Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Veronica Mulhall Exit Interview (VIDEO)

August 3, 2021 - Veronica Mulhall's tenure as the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador has come to an end. She caught up with TCN before her next challenge - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. 

Tourism in Croatia is changing, albeit slowly. 

The shift to remote work is a small but rapidly growing factor in the lives of people these days. The freedom to travel the world as long as it fits in with the remote office timetable is a trend which is growing quickly. And one which Croatia is perfectly poised to take advantage of. 

The global PR generated from the Croatian digital nomad permit may not have been translated into approved permits just yet, but it has done an even more important job (at least in my opinion) of promoting Croatia as an exciting nomad destination. Nomads are by definition nomadic, and while many will in time take advantage of the 1-year permit, a far greater number will come and sample Croatia for 1-3 months. And the more information and feedback they have about the wonders of Croatia, the more likely they are to try. 

All this brings a new tourism niche which has never really existed in Croatia before - the workation (or should that be worcation?), an extended period of time in a destination where people can explore living in the destination rather than just visiting it. Rather than the 1-2 week traditonal vacation, how about a 30-day stay, combining work and play over a month?  Croatia has never marketed itself this way before, but it seems that there is a growing appetite for this type of stay if questions on nomad forums and social media are anything to go by. From my observations, the most common time period people are interested in nomading in Croatia initially is a month. 

And while there are currently lots of information options to discover a destination in 24, 36 and 72 hours, the concept of 30 days is relatively hard to find. As we learned from the Dubrovnik Digital Nomad-in-Residence programme, while many tourists think two days is enough the city, Beyond the Walls: 4 Weeks in Dubrovnik Not Enough, Say DNIR Digital Nomads.

The more the focus moves to longer stays, the more people will discover the charms of not just visiting a destination, but living in it.  The Dubrovnik nomads were really surprised at the wealth of options beyond the walls, and the more digital nomads I meet in Zagreb, the more I realise that the Croatian capital is an undiscovered jewel on the nomad trail. Having been involved in the organisation of last October's first digital nomad conference in Croatia, the DNIR programme, and now Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador project, the feedback from our longer-staying  guests is all indicating that a huge change is coming. And a change for the better. The visa push might not have generated thousands of permits just yet (and I personally think that the process should be made simpler), but it has definitely contributed greatly to this growing interest of Croatia as a top nomad destination.

The Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador project followed on from Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, a chance for us to learn about Zagreb as a 30-day destination through the experiences of international nomads who were guests of the city for a one-month period. 

The first ambassador, Veronica Mulhall - together with her partner Julian - not only fell in love with the city and are now considering buying property here, but they will also be back for Advent. Veronica had a very active time here (and we will publish her Google Map of her Zagreb discoveries shortly), and she will be sending us a few pieces on her observations and experiences. But for now, here she is with her exit interview at Art Park Ribnjak, where she painted a mural as a momento of her time here. 

Veronica's partner Julian was also working remotely while here, and he was also kind enough to talk about his experiences, which you can see in the video below. In her short time here, she managed to discover parts of the city and things to do that I had no clue about. 

Veronica's last night included a handover to this month's ambassador, South African Rudi Witkowsky, who arrived on Sunday with his partner, Victoria. 

You can meet Rudi here, and if you are interested in connecting with him during his time in Zagreb, you can contact him via Instagram

veronica-mulhall-exit-interview_1.jpg

Are you interested in becoming a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador? Find out how here.

For more information and features on digital noamds in Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN section

Friday, 30 July 2021

Split PR Agency VAJT Bags Second IPRA Golden World Award for Digital Nomad Visa Project!

July 30, 2021 - The Split-based public relations agency VAJT has received a new major professional recognition.

For the second time in three years, VAJT has been awarded the most significant professional award, the Golden World Award given by IPRA, the International Public Relations Association, the world’s umbrella organization in public relations.

VAJT was again awarded in the Public Affairs category, this time for the project "Introduction of a visa for digital nomads - how a Dutchman provided Croatia with the first official digital nomad", on which VAJT worked with Jan de Jong. There are many peculiarities of this communication campaign, including the fact that it's the first one done entirely on LinkedIn, and the end result is that Croatia was among the first countries in the world and the second after Estonia in Europe to adjust its legislation and respond to the new phenomenon. in the market - young people who want to work for employers in their country, but physically out of it and at the same time enjoy the benefits that such a lifestyle provides.

"In the time of Rimac and the Olympians, little can delight, but for us there is nothing further than this. We are lucky that we can repeat good projects, and the domestic and international professional public recognizes and rewards us. The IPRA Golden World Award is the pinnacle in professional terms and I never dreamed it could be repeated to us in such a short period of time. I am especially glad that this is the Public Affairs category because working in this segment is extremely demanding, especially because the domestic public does not yet understand the role of public relations in public policies in the best way. Of course, the key to success this time was Jan de Jong as the bearer of communication. With maximum trust in us, he invested exceptional effort, gathered a small number of international experiences, was maximally positive and open to the Croatian authorities and showed how laws can be changed through affirmative communication. We are going to continue to learn and grow, and with other colleagues from Croatia we regularly take the first places because they certainly belong to us in terms of knowledge and effort ", said the director of the VAJT agency Jerko Trogrlić.

vajt_1.jpg

In just four months, VAJT and Jan de Jong managed to initiate changes to the law and ensure that digital nomads have a regulated stay in Croatia for a year, instead of the three months they used to be able to stay with a tourist visa. The story started with Dutchman de Jong, who moved to Croatia 14 years ago as a 22-year-old and has been changing it for the better ever since. Launching an initiative to introduce a visa for digital nomads is just one of the projects that helps its new homeland and all those who recognize Croatia as a beautiful place to live and work.

From the moment I moved to Croatia, I fell in love with this country. But that doesn't mean that everything is perfect and great here. Over the past 10 – 15 years, nearly 500.000 mostly young and talented Croats have left the country in search of opportunities abroad. At the same time, Croatia's economy depends for over 20% of its GDP on tourism. When the world stopped traveling last year as a result of the global pandemic, Croatia's economy was severely hit by not being able to welcome tourist any longer. That was the moment we connected all the dots. By introducing a digital nomad visa we could turn Croatia into a year-round destination, while at the same time reverse the brain-drain by welcoming young and talented professionals – by granting them 12-month staying permits. With a strong believe that “digital nomad tourism” could turn into a new industry for Croatia as a whole, we started our campaign on LinkedIn. After winning the support from the LinkedIn community, we managed to get the support from Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his cabinet which I thank very much. In a country known for its bureaucracy, we have shown that Croatia was able to pivot when its presented with opportunity. None of our efforts were done with the goal to win awards. We wanted to help prepare Croatia for the next generation. This award however is an amazing recognition for the efforts we have made and serves as a reminder of an amazing journey I feel proud to have been part of“, said Jan de Jong.

For this project, VAJT has already been awarded two professional awards this year - the Polaris International Award and the Grand Prix of the Croatian Public Relations Association. In total, this is the ninth professional award for VAJT and the fourth international. As a reminder, VAJT was awarded three years ago for the campaign "Do you want to switch places?" for the client Split parking with the IPRA Golden World Award, Polaris and the Grand Prix of HUOJ.

Among this year's IPRA laureates are the world's best public relations agencies and large companies such as T-Com, Nestle, numerous banking houses, foundations ...

The annual IPRA Golden World Awards (GWA) have been awarded since 1990 for excellence in public relations practice around the world in a variety of categories.

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

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Mandy Fransz of Make the Leap Digital on the Digital Nomad Opportunity

July 28, 2021 - One of the star speakers of last month's Zagreb Digital Nomad Week was Mandy Fransz from the Netherlands. She caught up with TCN after a little relaxation on the Croatian coast.

It is a few weeks now since the conclusion of Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021, the first conference of its kind in the Croatian capital. There was plenty of positive energy throughout the week, despite the heat, including several inspirational speakers. Among them was Mandy Fransz from the Netherlands, who flew in for the event, before continuing her Croatian nomad journey to the Adriatic, where she worked remotely for a couple of weeks after the conference. TCN caught up with Mandy to get her perspective on the future of remote work, and the opportunity for both Zagreb and Croatia.

mandy-fransz_3.jpg

1. Your company Make the Leap Digital sounds like an exciting journey. How did it come to be? 

I quit my corporate 9-to-5 office job at LinkedIn's European headquarters in early 2018 without a solid plan. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to explore the opportunities to work and travel. I booked a ticket to Bali, Indonesia as I knew it was known as one of the most popular destinations for remote workers and digital nomads. I joined a co-working space as I believe in the power of networking with like-minded people such as remote workers and digital nomads and attended organized events, workshops, meet-ups etc. This is how I met my first freelance client, without having a website or even a registered business. Upon return, I decided to cancel my lease and moved all of my belongings to the Netherlands (I was living in Dublin, Ireland at the time) and registered my business Make the Leap Digital to help entrepreneurs and businesses to unlock the power of LinkedIn.

mandy-fransz_4.jpg

2. I love this line on your website - What if I could teach others how to digitally transform the way they work — perhaps traveling the world while I’m at it?

Tell us firstly how much different your working day and approach is these days? Back in corporate, I was working a traditional 9-to-5 office job and at some point I was even expected to come into the office at 8AM. Since I quit my job, I work whenever and wherever I feel the happiest or most productive. I've been a digital nomad for 1,5 years and I've worked, lived, and traveled in beautiful destinations such as Bali, Portugal, California, and Colombia. I'm now based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and mainly work from home but when travel restrictions allow I love to go on a regular "workation" to beautiful places like Croatia for a change of scenery. This really helps to spark inspiration and creativity while having the freedom to travel and explore the country and culture during weekends. I now work with clients around the world from the comfort of my laptop either from home, a co-working space, or a nice cafe. But, most importantly -- I am grateful to help my clients to unlock the power of LinkedIn and remote work so they can digitally transform the way they work and they, too, can enjoy the freedom and flexibility to work from wherever they feel the happiest and most productive.

3. And now what about the challenges and obstacles to encouraging people to make that leap. How do people leave their comfort zone and take that leap? 

When I quit my job to explore the world of remote work, I had no idea how I was going to make this happen. The only thing I had was a big dream and the courage to take a leap of faith. Based on my experience, I'd say, think about what it is that you'd like to achieve within the next 5 - 10 years, and take small steps towards that big dream or ambitious goal. The best things happen outside of your comfort zone, and sometimes you need to take a leap of faith. Learn to embrace uncertainty and view failures as opportunities for growth. Believe me, the remote work opportunities are endless, especially now the pandemic has accellerated the adoption of remote work by at least 10 years. 

4. In Croatia, we are just becoming aware of the remote work opportunity and how it could shift things significantly. Paint us a picture. How do you see the workplace in 5 years? 

I believe that the traditional 9-to-5 office job will become obesolete and companies will need to adapt remote work to meet the changing demands of the global workforce. Different studies show that remote work not only increases productivity, but it also provides some key benefits such as lower real estate costs and attracting and retaining top talent worldwide. The traditional workplace will most likely transform into a central hub focused on in-person collaboration, creativity, and community, with an increasing number of co-working spaces. Additionally, companies will need to adopt sustainable remote work policies to digitally transform their workforce from culture, communication, and collaboration in order to thrive in a fully remote or hybrid environment. We've just gone through the world's largest remote work experiment, now it's time to take those learnings and embrace the potential of remote work in the long term.

mandy-fransz_5.jpg

5. How does a city such as Zagreb prepare to meet this changing demand? 

I think Zagreb has done a phenomonal job by organizing and hosting the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week recently. At this stage, it is all about connecting different stakeholders from co-working spaces, tourism, hospitaliy, digital nomads and remote work advocates to learn from each other and to make sure everyone is on the same page. Now, the next step is to take small incremental steps towards your common goal to transform Croatia into one of the world's top destinations. Remember, remote work is a marathon, not a sprint.

mandy-fransz_6.jpg

6. There is a lot of buzz about Croatia as the next digital nomad destination, especially with the new permit. How does Croatia rate on the scene in your opinion, and can you give us 3 quick wins to improve things considerably. 

Having experienced digital nomad life in Croatia for a few weeks now, I can definitely say that Croatia has all the key ingredients to become one of the world's top destinations for digital nomads and remote workers. You have it all: the culture, warm weather, great food, central location, fast Wi-Fi, and beautiful nature with a combination of mountains, natural parks, and islands with crystal clear water. If there's anything that Croatia can improve, I'd say focus on providing the best digital nomad experience by 1) investing in inspirational co-working spaces, 2) collaborating with different stakeholders to provide a great infrastructure from flexible gym memberships, mobile phone contracts, co-living arrangements and 3) building a community of like-minded people by organizing local events and meet-ups such as an interactive workshop, networking session, lunch & learn etc. 

mandy-fransz_1.jpg

7. Tell us about your role in ZDNW, and why did you decide to come?

 I'm grateful for having been invited as one of the keynote speakers at the Zagreb Digital Nomad Week to host a session about LinkedIn - Online Presence and a keynote on The Rise of Remote Work. I've been in Croatia briefly in the past, and I always wanted to come back to explore the country and digital nomad scene. It was the perfect opportunity to learn about the culture, food, and digital nomad life while meeting an amazing group of like-minded people. After spending a week in Zagreb, I decided to extend my stay with a "workation" on the coast and visited Split, Hvar, and Brac. The whole experience far exceeded my expectations and I will definitely be back very soon!

You can follow Mandy Fransz via LinkedIn.

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

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Finding Zagreb: From Zero to Hooked on Croatia's Capital City

July 29, 2021 - A few weeks ago, all that Veronica Mulhall knew about Zagreb was that it was the Croatian capital. After several weeks as the first Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, her perspective has completely changed. 

As if it was always meant to be, I have been walking around Zagreb the last few weeks completely in love with the city. The beautiful streets, buildings, history, art, culture, and people have made it an endless exploration that has mixed perfectly well with the meetings, management, and (endless) emails that come with my work-remote lifestyle.

finding-zagreb-veronica-mulhall_2.jpg

The catch? I have a secret. What may be surprising is that just a few weeks earlier I hadn’t thought of visiting Zagreb. And, I was already in Croatia as a digital nomad. It was only barely on my radar as Croatia’s capital. No one told me how green the city was, the endless options of great cafes and restaurants. Instead, I thought the coast was Croatia’s main attraction.

finding-zagreb-veronica-mulhall_4.jpg

When I planned my trip to Croatia, it was with the idea that I would work remotely for the summer months and slowly make my way up the coastline. I arrived in Dubrovnik to find that it was as picturesque as people describe it to be. The fortress walls meeting the seaside and the cobblestone alleyways hiding quaint shops made the city perfect for your average tourist, but I found it hard to balance work.

In an effort to ‘settle’ and become more comfortable, I searched online for coworking spaces.I quickly found the Saltwater Nomads website and at the top there was a banner promoting the Zagreb ambassador program.

The advertisement caught my attention for two reasons: 1. I had plans to visit Dubrovnik, Spilt, Makarska, Hvar, Trogir, Sibenik, Zadar, Krka national park and Plitvice Lakes national park, why had I overlooked Zagreb, the country’s capital? And 2. I have missed the capital on other trips and later regretted it. It had me thinking, what did I not know about Zagreb?

A blackhole of and hours of googling later, I found that the city spoke to me by highlighting things that I care about. Zagreb has easy access to nature, and yet, new events around the city every night.Someone described it as Seattle in the 90s, another blogger talked about the layers of history. I was suddenly determined to find out for myself, so I took a chance and applied to the Zagreb ambassador program.

4629292_18031217560062717979.jpg

(Doma Zagreb Aparthotel - 4-star luxury in central Zagreb)

While I was excited when I found out I had the opportunity to be the first  Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, I arrived in Zagreb a bit nervous. I wondered, “What if I miss the coast?” and didn’t know if there would be enough to do for the month. Most blogs and tourism guides discuss what you can do in Zagreb for 24 or 72 hours. As a digital nomad, I was wondering what I would do after that.

It is the things are are not in the tourist guides or blogs that makes Zagreb perfect for digital nomads, the great places to work (when I can bear to leave my bay window at Doma Zagreb  Aparthotel), taking work calls for peaceful parks such as Maksimir and Art Park, quaint cafes, and endless restaurants. The vibe of the city is young and fresh and there are events almost every evening that I have found simply by leaving the apartment and walking around.

finding-zagreb-veronica-mulhall_3.jpg

It turns out the number one thing I fell in love with in Zagreb is the people. Adel, the owner of the Doma Aparthotel where I am staying, invited me to dinner, and I immediately felt welcomed to the city. As I met the other partners from the Zagreb Ambassador Project, Saltwater Nomads, Total Croatia News, Digital Nomad Association Croatia and the Zagreb Tourism Board, it became clear that this was one of those cities I was not going to want to leave. I quickly found it normal to meet someone for a coffee for a few hours and ask a stranger for directions. Each interaction has created a constellation, a community, making the nomadic world in Zagreb feel a little more like home.

finding-zagreb-veronica-mulhall_1.jpg

Do you want to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador? Learn how here.

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

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Successful Croatian Digital Nomad Permit Applicants: Cyndie Burkhardt from USA

July 20, 2021 - Another day, another successful digital nomad permit application in Croatia - this time TCN contributor, Cyndie Burkhardt. 

Meet one more successful applicant for the Croatian digital nomad permit - TCN's very own contributor Cyndie Burkhardt, who came to Croatia for a month almost 18 months ago and doesn't look as though she is leaving any time soon.  

cyndie-burkhardt_2.jpeg

(Hiking to Starigrad Fortress, a 15th-century fortress located near Omiš in Split-Dalmatia county, Croatia.)

1. Tell us firstly a little about yourself and why you decided to come to Croatia?

I arrived in Split, Croatia on March 1, 2020—a year and a half ago. I was traveling around the world on a “12 countries in 12 months” trip to learn about health and wellness practices in different cultures. Within two weeks, the pandemic grounded my trip; I was in my 9th month. Croatia responded quickly and well to covid-19 restrictions and it seemed safe here, so I decided to stay.

cyndie-burkhardt_2.JPG

(Sitting in the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones, on Lokrum Island, near Dubrovnik, Croatia.)

2. You are the latest recipient of the digital nomad permit here in Croatia - congratulations? Tell us why you decided to apply for it and how long the process took?

The digital nomad permit didn’t exist in Croatia when I first got here and when it was announced, it seemed like a great way to extend my stay in this beautiful country and set down some roots while I build my business. The process took nearly three months.

cyndie-burkhardt_4.jpeg

(Medieval Bishop Grgur Ninski defied the Catholic church in Rome and introduced the Croatian language into religious services so that worshippers would better understand the word of God. Rubbing the statue's big toe is said to bring good luck, Diocletian’s Palace, Split, Croatia.)

3. There are not so many documented stories online of successful applications. Can you take us through the process?

It was pretty straightforward. I went to my local police station in Split to confirm what documents I needed, got those together, and submitted them directly to that station via email, as instructed.

cyndie-burkhardt_5.jpeg

(Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović created the 28-foot bronze statue of Bishop Grgur Ninski that stands at Diocletian’s Palace in the Old Town of Split, just outside the Golden Gate, Split, Croatia.)

4. What was the most stressful part, and what recommendations do you have to improve the system?

Getting information on the status of my application was stressful. Some people at the police station are helpful but some behind the scenes are not responsive or friendly. Few answer the phone and if they don’t speak English, they simply hang up on you. It’s maddening.

cyndie-burkhardt_6.jpeg

(Resting after a bike ride in the pavilion in Sustipan Park, a small peninsula in the southwestern part of Split, Croatia.)

5. What does the 12-month permit mean to you personally? How will change your life and short-term plans?

I have to be honest, it feels pretty cool to be among the first “official” digital nomads to hold this distinction! And now that I’ll be here, I hope to see more of this country and the region with no travel restrictions.

Staying here means I can feel settled about my living situation while I focus on building my health and nutrition business. I also look forward to getting involved in the community and meeting more people, and possibly collaborating on work/projects.

cyndie-burkhardt_1.jpg

(Posing as a Hajduk Split angel. This beloved Croatian professional football club is based in Split and team support is fervent. Public wall art can be seen throughout Dalmatia, Croatia.)

6. You have already spent a good amount of time in Croatia as a digital nomad. How do you rate the experience so far? What are the highlights?

The expat community is one highlight. It’s a large and diverse group that includes people from different countries and also those with Croatian roots. This is a good place to land because you have the Adriatic Sea, nice weather, and the cost of living is decent, although I wouldn’t call it cheap. I absolutely love how much fresh food grows here and how resourceful Croatians are at making different products from their natural resources, including delicious food; herbs; olive oil; wine and rakija; beauty products; soaps; essential oils, and more.

cyndie-burkhardt_1.jpeg

(A dining room table doubles as home office and “international command center,” Split, Croatia.)

7. What are the key factors Croatia needs to focus on to become more attractive to digital nomads?

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but in Split there could be more/affordable co-working spaces, that’s the one thing I’m missing. Also, while a lot of people here speak English, services could be more accessible in English, such as people working at the police station who are responsible for processing applications, or at least communicating with nomads. This extends to websites also.

cyndie-burkhardt_7.jpeg

(Croatia’s proudest and newest digital nomad resident; at the police station, where immigration applications are processed, Split, Croatia.)

Learn more at TCN’s Digital Nomads channel. 

Story and photographs ©2020, Cyndie Burkhardt. https://photo-diaries.com

For more of Cyndie's experiences, check out her Croatia Through the Eyes of a Digital Nomad column.  

 

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Impressions of the Croatian Capital by Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Partner

July 14, 2021 - So how is life as a digital nomad in the Croatian capital? Meet Julian, partner of the first Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador, two weeks into his residency. 

One of the things I was most curious about Zagreb Digital Nomad Week was how the city would be perceived by visiting digital nomads. Perceiving things from within Croatia is obviously quite different from someone who has a more global overview, as well as multi-country experience of this alternative way of living. 

And despite temperatures up to 37 C that week, the Croatian capital shone during Zagreb Digital Nomad Week. So many people commented on the quality of the co-working spaces, the unbelievable English spoken by EVERYONE, the food, the safety, the great Internet. Dean Kuchel of Digital Nomad World summed it up best of all when he was asked what Zagreb is missing to cater to the global digital nomad community. 

"The only thing Zagreb is missing is more digital nomads."

Fast forward a couple of weeks to the second phase of the project, Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project. Six digital nomad ambassadors, staying a calendar month each from July 1 to December 31, as guests of the city. American Veronica Mulhall duly arrived on July 1, as the first ambassador, and you can get to know her here.

Veronica was accompanied by her partner Julian, whose roots are from Manchester and Zimbabwe but has a base in Ghana. From the moment we met at the welcome drink at Bornstein Wine Bar, I knew that I had to get Julian on camera. SUCH a positive force and appreciative of everything.

As he explains in the interview below, Julian knew almost nothing about Zagreb prior to his arrival, and yet he had already fallen in love with the city by the time they parked their car at their accommodation at Doma Zagreb in the centre. That initial enthusiasm for all things in Zagreb a few days after his arrival was really refreshing to witness. It is always instructive to see a destination through the eyes of a new arrival. The parks, the food, the people, all the boxes were being ticked. There are even discussions about buying some real estate and using Zagreb as a base. 

Julian seems to have entered Zagreb life with gusto. He has joined a gym, been to the dentist, even had his hair braided by a Congolese hairdresser. And he was more than surprised to meet a hairdresser specialising in ethnic hair at his gym. A really nice interview of someone who knew little about the city before arrival, but who is totally in love with it now that he has had the chance to experience it. 

And what is Zagreb missing to attract more digital nomads, in his opinion?

Just the information about what a cool city Zagreb is, how EVERYONE speaks English, the people, the architecture, the food, the parks. Did he mention the people? Julian also has some interesting observations on his experiences as a black African in Croatia.

There is a momentum builing about Croatia as a destination for digital nomads, and Zagreb is now coming more and more onto the radar. With enthusiastic ambassadors such as Dean and Julian, it will not be long before the word is heard far and wide. 

Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project is a cooperation between Saltwater Nomads, Total Croatia News, and Zagreb Tourist Board. 

For more on Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project, visit the Saltwater Nomads website.

Would you like to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador? Applications are open until November, with the last ambassador taking up residence on December 1. Find out more here.

For the latest news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Monday, 12 July 2021

Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, the Video by Hashtag Content Agency

July 12, 2021 - A lovely overview of last month's Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 talking to many of those who took part in the inaugural event, by Hashtag Content Agency. 

It is a couple of weeks since the end of the first Zagreb Digital Nomad Week, an intense, diverse and very stimulating 7 days in the Croatian capital, covering 7 different themes (cybersecurity, online presence, remote careers, tax & finance, future of work, wellbeing, and exploring Zagreb) in 7 locations over 7 days. 

While the idea of showcasing the city from a range of different viewpoints sounded enticing, the logistics of such a plan were demanding. Coordinating with the different locations, ensuring technical checkups for the next day, and hundreds of other small details. All to be done in one of the hottest weeks of the year. 

In the end, the week went almost perfectly, and participants got to see so many different facets of this beautiful city and its surroundings in a very short space of time. 

One of the undoubted heroes of the week was Nick Hathaway of 45 Degrees Sailing and Hashtag Content Agency, who managed to rise to the considerable technical challenges thrown at him throughout the week. Despite several major constraints, Nick and his team were able to produce a high quality service which was also streamed live to the Internet and which lives on on the Zagreb Tourist Board YouTube channel.  

Rather than choosing sleep for the few hours when he was not working on the technical difficulties, Nick ran around the various stakeholders and participants in the week to put together this excellent vlog of the week away from the presentations. A visit to some of the venues, but more catching up with the people involved in different parts of Zagreb to find out their impressions of the city and what they think makes it so special. 

An accomplished vlogger, Nick's keen eye adds some great footage of Zagreb - a really great effort and a good reflection of the positive energy of the week. Check out the video above. 

For more on Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project, visit the Saltwater Nomads website.

Would you like to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador? Applications are open until November, with the last ambassador taking up residence on December 1. Find out more here.

For the latest news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

 

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Road Testing the Croatian Telecom 'Digital Nomad' Surfing Package

July 8, 2021 - Getting online in a new country can be a hassle. TCN road tests a new product from Hrvatski Telekom - the digital nomad surfing package.

I don't get asked to review topics very often, and on the rare occasions that I do, it is usually a product I have some experience in.

After reporting so heavily on the digital nomad subject over the last couple of years, Hrvatski Telekom invited me to road test their digital nomad surfing package, under the inviting title of Relax or Work with No Limits in Croatia. I felt the chilled breeze of the Adriatic already.

While glad to accept and help out, the thing is that while I may write a lot about digital nomads and IT startups, I am actually the least technical person in Croatia. So if I could figure out this surfing package, then it really was idiot-proof.

The last time I opened a phone to insert a SIM-card, for example, was over a decade ago, thanks to the tech-savvy ladies in my family. Thinking about it, where was the SIM-card in my Samsung Galaxy?

digital-nomad-surfing-package_1.png

I started at the recommended place, the dedicated Visiting Croatia page on the Hrvatski Telekom website. Clean simple messages. 7 days of FLAT mobile data, Max 4G speed on the leading mobile network in Croatia, and a 3-in-1 Multi SIM card which fit all devices. So far, so good.

With promised speeds of up to 600 Mbit, no contracts whatsoever, and just a simple payment to get started, this certainly had the feel of a quality product that could soon become my new best friend.

You get started with 85 kuna for 7 days (11 euro), which gets you 7 days of unlimited data at 4G speed, including a 5 kuna credit in the phone (useful for me when I called home, without realising I had switched SIM cards).

Each subsequent week costs 60 kuna, so if you know you are going to be using the service for 2 weeks, simply pay 145 kuna in advance, and your bureaucratic woes are over. Pay by credit card or cash on delivery to the address you state.

digital-nomad-surfing-package_2.jpg

My package arrived the next day, with sleek-looking contents. A SIM-card and some multi-lingual instructions on how to get started. There are two things you basically need to know – the Visiting Croatia page was the go to for information and questions, and the Moj Telekom application was necessary to download.

 digital-nomad-surfing-package_3.jpg

That didn't take long, but then came my first technical challenge. 99% (or maybe 99.99%) of phone users can skip this part, as it merely reflects my own incompetence. Where exactly was the SIM-card in my phone?

Having been shown all by the long-suffering ladies of the household, I was delighted to see I had space for two SIM-cards, and inserted my new friend and restarted the phone. Having downloaded the application, I was guided to enter my phone number, which I dutifully did (my actual phone number, not the one from the SIM-card). There was an error.

As it was a Sunday afternoon, I saw that this was an opportunity to further road test the Hrvatski Telekom system. A shiny new website was all very well, but would customer service actually work on a Sunday afternoon?

 digital-nomad-surfing-package_40.jpg

Indeed they did, and I had to wait less than 30 seconds for them to start dealing with my issue. Impressive for a Sunday afternoon. It was only when I was trying to explain in detail what my issue was that I noticed a phone number on the card with the SIM-card that I had inserted. No wonder they were having problems understanding what I was talking about.

As I said, some 99.9% of phone users are not as backward as me, so let's move on to the next step, which is to enter the phone number.

digital-nomad-surfing-package_5.jpg

And with that, an SMS and I was free to go. Two useful links to the application and the Visiting Croatia page.

digital-nomad-surfing-package_6.jpg

The application was friendly enough, directing me to an English-language option immediately.

digital-nomad-surfing-package_7.jpg

 

One suggestion for the application dashboard, perhaps, it to try and make it 100% English, for a better user experience. Having checked with Hrvatski Telekom later about this, they informed mw that they plan to make application 100% in English very soon.

So now that I was finally connected, what about the most important thing of all – speed?

I live in a relative Internet black spot near Varazdin, and I am always envious of the speed in the town itself. I was pleased to see Relax or Work outperforming my current Internet provider, but I was really interested to see what would happen when I hit Zagreb.

digital-nomad-surfing-package_8.jpg

I connected to the guesthouse WiFi with my laptop, with the results above. Not that inspiring, and not that much better than at home.

And then I checked out the same test on my phone.

digital-nomad-surfing-package_1.jpg

Now THAT is an Internet speed worth getting excited about. 

A very useful service that Hrvatski Telekom offers is an Internet speed map of Croatia for their network. You can check by individual address, and it is a VERY useful tool when choosing accommodation. I tried the service in several locations against the local service, and it outperformed the normal provider each time.

I made a phone call, sent a text, and sent an international text – all without problems.

In fact, the only problem in the whole seamless process (apart from perhaps a little translation in the application) was me. But if even I could figure it out, then it really must be a breeze for the rest of the world.

I travel a lot in the Balkans, especially to Montenegro and Albania. Each time, as I leave the EU, I am left with a dilemma. Do I accept I will have higher charges due to being abroad, or do I try and find a local solution? For years, the whole inconvenience of trying to sort this out has kept me paying the more expensive option.

But perhaps no longer. Relax or Work with No Limits in Croatia has been a revelation to me. Not only do I now know where to locate my SIM-card in a phone I have had for years, but it has also shown me that international surfing can really be a stress-free experience with the right product.

So big thumbs up from me on this new service which is bound to be a hit with digital nomads and tourists alike. A one-time payment with no contract, a user-friendly website and application, and excellent Internet speeds. And let's not forget that very useful map when choosing your accommodation.

And if a technophobe like me can make it work, imagine how user-friendly this must be to someone more competent.

This post was done in cooperation with Hrvatski Telekom.

Monday, 5 July 2021

Interview with Veronica Mulhall, First Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador

July 5, 2021 - Zagreb has its first digital nomad ambassador. A first interview with Veronica Mulhall, who will be resident in the Croatian capital for the month of July. 

After an inspiring 7 days during Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021, the second component of the project kicked off on July 1 with the arrival of the first winner of the Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project. Following on from the week, 6 digital nomads will be spending a calendar month in the capital until the end of the year and working with Zagreb Tourist Board in developing its digital nomad tourism strategy. 

The first winner, Veronica Mulhall from the USA, accompanied by her partner Julian, arrived on July 1, to take up residence at Doma Zagreb Aparthotel, as previously reported by TCN. Veronica was kind enough to find time for this email interview as she begins her month in Zagreb. 

 

1. First of all, congratulations on becoming the first Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador. Tell us a little about yourself so we can get to know you a little.

I am a strategic communicator on a mission to connect people. 

Personally, I am drawn to experiencing new things, taking adventures, and I have found a passion for travel because every time I go somewhere I learn something new about the place and about myself. 

I have visited over seventy countries and counting, always wanting to learn more about food system growth, art sector enhancement, and heritage site preservation. And, with all the travel, I ground myself in my yoga practice, creating my own art, and exploring the place and nature. 

As a marketing professional, I lead projects and programs for startups, social enterprises, NGOs, and development organizations in emerging markets. I currently work for a pan-African social enterprise within the African Leadership Group, guided by the mission to transform Africa by developing 3M ethical and entrepreneurial leaders by 2035.

veronica-mulhall_2.jpg

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

When I arrived in Croatia, I was searching online for coworking and found the competition on the Saltwater Nomads's website. When I noticed the location was Zagreb, I reflected on my own travel plans in Croatia. Originally, I was going to stay by the coast, like many tourists and digital nomads. Wondering if I was missing something by overlooking the capital, I was compelled to learn more about Zagreb.  

I was shocked at how I was drawn to the city. It felt so creative. The downtown appeared walkable and full of outdoor restaurants. There were many parks and green spaces. A few hours of researching later, I realized a had to take the chance and apply to the competition.  

3. Your reaction to being selected?

It was a combination of excitement, surprise, and gratitude. With all competitions, you never think you will be selected. I was overjoyed when I saw the email that I was selected for this amazing opportunity.

veronica-mulhall_3.jpg

4. How well do you know Croatia and Zagreb in particular?

This trip is my first time in Croatia. As Croatia has become a popular destination, friends told me to visit, but recommendations were focused only on Croatia's (beautiful) coastline. I enjoy cities with history and charm, so when learned more about Zagreb, it immediately caught my attention. 

5. What excites you most about the month ahead?

There are so many things - the food, the museums, the history, the art, the parks - the list goes on. But, if I have to pick the one thing that excites me the most, it would be getting to know the people that call Zagreb home. 

4629292_18031217560062717979.jpg

(Doma Zagreb Aparthotel - 4-star luxury in central Zagreb)

6. Are there any particular activities in Zagreb that you would like to get involved in?

I'm currently in a Master's program for working professionals studying Art and Cultural Management. With this in mind, I see why Zegrab is getting more and more attention as a tourist destination and I am interested in learning more about the city's art and cultural planning and sustainable tourism efforts. Hopefully, I will be able to attend some of the events while I am here.

7. What are your expectations from the month, and what are you looking to get out of it?

Open to trying new things, I am looking to get out of my comfort zone. 

I want to get an insider look at some of the many hidden gems that make Zagreb special. So, I will need some local assistance. Readers: Do you have a favorite cafe? Can I come with you to a dance class? What about an outdoor concert? Know where to find the best gelato? Can you point me to a relaxing city park? 

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or DM me on Instagram @veronicamulhall.

veronica-mulhall_1.jpg 

8. You obviously lead a nomadic life and are well-traveled. What makes Croatia an interesting digital nomad destination for you?

Croatia has the key elements many digital nomads look for when picking a destination: great places to work, affordable and diverse restaurants, rich history and culture, and outstanding nature. Even in the short time that I have been within the country, it is clear, from the thousands of islands to the waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes, the walls of Dubrovnik to the capital of Zagreb, the hype is well deserved.

Would you like to be a Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador? Applications are open until November, with the last ambassador taking up residence on December 1. Find out more here.

For more on Zagreb Digital Nomad Week 2021 & Zagreb Digital Nomad Ambassador Project, visit the Saltwater Nomads website.

For the latest news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Plitvice Lakes Through the Lens of a Croatian Digital Nomad Permit Holder

June 1, 2021 - Digital nomads give back to communities in various ways. The second in 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 continue than Plitvice Lakes National Park?

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 thoroughly enjoying our 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 continues our new series - Croatia through the lens of a Croatian digital nomad permit holder, this time in Plitvice Lakes National Park. 

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

You can follow Steve on Instagram.

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_11.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_16.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_3.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_5.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_19.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_14.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_9.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_10.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_4.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_12.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_18.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_6.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_7.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_13.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_8.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_15.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_17.jpg

plitvice-lakes-steve-tsentserensky_1.jpg

Page 1 of 13

Search