Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Why Many Dalmatians were Born in the Desert in Egypt

February 1, 2023 - Did you know that a number of Dalmatians of a certain age were born in the Sinai Desert in Egypt? The curious story of Dalmatians in El Shatt.

It is one of the strangest - and most fascinating - tales of my time in Dalmatia. A number of people on Hvar who were born in the desert in Egypt.

And not just Hvar, but from the wider Dalmatian region. The unreal story of El Shatt in the Sinai desert. 

Learn more in the latest episode from the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert channel.

As one of the few people to write about El Shatt in English over the years, I have had some rather unusual and fascinating correspondence on the subject. This included an email from the son of a British soldier and Yugoslav woman who had found love in the desert. the only one that I can find now is this rather fascinating article from the grandson of a British soldier, with some rather cool correspondence dating back 80 years. Read more in El Shatt: British Soldier Grandson Looking for George Makiedo Descendents.

With thanks (and watch for the full story) to the Croatian State Archives for this amazing documentary, below.

Were you in El Shatt or have relatives who were there or were born there? It could make for an interesting mini-series on TCN, so if you have an interesting story to tell from this unusual period in Croatian history, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject El Shatt. 

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert YouTube channel.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Croats Living in Croatia, Earning Abroad: Stjepan Mijat Zaninović, Zastražišće, Hvar

January 17, 2023 - The Croatian dream - to live in Croatia and get income from abroad. Meet the locals who are living that dream, and find out how you could, too, in a new TCN series. In the latest in the series, meet Stjepan Mijat Zaninović, who is enjoying life on Hvar.

Croatia, great for a 2-week holiday, but a nightmare for full-time living unless you are very rich, so the perceived wisdom goes. The Croatian dream is to live in Croatia with a nice income from abroad, as many foreigners and remote workers do. For Croatians, if I read the comments in my recent video, Croatia is the Best Place to Live: 8 Reasons Why (see below), salaries are too low and people are forced to emigrate in search of a better life.

While there is definitely an element of truth to this, it got me thinking. The era of remote work is here, and the workplace is increasingly global, with a labour shortage for many skills. It doesn't matter if you are from Boston or Bangladesh if you have the skills, desire, and work ethic, and are able to work remotely online.  And while it is certainly true that salaries in Croatia are low, what about the opportunities that the global online marketplace offers? If foreigners can find ways to live in Paradise and work remotely, why not locals? Curious, I posted this on my Facebook and LinkedIn:

Do I know many Croats who are living in Croatia, but working remotely for international companies who would be interested in being part of a TCN interview series showcasing living in Croatia but earning online, including advice to others on how to get started? It could be an interesting series. If interested, contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

Some 15 emails - and several inspiring stories - later, and I think we have the makings of what could be a rather interesting series, Croats Living in Croatia & Earning Abroad. Next up in the series, Stjepan Mijat Zaninović, from the village of Zastražišće on Hvar.

My name is Stjepan Mijat Zaninović. I’m from Zastražišće, a small village on Hvar island.

And if you aren’t from Croatia, the line above probably made you feel something like this.


But from this point, there won’t be many č,ć,ž,š, and other elvish letters. I hope my story helps you realize what it takes to make it in Croatia. And by the end of the story, you’ll see why donkeys are sacred animals in Dalmatia.

You managed to achieve the Croatian dream - living here and working for international companies. Tell us how you did it.

The short answer is that I had no other choice. But that’s not how interviews work, so I have to take you back to 2017. 

I was a night receptionist in a 4* hotel in Split and karate sensei.

After finishing high school and dropping out of college, I was destined to spend my life in positions no one else wanted. I was ok with that. But with a job no one wants comes the boss no one wants. And I’m not the type of person who sits and complains. I complain a lot, but I can’t sit still. So instead of crying over my destiny to work for the minimum wage, I decided to cash in on the only other skill I had. Something I call connectivity, but for the sake of avoiding elvish, let’s call it writing for now.

Nights in a hotel were long, so I decided to write a book to honor my path, mission, and the lady who made that path brighter. The one who made my mission clear. That’s how “The Girl With the Fire in Her Hair” was born.

But this is Croatia, and I’m no one, so no one wanted to publish my book.

So I started looking for ways to make money through writing, which led me to Freelancer.com. A platform where cheap people go to find affordable talents to take care of gigs no one else wants. But I was happy with every project I could get because I was finally getting paid to write. I worked a week for a dollar, but I made money online doing something I liked.

Soon after, I started writing landing pages for natural supplements and taking care of social media for one American holistic brand. I was underpaid, but I was happy.

Today, 500+ landing pages and 3,000,000 words of blogs later, I’m still underpaid and happy. I’m also self-employed and working almost exclusively with foreign companies. I just wrapped up a long-form sales letter for a tantric retreat in Costa Rica. Next week, I'll start doing cold email outreach for a growth agency with an office in Chicago. But I’m an introvert like many copywriters. Blowing my own horn isn’t really my thing, so let’s move to the next question.

Looking for jobs based in Croatia can be a challenging task. How challenging was it for you to get where you are today - it must have taken a lot of determination and rejection.

It was the ultimate test of willpower, partially because I was ignorant (and poor as a mouse). It took me 2 years to realize that I wasn't a writer but a copywriter. And I couldn’t afford any mentors, so I had to do everything the hard way. I was bidding for numerous jobs left and right. I won some but lost many more. Every time a prospect would ghost me felt like a head kick. I hate getting rejected. I wanted to give up many times. Until October 2021, I was working full-time and writing full-time. Working 2 jobs drains a person.

But remember, I’m a stubborn Dalmatian donkey.

So now I’m a proud owner of a marketing agency Ihneumon Connectivity. Now, I cooperate closely with 6,7, and 8-figure companies. I even sometimes help other copywriters get to the next level.

3. If you can do it, presumably others can too. Are you aware of others who have had similar success, but maybe in different industries?

If I can do it, anyone can.

I’m focused on foreign markets, so I’m not networking with Croats that much (and being 100% introverted doesn’t help). However, I heard about many people from Croatia who “made it” without leaving Croatia.

So yeah, it’s possible. Difficult, but possible. Even though someone with enough money to pay for mentors and enough friends to help them can climb much faster than I have. Being one of the stars of the mentorship program by Stefan Georgi and Justin Goff (huge names in direct response copywriting) changed my life. That and the fact that I was too stupid to give up brought me where I am today.

4. What is the general feeling among people in Croatia today? Is it possible to have a good life here, or is the grass greener on the other side?

I won’t go all political here, but I have to say that one of the first articles I’ve ever written was “Croatia - the Rotten Diamond.” Croatia is the best place in the universe in many ways, but it’s terrible at the same time.

I’d say that the general feeling today is that honest work almost isn’t enough to survive in Croatia while being an Uhljeb (let’s say a parasite) is the Croatian Dream. The problem is that some people in Croatia live great, relaxed lives while most struggle to make ends meet. That creates gaps between people and divides us. But in the end, I guess that’s all part of the bigger plan. Divide and conquer is one of the most powerful techniques in every aspect of life. Yet, let’s jump to the next question before I get myself in trouble by revealing painful truths about Croatia.

5. Apart from corruption and nepotism, low wages are often cited as a reason to emigrate. But with the remote work revolution, as your example has shown, as well as the influx of many foreign workers to the likes of Rimac and Infobip for example, show that a good quality of life IS possible in Croatia. What are your thoughts on that?

I agree. Good quality of life is possible in Croatia. But even when you work remotely, you’re still in this rotten diamond. That means you still need to deal with prices that fit Scandinavian countries more than Balkan. That means you still have to deal with injustice on every corner. And I’m not worried about myself. I’ll deal with it. Other young people will deal with it (or leave the country).

I’m worried for my mom and dad. I’m worried for people who must work until they drop dead because we need to feed all the parasites. I hate to imagine the future in the country that has repaired 6 (in letters - SIX) houses since the earthquake 2 years ago.

*deep breath*

Let’s move on. There’s no need to ruin this beautiful day.

6. What advice do you have for others who would like to stay in Croatia, but have no idea where or how to find a possible remote work job or business as you have managed to do?

I could write a book of tips on that topic, but I don’t want to waste everyone’s time, so here are some bullets.

  • Network - Take this from the demigod of introverts; you can’t make it alone. It’s simply impossible.

  • Keep honing your skills - But it’s impossible to make it if you suck at what you do.

  • Keep learning new skills - And if you decide that there’s nothing new to learn, you won’t stay on top for long. Last month I learned how to use ClickFunnels. In the past 6 months, I worked in 7 new niches. You must be hungry all the time. If there's more to be done, you've done nothing yet.

  • Become a donkey - this one is the most important. Without this one, everything else is futile. Donkeys are noble animals, but they’re stubborn as hell. You must be so determined that nothing can stop you. And I know that’s true everywhere, not just in Croatia.

7. Three reasons you decided to stay in Croatia, and the one thing you would like to change in this country.

I’ll start with things I’d love to change because I want to finish this in a happy tone. I’d change the fact that Croatia has 555 local government units while the UK has 333. Can you imagine the number of parasites we need to feed?

I’d change the fact that the entire country depends on the weather. And not in a good way. I’d love to see more windmills, solar panels, and stuff. But sadly, we depend on the weather in a silly way. If the weather during Summer isn't perfect (or there’s some virus in the air), there’s no tourism. If there’s no tourism, well…

Croatia earns most of its money from tourism. More than any other country in the EU. Tourism brought a staggering 21% of the Croatian GDP in 2019. I heard 2022 was even better, so I don’t want to imagine what would happen if tourists decide to avoid this Rotten Diamond.

Now, let’s move to the reasons why I decided to stay:

  • My mom would cry forever. My brother is in Ireland. Losing 2 of her kids would probably kill her.
  • My wife wanted to go to Ireland. I wanted to go to Japan. The weather in Ireland sucks, and Japan is too expensive. For now, Stari Grad is home.
  • I feel deeply connected to Hvar. My soul belongs here.

I appreciate this chance to share my story, Paul.

 You can connect with Stjepan on LinkedIn and on Facebook

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Thanks Stjepan, very inspiring, and congratulations on all your success.

You can follow the rest of this series in the dedicated TCN section here.

If you would like to contribute your story to this series, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert YouTube channel.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Sunday, 8 January 2023

Sunday Times Features Hvar as 1 of 3 Digital Nomad WFA European Destinations

January 8, 2023 - More good news for Croatia's attempts to attract the remote work sector, as the Sunday Times promotes Hvar in its top three WFA (Work from Anywhere) destinations. 

It seems so long ago, May 2019.

That was when I met a Russian and Ukrainian couple wanting to rent our apartment for 3 months the following year, from April 1 - June 30. They were doing something called remote work 10 months a year, with two in the office in Munich. Three months each year in Jelsa, then to Italy, then to Spain, then to Portugal at home. 

It sounded like an idyllic lifestyle, and one which I was about to immerse myself in, as well as dealing with the imminent pandemic.

That coffee was one of the moments of realisation about the power and the reality of the digital nomad movement and remote work shift. I became a big promoter in the opportunity, helping Jan de Jong and his team to realise only the second digital nomad permit in Europe after Estonia. 

The rest is history, and Croatia is now firmly established on the digital nomad global map, with the latest evidence in the influential Nomad List 2023 survey, which has Croatia as the most-liked country for nomads, and Zagreb as the second most-liked city. You can read more about this in Croatia Tops Nomad List 2023 Survey as 'Most-Liked Country.' 

And it seems that some of that nomad attraction has been rubbing off on my adopted island of Hvar, where that initial coffee took place almost four years ago, for the Croatian sunshine island featured in an excellent article in today's Sunday Times about the new breed of nomads, and the new hotspots - Hvar, Valencia and Malta in 

WHY THE NEW BREED OF DIGITAL NOMADS HAVE FULL-TIME JOBS

Forget twentysomethings backpacking with a laptop. Now CEOs, architects and lawyers are doing their jobs from anywhere in the world. Plus: the new hotspots 

Here is what they said about Hvar.

The WFA hotspots

by Hannah Ralph

Hvar, Croatia

Since January 2021 Croatia has been offering temporary residence via its digital nomad visa, but while most flock to the cinematic cities of Dubrovnik and Zagreb, many remote workers forget the islands can be equally welcoming to those in need of an internet connection, a community of friendly faces and little else. Try Hvar, one of the Dalmatian coast’s most popular haunts, which has co-working spaces by the sea, an emerging après-beach scene, and crystal-clean coves ideal for a post-work dip.

You can read the full article here.

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

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

Croats Living in Croatia, Earning Abroad: Martina Lucic from Svirce, Hvar

December 22, 2022 - The Croatian dream - to live in Croatia and get income from abroad. Meet the locals who are living that dream, and find out how you could, too, in a new TCN series. In the second in the series, meet Matina Lucic, who is enjoying life on her laptop in the Hvar wine village of Svirce.

Croatia, great for a 2-week holiday, but a nightmare for full-time living unless you are very rich, so the perceived wisdom goes. The Croatian dream is to live in Croatia with a nice income from abroad, as many foreigners and remote workers do. For Croatians, if I read the comments in my recent video, Croatia is the Best Place to Live: 8 Reasons Why (see below), salaries are too low and people are forced to emigrate in search of a better life.

While there is definitely an element of truth to this, it got me thinking. The era of remote work is here, and the workplace is increasingly global, with a labour shortage for many skills. It doesn't matter if you are from Boston or Bangladesh if you have the skills, desire, and work ethic, and are able to work remotely online.  And while it is certainly true that salaries in Croatia are low, what about the opportunities that the global online marketplace offers? If foreigners can find ways to live in Paradise and work remotely, why not locals? Curious, I posted this on my Facebook and LinkedIn yesterday:

Do I know many Croats who are living in Croatia, but working remotely for international companies who would be interested in being part of a TCN interview series showcasing living in Croatia but earning online, including advice to others on how to get started? It could be an interesting series. If interested, contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

Some 15 emails - and several inspiring stories - later, and I think we have the makings of what could be a rather interesting series, Croats Living in Croatia & Earning Abroad. Next up in the series, Martina Lucic in the village of Svirce on the island of Hvar. 

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My name is Martina and I come from a small village called Svirče, located on Hvar island. I left Svirče when I was 18 and went to Zadar where I spent almost 9 years. I got my M.A. in French and German Language and Literature at the University of Zadar in 2012. In the meantime, I started my PhD in Humanities at the same university and I am in my final year. In May 2015 I got a job at Amazon in Bratislava, Slovakia where I stayed until March 2022. After getting hired at a UK company called Brainlabs as a PPC Consultant (Digital Marketing) and getting a remote contract, I came back and now I am one happy remote employee.

Many Croats are emigrating but you not only chose to stay, but managed to achieve the Croatian dream - living here and working for an international company. Tell us how you did it.

It was inevitable as I could not find permanent employment in Croatia after I finished my M.A. studies. I speak a couple of languages and I could find a job in tourism, but I wanted a steady salary and a normal work-life balance. I have a huge experience in tourism as I started working in the summers when I was 15 but I could not imagine doing that my whole life. Customer service at Amazon was horrible but I was doing some extra activities like training new hires so I got to do some travelling - I spent a week in Regensburg, a week in Berlin, three weeks in Bangalore, India, and I had so much fun as a trainer. After my department got shut down in Bratislava, I got a position at Amazon Ads. I did not know anything about it but I spoke German fluently. So my ex-boss hired me, taught me everything and I realised that I loved that job. But I was not happy in Slovakia and I felt like it was time to go home. I missed my family, pets, island, sea, and climate so when I got an offer from Brainlabs, I accepted it. They contacted me through LinkedIn. My main condition was a remote contract and they allowed it so here I am.

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Looking for jobs upon graduation can be a challenging task. How challenging was it for you to get where you are today - it must have taken a lot of determination and rejection. 

Oh yes - I remember sending tons of emails with my CV attached and asking for a chance to prove myself and then getting no response. It was really hard as you need to pay for the flat, utilities, food. I could only dream about buying new clothes, make-up, travelling. As I said, leaving Croatia was inevitable for me.

If you can do it, presumably others can too. Are you aware of others who have had similar success, but maybe in different industries?

Of course - I have met many people while living abroad. Some of them came back and started families, some went to other countries and are not planning to come home before retirement. 

Everyone can do it, but one needs to be prepared for a struggle, failing, sacrifices. It is not easy, but it is worth it when you take a look at the bigger picture. Eyes on the prize and keep going.

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What is the general feeling among young people in Croatia today: Is it possible to have a good life here, or is the grass greener on the other side? 

Everything is so expensive nowadays and our salaries are not sufficient so it can be very challenging. This is a beautiful country and it has huge potential but we depend too much on tourism. The grass is not greener on the other side. It is nice to go abroad for a few years, gain some experiences, meet new people, but only if you can learn skills that will help you have a good life here in the future.

Apart from corruption and nepotism, low wages are often cited as a reason to emigrate. But with the remote work revolution, as your example has shown, as well as the influx of many foreign workers to the likes of Rimac and Infobip for example, show that a good quality of life IS possible in Croatia. What are your thoughts on that?

Absolutely. We need to let foreign companies open their offices here, government could perhaps reduce taxes for them and let them hire our people. I do not think that any young person would leave Croatia if they would have the possibility to grow professionally and earn a salary for a decent life here.

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What advice do you have for others who would like to stay in Croatia, but have no idea where or how to find a possible remote work job or business as you have managed to do?

Never stop learning and gaining new skills,  grow your LinkedIn network, and have realistic expectations. Once you land a job, work hard to prove your worth and your employer's trust. In the meantime, while waiting for a chance, do not sit on the couch and just wait. That is the worst thing you can do. While waiting for your dream job, you can work in customer service, shops, gas station, etc. You'll always learn something new, earn some money, meet new people, and you never know what that experience can bring you. Croatia has a 15 days notice period so you can always leave but also do not change your job too often.

Three reasons you decided to stay in Croatia, and the one thing you would like to change in this country.

Reasons to stay:

1. My family and my friends;

2. Enjoying mild climate in Dalmatia;

3. Possibility to speak Croatian after work;

One thing to change:

1. Too low wages and lack of possibilities to grow professionally

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Thanks Martina, very inspiring, and congratulations on all your success.

You can follow the rest of this series in the dedicated TCN section here.

If you would like to contribute your story to this series, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Remote Croatia.

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert YouTube channel.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Monday, 28 November 2022

Hvar in Travel + Leisure Best Places to Travel in 2023

November 28, 2022 - Another day, another Hvar reccommendation, this time as Travel + Leisure's only Croatian entry in its top 50 places to visit in 2023.

Another week, another list, another mention of Hvar.  

Croatia's premier is rarely out of the media when it comes to the best places to be - it is famously known as one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world. So it is little surprise that the recently-released Travel + Leisure 50 Best Places to Go in 2023 included the island of Hvar. 

Also encouraging is that this year's inclusion did not include the usual cliched sentences, but paid tribute to the new and renovated hotels on the island, including the island's first sustainable hotel, traditions such as the lavender festival, and the new attraction in Jelsa - stargazing. Here is what they had to say about the only Croatian inclusion in this year's list: 

Those seeking a brighter 2023 will find it on Hvar: This Dalmatian Coast island calls itself the sunniest in Croatia. That means plenty of time for cycling more than 100 miles of bikeable terrain or kayak trips to secluded beaches. At night, those clear skies make for incredible stargazing: Jesla, on the island’s north shore, was named the first International Dark Sky Community in Southern Europe in 2022; and Moeesy, the island’s newest luxury hotel, has one room with an over-the-bed skylight for bedtime viewing. The town of Velo Grablje’s 14th-century charm peaks in July, when the lavender festival blooms with food, drink, and family-friendly activities all centered around the fragrant Mediterranean plant. And in Hvar proper, the harborside Riva Marina hotel reopened in June 2022 with refreshed waterfront terrace suites and a new restaurant and bar concept focused on local ingredients. Just down the block is the island’s first sustainable hotel, Beach Bay, which opened this past summer 2022 with an off-grid solar power system and a commitment to honor UNESCO’s Sustainable Travel Pledge.

To see the full Travel + Leisure list fo 2023, click here

How well do you know the island of Hvar? After living on the island for 13 years and having written more than 9,000 articles about Croatia's premier island, here are 10 things that blew my mind about my new home. And there isn't a beach or mention of nightlife anywhere...

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Sunday, 20 November 2022

Hvar Nominated in 3 Categories in 2023 Travel + Leisure Awards

November 20, 2022 - The international media love affair with the island of Hvar continues, with Croatia's premier island nominated in 3 categories doe the prestigious 2023 Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards. 

When I bought my house in Jelsa on the island of Hvar way back in 2002, I had not heard of the island 2 days before I arrived. It looked very pretty, but I had no idea just how pretty. While walking by the harbour, there was a board with a map of the island, on which was written that the island of Hvar was one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world. I had chosen well. 

That famous statement - I heard it EVERYWHERE after that - came from the 1997 Conde Nast Readers Awards, where Hvar made it into the top 10 islands in the world, as it does pretty much every year, sometime (as in 2019) as the number one island in the world. 

And it is not just Conde Nast that keeps Hvar in the spotlight - the island features regularly in various Best of lists. And the latest one is one where you can play a part - the 2023 Travel + Leisue World's Best Awards, where Hvar has been nominated in no less than 3 categories:

-              Best islands in Europe - Hvar

-              Best cities in Europe - Hvar

-              Best hotels in Croatia - Sunčani Hvar Hotels, hotel Adriana

Voting is open until February 27, 2023, and there is an extra incentive of cash prizes of up to $15,000 cash, as well as a luxury cruise for two fo those who vote. 

You can take part by voting here. 

Think you know eveything about this amazing island, or looking to discover more about Hvar? Just as I knew nothing about the island when I moved there, so I was blown away by the incredible things I discovered living there. Put the beaches and nightlife to one side for the moment, and check out 10 things that blew my mind about Hvar after I bought a house there - I am confident that 90% of locals on the island will learn something about Hvar from this video. 

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Monday, 14 November 2022

10 Hvar Facts That Blew My Mind When I Bought a House in Croatia

November 14, 2022 - Thought the island of Hvar was all beaches and nightlife? Think again. Ten Hvar facts that blew my mind about the Adriatic island I had never heard of before I moved there 20 years ago.

Imagine spontaneously buying your new home on a Dalmatian island that you had never heard of 2 days before your purchase, whose name I still can't pronounce properly 20 years later, only to find that this was a magical island, often acclaimed as one of the most beautiful in the world.

But leave the beaches and the nightlife to one side for a moment if you can, for this is an island of incredible depth, tradition, culture, wine and, well, just some pretty far-out stuff.

Having lived in Jelsa full-time since 2003, it was only when I decided to write the first modern guidebook about the island of Hvar in 2011 that I began to discover what a truly special island it was, with many of its secrets not only unknown to most tourists, but also to many locals as well. The Total Hvar portal I started over a decade ago led to over 9,000 articles about the island over the next 10 years, the most articles one person has ever written about the island (and I am not saying they were all good...).

But the more I explored, the more blown away I was by what I discovered about this incredible island. It was a true pleasure to document my findings for the benefit of others.

Here are 10 things that blew my mind about my adopted Croatian island home, where I lived for 13 happy years. Want to learn more? And do stay around for the bonus at the end. I am willing to bet that many Hvar residents will find something new in these ten things:

Video thanks to:

Igor Duzevic

The fabulous Hvar TV

Hvar Tourist Board

Video editing by Miranda Milicic Bradbury, filmed by Igor Vuk

Want to discover more about Croatia beyond the beach? Subscribe to the new YouTube channel, Paul Bradbury, Croatia and Balkans Expert

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Thursday, 3 November 2022

Hvar TV: A Permanent Snapshot of Island Life from 2012

November 3, 2022 - It is 10 years since I came across one of the finest video snapshots of life on a Croatian island The year is 2012, and Hvar TV captured the essence of life on Croatia's premier island a decade ago for eternity. 

I remember the first time I saw them, at Hotel Adriana in Hvar Town. I had just started the Total Hvar portal and had been invited to an event where Croatian Masterchef Zdravko Kalabric was training young Croatian chefs for the Culinary Olympics in Germany.   

I was introduced to Maja and Jura from Hvar TV, a relatively new YouTube channel that was reporting on various aspects of life on Hvar. Within minutes, I found myself being interviewed on camera about the event. I remember saying "The wine's not bad" (which in British English is a compliment, only to be castigated on social media when the video came out. Who was this British asshole being so critical of our wine... 

A friendship - and a cooperation - was born, and Jura and Maja were a large part of my life in 2012, as we collaborated on some projects, as they allowed me to give my readers a unique insider view of life on the island. Ten years later, it is a real trip down memory lane to see some of these videos again, as well as a chance to thank them for their excellent work in permanently preserving a snapshot of life on Hvar at a certain moment in time. Our cooperation extended to adding English subtitles to some (but not all) of these videos. Here is a year of magic on Hvar as It Once Was a decade ago through the lens of Maja Zrnic and Jura Vodanovic from Hvar TV.  

Did you know that Hvar has its own island football league with ten teams who play each other home and away? And that in 2012, the champions were from Velo Grablje with a full-time population of just five. Maja and Jura followed them the whole season and produced a fantastic documentary, Lavender Smells from the Top - Velo Grablje is the lavender village on Hvar, complete with its own aromatic festival. 

 A winter postcard from Stari Grad. 

New Year in Hvar Town. 

There is life in winter. Billiard tournament at the Gariful Sport Centre. 

Days of Hvar Cuisine, a fantastic initiative that bought the kitchen of Kod Kapetana to Zemun in Belgrade each year, the first initiative to reconnect Belgrade's huge Hvar fan club with the island after the war. It is a wonderful event.

Secret Hvar and their original and (back then) very innovative off-road tour. 

Hvar restaurateurs gather in Jelsa to taste the new Tomic vintages.

Za Krizen - the UNESCO 'Behind the Cross' procession. What is it like to carry the cross and take part in this 500-year-old tradition. This is probably the best of any media on this incredible procession, and with English subtitles.  

Renaissance Dinner. A superb step back in time to 1612, as Ante Lacman of Hvar Tours brought 150 guests on a teambuilding to Hvar and put on a spectacular Renaissance dinner event, which included the Mayor of Hvar and I dressing up in tights. 

Fishing without complaints. Life as a fisherman on Hvar.

Luxury Dom Perignon night at Restaurant Gariful. 

The King of Meat - Djordje Tudor of Djordjota Vartal.  

Bogdanusa Wine Festival in Svirce. 

Days of Honey in Stari Grad.

Levonda Kids play the Levonda Blues.  

A Californian couple gets married in a Jelsa vineyard.  

The Puhijada edible dormouse festival in Dol.  

Kids Day in Hvar Town.  

Hvar Open Tour, one of the finest (and most short-lived) tourism products on the island, killed by those with an interest in not making it work. It was a wonderful hop on, hop off service from Jelsa, Vrboska, Stari Grad, the ferry, Hvar Town, and Agroturizam Faros, on a 2-hour cycle, with tickets at just 75 kuna a day. 

Grape Harvest on the Pakleni Islands.

Peskafondo squid fishing championship.

Stari Grad Wine Festival. 

 

Farewell, Summer. 

 

Veljko Barbieri cooks risotto at the Tomic winery. 

What a fabulous year!

The first Hvar TV video I ever saw is still one I enjoy watching from time to time - life in the Hvar harbour with the camera speeded up.  

Hvar Harbour Fast Forward.  

Hvar TV still exists, but Maja and Jura have progressed with their careers, filming much of the feature content for national television, including this superb piece on digital nomad life on a Dalmatian island  

Thank you, Maja and Jura, for all your fabulous work to document life on this special island. If you want to browse some more, you can visit the Hvar TV YouTube channel

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What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Crazy Dalmatian Island Life in October: Peskafondo on Hvar

October 11, 2022 - And you thought Dalmatian islands were quiet from mid-October? Prepare yourself for the craziness of the 11th Peskafondo squid and big game fishing championship on Hvar. 

A year ago, I asked three Kiwis living in Trogir if they wanted to have a quite exceptional weekend on Hvar. Their initial interest turned to suspicion when I told them I was going to organise a weekend of real fun in the form of a squid fishing championship. In the rain. 

It took all my persuasive powers, but eventually I got them on the catamaran to take part in the 10th edition of the Peskafondo squid and big game fishing championship in Hvar Town. It was actually the first event I wrote about back in 2011 when Total Hvar was about 2 weeks old. Organised by luxury fish restaurant Gariful, Peskafondo started with meagre beginnings, and - if the video reporting of my Kiwi friends is anything to go by - the 10th anniversary was nuts. 

Nick, Anna and Mahina from 45 Degrees Sailing did a video for our CROMADS platform, but then Nick expanded on the weekend in this great vlog on the 45 Degrees channel, below. 

This year's Peskafondo will take place a little earlier than last year, on October 21 and 22. There will be the usual mix of fishing, concerts, great food and wine, and a superb atmosphere whatever the weather, as locals and their international guests relax after yet one more successful season. 

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The programme (in Croatian) is below, and there is still time to register if you would like to take part in the competitive fishing. But there is no need to fish if you just want to experience a very special and very local celebration of the art of fishing, Dalmatian-style. A wonderful event. 

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You can follow the event on the official Peskafondo Facebook page

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What's it like living in Croatia, and where can you get the best survival tips? TCN CEO Paul Bradbury and TCN Editor Lauren Simmonds have teamed up to publish Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 10 October 2022

Croatia's Premier Island: Hvar Again in Conde Nast Top 10 in Europe

October 11, 2022 - More global recognition for the island of Hvar, which again features in the top 10 islands in Europe at the prestigious Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards. 

One of the first things I learned when I bought a house on an island I had never heard of until 2 days previously was that it was named as one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world.

And it truly is. 

That label has stayed with Hvar over the years, and it has its origins in the prestigious Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards, an annual poll of the elite travel magazine's readership. Hvar has been a regular feature in the Conde Nast top 10s each year, and 2022 is no exception. 

The awards, announced last week, placed Hvar once more in the top 10 islands in Europe, at number 9. The full list is below, and you can see all the Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards here

  1. Ibiza, Spain 88.54
  2. Crete, Greece 86.48
  3. Sardinia, Italy 86.04
  4. Jersey & Guernsey, United Kingdom 85.83
  5. Mykonos, Greece 85.26
  6. Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom 83.96
  7. Sicily, Italy 83.48
  8. Santorini, Greece 83.22
  9. Hvar, Croatia 83.17
  10. The Azores, Portugal 82.76

So much has changed in the 20 years since I first came to this beautiful island (read more about that experience in 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years: 16. Living 13 Years Full-Time on Hvar Island). And so much more is now internationally known about Hvar than 20 years ago. 

Did you know, for example, that Hvar has more UNESCO than any island in the world? Or that the oldest public theatre in Europe lies on its main square? Or that across the square is the birthplace of organised tourism in Europe with the founding of the Hvar Health Society in 1868? Or that on that very spot is one of Croatia's most luxurious hotels, Palace Elisabeth, hvar heritage hotel? 

And so much more. A timeless island with a rich heritage dating back thousands of years, and Croatia's premier island with very good reason. One thing is for sure - it will be in Europe's top 10 islands again next year, and the year after. 

To learn more about Hvar, check out the Total Croatia Hvar in a Page guide

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