Sunday, 27 December 2020

Astro Tourism on Hvar: Jelsa To Be First Dark Sky Community in Croatia

December 27, 2020 – In an effort to develop astro tourism on Hvar, a meteor camera and meteorological station were set up in the abandoned settlement of Humac near Jelsa. Jelsa will thus become the first internationally recognized Dark Sky Community in Croatia.

As Turističke priče reports, the Municipality of Jelsa, the Tourist Board of Jelsa, and the Croatian Astronomical Society participate in creating an astro-tourist offer on the island of Hvar.

Meteor camera recorded 125 meteors in the first night

The first activity, public observation with a telescope, was carried out in August. Later, a small school of astronomy was organized for primary school students.

Now the Croatian meteor camera (i.e., the Global Meteorological Network) and the meteorological station on Humac have been completed. The work was quite demanding because first, a pole, solar power supply, and mobile internet had to be installed, then a meteor camera and meteorological station.

The meteor camera recorded 125 meteors on the first night of filming, of which 72 belonged to seven known meteor swarms. The most numerous were meteors from the radiant in Coma Berenices, 12 in total.

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Humac is a former pastoral settlement, founded in the 17th century, located 7 km away from Jelsa, at 350 m above sea level / Photo: Romulić and Stojčić

The meteor camera in Humac can be followed on the pages of the Global Meteor Network, and the meteorological station on the Weather Underground and Weather Cloud services.

Activities are also aimed at declaring the Municipality of Jelsa the first international Dark Sky Community in Croatia and the area of Humac an International Dark Sky Park.

What is Dark Sky Park, and what Dark Sky Community?

The Dark Sky Park label is awarded to protected nature areas with extremely dark skies full of stars. According to the International Dark-Sky Association, an American non-profit organization, parks are spaces protected for natural conservation that implement good outdoor lighting and provide dark sky programs for visitors. The parks also run programs to popularize astronomy, educate the public on light pollution, and actively promote and preserve the night sky for current and future generations.

In Croatia, the first International Dark Sky Park is the one on Petrova Gora. Unfortunately, its future is questionable due to the light pollution caused by the tower with intense lighting, set up at the same location. At the end of last year, Vrani Kamen on Papuk was declared a second International Dark Sky Park. It is expected that the area of Humac near Jelsa on Hvar will be the third Dark Sky Park in Croatia.

Unlike the park, the Dark Sky Community represents a village, town, or municipality that has shown exceptional dedication to preserving the night sky by implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education, and citizen support of dark skies. Communities excel in promoting responsible lighting and dark sky stewardship and set good examples for surrounding communities.

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Dark starry Croatian sky / Photo: Romulić and Stojčić

Dark Sky Park as a tourist product?

Astro tourism is not yet developed, but it is one of the fastest-growing branches of tourism.

As HRturizam reports, although it is currently a small global community, dark sky tourism is growing and will only have rapid growth due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lonely Planet, CNN, and many others included dark sky tourism in the upcoming trends back in 2019.

Both Dark Sky Park in Humac and Dark Sky Community in Jelsa are of excellent quality and different tourist products. It is yet to be seen how this story is developed, presented, and sold.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Monday, 21 December 2020

Digital Nomad Life in Croatia: Jess and Thibaud, from San Francisco to Jelsa

December 21, 2020- As the number of digital nomads rises globally, some are choosing to spend some of their time in Croatia. Continuing our TCN series meeting international digital nomads calling Croatia their temporary home. Meet Jess and Thibaud, from San Francisco to Jelsa on Hvar.

It has been a very strange year for tourism, but not all of it has been bad news.

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Renting our AirBnB apartment, Panorama Penthouse Jelsa, for example. Who would have imagined this time last year that the apartment would be empty for large parts of the early summer, but then booked solid for the winter months when it is normally empty? And by not one, but two digital nomad couples...

Meet Jess and Thibaud, the latest digital nomads in our series meeting remote workers choosing Croatia. What does San Francisco have that you couldn't possibly find in Jelsa anyway? 

Tell us a bit about you and your work.

Thibaud grew up in Paris and has spent most of his life in Northern California. I’m from New York, which is where I lived until we moved to San Francisco a few years ago. We love to travel and spent five months backpacking in Asia in 2018. If I had to describe us in a sentence, I’d say we’re an adventurous pair that likes to live life to the fullest.

We work in the technology sector and have spent the majority of our careers at companies based in Silicon Valley. As a product manager, Thibaud designs and builds digital experiences for software platforms and tools. He sets the strategy and partners with engineering, design and business teams to make that happen. I work in business development, specializing in fintech. My job is to help companies grow and improve their market positions through client/supplier relationships and partnerships. Fun fact: we met at work!

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Pros and cons of working remotely?

Some of the more challenging aspects have been exacerbated by the pandemic - for example, the lack of social interaction. During normal times, people are able to meet with friends and family and go about their daily lives outside their homes, which balances the fact that they may not see their colleagues regularly. With the lockdowns, working from shared spaces or cafes isn’t an option, so it can be a bit isolating. Living and working in the place can lead to overworking, so it’s been important for us to set some of the boundaries that exist with non-remote work. Eating meals away from our laptops, keeping to a loose routine, and taking time for movement have been helpful ways to break up the day.

More effort is required to build and maintain relationships with colleagues when working remotely. Information can fall through the cracks without those impromptu desk-side chats in the office and that glass of wine with your teammate at the end of the workday. Remote work requires more mindfulness about how you interact with colleagues and clients.

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The overall flexibility that remote work enables is the biggest pro. Without it, the term ‘digital nomad’ wouldn’t be a thing! We feel fortunate that our roles can be done remotely, as opposed to many professions that require physical presence. Not being tied down to one location and being able to experience new places is one of the best things about working remotely. Not having to commute is great as it saves time and reduces your carbon footprint. Being able to prepare your own meals is a pro. Having the ability to choose your working setup is a pro, such as taking calls while on a walk or switching rooms to follow the sun. Having the option to wear whatever you’re most comfortable in everyday is also a nice perk.

Remote work also enables companies to hire the best talent regardless of where people live. Being able to build teams across borders can be positive for both employers and employees from an economic perspective and also help drive diversity of thought.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the pros and cons, but highlights some of the aspects of working from home. For us, the benefits of remote work outweigh the challenges.

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How did you choose Croatia and specifically Jelsa?

It was a major decision to travel, let alone temporarily relocate, during Covid-`19. After weighing the risks, we decided to take advantage of our new ability to work remotely. Prior to the pandemic, we had been able to work from home occasionally but not consistently. Many technology companies started to enable employees to work from home full-time in March and we knew that we would not need to return to our offices for several months. We fully embraced the uncertainty of 2020 - we closed our San Francisco lease in June, took a month-long road trip around the western United States, and then took a one-way ticket to Split.

We wanted to spend our time remotely working in Europe and Croatia was one of the few countries open to Americans in August. I had visited Dubrovnik, Hvar and Split a few years ago, so I had some familiarity with Croatia. We chose to avoid big cities, and decided that a smaller town on an island would be a good choice. We searched Hvar and Brač for accommodations and I was excited about this Airbnb in Jelsa, primarily because of the terrace and view. Jelsa turned out to be just the kind of destination we were looking for - quaint, walkable, and charming.

Our original plan was to stay about a month in Croatia and then travel to another European country. But within a few days of arriving, we extended our booking to two months. In October, we considered traveling elsewhere, but decided against it given the rising Covid-19 risk and changing border restrictions. Plus, we were happy in Jelsa and felt settled despite having been there for a short time. We’ve made some incredible friends here and feel a sense of community - for that, we are very grateful!

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What’s important for a destination to offer to be compatible with a digital nomad lifestyle, apart from good WiFi?

This varies from person to person. We consider things that enable a good quality of life based on our priorities. Comfortable and affordable housing, ideally with a full kitchen and adequate desk space, is important. The beauty of the surroundings and access to nature is also a priority, at least for us. We’ve lived in busy cities, so one advantage of being a digital nomad is being able to live in serene and quieter places.

Being able to get around is important, so walkability is a plus. It’s also important to be able to find high quality food and have grocery stores nearby. Access to basic healthcare is also a consideration. Athletic facilities, such as a gym or soccer fields, are also pluses.

It’s easier to meet people and go about everyday life in places where English is spoken widely. Being able to connect with people is really important, so the presence of expat communities can be helpful, as well as the openness of the culture. We’ve had an extremely positive experience with Croatians in general - our friends and acquaintances have been so welcoming, friendly and willing to help us out with just about anything.

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What’s your view on the future of remote work?

Remote and flexible work arrangements have been trending for the past decade or so, and Covid-19 has certainly expedited that trend. Many people have been encouraged to stay at home and non-remote companies have had to adapt quickly. As a result, I think it’s been eye-opening for workers and companies to see that, in fact, remote work can be productive and even beneficial for morale and results. Covid-19 is likely a forcing function for companies, as well as for individuals, to re-evaluate their work arrangements. Fully remote models may not work for everyone or every company, but I do think that flexible work arrangements will become the norm in some industries.

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Do you have any advice for people looking to make the transition to digital nomad life?

Think about what you’re trying to optimize for and how different aspects of remote work do or don’t suit your lifestyle. If you’re relocating, research potential destinations before making the move. In order to be effective at your job and maintain good work/life balance, it’s important to be disciplined with your time and to set boundaries.

Most importantly - if remote work is something you want to do - just go for it! Companies are embracing remote work more now than ever. It may take some persistence to find a new role or company, or to negotiate with your current employer (which might be you!). Most decisions aren’t permanent - if it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to what you’re doing now. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but you won’t know until you take that leap.

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To learn more about Croatia for the digital nomad, check out the Total Croatia Digital Nomad guide

To follow the latest news about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section

Are you a digital nomad in Croatia who would like to be featured in this series? Please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Nomad

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Learning Croatian with the Professor of Hvar Dialects: Lesson 1 - The Dalmatian Grunt

November 28, 2020 - Learning Croatian is very easy if you have the right teacher. And it doesn't come any easier than Lesson 1 - the Dalmatian Grunt. 

Just over nine years ago, a few weeks after I started the Total Hvar blog which was the founding digital stone of TCN, I was having a coffee with my good friend, Frank John Dubokovich, at the Total Hvar HQ at Cafe Splendid on the main square of Jelsa on the island of Hvar.  

It was November, the square was quiet, and a long Dalmatian winter was ahead of us, somewhat devoid of entertainment. Frankie had his video camera with him for some reason, and I suggested that we record a Croatian language series over the winter, with him as the Croatian language professor, to alleviate some of the boredom. 

An impromptu idea, which we decided to start that very moment, with no planning whatsoever, and with only one rule - there would only be one recording for each lesson. The pressure was on to get it right first time. What happened next was hilarious. 

The first lesson in the series was called The Dalmatian Grunt. Like every other lesson in the series, it was almost totally unplanned but it became an instant YouTube hit, amassing more than 50,000 views all over the world before YouTube removed my channel a few years ago for reasons I am still trying to ascertain. As the camera started rolling, I had no idea even what I was going to ask, but within seconds, a new Internet star was born - Professor Frank John Dubokovich, Guardian of the Hvar Dialects. 

His perfect rendition of the Dalmatian Grunt brought an army of adoring new followers (mostly female for some reason), and many more were attracted by his fantastic teaching methods which made Croatian look incredibly easy to learn. Check out the iconic first lesson above. 

The Professor's fame spread, and it was not long before famous people were flying halfway across the world for the chance to have a 'kava' with The Professor, including then assistant coach of the Australian football national team, Ante Milicic, who even had The Professor's dulcet tones on his morning wake up call, as Ante explained in the video above. 

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Ante's adoring fan dash across the globe even made the national media, in an age where I was better known as Tom Bradbury... 

As The Professor's fame spread, especially that iconic Dalmatian Grunt, I was fielding media requests for appearances on national television. And then international television came calling, and The Professor agreed to share his colossal linguistic ability with a British TV reality show visiting Croatia, schooling them in the art of the Dalmatian Grunt. As you can see above, they were excellent students. 

 As luck would have it, the original video recording of The Professor's first lesson was not lost once YouTube deleted the channel, and I found it on the original camera earlier this year. It has just been reuploaded to YouTube once more (see above), so that a new generation can appreciate The Professor's linguisitc genius. 

I am looking forward to the comments again. Last time, there were so many from all over the world in the Croatian diaspora. "This is hilarious and just how my Uncle Branko speaks here in Melbourne, even though he left Hvar 60 years ago."

We will be uploading more of the once-deleted videos to our TCN Talks YouTube channel if you want to subscribe for the latest

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Property of the Week: 2-Bed Stone House with Terrace in Jelsa, Hvar

July 23, 2020 - Continuing our look at the real estate opportunities in Dalmatia through the portfolio of Trgostan, this week a delightful 2-bed old stone house in idyllic Jelsa. 

An island stone holiday home is the dream of many, and it was the most sought-after property when I had my real estate business on Hvar some 15 years ago. 

And while I may have given up my real estate career, the sale of authentic stone houses in Croatia continues, including the latest Property of the Week from Trgostan, in Jelsa on the island of Hvar, which Trgostan describe thus:

A three-storey stone house in Jelsa on the island of Hvar, built over 100 years ago, fully reconstructed in 2001, 70m2 internal space, consisting of:

  • ground floor: old "konoba" rearranged into a kitchen with dining area with refreshing atmosphere during summer since it's partly under the ground, but with enough light, bathroom and small terrace;
  • 1st floor: bedroom with two windows, storage area and bathroom;
  • 2nd floor (attic): indoor stairs, spacious room with two windows;
  • The ground floor is connected to the upper two floors by outdoor stairs only. The house doesn't have it's own parking, but a public one is very close to it.

For more information and to book a viewing, visit the original Trgostan listing

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Saturday, 13 June 2020

Are Restaurants Open on Hvar? A Full House at Me and Mrs Jones in Jelsa

June 13, 2020 - Are restaurants open on Hvar? A blissful return to the 'old normal' at Me and Mrs Jones in Jelsa.  

I had a meeting with Deni Ohlsen-Dukic, General Manager of Hvar's only 5-star hotel, Leading Hotels of the World member, Palace Elisabeth hvar heritage hotel in Hvar Town. We had met only briefly at the hotel opening in October and had been meaning to catch up for an extended interview. Deni kindly agreed to come to see me in Jelsa, which immediately gave me a problem; I knew he was a big foodie, so what was actually open to impress him?

Jelsa's fine dining restaurant Artichoke is still not open for the season, so I wandered around the other side of the harbour to see if Me and Mrs Jones might be working. Although the door was closed, I heard voices inside and then saw the welcoming smile of owner Josipa Belic Skarpa. Were they open? If someone wanted to eat, they were open. These must be very strange times for restaurateurs, not knowing if there will be guests or not. I booked a table for four. 

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And then the next few hours (and it was a few) passed by like a dream, a reminder of the carefree summers of a previous life. The waterfront terrace at Me and Mrs Jones looks across the harbour to the old town, and we enjoyed the lone sailboat gliding gracefully into the harbour in the tranquil afternoon sun.  

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And where else to start than with the signature Me and Mrs Jones octopus salad?  

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I was too relaxed to record the main dishes, but a wonderful dessert to finish.  

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The food and the service were outstanding as always, but what captivated us as well was the view, the calm waters of Jelsa harbour.  

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Then it was the turn of the Jelsa rowing club, located at the other side of the harbour, to engage in their daily practice.  

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Restaurant views of European harbours - does it get any better than this?  

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My phone rang. Some foodie friends in Stari Grad. Did I know of any good restaurants on the island which are actually open. 

"Come to Jones in Jelsa."

"Jones is open? Great."

And so they came, as did many others. A full house at Me and Mrs Jones, and a reminder that glimpses of the old normal are possible.  

Jelsa is divine at the moment, as is the whole island. Regarding restaurants open on the island, there are a handful in Jelsa and Stari Grad, and Hvar Town has six currently (including Alviz, Jerolim, Hotel Riva, MIzarola) but many more will open this week.

Learn more about magical Hvar from our Virtual Croatia series

Monday, 4 May 2020

TCN Talks: An Adriatic Walk from Jelsa on Hvar to Discover Vrboska (VIDEO)

May 4, 2020 - Just because we can't physically travel right now, that does not mean we cannot enjoy destinations remotely. TCN Talks, our new vlog takes in the Adriatic on a walk from Jelsa to discover Vrboska on Hvar. 

When I first moved to Croatia back in 2002, I had a very strict routine. I would get up at 06:00 in my home in the old town of Jelsa and then walk all the way to Vrboska, about 40 minutes away. It was - still is - a delightful little walk along the Adriatic, with its pine forests and gorgeous hidden coves. And first thing in the morning, when there is nobody around, it is magical. And the prize at the end of the walk - to discover Vrboska!

I would have a morning coffee in a cafe in 'Little Venice' then walk back home to Jelsa, enjoying that peace, tranquility and view in reverse, and then be fully ready for work at 08:00, fully energised. 

I kinda miss those days... 

I found myself walking along the route again last week, then decided to film a little. People have been enjoying (or at least they claim to) the short videos of Hvar under lockdown that I have been posting on my Facebook page, and do I decided to capture some of the current magic. 

Then, when I reached Vrboska for the first time in a year, I fell in love again once more, and I decided to film parts of this lovely slice of heaven, as well as add some of the knowledge I have acquired about Vrboska over the years and then turn it into the latest installment in our new experimental vlog (I will find my 'voice' soon) - TCN Talks. 

I am VERY open to feedback and suggestions (and yes, I called the church a cathedral by mistake), so please leave any comments under the video. 

To discover Vrboska in more detail, here are 25 things to know about Little Venice.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Property of the Week: 2-Bed Apartment with Sea View in Jelsa, Hvar

May 3, 2020 - While many are struggling financially due to corona, others are buying real estate. The latest Property of the Week comes from Jelsa on Hvar. 

I was chatting to a friend in the real estate business in Montenegro a couple of weeks ago, and I was quite surprised by his response when I offered my commiserations on how his business must be faring.

"On the contrary," he replied, "business is doing surprisingly well."

There was apparently a marked rise in the number of short-term rentals being sought, as people looked for more inviting lockdown options, but also a number of buyers seeing opportunities to get a good deal in the current climate, with several sales concluded by phone. 

So what is on offer in Croatia at the moment? We touched base with Trogostan, the oldest real estate agent in Split, to see what was currently on their books. And we take a virtual ferry ride to the island of Hvar this week for this week's Property of the Week, from where - among other things - you can get a great view of the terrace that is the current TCN HQ.  

EXCLUSIVELY OFFERED BY TRGOSTAN:

A two-bedroom apartment of 55,52 sqm, located in the newer object 2nd row from the sea, in a great location - few steps from the beach and all amenities, on the 1st floor, consisted of two bedrooms, kitchen with dining/living area, bathroom and two balconies with a sea view, parking spot of 15 sqm next to the building, fully furnished and equipped.

Price - 135,000 euro.

For more information, and to book a viewing, visit the Trgostan website.

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Friday, 24 April 2020

Webcam Stats: Most Attended, Socially Distanced Za Krizen Ever?

April 24, 2020 - The final word on Za Krizen 2020, as the webcam stats show how truly international this year's attendance was - the most popular, most socially distanced Za Krizen of all time?

The final chapter in TCN's extensive coverage of the 2020 Za Krizen religious procession on Hvar - the attendance report, with some clues from the webcam stats of two cameras installed for the procession. 

In 1943, this 500-year-old UNESCO procession almost did not take place due to the wartime occupation of the Italian fascists. In 1944, it took place in a refugee camp in the Sinai Desert in Egypt. The biggest threat to the continuity of a procession which is almost part of the genetic makeup of the people of Hvar came in 2020, however - coronavirus. 

As already covered on TCN (check out the Za Krizen reports here), permission for the procession to go ahead was given for just 15 people per procession, a far cry from the hundreds if not thousands who traditionally follow each of the six Maundy Thursday processions through the night in Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska. 

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And the Hvar police made sure that the procession would go ahead with strict controls. As one of the few people fortunate enough to get a permit to cover the event, I tried to capture as much of the evening as possible for others - and my eye-witness account was very different to second-hand reports that appeared elsewhere in the media - you can learn more in Za Krizen 2020, Croatia Not Wuhan & Cabin Fever Perspectives

It was a very strange night, but help was at hand for those who could not attend this year's procession, in the shape of a charismatic Hvar postman and an Austrian sitting at home in Graz. 

TCN regulars will be familiar with Tomislav Zupan, my favourite postman on Hvar, who gave a legendary insight into life as a postman on a Dalmatian island a few years ago. It remains my favourite interview on TCN.

Tomi is blessed with the best terrace in the world to watch events on the main square in Jelsa, and he was very kind to keep the beers cold for the 2Cellos concert a few years ago. No doubt over a cold one, he came up with the idea to put some webcams in on his terrace and in the main Jelsa church for Za Krizen, together with his lifelong friend Jean-Pierre from Austria, who has visited Jelsa every year since 1974 - even during the war - and already operates two webcams in Jelsa.  

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And so it was that at 22:03, the time that Za Krizen was about to start, Tomi and Jean-Pierre's webcam recorded the rather unusual sight of a totally empty main square. 

Except for me. 

So how many people tuned in to Za Krizen 2020? It was announced through various channels, and TCN FB carried it live with a pinned post. The answer is that we don't quite know the full story, but what we can report from the webcam stats from the church as the procession was starting was that there were 7,356 people watching when the server crashed. 

To put that number in context, there are normally between 1,000 and 3,000 people taking part in the Jelsa procession. 

But in the weird year of 2020, with only 15 participants and 4 journalists recording the event, it was attended virtually by a record number of people. 

And the webcam stats show us just how international this year's event was. 

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Here are some stats from the church on the Thursday night from a 3-minute period. 

Quite an international gathering, isn't it?

I asked our webcam heroes if they had a more detailed breakdown of the number in Croatia to give us an idea perhaps how many people from Jelsa had stayed home and were watching via webcam. The breakdown was interesting. 

Zagreb - 2,430

Split - 786

Jelsa - 697

Zadar - 235

Sibenik - 232

Hvar - 124

Rijeka - 123

Other - 284

It should be remembered that these stats were for a 3-minute period in the church on Thursday night. 

By Friday morning, the main square webcam had recorded more than 46,000 visits. 

And here, if you missed it, was the dramatic ending. 

Tomi, Jean-Pierre, MANY thanks for your great efforts. It meant a lot for so many people all over the world, and you truly delivered the most attended, most socially distanced Za Krizen procession in its 500-year history. 

To learn more about Za Krizen, check out the dedicated TCN section dating all the way back to 2011.  

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Expats in Isolation Top 10 Croatia Experiences: Paul Bradbury from Manchester in Jelsa

April 15, 2020 - As people look for escape from the mental stress brought on by the corona crisis, a new series on TCN with local expats in isolation, looking back at their top 10 Croatia experiences so far. Nex up, TCN owner Paul Bradbury from Manchester in Jelsa. 

I have had a LOT of emails and messages asking if TCN could write about something happier than the constant corona updates. I hear your pain, but with so much (sadly bad) news to report and limited resources due to the crisis, this is not so easy. But then I thought of a nice series which might perhaps pique people's interests, focus on the happy stuff, and even unearth some hidden gems to explore at a later date. 

Having done a very successful series with over 30 submissions from expats around the world on their self-isolation experiences in Croatia compared to what is happening in their home country, and then following that with a series on Croats in the diaspora with their corona viewpoint of their country of residence compared to the Homeland, perhaps a happier and more interesting series would be to look at expats here today and their top 10 experiences in Croatia so far. 

We started in Split with Ionut Copiou from Romania

Next up, me. I almost forgot to contribute to the self-isolation series, so I will write now while I have the time. It was a pleasant journey through 18 years of memories in this magnificent country, and narrowing it down to my top 10 Croatia experiences was not easy, but here they are.

If would like to contribute to this series, contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Top 10. 

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Za Krizen (Behind the Cross) Holy Week Procession in Jelsa on Hvar.

Of all the places I have visited and lived in, I don't think I have ever come across a tradition which is such an integrated part of a community as Za Krizen in Jelsa. The annual procession, which has taken place for over 500 years each Maundy Thursday at 22:00 through the night until 07:00 is a unique and magical experience which I have been fortunate enough to observe for many years now. The procession aside, the whole atmosphere in Jelsa over Easter is one of joy, as the island awakes from its winter slumber, and extended families return to celebrate the religiously important Easter weekend. 

This year's za Krizen was very different, of course, due to the corona crisis, and it was a VERY strange feeling after all these years to find myself the only person on the main square as the procession began.  You can learn more about my first-hand account of this year's procession here, as well as checking out past Za Krizen processions in this dedicated TCN section. The video above shows the final moments of Za Krizen 2020 in Jelsa. 

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Sveti Vlaho (the Feast of St Blaise) in Dubrovnik

When is the best time to visit Dubrovnik? I have been at various times over the years, but nothing came close to the first week of February and the Feast of St Blaise (Sv Vlaho), the much-loved patron saint of the city. Similar to Za Krizen, it is a time when the wider local community comes together in family celebration, the locals reclaim the city from tourists, and with most restaurants closed and their awnings, tables and chairs in storage, the old town is stripped back to its bare stone. Throw in the wonderful traditions of Sveti Vlaho, and you have all the ingredients for an unforgettable experience. Here was mine in February 2017

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The opening party of Rijeka 2020

From traditional gatherings to cultural celebrations of the present day. While corona has decimated the cultural programme of Rijeka 2020 as the European Capital of Culture, the opening party of February 2, 2020 was an event which had everything. It was a privilege to have press access to the main action, as well as my local British expat Martin, who kept me going until 6 am, when I then ended up sleeping in the car, something I have not done for years. You can get more of a flavour of the opening night of Rijeka 2020 in this in-depth TCN feature story.  

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(Karin Mimica in among with vines with Slovenian travel legend, Drago Bulc)

ANY excursion organised by Karin Mimica from Gastronaut

If I had to name one person who had introduced me to the lesser-known parts of Croatia in the best possible manner, there would be only one name that came even close - the fabulous Karin Mimica from Gastronaut. There is not a quality restaurateur or winemaker in the country who Karin does not know personally, and her Gastronaut foodie tours for journalists, restaurateurs, winemakers and gourmet lovers are superbly organised, extremely content-rich, executed with precision, and always featuring the very best of the best of the destination. I first went a Gastronaut tour on my own island of Hvar several years ago. Since then, I have been part of the Gastronaut team which has discovered Murter, Krk (twice), Pag, Medjimurje, Ozalj, Koprivnica, Djurdjevac, to name but a few. You can visit a few of those past trips here, and connect with Karin via her Gastronaut page.  

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Festa Days on the uninhabited Kornati island of Zut

Imagine opening a restaurant in the middle of a war on an uninhabited island with no water, electricity or ferry connection. Come back 25 years to witness a Silver Jubilee of that restaurant with five of Croatia's top chefs and five international Michelin Star chefs. 

The incredible story of Restaurant Festa and Festa Days on Zut. It was a privilege to be there.  

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Vukovar Remembrance Day Parade and a Weekend in Slavonia

For many years, the subject of Vukovar was a taboo one for me as a foreigner. A very raw, open wound on the Croatian psyche. But the longer I lived here, and the more I began to understand about Croatia, the more I realised that the annual remembrance day was dominated by politics, and there was actually very little information about what happens during the actual parade, especially in English. I decided to go and take part. It was a very powerful and emotional day, but also one which helped me to understand Croatia much better.  

The Vukovar visit was one of several to eastern Croatia last year. A wonderful, wonderful region, with so much to see and do. It was also the location for perhaps our best family weekend away. This is how much family fun you can pack into one weekend in Slavonia in late-October.

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Winning the Marco Polo 2014 FIJET Award at the Association of Croatian Journalists

The last time I won anything prior to December, 2014 was back in 1978 when I won the Under-9 category in the regional chess championships in the county of Surrey in the UK. 

And so it was a huge surprise and honour to win the 2014 FIJET Marco Polo Award at the National Society of Journalists for the best international promotion of Croatia. Thank you, colleagues! 

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The island of Brac beyond Zlatni Rat - Dragon's Cave, Puscica Stonemason School, Olive Oil Museum in Skrip

Living on an island as gorgeous as Hvar, why would you go anywhere else? And I didn't. For years. 

Even though Brac was only 25 minutes away by catamaran, I never really felt the need to go. And then I went. WOW. 

Forget Zlatni Rat beach, Brac has some incredible stuff. Three not to miss which I managed to catch in one weekend are the unbelievable Dragon's Cave (visited by just 1,000 people a year), the incredible stonemason school in Puscica, and the unbelievably authentic olive oil in Skrip. And this is just scratching the surface of the unique treasures of Brac.  

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Lazy afternoons on the Lesic Dimitri Palace terrace with Michael

But if I was to be marooned for eternity in one location in Croatia, it would undoubtedly be on the terrace of one of my favourite places in the world - the waterfront terrace of luxury boutique hotel, Lesic Dimitri Palace, sipping on a glass of something fine and listening to the yarns of owner Michael Unsworth, the gentle Maestral breeze bringing a constant relief from the summer heat. One of the great discoveries of my life a few years ago, and part of the inspiration for Exquisite Korcula, Blueprint for Quality Croatian Tourism as It Should Be

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The Office

There are so many places to include, but it would be remiss of me not to include the birthplace of Total Hvar, and the rock of the whole TCN project for many years. The Office, aka Caffe Splendid on the main square in Jelsa.

"That's where Daddy lives, when he is not home with us," my 3-year-old daughter informed my punica as they walked past one day. Captain Nijazi, I salute you. 

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The Bench and the old library in Jelsa

And as a bonus, of course, the best view in the world - or at least it was until it was evicted - the famous Jelsa Bench. And in the building behind, the former library, where 18 years ago I entered to find an assistant librarian with eyes the colour of the Adriatic. The rest, they say, is history. 

My top 10 Croatia experiences among many top experiences. Here are 30 more from last year alone

Are you an expat in Croatia with a little time on your hands and some fabulous memories and experiences to share? If you would like to participate in this series, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Top 10.

To see the other stories in this series, as well as expat self-isolation stories compared to their home countries, and corona voices in the diaspora, visit the dedicated section

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Stunning Drone Footage as Jelsa Za Krizen Procession Concludes on Hvar

April 12, 2020 - A spectacular aerial view of the final moments of Za Krizen 2020 in Jelsa on the island of Hvar.

It has been quite an Easter weekend here in Jelsa with all the controversy of the Za Krizen procession taking place in the corona era. 

Lots of opinions on both sides as to whether or not the procession - which has taken place every year for 500 years - should go ahead in the current situation. 

Permission was given at Prime Ministerial level, and each of the six processions in Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska were restricted to 15 people, plus five additional singers, rather than the hundreds or thousands in normal years. 

Due to the travel restrictions, not only were there no pilgrims, but also very few journalists. As I found myself as one of only four of them, I felt an obligation to take as much footage as I could, which was a good decision in retrospect, as what I physically saw on the ground was MUCH different to what was reported in the Croatian media second-hand. You can read the photo and video report of how the procession was controlled by the Hvar police and local authorities here. (There is also a Croatian language version, as well as a report on the actual processions through the night, and finally an edited tribute to each of the six cross bearers). 

MyHvar was also out, which resulted in this beautiful aerial view of Jelsa at 06:00 on Good Friday morning, as the Jelsa procession returned home after a long night. 

What is interesting to notice for those who outraged at the supposed mass social distancing violations (yes, there were some, but I looked at this topic at length in the photo and video report on the link above), not only was nobody following the procession (there were a couple of thousand people last year), but note how far apart the local people are on the left as the procession goes by, as well as how empty the main square was. A really good video which will be appreciated by many. 

And enjoy the video, beautifully shot. Ironically, while this year's Za Krizen procession was attended by so few, technology in the form of the webcams from the church and the pjaca, the videos I uploaded through the night and the more polished ones edited by Miranda Milicic Bradbury the following day (see Jelsa arrival and subsequent departure to St John's Square in her video below) ensured that perhaps more people than ever took place in this iconic procession. 

To learn more about the Za Krizen procession, check out the dedicated link

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