Sunday, 15 January 2023

International Supermarket Tourism: More than Lidl near Bregana Border

January 15, 2023 - Niche cross-border tourism doesn't get much publicity, but Schengen and the euro have brought a new type to Slovenia from Croatia - international supermarket tourism.

For decades it was known (to me at least) for only two things - the largest border crossing befween Croatian and Zagreb (where I and many others have spent hours in border queues), and the only place I knew that had a pub with the bar in one country and the toilets in another (you can read about that in Fortress Europe? Meet Slovenia's Open Schengen Crossing with Croatia.

Bregana. Just 20 minutes from Zagreb, the Slovenian border town now has a new lease of life with its open border with Croatia and more affordable shopping - international supermarket tourism. 


I first came across niche cross-border tourism a few years ago in Baranja close to the Hungarian border, where an enterprising ice-cream vendor with a Dinamo Zagreb ice cream parlour was doing a roaring trade with Hungarian clientele. Not one for Hajduk fans perhaps, but Slasticarnica Dinamo in Baranjsko Petrovo Selo is located just 2km from the Hungarian border. The ice cream is so good (and it really is) that many Hungarians come over for an ice cream. And that was before the borders were without checkpoints. 

But Bregana is already doing a roaring trade with a steady stream of cars from the Croatian capital popping over the border to shop at the Lidl supermarket in nearby Brezice. The introduction of the euro in Croatia has enabled consumers to compare prices in the same supermarket chain in stores in Croatia and Slovenia. There have been several articles on the subject, with a shopping basket of 100 euro in the Lidl store in Croatia being 20% more expensive than its Slovenian counterpart, this despite the average salaries in Croatia being significantly lower than in Slovenia. As previously reported on TCN, Lidl Croatia Explain Why the Same Products are Cheaper in Slovenia.

But if Bregana and its open border is now reinventing itself as a gateway to cheap supermarket option for Croatian consumers, why not encourage Croatian consumers to learn more (and spend more) in the town itself? A rather enterprising article promoted by the Slovenian Embassy in Zagreb which appeared in Jutarnji List highlights 12 things to check out in nearby Brezice while on your next Lidl trip. I, for one, had no inkling of Bregana and the surrounding area other than a border crossing town, but there is plenty to investigate in Brezice apart from Lidl, it seems. Learn more in the original Jutarnji article



Saturday, 19 December 2020

Queues of 8 Hours at Bregana Border Entering Croatia from Slovenia

December 19, 2020 - With the festive season almost here, huge queues appear on Croatia's borders, with the current wait at the main Bregana border now 8 hours. 

I haven't left the house for over two weeks, and the more I look at the big bad world out there, the less I want to leave the sofa any time soon. 

With many things closed due to the pandemic, and inter-county restrictions coming at midnight on Tuesday, there is less incentive to move anyway.  But there are plenty of people with plans to head home for Christmas to family in Croatia, and perhaps an even larger number needing to transit through Croatia to get to their home countries in time for Christmas. 


And the pressure is building on Croatia's bordes, particularly at the main Bregana border between Croatia and Slovenia, where the current waiting time to come info Croatia is 8 hours, according to HAK. Traffic in the other direction is minimal. 

"Procedures are a bit stricter in both Croatia and Slovenia, after the decision and each passenger must be registered and checked whether they meet the conditions of entry or transit to the Republic of Croatia. By 6 pm on Friday more than 9000 passengers crossed, and we expect even more crowds over the weekend and next week on the eve of the holidays ", said Marijan Burić, Assistant Chief for State Border Protection, as a guest on RTL Danas.

"However, the turnover is significantly lower, by 70 percent compared to last year if we look at the entire 12 months, and these days it has decreased by 35 to 40 percent compared to last year," said Buric.


You can see the current waiting times at Croatia's borders, information which is regularly updated by HAK here, and you are advised to check the latest situation before you travel. 

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Monday, 30 December 2019

Russian-Croatian Pianist Andrej Gunjin Has "Explosive" Experience on Slovenian Border

On Friday, the 27th of December this year a real drama took place on Bregana border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia: it was closed for a couple of hours after a routine check indicated that a Russian national had a bomb in his suitcase!

The Croatian and Slovenian media reported on that, as it is a busy day for that border crossing and it's not a usual occurrence. A few hours later the reports came in that the border crossing was opened again, that no bomb has been found and nobody was apprehended. Today, Branimir Pofuk brings the rest of the story for Večernji list.

The story started innocuously enough: a pair of young people, going to Ljubljana to catch a flight to Amsterdam, to spend the New Year's celebrations with their friends. In 15 minutes after leaving Zagreb bus station (which is how far Bregana is from Zagreb), the young man was in handcuffs, brought down to the floor by the Slovenian police. They've detected something in his bags, and they wouldn't really listen to his explanations.

The young man was Andrej Gunjin, an extraordinary Russian pianist, often dubbed "a virtuoso", living and working in Zagreb for a while now. The questionable item, which triggered a silent alarm which alerted the Slovenian police, resembling an explosive device: a Bluetooth pedal for Gunjin's iPad, a device he uses for his work to turn music score pages (an Airturn 105; as he helpfully explains in a Facebook post, which was later posted on a classical music website Slipped Disc).

As the silent alarm went off, the border crossing was closed, the other passengers escorted away, and he was apprehended. So was his girlfriend, but it should come as no surprise to you if you've ever seen a police procedural: they were taken to separate rooms and not allowed to talk to each other. As soon as he realized what the problem was, Andrej Gunjin tried to explain to the officers what the problem was. They were, in his words, fair and firm the entire time they had him under their observation, but they've already sent for the experts from Ljubljana to check the explosive device they suspected was in the bus.

There was, of course, no bomb whatsoever, just a Bluetooth device designed to help a professional musician (to be fair, probably not an item the police officer on the border crossing sees often), so Gunjin and his girlfriend were even able to catch their flight from Ljubljana to Amsterdam, and are spending the holidays there. Gunjin told the Večernji list he holds nothing against the Slovenian police, as they were swift, efficient and kind to his hands and fingers, and even offered him a coffee when things were cleared up, hoping to explain to him what triggered the alarm. The only thing hurt were Gunjin's new shoes, which were damaged as the police were initially dragging him away from the bus, to the safe distance.

For more Lifestyle news, check out our Lifestyle category.

Večernji list recently did a big interview with Andrej Gunjin, presenting him to the Croatian public. He's a very young pianist, born in 1987 in Moscow, who decided to call Zagreb his home soon after he won an international competition "Svetislav Staničić" in Zagreb in 2011. He feels at home here, feeling better in Zagreb than he does in his home-town, Moscow. He complained a bit that none of his major international and national music successes have ever brought him this much attention as this unfortunate event at the Croatia - Slovenia border.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

How to Reduce Slovenia Croatia Border Queues at Bregana by 50%... in 5 Minutes.

Delays on the border between Croatia and Slovenia have been in the news recently. TCN road tested two separate crossings on April 25, 2017, and found a simple solution to significantly reduce the traffic.