads, especially if they do not have to pay income tax locally with the 12-month permit?

It is a classic Croatian tourism short-term mindset, which has become sadly familiar over the decade I have been writing about the subject. 

For me, there are three key wins for Croatia - and they all cost nothing.

1. Permit holders may not pay tax, but they are spending on rent, food, drink, entertainment once they leave their virtual office. Think of them as long-stay tourists if you will. I never heard of anyone here complaining about tourists spending here.

2. The mindset. This, to me, is one of the most exciting aspects of the digital nomad era. People with fresh ideas, different experiences, stimulating lifestyles. If they are moving to Croatia because it is so great, perhaps Croatia has something to offer, rather than the sad path of emigration. 

3. The fabulous free promo from digital nomads, clearly in love with this beautiful country. They decided to come, love what they find, and want to tell the world how amazing Croatia is - through blogs, Instagram posts and various other forms of social media. Kind of like the national tourist board's job if you like. Only better. 

This series will focus on the last point, the fantastic free promotion of Croatia by these longer term visitors. TCN is delighted to announce a working partnership with one of the early recipients of the digital nomad permit. Steve Tsentserensky from Ohio. Steve first came to my attention with this fabulous video of Zagreb.

We are big fans of Steve's work, and we met recently over a beer or three in Zagreb. Steve will be travelling around the country over the next 12 months (actually, we thing a little longer) documenting Croatia through his lens. We thought it would make a nice feature on the site, as well as showing how just one nomad with the permit is spreading the word about this beautiful country, so that others may see and come. 

And so begins our new series - Croatia through the lens of a Croatian digital nomad permit holder, starting in magnficent Bol. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So I will shut up now. 

You can follow Steve on Instagram.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Brač Trips: 3 True Stories About Hospitality, Safety, and Entertainment on the Island

15 June 2021 - One TCN intern visited Brač three times and learned first-hand about hospitality, safety, and entertainment on the island. Even though these stories are unlikely reproducible, it shows a special atmosphere of the island where you can be a most unprepared and careless tourist and leave your fun up to islanders. A look at three Brač trips!

1. Supetar and Sumartin: before the tourist season

A story to tell about Brac is olives, olives, olives... Along the 40 km from Supetar, the ferry port, and administrative center, to the most eastern town of Sumartin. From time to time, olive trees are changed by other species, but mostly a road view looks really monochrome. The good news is that olive is an evergreen plant, therefore you can come on Brac out of the tourist season.

The bad news is monoculture. That is probably due to historical tradition. People say that during the Venetian rule on Brac no young man was allowed to marry until he had planted a hundred olive trees. Maybe, it also relates to a lack of knowledge about other plants. Some few people in Split can recognize Phillyrea (mock privet) trees, although it is also from the Oleaceae family, a close relative of the olive. A few know how an olive flower looks like while everyone cares only about olive oil. An olive flower is small and appears early. You can see it if you come to Brac from the end of April till the beginning of June.

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A possible reason for the prevalence of olives there is also unpretentiousness. Why plant grapes to constantly tinker with them when you can plant olive trees and don't bother either yourself or your descendants within the next 400 years? In sum, islanders have more time to care about their guests when they care less about the garden! They do care as I've learned from my own experience coming well before the start of the season. There were barely any tourists and no young people on the streets.

There are kindergartens and schools on Brac, but to continue studying, you have to go to the mainland. Unless you've decided to become a stonemason. There is a known school of stonemasons in Pucisca. Besides olives, Brac stone is another export brand of the island. Diocletian's Palace in Split, the most beautiful churches in Croatia, the parliament buildings of Austria and Hungary, and the White House in Washington DC are made of this stone. Returning down to earth it seemed to me that sculpture is quite a popular hobby among the locals, therefore you easily notice interesting sculpting along the roads in villages like Selca and Povlja.

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There are no faculties or universities on Brac. Students who left to study on the mainland unlikely to come during the winter season as well young tourists seeking a beach party paradise on Brac Bol in summer. Thus, I was going to spend my weekend walking and sightseeing alone. I took a bus from Supetar to Sumartin and went other distances between the villages by foot, 24 km in a day. However, I was most impressed by the social kind of entertainment - a village party in Sumartin on Saturday evening. I had done 24 km and wanted to drop dead on my bed for a few hours, but the hostel owner's daughter (of my age) who met me had another plan.  

We have a party up the street. You can come with me. I invite you! - No, thank you. I've walked 24 km. I'm bloody tired, I want to have a rest. Sure, I understand. You need to have a rest...But actually, you know, we are young, we don't need much rest, so, you can go to a party with me! - OK! [I didn't have the energy to argue]

The party was devoted to the end of construction of the ground floor of a house that one young guy from the village built. Village friends had slaughtered and roasted a lamb, they brought homemade wine and olive oil. I felt in the first few minutes my visit was not in vain. 

Organised 'village tours' are not popular among youth, it usually lacks true authenticity that you can meet as an independent tourist. It was the very case for me. I met fishermen, builders who speak only Croatian, students from Split (they speak English). Naturally, they played Balkan turbo-folk music. They were not good at dancing, so when guys didn't know what to do during a 'groovy' song, they grabbed heavy objects (a poker, a barrel, etc.) and began to lift them. Meanwhile, girls did sit-ups crazy fast! 

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I was going to give a dance workshop and climbed up on the table, but two girls jumped in there after me and started a conversation. They literally attacked me with questions, therefore we stood on the table for an hour just chatting. Perhaps, we would never have such a chance at a nightclub party! A chance to meet at the village party a fan of the Russian tv-series 'Kitchen' ('Kuhinja') was even less, but Eni from Brac was flattering a lot to my Russian background. 

The most epic moment happened to me when a son of the owners of the house where we had a party - the biggest house in Sumartin, only the church is higher, - was showing me everything he owned: a house, a gazebo, a grill terrace, a bar, a garden, swimming pools, garages, etc. Let's say, a sightseeing tour accompanied by nice complaints. "When I go somewhere with friends, I pay for everybody... When I show my parents anything I like, they buy it immediately for me... It's so hard to be independent if your parents are rich..." Top complaints, huh? I really had top entertainment that night! Finally, it happens amid a contrast: while some people on Brac apply for EU funds for rural areas development, others suffer from a family abundance. It's a pity and simultaneously a good topic for reflection when you travel before the tourist season.

2. Sutivan and Milna: waiting for a miracle

My second trip to the island of Brac occurred in April. At this time islanders start slowly preparing for the season. A lot of places are still closed, but the atmosphere becomes more welcoming and bracing. Largely, I would say it's a good direction on Brac regardless of the season.

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A little derogation about the 'Su' towns. Su is Latin 'Sv', two letters have a similarity in writing and pronouncing. Sv is short for 'Sveti' (Saint in Croatian). In this way, Supetar is Sveti Petar, Saint Peter's town, Sutivan is Sveti Ivan, Saint Ivan's town, etc. I've already seen Supetar, ferry port, thus I just did a loop for my friend come from Split for the first time. Riva, St. Peter's church, Jobanova Street where you can easily think that Croatia is the most beautiful country in the world - that is Supetar. At the west exit from the city, we found a firehouse. I'm interested in fire departments on islands because they are voluntary, not municipal. Their volunteer showed us an old fire truck donated by Great Britain. When he learned I'm from Russia, he said that his neighbors here are Russian too. A wife lived for 5 years during the Chechen war in the 1990s. A husband is a healthy Russian man, he can drink a liter and a half of vodka. Great job!

We travelled from Supetar to Sutivan on foot. Further movements around the island were planned by bus. Waiting for the bus to Milna I put things from my bag at the bus stop. "Get up! Let's go! Don't forget your phone!" my friend commanded. I answered "No way! I would rather forget my own hand."

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Actually, I paid attention in Milna and noticed a lot of yacht tours on Dalmatian islands do stop on Brac in Milna bay. I liked Milna as soon as the bus began to approach it on the serpentine road. 

On the waterfront (literally 'first line' by the sea) there is an abandoned multi-storey house. I don't know what happened there, but the holes in the ceiling/ floor look terrible. A blockage on the stairs between the first and second floor doesn't let to climb up higher. Anyway, I would not recommend entering a house for safety's sake. In a corridor on the first floor, we found a nice retro 'archive'. A poster inviting for the Final concert of the 3-rd Concert-Opera Seminar in Milna on August 21, 1981, hangs in my room in Split. 

Waiting for a bus back to Supetar we were chatting with my friend at the bus stop. The topic was an exes' birthday: to congratulate or not. I implore you: Do not discuss such topics at the bus stops! When the bus came, I was lost in thought and... I forgot my smartphone at the bus stop. I realized it in a couple of minutes on the bus. But the bus, apparently, goes faster than it seems. I asked a driver to stop. I'd prefer to ask him to turn back to Milna, but we were on the serpentine road. We went 52 min down the serpentine on foot.

Somehow I was sure my phone was still there at the bus stop. It wasn't there! We asked in a nearby cafe - no one knew. We tried another cafe - it was closed. We asked men working at the marina opposite the bus stop - they were really enthusiastic to help me. They actually proved my hypothesis that everyone knows everyone on the island and it's very safe on the island. Men remembered their friend was walking with the children near the bus stop. Through 2-3 contacts we found his number. Unfortunately, he didn't answer the phone. Almost desperate I wandered back to the bus stop looking around.

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A group of people came towards me. "I have nothing to lose," I thought and came to ask them about the phone. And then a woman coming in the front took my phone out from her purse! It was pure luck, because her company was moving to the parking place behind the bus stop to leave Milna. Then we tried our luck again, because we got off the last bus to Supetar. We've overcome the serpentine road before we succeded to flag cars down. One senior man gave us a ride to a crossroad, Supetar was out of his way. Then two young men drove us straight to the ferry to Split. One wondered whether my friend and I are daughters of those Russians who own a mansion somewhere nearby. "No, wait, it was the mansion of a Hungarian oligarch, not Russian," another guy said. Anyway, we were not, so they switched a topic.

3. Bol: ideal summer beach weekend chill trip

I was deliberately postponing a visit to Bol and Zlatni Rat on Brac to the beginning of summer. Out of the season, you always risk being disappointed there, especially when you've already learned something about the prominent horn-shaped beaches (Zlatni Rat in Croatian means 'Golden Cape', or 'Golden Horn'). Golden Horn needs sun to be gold. 

Besides sunny weather needed, a trip to Bol is easily organised leisure that few things could spoil. Ferry boat trips Split-Supetar and bus trips Supetar-Bol matches perfect, thus you don't lose time waiting. Also, it's pleasure to continue with a green promenade from Bol village to Zlatni Rat beach after a mountainy road to Bol. I would, perhaps, aware that there are a lot of people in the season. However, it has some advantages. For instance, my friends and I came on Sunday and saw a wedding on the square in front of the parish church (Zupna crkva Gospe od Karmela) in Bol.

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Returning from the beach we noticed that the return trips to Split are also perfectly matched. Therefore, you have all the possibilities: 1) to have dinner in Bol and go back to Supetar/Split by last trips; 2) to take the second to last bus to Supetar, have dinner there and go to Split by last ferry trip; 3) to go back to Supetar/Split by second to last trips and have dinner in Split. We choose first and enjoyed island hospitality in one of the restaurants in Bol. "Why is the place called Jadranka?" a question came to my mind. "My name is Jadranka," an owner answered to me. She was the only child, and (grand) parents called it after her. With her husband, they cook all dishes and keep this place already for decades. One more sign of true hospitality is that they remembered our friends who visited it two months ago.

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

Friday, 4 June 2021

Everything is Ready for the WTA Croatia Bol Open on Brač!

June 4, 2021 - Everything is ready for the WTA Croatia Bol Open on Brač, from June 7 to 12!

Next week, Bol becomes the center of women's sports again. After a one-year break, the WTA Croatia Bol Open returns to the tennis courts of Bluesun Hotels & Resorts. Along with the main tournament winners Sara Sorribes Tormo and Nadija Podoroska, five Croatian tennis players are coming to Brač thanks to the organizers' invitation, which is a record in the history of Croatian tennis, revealed today's press conference at Split's Artičok restaurant.

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Vladimir Dugandžić, Cropix / Lollipop PR

"Along with Tereza Mrdeža and Tena Lukas, this year Ana Konjuh, Jana Fett and Bernarda Pera, from Zadar with a US passport, are also coming. Thanks to HRT's satellite broadcast, as many as 16 foreign televisions will broadcast the semifinals and finals from Bol to a hundred countries. This year's tournament was organized in impossible conditions. It was difficult to find sponsors when there was no audience, so I am immensely grateful to everyone who supported us," said Feliks Lukas, director of the WTA Croatia Bol Open.

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Vladimir Dugandžić, Cropix / Lollipop PR

He added that 20 tennis players are already arriving on Brač today; the bus is waiting for them at Split Airport. They are being tested immediately in cooperation with one of the most famous epidemiologists, Dr. Marija Parčina. The results are ready by the time they arrive in Bol. Due to the top organization and strict adherence to all epidemiological measures, the WTA has recognized the Bol tournament as a Covid-free destination. This is the first WTA tournament without a bubble zone for tennis players.

The organizers were supported by the Croatia national team players Tereza Mrdeža and Tena Lukas, who achieved the best results in their careers in Bol. Teresa is in top form and is extremely happy that this year, thanks to the invitation, she will skip the qualifications, and Tena is emotionally attached to the tournament in which her entire family participates.

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Vladimir Dugandžić, Cropix / Lollipop PR

"Bol and tennis are loved; they live together," said Markito Marinkovic, director of the Bol Tourist Board of Bol. He said that the tennis center is in a perfect environment, a few minutes from Zlatni rat, one of the most beautiful beaches, and announced a combination of sports and art in the week of the Bol tournament. Well-known photographer Jadran Lazić opens an exhibition of his works and presents his monograph on Thursday, and the Museum of the Dominican Monastery opens on Friday.

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Vladimir Dugandžić, Cropix / Lollipop PR

"The tournament is the start of the season in our hotels, and I would like to thank all our employees who do their best in these challenging times to have successful results. We have great announcements, and we are recording record bookings, even better than in 2019," concluded Hrvoje Veselko, President of the Management Board of Bluesun Hotels & Resorts.

Joško Stella, Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board director, said that this part of Dalmatia has all the prerequisites for the development of sports tourism, and the WTA in Bol is an example of a great tournament organization and a great opportunity to promote Dalmatia and Croatia.

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Vladimir Dugandžić, Cropix / Lollipop PR

This year's 15th WTA Croatia Bol Open, the fifth organized by Feliks Lukas, is held under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and with the support of loyal partners - Split-Dalmatia County and County Tourist Board, Bol Municipality Tourist Board, Bluesun Hotels & Resorts, Adriatic insurance and for the first time Studenac, a well-known Dalmatian retail chain.

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Thursday, 13 May 2021

5th WTA Croatia Bol Open to be held June 7 to 12!

May 13, 2021 - From June 7 to 12, Bol on Brač will again host tennis players at the 5th WTA Croatia Bol Open. Tournament director Feliks Lukas announced on Thursday that, despite the difficult conditions, the tournament would be the strongest so far.

As in previous years, the Bol tournament is part of the WTA 125 series and will be played in parallel with the second week of the Roland Garros Grand Slam tournament in Paris. The WTA Croatia Bol Open prize fund is $115,000, reports T.portal.

The results of the tennis players at Roland Garros will also dictate the draw for the Bol tournament, but the current list looks impressive at the moment.

"We have 13 registered players from the Top 100, and the last one is currently 126th in the WTA rankings. This year, there will be exciting names, some Grand Slam finalists like Sara Errani, players from the Top 5 who used to shine and burn, such as Eugenie Bouchard. What is especially important to me is that all the Bol winners are coming again. Aleksandra Krunić and the best Slovenian tennis player Tamara Zidanšek, who has won the tournament twice, and Luxembourg tennis player Mandy Minella, have announced their arrival. I would especially like to emphasize the invitation for Argentine Nadia Podoroska, who beat Serena Williams in Rome on Wednesday," said Feliks Lukas at a press conference held at Hotel Dubrovnik in Zagreb, where special guests were Croatian tennis players Ana Konjuh and Jana Fett who have a guaranteed invitation to the main tournament.

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Marko Lukunic/PIXSELL

With them, Croatian tennis players Tereza Mrdeža and Tena Lukas should also take part in the tournament, and the list of applicants also includes Bernarda Pera from Zadar, who plays for the US. 

"I would like to thank Feliks for trying to organize the tournament even in these difficult times. It means a lot to all of us, especially the Croatian tennis players. We will see how Roland Garros will fare, and we may not even play. But if not, it is a good consolation to be at home. Bol, where the organization is always at the top level," said Ana Konjuh, who in her only Bol performance (2016) reached the semifinals. Due to a back injury, she had to hand over the match to the ultimate winner, Luxembourg's Mandy Minelli.

Ana's result was repeated in 2018 by Tena Lukas, who was defeated in the semifinal by Slovenian Tamara Zidanšek on her way to her first of two consecutive titles in Bol, which she will come to defend this year.

Vrbovec resident Jana Fett performed in 2019 but did not pass the first round.

"I am thrilled that Bol will be held this year. It is one of my favorite tournaments, as it is at home, and the atmosphere and organization are always great. Bol is a nice place, and I am really looking forward to playing there again. I hope that I will reach at least the final, if not me then one of us," said Fett.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year's edition of the WTA Croatia Bol Open was canceled, as were all tennis competitions scheduled to take place between mid-March and early August 2020. This year's edition will be played under strict epidemiological measures, which include testing all tennis players upon arrival and after five days and all people in the organization who will come into direct contact with them.

"At the moment, the Civil Protection Headquarters' decision that there is no audience at sports competitions is still in force. We believe that some measures will be eased by the beginning of the tournament because the tournament is outdoors and we have excellent conditions. Of course, we are ready to hold the tournament under the measures in force," said the tournament director, referring in particular to the difficult conditions in organizing this year's tournament.

"Our budget has never been smaller, the sponsors also never fewer, but our results as organizations are never stronger. We need to tip our hats off to the sponsors who remain."

In addition to tennis, the Bol tournament is also proud of the accompanying events organized as part of the tournament, and they will not be missing this year either.

"In the last edition, we shot the official video of the famous pianist Lola Astanova, which was watched by more than a million people, which was a huge promotion, and it all happened as part of the WTA tournament. This year, our theme is a combination of art and sports, so that world-famous photographers, such as Jadran Lazić and Čedo Komljenović, will come to Bol. Jadran Lazić will present a monograph of his opus exclusively in Bol. As part of the tournament program, we will have the opening of the Museum of the Dominican Convent in Bol," announced Lukas and concluded:

"Every year, Bol has made a significant contribution to the promotion of Croatian tourism, and this year it is of great importance to show the world that Croatia is a safe destination."

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

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Ambitious Business Plan to See Famous Brac Stone Placed on US Market

May the 6th, 2021 - Brac stone, famous both inside and outside of the Republic of Croatia, could find itself more regularly placed on the demanding US market thanks to an ambitious plan.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the end of bankruptcy proceedings for the Brac-based Jadrankamen occurred back at the end of January and the official transfer to the ownership of the American MRC Rock & Sand from California, owned by the Croatian emigrant Mile Grbic, was finalised. The move is rapidly turning in the direction of development, with emphasis on achieving the very first goals.

The backbone of the aforementioned move consists of the vision of this US-based entrepreneur to bring Jadrankamen, and as such the famous Brac stone, to the level of a global brand, with his American company which has an established business through clients and numerous contacts obviously helping this Croatian acquisition in terms of perspective and market penetration for Brac stone and other such products. Among the activities with which they immediately started, the renovation of production halls and the installation of solar panels is visible.

This project is a link with the ports in Slit and Ploce for container traffic and is important for strengthening the export business because large placements of Brac stone on the US market are planned. On the expected wave of changes in the chain of steps to a turnaround in business, plans are being made for significant capacity expansion, which will mean possible new employment, while strategically it will be important to increase revenues as soon as possible to service existing liabilities. After recapitalisation with a massive 45 million kuna, Grbic's company undertook the responsibility to pay 103 million to creditors.

According to insiders, under this new leadership, Jadrankamen will almost immediately strive for significantly higher revenues than those generated by the continuation of production in bankruptcy (about 30 million kuna). It seems that they aren't going to have a problem with an annual income of around 10 million euros, last realised about 15 years ago, before the problems that caused the company to end up in the deep and unpleasant waters of bankruptcy.

For more, follow Made in Croatia.

Friday, 30 April 2021

BSH Berulia: Bluesun Opens First Hotel on Makarska Riviera, COVID-19 Testing at All Locations

April 30, 2021 - Just before the May Day holiday, on April 29, Bluesun has opened its first hotel on the Makarska Riviera - the 5-star BSH Berulia in Brela.

Thus, all guests who have booked other Bluesun hotels in Brela will be accommodated in their most sought-after and most luxurious hotel, regardless of the price range. According to Bluesun, other hotels in their destinations will open gradually, in line with market demands, which is expected at the end of May, reports HRTurizam.

Interestingly, Hotel Berulia in Brela is one of the capital works of Ante Rožić, and the famous Bernardo Bernardi designed the interior. The hotel is divided into individual compositional units, which brings the rooms closer to nature, and all other design procedures lead to the fact that architecture and nature permeate as much as possible, from the fact that the body of the building is "broken" and "pierced" by the atriums. The corridors and staircases partly turn into an exterior space that extends to the terraces. The hotel and outdoor facilities cascade down to the intimate beach of Berulia, respecting the morphology of the terrain and entering it minimally invasively.

"Bluesun Hotel Berulia opens its doors on Thursday, April 29, when we expect about 100 guests, while May Day itself will welcome between 200 and 250 guests. These are mostly domestic guests and guests from nearby auto destinations. The exact number of guests, given the situation, is difficult to estimate because they all have flexible conditions for changing and canceling reservations. Still, we do not expect the number to deviate too much from the current situation. Namely, we are in daily contact with guests who confirm their arrival, and we also record new reservations after confirming the opening of the hotel," said Stjepko Šošić, Bluesun's Director of Revenue Management.

Holiday village Velaris *** in Supetar on Brač and Bluesun camp Paklenica **** in Starigrad Paklenica have already been opened.

Bluesun provides COVID-19 tests / Contactless check-in at all destinations.

For guests to start their holiday safely, they have provided contactless check-in at Bluesun this season. The procedure is quick and easy - and the link is sent to the guest by mail after the guest enters all the necessary information, while upon arrival at the hotel, they pick up the key to their room. By ensuring such minimal contact and avoiding gathering people around the reception, the highest safety and health standards are respected.

"For our guests, we will organize RAT (ANTIGEN) and PCR testing for COVID-19 in Brela, Tucepi, Bol, Supetar. Guests wishing to do so should contact the hotel reception. Testing will be performed on Mondays and Fridays for each listed city so that the arrival time is fixed and the results are issued accordingly. The results of antigen tests will be issued during the stay in hotels, while PCR will be issued and sent by the end of the day for Tucepi and Brela and Brač the next day by 12:00. In case of a positive test result - our employees are educated, and our protocols for such situations are carefully developed," said Josip Rikić, Bluesun's Director of Hotel Operations. 

The price of the PCR test is HRK 560, and the price of the RAT (ANTIGEN) test is HRK 200. The Lablus Split Polyclinic will perform testing in all Bluesun destinations:

Tucepi - testing at hotel Alga for the whole destination
Brela - testing at hotel Soline for the whole destination (until the opening of Soline, in hotel Berulia)
Brac - testing at the Elaphusa Hotel and the Velaris Resort

Since the beginning of April, good booking numbers and great interest in the main season have been recorded, according to Bluesun.

At the moment, it is difficult to plan anything and stick to the numbers, both because of the flexible cancellation conditions that everyone had to introduce this year and because of the last-minute bookings that will dominate. Also, precisely because of the flexible cancellation conditions and the uncertain situation, guests book in several places. A few days before departure, they will finally determine which accommodation and destination to choose, which will further disrupt any long-term planning.

Although the state of reservations doesn't mean much right now, it is good that there is interest.

"Through our own sales channels and major OTA partners, we had the same number of bookings for the main season as in the same week of 2019. Vaccination in Croatia and major markets, strict adherence to epidemiological measures, as well as the possibility of testing at destinations, certainly give optimism for this season," concluded Šošić.

Follow the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Bol on Brac Island Secures Antigen Tests in Preparation for Season

April the 13th, 2021 - The beautiful destination which draws visitors from all over the world for its globally famous beach, Bol on Brac island, has put in firm preparations for the 2021 tourist season this summer and has secured antigen tests.

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Tourist Board of Bol on Brac island, in close cooperation with the local general medical practice operated by Dr. Markica Tomic, agreed to conduct antigen tests for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, today (Tuesday, April the 13th), in order to enable its foreign guests to stay in Bol as and safely and securely as possible.

Owing to the aforementioned move, foreign visitors will very quickly have information on whether any virus doing its rounds around the island is the novel coronavirus or some other respiratory infection.

Beautiful Bol is also the first island town in Split-Dalmatia County to provide an antigen testing service, which is another indicator of the responsibility of this entire place and a sign of the serious preparations for the upcoming season being underway.

During the month of April, they plan to vaccinate most of the local tourism workers, and by the end of May, the local population is expected to be vaccinated in the amount of 50 percent.

Brac Airport currently has announced flights from Ljubljana, Dusseldorf, Zagreb, Vienna and Linz, and all of these flights and indeed those yet to be announced are adapting to the current challenging epidemiological situation, and the start of air traffic to this Central Dalmatian island is expected only during the second half of May.

The Director of the Airport, Mr. Tonci Peovic, pointed out that testing for coronavirus antigen testing will be organised at the invitation of individual tour operators or airlines. At the end of April, the first of Bols hotels have plans to finally open their doors, the proper face masks will be available to all guests, and all necessary and defined epidemiological measures and protocols will be adhered to.

PCR test can also be done in Supetar.

All information and contacts can be found at bol.hr

CROATIAN INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC HEALTH (Supetar)

Address: Mladena Vodanovića 24, Supetar

Test type: PCR

Testing time: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 07.45 - 8.15h (advanced booking is mandatory)

Price: 400,00 kn (450,00 kn in English)

Tel: +385 21 631 755

For more on this Croatian island, check out Brac in a Page, updated for 2021 here.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Croatia Airlines Flights to Osijek and Brac Airport Canceled Until Mid-April

March 29, 2021 - The latest flight news as Croatia Airlines flights to Osijek and Brac have been canceled until mid-April. 

Croatian Aviation reports that the Croatian national airline has announced the introduction of seasonal PSO routes within Croatia at the beginning of the summer flight schedule. However, flights on three PSO lines have been canceled until mid-April.

Croatia Airlines has canceled flights between Osijek and Split, Osijek and Dubrovnik, and Zagreb and Brac until the second half of April. Considering that these are PSO routes, on which the Republic of Croatia compensates for the difference between the realized revenues and direct flight costs, it is not clear why the national airline canceled the already announced flights.

Croatia Airlines offered flights on Sundays on the Split - Osijek - Split route starting March 28, but the first two announced rotations were canceled. Currently, the first direct flight on this line is on offer for April 11, but the company may cancel that flight as well.

The Dubrovnik - Osijek - Dubrovnik line was supposed to start operating today (March 29), but that flight was canceled, and other flights on Mondays until April 19.

According to the PSO program, the seasonal Zagreb - Brac - Zagreb service should operate twice a week. Still, the company canceled flights on Tuesdays until May and scheduled flights on Saturdays until April 24 were also canceled, which obviously will not meet the minimum prescribed number of available seats on the line this year.

Passenger demand is very low during the pandemic. Still, given that these are routes on which the state bears the difference between revenues and costs, it is not clear why Croatia Airlines canceled these flights, especially around the Easter holidays, when a certain number of Croatian citizens will surely travel between distant regions.

The purpose of the PSO is to enable rapid connectivity between the outermost regions. A flight lasting less than an hour between Zagreb and Brač or Osijek and Dubrovnik can in no way have an alternative in road transport, which takes many times longer, and which a certain number of passengers will now be forced to do since there are no direct flights at the moment, or they will cancel the planned trip.

Passengers from Osijek have an alternative to travel to Dubrovnik and Split with Trade Air, which opened sales in the summer flight schedule a few days ago, so travel by plane from Osijek to Split is possible four times a week, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. In contrast, flights to Dubrovnik are available twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tickets can be purchased on the airline's website.

The PSO program will continue to apply until the end of this year's summer flight schedule according to the items from the contract in force from 2016 to 2020. The Ministry of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure said that the tender for the new contract period was not announced due to the outbreak of a global pandemic. When asked how the pandemic was justified when the tender was supposed to be announced a few months before the virus appeared in China, the competent Ministry did not answer.

For the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Croatia's Most Famous Beach, Zlatni Rat: A Heart for Petrinja?

January 2, 2021 - Nature is behaving very unpredictably at the moment in Croatia with the Petrinja earthquakes - the latest example a heart for Petrinja on Croatia's most famous and iconic beach, Zlatni Rat in Bol. 

Nothing seems normal at the moment in Croatia. 

And while there is an outpouring of prayer and support from people all over Croatia (indeed, all over the world), is Mother Nature also sending her support for the victims of the recent earthquake in Petrinja and surrounding area?

heart-for-petrinja (2).jpg

Earlier today, we reported on the cloud in the shape of Croatia that hung in the sky above Sisak as the earthquake struck, beautifully captured by Antonija Kmetovic

heart-for-petrinja (3).jpg

A little further south yesterday, on the island of Brac, sharp-eyed photographer Darko Čaleta noticed something rather unusual through his lens from the top of Croatia's tallest mountain, at Vidova Gora, the peak of Brac. Croatia's most famous beach, Zlatni Rat, often shifts position with more extreme weather, and yesterday was no exception, as its tip veered left. And in the movement, it left something quite beautiful and filled with sea-water. Was this indeed a heart for Petrinja? With thanks for Darko for permission to use the photo (above is zoomed in, the original is at the top of this article - you can follow Darko on Facebook).

The timing would indicate that it might be, coming on the same day as the mayor of Supetar (on the same island) pledged to build a house for the first child born in Croatia in 2021 - born just 15 seconds into the New Year, young Daris was born in a hospital in Sisak, into a family from Petrinja whose home had been destroyed and who had been sleeping in their car until the birth. 

heart-for-petrinja (1).JPG

The Zlatni Rat heart for Petrinja is not the first unusual sighting due to the weather on Bol's iconic beach. Five years ago, water also appeared in the very same spot, and an enterprising (if slightly crazy) local decided to use the opportunity to indulge in the Dalmatian sport of picigin, which involves flying through the air wearing just Speedos, as you can see from the video below.  

For more on the Petrinja earthquake and to see how you can donate money, food, humanitarian, sanitary and material aid, follow our dedicated section.

Friday, 1 January 2021

Supetar Mayor Pledges New House for Petrinja Family of First Croatian 2021 Baby

January 1, 2021 - What a start to the New Year for one Petrinja family. A new child and a pledge of a new house, and 2021 is just 13 hours old. 

Will 2021 bring more happiness and less tragedy than the horror show that was 2020?

If you are looking for that hope, and a light of positivity in the disaster of the recent earthquakes in Croatia, raise a glass to the Safic family from Petrinja, whose world was turned upside down three days ago, and which has been turned back in the right direction in the first 13 hours of 2021. 

As reported earlier today, little Daris Safic was born just 15 seconds into the New Year, in Sisak hospital, in a part which had not been damaged by the recent earthquake. Daris' family are from Petrinja, and their house was destroyed in the December 29 quake, and the family had been sleeping in their car until the birth, a horrible situation.

The story has understandably received widespread media coverage, and the response has been swift, with a phone call from the island of Brac, from the Mayor of Supetar, Ivana Markovic, bringing the second piece of joyous news of the new year. Ivanka Toma of Jutarnji List takes up the story.

The family of the first baby born in 2021 cheered the call from Brač: ‘We will build you a new house!’

We immediately accepted her offer. Thank you very much, the father of little Daris Safić told Jutarnji.

The first baby born in 2021 in the maternity hospital in Sisak, little Daris Safić, is doing well, as is his mother who slept in a car until the birth because their house in Petrinja was destroyed in a catastrophic earthquake.

- They are both good, but the problem is that now I have to go where the caravans are shared and see if I can get any accommodation. I have to tell someone what the situation is and ask them to bring me a caravan. The hospital said they would try to leave their wife and child another night, but could not guarantee. It is possible that he will have to release her tonight, and I don't know where we will go - said Ferid Safić, the father of this year's first baby, who, in addition to the newborn, an older child and his wife, also takes care of his old and sick mother.

In addition to the child, the mayor of Supetar, Ivana Markovic, also made him happy on New Year's morning.

- The mayor of Supetar called. The lady said that she was informed that a New Year's baby was born who had nowhere to go because our house was demolished in an earthquake and said that she would come with the designers and build us a house - says Safić, who is grateful to the mayor.

- We accepted her offer immediately. Thank you very much - said the father of little Daris and constantly notes that the most important thing is that everyone is alive and well. Knowing that his housing issue will be resolved is a great relief in this difficult situation in which, as he says, everyone helps each other as much as they can.

- Two days ago, I decided that it would be best for the city of Supetar to renovate someone's house. And when I saw that the newborn was left homeless, that the mother slept in the car until the birth, I decided to call them - said Supetar Mayor Ivana Markovic, adding that she was called by a lot of neighbors who want to help.

- I contacted designers and surveyors who will inspect the family house from Petrinja for free and make projects for them. I was also contacted by craftsmen from Supetar, potters and other masters who want to participate - said Mayor Markovic, adding that she will open a special account of the City of Supetar where donations for the renovation of the family house from Petrinja can be paid.

- I think this is the best model for providing assistance. People can see exactly where they invested the funds and how they helped - she said, adding that she also contacted the Supetar firefighters with whom they will go to Petrinja as soon as they can.

- As far as I am concerned, we can leave immediately tomorrow - said Markovic.

As soon as the account details are published, TCN will add them to this article.  

For more on the Petrinja earthquake, follow our dedicated section.

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