Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Five Fairytale Destinations in Croatia You Have to Visit in 2022

June 28, 2022 - The magic of Croatia lies not only in its more than 1,700 km Adriatic coastline or its islands but also in its entire hinterland. In addition to its vast and fertile fields, as well as its imposing hills and mountains, let yourself be surprised by some fairytale destinations in Croatia.

If there is something that I still cannot understand, despite the enormous popularity of the Game of Thrones series and its obvious impact on tourism in Croatia, it is how more films and television series set in fantasy worlds have not been made in the country. I still do not have the privilege of being able to say that I know all the secrets that this country hides, but of the few destinations that I have visited and those that I have seen from a distance traveling on the roads, I have no doubt that Croatia is very similar to what one might imagine of Middle Earth as described by Tolkien in ''The Hobbit'' or ''The Lord of the Rings'' books series.

Sure, many countries can boast of magical landscapes, but did you know that Croatia even has villages and towns that seem to be taken straight from a fairy tale? This article is intended not only for those filmmakers looking to adapt their fantastic stories, or for those who need some inspiration to write them, but also for all intrepid travelers looking to transport themselves to a magical world.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Impossible not to mention the oldest and largest Croatian national park, Plitvice Lakes, in this list. All year-round, in the heart of Lika-Senj County, Plitvice Lakes is a natural wonder where, with a little imagination, one could believe that countless magical creatures live. Whether in the hot but verdant summer, when the leaves fall and the trees turn orange in the fall, when everything is covered in white snow that contrasts with the turquoise waters in the winter, or during the blossoming spring, Plitvice looks like a secret kingdom of peace and nature.

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Image: Plitvice Lakes National Park

Slunj Rastoke

Rastoke is a village located in the town of Slunj, and almost everyone in Croatia will tell you that the first thing they think of when you talk about fairy tales is Rastoke. I mean, it's enough to see it in the distance when you go down the highway to believe that it is a magical village that got stuck in time. With the merging waters of the Slunjčica and Korana rivers, its water mills, and its small wooden houses, Slunj Rastoke reminds me of those villages where an adventurer rested before continuing his dangerous mission.

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Image: Slunj Rastoke Tourist Board

Motovun

Perched high on a hill in central Istria, it doesn't get more magical than the ancient town of Motovun. Today it is known for its wines, gastronomy, and one of the oldest and most renowned film festivals, but for centuries, Motovun has been a cradle of history like no other in Croatia. For those familiar with the popular video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Motovun is very reminiscent of the city of Whiterun, also resting on a hill and giving shelter to important kings and their subjects.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Ogulin

Ogulin is a big exception to this list in that, unlike the rest, its reputation as a fairy tale destination is already widely known even in other parts of the world. Ogulin is even home to the Fairy Tale Festival, which recently held its 17th edition from June 10-12 this year. If you want to really feel like you are in a place straight out of the most fantastical fables, the town of Ogulin in Lika-Senj county is the place to go. The Frankopan Castle and a gentle population that breathes magic and fantasy every day of the year are details that make Ogulin perhaps the most celebrated fairytale destination on our list.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

Kopački Rit

While I would have liked to choose a destination reminiscent of happy and colorful settings from fairy tales, the Kopački Rit Nature Park had to be included on this list anyway, perhaps to represent a more somber and chilling landscape. The best way to refer to Kopački Rit, compared to other destinations on this list, is that it is... different. Don't worry, Kopački Rit is still a wonderful and enchanting place, with spectacular scenery and boasts biodiversity like no other place in the country. But without a doubt, and with a lot of imagination, Kopački Rit is reminiscent of a gloomy swamp that you could only reach if you took the wrong path, and the only thing that can await you in such a place is a dark fate.

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Photo: Mario Romulić

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

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Limited Edition Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival Startas Sneakers Designed to Celebrate Culture and Tourism

June 7, 2022 - Limited edition Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival Startas sneakers are painted with fairy tale motifs and are handmade in Croatia by the popular Vukovar footwear factory Borovo!

The Ogulin Fairytale Festival, in cooperation with Borovo, the most famous footwear factory in Croatia, has created special, limited festival sneakers inspired by the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival, reports Jutarnji List

The sneakers were painted by a young Ogulin artist Miss Ura, or Ana Salopek, a famous illustrator of children's books and award-winning author who will present her first book called "What If?" at the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival this year.

This is the first time that this legendary Vukovar footwear factory and the Ogulin Tourist Board have cooperated to promote the 17th edition of the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival. The cooperation arose through the idea of promoting and connecting Croatian culture, heritage, and original Croatian products.

"Connecting a cultural and tourist event such as the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival with the original Croatian footwear brand is a kind of upgrade of the entire event. Considering that the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival has been organized for many years with the wholehearted support of the Ministry of Culture and Media, Karlovac County, Croatian Tourist Board, Karlovac County Tourist Board, and the City of Ogulin, this cooperation was a logical sequence for us, and we are very proud that we made it happen," said the Ogulin Tourist Board.

The limited-edition sneakers will be available in Borovo shoe stores and on the brand's webshop for 229 kuna.

The traditional cultural and tourist Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival is ready to take place in Ogulin from June 10 to 12. This summer, the festival will celebrate fairy tales and fairytale creations across three days through a vibrant artistic and cultural program intended for children, youth, and adults. Admission to the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival is free for all ages.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 3 June 2022

Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival Will Take Place from June 10 to 12

June 3, 2022 - The Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival, a popular traditional cultural and tourist event, will be held for the 17th time in Ogulin from June 10 to 12. Those attending will get to enjoy a magical experience through a rich artistic and cultural programme for children of all ages, as well as adults.

The streets and squares of Ogulin are ready once again to turn into the most imaginative fairytale scene where numerous artists will perform and bring joy to those who have gathered with lots of fun and positive energy, reports HRT News. All families will be able to find something for themselves on the festival's stages throughout the city that bears the appropriate names, such as Regoč, Đulin vrt, Neva Nevičica, Stribor, Potjeh, Kosjenka, and Domaći, the organisers announced.

The festival was launched back in 2006, was organised by the Tourist Board of Ogulin, and was inspired by the work of the famous Croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, who was born in Ogulin. The city and its surroundings were her greatest inspiration for writing.

There will be numerous workshops and plays, also featured will be video screenings of Croatian cartoon films: ''Bundaš's Birthday'', ''The Secret Village'', ''The Big Race'', ''The Queen of Shoes'', a series of cartoons from Hlapić's Sports Games, ''Šećerko'', ''Hvala za lijek'', and for the first time, in cooperation with HRT, will be the presentation of the JUHUHU programme.

Storytelling is what gives the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival a special charm, so this year the children will be able to listen to storyteller Sabina Gvozdić, Sandra Vukoj from Slavonski Brod, Knjiguljica from Karlovac and Fora priča from Zagreb. On top of all of the rest, there will also be an animation programme, with the traditional ''passing the driving test'' to obtain a driver's license to fly a broom.

Entrance to the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival is free for all ages, and transportation by train from Zagreb, as well as the return from Ogulin to Zagreb, is being organised. Train rides for children under six are free.

After this, the next edition of this year's festival is reserved for the end of summer, when it will be held again, but from September 9 to 11.

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

Monday, 24 January 2022

Looking to Hit the Slopes? Vučići Ski Trail, Passion Project of Ogulin’s Skiing Enthusiasts

A wonderful story comes our way from Ogulin, a town in north-western Croatia where a group of skiing enthusiasts run what’s arguably the most welcoming skiing resort in the country

Located in Vučić Selo, only 1.5 kilometres from the centre of Ogulin, the ski trail Vučići and all its facilities are completely free to use, reports Novi list/Danijela Bauk.

‘Resort’ is a bit of a stretch, actually, as the piste is only 450 metres long with a 100-metre sledding slope nearby. Small in size, perhaps, but larger than life, given the enthusiasm of Ogulin Ski Club members who run the show. 

Eleven years ago, some 50 lovers of skiing formed a ski-club in Ogulin and decided to spruce up a slope where locals were known to ski even back in the mid-20th century. Their call to action was an unfortunate event in 2011: a fire that destroyed the Olympic centre Bjelolasica, a skiing resort where many residents of Ogulin had first learned how to ski.

Wanting to ensure the youngest generations in Ogulin have somewhere to learn skiing or simply have fun sledding while Bjelolasica was undergoing renovation works, they reached an agreement with local landowners to turn parts of their land into a ski run at no cost. In return, the ski club members vouched to maintain the grounds all year round.

Bit by bit, what was supposed to be a little local project turned into a well-equipped facility attracting visitors from all over the country. Members of Ogulin Ski Club gradually upgraded the trail with drag lifts and lighting, and borrowed a snow gun from Vrbovsko in Gorski kotar.

These days, the ski club counts 150 members, about half of which are children. Some 60-70 people are active members and spend their free time volunteering at the Vučići ski run, explained head of Ogulin Ski Club Darko Vučić.

‘Whenever we are open and if the weather conditions allow, the slopes can be used from 5 PM to 9 PM on workdays, and from 10 AM to 9 PM on weekends. There are always at least four members on site, we care for safety, supervise drag lifts, and since the pandemic started, we’ve been checking Covid certificates at the entrance. In the pre-Covid era, there was no one at the entrance, because entry is free, we don’t charge and we never will. That’s what we decided at the beginning, that’s how it’ll always be. We wish for people to come to us, to ski and sled, and if they’re satisfied, to leave a donation, whatever one can afford’, said Vučić.

 

They also run a skiing school for children and adults, but can only accept locals at the moment as the weekend crowds don’t leave space for any additional lessons. They certainly don’t lack interest: there are inquiries from Karlovac, Rijeka, Zagreb, Slavonia, Dalmatia… Owing to the Vučići ski trail, Ogulin is turning into a proper winter destination; there’s been an uptick in accommodation bookings in the area on the days when the trail is open, especially on weekends and during school leave.

According to Vučić, they get about twenty days of skiing a year given the current conditions. ‘We’re not that high, we’re at an altitude of some 300 metres above sea level, but now that we’ve borrowed a snow gun from Vrbovsko, we’re hoping for the season to last a bit longer’, he said, adding that the skiing season in Vučići would likely extend to a full two months if they had another snow gun to maintain the trail.

Novi list also talked to Marko Polić, a skiing instructor from Ogulin and a member of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service.

‘You know what makes this ski trail so special? There’s no anger, no aggravation, no stress. When you go to Sljeme or Platak and pay for the ticket, you’re annoyed by every bump on the trail, by the queue for the lift… Those who come here don’t stress over anything, they’re relaxed, they don’t mind the crowd, the mud, or an occasional bump on the trail. Energy is what counts, and there are only positive vibes here. Yes, we’re donation-based, but if you can’t spare [a donation], it’s okay. We’ll treat you to a cup of tea or mulled wine, treat the kids to some biscuits; our faces are smiling and that’s what people are drawn to’, said Polić.

Friday, 10 September 2021

16th Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival Starts Its Autumn Edition Today

September 10, 2021 - Festivals are not exclusive to spring and summer, and especially when the weather in Croatia continues to be pleasant in the first weeks of September, autumn has a select variety of events and places to visit. One of them is the 16th Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival, which starts today and lasts all weekend.

There is a city in Croatia where characters from fairy tales and legends gather. The town of Ogulin is known as the most fairytale town in Croatia and beyond. Turisticke Price reports that, for the sixteenth year in a row, the Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival will be held, where both children and adults can enjoy fairy tales and fairytale works by artists from all over Croatia all weekend long. This is the time when characters from fairy tales take to the streets of Ogulin and hang out with visitors for three whole days.

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(City of Ogulin Tourist Board)

The main part of the program of the 16th Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival is performances of cultural, educational, and entertainment content and the telling of fairy tales by various performers from all parts of Croatia and the world. In addition, there are various art, creative and technical workshops, dance performances, animation programs, concerts, sports events, and from this year, film screenings of films intended for the youngest and a music program.

Visitors can also see certain exhibitions, including exhibitions of birds and small domestic animals. And as befits a festival, there is an offer of various desserts and stands with local products, handmade items, souvenirs, and more.

(City of Ogulin Tourist Board)

You may be wondering how and why Ogulin got the "title" of the most fairytale city? This is due to the beautiful nature of the Ogulin area. As soon as you approach Ogulin, you will see Mount Klek, which looks like a sleeping giant and to which many legends are attached. In the very center of the city is the Frankopan castle, and across from it is Đulin's abyss, and in the background lies the giant Klek. In addition, there are beautiful forests, hills, meadows, fields, caves, rivers, lakes and other beauties.

This beautiful and mystical nature was the inspiration for Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, the most famous Croatian writer for children who were born in Ogulin. Stories from antiquity is a special collection of her fairy tales that have remained in the wonderful memory of many generations precisely because of their beauty, originality, timeless instructiveness, and whose characters walking through Ogulin you can imagine and see, you just have to awaken your imagination and children's curiosity.

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(City of Ogulin Tourist Board)

Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival is an event that is held every year, and this year in two editions: the second weekend in June and the second weekend in September. Due to the epidemiological situation, all the contents take place in the open space in the very center of the city on several scenes bearing the names of characters from the fairy tales of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić.

The September edition of the 16th Ogulin Fairy Tale Festival will take place from September 10 to 12, and you can find the program at the following LINK.

For more, follow our travel section.

Monday, 31 May 2021

New Ogulin Glamping Resort By the Lake!

May 31st, 2021 - The new Ogulin glamping resort is the latest attraction with its unique ‘A-Frame cottages’ by the lake. 

Jutarnji reports, there are 20 glamping houses with saunas, swimming pools, jacuzzis, and pitches for private tents, and the emphasis is on the sensory park, which aims to arouse the senses.

Glamping is, by the simplest definition, a mixture of glamor and camping. It is, in fact, the fusion of these two concepts, which transform camping into premium luxury accommodation in nature, and in our areas, it is nothing new. The future Ogulin glamping resort will definitely raise the offer, quality, and glamorous camping experience in Croatia.

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H3 Studio d.o.o | H3 Studio d.o.o Facebook

The new glamping resort will be located near Lake Sabljaci, in the settlement of Otok Oštarijski, part of the town of Ogulin. The project is currently under construction. According to the conceptual architectural and urban study prepared by H3 Studio, it includes a land area of ​​45,821 square meters, which is located within ​​catering and tourism. There is a central building with reception, kitchen, restaurant and cafe, terrace, offices, toilets and storage, 20 double and quadruple glamping mobile home, pitches for private tents and numerous public facilities, or sports and recreational areas and playgrounds.

Architect Hrvoje Hanže Hanzlin from H3 Studio explains that in agreement with the investor, the idea of ​​a glamping resort was reached, and the focus is to create an anti-stress program. 

"Given that a forest surrounds the plot, there is a lake, and in the background of the mountains Klek, we did not focus on maximum construction, but we devised a concept that will provide a connection with nature and beautiful views, while high-quality accommodation and content that would provide users with relaxation, peace, and privacy," says Hrvoje Hanže Hanlin and adds that the emphasis is therefore placed on the sensory park, which aims to stimulate the senses, reduce the stress of everyday hectic life and help find balance.

The resort itself is divided into several zones, depending on the configuration of the slope. At the top, there are glamping houses, and at the bottom, there are public facilities. In addition to the sensory park, tennis and mini-golf courts, a children's playground, a dog playground, and a flower garden are planned. The spirit of the climate is also visible in the design of buildings, with the use of local materials, mostly wood.

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H3 Studio d.o.o | H3 Studio d.o.o Facebook

"The shape of the glamping mobile home is a modern interpretation of the archetypal shape of the houses of Gorski Kotar 'A-Frame house'," explains the architect. He adds that such houses were once built with a stone base, but here it is physically dislocated and "pushed" into the terrain on a slope and is used as an auxiliary room equipped with a barbecue and storage. The houses themselves are raised from the ground and placed on wooden poles while in the space between the plateau with a pool or jacuzzi. 

Also, all homes are equipped with saunas. On one side, there is a sail on the front, on the other a glass rock, and thanks to the configuration of the terrain on the slope, all the houses have a view of Lake Sabljaci.

The start of the project has not been defined yet, given that the necessary permits are still pending.

Follow the latest on flights to Croatia HERE and the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia HERE.

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

Friday, 7 May 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from May 3-9, 2021

May 7, 2021 - TCN's regular retrospect of Highlights of the week, through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac. 

President Milanović loved by locals in Plaški. Firefighters quickly reacted to the fire in Zagreb recycle yard. Pula celebrated its liberation while Šibenik received new doses of coronavirus vaccines. Dinamo and Hajduk end their match in a tie. Overall another interesting week in Croatia, and here are more details on all highlights.

 Highlights of the week: President Milanović loved in Plaški county

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© Kristina Stedul Fabac/ PIXSELL

Croatian president Zoran Milanović visited Plaški county near Ogulin on Tuesday to visit the newly-build Firefighter's home and Plaški Culture Home. The locals welcomed president Milanović with ovations, and many use the opportunity to handshake and take a photo with the president. As Večernji List reports, Milanović took the visit as an opportunity to comment on the hate speech incident at Borovo Selo. He stated that the President of Serbian National Council Milorad Pupovac and Croatian Prime Minister „should use the police, but they don't, they are causing incidents.

Highlights of the Week: Pula celebrating its liberation in WW2

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© Srecko Niketic/ PIXSELL

Pula celebrated its annual liberation day and the Pula City Day, marked on May 5. In Tito's park, the traditional commemoration to the fallen WW2 soldiers of Tito's partisan army saw Tiziano Sošić (president of Pula City Council), Elena Puh Belci (vice mayor of Pula), Aleksandar Matić (chief of the City of Pula Office) and Fabrizio Radin (vice-county ruler of Istria county) paid their respects. Representatives of associations of anti-fascist fighters and anti-fascist of the city of Pula were present too. 

 Highlights of the Week: Dinamo and Hajduk end with an even score 1:1

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© Milan Sabic/ PIXSELL

Hajduk and Dinamo's eternal opponents played another game at Hajduk's home of Poljud Stadium in Split on Wednesday. The match was the 22nd round in Croatian First League, and fans couldn't wait for it as the game was postponed.

Hajduk opened the match well and had a chance to take the lead in the first 20 seconds. Kačaniklić received an excellent long ball and ran on the right side. He rushed into the penalty area and shot diagonally, but Livaković came out and closed his corner. Dinamo improved and took the lead in the 16th minute with a goal by Majer, and Livaja returned the favor in the 44th minute. Diamantakos hit the crossbar in the final minutes of the match but without success.

After three victories in the previous three clashes with Hajduk this season, Dinamo failed to achieve maximum performance and almost mathematically secured the title but entered the last four rounds with a seven-point advantage over Osijek. The fail happened despite Dinamo facing Hajduk with the strongest possible lineup.  

Highlights of the Week: Vaccination in Šibenik continues successfully

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© Hrvoje Jelavic/ PIXSELL

Larger quantities of vaccines came to Šibenik on Friday, allowing vaccination in Baldeki Sports Hall to go without problems for the second day in the row. The vaccination attracts a number of citizens, so the area got quite crowded.

Highlights of the Week: Recycling yard in Zagreb on fire, reasons unclear

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© Matija Habljak/ PIXSELL

Zagreb's recycling yard, located on Sarajevska Cesta in Novi Zagreb, was victimized by fire but quickly localized and put under control on Tuesday. The fire caught four containers, and 21 firefighters with six fire trucks rushed to the field. Police investigated the cause of the fire, but the reason is, for the moment, unknown. Firefighters managed to operate despite the lack of hydrants, and the thick white smoke was noticed by citizens who live in the buildings close to the yard, reported Večernji List. 

To learn more about Croatia, have a look at our newly launched TC website.

For more about news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Varazdin Cabbage Queen on Most Innovative Woman in EU Agriculture Shortlist

February 12, 2021 – Marija Cafuk, who successfully lead the campaign to have Varazdin cabbage protected by the EU, has been shortlisted for the award of Most Innovative Woman in European Agriculture. She used the opportunity to voice her concerns for Croatia's small producers under proposed new changes in the laws on seeds

Inexpensive and packed with nutrients and vitamins C + K, the humble cabbage is a staple part of the Croatian diet. One of its most famous varieties is Varazdin cabbage (Varaždinsko zelje), which is protected at a European level as distinct in coming from its point of origin.

Varazdin cabbage's successful entry into European protection is in no way thanks to the efforts of Varazdin resident Marija Cafuk, who is the custodian of Varazdin cabbage seeds and the only person in Croatia who is licensed to sell them. For her efforts, she has now been shortlisted by the European Association of Agricultural Producers Copa Cogeca for the award of Most Innovative Woman in European agriculture.

According to Copa Cogeca, the award aims to highlight the contribution that women make to rural development and the development of new models of food production in the context of climate change and environmental protection.

“Of course, I was pleasantly surprised by the nomination, which I think is a recognition of the long struggle to preserve our Varazdin cabbage seeds in conditions when we lost the last companies that were engaged in seed production and (had to) depend on imports,” Mrs. Cafuk told journalist Zlatko Simic in a recent interview with Jutarnji List. “You know how many conditions we had to meet in order for our seeds to be on the variety list! Let the EU see that there are people in our country who want to preserve their indigenous varieties for future generations.”

The latter part of her comment to the journalist refers to the proposed changes in seed registration laws that are looming on the horizon at both a national and an EU level. Small producers and family farms in Croatia are concerned about the loss of traditional seed varieties and their abilities to grow from them under the conditions of the changes in legislation.

f7abac252ae5ed68121b92ba7a669d87_XLcabbbbb.jpgVarazdin cabbage (Varaždinsko zelje) and its seeds © Varazdin County Tourist Board

“The problem is not only in paying the large costs we have in controlling the sowing of our certified seeds,” Mrs. Cafuk told the journalist, expanding on the matter of the changing seed laws, “but also in increasing the costs we may have if we had to deliver all the seeds we produce for processing, as (will be) required by law.”

Mrs. Cafuk told the journalist she hopes that the ongoing and popular protests and petitions of associations that keep domestic seeds will lead to a positive outcome in regards to the proposed national changes. Of course, she was speaking on behalf of seed custodians and small producers all over Croatia. Having attained its European protection already, Varazdin cabbage and Mrs Cafuk's enterprises are already safe.

Varazdin cabbage is one of two kinds of Croatian cabbage protected by the EU

There are in fact two types of Croatian cabbage protected at the European level – Varazdin cabbage and cabbage from Ogulin. But, whereas Varazdin cabbage is protected in its raw, unprocessed form, the cabbage from Ogulin is protected as a product after its fermentation (it is made into what is sometimes called sauerkraut).

In 2015, when the application was made to European authorities to protect Varazdin cabbage, a notice of opposition was lodged from nearby Slovenia. Slovenia had added new cabbage varieties to its national variety register in 2012 under the names ‘Varazdinsko 2’ and ‘Varazdinsko 3'. Varazdin is a centuries-old town in northern Croatia.

The notice of opposition was discounted. The EU office responsible for protecting new varieties did not consider Varazdinsko 2 and Varazdinsko 3 to be appropriate names, as they suggested a link to a geographical area with which they had no direct connection and to that extent were confusing to consumers. With this impasse of international cabbage recognition finally overcome, Varazdin cabbage was granted its European protection.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

GroMar Polish E-Learning Platform to Employ People from Ogulin

February the 11th, 2021 - The GroMar Polish e-learning platform is seeking workers, with a particular focus placed on no less than Ogulin as the company looks forward to operating in an area of Croatia one might not expect it to.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes, recently, the often overlooked Croatian town of Ogulin gained the attention of the domestic public due to the decision of the Swedish company Pervanovo Invest AB, owned by Croat Darko Pervan, to build a floor covering factory there, worth 200 million euros. The factory would become the largest in the world, but this isn't the only foreign investment to arrive in Ogulin.

Recently, the GroMar Polish e-learning platform announced that it was looking for 2D graphic artists/animators/illustrators to work in Ogulin, in its branch there. GroMar is otherwise a leader in education and digitalisation projects when it comes to employee education and development, which they've been engaged in for more than 20 years.

The GroMar Polish e-learning platform is headquartered in Lodz, the third largest city in Poland, and the company was ranked among the fastest-growing 25 technology companies in the CEE region last year, according to Deloitte. The fourth quarter of 2020 was their best, and in pre-pandemic 2019, their revenues reached 17 million zlotys (about 28.8 million kuna in total ). Among their clients are giants like Suzuki, Tesco, Pepco, DPD, and various Polish institutions and public companies.

Their main product is LearnWay, and Marcin Pisarski, the founder, sole owner and CEO of GroMar, describes it as a fully customisable e-learning platform with an unlimited number of functionalities.

“LearnWay is actually a complete set of tools for professionals in the field of human resources and e-learning. In addition to the platform itself, we also provide our clients with online training sessions, we create and design each of the platforms ourselves.

From online employment, through boarding systems, personal and professional development programmes, online education editing, online course databases, all the way to corporate communication tools and employer banding,'' Pisarski told Poslovni dnevnik.

He admits that they were somehow ''brought'' to Ogulin by Natalia Zielinska, a Polish entrepreneur living in Ogulin who is an expert on EU projects and is also the owner of EuroGrant Consulting. But what else was decisive besides the Polish "connection"?

"We met in 2019 and we liked the open approach and desire for cooperation. Ogulin is only an hour from Zagreb and Rijeka and is directly connected to Split. Since back in 2015, we've had a subsidiary of Gro-Mar d.o.o., and in 2017 we took over the company Horizont IT.

Several entrepreneurial stories are developing in Ogulin, including those which involve foreign investments, which has further encouraged us, and it isn't without significance that the local government is reducing tax liabilities such as surtax, which we recognise as positive. Undoubtedly, a very important role was played by my colleague Natalia, she emphasised all the advantages of business development in smaller places,'' pointed out the leader of the GroMar Polish e-learning platform.

For them, the key Polish national project at the moment is the educational platform epodreczniki.pl (e-textbook), which is used by the entire Polish public education system due to the pandemic and the need for distance learning. This platform enjoys millions of users per month and offers thousands of pieces of material for children, parents and teachers.

"It's a great challenge and a turning point in the development of our company," noted Pisarski, adding that they will soon launch a campaign about LearnWay in European countries, including Croatia, and the contribution of Croatian employees is important to them. The plan is to have about 50 of them in total.

"We want to create platforms for education, content, training and online material based on Polish technologies, but with a Croatian soul and elegance added to them. That's why we need local experts, thanks to whom we'll have the prerequisite for the synergy of our know-how and skills and local spirit and culture. We'll create effective educational projects for schools, universities and companies,'' said Pisarski.

This Polish entrepreneur is optimistic about doing business in a small Croatian town and intends to hire more people. "Definitely. We have in our hands a comprehensive strategy for entering the Croatian market. It will not be a fast sprint, but a marathon in the long run. Our ultimate goal is an independent and self-sufficient branch of the GroMar Polish e-learning platform here in Croatia. We have the financial means to do so and we're ready for such investments. We'll definitely need experts from different fields, not only IT experts and graphic designers,'' Pisarski revealed.

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Monday, 22 June 2020

Meet StreetballOG, A FIBA-Licensed International Basketball Tournament in Ogulin

June 22, 2020 - Meet the FIBA-licensed StreetballOG tournament, a streetball spectacle in Ogulin. 

After one of the daily trainings, a team of boys from the neighborhood in the small mountain town of Ogulin decided to realize their dream. And that dream was to bring the best world players to Ogulin and organize an international streetball tournament. After months of organizing, gathering sponsors, and convening teams from all over Europe in 2018, the day came - StreetballOG FIBA international tournament was established in Ogulin.

And that day, it rained, a downpour. But that was not enough for some to give up their desire to return the small town and Croatian basketball to its former sporting prestige. In 2019, they received a FIBA license and hosted 12 teams, 4 of which were foreign.

Today, they continue their fight and are organizing the third edition, to which they invite all parties to join this street basketball spectacle.

But let's start from the beginning. Natalia Zielinska interviewed Miljan, the coach of KK Ogulin and one of the founders of the StreetballOG FIBA tournament.

Hello Miljan, first of all, why streetball?

Primarily because of the symbolism. The greatest talents of world basketball were created on concrete playgrounds in the middle of urban settlements. Sports halls are a luxury. It does not require a rich infrastructure for individuals to succeed in basketball, and a lot of perseverance and love for sports is enough. That is the case with Ogulin; we have no infrastructure, we are not the capital, we are quite isolated. But our concrete basketball court is always full of young enthusiasts, and we believe they will end up in the NBA one day.

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In addition, this type of basketball is becoming more popular, simpler and more attractive for recreational players. It is played in two teams of 3 players. But it is demanding enough to become an Olympic discipline by 2020. So, we have a symbolic aspect but also an interesting and demanding sport discipline.

Where did you get the idea to organize the tournament?

The very idea of ​​the international StreetballOG FIBA ​​tournament was born after many years of organizing a local tournament for all generations of basketball players in Ogulin and the surrounding area. As the tournament has always attracted a lot of attention from citizens, and in parallel streetball has become increasingly popular in the world, somehow everything went in that direction to make an international tournament with a FIBA ​​license.

It started over a beer in the summer talking about being able to make a tournament in Ogulin that would be on the world map and what seemed like a completely impossible idea was a real challenge, so we decided to make it possible. So, in 2018, we connected everything and started the organization, started the tournament licensing process, used all our basketball acquaintances domestic and foreign, and simply started the story. After the first year, due to the rain, we held a tournament in a hall with 12 teams, and the following year, everything was as we imagined. The second edition of the tournament, we had 14 teams in the open, made various contacts with teams from Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, USA and shared experiences.

Everyone praised the organization for giving this strength and our desires are only growing - we simply want Ogulin to be an unavoidable stop when someone in the basketball circles of our region mentions streetball.

What are the reactions? Are you satisfied with the cooperation and response of the viewers?

Whenever we travel to other tournaments, we have the feeling that there is a greater response and interest in basketball, whenever we go to a tournament, because of promotion, contact and experience, we are surprised by the interest of the audience, sponsors, etc. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Precisely because of this neglect of small places, but also of young people, today's basketball is where it is.

If we think we can achieve something, we have to start working at the lowest, local level, create habits in children, encourage them to believe in themselves, to continue training to one day achieve something. That's why we started organizing the tournament. We wanted to bring good teams, domestic and foreign, so that everyone, especially young people, has the opportunity to see the best of Croatian streetball.

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But besides that, it is important that domestic teams compete in the tournament, so that we can see young spectators in relation to foreign teams and that we also have our own qualities, and that it is not all that unattainable. In this way, we create self-confidence in young people, strengthen the love for local sports, but also show how sport can be both fun and an opportunity for further development.

And did you succeed in that idea?

Last year, we partially succeeded, we had the best Croatian team, the boys from Ogulin played for third place with the team from Azerbaijan, where there were two Americans. Unfortunately, they were defeated in overtime, but what the audience, all those gathered could experience and feel that some basketball players from Ogulin have the knowledge, strength and capabilities as everyone else. So we started breaking down prejudices and underestimating ourselves because we are from a smaller background.

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Today, it is impossible to do anything if you don't believe in yourself and work on it. That is something that is the essence of this tournament and that its message to young people and generations to come is irrelevant, it is sports and basketball. All that matters is the idea, the determination to work and success must come, and it is always the result and equivalent of the effort and work invested.

So what is the plan for this year?

This year we didn't even think that the tournament wouldn't take place because of COVID, and we just kept thinking about what and how. Sponsorships are a bigger problem in all of this than inviting and informing teams. But we do not give up, the support of local entrepreneurs and crafts exists, they need a lot to close the financial picture, and this is the biggest challenge. This year we want to get our own background, organize a concert so that foreign players can feel the tourist benefits of Ogulin, introduce everyone who comes to the natural beauty of Ogulin and its surroundings, our food, and simply with basketball to use the time for additional facilities. We are trying to create another platform through streetball to promote our region, the tourist offer of Ogulin, and the opportunities that are opening up.

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