Wednesday, 19 June 2019

How Croatia is Becoming Increasingly Attractive for the Digital Nomad Lifestyle

June 19, 2019 - Tourism is a major component of the Croatian economy, but a changing digital world offers an even more lucrative sector - lifestyle for the digital nomad. 

The world is changing, and some of those changes are global and change the way we do things forever. 

It is just over 20 years since a small company called Google was founded, for example. Does anyone even remember how we used to source information before the Great Google God?

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(Screenshot from Digital Takeover conference in Zagreb)

Uber, Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, AirBnB - among many of the companies that dominate our lives but which did not exist 20 years ago. 

And there is one more revolution which has already started but which is accelerating - the mobile workplace. 

The term digital nomad is perhaps still not so well understood by many, and even less see just what an impact it is going to have on the status quo in the coming years. Or how countries which embrace this imminent - and inevitable - change can benefit enormously. Or how Croatia is in prime position to take full advantage and attract wealth creating visitors to boost its economy throughout the year. 

Without really trying too hard. 

Let me give you an example from a meeting I had yesterday with a very nice Ukranian and Russian couple in their early 40s here on Hvar. They live in Munich and he works for an IT company, where the boss has decided that his staff would be happier and more productive if he let them work remotely 10 months a year, with only 1-2 months required in the office. The boss himself only spends 6 months in the office and has arranged things whereby he can spend the other half in the warmth of Asia. 

The couple I met last night decided that they wanted to use the opportunity to travel and to experience life in different countries and integrate into communities. The wife came with her family to Jelsa 19 years ago on holiday, and the memories were warm enough for them to decide to put Jelsa into their plan, and so they have been here for 3 months, from April to June, with plans to do exactly the same next year. From Jelsa, they will move to Sicily for 2-3 months and then onto Portugal or Spain. And after the required stop in Munich, it will be back to Jelsa next April. 

The working day is just like any other for someone working online. Deadlines, phone calls, emails, contact with bosses and colleagues. But all this is done remotely. What is different is that each morning starts with a swim before work and a swim after work. They shop in the market, drink coffee in the cafes, and eat in the restaurants. They are even learning Croatian, as they want to get the most out of the community experience. Friends and family come to visit, and they too visit the market, cafes and restaurants. The couple also has many friends with a similar lifestyle, who will be following the places they stay in and consider them for their own digital nomad experience. 

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There will be a projected one billion digital nomads in the world by 2035. A shift in the global economy and work pattern on a par with what Google did for information and Uber for catching a cab. 

And Croatia has SO many advantages to get a sizable part of that business. If Croatia could attract 2% of that projected number, that would be 20 million digital nomads a year, which is more than the current tourism numbers. And they would stay longer, spend more, many of them out of season. The boost to the economy would be much more than tourism currently. And if Croatia managed to attract 3%, or more... 

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The digital nomad way is about much more than simply a good WiFi connection. It is a lifestyle choice, where people want to experience great living conditions to complement their online working day. Destinations which are safe, beautiful, have great food and wine, lots of activities, the chance to meet people and build a temporary social life, where English is widely spoken, the weather is great, and getting to other places is relatively easy.

Are there many better places in Europe for ticking all the boxes above? Check out the Total Croatia Digital Nomad in Croatia guide

All the key factors are in place to position Croatia as an important player in this lucrative sector. All that is required is to get a better understand of the exact needs of this new breed of visitor, ensuring that those needs are catered to, and then a concerted campaign to tell the world why Croatia. 

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It really should not be too much more complicated than that. 

Considering spending some time living in Croatia and wondering what it is like for foreigners? The Total Croatia Living in Croatia guide has more

Saturday, 20 April 2019

'Za Krizen' 2019 on Hvar: 6 Processions, 8 Videos, 1 UNESCO Heritage

 April 20, 2019 - One of Croatia's most important religious traditions, the UNESCO-inscribed 'Za Krizen' processions on Hvar, took place once more through the night of Maundy Thursday/Good Friday. A video snapshot of all 6 processions. 

As previously reported on TCN, an altogether different face of the sunny tourist island of Hvar was on display during the night of Maundy Thursday, as thousands of Catholic worshippers took part in the overnight 22-kilometre processions of 'Za Krizen' (Behind the Cross), which took place simultaneously from Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska. 

The processions, following a barefoot cross bearer and his acolytes, through a circular route of prayer and contemplation through the other five settlements, are a tradition dating back almost 500 years. They have taken place every year without fail, including during wars, Communism and even in the Sinai Desert in the El Shatt refugee camp in 1944-5. 

TCN spent the night on the main square in Jelsa, capturing the action from 20:00 until the spectacular climax, as exhausted Jelsa cross bearer ran the final steps, as per tradition, to return the ancient cross to the awaiting priest at 07:15 on Goof Friday. 

Below, some video footage from the start and end of the Jelsa procession, as well as every other procession as they entered Jelsa's main square. 

The Jelsa procession departs.

The first of six processions which will pass through Jelsa's main square. Timeline - 22:15.

The arrival of Vrboska at 23:50.

The arrival of Vrbanj at 01:00.

The arrival of Svirce at 02:15.

The arrival of Vrisnik at 03:30.

The arrival of Pitve at 05:10.

The return of Jelsa at 07:15.

 

 

Thursday, 18 April 2019

UNESCO Traditions on Hvar (VIDEO): 'Za Krizen' Procession Underway in Jelsa

April 18, 2019 - A religious spectacle is underway on Hvar, as 6 simultaneous 'Za Krizen' processions through the night uphold a UNESCO tradition dating back 500 years. 

Known for its endless sunshine, great beaches and nightlife, the island of Hvar shows another side to its multi-faceted personality on Maundy Thursday each year with the annual 'Za Krizen' (Behind the Cross) procession in 6 towns and villages. 

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At 22:00 on Maundy Thursday, six simultaneous processions set off from Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska. They are led by barefoot cross bearers carrying ancient crosses weighing between 10 and 18 kg, walking through the night along a 22-kilometre route for a night of contemplation and prayer through the other five settlements. Finally, the processions complete their circular route, arriving back where they started about 07:00 on Good Friday. 

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The cross bearer is followed by his acolytes wearing white robes and carrying candles. Behind the acolytes, more than a thousand pilgrims walk through the night following the procession, which was awarded Intangible UNESCO Heritage status back in 2009. You can read more about the heritage in the TCN UNESCO heritage series

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Each procession has its own uniqueness, but the biggest one in Jelsa has a very dramatic ending, as the exhausted cross bearer and his main acolyte run the final metres on Jelsa's packed main square, before kneeling in front of the awaiting priest. While there is an understandable tourist impulse to applaud the achievement, it should be borne in mind that this is a very religious experience, and applause is not welcome. To learn more about the procession through the eyes of a cross bearer, learn more through this interview with a former cross bearer from Jelsa

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There are other traditions associated with the procession. One is that an illuminated image of Jesus falling with the cross is displayed in the main church tower. 

And locals add to the light by keeping their lights on all night. 

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TCN will be up all night recording each procession as it comes through Jelsa. 

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The procession has just got underway for 2019. Check out the first moments from the video below. 

 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The Mediterranean as It Still is: Hvar Catamaran Goat Travel

November 14, 2018 - A little goat transport action on yesterday's catamaran from Split to Jelsa on Hvar. 

Shortly after I moved to Hvar back in 2003, I was on the bus home from the ferry, driving though Vrbanj. Suddenly, the bus, which had been screaming through the village at quite a pace when suddenly the driver slammed on his brakes, reversed back and jumped out.

For at the side of the road was a man selling looked like half a dead pig. A negotiation was done, several kilos of meat cut and wrapped before the driver realised he did not have enough money and so borrowed the passenger fares to pay for it. 

It will remain one of my favourite island moments. While some see Hvar as a premier elite island full of superyachts and A-list celebs, there is another, more natural side of life on the island.

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The view on Hvar last night as the evening catamaran from Split to Jelsa (with thanks to Dalmacijaland for the great find) - the culture of goat travel by catamaran seems to be alive and well now that the main tourist season has finished. 

This goat travel is particularly timely for me. Having spent several hours recently putting together the definitive guide on how to get from Split to Hvar, I really thought I had every angle covered. Can you smoke on the catamaran or ferry, what is the policy of bringing pets on boats to Hvar, and even some advice on the rules for transporting Christmas trees, but there is clearly a gap of information regarding goat travel, an omission I shall address immediately. I am not an expert in goat travel, but I suspect if you are planning on bringing your pet goat to Hvar the next time you travel, it might be wise to check in advance, unless you know someone on the crew of course.

For all other options of how to get from Split to Hvar, click here

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Chardonnay Comes to Hvar: Tasting with the Mercurial Teo Huljic

November 6, 2018 - Tucked away in the stone back streets of Jelsa on the island of Hvar, winemaker Teo Huljic is building up a fascinating portfolio of wines. 

One of the things I always try and do when returning to Hvar these days is to pop in and see Teo Huljic, a small winemaker hidden away with his small restaurant and winery in the pretty old town of Jelsa. Jelsa is the town of wine, of course, and with famous names such as Andro Tomic and Ivo Dubokovic, Teo Huljic rarely appears in the spotlight, which is a pity, as his story is very interesting, and the wines he is experimenting with and producing more interesting still. 

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I first met Teo Huljic several years ago when I went to eat at his restaurant which is open for the summer. There is nowhere quite like it on Hvar, with its uneven stone tables, which are afforded shade by two abundant lemon trees, whose juicy fruits have been known to fall from the tree onto the table during a meal. An accomplished chef as well as winemaker, Teo Huljic offers an exceptional slow food and wine tasting experience you can book through Hvar Tours

And although he only makes about 7,000 litres of wine a year, his range of wines is quite breathtaking, some 15 in all at current count. Like a true artisan, his passion is making wine, rather than making money, and his dedication to the indigenous varieties on the island, coupled with his curiosity about how international varieties might blend mean that he has the most diverse range of grape varieties in his portfolio. He is, I think, the only winemaker who produces a single variety Mekuja, an almost-extinct Hvar white variety, and my last visit was an introduction to a variety I had not heard before (and nor had Google) - Palarusa. 

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Last week's visit was a chance to do some very early tasting of the 2018 tasting, including the quite delightful experience of witnessing Teo Huljic trying his new Posip for the first time. I don't think I have ever been with a winemaker for a moment like that before. He was pleased with the results, and then went on to show me what else he had been up to. 

He had told me previously that he planned to introduce a little Chardonnay to Hvar, as he thought it would blend nicely with two local white varieties, Prc and Posip (and the early signs are that he is right), and I thoroughly enjoyed his Cabernet Sauvign0on and Merlot cuvee, but he saved the new wine of which he was especially proud for last - a Mali Plavac rose, which had more strawberries and roses in a very long-lingering finish than s long summer romance. 

If you are a wine lover coming to Hvar, visit this man. To learn more about Teo Huljic and his wines, click here

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Saturday, 6 October 2018

The Mediterranean as It Once Was: Jelsa on Hvar in 1939 (VIDEO)

October 5, 2018 - Continuing our look at the Mediterranean as It Once Was through videos of years gone by, a wonderful snapshot of life in Jelsa at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Uneven Stone Tables, Unknown Grape Varieties, Unbelievable Food: Huljic in Jelsa

August 19, 2018 - He makes just 7,000 litres of wine a year but has 15 types of wine on offer, and the dining experience at his hidden little restaurant at the back of Jelsa's quaint old own is equally quirky. The Teo Huljic food and wine experience. 

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Poruka premijera Total Croatia Newsu: Ne brinite se, ja vas neću tužiti

14. kolovoza 2018. godine – Premijer Andrej Plenković posjetio je sinoć Jelsu, gdje je sudjelovao u tradicionalnoj proslavi Dana općine. Sastanak sa šefovima lokalnog HDZ-a na glavnom trgu omogućio je TCN-u da provjeri je li premijer možda uhvatio vremena da pročita otvoreno pismo koje smo mu poslali prošlog tjedna. Pokazalo se da je odgovor na to pitanje potvrdan...

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Prime Minister Tells Total Croatia News: I Won't Sue You, Don't Worry

August 14, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic was in Jelsa on Hvar last night, taking part in the annual Jelsa Municipal Day celebrations. A meeting with local HDZ chiefs on the main square before the main event gave a window for TCN to see if perhaps he had had a moment to read the open letter we sent him last week. It turns out that he had... 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

U Smokve in Jelsa: Healthy Food for the Body, Healthier Food for the Soul

August 12, 2018 - Looking for the healthy lifestyle dining experience which will uplift your soul as well as fill your stomach? U Smokve, a dining experience with a difference. 

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