Monday, 7 September 2020

PHOTOS: It's True! Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia on Holiday

Total Croatia News broke the story last Friday. And now it's finally been confirmed - it's true, Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia

News travels fast in Croatia. Nowhere does it travel quicker than on the ever-reliable News pages of Total Croatia News. Unless, of course, you count Croatian gossip.

TCN journalist extraordinaire Iva Tatić was relaxing on the island of Korčula, playing with her dog, when last week she heard an eyebrow-raising piece of gossip through the open window. “Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia!”

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Iva Tatić's dog, one of the first to hear about Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia

Ever the professional, Iva leaned out of the balcony to ask a neighbour to confirm the rumour. “That's what they're saying” replied the neighbour, above a small street filled with laughter. The cause of the chuckles? Not only are Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia, but they've also asked for the entire islet of Vrnik to be evacuated so they can enjoy a private visit. “Hmm, difficult request,” thought Iva. Vrnik is an inhabited island. People live there throughout the year. There are probably around 100 people there right now.

Much to the disappointment of her dog, Iva's journalistic instincts took over. She sat down at the computer and set about trying to corroborate the rumour so that she could break the news. At her time of writing, she was unable to do so. There was simply nothing in any other media confirming Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia.

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How Iva Tatić broke the story about Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia last Friday. Her's was the first story to announce the pop star's arrival. It has since been confirmed that the celebrity couple are indeed aboard the pictured yacht, Lana. Iva Tatić took this photo of the yacht from the shores of the island of Korčula, where she likes to spend much of her summer

But, sometimes a journalist's instinct is all they need. Iva confirmed that the yacht Lana had been seen in the surroundings of the Korčula archipelago. She went to the shoreline and it was there! From a distance, she managed to grab a photo. At 107 meters in length and capable of accommodating 12 guests and 31 crew, this is no ordinary yacht. Some special visitors were definitely holidaying here.

Knowing that Beyonce and Jay Z had been here nine years ago, on Hvar, and two years prior to that had been in Dubrovnik, Iva went with gut instincts and published the story, being careful to mention it was uncorroborated. Her article was the first to break the news of a visit that is now 100% confirmed. It's true, Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia.

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Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia, pictured on Instagram

The yacht Lana was spotted further up the coast on Saturday, around the Kornati archipelago. Then, in the afternoon of the same day, tourists visiting the island of Žut were finally able to corroborate Iva's story. They managed to grab pictures of Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia. They were dining in an otherwise deserted restaurant, Fešta on the island. The visit coincides with Beyonce's 39th birthday.

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Iva's story was confirmed by Croatian portal Zadarski.hr one day after Iva published when they were able to show photos of the couple dining on the island of Žut

This being visit number three for Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia, we wouldn't count out a return visit next year for her 40th. The couple clearly love coming to Croatia. If they do come, be sure to look out for Total Croatia News again breaking the story. Since the writing of her article, Iva Tatić and her dog have been taking their cuddling sessions much closer to Iva's open window.

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Iva Tatić's dog "Beyonce and Jay Z in Croatia? I don't care! Where did my cuddles go?"

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Sunday, 30 August 2020

Croatia Remembers the Kornati Tragedy 13 Years Later

August 30, 2020 - Croatia remembers the Kornati tragedy, which occurred on August 30, 2007, when a group of firefighters fell victim to a blaze on the island of Kornati. Of the 13 firefighters at the scene, 12 died on the spot or in hospital, and only one survived - Frane Lučić from Tisno. The event is considered the worst disaster since the Croatian War of Independence, with officials dying on duty. 

“An unprecedented firefighting tragedy happened on the Kornati Islands in Dalmatia, Croatia on August 30, 2007. This is the worst disaster since the Croatian War of Independence, with officials dying on duty. The underbrush on the barren, uninhabited side of the island caught fire, and firefighters were called to help. As the summer is the season of fires, Croatia had lent a firefighting plane to Greece to help fight their fires. So there was an urgent need for another means of transportation, and a military helicopter was used to transport firefighters and a water container. The MI-8 MTV-1 helicopter disembarked the water container at one spot, the firefighters at another, and left. That military helicopter has remained the issue of later speculations. Namely, in “Novi tjednik,” a Dalmatia daily, a shocking article by journalist Jelena Devcic was published entitled “Proofs buried, cleaning fluid on the ground.” It has been speculated that the helicopter hit a rock during maneuvering, and besides a blown tire, the tank was damaged with oil and petrol leaking because some oily stains were found on the rocks. The firefighters were soon surrounded by burning underbrush, and they burned.

According to the official expertise that was done later, it was concluded that a burn-out of an inhomogeneous gas mixture occurred by burning vegetation accompanied by strong winds. A similar rare phenomenon was described in Australia in 2003 near Canberra and Corsica in 2000 near the place Palasca. Besides our leading forensic experts, the leading world firefighting experts were invited to the Republic of Croatia who came to reconstruct the disaster, to find out the dynamics and kinetics of fire, its speed and direction it spread, height and position of the flame and to assess the freed thermal energy,” reads the official report from Hrvoje Lalić, Professor, Specialist in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Rijeka Medical School. 

Six firefighters from the Sibenik fire department were killed - Dino Klarić, Ivica Crvelin, Ivan Marinović, Marko Stančić, Gabrijel Skočić, and Hrvoje Strikoman, and seven more survived with severe body burns. Five were transferred for treatment in Zagreb (Tomislav Crvelin, Ante Crvelin, Josip Lučić, Karlo Ševerdija, and Marinko Knežević) and soon died from the severity of their burns. The only surviving firefighter, Frane Lučić, was discharged for home treatment after recovering at Split Clinical Hospital.

County Fire Commander Dražen Slavica was the only one charged with the Kornati tragedy, as the only potential culprit for the death of 12 of his colleague. DORH charged the then fire commander with numerous failures in organizing the intervention, appointing minors to the fire, delaying assistance to the victims, and more. At the end of April 2018, he was finally acquitted of all guilt in a repeated trial. 

An eruptive fire is an official explanation initially presented to the public as the cause of the accident.

“It has been shown that the temperature at the fire site was over 1200°C, and it explained the cause of such a sporadic fire. The cause was the burn-out of an inhomogeneous gas mixture due to the burning of vegetation, carried by a strong wind that swept over the firemen.

The idea that the kerosene from the army helicopter caught fire was discarded as unfounded and improbable. It was the seasonal receptionist at the Kornati National Park, whose cigarette butt started the chain of unfortunate events.

The last question refers to the events after the disaster – why did it take hours to transport the casualties from the island to the mainland, late at night by a naval vessel? Only one fireman survived. Because he developed PTSD and was undergoing treatment, he could not comprehend the whole event, but is aware of his colleagues´ death. He was transferred to Bratislava, Slovakia, to have his skin grafted. He wishes to return to everyday life but has a long rehabilitation ahead of him. In principle, most patients return to work after burn injuries. Of course, it depends on the type and severity of the injury, which often requires a long and intensive hospital therapy and other out-of-hospital treatments. Major burns consequentially lead to the failure of organs, sepsis, and shock. The survivors often get damaged muscle-skeletal and circulation systems, but also mental disorders. Deformities, loss of body parts (like the Kornati survivor with a handicap finger), may trigger serious psychological problems. Social support, the role of family and partners is of great importance. It is not only the direct victims that are mentally scarred. Three weeks after the Kornati tragedy, the volunteer fire company secretary hanged himself. He was a high-school teacher and knew the young victims who used to be his students. The volunteer fire company captain needed psychiatric treatment,” Hrvoje Lalić continued in the official report. 

It took ten years for the state to settle with Frane Lučić. It was decided that the compensation would be 1.75 million kuna, that he would be paid two monthly rents - 1500 kuna for medical preparations and food and 4500 kuna for help and care. He was also reimbursed for 617 thousand kuna in court costs, all of which, with default interest, amounted to around 5 million kuna as of 2009.

In September 2009, the government commissioned the Ministries of Culture, Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Construction and Physical Planning to announce a call for proposals for the Kornati tragedy memorial's conceptual design, so that it would be completed by the anniversary in 2010. On January 29, 2010, it was announced that Zadar architect Nikola Bašić would design the memorial. The plan was to have crosses made of stones as found on the island, which would fit into the landscape. The memorial crosses on Kornati were completed on May 23, 2010.

Due to the announced strong southern winds, the commemoration for firefighters will not be held on Sunday, August 30, but on Tuesday, September 1.

The commemoration will begin with a service of words for the fallen firefighters in the Chapel of St. Florian at 10 am, after which the envoys of the President of the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian Parliament, and the Government will lay a wreath.

Representatives of Sibenik-Knin County, the cities of Sibenik and Vodice, the municipalities of Tisno and Murter-Kornati, the Croatian Fire Brigade, the Sibenik-Knin County Fire Brigade and the Kornati National Park will light candles.

Today, we remember Dino Klarić, Ivica Crvelin, Ivan Marinović, Marko Stančić, Gabrijel Skočić, Hrvoje Strikoman, Ante Crvelin, Tomislav Crvelin, Josip Lučić, Karlo Ševerdija, Marinko Knežević and Ante Juričev Mikulin. Twelve lives gone too soon. May they never be forgotten.

You can read more about the Kornati tragedy here

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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

VIDEO: Drone Footage Shows Cycling On Ugljan Island, A Blissful Paradise

August 4, 2020 - Get a bird’s eye view of Zadar’s closest facing neighbour with this new drone footage of cycling on Ugljan island

Even in the height of summer, Croatia can offer total escape. The crowds and city streets have been all but forgotten by Andrej Šimunaj and his friends, who are currently enjoying cycling on Ugljan island. A new video they shot using a drone offers an incredible perspective of the peace, tranquillity and beauty of this little-discussed island.

The footage shows the visitors passing through peaceful pine forests as they journey to the vantage point of Venetian-built St. Michael’s Fort, high above the town of Preko and just of the edge of the Kornati National Park. From there, the cyclists roll downhill to a small cove named Prtljug, which holds the incredibly clear turquoise seas so beloved by visitors to the Croatian coast.


Cycling On Ugljan Island

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Ecological Footprint Measured at NP Kornati and PP Lastovo

October 24, 2019 - Thanks to the DestiMED project, the Kornati National Park and the Lastovo Islands Nature Park were able to measure the ecological footprint of their tourist offer, which is now available to Croatia’s other protected areas.

Not surprisingly, food turns out to have the most impact on the ecological footprint of visitors on the protected area itself.

Namely, HRTurizam writes that at the closing ceremony of the international DestiMED project held in Rome, the latest methodology for monitoring the ecological footprint of tourists in protected areas in the Mediterranean Sea was presented, and among the areas where the method was tested were the Kornati National Park and the Lastovo Islands Nature Park.

Using the standardized tools of the world's leading eco-footprint measurement organization, Global Footprint Network, as a starting point, partners in the DestiMED project adapted the eco-footprint methodology for environmental impact assessment. Not only was the ecological footprint of each tourist who participated in the latest eco-tourism offer measured, but concrete steps were taken to manage the environmental footprint in that offer. Specific components, such as food, lodging, transportation, and recreational activities, were taken into account.

The results indicated that food and drink had the most substantial environmental impact, especially in those packages that offered large quantities of meat products.

"The methodology for monitoring the ecological footprint we developed within the DestiMED project and the first of its kind in the world has helped protected areas and tourism professionals in the Kornati National Park and the Lastovo Islands Nature Park see where their tours are great, and where there is space for improvement when it comes to the impact on the environment and nature. Moreover, new and alternative business opportunities have been identified that are pushing us towards more sustainable local development,” explains Mosor Prvan of WWF Adria, DestiMED project manager.

By making better choices and promoting the best practices in tourism and recreation, protected areas can address the environmental impact of their tourism packages developed as part of the DestiMED project, while improving the quality of services offered to tourists, concluded WWF Adria.

In the future, the free online eco-footprint calculator will make the methodology applicable to all protected areas in the Mediterranean that are ready to create and test their ecotourism packages.

You can view the online tool here.

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

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Research Being Carried Out at NP Kornati to Lower Amount of Rubbish

As SibenikIN writes on the 12th of October, 2019, the popular Kornati National Park (NP Kornati) is undergoing research this weekend to identify the sources of waste pollution in the area of ​​that particular national park. Based on the results of the research, an attempt will be made to determine the proportion of waste that comes into the Kornati area carried by the sea's currents and waste generated in the area of ​​the park itself.

The research, which has been continuing over the weekend, started back in October 2017. As stated, based on the results of the research, measures will be defined to reduce the amount of waste generated in the park area, all with the aim of preserving and protecting the extremely valuable Kornati submarine areas.

The research is being carried out in cooperation with the Society for Underwater Sports - DPS Zagreb, and is being led by Ph.D. Martina Markov.

The exceptional biodiversity of Kornati's submarine is one of the reasons why part of the Kornati archipelago was declared a national park back in 1980. To date, more than 1,300 plant and animal species have been recorded in the Kornati submarine, including 366 types of algae, 3 sea flowers, 81 sponge species, 78 sea urchin species, 17 starfish species, 71 coral species, 145 snail species, 59 shellfish species, 77 crustacean species and 188 species of fish. With each new survey, the list is enriched with yet more, newly discovered species.

The greater part of the coastal zone is inhabited by the beautiful posidonia marine flowering plants, whose habitats are primarily NATURA 2000 habitats. The submarine cliffs there are characterised by coralligen - a habitat composed of red algae. Coralligen is home for an extremely large variety of species that are suitable for reduced light conditions - such as sponges, corals, and red and brown algae.

In the wider area of ​​the Kornati National Park, which includes the Žut-Sit group of islands and the Murter area, 147 different species of bottlenose dolphins have been recorded so far, and often sea turtles - such as loggerhead turtles - which are strictly protected animals.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more. If you're interested in both official and unofficial ways Croatia works to protect its environment, give Total Eco Croatia a follow.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Remembering Kornati Tragedy 12 Years On

August 30, 2019 - The Kornati tragedy occurred on August 30, 2007, when a group of firefighters fell victim to a blaze on the island of Kornati. Of the 13 firefighters in the group, 12 died on the spot or in hospitals, and only one survived - Frane Lučić from Tisno. The event is considered the most terrible disaster since the Croatian War of Independence, with officials dying on duty. 

“An unprecedented firefighters´ tragedy happened on the Kornati Islands in Dalmatia, Croatia on August 30, 2007. This is the most terrible disaster since the Croatian War of Independence, with officials dying on duty. The underbrush on the barren, uninhabited side of the island caught fire and firefighters were called to help. As the summer is the season of fires, Croatia had lent a fire-fighting plane to Greece to help fight their fires. So there was an urgent need for another means of transportation and a military helicopter was used to transport firefighters and a water container. The helicopter MI-8 MTV-1 disembarked the water container at one spot, firefighters at another and left. That military helicopter has remained the issue of later speculations. Namely, in “Novi tjednik”, a Dalmatia daily, a shocking article by journalist Jelena Devcic was published entitled “Proofs buried, cleaning fluid on the ground”. It has been speculated that the helicopter hit a rock during maneuvering, and besides a blown tire the tank was damaged with oil and petrol leaking because some oily stains were found on the rocks. The firefighters were soon surrounded by burning underbrush and they burned out.

According to the official expertise that was done later, it was concluded that it was a burn-out of an inhomogeneous gas mixture which occurred by burning vegetation accompanied by strong winds. A similar rare phenomenon was described in Australia in 2003 near Canberra and in Corsica in 2000 near the place Palasca. Besides our leading forensic experts, the leading world firefighting experts were invited to the Republic of Croatia who came to reconstruct the disaster, to find out the dynamics and kinetics of fire, its speed and direction it spreads, height and position of the flame and to assess the freed thermal energy,” reads the official report from Hrvoje Lalić, Professor, Specialist in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Rijeka Medical School. 

Six firefighters from the Šibenik fire department were killed - Dino Klarić, Ivica Crvelin, Ivan Marinović, Marko Stančić, Gabrijel Skočić and Hrvoje Strikoman, and seven more survived with severe burns on the body - five of which were transferred for treatment in Zagreb (Tomislav Crvelin, Ante Crvelin, Josip Lučić, Karlo Ševerdija and Marinko Knežević) who soon died from the consequences of severe burns. The only surviving firefighter, Frane Lučić, was discharged for home treatment after recovering at Split Clinical Hospital.

The central celebration of the 12th anniversary of the Kornati tragedy will take place on Friday on the island of Kornati. 

"We don't know the truth, and I don't think I'll live to see it, and I doubt anyone will tell it. It is very sad, after 12 years, that no one is responsible for 12 lives, it is very sad,” said Ajka Crvelin, wife and mother of the deceased firefighters, told RTL.

It took ten years for the state to finally settle with Frane Lučić, the only surviving Kornati firefighter. It was decided that the compensation would be 1.75 million kuna, that he would be paid two monthly rents - 1500 kuna for medical preparations and food and 4500 kuna for help and care. He will also be reimbursed for 617 thousand kuna in court costs, all of which, with default interest, will amount to about 5 million kuna as of 2009.

County Fire Commander Dražen Slavica was the only one charged with the Kornati tragedy, the only potential culprit for the death of 12 of his colleague. DORH charged the then fire commander with numerous failures in organizing the intervention, referring minors to the fire, delaying assistance to the victims, etc. At the end of April 2018, he was finally acquitted of all guilt in a repeated trial. 

An eruptive fire is an official explanation initially presented to the public as the cause of the accident.

“It has been shown that the temperature at the fire site was over 1200°C and it explained the cause of such a sporadic fire. The cause was the burn-out of an inhomogeneous gas mixture due to the burning of vegetation which was carried by a strong wind that swept over the firemen.

The idea that the kerosene from the army helicopter caught fire was discarded as unfounded and improbable. It was the seasonal receptionist in the Kornati National Park whose cigarette butt started the chain of unfortunate events.

The last question refers to the events after the disaster – why did it take hours to transport the casualties from the island to the mainland, late at night by a naval vessel. Only one fireman survived. Because of the developed PTSD and the undergoing of treatment, he is not able to comprehend the whole event, but he is aware of his colleagues´ death. He was transplanted to Bratislava, Slovakia to have his skin cultivated. He wishes to return to everyday life but has a long rehabilitation before him. In principle, most patients return to work after burn injuries. Of course, it depends on the type and severity of the injury, which often requires a long and intensive hospital therapy as well as other out-hospital treatments. Major burns consequentially lead to the failure of organs, sepsis and shock. The survivors often get damaged muscle-skeletal and circulation systems, but also mental disorders. Deformities, loss of body parts (like the Kornati survivor with a finger handicap), may trigger serious psychological problems. Social support, the role of family and partners is of great importance. It is not only the direct victims that are mentally scarred. Three weeks after the Kornati tragedy, the volunteer fire company secretary hanged himself. He was a high-school teacher and knew the young victims who used to be his students. The captain of the volunteer fire company needed psychiatric treatment,” Hrvoje Lalić continued in the official report. 

In September 2009, the government commissioned the Ministries of Culture, Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Construction and Physical Planning to announce a call for proposals for the conceptual design of the Kornati tragedy memorial, so that it would be completed by the anniversary in 2010. On January 29, 2010, it was announced that the competition for the memorial was won by Zadar architect Nikola Bašić. The plan was to have the design of crosses made up of stones as found on the island, which would fit into the landscape. The memorial crosses on the Kornati islands were completed on May 23, 2010.

Today, we remember Dino Klarić, Ivica Crvelin, Ivan Marinović, Marko Stančić, Gabrijel Skočić, Hrvoje Strikoman, Ante Crvelin, Tomislav Crvelin, Josip Lučić, Karlo Ševerdija, Marinko Knežević and Ante Juričev Mikulin. Twelve lives gone too soon. May they never be forgotten.

You can read more about the Kornati tragedy here

Excerpts translated from Dalmacija Danas.

Monday, 5 August 2019

On the Road with Domovina Birthright Program: Smiljan, Knin & Kornati

August 5, 2019 - As previously reported on TCN, the first Domovina Birthright Program took place in Croatia last month, an initiative between the American Croatian Association of Professionals, and the Croatian Government.

The idea of the program is to take the young adults of Croatian descent (ages 18 – 30), who wish to learn about their heritage, explore Croatia, connect with their Croatian identity and meet other young Croatian adults on an amazing trip to Croatia.

Kristiana Banđen is one of the 34 initial participants in the program, and she has kindly agreed to document her journey as she explores the country of her heritage. Over to Kristiana for Day 8-9:

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On day 8 of our trip, from Pula, we travelled to Smiljan to visit Nikola Tesla’s hometown and memorial centre. 

It was really cool to see that the memorial centre was built in the home of Nikola and his family. Although made modern for the museum, all the old structure is still in place. Our tour guide was really insightful and shared a lot of interesting facts about Nikola as a child. Today, his most notable contribution is the modern alternating current electricity supply system as well as the Tesla coil, the induction motor, neon light and the radio to name a few. 

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I think it’s important as a Croatian to take note of the influence Croatians have had on today’s modern day. Although Tesla was born on land that is part of Croatia today, his family was of Serbian background.

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My favourite aspect of the memorial centre in Smiljan was the attic of Nikola’s home where it showcases samples of his inventions. Pressing the buttons puts on a display of the invention, showcasing how it looked through photographs and not modernized for how it’s used today. 

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After lunch, we arrived in Knin where we had some free time and time to prepare for a meeting and dinner with the Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia. Not only was it amazing to have the opportunity to speak to and dine with this company, but we had the chance to do so in an amazing venue, the Knin Fortress! Catching the sunset at the top of the fortress was absolutely breathtaking with the view! 

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We were blessed again with an amazing meal. Not only was the food delicious (as per usual!), we were able to enjoy the vocals from Klapa Sveti Juraj! What a great experience! 

For a little bit of fun and relaxation, for the next day, a Kornati trip was organized for us on a private boat for the group. I have previously taken a tour for the Kornati National Park with my family but with the trip I had taken before, we didn’t have the opportunity to stop at the memorial crosses. The crosses, found on the island Veliki Kornat, commemorates the Croatian firefighters who lost their lives in the Kornati tragedy on August 30, 2007. On that day over 10 years ago, a group of firefighters were deployed to the island to extinguish a small fire. Unfortunately, for an unknown reason, the fire had taken the lives of the group. Croatia remembers the heroes as a permanent reminder for the dedication of the profession. This is something that almost all of us in the group had no idea of. It has been really riveting to learn about incidents such as this one that I never knew about. 

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Swimming, beautiful views, good food, singing and dancing soon ended and the party continued to Vrana for the evening to enjoy dinner at Maškovića Han. Located in my dad’s hometown, it made dinner even more special. I remember how the location of the restaurant/hotel looked like before it is what it is today. As a child, we would walk the grounds with my family, and I loved watching all the rabbits jumping around. It is amazing how Croatia as a whole has developed so much throughout my years visiting. Each year, the country becomes more developed, but not in a bad way. It makes my childhood memories even more precious to have had experienced the country in its most simplistic form, which I feel others could relate as well! 

 

Next up: More of the Dalmatia coast! 

 

To follow the latest news from the Croatian diaspora, follow the dedicated TCN section

 

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Smoke-free Coast: Camp in Murter Swapping Free Drinks for Cigarette Butts

August 4, 2019 - Murter is the latest in the fight to make Croatia's coast free of cigarette pollution. 

Earlier this week, TCN reported that the City of Hvar installed biodegradable cardboard ashtrays to reduce the environmental impact of littered cigarette butts on the beaches thanks to a solution by the Volim Vlašići Association from the island of Pag. Recall, the ashtrays are disposable or reusable, made of paper (cardboard), are biodegradable, and have assembly instructions. 

Today, we bring you another example of a Croatian town joining the fight against cigarette pollution, reports Dalmacija Danas.

Namely, you might have heard of “Smoke-free coast”, the name of a campaign that delighted locals and tourists in Estepona, a small coastal town in southern Spain. The campaign is straightforward: bring a glass full of cigarette butts to any stall on the beach and in return, enjoy a cold beer or refreshing drink. 

The example of Estepona has caught on in Croatia, and the same practice has been adopted by a camp in Murter, who informed locals and tourists in the area via Facebook that they are joining the smoke-free action. 

“Following the example of a story from a place in southern Spain where you get a drink in return for a glass full of cigarette butts, we decided to apply the same practice. Camp Slanica, in cooperation with the Lostura beach bar, joins the action - anyone who brings a glass/bottle/bag full of cigarette butts to the beach bar Lostura, gets in return free juice or beer! Since the Murter-Kornati Tourist Board has installed ashtrays on all beaches in Murter at the beginning of summer, you can also freely use cans that serve as ashtrays and fill them with cigarette butts that you find on your favorite beach in Murter. With this action, we all contribute together to a cleaner environment, and at the same time we participate in the prevention of fires, since cigarette butts are a common cause of fires. Hurry up for the action and refresh yourself for the reward - collect, replace, cheers!,” said Camp Slanica on facebook.

NBC News reported that cigarette butts are the single most collected item on the world’s beaches, with more than 60 million collected over 32 years. Not surprisingly, this number amounts to “about one-third of all collected items and more than plastic wrappers, containers, bottle caps, eating utensils and bottles, combined”, NBC said.

Much like plastic, cigarette butts take years to disappear from the environment and the chemicals they are composed of are harmful to everything from plants and wildlife to children. 

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

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Festa Days on Zut: A Kornati Michelin Gourmet Superstar

June 19, 2019 - It is 26 years since a restaurant opened on an uninhabited island in the middle of a war. Festa Days on Zut celebrates one of the great stories in Croatian tourism. 

Often in life, you only find out about the best things by chance. A missed conversation, an unanswered phone call, and the opportunity is gone. And so it is with one of my favourite things on the Croatian tourism calendar - Festa Days on Zut, one of the 140 or so Kornati Islands, which really should not be attracting too much attention without the efforts of one determined restaurant. Because without them, the majority of sailors would simply pass by and head to another island. 

My acquaintance with Restaurant Festa on Zut almost didn't happen. I am not a sailor and spend less time on the water than my social media profile might suggest, but I was delighted to join the team from Gastronaut to discover Kornati and Murter on one of their excellent foodie tours a couple of years ago in early November. As I learned later, Festa on Zut was a last-minute addition. Even though it was closed for the season, the owner wanted to be part of the Gastronaut programme. It was quite a show, and the Festa success story was yet one more paradox in the Croatian tourism story - an innovative business succeeding despite the efforts of the State, not assisted by it. You can read The Paradox of Croatian Tourism: Case Study - Restaurant Festa, Island Zut

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Just under a year later. I was back - invited as part of the press to cover the 25-year celebrations of this great island success story. A restaurant which attracts A-list celebrities celebrated its silver jubilee with a gourmet extravaganza, served up by 5 Michelin Star chefs and 5 of Croatia's top chefs. An amazing experience

Festa Days on Zut was a great success and it has now been turned into an annual event. An invitation to the 2019 edition landed in my inbox, very conveniently on the last day of school as we were heading down to Hvar from Varazdin. Festa kindly agreed to find some space for my girls as well. 

And so the 24-hour Kornati adventure began. A speedboat transfer from Zadar to Zut passing under the bridge which connects Ugljan and Pasman. 

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As our skipper explained, not all boats pass through as easily as we did, and more than one sailboat has scraped through. As a man who once drove a transit van into a bridge in Alsace, I could perfectly understand. 

And after 50 minutes of getting into the holiday mood, gorgeous Zut awaited us - the approach to Festa from the water. 

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Let the summer begin!

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The Festa team has expanded its operations in recent years to diversify its tourism offer - their latest accommodation option was glamping, which made me popular with the kids. 

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A delightful way to relax on this most natural of islands, with not a neighbour in sight. Super comfy. 

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Due to our relatively late arrival due to the last school day, there was not enough time for chilling before dinner as there might have been, but we arrived in time for cocktail hour. 

Where there was plenty of waterfront expertise and innovation on offer. 

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Festa Days is also a great occasion for locals to come and celebrate, and there were numerous people from neighbouring islands, as well as the de facto capital of the Kornati Islands - Murter. Some sailing boats made it more obvious where they came from... 

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The outstanding hosts, Mirko and Kreso, whose achievements in getting the Festa story thus far cannot be underestimated. And both were still totally focused on the job and ensuring their guests had the most sensational experience. 

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And so to the food. Below, a dish by dish account, as five Michelin Star chefs and five top Croatian chefs put together an unforgettable evening. Information on each dish includes the accompanying wine and the individual chef. The tone of the culinary evening was perhaps best summed up by resident Festa chef, Zoran Jajac:

“Recently I celebrated my 61st birthday and lot of my colleagues and friends started asking me until when do I plan to continue to work as a professional chef. Until the child in me says to, I respond. To every child his play and toys are the most important things in life. When I cook I play and ingredients are my toys. When this emotion vanishes I will know that I have to stop working because I grew up.”

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Mushed dogfish with traditional Murter sausage

Billecart-Salmon Brut

Chef Zoran Jajac

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Tuna tartare with Cherry Coulis

Rose Degarra

Chef Stefano Deidda

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Mackerel fishermen’s way

Ribolla Simčić

Chef Domenico Schingaro

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Spaghetti with mixed fish sauce and dried anchovies bones powder

Debit Birin

Chef Vinod Sookar

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Monkfish, capers & samphire in Debit sauce

Saladić Maraština

Chef Ante Božikov

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Mussels risotto with Pag cheese rind

Chardonnay ’17 Dvorac Belaj

Chef Hrvoje Zirojević

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There was great cooperation between chefs to ensure that the evening went perfectly.

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Ray fish, demiglace, leek, sweet potato with parsnip chips

Pošip Divina

Chef David Skoko

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Hake and bonito duet

Crni pinot Tomac

Chef Damnjan Draganić

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Marinated swordfish and bitter sweet artichokes

Malvasia Nera San Marzzano

Chef Danilo Bei

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Lemon, basil, strawberry and thyme tart

Muškat žuti Laguna

Chef Josip Vrsaljko

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Festa Days is much more than just food, however. There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the traditions of the Kornati region, and guests were treated to a show of traditional fishing with lanterns in between courses.

A lovely evening.  

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Breakfast at Festa Days is full of natural goodness, local produce and zero waste. The perfect leisurely start to the day. A day which was to be quite diverse.

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There was plenty of time for a leisurely morning before those amazing chefs were back in action with a selection of seafood delicacies.

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Accompanied by a fine selection of wines from the winemakers of the night before. 

And, this being Festa Days, there was a touch of class in the form of this excellent string quartet. 

And a snapshot of traditional life, as chef Ante Bozikov from Opat took part in a local game of Sijavica. 

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The relaxed pace of life gave me time to check out a story that had been on my mind since my last visit - who the hell would open a shop on an island where nobody lived permanently, and how was the shop doing? It turned out to be a lovely story

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So many snapshots of tradition, heritage and natural beauty as we departed just as the second gala dinner was beginning. Festa Days is one of the top things in the Dalmatian gourmet calendar. Don't miss it next year - you can follow Festa on Facebook for the latest updates

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Meet the Shop on an Uninhabited Croatian Island Doing Great Business on Zut

June 16, 2019 - Business is booming in parts of Croatia where you might least expect it. Imagine opening a shop on an island with no permanent inhabitants, for example - as Sime and Veronika have done on the Kornati island of Zut, for example. 

The more I travel around Croatia, the more amazed I get by the individual stories of innovation, determination and success. In the most unlikely of places. 

Consider, for example, the island of Zut on the Kornati Islands, where I enjoyed my first ever glamping experience on Friday night at Festa Days. 

This was my third visit to Zut, an island I will confess I had never heard of until the first invitation came a couple of years ago for a November tour of Kornati with the foodies from Gastronaut. Our host was Restaurant Festa, a really quite incredible story of success despite all the odds and lack of bureaucratic support. 

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Despite there being no water, no electricity and no ferry to Zut, the owners decided to open a high-quality restaurant on Zut, and they opened for business in 1993. In the middle of the war. And having survived such difficult conditions, it was clear that Team Festa was going to succeed. I wrote an article about the paradox of Croatian tourism, using Festa and Zut as a case study after that first visit. 

Less than a year later, I was back, invited with other national and international media to celebrate 25 years of Festa on Zut, with a culinary bonanza, served up by several Michelin Star chefs and some of Croatia's finest chefs. It was quite an event

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Friday was the opening night of this year's Festa Days, an equally splendid affair which I will report on once I receive the official photos which are so much better than my own, but I wanted to tell you about another fabulous find and successful business on this Kornati gem. 

Success breeds success, and the increased nautical traffic to Festa gave local couple Sime and Veronika Bozikov an idea. Although living on nearby Murter, they had property on Zut which they used for summer rentals and personal use. But what if they also tried to open a shop? Of course, with nobody living permanently on the island, there was not going to be many regular visitors, but the sailing community is wealthy and convenience stores are in very limited supply, so I learned. In fact on the 140 Kornati islands (89 of which are in the national park), there are just three shops, including Sime and Veronika's. 

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A shop with a view, and a great place to enjoy an ice-cold Karlovacko from the shop's fridge. The couple opened four years ago, and now Sime spends 8 months a year on Zut, with Veronika joining with the kids when she can from Murter, and then for the whole summer. 

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Goods are delivered every two days as standard, and they are always just a boat ride away from Murter for exceptional cases. Sime has even invented a wagon with pulley to bring the goods from the water to the shop - it is no fun carrying boxes in temperatures of up to 40C in the summer. 

As there was no delivery that day, his kids obliged with a demonstration of how the system worked - see the video above. 

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Sime is a sailor himself, so when he was planning what kind of things to sell, he focused on the interior of a typical sailing boat fridge. These would be the most popular items, as well as some luxuries for the kids.  

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There are also fresh fruit and vegetables on offer, a lifesaver for those sailing around the islands with little or no option to stock up on fresh supplies.  

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The shop is very small, but it does have an impressive range of 600 items on offer. Beer and water take up a lot of the space, and are among the most popular items. I asked Sime what kind of crazy orders he gets, and he told me of one thirsty sailor who bought 500 cans of beer, another over a thousand litres of water.  

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And ice cream for the kids after a couple of days sailing is obviously popular with the kids. The family also bake their own fresh bread each morning.  

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And so to the obvious next question? How expensive is it? Apart from being able to charge a premium for offering a service in such a remote location, the actual costs of providing the service are extremely high. Consider, for example, how they keep those ice cold beers so chilled on an island with no electricity. Or the costs of speedboat transfer of all the goods. 

Given all this, I was surprised at how cheap their products were when they could really have charged a premium. To give you a comparison, there is a booze shop by the ferry in Split which charges 17 kuna for a half-litre can of beer (you can buy it in the supermarket for 9 kuna). There are not a lot of extra costs involved in getting that beer on the shelf. 

By contrast, the same beer costs 18 kuna on Zut, comes ice cold and with the opportunity to enjoy it on the terrace with that view. Which makes it cheaper than many bars on the mainland.  

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A fabulous story of success, building on the innovation and determination of the Festa pioneers. Both the outstanding restaurant and the presence of a shop will help bring a little more nautical traffic to Zut, and then perhaps some more facilities can be added to develop it further. Fantastic stuff. 

And the Croatian islands really are full of surprises - here are 25 things you would not expect to find there

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