Thursday, 28 July 2022

Korcula to Split via Peljesac Bridge: A Heavenly, Speedy Road Trip

July 28, 2022 - While most of the Peljesac Bridge commentary has been focused on connecting Dubrovnik, access to the islands of Korcula and Mljet has just improved considerably. TCN road tests the new drive from Korcula to Split. 

One of the very few things I don't like about Korcula is its accessibility. Driving down from Zagreb is already a fairly long day, without having to either plan your trip around two ferries (Ploce to Trpanj, Orebic to Korcula) or two borders (the Neum Corridor) and then driving the length of the Peljesac Peninsula.

That all changed yesterday. 

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And sitting in my favourite place in Dalmatia, the Michelin Star terrace of Lesic Dimitri Palace, thoughts of the onward journey were not as terrible as usual. Leaving such a divine spot is always a wrench, but at least this time, I would have the pleasure of trying out the new bridge and seeing just how much time I would save on my way to Split (Korcula to Split would normally take over 4 hours by car and ferry, and a painful 4 hours too - and this was assuming no border queues and the ferry schedule worked for you), starting from my favourite terrace on Korcula?

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Actually I was starting from Venice, the delightful suite at Lesic Dimitri Palace, which is comprised of 9 outstanding 5-star suites in the town of Marco Polo's birthplace, under the theme Where the Silk Road Begins. Check out the latest addition, Sumatra

After bidding my reluctant farewells to the Lesic team, it was a 5-minute walk to the Brodica, the small passenger ferry that runs on the hour to Orebic, price 23 kuna. A wonderful service from the centre of Korcula Town, so no need to drive to the ferry at Domince. From landing in Orebic, a 7-minute walk to my favourite free parking in Orebic.

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If I told you where it was, I would have to kill you. I don't want to publish details, but if you want to know, send me a private PM. 

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And then the drive. Although the bridge is not yet appearing in my Google Maps, it does for others. According to Google, I had a 45-minute drive to the start of the bridge at Brijesta. I finally learned to drive on water... 

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It was a stunning drive through hills offering ridiculous views of the Adriatic, combined with the temptations of some of Croatia's finest vineyards. For this is Plavac Mali country. There IS a bridge at the back of this photo, I promise. My legendary photo skills come to the fore again.

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And, as we get closer to the bridge, new signage shows the new reality. 

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And a big surprise. a tunnel as long as the bridge itself - some 2.4 km) underneath (presumably) those gorgeous vines. 

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And as we edged closer to Croatia's new star connection, a smile. Just 145 kilometres to Split, and most of that motorway. Heaven. 

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And then the bridge finally came into view. And what a beauty she is. I am more into Dalmatian benches than bridges, but I have to admit that this one is a beauty. 

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The 2,404 metres that will change the lives of many - for the better. 

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On the other side, new signs take you to Neum if you want to go, but the main direction is Split. 

A short drive to Ploce and then joining up to the motorway to Split, toll price 50 kuna. 

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And after some time in what was honestly one of the most pleasant and stress-free peak season drives during my time in Croatia, the journey from Korcula to Split ended with a cold one on the riva, with clouds and a merciful gust of wind and threats of a storm. 

Total travel time from Korcula to Split, including the boat - 2 hours 50 minutes.

My favourite place in Dalmatia just got a little closer. 

So how was traffic on the bridge and also at the Neum Corridor on the first day of the new reality? Check out the TCN video report below.

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

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Lesic Dimitri's Michael Unsworth Named Korcula Town Person of the Year. Bravo!

July 24, 2022 - If a foreigner has done more for a Croatian island, I have yet to meet them. Congratulations to Michael Unsworth, the pioneering owner of 5-star, Michelin Star Lesic Dimitri Palace, the new Town of Korcula Person of the Year. 

It is a love affair that started more than 50 years ago, when a young English student followed a pretty young lady from Yugoslavia, who was also studying in London. What was meant to be a short holiday in Orebic to woo her turned into a lifetime passion for both the Peljesac town, but also the magical island across the channel and birthplace of Marco Polo himself - Korcula. 

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Little did that young student know back then that he would go on to marry the girl and still be humoured by her half a century later, but that he would leave an indelible mark on the island that was to become his second love. 

There is so much that one could say, but the simple facts say it best - and Michael Unsworth is a very modest man, who will probably be upset at all this attention. For that reason, I decided to leave his photo in the body of the text, so that the lead photo could showcase the very latest addition to the incredible Lesic Dimitri Palace, the first 5-star boutique hotel on a Croatian island, where every room is themed to the Silk Road of Marco Polo, the latest being the Sumatra Residence pictured here (more details in the press release below).

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The hotel and restaurant scene when Michael started was average at best, with pizza and other faster foods the common fare. Walking around the old town these days is a gastronomic delight, as the standards have been raised considerably. It all started with Lesic Dimitri Palace, which has never compromised on quality. And there is a good reason why Lesic was the first island hotel to be awarded the prestigious Michelin Star, thanks to magician chef Marko Gajski, who has blossomed under Michael's guidance. 

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If there is one place on the coast that I had to spend the rest of my life, it would probably be on the LD Terrace, the gentle afternoon breeze from the water cooling the air, listening to Michael's stories from around the world, while sampling Marko's latest creations washed down with the best Korcula wine pairing. 

Several people have told me over the years that they have never met a foreigner who loves an island as much as I love Hvar. That is perhaps because they have never met Michael, who has Korcula in his veins. 

Congratulations to you, Sir, richly deserved and fully fitting. I look forward to toasting you with a glass of Posip or six the next time we meet. 

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You can learn more about LD Palace on the official website.  

Press release:

Korčula's Lešić Dimitri Palace has been synonymous with high-quality tourism experiences – both on the island in Croatia – on the global luxury tourism map for over a decade. The oldest part of the palace (dating back to the 15th century), which received the World Architecture Community Award back in 2010, got an additional accommodation unit this season – the Sumatra Residence. Sumatra's interior draws inspiration from Marco Polo's Silk Road, which is also the focal point of what the Palace has to offer, and excellence as the core business principle. An open space attic with one of the best views of the ancient walls, islands around Korčula and the blue waters of the Adriatic, is a new luxury heaven for romantic couples and anyone who identifies as such. Sumatra completed the story about the famous place in Korčula that stood out from the beginning as a rarely successful example of conversion and restoration of cultural monuments into a cultural good that the entire town can be proud of. With his forward-thinking planning and tireless efforts, Lešić Dimitri Palace owner and director Mr. Michael Anthony Unsworth has managed to prove that Korčula can be and is a world-class exclusive tourist destination. Thanks to his outstanding business results and years of wholehearted enthusiasm for the benefit of society, he received the Town of Korčula's Person of the Year Award.

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Learn more about Korcula in the Total Croatia Korcula in a Page guide

Sunday, 3 July 2022

The Ultimate Guide For Digital Nomads in Korcula

July 3, 2022 - The island of Korcula is slowly being discovered as a remote work paradise. A comprehensive overview for digital nomads in Korcula from its first two DN ambassadors. 

This guide is written by Yvette Pelgrom and Mandy Fransz to share their top tips and recommendations after working remotely in Korčula island, Croatia as the inaugural Digital Nomad Ambassadors, a pro-bono concept designed and delivered by Saltwater Nomads, in partnership with the Korčula Tourist Board, Korčula Hill and LD Palace.

After spending a few weeks in beautiful Dubrovnik, we’ve had the unique opportunity to experience the digital nomad lifestyle in one of the magical Croatian islands only a 2,5-hour ferry ride away: Korčula island.

Also known as “Little Dubrovnik”, Korčula is featured as the 5th most beautiful island in the world according to a Big Seven Travel list alongside popular hotspots including Bora Bora, Maldives, and Bali — and we couldn’t agree more!

With its tagline “one island, endless experiences” we’ve been astonished by the magical Old Town with its cobblestone streets, tiny beaches with crystal clear waters, serene coastline and scenery, and most of all, its pure and kind locals. 

There are plenty of activities to explore the island by foot, bike, or boat which makes this the perfect place to visit all year round — whether you’re looking for adventure or simply want to relax and enjoy the island’s tranquility.

We’ve created memories of a lifetime: from learning about the local bee farms and olive oil production, tasting the typical Grk wine at one of the family-owned vineyards, and enjoying a Michelin-starred meal on a traditional Kata boat.

In this guide, we happily share our top tips and recommendations to help you create the ultimate digital nomad experience in this dreamy oasis called Korčula.

Where to stay:

According to locals, Korčula’s famous resident Marco Polo started his travels along the Silk Road from this magical island. Korčula Old Town is built in a very special way, resembling something of a fishbone to protect the town against sea winds. 

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During our two-week workation, we’ve had the pleasure to stay at Korčula Hill — a self-catering luxury apartment complex just a short drive from Korčula Old Town. They provide discounted offers for long-term stays to attract more digital nomads starting for as little as $200,- per person / month for a 2- or 3-bedroom apartment.

The modern and well-equipped apartments provide everything you need: from high-speed Wi-Fi, fully-equipped gym, tennis & basketball court, bicycle rental, and two outdoor swimming pools with amazing views of the Pelješac peninsula. Follow the trail just behind the building for a short hike with a gorgeous view!

As a guest, you’ll also get free access to the sunbeds at La Banya beach, which is the perfect place to relax or do a bit of work from their restaurant or terrace bar serving delicious stone-oven baked pizzas and home-made ice tea.

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If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, we highly recommend this Airbnb in Medvinjak, a two-bedroom apartment only a 15 to 20 minutes walk from Old Town with a spacious terrace and an amazing view perfect for stargazing at night! And the best part: it’s a stone's throw away from small, semi-private “hidden” areas to enjoy a dip in the sea before, during or after work (or, all!).

Last but not least, if you’re looking for a honeymoon-worthy luxury experience we highly recommend LD Palace, a lovingly restored 18th-century palace now offering five unique residences for those wishing to escape, relax and unwind. We stayed at Arabia, a one-bedroom residence providing a 360-degree sea-view, fully equipped kitchen, an en-suite bathroom with walk-in shower and bathtub, and an open plan living which makes it the perfect romantic getaway. 

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Where to eat:

Korčula is known for its traditional “konobas” and, of course, fresh seafood making it the perfect place to enjoy unique and delicious gastronomy.

A must-visit is Konoba Maha — a traditional, family-owned restaurant run by two brothers serving locally produced food and wine passionately prepared with fresh ingredients from the land located in the middle of nature surrounded by nothing but serenity. It’s a 10-minute drive from Old Town, but it’s worth every second! Try their signature lamb dish or T-boke steak perfectly paired with a red oak wine.

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Another one of our favorites is Eko Skoj — a “from land to table” organic eco-farm owned by a mother and her kind daughter (Jelena Marović) and their wonderful team. You can walk through the flourishing garden to find a diversity of vegetables, fruits, and herbs. We even got to eat fresh cherries from the trees! Try their delicious homemade bread and order several dishes to share; a true gift for the eye and so nourishing for the tummy. 

One of our favorite restaurants in Old Town is Aurora and their next-door coffee shop Aurora Sweets providing gluten-free, refined-sugar-free and dairy-free treats. Although the Wi-Fi is not very strong (yet), it’s a fantastic option to get some thoughts on paper and switch work environments with a stunning ocean view. Note: the coffee shop is only open until 3 PM — make sure to be there on time! 

If you’re looking for a luxury Michelin-starred experience, then you need to visit LD Restaurant. Their wonderful staff members are incredibly attentive and passionate, serving the most Instagrammable chef’s tasting menus depending on seasonal products (definitely try their foie gras if you have the chance!). Their surprising flavors and combinations make you eat every bite so mindful to appreciate the taste so dearly. You can also rent their traditional Kata boat for a unique (romantic) dining experience in the Adriatic Sea surrounded by islands.

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A few other favorite places include Konoba Mate, Bistro Maha, Vrnik Arts Club (ask for their freshly baked homemade bread!), and Adio Mare for the best catch of the day (if you’re lucky, highly recommend the Amberjack – truly delicious!).

Where to work:

Since Wi-Fi speed is not optimal (yet!) on the island, having a work-friendly home office is essential. Hence, make sure to find accommodation with high-speed Wi-Fi and enough workspace such as Korčula Hill or, before booking an Airbnb, ask the hosts to check speedtest.net for ideally a minimum of 50 - 100 Mbps.

You can also work from one of the restaurants or coffee shops in Old Town such as Aurora Sweets or Hotel Korčula where locals come for business meetings in this beautiful, monumental building. Another option is Korčula Town Library where the owner Ivan Vidali provides co-working space for about 5 Euros per month. In autumn 2022, it is expected their larger coworking space will be open too.

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Things to do:

Whether you’re seeking adventure or looking to relax and recharge — Korčula island offers endless experiences making it a perfect all-year-round destination!

Here are a few of our favorite activities:

  • Go for a City Tour with Korčula Tourist Board to walk through the cobbled streets of Old Town and learn more about the history, culture, and traditions. Don’t forget to take a picture in the famous Ulica Ismaelli — the most Instagrammable street in Korčula!

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  • Visit a local bee farm at OPG Komparak. You can enjoy a 45-minute workshop to learn about local honey and olive oil production for as little as 5 euro. You’ll even get to taste their locally produced Gin!
  • Watch a Moreška sword dance performance. They say “if you haven’t seen Moreška, you haven’t been on Korčula”. You can watch a performance in Old Town on Mondays and Thursdays at 9 p.m. in July and August; and on Thursdays at 9 p.m. during off-season.
  • Visit a local vineyard such as the recently opened, family-owned Tasovac winery for a local wine tasting experience. While Korčula is known for its popular Grk wine, our favorite is called Posip.

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  • Treat yourself to a luxury spa treatment at LD Spa such as a Thai massage or Ayurvedic relaxing massage. We highly recommend all therapists — especially Viviane from Brazil who has the purest energy and wisdom with years of experience having studied in India and has now landed her wings in the beautiful Korčula island.
  • Go Island hopping to explore the nearby islands such as Badija island, Vrnik, and Stupe. You can hop on a water taxi for about 10 - 20 Euros return per person, or rent a private boat with La Banya for a half-or full-day experience visiting the most beautiful beaches.
  • Enjoy an outdoor activity with Korčula Outdoor such as sailing, multi-day guided sea kayaking tours, and visits to the pristine archipelago and nature reserves. The wonderful owner Damir is truly kind and ensures you’ll have the best experience!

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  • Go beach hopping to explore Korčula’s pebble-stone beaches such as La Banya Beach, Pupnatska Luka, and Vela Luka. However, we recommend simply roaming around the island by bike / foot / car / scooter as you can find many tiny entrances and stairs to beautiful “hidden gems” with crystal clear waters. We prefer going off the beaten track, but, if you rather go to the more common beaches (also beautiful!), you can find the most recommended beaches here.
  • Join wellbeing or active classes such as going for a swim at this indoor swimming pool, a yoga class with Nina at Yoga Korčula Balanca, a typical local sport at Water polo at PK Korčula (founded in 1930, they are legendary!), or a pilates class at Pilana studio by Lana — having studied and worked extensively in this field, she has a fiery but compassionate energy. Classes can be given in Croatian or English, and she offers both group classes as well as 1-1 to tailor it to the person with passion. Highly recommended! 

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General tips & recommendations

After spending two weeks on Korčula island, it already has a special place in our hearts. It is such a safe space where you can leave your bike unlocked (yes, it’s still possible here!) and where locals still simply catch the freshest fish from the Adriatic sea themselves to enjoy with family for dinner. 

Here are a few useful links for planning your (next) visit to Korčula island:

We hope this guide will help you to create the ultimate digital nomad experience in Korčula island. We highly recommend visiting off-season to escape the tourist crowds while still being able to enjoy nice, warm temperatures all year round.

Many thanks to Hana from the Korčula Tourist Board and Ivana from LD Palace for giving us a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience on this magical island :) Hvala!

This guide is written by Yvette Pelgrom and Mandy Fransz to share their top tips and recommendations after working remotely in Korčula island, Croatia as the inaugural Digital Nomad Ambassadors, a pro-bono concept designed and delivered by Saltwater Nomads, in partnership with the Korčula Tourist Board, Korčula Hill and LD Palace.

Now check out Mandy and Yvette's guide for digital nomads in Dubrovnik.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Meet The Luka Mozaika, A World Record Contender

June 19, 2022 - The Port of Mosaics (Luka Mozaika) project aims to become the world's longest recorded mosaic walkway. This innovative Luka Mozaika project can be explored in Vela Luka, a coastal town situated at the very western end of the Island of Korčula.

Currently, at forty metres in length, Luka Mozaika has already been laid and is still an ongoing project which is growing steadily. The recent global coronavirus pandemic slowed down the Vela Mozaika project and even halted it for some time, but it has now regained full motion once again. The project was started back in 2017 by Udruga Likovno Stvaralaštvo Vela Luke (the Vela Luka Artistic Creation Association). Each mosaic involves a detailed picture with four thousand stones per masterpiece. The mosaic pieces that are used to create the final image are between one and two centimetres long, and they are all cut in an old and unused factory, which has become the workshop where this utterly exquisite artistry is designed.

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Photo: Adriana Tasovac/Total Croatia News

The creative head of the operation is Ante Marinovic who also lead a smaller-scale mosaic project on Proizd island, which contains seventy mosaics and are all under Vela Luka’s ownership. The Port of Mosaics in Vela Luka aims to cover the entire walkway with mosaics along the shore belt, which is just under three kilometres long.

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Photo: Adriana Tasovac/Total Croatia News

Over three hundred mosaic pieces make up the walkway in Vela Luka already, and tourists, as well as locals with an artistic flair, can participate in adding to the project, which will forever make them a part of the culture and history of this ever-growing walkway. Even novices who are unfamiliar with the process have the opportunity to become skilled in this artistic field as part of a truly impressive move Vela Luka has made.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Ongoing Inflation Continuing to Significantly Alter Croatian Price Lists

June the 16th, 2022 - Ongoing inflation is continuing to force Croatian price lists to alter more and more frequently, with some very simple services now significantly more expensive than they were this time last year.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the increase in prices across all fields owing to inflation has particularly affected Croatian islanders, and even on the gorgeous Central Dalmatian island of Korcula, company owners had to adjust their business to the recent price increases, writes HRT. As costs increase, it's now questionable how altering Croatian price lists will affect the upcoming height of the summer tourist season.

New Croatian price lists - new measures. The recent price increases have greatly affected all of the island of Korcula's small business owners, and they've had to adjust their business to this new and rapidly changing situation.

“Some artisans and small business owners had to increase their prices, some had to lay off workers, some were thinking about it. Everything is difficult, materials have become more expensive, fuel has become more expensive, now electricity also has, and what's worse, we don't know how it's going to go on like this and to what extent it will continue,'' pointed out Mihovil Depolo, President of the Korcula-Lastovo Association of Craftsmen.

Most craftsmen from this particular island have changed their price lists in line with rising costs, meaning that their prices, in order for their businesses to survive, are higher almost all over.

"We were forced to raise our ice cream prices, and a scoop of ice cream went from 12 kuna to 15 kuna, maybe it's symbolic as it's a mere three kuna, but it means a lot to us because looking at the example of a litre of milk I need to make the ice cream, well... I can't find that for under nine kuna,'' said Korcula pastry chef Jagoda Milina.

"We've increased our prices a little, we haven't done it by much, ten kuna, so enough cover this increase in fuel prices because fuel has risen by 50 percent when compared to last year," said the president of the Korcula Barcarioli, Stipe Separovic. However, it seems that tourists are also aware of the situation, and aren't too bothered about the altering of Croatian price lists on the island.

"It's not extremely expensive, it's kind of in our country, in big centres it's always a little more expensive, but it isn't too expensive for us. It's okay,'' said Marius from Lithuania.

“I love the grocery stores here, I think the prices are fair, just like when we eat out,” added Jessica from Florida.

"It's similar to some larger cities, except that in restaurants I'd say that the prices may be a little higher, but let's say in stores it's similar, more or less," believes Aleksandar from Serbia.

The global coronavirus pandemic is now finally behind us and a thing of the past, but with new price increases, it seems that another uncertain summer tourist season awaits small business owners and artisans on the islands.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

2022 Korčula Summer Season Expected to Catch Record 2019

May 26, 2022 - The 2022 Korčula summer season is expected to catch the record 2019, with the return of many cultural events, a revamped ACI marina, and the soon-to-open Pelješac bridge. 

Korčula has already recorded an excellent pre-season with figures better than the record 2019. All local governments on the island are growing, bookings are crazy, caterers and renters are satisfied, and a hellish season awaits them, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Expectations for a good start to the pre-season in Korčula town have been justified, said the director of the Korčula Tourist Board, Hana Turudić. Compared to April and the first week of May 2019, Korčula has 25 percent fewer arrivals and overnight stays, which are very good numbers and indicators of a successful season, Hana Turudić is convinced. Most guests are still from Croatia and Slovenia, followed by travelers from the USA, Great Britain, and Germany, and markets that have slowed down in the last two years and are looking forward to returning. With no restrictions in place, the possibility of holding numerous events that were called off in the previous two years is now a reality. Following the traditions of the famous Korčula Vela setemana, the 12th Marco Polo Challenge was successfully held, the Croatian Championship in Medium-Long Triathlon, and the Asparagus Festival, Fortress Night, and the Kumpanji Klapa concert on May 1.

"Of great importance are the completed works in the ACI Marina Korčula, which welcomes this season with full capacity and numerous catamaran lines that connect the city of Korčula with Split and Dubrovnik and the islands of Lastovo, Hvar, and Mljet. The Pelješac Bridge opening will be a turning point for further development. In addition, we are announcing numerous events, from the Festival of Knightly Games, classical and popular music concerts, music festivals, the Korčula Baroque Festival and Lost in the Renaissance, food and wine festival Korčula Pjatance, and many other events," announced Turudić.

Lumbarda has recorded excellent numbers, too, and the pre-season recorded an increase of 175 percent in overnight stays compared to last year, but 3 percent more than the pre-pandemic 2019. The director of the Lumbarda Tourist Board, Ante Šestanović, said most guests are Slovenes, followed by the Swiss, French, Norwegians, and Irish. Most of the tourist traffic, more than 41 percent, took place in private accommodation, and they stay for almost a week during the pre-season!

The Municipality of Blato recorded a 25 percent increase in arrivals and overnight stays in the first four months of 2022 compared to 2019. Croats are the most numerous in Blato, followed by Slovenes and guests from BiH and Poland.

"What is worth mentioning is that visitors perceive our island as a destination for a pleasant and quality vacation, and despite all the challenges, expectations for the upcoming season are certainly positive," announced Blato Tourist Board director Maja Separovic.

Several traditional events are planned and held this pre-season at the Blato Tourist Board, starting with the successful traditional gastronomic event Tastes and Scents of the Homeland - Easter Fair in Blato. Then, from mid-May, there are specially designed gastronomic tours for visitors and the local population, to whom they will present local winemakers and producers of traditional lumblija cake.

The Vela Luka Tourist Board director, Dorjan Dragojević, is more than satisfied with the results, especially with overnight stays and arrivals in April, which are 65 percent better than last year.

"Hotel Korkyra has opened, and private accommodation is slowly filling up. Given the good bookings, we expect even better tourist numbers in the future, which we are currently planning at the level of 2019," announced Dragojević.

Although last year's season was excellent for Orebić, this year they are announcing an even better one, primarily due to the Pelješac Bridge opening, and the current figures prove it.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Big 7 Travel Pronounces Korcula 5th Most Beautiful Island in the World

May the 15th, 2022 - The stunning Central Dalmatian island of Korcula is absolutely unique, and anyone who has ever spent any amount of time there doesn't need to be convinced of that. We all know it, and now it's official. Big 7 Travel has declared Korcula the fifth most beautiful island on the face of the Earth, ranking it alongside the likes of Bora Bora.

As Morski writes, Korcula's deserved title as the fifth most beautiful island in the entire world was announced by the readers and editors of the Big 7 travel site, who chose from as many as 50 islands dotted all over the globe. Very surprisingly, there were no other islands from Croatia listed, but there were Seychelles, Bora Bora, Barbados, the Maldives, jaw-dropping locations in from Hawaii and the Caribbean, and islands from Zanzibar, but all these places were overshadowed by Korcula.

It's difficult to pick the most beautiful island from all of the many inhabited and uninhabited islands this country boasts. Each and every one of them stands out from another in some shape or form, and each has unique qualities, customs and traditions. This particular Croatian island, however, has clearly caught the eye of the international community.

Margaret from Ireland stated: “What do I think about Korcula? If you're up for living in the moment and meditating, and you have to imagine a happy place, this is it. There is no price it could ever be sold for.''

Evelyn from France also has only praise for idyllic Korcula: “It's very quiet and the people there are very kind. Wherever we go, we meet lovely people, so I think we'll come back again.''

The old town of Korcula is unavoidable for all visitors, and it is remembered fondly for its beautiful architecture.

''Another specificity is that the side streets are curved so that the harsh winds of winter can't enter the old town while on the left they're flat so that the summer mistral refreshes us every day,'' revealed Andrea Tedeschi, a Korcula-based tourist guide, for RTL. Those who construced the buildings on the island of Korcula were smart, and it now has a number of restaurants to boast of as well, and with very good reason.

''The gastronomic life of Korcula as a whole is fantastic. I think that you rarely have so many different gastronomic offers on one island in Croatia,'' said Ante Bojic, the owner of the oldest tavern on Korcula.

Hana Turudic, the director of the Tourist Board of Korcula Town said: "We love our little island, we keep it very hospitable with the welcoming hearts of the local population, there's something for everyone on this island.''

The hidden gems Korcula can boast of are plentiful, such as the gorgeous beach which, in addition to being drenched in sun, a calm, crystal clear sea and silence, also offers a view of the island of Lastovo, seeing it get a rightful place on the list of most sought after beaches in the world.

This new title could bring Korcula many guests from across the globe, and nature has done its thing in the many gifts it has given to this breathtaking island, and now it is up to the locals to keep the island as it is - the most desirable.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Dream Job: Luxury Villa on Croatian Island Looking for Two Home Testers

March 15th, 2022 - Luxury home tester sure sounds like one of the better jobs in the tourism industry

Many employers in the service industry are currently recruiting staff for the upcoming tourist season, but it’s not every day that you come across a job listing as captivating as one that was posted on a local job search site this week.

Namely, owners of a beachfront luxury villa on Korčula island are looking for two people who will stay at the property for a week and test all the amenities to ensure everything is in working order and ready to welcome the first guests of the season, reports Morski.hr.

‘Our villa has numerous facilities available for guests to use during their stay, so we posted the listing in question to ensure we’re completely ready for the new season’, said the villa owners.

Dream job? Sure sounds like it - too bad it’ll only last a week. The fun stuff that needs testing includes the following: kayaks, bicycles, scooters, table tennis, foosball, billiard table, gym, PS4, trampoline, seaside hammock, sunset swings and deckchairs.

The job also involves inspecting the cleanliness of the villa, testing the full functionality of the kitchen (all the kitchen appliances), inspecting the bedrooms (mattresses, A/C, closets), the bathroom, living room, laundry room and the garden.

Employees staying at the villa are also expected to inspect the tidiness of the adjacent beach, evaluate the host (the person who welcomes guests into the villa) and review Villa Gabriela.

According to the listing, ideal candidates would be in good shape, athletic, communicative, and have some experience making videos, as the gig involves filming daily video diaries while testing the facilities.

The original job listing is available on Pick Jobs (in Croatian).

 

 

Monday, 14 March 2022

Maksimilijan Vanka Gallery to Reopen in the Artist's Villa in Korčula

March 14th, 2022 - The entire Memorial Collection of Maksimilijan Vanka will be restored and moved from Zagreb back into its home on Korčula

As announced by Korčula Mayor Nika Silić Maroević, the lovely villa in Korčula town that was once owned by Croatian artist Maksimilijan Vanka is finally to be restored.

In 1935, Vanka moved to the US where he's best remembered for painting the Millvale Murals in the St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church. The renowned painter and sculptor used to spend summers on Korčula island, where he founded an art colony and socialised with his fellow artists.

His former holiday home is known as one of the most beautiful villas in town, located near the monastery of St. Nicholas, reports Dubrovački vjesnik.

After Vanka’s death in 1963, his widow Margaret Stetten Vanka and daughter Peggy Vanka Brasko donated two houses in Korčula to the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU), along with 47 of Vanka’s artworks created in Korčula and the US.

The other, smaller villa donated to the HAZU by the Vanka family had a different fate. In the early 90s, it was transferred into private ownership and has been sold since.

The bigger villa, now to be restored, used to house the Memorial Collection of Maksimilijan Vanka. Due to poor conditions in the villa, the art collection was moved to Zagreb and is currently kept at the Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters.

Two years ago, it was announced that the entire collection will be restored, with funds secured by the Society of Maksilimijan Vanka’s Friends from the US. Once the restoration is completed, the artworks should be moved back to Korčula, but it’s not yet known when this is supposed to take place.

Renovation of the villa should have started two years ago when the president of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) signed a cooperation agreement with the then Mayor of Korčula, providing for the renovation, reconstruction and adaptation of Villa Vanka and the restoration and return of Vanka's art collection to Korčula.

Unfortunately, the global pandemic began shortly after the agreement was signed, so the plans had to be put on hold for a while.

‘In the meantime, potential investors expressed certain interests that the HAZU approved as well, so we will amend the existing agreement a bit in order to further define certain details’, announced Mayor Silić Maroević.

Amendments to the agreement mainly relate to the catering business conducted in the villa, which proved not to be a good decision in the past, according to the mayor. Ten years ago, the gallery was renovated, but not in a dignified manner, she pointed out, and part of the gallery was leased by a catering business, which isn’t acceptable to the City of Korčula or the HAZU.

Villa Vanka will now be renovated and used exclusively as a gallery, the only exception being the lower part of the warehouse which might eventually be leased out for service activities. This will be defined by the new agreement, said Mayor Silić Maroević.

Although Korčula boasts incredible cultural heritage and numerous acclaimed artists, the town sorely lacks gallery spaces. This is yet another reason why everyone’s looking forward to the renovation of Villa Vanka, with the new gallery seen as a crucial venue for the cultural life in Korčula.

Monday, 21 February 2022

Zagreb to Dubrovnik: the Ultimate 10-day Road Trip Itinerary

21 February 2022 - It’s never the wrong time to start planning the perfect getaway to the paradise that is Croatia. We decided to give you a hand in planning the perfect 10-day road trip from Zagreb to Dubrovnik (plus some bonus island time!) that showcases the best the country has to offer.

The best way to discover Croatia is by car, giving you the freedom to go off the beaten path and chart your own adventure around the country, all the way from Zagreb to Dubrovnik.

Before we jump into it, do be aware that most car rentals in Croatia are manual transmissions! Automatic cars are available for rent, though mostly by larger rental companies like Sixt, and are more expensive.

If you’re not a confident driver, no need to worry, there are plenty of private bus companies that run daily trips to most cities and tourist attractions during the high season (June - September). In larger cities such as Zagreb and Split, bus schedules are also available online. Transfers between major ports and the islands are also regularly serviced by ferries and catamarans.

Day 1: Zagreb

Welcome to Zagreb, the capital and largest city of Croatia! Nicknamed the city of museums, Zagreb is home to over a dozen award-winning museums such as the Archeological Museum, with over 450,000 artifacts and monuments.

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The gorgeous buildings of Upper Town in Zagreb. Visit Zagreb/Facebook.

Cultural landmarks of the city include Ban Jelačić Square which has existed since the 17th century, the Zagreb Cathedral, or the magnificent Croatian National Theater whose unveiling ceremony was attended by Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I. So, make sure you squeeze in some time for a walking tour to absorb the sights of Zagreb’s Old Town.

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Evenings on Tkalčićeva Street, Zagreb. Visit Zagreb/Facebook.

Hungry? Head to Dolac market, Zagreb's main open-air farmers market to pick up some fresh, seasonal produce and souvenirs. You can also choose to end your day with a tasty meal and local wine from any of the excellent restaurants, bars, and cafes along Tkalčićeva Street.

Day 2: Rovinj

After a bustling day in Zagreb, the enchanting city of Rovinj is a splendid change of pace. Perfectly situated on the Istrian peninsula, the city boasts a rich heritage, from being settled by Venetian tribes, to becoming part of the Byzantine and Frankish Empires, all reflected in the diversity of the city’s architecture, art, and culture.

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This stunning setting has been a popular film setting for movies such as "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard". Rovinj Tourist Board/Facebook.

Stroll along the beautiful cobbled streets and narrow alleys of Rovinj Old Town and make your way towards St. Euphemia Cathedral. Along the way, you should pass by Grisia Street, lined with souvenir stalls and galleries with the most unique pieces to add to your collection.
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The charming, picturesque streets of Rovinj's Old Town. Rovinj Tourist Board/Facebook.

If you have time to spare, take a day trip to Sveta Katarina, a small picturesque island that’s a mere 10-minute water taxi ride from the pier. Spend the afternoon taking a dip in the aquamarine waters of the bay, or hike on one of the numerous trails dotted around the island, or both!

Alternatively, sit back and relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in Istria such as Amarin, Borik, or Valdaliso Beach.

Day 3: Pula

Before leaving the Istrian Coast, make Pula the next stop on your road trip. Serving as the capital of Istria, Pula was the main military port for the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at the height of its military glory. Today, remnants of these times are reflected in the city’s breathtaking landscape.

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The Pula Arena frequently hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year. Pula Plus/Facebook.

The famous Pula Arena, one of the most well preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world, is a must-see! Another not to be missed landmark is the Temple of Augustus, a monument dedicated to the first Roman emperor in honor of his rule.

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The unique shape of Fort Puna Christo. Pula Plus/Facebook.

Also check out the impressive Fort Punta Christo, which includes an underground section to explore and a well-stocked rooftop bar for refreshments after. You can also enjoy magnificent 360-degree views of Pula from the Venetian Fortress (Kaštel) which also houses the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria.

Day 4: Plitvice National Park

Although Croatia boasts some of the best coastlines in the world, Plitvice Lakes National Park consistently appears in the top must-see places to visit in Croatia, and for good reason! This UNESCO World Heritage Site holds the title as the oldest and largest national park in Croatia, famous for its gorgeous turquoise lakes. Well worth the detour inland.

plitvice_lakes_national_park_facebook_small.jpgThe main walkway of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Plitvice Lakes National Park/Facebook.

Be aware that the park can get very crowded during the season! To avoid this, just be prepared to visit early (7-8am), or better still, stop by during off-peak seasons where the park transforms into the perfect winter wonderland.

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Plitvice Lakes National Park/Facebook.

Day 5: Zadar

After a day in the lush forests, take a scenic drive back to the Dalmatian coast and spend a day in the charming city of Zadar, the oldest continuously inhabited Croatian city. Today, cozy cafes and art galleries are seamlessly woven into remains from the times of Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus.

Enjoy a relaxing stroll through Old Town and admire the historical architecture including the Church of St. Donatus, the Landward Gate, the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, and the Roman Forum.

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Ruins in the Old Town of Zadar. Zadar Region/Facebook

Along the way, catch the famous Sea Organ, and a sunset so beautiful, it even captivated Alfred Hitchcock! Just after sunset, take in the light show at the Sun Salutation, an installation created by Nikola Bašić, the same artist who designed the sea organ.

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The Landward Gate, Zadar. Zadar Region/Facebook

If you have some time in between, head to Pag Island to try some of the famous Paski Cheese or to Nin, home to Queen’s Beach, the longest sandy beach in Croatia. Other gorgeous beaches along the coast of Zadar include Kolovare and Borik.

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Award-winning sheep's cheese from Pag Island. Pag Tourist Board/Facebook.

Day 6: Split

Welcome to Split, the largest city in Dalmatia, and second-largest in all of Croatia. The city was founded as the Greek colony of Aspálathos between the 3rd and 2nd century BC.

It was later where Diocletian's Palace was built for the Roman emperor in AD 305. The palace also houses the Peristil, or the main square, another great place to enjoy some coffee and people-watch in addition to the Riva promenade.

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Enjoy a drink inside the walls of the Diocletian's Palace, Split. Visit Split/Facebook

While exploring the Old Town, stop by the Green Market, the largest farmer’s market in Split, to pick up some fresh, organic produce. Turn the corner and it is difficult to miss the 8.5-meter statue of Gregory of Nin, sculpted by world-renowned artist Ivan Meštrović. Rubbing the statue’s toe is said to bring good luck, so much so that it has been worn smooth by visitors over the years.

You can also squeeze in a light hike up Marjan Hill, also known as the “lungs of Split”. Its summit is an ideal place for a picnic, offering marvelous views of the harbor and neighboring islands.

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The crystal clear waters of Bačvice beach. Visit Split/Facebook

Fancy another beach day? Bačvice beach is a popular hangout spot in the center of Split. Relax at one of the many cafe bars and watch the locals play picigin, a traditional ball game. Rumor has it this beach is also where the sport originates from.

Day 7: Krka/Omiš/Trogir

Don't be too quick to leave Split. From here, there are several options for day tours to surrounding attractions.
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Some of the most stunning waterfalls in Croatia can be found at Krka National Park. Krka Nationa Park/Facebook

For nature lovers, Krka National Park is another national park about an hour’s drive from Split. Spend a day walking along well-maintained trails that wind along some of the most stunning waterfalls in the country. Again, make sure you get there early to avoid the crowds!

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Try white water rafting in Omiš. Tourist Board Omiš/Facebook

For those craving more action, head to the picturesque town of Omiš which offers one of the most dramatic scenes on the coast. The city is nestled in a canyon surrounded by gray, craggy mountains, contrasting the peacock blue waters where the Cetina River meets the Adriatic Sea. Omiš offers white water rafting, free climbing, ziplining, abseiling, and canyoning, amongst other activities for visitors seeking a bit of a thrill on their vacation.

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Just one of the many well-preserved remains scattered around Trogir's Old Town. Visit Trogir/Facebook

For the history buff, head to Trogir which has the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex in all of Central Europe. Take a walk around the Old Town, surrounded by walls comprising a series of dwellings and palaces from the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods.

Day 8: Hvar

With over 1,000 islands, it wouldn’t be a complete trip to Croatia without doing some island hopping. From Split, take the 1-hour ferry ride over to Hvar. Its beauty and vibrant nightlife have made it a regular vacation spot for the likes of celebrities such as George Clooney and Beyonce.

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Hvar is one of the longest and sunniest islands in Croatia. Hvar Tourist Board/Facebook

Start by wandering around St. Stephen’s Square, the largest square in Croatia and don’t miss the Cathedral of St. Stephen and the Hvar public theater. For the best view, climb to the top of the Španjola Fortress to get an unobstructed view overlooking Hvar Town and nearby Pakleni Islands. You can even rent a small boat (no license required) to explore these islands on your own!

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The view from the top of the Španjola Fortress is unparalleled on the island. Hvar Tourist Board/Facebook

Once you’ve taken in all these sights, enjoy another relaxing beach day at one of the many pristine beaches such as Malo Zaraće, Dubovica, or Pokonji Dol.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for another day trip, book a tour with one of the local travel agencies to the Blue Caves on Biševo and marvel at its clear, iridescent blue waters.

Day 9: Korčula

After the buzz of Hvar, take the ferry to the tranquil town of Vela Luka on the island of Korčula, the birthplace of famed explorer Marco Polo and home to some of the best Croatian wines.

From Vela Luka, take a scenic drive towards the town of Korčula, also known as “little Dubrovnik”. Along the way, stop by the numerous family-run vineyards that welcome visitors for wine and cheese tastings.

Grk is a white wine variety grown almost exclusively on Korčula, other white wines such as Pošip and Rukatac are also premier Croatian wines, often served on celebratory occasions. For fans of red wine, do grab a bottle or 2 of Plavac Mali.

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Vineyards of Korčula island. Visit Korčula/Facebook

In Korčula, walk off the afternoon’s indulgences exploring the streets of the Old Town with its architectural influences by the Venetian Renaissance, before capping off the night with a meal and more wine at any of its superb restaurants.

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Korčula town. Visit Korčula/Facebook

Day 10: Dubrovnik

There’s no better way to end the trip than with Dubrovnik. And yes, there is no shortage of Game of Thrones tours to indulge your senses, but there is so much more to this medieval city than where Cersei Lannister did her walk of shame.

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The beautiful Saint Blaise's Church in Dubrovnik was built during the 10th century. Dubrovnik Tourist Board/Facebook

Talk a walk along the city walls and through Stradun, Dubrovnik’s main street. From here, you can also catch Onofrio’s Large Fountain that used to supply Dubrovnik with fresh water during the Middle Ages and other impressive structures including the Clock Tower, Saint Blaise's Church, Saint Ignatius Church, Cathedral of the Assumption, and the Franciscan Monastery.

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The view from beyond the walls of Dubrovnik looking upon Fort Lovrijenac. Dubrovnik Tourist Board/Facebook

Watch the sunsets and reminisce on your amazing road trip through the country at one of the cliff bars along the city walls, before capping it all off with an exquisite meal at one of the many Michelin-starred or recommended restaurants Dubrovnik has to offer.

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Nothing like a luscious meal to top off a fantastic experience road-tripping in Croatia. Dubrovnik Tourist Board/Facebook

And that’s all folks, you’ve done it! Croatia in 10 days! Bear in mind, this is merely the appetizer of what Croatia has to offer. Customize this guide to better suit your tastes and pace and remember, don’t hesitate to ask the locals in order to unlock the best secrets each location has to offer.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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