Monday, 18 October 2021

Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence 6 Months On: Charlie Brown

October 18, 2021 - In April this year, 10 digital nomads from all over the world came together for the inaugural Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence (DNIR) program. As part of European Freelancer Week 2021, TCN catches up with some of them 6 months on, starting with Charlie Brown from Wales. 

A year ago, the city of Dubrovnik held the first-ever digital nomad conference in Croatia - Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads - as part of European Freelancer Week. The city has made great strides advancing its DN credentials and strategy, thanks in part to the award-winning Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program, which ran from April 23 - May 23. 


Far from forgetting Croatia, several of the DNIRs have been very active in Croatia. None more so that Charlie Brown, who together with husband Sam, have been enjoying a lot more of Croatia and its excellent wines, as well as representing the Extra Virgin Digital Nomads at the 4th Olive Picking World Championships on Brac last week. TCN caught up with Charlie to reflect on all things nomaddy 6 months on. 

1. It is 6 months since you arrived in Dubrovnik for the Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program. Firstly, a brief look back at that month. How was it for you, and how did it change your perceptions of Dubrovnik as a nomad destination?

It was excellent, on many levels. It was such an exciting project to be a part of, from meeting other digital nomads to learning more about Croatia and the untapped potential for remote workers. Dubrovnik was to be honest, never on my list of destinations to visit as a digital nomad, but that has changed. During my month I found it filled with excellent people, excellent experiences and beautiful scenery. 


2.  Have you kept in touch with others from the project? Spent any more time in Croatia?

Yes! In fact I just spent a week with two of them in Split and I saw another every week during a month in Barcelona. 

And yes, I've spent a lot more time in Croatia; Hvar and Zadar straight after the program, and I returned to Split in September. I'm heading to Zagreb next week and Istria a couple of weeks after that; it seems I want to explore every nook and cranny (and with the islands, there are a lot of them) of this country.


3. It seems that a lot has been happening in the DN scene in the last few months since the program. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, Digital Nomad Valley Zagreb, the Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva, Croatia performing strongly in the Nomad List 2021 survey. What changes have you noticed since arriving in Dubrovnik back in April?

That there is more hunger than ever to attract digital nomads. I was part of the Cross Border Coworking Conference in Budva, Montenegro and it was amazing to see and hear what other countries are doing to appeal to digital nomads, not just DN visas but also welcoming communities, co-living situations and co-working spaces. I was also delighted to hear about how Dubrovnik has implemented our recommendations, from opening new co-working spaces to DN-friendly accommodation.


4. Have you noticed any change in the way Croatia is talked about in the global DN groups you engage with online? In what way if yes?

I see it crop up as a recommended destination more and more. Reasons are usually amazing scenery, good value, particularly as we head towards winter, and friendly people. 


5. What would you say are the key next steps for Dubrovnik on this journey, and for Croatia as a whole

I always think this time of year is an excellent time for Croatia to be attracting DNs. so in the very short term, I would make the most of that. Accommodation is cheaper and more plentiful, there is hiking, skiing, and other outdoor pursuits to be done and the opportunity to rest and re-charge in the quietness of the winter. Beyond that, continuing to build on things DNs want and need. Good quality and value accommodation (it's great to see DNA Stay has just launched), building communities, and co-working.


6. Your favourite memory/experience from DNIR, and when do expect that Dubrovnik will see you next?

There were a few post-beer nighttime swims that were pretty awesome. And just being able to socialize with a like-minded group of people - the first time most of us had been able to do that in a sustained way for over a year. I will be back in Croatia in Spring 2022, and Dubrovnik will for sure be seeing a bit more of me!


Charlie and Sam were part of a very international and all DNIR extra virgin digital nomad team which came a creditable 5th at this year's world championship. They were joined by fellow DNIRs Alyssa from California, Rob from the Netherlands, and coach Tanja from Australia.

If you are in Split on Wednesday and want to see if Charlie really can drink that much wine, she and Sam are doing what promises to be a fun presentation about life on the road at Zinfandel. More details here


For more news and features on digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Meet Dubrovnik's Digital Nomads-in-Residence: Charlie Brown from UK in Zagreb

April 18, 2021 - The 10 winners of the innovative Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence (DNiR) competition have been announced. Meet them one by one. Next up, Charlie Brown from the UK in Zagreb.

The DNiR programme, which has been designed by Saltwater Nomads, in partnership with Total Croatia News, the CIty of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board (and financed by the latter two), is an innovative direction for the Pearl of the Adriatic, as it looks to diversify its tourism strategy away from overtourism and in the wake of the pandemic. 


My name is Charlie, I'm a freelance wine, travel, food, entrepreneurship and finance writer, after selling my British-based wine store and bar last year, as well as my house and pretty much everything I own for a permanent life on the road.

1. You are a DN-i-R winner. Congratulations! How do you feel?

Surprised, shocked and excited! It's one of those things; If you told me a year ago, I'd be winning a competition to live in Dubrovnik for a month, working on all things around digital nomadism, I'd have told you that you'd imbibed too much of my product and you needed to go home. 

2. How did you hear about the competition, and why did you decide to apply?

I saw it on a Facebook group. Since leaving the security of my old life, one of my aims was to say yes to as much as possible; I saw the competition and thought, that's the kind of thing I could say yes to! Croatia is such a great country, after all. And as a Brit, since Brexit, I've been forced to think differently about how I travel. To me, digital nomad visas are an incredible idea, that will help to open up the world as we slowly emerge from the pandemic. I love how forward thinking they are, and I want to be a part of it.

3. Which particular skills and ideas will you be bringing to the party?

Anything wine-related, of course. For nearly 10 years I've hardly thought about anything else, so if you want a wine tasting (or indeed, wine drinking) session, I'm your woman. And entrepreneurship advice, particularly around setting up small, ethical, sustainable businesses. Then there's writing, particularly in the travel, food and wine sphere.

I also have an encyclopedic knowledge about Eurovision of all things, and the competition is held during the month we're in Dubrovnik, so if you want to know how many times Croatia has entered in the last 10 years or some other random fact, hit me up!

4. What are you most looking forward to about DNIR?

Meeting new people and learning from them is surely number one. I love learning about how other people live, what they do, gaining new perspectives on life. I also think Dubrovnik's new focus toward sustainable tourism is very interesting and will open the city up to a whole new way of welcoming visitors, and I'm looking forward to being a small part of that. Finally, on a personal note, I'm super excited to learn about Dubrovnik and the surrounding areas. I've not visited in 13 years so it's not a part of Croatia I know very well and I'm excited to change that. 


5. Let's get you involved in the Dubrovnik community. Who or what would you like to connect with?

I believe that the best way to get to know a community is through its food and its alcohol. So wineries would be number one, local craft breweries number two but also any restaurants and bars that have a focus on wine and regional cooking. 

Here is Charlie's application video:

You can learn more about the programme here

Saltwater Nomads' Tanja Polegubic on Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence Programme

Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic on Digital Nomads, US Flights, 2021 Season

For the latest digital nomad news from Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.

The winner announcement video:

Other winners featured so far:

Albert Cañigueral in Barcelona

Marlee McCormick in Texas

Carolyn Zenilow from USA in Stari Grad, Hvar

Kelsey Kay Love from Texas in LA

Rob Schubert from the Netherlands in Estonia

Ron Tardiff from USA in Budapest

Zoltan Nagy from Hungary in Tenerife

Kaisu Koskela from Finland in Las Palmas

Alyssa Isogawa from USA/Japan in California