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.  


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.  


(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.  


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

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Jelsa Za Krizen, Hrvatska Nije Wuhan i Osjecaj Kabinske Groznice

11. travanj 2020. - Odluka da se dopusti održavanje procesije Za Križen u Jelsi izazvala je mnoštvo rasprave. Detaljan izvještaj jedinog stranca koji je prisustvovao cijelom događaju na Hvaru.


Ovo je članak koji zaista ne želim pisati, jer znam da će rezultirati dodatnim napadima i zlostavljanju s nekih strana, bez obzira što napisao, zbog povišenih emocija i osjećaja o ovoj temi. Ali, odlučio sam se ipak napisati ga, jer osjećam da imam moralnu obvezu to učiniti.  

Moralnu obvezu iz dva razloga. Prije svega prema stanovnicima Hvara, koji ove godine nisu mogli sudjelovati u petstogodišnjoj tradiciji koju štiti UNESCO, a koja je gotovo dio njihovog DNA - slučajan razvoj događaja doveo je do toga da sam bio jedan od šačice (manje od deset) ljudi bez službene pozicije koji je dobio priliku prisustvovati cijelom događaju i svih šest procesija. Osjećam obvezu podijeliti što više informacija, uključujući i videosnimke i fotografije. Ovdje već možete vidjeti prvi opširan izvještaj (na engleskom jeziku), kao i uređenu video posvetu svakome od šest nositelja križa ovdje


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TCN-ovo izvještavanje o procesiji Za Križen 2020 u Jelsi (a koje je pokrilo i preostalih pet procesija iz Vrboske, Vrbnja, Svirča, Vrisnika i Pitvi) do sada je prenešeno na portalima, Laudato TV, 24 Sata, Index, Tportal, Dalmacija Danas, Telegram, Dalmacija News, Šibenik In,,, a pojavilo se i u nacionalnim večernjim vijestima na RTL Danas. Laudato TV čak me nazvao Ircem, a tako su postali prvi portal koji je prihvatio moju post-Brexit stvarnost. 

Intenzivan interes medija za naš rad imao je manje veze s kvalitetom onoga što smo proizveli, a puno više, naravno, s činjenicom da sam zbog trenutačnih ograničenja kretanja bio jedan od malog broja novinara u zemlji koji su mogli prisustvovati događaju. 

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Bila je ovo po tom pitanju čudna godina za TCN, budući da smo kolega i ja bili jedini stranci na inauguraciji Predsjednika Milanovića prije par mjeseci. Više o dojmovima stranca s hrvatske predsjedničke inauguracije pročitajte ovdje

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A onda, još čudniji osjećaj: početak procesije Za Križen u Jelsi u četvrtak. Ne samo da sam bio jedini stranac na glavnom trgu, nego sam bio i jedina osoba. 

Meni se čini da postoje tri aspekta ove odluke koji su raspirili emocije. 

1) Društveno distanciranje

2) Ljutnja što su mnogi drugi događaji otkazani, a ljudi zatvoreni u svoje kuće, a istovremeno je procesija Za Križen dopuštena.

3) Kako se približava Uskrs, važno vrijeme za obitelji u Hrvatskoj, dopuštanje odvijanja ove procesije može poslati pogrešnu poruku. 

Neću se doticati posljednjih dviju točaka, jer moje mišljenje nije bitno, a i davno sam naučio da uskakivanje u polarizirane debate dovodi do otklizavanja u rasprave o ustašama i partizanima u par minuta. Ali, imam mnogo toga reći o prvoj temi, kao i dodati nešto vrijednosti u raspravu, budući da sam imao pristup cijeloj procesiji.  

Prije nego što krenem, mislim da je bitno napomenuti da ljudi imaju različita iskustva i perspektive, ovisno o tome koliko im je kretanje ograničeno i nalaze li se s nekim, i s kim točno, u izolaciji. I iako ne mogu zamisliti kako je biti zatvoren u Zagrebu s koronom vani a potresima unutra, brinem se i za prijatelja koji je na idiličnom karipskom otoku koji je upravo zabilježio prvu smrt od Covida-19. Nema nikakve šanse naći se na letu s otoka, a otok ima 10 bolničkih kreveta i 2 respiratora. Posve drukčiji zatvor, ako ga usporedimo sa Zagrebom, a možda čak i još više zastrašujući, bez obzira na sunce i mogućnost odlaska na plažu. 

Nijedno mjesto nije savršeno za biti dok sve ovo prođe i posve prihvaćam da su okolnosti u sunčanoj Jelsi mnogo bolje nego na mnogim drugim mjestima. Da smo ostali u našoj kući u Varaždinu, vjerujem da bismo se poubijali, a iako su zdravstveni resursi na otoku ograničeni, Split nije daleko a hrvatske hitne službe rade fantastičan posao iako su već desetljećima slabo financirane. 

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Dio naslova je da Hrvatska nije Wuhan. Postoji razlog za to, iako sam svjestan da će neki to vidjeti kao obični clickbait. Želim dodati jedan pasus o clickbaitu u ovu raspravu prije nego što nastavim, jer je to važan aspekt ove debate. Sada prolazimo kroz eru vrhunca clickbaita, a neki medijski članci o ovoj procesiji dobrano su se tome prepustili. 

Iako ne osuđujem portale koji provode politiku clickbaita (više o tome zašto malo kasnije), to je nešto čemu se urednički snažno protivim na TCN-u. Iako ne možemo to uvijek postizati, budući da imamo mnoštvo suradnika i opuštenu politiku objavljivanja, kvaliteta nam je značajno važnija od brze gotovine koju mogu pružiti klikovi vođeni histerijom. Po mom mišljenju, kratkotrajni financijski dobitak s druge bi strane doveo do gubitka kvalitetnih čitatelja, koji bi ispravno zaključili da smo clickbait stranica. 

Zašto onda ne osuđujem druge portale? Prihod od Adsensea je ključan prihod za medijske portale ovih dana, a prihod od Adsensea stvaraju klikovi. Što imate više klikova, to više zarađujete. Što imate više clickbait članaka, to imate više klikova i više novca. Trenutačna financijska situacija na TCN-u je takva da nam je doslovno svaki klijent zamrznuo suradnju - tijekom posljednjih tri mjeseca. Bolno ali razumljivo. I u međuvremenu nam se jedan klijent vratio i novi nam se klijent priključio jučer, ali to znači da je punih mjesec dana JEDINI izvor prihoda za TCN bio prihod od Adsensea. Dakle, da bih nahranio svoju djecu, u interesu mi je bilo privući klikove na našu stranicu. Pa je pitanje bilo, raditi kompromise po pitanju kvalitete ili zamoliti djecu da nešto manje jedu? To je dio rasprave o clickbaitima koji se rijetko spominje. 

Žao mi je, djeco, odlučio sam se za kvalitetu ALI dobra vijest je da se klijenti vraćaju i dolaze nam i novi, pa ćemo uskoro moći ponovo dobro jesti. I, da, šalim se o tome imaju li mi djeca što jesti - kada imate privilegiju pristupa kvalitetnih proizvoda svoga punca i legendarne Konobe Zorica koju vodi vaša punica, nitko neće umrijeti od gladi. 

Oprostite mi na dugom uvodu, ali mislim da je bio bitan kako biste shvatili ovu kompleksnu situaciju. 

Pa počnimo. Pa zašto Hrvatska (niti bilo koje drugo mjesto na svijetu) nije Wuhan? Pogledajte na grafiku koja pokazuje razinu restrikcija u nekim evropskim zemljama. Dok je Wuhan imao potpuni "lockdown", u svim ovim zemljama, uključujući i Hrvatsku, on je bio samo djelomičan.

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Ovo je Split krajem prošlog mjeseca, gdje su domaći ljudi uživali u tradicionalnoj igri picigina na proljetnome suncu. Zadržavali su prikladnu društvenu distancu, a i pravila igre čini se da ne dopuštaju da igrači budu unutar metra jedan od drugoga. Prenošenje virusa na lopti posve je drugi aspekt ove igre.  Ali, ovo je i izvrstan vizualni primjer onoga što se trenutačno događa u Hrvatskoj. Većina, ali ne i svi, se pridržavaju pravila i održavaju prikladan razmak. Pitao sam profesora Igora Rudana, jednog od vodećih globalnih eksperata za pitanja pandemije koje je njegovo mišljenje o toj fotografiji u članku Jurgen Klopp and Igor Rudan: the Only COVID-19 Opinions You Need. Njegov odgovor u jednoj rečenici bio je:

Mogu samo reći da, ako napustite svoj dom, niste više posve sigurni, jer i dalje ne znamo kako se ovaj virus tako lako širi. Dok to ne saznamo, ja bih radije ostao doma.

Njegovu mnogo dužu i iznimno informativnu analizu možete pronaći na engleskom jeziku ovdje: How to Maintain Good Results and Exit Quarantine as Soon as Possible.


Je li tijekom procesije Za Križen bilo kršenja pravila društvenog distanciranja? Da.

Jesu li ta kršenja bila gora od trenutačne situacije diljem Hrvatske? GLASNO NE, DAPAČE, MISLIM DA JE STANJE BILO MNOGO, MNOGO BOLJE

Dajte mi kameru i pristup bilo kojem gradu u Hrvatskoj sa zadatkom da pokažem šokantna kršenja pravila društvenog distanciranja, i napravit ću vam svaki dan novi clickbait članak pa će me na kraju djeca moliti da im prestanem kupovati toliko čokolade. I ono što bih uspio uhvatiti možda će biti istina, ali neće biti reprezentativno za cijelu zemlju. 

Ili, recimo to na drugi način. Koliko ste često, ako ikad, prošetali susjedstvom u kojem živite u Hrvatskoj i primijetili da se 100% vaših susjeda pridržava propisanih pravila?

Nisam očekivao da će tijekom procesije Za Križen biti besprijekorno društveno distanciranje, ali mislim da to ni nitko drugi nije očekivao. Veliko je pitanje - barem se meni tako činilo - bilo koliko će se ostvariti bliskoga kontakta i koliko će ljudi kršiti pravila. I OVO je meni bila priča te večeri i razlog zašto moje poštovanje prema ljudima s Hvara nikad nije bilo veće. 

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Trenutačno u Jelsi ne smijemo napuštati svoju općinu, ali smijemo otići u šetnju, ako se držimo pravila o prikladnoj udaljenosti. Ovo znači da si svaki dan smijem priuštiti 30 minuta uz Jadran, što me održava koliko-toliko normalnim. Ali to također znači da su ljudi iz Jelse mogli legalno izaći na ulice i na neki način sudjelovati u procesiji. To bi neminovno dovelo do mnogo više kontakata i kršenja pravila, da se dogodilo. A budući da je Za Križen TOLIKO važan dio lokalnog genetskog koda, to se moglo očekivati. Pa što se zaista dogodilo, i kako su vlasti kontrolirale stvari?  Evo mog iskustva iz i oko Jelse, najvećeg naselja od šest koji sudjeluju u procesiji. Bio sam vani cijelu noć i imao priliku prisustvovati većini onoga što se dogodilo.  

Prvi pozitivan znak (a i iznenađenje) dogodilo se na vrhu stepenica (pogledajte fotografiju iznad) kojima se spuštam do rive. Stepenice je svojim autom blokirao Ivo Tomić, moj stomatolog, koji je ispunjavao svoju ulogu svjesnog građanina ograničavajući kretanje. Ivo je unaprijed znao da ja imam dozvolu sa sigurne udaljenosti prisustvovati procesiji, te mi je samo mahnuo da prođem. 

Trebao bih objasniti i ovo s dozvolom. Nazvao sam voditelja lokalnog Stožera, Igora, da mu kažem da planiram šetati se oko procesije, prema pravilima, ali da sam htio s njim provjeriti je li to u redu, s obzirom na osjetljivo vrijeme u kojem živimo. Igor me uputio da se javim Juri Tadiću, šefu policije Hvara, koji je to dopustio, ali i predložio da to potvrdi i načelnik općine Jelsa, Nikša Peronja. Načelnik Peronja potvrdio je to mailom. 

I onda me nekoliko sati prije procesije nazvao policijski šef Tadić. Protrnuo sam. Jedina misao kad sam vidio da me on zove bila je da mora da mi javlja da ipak moram ostati doma. No, upravo suprotno, zvao je pitati me gdje točno planiram biti i rekao mi je da se, ako budem imao bilo kakvih problema, slobodno njemu direktno javim. Hvala vam, gospodine, cijenim to. 

A onda dalje na glavni trg, gdje je glavna akcija uskoro trebala početi...

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Nije bilo moguće doći na trg ako niste imali dozvolu. Meni su samo mahnuli da prođem.

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Svaki ulazak bio je blokiran. 

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Moj pogled na trg u 22 sata, kada je procesija trebala krenuti. 

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Glavna crkva u Jelsi inače je prepuna hodočasnika koji gledaju a kasnije slijede početak procesije. Ne ovoga četvrtka. 

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I ta se kontrola nastavila kroz cijelu noć. 00:30, dok smo čekali na procesiju iz Vrbnja. 

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Šef policije Hvara Jure Tadić savršeno je vodio operaciju cijelu noć. 

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Ali, glavno iznenađenje bilo mi je to koliko je malo ljudi uopće bilo na ulicama. Neki su odabrali svoje mjesto na ruti procesije i kako se procesija kretala po ulici koja vodi iz grada, bilo ih je možda dvanaestak, međusobno udaljenih više metara. Kako je procesija prolazila, tako su se niz lice jedne domaće žene slijevale suze. Da sam ja clickbait novinar, to bi bila glavna fotografija uz ovogodišnju procesiju. Nisam pitao radi li se o suzama radosnicama što se procesija ipak odvija, suzama frustracije što ne može sudjelovati, ili suzama zbog cjelokupne situacije u kojoj se nalazimo. Kako god bilo, meni je iskristaliziralo što točno procesija Za Križen znači ljudima Jelse, Pitvi, Vrisnika, Svirča, Vrbnja i Vrboske.

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A onda je bilo očito da se ne može proći pokraj policije na kopnu...  

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... ili na moru.  

Ali što će se dogoditi kad se procesija vrati u Jelsu ujutro? Sigurno će se tad ljudi okupiti? Da biste dobili osjećaj, evo kako je završila procesija Za Križen u Jelsi 2019. godine. 

Meni je to najsretnije doba godine u Jelsi, jer su energija i veselje u kafićima koje se pruža hodočasnicima nakon njihovog 9-satnog iskustva tijekom noći nešto zaista čarobno.  


Dođimo brzo do 2020., kada prikladno međusobno udaljeni Jelsani očekuju povratak njihove procesije. Bio sam potpuno šokiran. I potpuno ponosan.  

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Čekali su samo Don Stanko i šačica drugih ljudi.

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Još jedna od snažnih fotografija procesije 2020. 

Možete vidjeti dolazak križa u ovoj video-montaži koju je priredila Miranda Miličić Bradbury, a koja uključuje neke fantastične snimke prolaska procesije prema crkvi Sv. Ivana. Ovo je neprikosnoveni vrhunac te noći.  

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I najgore kršenje pravila međusobne udaljenosti tijekom cijele procesije, ali i dalje nešto što se događa u svakom uglu Hrvatske. Iz perspektive društvene distance, Za Križen nije bila ništa gora - a vjerojatno i nešto bolja - od onoga što se trenutačno događa diljem Hrvatske.  Druge dvije teme debate koje sam gore spomenuo svaka su zasebna rasprava, ali po mom mišljenju, nema ni jednog razloga da se u Hrvatskoj uopće debatira o kršenju društvene distance tijekom procesije Za Križen. Bi li bilo bolje da se Za Križen ove godine nije dogodila, jednako kao što su otkazani mnogi drugi događaji u Hrvatskoj tijekom kojih dolazi do ozbiljnih kršenja pravila?  Uz naklon bih se složio s profesorom Rudanom i rekao da da. 

Ali, Hrvatska nije Wuhan i to je odluka koju su donijele hrvatske vlasti, jednako kao i neki ljudi u Hrvatskoj, koji osobno čine postupke koji dovode do kršenja pravila društvene distance. 


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Moja se priča završava. Trg Sv. Ivana. 

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Glavni trg u Jelsi, pet minuta nakon dolaska procesije.  

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I pogled s rive.  

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Samo jedan ranojutarnji razgovor, uz prikladan razmak, koji prekida tišinu.  

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Mir i tišina praznog ranog jutra, koje sam naučio cijeniti tijekom svog boravka ovdje.  


I posljednja fotografija posljednjeg policijskog postupanja u ovoj izvanredno provedenoj operaciji: dezinficiranje svoga plovila. 

Moja zahvala i poštovanje svima onima koji su ostvarili da Za Križen 2020 bude uspješna u iznimno zahtjevnim okolnostima. 

Nadam se da će ovaj izvještaj donijeti nešto jasnoće u raspravu, kao i nešto više informacija i fotografija onima kojima je procesija Za Križen draga. 

Možete vidjeti više izvještaja o procesiji Za Križen 2020, uključujući i video snimke prethodnih procesija, na posebnoj stranici TCN je posvetio toj temi


Saturday, 11 April 2020

Jelsa Za Krizen, Croatia Not Wuhan & Cabin Fever Perspectives

April 11, 2020 - The decision to allow the Jelsa Za Krizen procession to proceed has caused plenty of debate. A detailed account from the only foreigner to witness the whole event on Hvar. 


This is an article I really do not want to write, since I know it will lead to more attacks and abuse from some quarters, no matter what I write, due to the high emotions and feelings about the subject. But I have decided to write it because I feel I have a moral obligation to do so. 

A moral obligation for two reasons. Firstly to the people of Hvar, who were unable to take part in this 500-year-old UNESCO tradition which is almost part of their DNA - a chance turn of events meant that I was only a handful (less than ten) of people outside officialdom who got to witness the whole event and all six processions. I feel a duty to share as much information, including videos and photos as I can. You can already see the first comprehensive report here, as well as an edited video tribute to each of the six cross bearers here

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TCN's coverage and videos of the Jelsa Za Krizen 2020 (which also covered the other five processions from Vrboska, Vrbanj, Svirce, Vrisnik and Pitve) has already been featured in, Laudato TV, 24 Sata, Index, Tportal, Dalmacija Danas, Telegram, Dalmacija News, Sibenik In,,, as well as appearing on the national evening news on RTL Danas. Laudato TV even referred to me as Irish, the first portal to note my post-Brexit reality. 

This intense media interest in our work had less to do with the quality of what we produced and more, of course, with the fact the current travel restrictions meant that I was one of the only journalists in the country who could attend the event. 

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It has certainly been a strange year for TCN in that regard, as my colleague and I were the only foreigners at the inauguration of President Milanovic a couple of months ago. You can read more about a foreign perspective on a Croatian presidential inauguration here

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And then, an even stranger feeling. at the start of the Jelsa Za Krizen procession on Thursday. Not only the only foreigner on the main square but also the only person. 

As far as I can see, there are three aspects of the decision which have flared emotions. 

1) Social distancing.

2) Anger that while other events are cancelled and people are confined to homes, Za Krizen went ahead.

3) With Easter approaching, such an important family time for Croatians, allowing the procession to proceed sent out the wrong message. 

I am not going to touch the last two topics, since my opinion does not matter, and I learned a long ago about jumping into polarised debates that will descend to Ustasa v Partizani in minutes. But I do have a lot to say on the first topic, as well as value to add to the discussion due to my close access to the entire procession.  

Before I do so, I think it is also important to mention that everyone is having a different experience and perspective based on how confined they are and who they are (or are not) locked down with. While I can't imagine what I must be like caged in Zagreb with corona on the outside and earthquakes on the inside, I worry too about a friend on an idyllic Caribbean island which just registered its first corona death. With no chance of flights out, the island only had 10 hospital beds and two respirators. A different kind of prison compared to Zagreb, and perhaps even more terrifying despite the sun and access to the beach. 

No place is perfect to sit this one out, and I fully acknowledge that my circumstances in sunny Jelsa are much better than many others. Had we stayed in the house in Varazdin, we would have ended up killing each other for sure, and while health facilities on the island are limited, Split is not far away, and Croatia's emergency services do an outstanding job despite decades of underfunding. 

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Part of the title is 'Croatia not Wuhan.' There is a reason for that, although I am aware that some may see this as clickbait. I want to add a paragraph on clickbait to the discussion before I proceed because it is an important aspect of the debate. There has never been a greater era of clickbait than today, and some media articles on this procession have indulged in that. 

While I do not judge portals which do engage in a policy of clickbait (more on why in a minute), it is something I strongly oppose on TCN editorially. Although we don't always achieve it, given the number of contributors we have and the relaxed publishing policy, quality is of much more importance than quick cash from hysteria-driven clicks. In my opinion, the short-term financial gain would be offset by the loss of quality readers who would rightly conclude that we were a clickbait site. 

So why don't I judge other portals? Adsense revenue is an essential revenue stream for media portals these days, and Adsense revenue is generated by clicks. The more clicks, the more cash you make. The more clickbaity articles, the more clicks, the more cash. TCN's current financial status is that every single client we had put our cooperation on hold, every single one - over a period of three days last month. Painful but understandable. While one has now come back and we picked up a new client yesterday, this has meant that for a month, the ONLY revenue stream for TCN has been Adsense revenue. So in order to feed my kids, it is in my interest to attract clicks to the site. So do I compromise on quality, or ask the kids to eat less? That is a part of the clickbait debate that rarely gets discussed. 

Sorry kids, I went for quality BUT the good news is that clients are coming back and new ones committing, so we will be able to eat well again real soon. And yes, I am joking about not having food for the kids - when you have access to the quality produce of your punac and the legendary Konoba Zorica run by your punica, nobody will starve. 

Sorry for the long intro, but I think it is necessary to have a better understanding of this complex situation. 

Let's begin. So why is Croatia (or anywhere else in the world) not Wuhan? Look at the chart above on the level of restrictions in some European countries. While Wuhan had total lockdown, these countries and Croatia have partial lockdown. 

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This is Split late last month, where locals were enjoying a traditional game called picigin in the Spring sunshine. They were appropriately socially distanced, and the rules of the game apparently mean you can not be within one metre of another player. Passing the virus on via the ball is another aspect to the game, however. But this is also a great visual example of what is currently happening in Croatia. MOST but not ALL are adhering to the rules and appropriate distancing. I asked Professor Igor Rudan, one of the leading global experts on pandemics what was his opinion of the above photo in Jurgen Klopp and Igor Rudan: the Only COVID-19 Opinions You Need. His one-line answer was:

I can only say that, if you leave home, you are no longer safe, because we still have no idea how this virus can spread so easily. Until we do, I would rather stay in.

His much longer, and highly informative analysis can be found in How to Maintain Good Results and Exit Quarantine as Soon as Possible.


Were there social distancing violations at Za Krizen? Yes

Were they worse than the current situation all over Croatia? An EMPHATIC NO, INDEED MUCH, MUCH BETTER

Give me a camera and access to any city in Croatia with a brief to show the shocking abuse of social distancing rules, and I will have a daily clickbait article which will have my kids begging me to stop buying them so much chocolate. While what I capture might be true, it would not be representative. 

Or let's put is another way. How often, if ever, have you been out in the neighbourhood where you live in Croatia and seen 100% adherence to the social distancing rules?

I never expected Za Krizen to have total social distancing, and I don't think anyone else did. The big question - to me at least - was how much close contact there would be, and how many people would violate. And THIS to me was the story of the night and the reason why my respect for the people of Hvar has never been higher. 

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Currently in Jelsa, we are not allowed to leave the area, but we are free to go for a walk, if we are appropriately socially distanced. This means that I can get my 30 minutes a day by the Adriatic which is keeping me sane. But it also meant that all the locals could legally come out and take part in the procession in some way. That would necessarily lead to a lot more contact and violations if it were to happen. And with Za Krizen SUCH an important part of the local genetic makeup, it was to be expected. So what actually happened, and how did the authorities control things? Here is my experience in and around Jelsa, the biggest of the six settlements. I was out all night so had the chance to observe the most.  

The first reassurance (and surprise) came at the top of the steps (see above) I use to go to the riva. It was blocked by the car of my dentist, Ivo Tomic, who was doing his bit as a good citizen to limit movement. Ivo had been informed that I had been given permission to attend the procession from distance and waved me through. 

I should mention at this point about the permission. I called the head of the local Stozer, Igor, to say that I planned to wander around, as per the rules, but just wanted to check if that was ok, as I knew it was a sensitive time. Igor referred me to check with Jure Tadic, the Hvar Police Chief, who gave his blessing but suggested I get confirmation from Jelsa Mayor, Niksa Peronja. Mayor Peronja confirmed by email. 

And then a few hours before the procession Police Chief Tadic called me. My heart sank. The only reason for the call must be to tell me to stay home, I thought as his number flashed up. But quite the contrary, he wanted to know exactly where I planned to be, and to let me know that if I had any problems, to call him directly. Thank you, Sir, that was much appreciated. 

And so to the main square, where the main action would soon begin...

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No chance to get to the square unless you had permission. I was waved through.

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Every entrance was blocked. 

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My view of the square at 22:00, when the procession was due to start. 

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The main church in Jelsa is normally packed with pilgrims watching, and then following, the start of the procession. Not on Thursday. 

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And that control continued through the night. 00:30 as we waited for the Vrbanj procession. 

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Hvar Police Chief Jure Tadic ran a perfect operation all night. 

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But the main surprise was how few people there were on the streets at all. Some had chosen their own spot along the route, and as the procession went along the road out of the town, there were perhaps a dozen, each several metres apart. As the procession passed, tears poured out of one local woman. Had I been that clickbait journalist, it would have been the photo of the procession. I did not enquire if they were tears of joy at seeing the procession happen, frustration at not being able to take part, or tears for the current situation. Whichever, this crystallised for me just what Za Krizen means for the people of Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska. 

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And there was going to be no getting past the police on land...  

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... or by sea.  

But what would happen when the Jelsa procession came back in the morning? Surely the crowds would gather then? To give some perspective, this is how Jelsa Za Krizen 2019 finished. 

The most joyful time of the year in Jelsa for me, and the energy and joy in the cafes afterwards among the pilgrims after their 9-hour experience through the night is truly magical.  


Fast forward to 2020, and the socially distanced Jelsani awaiting the return of their procession. I was absolutely stunned. And absolutely proud.  

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Don Stanko and just a handful of others awaited.  

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Another powerful photo memory of the 2020 procession. 

You can see the arrival of the cross in this video of my footage which has been edited by Miranda Milicic Bradbury, and includes some quite stunning footage as the procession then proceeded to St John's Church. This was the undoubted highlight of the night.  

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The biggest social distancing violation of the entire procession, but something happening in every corner of Croatia. From a social distancing point of view, Za Krizen was no worse - and actually better - than what is currently happening all over Croatia. The other two points of debate mentioned above are a separate discussion, but there is absolutely no reason in my opinion why Za Krizen social distancing violations are even a discussion in Croatia at the moment. Would it be better if Za Krizen did not happen alongside all the other things going on at the moment in Croatia which are generating more serious violations? I bow to Professor Rudan and say yes. 

But Croatia is not Wuhan, and that is a decision that the Croatian authorities, but also some Croatian people, have taken through their own individual acts of social distancing violation.  

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My story is coming to an end. St John's Square. 

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Jelsa's main square five minutes after the procession had arrived.  

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And a view from the riva.  

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Just one early morning, socially distanced conversation to break the silence.  

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Early morning empty tranquillity that I have come to cherish during my time here.  


And the final photo for the final police action in this outstandingly conducted operation - disinfecting their boat. 

My thanks and respect to all those who made Za Krizen 2020 a success in very challenging circumstances. 

I hope that this account brings more clarity to the discussion, as well as more information and photos for the many who hold Za Krizen so dear. 

You can see more of TCN's Za Krizen coverage, including videos of previous procession, in our dedicated section


Friday, 10 April 2020

Za Krizen 2020: Video Tribute to Each of 6 Hvar Cross Bearers

April 10, 2020 - A Za Krizen 2020 video tribute and their names for the 6 cross bearers carrying the cross for their community on Hvar overnight.  

Jelsa is once more quiet after a night of prayer, emotion and reflection, with the annual UNESCO Za Krizen (Behind the Cross) taking place as it has done each year for more than 500 years, albeit in a drastically different format this year, due to the coronavirus reality. 

As I have been self-isolating in our home in Jelsa and unable to move elsewhere, I found myself being one of the only journalists who was able to cover this year's procession live, which I did from distance through the night. You can see the timeline of how Za Krizen 2020 unfolded in this video and photo report published this morning.

I plan to write a much bigger piece on various details of what was an unforgettable night, as I know how much Za Krizen means to so many people, and how heartbreaking it must have been not to be able to participate, as each procession was reduced to just 15 people, as opposed to the hundreds or thousands that follow the various six processions in an ordinary year. 

Having been up all night reporting, I went to bed about 10 am, but my wife, Miranda Milicic Bradbury, was busy sorting all the footage I had taken. She thought it would be nice to have a video for each cross bearer, and so she set about doing just that. 

What will not be clear to those not familiar with Za Krizen is how Miranda managed to combine the music sung by each village in the Jelsa church (this was available live through a webcam for the first time - 10/10, Jean and Tomi!) and added to the video footage where possible and appropriate. You can see the six videos below, in order that they came to Jelsa, and with the name of each cross bearer in the title of the video. 







To learn more about Za Krizen, follow the dedicated TCN section.  

Friday, 10 April 2020

Za Krizen 2020: All 6 Hvar Processions in Jelsa (VIDEOS)

April 10, 2020 - Za Krizen 2020 took place in very unusual circumstances overnight. TCN was there the whole night. In the first of a series of reports, a timeline with video coverage of each of the six processions.  

16:00 - There has been a lot of controversy about whether or not Za Krizen 2020 should go ahead in the corona era. A little background and overview of the procession route from the TCN terrace in Jelsa, which overlooks five of the six villages taking part in this 500-year-old tradition. 

21:20 - Preparing myself mentally for a lonely all-nighter from the TCN terrace.


22:00 - Jelsa main square at the official start time of Za Krizen 2020. Totally empty. 


22:03 -  Apart from one Irishman. I am extremely grateful to Niksa Peronja, Mayor of Jelsa, Jure Tadic, Hvar Police Chief, and Igor from the Jelsa Civilian Protection Headquarters for allowing me to document certain parts of Za Krizen 2020 at distance. With all the restrictions, on the ground media cover was light - indeed I only saw the fabulous Hvar TV duo, Maja and Jure (reporting for national television), and Hvar photographer extraordinaire, Jaksa Kuzmicic. But it certainly felt VERY strange to be the only person on the square as the procession started.


This is how it looked last year. How would it look this year?

22:10 - Za Krizen 2020 is underway. 

I was out all night and have a LOT to say about the last few hours, and I want to document it as fully as possible for the many people for whom Za Krizen is a part of their identity, but who could not take part due to the current situation. To do that properly, I need to get some sleep and formulate my thoughts, so for now, please find a series of videos and timelines through the night, which include all six processions which took part in Za Krizen 2020. 


23:30 - There were many things that were unusual for Za Krizen 2020, among them the arrival of supporting singers from Vrboska to Jelsa by boat - social distancing has now spread to the Adriatic. 

23:30 - The Vrboska boats arriving in Jelsa.

23:35 - Vrboska arriving in Jelsa.

00:00 -  Midnight. The church bells are now silent until Saturday night. The only sounds, the lapping of waves and barking of a lone dog in the distance.

00:15 - Vrboska support boats leave Jelsa harbour to return home, appropriately socially distanced. 


00:30 -  As we await Vrbanj, a big shout out to the Hvar police and local authorities. Seriously impressive. It almost feels like King Vili himself organised all.


I will have MUCH more to say on the policing of the procession and social distancing in my article later. 


00:40 - Vrbanj arrives in Jelsa.

01:55 - Svirce arrives in Jelsa.

03:00 - Vrisnik arrives in Jelsa.

04:05 - Pitve arrives in Jelsa.


05:50 - And so begins another day on Hvar. This is how they will start on your holiday here when all this madness is over.


06:00 - Don Stanko awaits the return of the Jelsa procession on the main square in Jelsa.


06:00 - The Jelsa procession returns to Jelsa. 

By way of comparison, this is how Za Krizen 2019 finished. 


And one year later.

06:05 - Just. Beautiful.  


06:10 - St John's Square


And that concludes this initial report on Za Krizen 2020. I have much more to write, but sleep has to come first. But I would like to finish with my thanks to the authorities for an outstanding display of organisation and control. 

And my very deep respect for the people of Hvar for respecting the rules, allowing the evening to pass without incident. I know what Za Krizen means to many of you, and I was expecting people to follow the processions or huddle together as they arrived in Jelsa. That simply did not happen. Much more on that when I wake up. 

If any media would like to use the material in this report, please do so. I ask only that you cite Total Croatia News as the author, link back to this article, and send me a link.  



Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Socially Distanced Za Krizen 2020 WILL Happen: Livestream on TCN

April 8, 2020 - 500 years of UNESCO tradition WILL continue on Hvar tomorrow night but Za Krizen 2020 will be a socially distanced procession in the corona era - and partially available on livestream on TCN from 21:30 tomorrow night.  

This is an incredibly hard article to write, as I need to get every word right or I could get in trouble. There is a LOT unsaid behind this article, which perhaps will be left unsaid. My understanding is that the final decision on the religious procession Za Krizen 2020 reached the desk of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. And a decision has been taken - Za Krizen 2020 WILL go ahead tomorrow night at 22:00 - as it has every year for about 500 years on Maundy Thursday - albeit with a radically different look in this socially-distanced corona era.  

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The main square of Jelsa tonight, which traditionally was the focal point of the procession, which has survived occupation by the Italian fascists in 1943, took place in the Sinai Desert in a refugee camp in Egypt in 1944, and took place in the godless Socialist years of Tito. You can learn more about that, and the procession in a previous article on TCN - 'Za Krizen' on Hvar Overcame Fascists, Tito, Sinai Desert, But Will It Beat Corona? 


This is how Za Krizen looks in a normal year - the start of the Jelsa procession, one of six simultaneous processions which leave from Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska. 

Clearly such a procession is NOT possible in the current climate. And this is NOT what Za Krizen 2020 will look like. 

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Jelsa tonight, as beautiful - and as empty - as I have ever seen it. 

The sound of the church bells. They will fall silent tomorrow night until Sunday, as per the Holy Week tradition in Jelsa. 

The discussion on whether or not to allow the procession to take place in some format has reached the very top echelons of the Croatian government. Health Minister Vili Beros, himself from Jelsa, stated that he was in favour of delaying the procession until September last week

Clearly the idea of hundreds of people taking part was out of the question. Discussions ensued, and one suggestion was that each procession would be reduced to just five people - the crossbearer and four acolytes, a far cry from the 20 or so acolytes and the hundreds or thousands of pilgrims who walk through the night.  

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(A cross burns brightly outside the home of the Jelsa crossbearer, as per tradition)

My understanding is that the crossbearers asked for more acolytes to help them through the long night, and a decision was taken which involved PM Plenkovic (himself a Hvar man, who took part in Za Krizen back in 2017, as reported by TCN).

The final decision is that each procession will be allowed 15 participants (slightly more than the 12 allowed by the Italians in 1943), with five more singers following by car. Social distancing rules will be enforced. 

And - and this will be VERY important to the millions of devout self-isolating Croatian Catholics here and in the diaspora - parts of Za Krizen 2020 will be available live from Jelsa, on the TCN Facebook page from 21:30 tomorrow night. At an incredibly important time of year for Croatians - Easter - the chance to see this religious tradition live from Hvar will no doubt give fortitude to many. 

If all goes well, TCN will have a live feed from both the Jelsa church and the Jelsa main square from 21:30 tomorrow night until 08:00 on the morning of Good Friday. You can like the TCN Facebook page here, where the feed will appear. 

I called the head of the Jelsa Civil Protection Headquarters today, and thereafter the head of Hvar police. Very productive discussions, in which I explained my socially distanced media coverage plans for tomorrow night. Both seemed fine but suggested that I request clearance from Jelsa Mayor Niksa Peronja. Mayor Peronja has just replied that I have clearance to report, so I will do the best I can to capture as much as I can of this tradition which means so much to the people of Hvar. 

Last year, I managed to capture all six processions through the night

I don't expect that level of access this year, but I will report back with the best I can do from a safe distance. 

We will post the livestream link on TCN FB tomorrow night at 21:00

And if you are wondering why Za Krizen 2020 is such a big deal, this is one of my favourite videos ever about Hvar traditions, which explains it all from the point of view of a crossbearer. 

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