Saturday, 23 October 2021

Korčula Hosts Conference on Renewable Energy Projects on Islands

ZAGREB, 23 Oct, 2021 - Energy transition has become a major topical issue on Croatian islands, notably large ones such as Krk, Cres, Lošinj and Korčula, over recent years, however, local inhabitants need more education and information on the matter, heard a conference held in Korčula last Thursday and Friday.

Islands are areas where the need for energy self-sufficiency is more compelling than elsewhere, and in the case of Croatian islands it is even more conspicuous during the tourist season in summer when glitches in electricity and water supply systems are more frequent, it was said at the conference, organised by the Movement for Islands and the Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat.

"Although they are faced with specific challenges, islands are in a unique position to be front-runners in efforts to achieve energy transition, thanks to abundance of renewable energy resources," said Antonia Proka of the Secretariat.  

During the secretariat's two-day academy, experts discussed financing tools and mechanisms as well as citizen engagement in energy transition.

The implementation of clean energy in the farming and tourist sectors, which are dominant on islands, reduce operating costs and boost the competitiveness of businesses in those sectors.

Also, improvements in waste management on islands can be attained by implementing clean energy technologies, it was said.

A great challenge is insufficient awareness of islanders and inadequate education. Although over recent years a series of successful projects have been launched, transition to clean energy on the Croatian islands is still slow.

The conference presented the example of the island of Samso in the Kattegat sea area between Denmark and Sweden, which has been successful in the use of renewables since 1997. A part of the local wind parks on that Danish island belongs to the local model renewable energy community. Now 100% of its electricity comes from wind power and biomass.

In 2000, the local community established the Samso Energy Academy, which today serves as a centre for development of technologies and a meetinghouse for knowledge and solutions.

Participants in the Korčula conference called on the Croatian authorities to organise energy transition seminars, conferences and training for local population.

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Sunday, 10 October 2021

Best Nudist Beach in the World is on the Island of Lokrum

October 10, 2021 - Up to 100 nudist beaches and bathing spots around the world were evaluated in a survey conducted by the My Dating Adviser portal, in which the island of Lokrum ranked first for its quality and accessibility, and is thus considered the best nudist beach of the world.

As many as 100 nudist beaches and bathing places around the world were evaluated in a survey conducted by the My Dating Adviser portal, in which the island of Lokrum came first as the best nudist beach, reports Turističke Priče. The quality of the beach, safety, weather, and the price of the hotel were evaluated, and Lokrum received the best evaluations for the safety and quality of the beach.

Lokrum is the closest to the historic city center of Dubrovnik, and centuries of rich history, legends, and stories, the magic of the sea and nature renew old loves or bring new ones. But apart from that, Lokrum became famous after the Game of Thrones series. Lush vegetation, intoxicating scents, and the song of crickets "played" the gardens in the Game of Thrones where "those of pure blood" ruled. Numerous tourists walked the trails walked by Khaleesi and her powerful host Xaro Xhoan Daxos. And while on the island, you can also sit on the  Iron Throne, which is located in a Benedictine monastery

On the list of the 100 best nudist beaches, Lokrum is located above the beach Spiaggia della Lecciona from the Italian province of Lucca, and the Australian beach Maslin Beach .

In the description of the beach, My Dating Adviser states that if you spend time in Dubrovnik, the island of Lokrum is a great place to visit, only 10 minutes away by ferry and that it is a small, uninhabited island, which provides a haven for nudists.

''Here you can enjoy the impeccable landscape, national parks, and clear sea. The island consists mainly of rocks, so be careful with pieces of stone. This island also has a natural salt lake where you can relax like a jacuzzi'', the text explains about the now considered best nudist beach in the world.

In addition to Lokrum, this list includes three other destinations from Croatia: Punta Križa on Cres in 13th place, then Valalta near Rovinj in 16th place, and Sovinje Beach in Tkon in 21st place, which was rated the best in the beach quality category.

Nudist beaches in Croatia have been popular for a long time now. The country with such an abundance of hidden bays and beaches is nothing short of perfect for all those looking to get in touch with nature on their holiday. For more about the history of nudist beaches in Croatia and detailed information, be sure to check Total Croatia's guide here.

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

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

National Plan for Island Development, Island Register Presented

ZAGREB, 1 Sept, 2021 - Representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds presented the National Plan for Island Development and Island Register in Preko on the island of Ugljan on Wednesday, saying these were strategic documents that should enable a better quality of life on all Croatian islands.

"The National Plan for Island Development is a comprehensive document, presenting various sources of financing and aims, priorities, measures and projects for the development of the islands in the period from 2021 to 2027," the ministry's state secretary, Šime Erlić, said.

The document covers many areas, from social and cultural to traffic and other areas vital for people living on the islands, Erlić said. It underscores the key issues that bother islanders and they will be resolved with the help of national and European funds, he added.

Some of the key problems are transport connectivity from the islands to the mainland, access to health care, water supplies and environmental protection, he said.

"This plan is a basis for negotiations with the European Commission. Croatia is negotiating a new financial envelope and preparing priority investments," said Erlić.

Asked about the problem of water supply, he said that owing to legislative changes, the quantity of water available to islanders had increased from 45 to 85 cubic metres per person but he underlined the importance of building water supply and drainage systems on islands. He added that funding for those investments would be available as well.

He said that measures under the National Plan for Island Development were estimated at HRK 7.8 billion.

Speaking about the Island Register, Erlić said that this was the first time all the islands had been listed and categorised in one place - all 1,244 islands, islets and rocks.

"We have created a database that will serve as the basis to prepare analytical reports necessary to direct and manage efficient policies for island development," he said.

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Friday, 20 August 2021

Over €1Bn To Be Set Aside for Development of Islands Until 2027

ZAGREB, 20 Aug, 2021 - EU Funds and Regional Development Minister Nataša Tramišak said on Friday in Split that HRK 7.8 billion would be earmarked for development projects on Croatian islands until 2027.

The national plan for the development of islands will provide a scope for investments, and we have assessed that 7.8 billion kuna will be necessary for the implementation of measures envisaged by the plan. However, that amount is not definite and other ministries are expected to make contributions to additional investments in compliance with the money made available in EU funds until 2027, Minister Tramišak told the press.

Tramišak held the news conference after she awarded seven contracts, worth HRK 22 million in total, on regulating the state's co-funding of the EU-funded projects.

The total value of those seven projects which will be implemented in Split-Dalmatia County stands at 223 million kuna, and 140 million will be covered by EU funding.

After Split, Tramišak travelled to Hvar for a ceremony of awarding HRK 4 million worth of contracts on that island.

The registry of islands and the national island development plan will be presented at that ceremony.

More than six billion kuna was invested from national funds into different activities and projects for the islands in the 2016-2020 period.

Croatia has 1,244 islands, and 45 islands are permanently or temporarily inhabited, with 51 maritime routes, 58 community health centres, 102 primary and 13 high schools, and 23 care homes.

(€ 1 = HRK 7.482172)

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Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Croatian Beach vs Pool Dilemma: Arguments For Both Sides Overview

August 11, 2021 - Looking at the broad offer of swimming options on Adriatic, you may find yourself in the middle of a Croatian beach vs pool dilemma. TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac found pros for both sides.

With exciting history, heritage, and interesting experiences to be had, coastal Croatia and the Croatian islands known how to sell what they've got. The clear, refreshing, and clean sea has been the most valuable arsenal in Croatia's tourist offer from the very start.

In that spirit, it may seem unusual to see many hotels with glorious sea views and short walks to beaches that have pools, both indoors and outdoors. Sure, the indoor pools are great if you have the misfortunate of some bad weather when you're dying for a swim, but do outdoor pools really make sense next to the lovely Adriatic?

Well, both sides of this argument have valid points. Here is a shortlist of the cases when one dominates over the other in this epic Croatian beach vs pool debate.

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Looking for safe fun? Then the pool wins

With Croats enjoying the reputation of being ready to help and watching over others, and even with some of the beaches having lifeguards, pools are definitely the safer option if swimming isn't your strong side. The majority of pools have a shallow and deeper end, and while the sea can suddenly become deeper than you what you've bargained for, the transition is much easier in the pool.

If you do get cramp or get in some sort of trouble, even if other swimmers don't respond, you can be sure that hotel staff will pull you out just in time. The rules of conduct (which you have to oblige to) ensure your safety and that of the other guests. The limits of a pool can make it easier for you to watch over your kids while they have safe aquatic fun. In addition, sea urchins or painful rocks on which you can hit yourself while entering the Adriatic, as well as small pebbles that can be annoying on the soles of your feet, aren't an issue in a controlled pool environment. sea_vic_1.jpg

Looking for space? Then a Croatian beach will win

If you feel claustrophobic in the small and typically confined limits of the pool, then a Croatian beach is the best place to go for a longer swim. With experienced swimmers being able to swim from one side of the pool over the other, the sea provides a better challenge in terms of routes and directions you can take. Additionally, pools can be quite crowded, and if you want to take a refreshing dip as some ''zen'' time for yourself, then chilling in the Adriatic can be done at a more considerable distance from others that came to enjoy the day.

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Do you fancy a space reserved just for you? Head to the pool

We all know that moment of frustration when a beach is crowded like hell, and you just can't find a place to leave your towel for the life of you. As pools are limited to the guests of the hotel, you can rest assured that when you arrive poolside, you'll manage to be able to find a place to soak up the sun and get a nice tan after you're done with swimming as the hotel calculates the maximum number of people that they can accommodate at any one time (at least the good hotels do).

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 Broadening your circle of friendship? Then a Croatian beach wins

With the Croatian hotel scene being more and more frequently branded to attract certain clientele, those who are interested in meeting new people on holiday, can expect that other guests in the hotel are similar to them in terms of interest and lifestyle. That's great, but keep in mind that other guests may just be interested in chilling, eating, and sleeping in the hotel, and not really socialising. On the other hand, the world of the Croatian beach is much more dynamic and with long history of interesting real and fictional stories (in books and movies) about awesome friendships and passionate relationships which started with an exchanged glance at the beach; the beach is the place to meet new people.

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Want to be content with the water? The pool wins

When it comes to the Croatian beach offer, there are many types to choose from. Some beaches don't only offer unhindered access to the beautiful Adriatic as their lure but also much more, such as flotation devices to waterslides, sunbeds, and more. That said, certain pools also have more content than another. But, as a guest of the hotel, you can use everything that has been included in the price of your stay, while beaches (in the majority of cases at least) charge extra for these additional features. croatian-beach-683035_1280.jpg

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Do you want to experience nature at its finest? Then the beach wins

With pools being man-made, they lack the joy of coming across unexpected discoveries which is what the sea offers. From pebbles to seaweed or sand underneath you to fish and other marine life sharing the swim with you, your experience in the Adriatic isn't just an opportunity to relax and freshen up but also to connect closely with nature. When a wave comes, those who are more in the market for excitement will surely have their blood pumping that bit harders as they are carried by the waves. You can also lie on the beach and enjoy the zen the sound of calm waves brings free of charge.

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If proximity is what you're after, then the pool wins

When you're searching for a hotel, you probably want the one which is as close as possible to a beautiful Croatian beach. However, if you're a bit of out shape (with no desire to really improve that), and you learn that the promised three-minute walk to the beach lasts up to seven minutes or more at your pace and you just don't feel like walking that much as the heat is draining the life out of you, then the pools are right there inside the hotel complex. The only way to dive in for some aquatic refreshment faster is to take a shower in the hotel room, but really, where is the fun in that?

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Viva la anarchia! – The beach wins

As mentioned above, pools are safer, not just because of their size and safe terrain, but also because of the rules they have. That said, if you've arrived at your destination listening to the greatest Sex Pistols hits and that little anarchist in you ready to get wild, head over to the beach to learn a whole new meaning of freedom. Swim where you want, jump from wherever you want (at your own risk, of course), and as long as you don't pollute the sea, pose a threat to other people or endanger the native marine life, where your sense of creativity ends is your only limit. Swim any time you want. You don't have to take a shower before diving in, and as many Croats will whisper to you in a clandestine manner when nobody is listening: you're free to pee in the sea if you need to.

The Croatian coast has you covered - the choice is yours

These are some of the arguments to help you decide would you prefer to be by the pool or next to a Croatian beach. Since the Croatian coast can offer both salty and freshwater options for your enjoyable holiday, it's best to try out both.

Learn more about beaches in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about the Croatian Adriatic Sea, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

93% More Overnight Stays on Hvar and Tourist Crowds on Croatian Islands Increasing

June 27, 2021 - There are 93% more overnight stays on Hvar than last year and crowds are increasingly forming on some of Dalmatia's most popular islands. 

Although the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) has just made Croatia 'green' on the "COVID map" of Europe, which means that according to the strict criteria of the institution, Croatia is among the safest destinations in the context of the coronavirus epidemic, judging by current tourism figures on islands in Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia has been green for a while, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Hvar, Brač, and Vis have already been attracting large crowds. Data from the tourist boards of Supetar, Komiža, and Hvar shows a good start to the season, which is expected to be much higher than last year. 

"The city of Hvar is currently recording a 93 percent increase in overnight stays compared to June last year, and 36 percent compared to 2019, before the pandemic. According to the forecasts for July and August, we could be around 65 percent compared to the results from 2019," Petar Razović, director of the Hvar Tourist Board, reports optimistically.

Americans, Germans, and French are the most numerous guests in Hvar, while the locals are growing by about ten percent. With school holidays and intensified actions on offer, there will surely be more.

"With the delta variant, the loss of the British tourists is noticeable, we are at about ten percent compared to 2019, but a change in the regime could lead to a slight increase. Our primary goal is to protect the destination because God forbid the delta variant penetrates Hvar. That is why the new conditions for the arrival of British tourists will certainly be announced, both in the whole of Croatia and on our island," Razović announces.

People of Hvar, he says, tried to be as ready as possible for the season, so a large number of private renters responded to the vaccination campaign of the Ministry of Tourism (vaccination on the island is about 54 percent), and they are ready for boaters whose number already suggests that the season could be successful.

"We are even recording an increase compared to 2019! Hvar is this year's top destination for boaters. They come to us from all over Southeast Europe and the surrounding countries, possibly many Italians. Numerous boaters and shipowners have already announced an increased number of arrivals in the port of Hvar at the beginning of July, which indicates that we will continue with significant growth," said Petar Razović.

If Croatia remains "green," Hvar should still see the influx of car guests from Central Europe.

Apartments in Komiža on the island of Vis are also being filled earlier than usual. Bogoljub Mitraković, the director of the local tourist board, says that such a thing could not be said from a cursory glance at eVisitor, in which only five hundred and a few guests were registered yesterday.

"A decent number of people still do not report guests; the inspectorate is as it is. There are house owners, their friends, people who do not live in Komiža but have some connection with the place; there are apartment owners who do not register guests ... Everything. Unfortunately, that's the way it is," says Mitraković, noting that both Vis and Komiža are currently at 73 percent of overnight stays from June 2019.

And they had a relatively well last season with 60-70 percent of arrivals compared to the year before. However, it could have been even better.

"We still have two ferry lines this month. Last weekend there was a collapse ... On Monday morning, I came to buy a ticket for the ferry at 11 am, and there was only one at 6:30 pm. I don't know why Jadrolinija couldn't start driving three times a day a little earlier. It will be a simpler solution to keep people on hold at the ferry port. The Jadrolinija people are kind, but the lines to Vis already needed to be strengthened. They don't do us any favors like this," Mitraković thinks.

Last year, domestic tourists saved the season for Komiža, and now foreigners are slowly returning.

"Poles, Czechs ..., there are a solid number of sailors. The Blue Cave works well. Prices?! Um, a scoop of ice cream in Komiža is 12 kuna. Restaurants? People had to equip themselves, hire staff, and not everything is great every day. We have about thirty percent of renters who do not live on the island. And the same is now with the owners of an increasing number of restaurants," the director of the Komiža tourist board said.

Last weekend brought a bit more tourist activity than usual in Supetar on Brač, where they also expect a significant increase in the number of guests at the beginning of July. So far, they were mostly domestic, along with those from Hungary, Poland, Germany, and Slovenia.

"Currently, there is a minimal number of arrivals of guests from the United Kingdom, and Norway and Sweden, tourists who were among the most numerous in the pre-pandemic period," says Ivan Cvitanić.

"The announcements we have from hotels, but also the private accommodation sector, are good, and reservations have started in a much larger volume in the last few weeks. So, from today's perspective, it seems that this tourist season will be better than last year's, which, despite the pandemic, was very good in the end," Cvitanić says hopefully. 

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Thursday, 17 June 2021

Jadrolinija National Ferry Company Acquires New Ship

17 June 2021 - Jadrolinija national ferry company acquired a new ship that will connect the town of Biograd with Tkon on Pasman island.

"Jadrolinija" is one of the most used words in the Croatian language during the summer, at least on the coast. This national ferry company has been connecting the mainland and the islands of the Croatian part of the Adriatic for decades. Its international lines see it connecting Croatia with Italy for part of the year as well.

Because of the small size of the towns and villages and the scarce population living on the islands, only a portion of these lines are profitable and the fleet is pretty large. It is therefore quite a newsworthy item to see Jadrolinija presenting a new addition. Ferry „Tkon“ joined the fleet that now counts 55 ships in total.

Valuable Addition

It was purchased from Rapska Plovidba (Rab Shipping) as index.hr reports. Tkon is a product of renowned Croatian shipyard Viktor Lenac. It is 42 metres long, 15,3 metres wide, and can hold 250 passengers and 35 cars. It was built in 2003. In comparison, ferry „Prizna“ that serviced this Jadrolinija line so far is over 50 years old. It will be on stand-by for the busiest parts of the year. After the purchase Tkon is heading to the docks for maintenace and re-painting. This is good news for all travellers to Pasman island, but also all the islanders and Biograd locals. Chairman of the board of Jadolinija, David Spota said the move goes along the strategic goal of updating and improving the fleet. This is the fifth new ship to come under Jadrolinija flag in the last four years.

It really is difficult to avoid blue-striped Jadrolinija ships along the Croatian coast. They bring much joy to all those wishing to visit some of over a thousand magical islands of Croatia. Here's to Tkon's smooth sailing!

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

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Monday, 24 May 2021

A Trip on Solta Island: 6 Lessons I Learned from Locals

May 24, 2021 - A TCN intern takes a trip on Solta Island without preparation, encounters unusual experiences with the locals, and learns lessons that will be helpful for anybody visiting the closest island to Split.

1. Clothes do not make the man. A port does not make the island. Don't be too quick to judge.

Rogac port where the ferry from Split comes does not impress a traveller. Like most people, I had visited the more popular island of Brac before I went to Solta. Rogac loses out to shiny Supetar, the biggest city on Brac. The port of Rogac is tiny, there is nothing to do there, no people. However, exactly here in Rogac, the first strange story happened to me in the first hour after my arrival. I found one good angle between the yachts at the marina and sat down to take an on-arrival picture. Then someone called out to me...

"Do you know what this is in front of you?" a senior man asked me.

"No, I don't," I said. "I know what is a boat, a yacht, a ship, and this vessel is somewhere between a boat and a yacht, closer to a boat, of course, but what exactly it is, I've no idea," I thought.

"Are you a journalist?"

"No, I'm just a tourist. I came here for the weekend. I'm from Russia but currently work in Split."

"What do you think about your president?"

The question put me in an awkward position. This grandpa in a baseball cap with a canister in his hand, similar to a grandpa from 'Gravity Falls', looked nice. The matter was tricky. What's his opinion? What if our minds are the opposite? I did not want to argue with him. Senior people rarely change their minds, thus even my MD in political science wouldn't help me.

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"It's hard to answer in one sentence about his 18 years of the presidency," I started to draw back the fire. Milan, that's his name, interrupted me. He told me that our president is a strong person he'd like to have as a major somewhere in Dalmatia. He said that he'd like to get vaccinated with the 'Sputnik V' vaccine. I guess that these statements should be regarded as a gesture of goodwill to me in any case.

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Actually, Milan knows about Russian-Croatian relations much more than the average person. He knows admiral Mate Zmayevic (born in the city of Perast, Dalmatia) who fought for Peter I in the Northern War, Alex Dundic (born in the village of Grabovac, Dalmatia) who fought for the Red Army in the Russian Civil War. He listens to Russian opera stars Elina Garancha, Anna Netrebko, Dmitry Khvorostovsky, and others. It's surprisingly pleasant for a broad-minded person far from tourist and nomad routes. 

2. Take the initiative to talk to locals on the island.

Solta has wonderful nature and climate. Traditions of producing olive oil, wine, and honey here originate from ancient times. But since Solta Island is not very popular among tourists, you'll need to make more effort to get it. Even as you go to the island already prepared by informational sources, you have to be ready to ask, perhaps, to clarify something about wine tasting, olive oil tasting, or a honey farm. You go here ahead of the masses, take the initiative to start a conversation, and keep it!

I regret that I did not answer 'yes' to Milan's question of whether I was a journalist. Then I'd have more chances to guide our conversation to the topics I am interested in. Otherwise, it happened so that we were talking about themes that interest mostly a social group 70+-year-olds:

  • life after death (Milan suffered two strokes and saw something on the other side);
  • The Dulce Laboratory in New Mexico where human-alien hybrids were created;
  • Orion correlation theory that says about the connection between the pyramids of Giza and the Orion belt;
  • indigo children;
  • masons, etc.

Certainly, I'd better answer that I'm a travel journalist and interested in things like what to eat, what to do, etc. So that, if somebody asks you on Solta, you can use the following answers I prepared in advance. "I'm a tourist from <...> and a wine lover."I'm a traveller and a gourmand hunting the local specialties." 

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3. Don't be afraid to go around the island alone.

Saying goodbye, Milan wondered why I was here alone. "You don't have to go alone. Find yourself a husband. Not me, I'm too old for you, I'm over 72..."

I guess it was his joke about the age gap problem to marry me, because earlier he'd mentioned his wife was waiting for him at home, their three children, other common stuff.

Then he relented: "Well, all right, you can go alone. Don't be afraid. There are no poisonous snakes on the three Dalmatian islands - Solta, Lastovo, and Vis islands. But there are black widow spiders and ticks..."

As planned, I went through Grohote and Gornje Selo to Stomorska that I considered the most beautiful and lively town on the island. Besides, I was caught up in wanting to check a remark of my Croatian colleague that Stomorska on Solta looks similar to Povlja on Brac. He said it to me once I just got back from Brac. He really encouraged me, thus I'm not going to share if it looks similar or not. Go and check it by yourself!

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I went through almost all the island - from Rogac to Stomorska - by foot. It was a safe and quiet way, not a lot of cars passed me. For sure, it'd be more convenient to go by bicycle, but if you have the time it's possible on foot. On my way back I accepted a proposal of one passing car to take me to the port. I guess you can also have this possibility in mind. As far as there are no regular buses, it's a kind of local solidary to take somebody by car.

One difficulty I faced in Stomorska was the fact that all the cafes and restaurants were closed. I came before the beginning of the tourist season and caught the middle of constructing and cleaning works around terraces, but it was closed. We might endlessly watch water, fire, and other people working, but not on an empty stomach.

4. If something goes wrong, you can always sleep on the beach.

I didn't plan on going to Solta a second time. I have already visited the largest and most beautiful town of Stomorska. I met a wonderful grandpa Milan who told me that Split needs a mayor like the Russian president and that our bodies are just food for aliens secretly dealing with the government. What else is needed?

Then my Split friend Andrea tried to convince me that the most beautiful place on the island is Maslinica, not Stomorska. Andrea knows it for sure, because her aunt lives in Maslinica, and she's there every summer.

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However, I still couldn't decide whether to go - to Brac or Solta - for Saturday sunbathing. At the last moment, I blurted out "Solta" at the checkout. "On the first ferry, please!" I totally forgot that the first ferry is at 6:40 am. "Nevermind, I'll go to sleep earlier today!" Then I recognised this ticket purchase was a fundamentally wrong decision. That Friday we celebrated Sveti Duje, the day of the saint patron of Split. There was no chance for me to escape the celebration and go to sleep earlier.

A suddenly emerged thought saved me from the desire to throw the ferry ticket into the sea from the pier where we celebrated Split City Day in the middle of an incredible post-covid standard crowd until 2:00 am. I thought that I could sleep on the beach of Maslinica on Solta. After 3.5 hours of sleep at home, I packed up and ran to the ferry.

5. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to a homeless man.

Solta is the closest island to Split. By ferry, one way takes only one hour. Once I'd settled on the ferry, I fell asleep. Thank you to the kind Croatian woman next to me who woke me up! At the port of Rogac I checked Google maps - 2 hours walk to Maslinica. 20 minutes later I reached one of the three 'towns' of Solta where you can find a supermarket. 

Entering the supermarket I noticed a very colorful homeless man on the bench in front of it. He looked like Ali Baba. Red down jacket, harem pants, white apron, blue hoodie tied around the neck instead of a scarf. Fingerless gloves. A black beret holding a tuft of long gray hair and a gray beard. I had to restrain myself from taking a picture of him. I was not going to sponsor his vodka.

I had to restrain myself, but failed at the checkout. Too good a type! He was standing on the other side of the glass door while he noticed me taking a picture of him. He was waiting for me at the exit. "Take an initiative talking with locals. Don't be afraid!" I calmed myself. "Please, sir, may I take a picture of you?"

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On the fifth attempt, the homeless man guessed that I was from Russia. Novorossiysk (Russian port) - Izmail (today's Ukraine) - Gori (Georgia). That's in general how his path in USSR looked like. His work had something to do with the sea as I understood. "I had a great company in the Crimea," he said. "I still remember those five Russian women surrounding me: Lyuba, Zoya, Nina..." It seems to be true, in those days the names were popular in the Soviet Union. The man was in Poland as well, in the Czech Republic. He worked in France for six months, then in the United States...

He remembered a few sentences in Russian. Here on the island, there were some Russian girls in Necujem. He taught them three main phrases in Croatian:

  1. Mi se svije Hrvatska. (I like Croatia).
  2. Ja ću se udati za Dalmatinca. (I will marry a Dalmatian man).
  3. Ja sam dobra pička. (I'm a good p***y).

 Well, I can trace some logical connection here...

6. Have a list of souvenirs from Solta.

Homeless Ali Baba asked me how long would I stay in Croatia. He began to think about what souvenirs should I send to my family in Russia. Solta olive oil, Solta honey, Solta wine, Rogac bean for baking, lavender...

"I will collect it for the next time you come to Solta. I have oil, wine, a farm, 7 chickens, 2 houses... You can sleep in one of them, and I'll stay in the other. Is it okay? Take some lavender I picked this morning. Here you are. Do you know that there are two types of lavender? Do you want a chocolate bar?"

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I jumped aside as Ali Baba touched me with lavender. Flowers do not excuse the whole stench. And the worst thing was his long nails. I was at a loss. Some parts of his story seemed plausible. However, I could not find any logical connection between his own farm and the homeless look. Two houses? I'm not going to believe in it.

The situation that we were standing in the center of the town nearby the only supermarket seemed even stranger. People passed us by us every five minutes. They greeted Ali, in response he defiantly showed me to everyone. "Look, such a beautiful Russian is talking to me!" Passersby looked at me with a grain of compassion, but they passed by further. Then one of the passers-by had heard that I was on my way to Maslinica and offered to give me a ride. He was going in the same direction. Thank you, Igore! I quickly got in the car.

Recap

1. Clothes do not make the man. 

In the end, I got to Maslinica in 15 minutes by car, not in 2 hours by foot. On the way, Igor explained to me that Marin Kumin (that's the true name of 'Ali Baba') was not homeless. He does have things he mentioned. He's not a foolish man. Unfortunately, he went crazy in the sea about two years ago. Since then he has not been washing, shaving, cutting his hair. It looks scary from the outside. But he's not what he seems to be. 

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2. Take the initiative to talk to locals on the island.

I would probably consider the breakfast that Igor fed me after we came to Maslinica - coffee and toast with Solta honey - as a part of traditional Dalmatian hospitality. But the best lunch I've had in Dalmatia would never happen if I had left his place in a rush, without any conversation. I asked about a fishery on the island - I had lunch with Igor and his friends-fishermen. We ate the tuna they caught the day before. I had only known about tuna from canned food and Hemingway's story 'The Old Man and the Sea'. My concepts were turned upside down. Eventually, I found an island where there's more fish than meat.

3. Don't be afraid to go around the island alone.

Igor showed me the Maslinica neighborhood, Martinis-Marchi castle, and a way to a beach. Then I went alone to an empty rocky beach. I swam also alone, although there were some yachts around. No fear. I was a little worried that nobody will notice if I drown. But as I got out the beach marine officers asked me about the temperature of the water and how I felt.

4. If something goes wrong, you can always sleep on the beach.

It was my first swimming this year. The water at the beginning of May was still cold. I swam for five minutes. Never mind, then I slept on the beach. And then I swam two more times.

5. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to a homeless man.

I mean a keen conversation, lavender and the fresh tuna I had!

6. Have a list of souvenirs from Solta.

Try to do it in advance, because when you come outside the tourist season, it's complicated to get the souvenirs immediately. I didn't succeed to take a bottle of Solta olive oil on the same day, so I had to go back again.

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

Monday, 26 April 2021

Together for a Cleaner Ugljan Project Has 300,000 HRK Approved

April the 26th, 2021 - The "Together for a cleaner Ugljan" (Zajedno za cisci otok Ugljan) project, which will focus much of its attention on maritime heritage, has had funds in the amount of 300,000 kuna approved for its work.

As Morski writes, the purpose of the "Together for a cleaner Ugljan" project is the promotion and valorisation of fishing and the maritime culture/heritage of Ugljan and the surrounding areas, as well as the extension of the tourist season through the holding of events related to fishing, aquaculture and ecology, writes the Nasi skolji portal.

These are events which include lectures on environmental protection, round tables for local fishermen, underwater/beach clean up actions and more, all with the promotion of local fishery products and fishing and maritime traditions at their heart. The project also includes the mapping and marking out of diving locations and analysis of the state of the seabed, along with education on ways to prevent underwater pollution and preserve the marine environment. In addition, the project will produce publications on the promotion of local products as a healthy way of eating, as well as interpretive educational boards related to diving sites and the upgrading of the Adventure Island mobile application (app).

''The value of this project stands at 299,286.58 kuna, and we've been approved funds in the amount of one hundred percent. This is a joint project of the Municipality of Preko, the Tourist Board of the Municipality of Preko and the Tourist Board of Ugljan, while TZO Preko is the official applicant and project holder in the administrative sense. All project activities will be carried out together in all places and on the islands in the Municipality of Preko. This is another in a series of our positively evaluated projects which involved public calls/invitations and tenders, and we're extremely proud of the high pass rate, ie the approval and positive decisions in regard to all of our projects. This is proof that we're doing our job well, that we have professional and capable people, but also the significant support of all of the relevant ministries, the Government and Zadar County, with whose cooperation we're implementing all our projects out there in the field,'' stated Jure Brizic.

He also pointed out that the ''Together for a cleaner Ugljan'' project is one that will certainly contribute to the evaluation and promotion of the area's natural, cultural and maritime heritage, raise awareness of preserving the marine environment, fishing and maritime traditions and heritage and popularise local fisheries and the consumption of fish products.

''The ''Together for a cleaner Ugljan'' project is fully in line with today's trends in tourism in which the main motives are returning to nature, preserving the environment, staying outdoors, returning to our roots, preserving traditions and more, therefore we have no doubt about its successful implementation and the acceptance of its users - locals, guests and other visitors alike,'' said Ivan Kosta, the director of TZO Preko.

For more on the many Croatian islands dotted along the coastline, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

How is Croatian Island Energy Transition Process Going?

March the 30th, 2021 - When it comes to Croatia's beautiful islands, things tend to look more idyllic than they are. With islander complaints rife and comparisons between the mainland almost constant, the Croatian island energy transition process is an important topic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ivan Tominac writes, the initial phase of the EU Island Clean Energy Secretariat has proved successful. A number of new energy projects and activities have been launched, in which the Croatian association Pokret otoka (Island movement) has also been active. Given the effectiveness of this kind of network, the European Commission (EC) has launched the second phase of the work of the Secretariat for Clean Energy of the EU islands.

They continue to cooperate with Pokret otoka as a regional partner that will represent and support the Croatian island energy transition over the next two years. For the aforementioned phase, in the spring of 2021, a call for projects will be announced for which the island's stakeholders will apply with their various project proposals, and the added value they will receive will come in the form of professional technical assistance.

Workshops have been announced that aim to engage island communities to act at the local level and take on a coordinating role in numerous Croatian island energy transition projects. Among other things, the Islands Think Tank will gather from all levels of government - a group whose task is to discuss both the legal and regulatory barriers to the transition to clean energy on the islands.

Support in this work consists of finding sources of funding and shaping future projects, and for those islands that are only at the very beginning in terms of wider community engagement, professional support is available for community building and defining different transition strategies.

Valid and timely support has proven to be the path to self-sustainability of island communities, and Pokret otoka has always believed in this. It is an association that brings together all lovers of islands and all of the country's many islands, with the desire to achieve the necessary social change.

Changes at all levels

It is indisputable that the aforementioned association is doing an excellent job in terms of this desire, as evidenced by the cooperation with the Secretariat for Clean Energy of the European Islands. The collaboration they have started over the past two years has triggered a number of activities and positive changes on several islands. The focus was primarily placed on developing strategies for the Croatian island energy transition, and it was in this manner that they bravely stepped out onto the path to a more sustainable and green future in general. Their praiseworthy example alone encouraged many other people to think more deeply about further development.

"By working together, we launched projects on Korcula, Hvar, Brac and the Cres-Lošinj archipelago and we encouraged cooperation at all levels of the government. It's especially important for us that we're able to connect and strengthen local stakeholders and initiate changes from the bottom up,'' said the president of Pokret otoka, Maja Jurisic.

Continued positive changes seem to be happening along that route, but support has always been and will remain a much-needed ingredient. Owing to that, back in February this year, they signed a new two-year contract with the Secretariat for Islands established at the European Commission at the initiative of Croatian MEP Tonino Picula.

“The goal of this cooperation is to continue the started activities and realise the goals from the strategies, as well as to encourage other island communities on their paths to clean energy. Over the next couple of years, in cooperation with our partners from Europe, training sessions will be organised, professional and technical support will be provided to transition teams located on the islands, we'll take part in mapping legislative frameworks and in the proposal of measures to encourage energy project development and the Green Plan policy.

We're witnessing big changes at all levels, including a shift towards green policies and concrete sustainable development. Therefore, we believe that the community of islanders and island stakeholders, who will be involved in this Croatian island energy transition, will be further increased and strengthened, and that we'll all learn and develop together with other islands and islanders across Europe,'' added Jurisic.

Bringing change isn't always an easy task, however, as they pointed out from Pokret otoka, the perspective needs to be changed in order to achieve those much needed alterations. Therefore, when asked about obstacles, they say they prefer to call them challenges.

If we go back in time, few people took the Croatian island energy transition and the path towards more sustainable development seriously, these topics were spoken of by a few politicians only, and the whole transition was carried on the backs of green activists for many years. At this point, this is no longer the case, and issues surrounding the green transition have become part of our daily lives.

“The biggest challenges are always people and the inevitable change of habits that we all have to implement in our lives and thus indirectly in the communities in which we live. Additionally, one of the biggest challenges was to articulate the needs and attitudes of the islanders and to understand the proper functioning of various systems and ways of making strategies, plans, programmes and decisions that directly affect the lives of islanders.

I often say when we're asked what the role of Pokret otoka is that we're actually translators of the island needs into the language of state bodies and vice versa. Real knowledge of the community requires coexistence and understanding of the specifics that aren't lacking on the islands,'' she added.

Of course, another challenge is tourism, too. Seasonality and excessive oscillations of people on the islands affect the overall transition and implementation of the strategy, as do a lack of professional staff and long-term development planning.

However, despite all of the above, Pokret otoka refuses to give up. Instead, it establishes regular and constructive communication with public authorities, participates in working groups for the development of strategies and plans for the country's islands and establishes strategic partnerships with organisations that have relevant experts on the topics they deal with.

Rome wasn't built in a day...

"I think the Croatian island energy transition we're working on will take time. In order not to lose motivation, it's important to set goals on an annual and even monthly basis. Then the ultimate goal seems much more achievable to you because ultimately, the goal stops mattering, but the path we're walking along does,'' said Jurisic.

For all current information about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel and border rules, as well as testing centres across the country, bookmark this page.

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