Sunday, 30 December 2018

Silba's Third ''Christmas Magic'' Event Opens Festive Doors

The rather far flung northern Dalmatian island Silba might not strike you as a particularly sought-after destination for the festive season, but you might be surprised...

As Kora Dilic/Morski writes on the 29th of December, 2018, this year, the already traditional and entirely unique island advent event has kicked off on the beautiful island of Silba. This year it will be held from the 29th of December, 2018 to the 2nd of January 2019.

This is the third year in a row that the picturesque island in the Zadar archipelago has put on a show for locals and visitors alike following preparations for advent oriented entertainment concerts, as well as a multitude of interesting content that relies on Silba's cultural heritage and quirky specifics of this small but dear Dalmatian island.

Silba is not just an island of music and the arts, it is also very much an island with a huge religious and spiritual heritage, with a rich tradition here. Owing to that, this little, usually overlooked island boasts seven churches.

''As of this year, we've organised the event all together, islanders and volunteers have come from the surrounding islands, and also from Zadar County. We have prepared content that only Silba can offer and we expect the arrival of our people from the diaspora and tourists from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other European countries,'' said Kristian Lopac who, together with the volunteers, had his hands well and truly full of work on the island when preparing for the formal opening ceremony which took place on Saturday, December the 29th.

On Sunday, December the 30th, Silba will play host to Zoran Jelenković's live concert, and on Monday, December the 31st, a spectacular island New Year's Eve will take place, with a helping hand with traditional music performed by klapa Leut.

Make sure to stay up to date with everything going on up and down the country, from continental Croatia to the coast, and from the coast to the furthest flung Croatian islands by following our dedicated lifestyle page.


Click here for the original article by Kora Dilic for

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Hrvatska Božićna Priča - A Croatian Christmas Story

''Did you get your Christmas cakes or did the cat eat them?''  My Mum asked when calling me to check on my Christmas cake delivery situation. 
Two days before Christmas, I woke up determined to dedicate my day to thoroughly cleaning the house. 
I never really understood the secret connection between Christmas day and an obsessive need to absolutely sterilise your house, but I went with the flow, pulled up my sleeves, took a deep breath, and got down to business!
A few hours later, after I evacuated a colony of ants from my kitchen - apparently their hometown, polished all the flat surfaces, repainted the living room, cleaned the roof tiles and inhaled a serious amount of cleanser, I squinted with one eye, concluded that the windows are as clean as they ever will be, yelled at the spider climbing on the wall, pulled the curtains over the windows, just in case, and took the kids outside, to ice skate. Well, to be completely honest, they were ice skating and I was safely situated behind the fence waving at them and drinking mulled wine. 
While we were out drinking mull… excuse me, ice skating, my Mum decided to deliver her famous Christmas cakes.
The story with my Mum and cakes is a pretty simple one. You just have to have some cakes in the house. Always. An ordinary Sunday afternoon,  a birthday party, getting a new job or getting fired, my Mum will bake and send you a cake. The question is just what type of cake you'll receive.
Ordinary Sunday afternoon: Sour cherry pie 
Birthday: Sacher torta 
Geting a new job: Cheese cake 
Geting fired: Apple strudl 
Moving into a new apartment: Rafaello kocke 
Children's birthdays: Sacher torta,  Sour cherry pie. Cheese cake, Apple strudl and Rafaello kocke 
 As Mum rang on my front door that evening and nobody was there, she just left the cakes on my doorstep at the mercy of our neighbour's cat. 
''Oh, and another thing,'' Mum continued ''I don't want you buying me any presents this year. This year I'm only buying presents for the kids. Enough already.'' 
Here we go… I sat down and prepared myself for the same speech she gives me every year before Christmas.
''I don't need anything,'' she continued her gift soap opera story. ''We never had this custom when we were kids. We were happy to get a few oranges and some walnuts for Christmas, and anyway, when I was a child…'' 
Yes, Mum, yes… I decided to stop her before she started to talk about how she walked ten kilometres to school through the snow every day or how at the age of twelve she was driving a van to help out her parents, who owned a tavern, to deliver goods from town.
However, it was too late…
''Did you know that when I was twelve I drove a van through Karlovac…''
Seriously, though, I think my Mum has a point there. No, I'm not going to make my children get a driving licence and drive a van, but she's definitely onto something with the presents!
Before you give up on reading this article, I must asssure you that this will not be one of those articles moralising about Christmas presents and the true meaning of Christmas. I won't write about starving kids and consumeristic Europe. It has all been written, and it's all sadly still happening. The children are still starving and we're still buying ridiculously expensive presents for each other, with just a pinch of sadness and a twinkle of guilt somewhere in the back of our minds when we spot a photo of a starving child on some social network.
First of all – I really like presents. I like getting presents, I like unwrapping presents. I like that moment of great expectation, when you still dare to dream that somebody actually remembers what you like. I even like that next disappointing moment of staring at your brand new grey socks.
But, this Christmas the whole buying presents thing has got a bit out of control! Here's what I've noticed this year. 
 A month before Christmas, the TV commercials suddenly change. The usual commercials advertising pet food and detergents mysteriously disappear and every TV commercial is either for:
a)  Designer perfumes  - limited edition
b) Tablets and smartphones 
c) Chocolate candies 
So, my conclusion, after staring at TV ads this last month, is that for absolute happiness at this time of year, you just need to spray yourself with a tonne of limited edition designer perfume, take a tablet in your hand, and stuff your self with some nicely wrapped chocolate candies. 
One TV commercial in particular caught my attention over the last few days. A pretty young woman, cheerfully smiling and holding a mobile phone in her hand, tells the TV audience something along the lines of people being so tired of soft Christmas gifts like scarves and gloves and that this year we need real gifts: A smartphone perhaps, or a tablet!  And luckily, they are available at amazing prices! 
So, what's wrong with that, you might ask yourself. It's just advertising, right?
A few years ago, when Croatian society was shaken by corruption affairs which took place in the highest political circles, a famous Croatian psychologist stated her opinion on the matter on national TV, saying that the biggest damage caused by these corruption affairs wasn't the material one, meaning the stolen money, but the biggest damage is that the media was trying to convince the younger generation that what happened is absolutely normal, saying to them:
If you're in a position to steal a cookie from a cookie jar, why shouldn't you? You'd do it too, right?  They just took the opportunity!
And then she said: But the truth is - we wouldn't all do it. A lot of us actually wouldn't steal the cookies from the cookie jar given the opportunity. 
Most of us would have remembered that it's wrong to steal. Most of us wouldn't hide a national treasure in our personal strongbox like some of our politicians readily did. Our parents taught us better than that. So, don't try to convince us that we would. And don't try to convince us that scarves and gloves, scented candles, and funny socks aren't good enough for Christmas presents. Because our parents taught us better than that.
When I was a teenager, I got a Christmas present from my Mum. It was an oversized three-and-a-half metre long knitted pink scarf. Back in those days, when there were no mobile phones, people had to do something to keep their hands busy. Some people smoked, others solved the crossword puzzles, and some were involved in knitting. My Mum was one of them. 
Of course I was unbelievably disappointed when I unwrapped my present to find an endless pink scarf that she'd spent knitting for a good part of that year!
Today, however, twenty years later, I still wear the scarf. It's still too long, it drags along the floor and it doesn't go well with my coat, but when I put it on, it reminds me of all those long gone family gatherings we had and lost over the years, and my Mum and Grandma laughing, drinking coffee, talking and knitting, and simply being happy. 
Take a moment and think about all the presents you've received throughout your life. What do you remember about them? 
I don't remember the name of the perfume I got for Christmas from my first boyfriend. I remember the moment I opened the bottle, though. It was snowing for the first time that Christmas evening in town. The vanilla scent of that perfume always evokes that nice feeling of the very first winter snow and Christmas in me.
The VCR recorder my Dad bought us one Christmas years ago is long gone on some junkyard now, but I will never forget the moment my Dad entered the kitchen one Christmas Eve with a huge cardboard box, looking all proud, and my sister and I in our pyjamas were screaming and jumping for joy.
And of course, there is Billy the Bear.
Billy the Bear, my long lost childhood companion whom I got for my fourth birthday. He was a brown furry animal who soon lost one eye and suffered some serious paw injuries in conflict with my cousin whose life goal at that time was to destroy all of my toys. 
 Billy the Bear helped me to get to sleep every night and gave some important furry hugs during the war attacks in my hometown. I will never forget those scary war days spent in the shelter when Billy's hug saved me. I would cover my ears so as not to hear the sound of the grenades falling, cry, and hold Billy the Bear as tight as I could. And I survived those moments. 
Billy the Bear was in my suitcase during that war Christmas of '91 when my parents evacuated us from Karlovac to Zagreb to live with my aunt until the war situation in my hometown got a bit better.
That Christmas evening, the shades on the windows were pulled down and the lights were turned off because of the possibility of air strikes on Zagreb. 
We had no money to buy a proper Christmas tree, so we decorated a pine branch with some candies and cotton wool. So there we were, sitting in a candle scented room eating Christmas dinner waiting for the sirens to announce the end of the danger of air strikes. My sister, my aunt Marija, me, and Billy the Bear of course. It's one of my favourite Christmas memories. 
I have no idea what we got for our presents that Christmas. Getting a call that everybody was back home, safe and alive the next day was a Christmas present enough.  
''Mum, why do people who don't believe in God celebrate Christmas?'' my son asked me one night before bedtime. 
Why, really? 
Because Christmas is for everybody. That's the beauty of it. For believers and atheists, for those who feel happy with their lives and for those who don't, for children and grownups, for family and friends, and even for our enemies, we can all find something in it. 
It's a time to be thankful for all the presents we received this year. 
Oh, and that reminds me! Thank you for the cakes, Mum! The cat didn't eat them, and they're amazing, as they are every Christmas. 
If you want to find out more about Croatian language courses, click here
Monday, 3 December 2018

Christmas in a Cup: Favorite 5 Mulled Wine Recipes

December 3, 2018 - Ho-ho-ho! Who's up for some mulled wine?

If you're anything like me, you will need a substantial amount of booze to get you through the cold winter days and the upcoming holidays – to warm both your body and spirit. And if mulled wine is your Christmastime drink of choice, then read on because we bring you five simple recipes for this heartwarming holiday favorite. Of course, mulled wine is as easy to make as it is to spoil so don't skip the tips & tricks part below!

First off, if you don't want to end up with the thin, tart stuff you can typically find in any Christmas market, take some time to make your mulled wine from scratch and don't take any sort of shortcuts. That means avoiding the use of pre-packaged mulling spices as this will make your mulled wine flat and one dimensional, and it can easily overpower other flavors and aromas. Second, do not use aluminum or copper pots for heating the wine because metal can impart a metallic taste while the alcohol is warming.

When it comes to choosing the right wine, it should complement other flavors and aromas. Be it red or white, pick something fruit forward and tannic with a relatively high alcohol content so that it can withstand some heat without turning sour or bitter and tasting like burnt grapes. The worst thing you can do is to overheat the wine or boil it – ugh, the horror!

Treating your wine with care and handpicking the best spices for mulling will result in a full, well-rounded flavor, making it well worth your buck, time and effort.

Also, as a general rule of thumb, you don't want to use the most expensive, top quality wine for mulling, but also don't expect wonders by using some artificially flavored plonk. Instead, get some decent table wine and make it shine!

Here are the recipes:

Cranberry Pomegranate Mulled Wine

1 bottle red wine
16 oz pomegranate juice (fresh, if possible)
8 oz cranberry juice
4 oz apple brandy
4 oz orange juice
4 oz – 6 oz honey
1 orange, sliced
1 apple, sliced
6 pcs star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp whole cloves (about 12 pods)

Thickly slice oranges and stud their skins with cloves. Slice apples. Add all liquid ingredients into a crockpot and stir well. Add the clove-studded orange slices, apples, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Turn the crockpot to warm. Let heat 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.

Adapted from

Mulled White Wine

2 (750 ml) bottles of dry white wine
2 oranges, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup brandy (optional)
1/2 cup honey or sugar
16 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
4 pcs star anise

Combine all ingredients in a non-aluminum saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours, but be careful not to boil it! Strain, and serve warm with desired garnishes: citrus slices (orange, lemon and/or lime), extra cinnamon sticks, extra star anise.

Adapted from

Spiced Rum-Spiked Mulled Wine

1 (750 ml) bottle red wine
2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup spiced rum
3 tbsp. honey
1 orange, zest and juice
1 apple, thinly sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
1 pc star anise

Stir together wine, cider, rum, and honey in a slow cooker. Add orange juice and zest, apple slices, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Gently stir to combine. Leave covered on low heat for one hour. Serve hot garnished with an apple slice.

Adapted from

Swedish Gløgg

1 (750ml) bottle dry red wine
1 cup white rum
1 cup bourbon
1/2 cup brandy
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup almonds, blanched
1 whole orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
5 cardamom pods

Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan, and allow to warm over medium-low heat until small bubbles form along the edges. Strain the solids, and serve warm.

Adapted from

Cleopatra’s Elixir of Life

1 (750 ml) bottle red wine
4 large sage sprigs
3 large mint sprigs
3 dried figs, chopped
10 cloves

Combine the ingredients in a crockpot or heavy bottomed pan. Let heat 30 minutes to 1 hour, and serve warm.

Adapted from

If you decide to try any of these, let us know how you liked it and stay tuned for more delicious recipes by following our dedicated gourmet page.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Advent in Knin: Dalmatian Hinterland Gets into Festive Spirit

Fancy spending part of the festive season in a rather unusual location? It isn't Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar or Zagreb, but Knin, one of Croatia's most historically important cities, located in the rugged hills of the Dalmatian hinterland. Advent in Knin is, just like other locations across the country, looking like it's definitely worth a visit.

While Croatia is continuing to struggle with the self-limiting chains summer tourism places on the country, winter tourism has been helped hugely by Zagreb's advent success over the past three years. The Croatian capital has come on leaps and bounds, going from all but overlooked tourism wise, to being voted Europes best Advent destination for three years running. A title the city wants to win again this year.

The capital's continued success has rubbed off on other towns and cities up and down the country, with Dubrovnik's winter festival drawing more and more visitors each year, Split putting on an equally impressive show, and locations like Zadar, Rab and Pag following suit. It's not enough to say that Croatia desperately needs to try harder to free itself from the clutches of the three to four month long ''sea and sunshine'' destination box, but the chains are beginning to loosen with each passing year, and thanks to Zagreb's popularity at this time of year, other more overlooked Croatian cities are beginning to find their place.

As SibenikIN writes on the 28th of November, 2018, Advent in Knin is set to kick off very soon. The ice skating rink in front of the Franjo Tudjman school will be officially opened this coming Sunday at 17:00, and Knin's city administration, as well as the organisers of Advent in Knin have invited all those interested to be there.

In addition to the official opening the ice skating rink, the Christmas lights placed across the city will be turned on, and all the events for Advent in Knin 2018 are set to begin on Sunday, according to Huknet.

The ice rink will remain open until January the 2nd, 2019, and on Sunday a festive cottage serving drinks and food located next to the ice rink will begin its work. Advent in Knin will see to it that ice skating, as well as all of the required equipment for skating will be free for everyone.

The remaining five festive cottages partaking in this year's Advent in Knin festivities will be located in the park below the school playground and they will open considerably later, on December the 21st, when numerous cultural events are set to begin in the same location, also as part of Advent Knin's event programme for 2018.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel and lifestyle pages for more news on the numerous advent programmes for various locations across the country.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Advent in Zagreb: Less is More This Festive Season?

Could less be more for Advent in Zagreb this year? This year's five-week-long Advent celebrations in the capital are set to have a smaller offer and less ''cottages'' in order to reduce consumerism and improve the overall quality of what is on offer.

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 11th of November, 2018, at the presentation of this year's Advent in Zagreb, which has held the title of the best in Europe for three years now, it has been announced that the emphasis of the event, which will last from the 1st of December to the 6th of January, will be placed more onto cultural events in order to reduce the atmosphere of consumerism and restore the true Christmas spirit.

The novelties this year will be the city's various locations,  Advent in Maksimir, Advent on Old Tkalča, where traditional crafts will go hand in hand with the spirit of some of Zagreb's oldest townhouses in Gradec and Kaptol, and the ''Film Advent'' in Kino Europa will be presented. As they say from the Zagreb Tourist Board this year, there will be three locations less than last year, and although they couldn't precisely quantify the number, there will be a decrease in cottages in the city.

During last year's Advent, 110,707 people spent up to half a billion kuna in Zagreb alone, with most of them spening as much as 139 euros per day, the number of overnight stays and arrivals was also 23 percent higher in the first thirty days of Advent in Zagreb than in 2016. Poslovni Dnevnik asked those who earn their money during Advent in Zagreb what they think about reducing the number of cottages, but it seems that everyone involved understands the good intentions of the organisers, as they themselves think the crowds are by far the biggest problem.

Saša Frid, who for three years at Advent in Zagreb recalls that the sheer wave of people is what is causing "chaos" for those working, and most of those with stands and/or cottages simply cannot produce the right quantities to meet the wishes of all of those visiting.

"The first three weekends are a real hit, and only when that crowd goes down is there any room to improve the offer, since it was physically impossible and technically hard to do before then. It would be great to have as few industrial and as many domestic products as possible, but I think it will be difficult to change all of that because to most, Advent still looks like a chance just to make money,'' noted Frid.

Matej Đorđević, co-owner of the Time restaurant, who will also take part in Advent in Zagreb this year, argues that the problem is not really to do with stands or Advent cottages, but the fact that this event in Zagreb brings "a sea" of people into Zagreb from all over Croatia and Europe.

"Our city is simply incapable of dealing with such a massive inflow of people and it's therefore necessary that the city infrastructure itself is gradually adapted. However, the fact remains that Advent in Zagreb has ''made'' the city (in touristic terms) and that's an immense tourist achievement for this city, for which the leadership of the Zagreb Tourist Board is the most deserving,'' stated Đorđević.

Want to keep up with what's going on across Croatia for Advent this year? Make sure to follow our lifestyle page. If it's Zagreb you're interested in, make sure to follow Total Zagreb.


Click here for the original article by Marta Duic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Advent in Zagreb Begins Preparations for Earlier Beginning

Advent in Zagreb has seen Croatia's capital go from strength to strength in terms of tourism over the last few years.

Attracting visitors from all over the world and gaining the title of the Best European Advent Destination for three years running, Advent in Zagreb isn't messing around when it comes to turning the city into a winter wonderland to get you ready for the most wonderful time of the year. Scrooge or not, it's hard to resist Zagreb at this time of year.

As 24sata writes on the 3rd of November, 2018, Zagreb's tourist board has its fingers crossed that this year will also be a great one, with the aim of attracting a record number of arrivals and overnight stays. 

This year, the much loved Advent in Zagreb will begin on December the 1st, and as Martina Bienenfeld, the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board told RTL, the christmas spirit and cheer is spreading out over the city much more, and advent will also take to some new locations across the capital.

Advent in Zagreb's organisers are already claiming that this year will be the most beautiful to date, and things have already got started.

There are already decorations being readily put up along the streets of Zagreb, given the fact that, as previously mentioned, this year things kick off as early as December the 1st with a little warm up taking place just a few days earlier.

As Bienenfeld stated, Advent in Zagreb will take to some brand new locations in the city, and owing to that some of the locations people have frequented in the past few years will naturally be overlooked, therefore they will be shut down.

To briefly recall Advent in Zagreb's incredible rise to fame and recognition, Zagreb's advent has been proclaimed to be the most beautiful in Europe for three years running and continues to attract very high numbers to Croatia's previously very much overlooked capital city. The Christmas spirit will stay in the capital in the form of advent for five weeks.

Want to stay up to date with Advent in Zagreb and what's going on in the capital? Make sure to follow Total Zagreb and keep yourself in the loop.


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Christmas Consumerism: Croats Spent 1 Billion Kuna More Than Expected

The rise in wages and overall living standards has contributed to more consumer spending during the festive season.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Enchanted Town ''Here Be Dragons'' & HBO GO present Iron Throne from Game of Thrones at Fuliranje

Another addition to Fuliranje in Zagreb!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

''Here Be Dragons'' - A Magical Advent Experience at Fuliranje!

Advent in Zagreb has never been richer!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

ZET Trams Free During Advent! Find Out When and Where!

A little sweetner to the already popular Advent in Zagreb.

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