Saturday, 13 February 2021

Snow on Hvar! And the Truth Behind 'Free Hotel When It Snows' Legend

February 13, 2021 - Snow on Hvar is always a national media event, and so it proves today. But are the hotel stays really for free?

One of the first things I heard when I came to Hvar for the first time was that it had the best climate in Europe. And over the 13 years I lived there full-time, I certainly had no complaints (but then I am a Manchester boy, born in the rain, whose boarding school is in the Guinness Book of Records for most rainy days in one year - 332 days...).

Apparently, the hotels would give you a free hotel room if it snowed, so confident were the hoteliers in the island's unbeatable weather. A great marketing trick, I thought to myself, as snow only falls in winter when there are no tourists. 

Of course, the moment I got off the ferry having driven all my stuff to my new home from Oxfordshire, some funny white stuff started falling from the sky around Stari Grad. I have been blamed for any bad weather on Hvar ever since. 

But nothing was like February 4, 2012 (see lead photo) when we awoke to find Jelsa covered in a blanket of white. We had business in Hvar Town that day. Driving in 4-wheel drive through the snow on the main road was surreal, but not as surreal as watching a snow plough coming in the opposite direction. On Hvar!


People even skied from the top of Hvar to the beach at Dubovica - read the full story

I was amazed. How was it possible, with Dalmatian covered in snow and ice, that someone could spare a snow plough to send to Hvar? Upon investigation, it turned out that the sunshine has its very own snow plough, which is operated by the chap who owns the restaurant in Vrbanj. He must have less work than Santa Claus.


(HVAR Facebook page)

Snow fell once again today, as in much of Dalmatia, a moment which always causes excitement with the local kids, and locals mark the event in their own special ways. 

So are the hotels actually free? It was something I decided to chase up back in 2012 and I asked Suncani Hvar Hotels what the official policy was. The reply was that if it had been snowing for 7 days then guests could get the 8th day free. 

Not quite the same thing. 

Some years later, I chanced upon what appears to be the origins of the claim, in a 1960s video of Dalmatia. Here is what was advertised on Hvar. 


(YouTube screenshot)

1. 50% reduction if it rains more than three hours between 7 am and 5 pm 

2. Free stay for each snowy day

3. Free stay for each foggy day

And a free stay if the temperature drops below a certain temperature (0 degrees). 

I wonder if they are still valid in 2021... 


(A sunny day in Varazdin - Photo by Taliah Bradbury)

Meanwhile, the morning started wonderfully in Varazdin this morning. People thought I was crazy to move from the sunshine island to the cold and forbidding north of Croatia. 

For more news about the island of Hvar, follow the dedicated TCN Hvar section





Saturday, 13 February 2021

Learning Croatian: Articles of Clothing in Hvar Dialect (VIDEO)

February 13, 2021 - Continuing our look at the Croatian language through Hvar dialect, some important things to know about articles of clothing, with a cameo appearance from a famous winemaker.

Learning Croatian on a Dalmatian island is not recommended, unless you find a teacher who can teach you classic Croatian rather than the local dialect. It was a lesson I learned at great cost when I went to Zagreb some time later, only to find out that my shiny new Croatian words were actually unintelligible to most people who were not from Hvar.  

Add to that the famous Dalmatian Grunt, perfected by the one and only Frank John Dubokovich, and the concept of a video series on Hvar dialect was born.  As previously mentioned, the original YouTube series dating back to 2011 was taken down for some reason, but some of it has survived on an old camera. 

Today's lesson is probably my favourite, focusing on articles of clothing in Hvar dialect. Over the years, the lessons achieved something of a cult status on Jelsa's main square, and various people were quick to add their expertise, sometimes even to contradict the great Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. 

The other problem, which was probably linked to the number of cold ones consumed prior to recording, was that filming (always one take only) often coincided with the ringing of the midday church bells. This week's episode descended into chaos, with a combination of those bells, as well as the linguistic intervention of the Three Wise Men, including legendary Jelsa winemaker, Andro Tomic. 

You can subscribe to the TCN Talks YouTube channel for the latest language instructions from The Professor. 

For the latest news from the island of Hvar, check out the dedicated TCN Hvar section.

Looking to improve your Croatian as a foreigner? 25 Mistakes Foreigners Make When Speaking Croatian.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Hvar Covered in Snow This Morning Again After Three Years

February 13, 2021 – Have you ever imagined the Croatian island of Hvar covered in snow? It sounds unbelievable for one of the sunniest islands in the Mediterranean, but today it snowed again in Hvar, just like three years ago.

The announced cold front arrived in Croatia, and even in its warmest parts. Even the Croatian island of Hvar was covered in snow this morning.

Three years ago, one of the sunniest islands in the Mediterranean was covered by snow for the first time in 25 years. This morning, the Hvar town people woke up just like in 2018 – seeing their city covered with a thin white blanket.

"It's always nice to see a little bit of winter joy because we don't see it often. We are not used to this, but let it last for a few days. We will endure the cold," said Vedran Dulčić, Hvar native, who sent us a photo from the town of Hvar.


A view from Hvar Fortress (Fortica), an unavoidable place in Hvar, looks like this today. The Hvar port, perfect blue sea, and Pakleni islands in the background, which a beautiful view overlooks during the summer, are now barely even seen.


Facebook Hvar Town

It's also very cold. Hvar residents say that the stormy wind bura started to blow, and they predict (or at least hope) that the snow will not last long. By midday, it already almost melted. However, in 2018, the snow on Hvar stayed for more than a week.

For people who are used to temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius on Hvar, today's only one degree is not pleasant at all, but they try to endure it. Just a few more months and there will be summer, right? Although it is beautiful even in winter conditions, nothing can compare to the beauty that Hvar exudes in summer.


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Sunday, 7 February 2021

Plastic-Free Croatia: Croatian Cities and Islands Moving to Reduce Plastic Waste

February 7, 2021 - Dubrovnik, Trogir, Stari Grad on Hvar, and Sali on Dugi Otok will be the first in Croatia to reduce plastic waste and use alternative solutions by participating in projects implemented by the Split Association "Sunce" for Nature, Environment, and Sustainable Development, setting the pace for a plastic-free Croatia. 

Glas Istre reports that "Plastic Smart Cities Croatia" and "For Plastic Free Croatian Islands" aim to reduce plastic waste and use alternative solutions. They analyze the use of disposable plastics and waste plastic management in the local communities involved, develop and implement a "Plastic-Free Plan" with a participatory approach and workshops, as well as organize "plastic-free" public events, i.e., events and public forums aimed at raising awareness in the local population about the consequences of plastic pollution.

One of the important activities is implementing a national campaign to raise awareness of the impact of plastic pollution on the marine environment and available sustainable solutions in the island communities on Hvar and Dugi Otok. The Split Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development "Sunce"is currently working on organizing workshops for networking partners and environmental organizations engaged in this topic.

It is in this project that the pioneer association "Sunce" began implementing the projects "Plastic Smart Cities Croatia" and "For Plastic Free Croatian Islands" to reduce the plastic footprint in various segments of social life in local communities by reducing the use of disposable plastic and encouraging the use of alternative solutions for plastic waste. One of their project goals is to raise the awareness of citizens and the public about plastic waste.

After the completion of the project, a final conference will be held aimed at disseminating the project results and encouraging the further reduction of plastic waste for representatives of local island authorities, national and international NGOs, local government units, representatives of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, tourism, relevant ministries, and other stakeholders, with the message "Reduce the use of disposable plastics and look for more sustainable solutions!", which the Sunce Split Association has been advocating for many years.

They remind that a new Law on Waste should be adopted in Croatia this year, which, among other things, contains some provisions of the EU Directive on reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. At the end of last year, independently and in cooperation with other environmental protection associations in Croatia, they sent their comments on the Waste Act's draft proposal.

They add that the European organization "Seas at Risk," which brings together several associations dealing with protecting the marine environment, assessed last summer that the EU directive is an ambitious plan to dispose of ten non-reusable plastic items, and which can most often be found on beaches across Europe, but that its implementation into national legislation in most European countries has been halted.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to a dramatic increase in the use and the rejection of disposable plastic objects in nature.

"The Mediterranean Sea is one of the world's most polluted seas, and half of this enormous amount of waste comes from the mainland. With 400 kilotons of waste generated annually, Croatia ranks third in the region. Hence, it is imperative to take urgent measures and raise awareness to numerous visitors about the need for urgent action, i.e., reducing disposable plastic use.

Namely, tourism has been identified as one of the key actors, so part of the awareness campaign within the "Plastic Smart Cities" project is aimed at foreign and domestic tourists, the Sunce Split Association points out.

The EU directive on plastic waste was adopted in 2019 after a trialogue, i.e., negotiations between the European Parliament, the Commission, and the EU Council. This year, all EU countries must finally implement it. The Law on Waste in Croatia should be adopted by July 3 at the latest. Croatia should also throw out disposable plastic products, namely plastic q-tips, cutlery, plates, straws, drink sticks, and balloon holders.

After adopting the directive in the European Parliament, the then Croatian MEP Davor Škrlec from the Green Group said that the directive should be used to encourage change for us as a society to produce less garbage and become sustainable.

"If we do not change our attitude towards production, consumption, and waste, the human species will become consumable like a disposable coffee cup. This directive will help us abandon disposable plastics on the road to less consumption, better designed reusable products, more innovation, and a cleaner environment," Škrlec said then.

The directive also includes provisions for the disposal of cigarette butts, which are a significant polluter, the objectives of collecting beverage bottles, and the requirement to redesign beverage stoppers to connect them to bottles. The directive also includes national targets for reducing the consumption of plastic cups and food containers, and ultimately a total ban on oxo-degradable plastics often referred to as biodegradable but in reality fragmented into microplastics.

Disposable plastic products and fishing gear together account for 70 percent of Europe's marine litter, so it is expected that Europe's seas will be significantly cleaner by implementing the directive.

According to the Commission, the directive will bring many benefits for the environment and the economy. Environmental damage would be avoided, costing €22 billion by 2030, and saving consumers up to €6.5 billion, with an adjustment cost estimated at €3.2 billion for manufacturers.

At the end of last year, the Commission adopted new rules on the import and ban on exports of plastic waste to third countries that do not have the capacity to manage it in a sustainable way, which is one of the main points of the European Green Plan and EU Circular Action Plan.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 5 February 2021

Learning Croatian: How Do People from Hvar, Dubrovnik Understand Each Other?

February 5, 2021 - Croatia is a country full of dialects. How do the people of Hvar and Dubrovnik understand each other, for example? The latest Hvar dialect lesson from Professor Frank John Dubokovich. 

My Croatian is by no means fluent but I get by pretty well and am happy to do television interviews in Croatian, for example (much to the amusement of locals), but when I moved from Hvar to Varazdin four years ago, I thought I had entered a different country.  The Varazdin dialect was REALLY hard to follow after being brought up on Dalmatian. 

Things are a little better these days, but I still struggle a lot, and I do look in wonder at my kids who switch effortlessly between the two during the school holidays back in Jelsa. 

The dialects of Croatia have fascinated me, even since we started a fun Hvar dialect video series with the self-styled linguistic colossus, Professor Frank John Dubokovich back in 2011. His iconic Dalmatian Grunt, above, took the Internet by storm, quickly racking up 50,000 views before the channel was removed by YouTube for reasons unknown. 

We are now reintroducing some of the original videos which I came across offline last year. As the series developed, we invited people visiting from other parts of the country to take part, so that we could compare the dialects of Hvar and that region with the classic Croatian dialect. 

In the latest episode, we were delighted to welcome a Dubrovnik resident to the Total Office in Jelsa, and we put The Professor, our Dubrovnik guest and classic Croatian speaker through their paces with a range of phrases to highlight some of the differences. 

It is hard for me as a foreigner to recognise that they are all speaking the same language. How about you?

For more linguistic genius from Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, subscribe to the YouTube channel. 

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Learning Croatian: the Hvar Dialect Language of Love

January 30, 2021 - Visiting Hvar and looking for the perfect language of love? Help is at hand in the latest in our Hvar dialect series with Professor Frank John Dubokovich.

Within a week of moving to Hvar all those years ago, I had met the girl of my dreams in the library in Jelsa and have been married to her for many years now. As such, I have never had any need for the language of love, Hvar-style, that is the focus of this week's lesson in Hvar dialect from Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. 

The Professor, you may recall, became an Internet sensation several years ago when his iconic Dalmatian grunt was unleashed on an unsuspecting public, quickly racking up over 50,000 views before YouTube removed it for reasons unknown. 

The Professor is the most successful man with the ladies I have ever met on all my travels to almost 100 countries in my 51 years, and while it is tempting to assume the Dalmatian grunt instantly melts female hearts, it turns out that the Professor has a whole arsenal of Hvar dialect terms dedicated to the language of love.  

In this week's episode, which was recorded in early 2013 and is now once more back online, the Professor is joined by Hvar tour guide Dijana Moskatelo, whose classic Croatian phrases of the language of love seem to be a lot more comprehensible than the Professor's utterances. But who am I to judge? 

If you would like to learn more about the dialect words spoken on Hvar, we are slowly restoring the popular series from the early days of Total Hvar to YouTube. You can subscribe to the TCN Talks YouTube channel for the latest updates. 

For the latest news from Hvar,  check out the dedicated TCN section

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Learning Croatian Vegetables the Hvar Dialect Way (VIDEO)

January 23, 2021 - Continuing our alternative look at the Croatian language through Hvar dialect, this week Professor Frank John Dubokovich shows us his moves in the mysterious world of learning Croatian vegetables.

I sometimes wonder how Croatians from other parts of the country understand each other. I know that all countries have dialects and dialect words, but Croatia seems to take the regional vocabulary to a different level. 

One of the fun projects in the early years of the Total Project, before TCN, was an occasional language series on Total Hvar looking at the Hvar dialect compared to standard Croatian with Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. 

What started out as a bit of fun with the infamous Dalmatian Grunt in the first episode above, quickly got quite a following, with more than 50,000 views for that first article. About 20 more videos followed until they were taken down by YouTube for reasons unknown.  

We continue to restore the Professor's linguistic colossus to the Internet with the latest in the series, a rather illuminating look at the differences in various words on the subject of vegetables and how they differ between standard Croatian and Hvar dialect. 

The Professor confessed to me before shooting this lesson that there was something about the Hvar dialect word for 'aubergine' that made his want to get up and dance. He was even kind enough to demonstrate some of his moves during the lesson. 

With thanks to Zdravko for his more understandable version for those learning Croatian vegetables, as well as to Marion in her role as Executive Aubergine Holder. 

You can follow more of the linguistic musings of the Professor as the series develops by subscribing to the TCN Talks YouTube channel

For the very latest from the island of Hvar, follow the dedicated TCN section.  

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Hvar Clock Tower Gets New Attire, Soon Welcomes Its First Visitors

January 21, 2021 - The renovation of the Hvar clock tower, the so-called Leroj from the 15th century, is close to its completion. Once all works are finished, it will open to visitors for the first time.

In the final stage of renovation that started in 2016, the interior of the Hvar clock tower Leroj (meaning hour, clock), finally takes on a new look and acquires a new user value. Located in the very center of Hvar town, along with the city loggia, the clock tower is the only preserved part of the Governor's Palace complex. It was demolished in the early 20th century due to the Empress Elizabeth Hotel's construction, today's Palace Elizabeth Hotel, the first five-star hotel on Hvar.


Palace Elizabeth Hotel, city loggia, and clock tower in the very center of Hvar / Donatella Pauković

As reported from the City of Hvar, after the completion of works on constructive repairs (according to the project of the engineering bureau Kulić from Split), the works on the interior decoration continued according to the project of the authorized architect Branka Petković.

As part of the project, a hitherto non-existent and much-needed infrastructure was introduced – electricity, water, drainage (sanitary facilities), and the internal walls were arranged. New mezzanine constructures were installed, connected by a complex suspended metal staircase with a continuous panel made of perforated sheet metal.


Facebook Hvar Town

The Hvar clock tower now received an exit to the roof terrace paved with stone, just like the ground floor, which has a new entrance door and glass walls.

The original bell from 1564 has been restored. Final works also include installing wooden floor coverings, final varnishing of all metal parts of the interior and staircase, installation of decorative interior lighting, and restoration of the original clock mechanism from the 19th century. The company Neir from Split performs constructive renovation and interior decoration works.



Facebook Hvar Town

The square clock tower built east of the city hall loggia was initially part of the Rector's Palace's defense system within the medieval southern walls. In 1564, it was converted into a tower – leroj – by installing a public city clock and bells. It was last restored in 1903, and after the completion of all works, it will be open to visitors for the first time.


Facebook Hvar Town

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Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Hvar Arsenal Presented in Prestigious European Online Magazine

January 13, 2021 – On the occasion of receiving the prestigious recognition of the European Heritage Awards 2020, a large article about the famous Hvar Arsenal, the most important public building in Hvar, was published in the renowned European Diplomacy & Economics Online Magazine.

As reported by Branimir Tončinić, Croatian National Tourist Board Director in Austria, the publication was created due to cooperation between the CNTB Representation in Austria, the Hvar Tourist Board, and the magazine's editorial board.

The announcement states that Hvar Arsenal is the winner of the Europa Nostra award, the most prestigious European award in the field of heritage, which the European Union has been awarding since 2002. This year, the award was given to 21 projects from 15 countries, and Arsenal is the winner in the conservation category. Recognition was given for the restoration and strengthening of the load-bearing structure of the Arsenal. Given the current situation, this year's awards ceremony was held virtually for the first time.

The Arsenal building, located in the center of Hvar town, the most important port on the island, has been carefully restored and successfully transformed into a living cultural center for visitors and the local community. The Croatian Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds were partners to the City of Hvar in the 30-year project of the Hvar Arsenal reconstruction, which ended in 2019.

An independent jury, made up of heritage experts from across Europe, selected the award winners, following a detailed evaluation of the nominations submitted by organizations and individuals from 30 European countries.

"This valuable revitalization project has adapted a significant building to the modern needs of the community and added a new cultural dimension to the tourism of this area. It represents a long-term effort to ensure Arsenal preservation as a site of high cultural heritage. The stratification of the 16th-century building and later 18th-century theater has been properly recognized in conservation work. Such localities are proof of international trade's long history in Europe, and their location in the port is significant, where they still play an important role as a place of connection," said the jury.

European Diplomacy & Economics is a magazine intended for professionals in diplomacy and a wider audience throughout the European Union. It covers economics and culture, is published twice a year in 10,000 copies, and is headquartered in Vienna.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Learning Croatian: the Dialect Words of Hvar Wine (VIDEO)

January 10, 2021 - Continuing our alternative look at the Croatian language through Hvar dialects, some essential vocabulary relating to Hvar wine. 

One of my favourite features over the last ten years writing about Croatia is a language series we started soon after the launch of Total Hvar way back in 2010. 

Sitting in The Office in Jelsa one quiet November lunchtime, I decided to film my friend with some typical Dalmatian greetings.

The unique phenomenon that is the Dalmatian Grunt hit the Internet and a new online start was born. The linguistic colossus that is Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects, quickly amassed 50,000 views on YouTube, and a fascinating series of lectures followed, until they were inexplicably removed from YouTube a few years ago. 

Thankfully, I came across some of the offline originals recently and have been publishing them again.

Today's lesson focuses on the dialect words for Hvar wine. In some ways, it is a landmark lesson, since it was the first to be independently commissioned by someone else. 

The Professor's fame had spread so far that national television came calling, and they requested that we record an exclusive lesson for them about Hvar wine for a forthcoming primetime feature on tourism in Jelsa. 

The Professor was eager to please and was eager to expand his ever-expanding flock. We thought that the best place to record was at Artichoke Wine Bar and Restaurant in Jelsa, which became the first place the island to offer Hvar wine by the glass soon after it opened several years ago. 

You can check out the Professor's latest foray into the world of Hvar wine above, as well as checking out the entire feature on Jelsa, the only time in my life I have ever been recorded eating blitva.

You can catch up with The Professor's teachings on our TCN Talks YouTube channel

For more news from Hvar, check out the dedicated TCN section


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