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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer? Natalia from Poland in Ogulin

April 12, 2020 - Do foreigners in Croatia feel more or less safe sitting out COVID-19 here than in their home country, and what are their experiences? A new series on Total Croatia News, with Natalia Zielinska from Poland in Ogulin as the 36th contributor.

Oxford University recently published some research on government responses to coronavirus which showed that Croatia currently has the strictest measures in the world. While inconvenient, this is a good thing in terms of reducing the spread of the virus, and I am certainly not alone in my admiration of the official Croatian handling of this crisis in recent weeks, both in terms of action and communication. 

But what do other expats here think? And how does it compare with the response in their home country? Would they rather sit this one out here or there? A new series on TCN, we will be featuring expats from all over the world to see what their views are on life in corona Croatia rather than back home. So far we have heard from expats in Croatia from Romania, USA, Ireland, UK, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Singapore, Holland, Canada, India, Hong Kong, Venezuela, Latvia, China, Honduras, Hungary, Moldova, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Germany. Next up, Natalia Zielinska from Poland in Ogullin.

If you would like to contribute to this series, full details are below this interview.

Hello, I’m Natalia. I have lived in Croatia permanently since 2013, I run a company here that deals with consulting, preparing and implementing EU projects. I run several projects aimed at developing entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills in Croatia. Unlike most people who are in this business, I chose Ogulin, a small mountainous town right between Zagreb and Rijeka, for my life destination. 

Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

I'm fine now. I'm not alone, we have a family and our little children here, so I definitely don't miss being around people. Quite the opposite. At the beginning, I was quite angry, disappointed because things got out of control, and I followed all the news in Poland and Croatia with tension. The worst thing was the ignorance, the virus started to spread, we didn't know if it was really a threat or some worse form of the common flu. I’ve already come to terms with the situation, but I’m still abnormally concerned about my family in Poland.

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What struck me most was the closure of the borders, Poland was the first to introduce these measures.

Then I realised that if something bad happens to my mum who is alone, then realistically I can't even get to her, this feeling of powerlessness is terrible. But now that the situation is stabilising and we know, roughly, what’s going on around us.

So, in my private life, I’m now stable, I’m even enjoying this new rhythm where I’m constantly surrounded by children.

I went through the same stages in business - disappointment, anger and slowly getting used to the situation. Now, I’m continuing doing business peacefully, but I’m also increasingly trying to help and support other entrepreneurs who are in a bad situation.

In addition, I’m adapting to this new situation, developing an online business, focusing on our long-term partners, our clients. We’re building a relationship, we’re no longer interested in short-term earnings. Currently, we’re spending more time and resources on volunteer work, counselling and support than we are on commercial activities, which may not be good business sense, but these times have shown that we are dependent on each other.

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business?

The first measures were not sufficient, but all thanks to the Voice of the Entrepreneur (movement) and other branch organisations, things were organised in time to find better conditions.

For now, these existing measures are more than good, I personally just care about the background, that is, how the state will be able to finance these measures, because we’re aware of the inefficiency of the public sector.

Each day, we have 20-30 inquiries regarding government measures, grants and loans.

Each day we submit 10 applications for working capital loans.

I can say that the crisis that has emerged will further purify this sector, in the way that there are entrepreneurs who are struggling for their businesses and employees, and we have some who are immediately retiring to protect their interests. I think that in a few months, we will return to a full and healthy environment, a digitised public sector, hopefully deprived of parasites, but on top of that, better quality, more resourceful and loyal entrepreneurs will somehow be winners in the whole situation.

A decision has been made to limit public procurement, which is explicitly detrimental to the economy, but I hope this decision will not apply to EU projects, which are now the main wheel in re-starting the economy. 

When did you realise that corona was going to be a big issue?

When they closed the borders, when for the first time someone restricted me, a child of Solidarity, the EU and the free market, the elemental freedom of movement. It's kind of a slight shock to us, ‘almost’ millennials. 

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What is your impression of the way Croatia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

The Croatian Government has put adequate measures in place in time. Communication is great, the organisation is too, the other day, the headquarters came to our apartment because we have Zagreb license plates [to check we were meant to be where we are]. Everyone really is doing their job. What concerns me are irresponsible citizens, on the one hand, they complain about the restriction of liberties, and on the other, they don’t know how to respect the elementary rules of conduct. That way, we keep going around in circles. 

Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Croatia doing better/worse?

Croatia definitely has better measures for entrepreneurs, for example, while for example, the Poles have better measures for the cultural sector, those who are self-employed and micro-entrepreneurs.

The Poles also introduced measures to further accelerate the implementation of investments such as exemptions from public procurement obligations for certain funds. A page has been created with all the measures and direct links for application, in Croatia, we have some announcements and additions to them every day. There is no single channel of communication.

In Poland, unfortunately, the ruling forces forcing the presidential elections in May are trying to take advantage of the situation. In addition, a number of legal measures are introduced, using a situation when everyone's attention is focused on the fight against COVID-19.

In Croatia, politicians behave correctly, I didn’t see anyone trying to score political points at the expense of the situation, finally, experts and those in the know joined the debate and subsequently organised the private sector. 

In Poland, these initiatives are missing.

What's the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation?

My phone. To be able to hear from everyone and follow everything that happens.

What is one thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis?

I’ve realised how much I’m missing out on the development of my children, since I’ve been working from home, watching them all the time, and only now am I understanding some of their behaviours, their rules. We have a much better relationship.

I always had it on my conscience that we had a bad business model because people, and their problems, were always my focus. Then many people assured me that the purpose of a business was to make a profit. When that profit disappears in one day, or one month, the people remain - business and life partners you can rely on. I think the crisis has convinced me only of the correctness of my views.

And secondly, I’ve not learned anything new, as there are always individuals who are struggling, they find solutions and they are great and inspirational people, and there is always a crowd that just criticises and senselessly discusses things.

These situations better highlight both categories of people, so it's a great opportunity to verify your friends and those on your list of business partners.

 

Thanks, Natalia. Stay safe and see you on the other side.  

TCN is starting a new feature series on foreign experiences of sitting out COVID-19 here in Croatia compared to their home country. If you would like to contribute, the questions are below. Please also include a para about yourself and where you are from, and a link to your website if you would like. Please also send 3-4 photos minimum to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Corona Foreigner

If you would be interested to record a video version for our partners www.rplus.video please let us know in the email. Thanks and stay safe. 

Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer Than in Your Home Country?

Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business? (PLEASE IGNORE IF THIS DOES NOT AFFECT YOU)

When did you realise that corona was going to be a big issue? 

What is your impression of the way Croatia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Croatia doing better/worse?

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

What's the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation.

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis. 

TCN has recently become a partner in Robert Tomic Zuber's new R+ video channel, initially telling stories about corona experiences. You can see the first TCN contribution from this morning, my video from Jelsa talking about the realities of running a news portal in the corona era below. If you would like to also submit a video interview, please find Robert's guidelines below 

VIDEO RECORDING GUIDE

The video footage should be recorded so that the cell phone is turned horizontally (landscape mode).

There are several rules for television and video news:- length is not a virtue- a picture speaks more than a thousand words

In short, this would mean that your story should not last more than 90 seconds and that everything you say in the report should be shown by video (for example, if you talk about empty streets, we should see those empty streets, etc.).

How to do it with your cell phone? First, use a selfie camera to record yourself telling your story for about a minute and a half. Ideally, it would be taken in the exterior, except in situations where you are reporting on things in the interior (quarantine, hospital, self-isolation, etc.). Also, when shooting, move freely, make sure everything is not static.

After you have recorded your report, you should capture footage that will tell your story with a picture, such as an earlier example with empty streets.

One of the basic rules of TV journalism is that the story is told in the same way as a journalist with his text. Therefore, we ask you for additional effort. Because we work in a very specific situation, sometimes you may not be able to capture footage for each sentence of the report. In this case, record the details on the streets: people walking, the main features of the city where you live, inscriptions on the windows related to the virus, etc.

The same rules apply if you are shooting a story from your apartment, self-isolation, quarantine. We also need you to capture footage that describes your story.

When shooting frames to cover your reports, it is important that you change the angle of the shot (in other words, shoot that empty street from several angles). Also, when shooting a detail, count at least five seconds before removing the camera to another detail.

The material should be about 5 minutes long (90 seconds of your report + frames to cover your story).

After recording everything, send us to Zagreb, preferably via WeTransfer to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wash your hands.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Advent in Ogulin: Fair Prices, Magical Atmosphere and Snow

You've no doubt heard about Advent in Zagreb, the award winning event the Croatian capital puts on every year which earned it an enviable status as the top European Christmas destination for three years running. You've probably also heard about Advent in Dubrovnik and Advent in Split, but what about venturing into Karlovac County and experiencing the much less talked about Advent in Ogulin?

As Novac/Gordana Grgas writes on the 15th of December, 2019, Ogulin's residents have organised a very special Advent in Ogulin manifestation this year, on the honourable topic of ecology. They began the initial preparations back in September, when the Straw Crafts Workshop first began. Twenty participants, for two months under the careful guidance of expert associate Marija Trdić Ćuk, made Christmas cribs of natural materials in their natural size.

Thanks to workshops for making bird houses and Christmas decorations made from bird food, conducted by young people from the Ogulin Ecological Society, the town got the first EDO EKO village for birds while the decorations were set up in the city park as bird food.

Eventually, the whole city seemed to be involved in writing the beautiful Advent in Ogulin story. Workers from the local timber industry, Bjelina, made wooden ornaments for the ice skating rink, and their decorations are on Christmas trees in the city park.

In fact, the vast majority of Advent in Ogulin's content and facilities have been created by Ogulin residents and local companies, and the food and drink on offer comes with a price nobody can really complain about, with certain rakijas which do just the job to warm you up on a cold wintery day coming with price tags of just 11 and 12 kuna.

At the location of Petar Stipetić Square is the Advent calendar installation, consisting of 24 pine trees in jars. Each carries one wish before Christmas: hope, health, happiness, family, home, goodness, faith, peace, honesty, knowledge, smiles, freedom, equality, joy, well-being, equality, understanding, humanity, humility, love, truth and light.

On weekends, the Advent Fair is held in the city park, where school cooperatives, associations and local artisans sell their handicrafts and are joined by their parents.

"Together with their children, they conducted workshops for the Children's Social Entrepreneurship to create Christmas decorations that they sold to raise donations for the Jagor charity, and to show the little ones the importance of being an entrepreneur whose primary goal is social influence, and not profit generation for the owners or shareholders,'' says the director of POU.

They have rightfully called it a fairy-tale advent, believing that it was worthy of the spirit of the tradition of this overlooked yet stunningly beautiful region of Croatia in which the famous Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić was born. While Advent in Zagreb continues to draw most of the crowds from at home and abroad, another, equally festive story is going on with Advent in Ogulin, and there's even some snow.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel page for much more.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Croatian Town of Ogulin Lowers Surtax, Opens New Work Positions

If we had a euro for every negative story published about the state of the Croatian economy, the demographic crisis, the ''trickling'' away of the country's qualified workforce and a lack of political will for change, we'd all be able to retire.

It isn't that those things aren't true. Unfortunately, they all are. That, however, doesn't mean that there aren't very many positive examples being set by not only individuals, employers, associations and entrepreneurs, but by entire towns, cities and municipalities across the country. There is an increasing level of positive, inspiring pieces of news that restore your faith in this overly complicated little country every day, even just a bit. Ogulin is one such story.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 4th of August, 2019, over recent years, the overlooked little continental Croatian town of Ogulin has been managing to make some breathing room for its inhabitants, and this will be felt by residents as soon as this month. as their surtax has now successfully been reduced twice - from ten down to just five percent.

The cut was first decided and imposed four years ago, as RTL news reports have stated. The ruling party and opposition, as in most other places, were too busy hitting each other with their proverbial handbags and trying to score political points, and owing to that, this little Croatian town experienced a several-month-long power crisis.

"By reducing the surtax, we're releasing about one million kuna to Ogulin's citizens and craftsmen. We went with this measure in order to make citizens really feel this increase. Some criticise you for implementing a populist measure, but I don't believe that populism makes life any easier for citizens," says Dalibor Domitrović (SDP), the current mayor of Ogulin.

This Croatian town hasn't just stopped at lowering surtax. Ogulin also now boasts 250 brand new jobs, as the parquet factory in Ogulin currently employs 330 workers.

"Well, it means a lot to me because for seventeen years I was the one who needed to travel for 45 minutes to get to work, and now I'm five minutes from home," said a satisfied Helena Simić, an employee at the aforementioned parquet factory in Ogulin.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business and lifestyle pages for much more.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Croatia's Foreign Entrepreneurs: Natalia from Poland, EU Funds for Ogulin

 April 14, 2019 - Continuing our look at the foreign entrepreneurs trying to succeed in Croatia as so many are emigrating, meet Natalia from Poland, an EU funds specialist making a difference in Ogulin.

The absolute best thing about living in Croatia and running TCN is the knowledge that every day is different, and one can never predict anything. 

There are so many interesting people here, from all over the world, and the more I travel around Croatia, the more amazing people I meet. 

Earlier this month, for example, I spoke at the first Business Club International in Zagreb, together with the star of the night, Natalia Zielinska, a Polish lady now living in Ogulin and doing fabulous things with EU funds. So, after several months, I am delighted that Natalia agreed to an interview, thereby reviving our popular feature on foreign entrepreneurs in Croatia, at a time when many young Croats are headed in the opposite direction. 

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1.    First and foremost, why Croatia?

Why not?! I mean, Croatia with all its absurdities is still a beautiful country to live in, especially when you are a young parent. But I did not plan that. I started studying Slavic studies and European Studies in parallel, so I worked on EU projects and studied Croatian. First the academic path and then the business path led me to Croatia. 

In the meantime, I fell in love with my present husband. I am still in love so I can get through everyday obstacles in Croatia somewhat easier.

2. INTRO YOUR BUSINESS, what is it you do?

I am working on the preparation and implementation of EU projects. I advise clients, mostly small businesses, but also the public sector, which of the possible programmes they can use. 

After that, I draft the bidding documentation and, after the approval of the grants, I am responsible for the implementation of investment projects. In theory, I am involved in consulting services. In practice, I deal with management, strategic planning, human resources. All more demanding projects contain at least part of all of these elements.

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3. Tell us about some of the differences in your expectations of running a business in Croatia and the reality.

Before I came to work in Croatia, I did the same job for four years in Poland. I have a university degree in EU projects. The difference is best seen in the fact that my first business partners, a company with large projects in Poland, decided against further investment in Croatia after half a year. 

The calls were not published at the planned time when they were finally launched, and they were complicated and unclear, you could not get any information if you did not have connections and well-placed acquaintances. What was worse, the trust of people in EU funds and the public sector was justifiably very low. When I came talking about EU funds, I felt like a Jehovah's Witness. People thought I was going to cheat them. That was understandable, in view of their experience. But I did not give up despite differences and obstacles. 

Immediately at the very beginning, I had a baptism of fire, and I knew it would be an arduous journey, but by nature, I am clinically persistent – I simply accepted the fact that I would have to learn everything from scratch. I was persistent, gained the trust of people, succeeded with one, two, three projects... And so on.

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4. What (if any) bureaucratical issues have you encountered and how did you overcome them (i.e. any advice to the would-be entrepreneur?)

After five years, whenever I need to make a change in a company, add business activities or change my address, I have to go to a public notary where I personally sign a few sheets of paper. This is an absurdity in the digital world. I pay 20 different fees a month. To receive a grant from an institution, I have to ask that same institution to confirm that we have no debts towards them. What can I say? Two different laws define the same thing in two completely different ways. Each ministry has its own opinion, even every employee in each department has his or her personal opinion. 

When writing a project, you have to follow the regulations, but the question is which regulations and whom you can ask. Of course, if you choose wrongly, you are hit with a fine or a rejection. The rules change daily. The worst thing is that there is no responsibility in the public sector; the whole weight falls on the shoulders of entrepreneurs. I have still not overcome this situation, I have just created my little micro-cosmos, based on the Ogulin model, where I know more or less everyone, and it is easier to get information. 

At one point I wondered, if in Ogulin you can look a person in the eye and solve everything with a conversation, why this does not work at the national level? In the end, we are all people, so I started working with everybody as if we were neighbours, openly, kindly and sincerely.

This proved to be effective. In most cases. There are still bad examples. Therefore, I am always prepared for obstacles, but I am clinically persistent. I sometimes wait for people at their doors or call them 20 times a day. The bigger the challenge, the more persistent I become. It is challenging, but success is sweeter that way.

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5. How is your product or business perceived in the Croatian market?

Now, after four years since we started realising real investments from EU funds, it is a little easier to gain customer trust. In the beginning, it was all too abstract for everyone. Besides, consultancy services are intellectual services, while Croatia values things such as savviness, knowing the right people and political background more than expertise. That is a fact. At first, I was very frustrated, but then I accepted the rules of the game. I created new value. I still respect the expertise and do not let yield too much, but I talk and build informal networks. 

Of course, the inefficient EU funds system has a significant effect on us the consultants who are the main culprits for a possible failure. The client is paying us to bring him or her to the goal of getting the EU grant. They do not care about the path we have to endure and how often a large part of it does not depend on us, but rather on an employee of a particular agency or ministry. This is a great responsibility. As I said, now that I already have my network, my experience, a specific portfolio, it is easier to operate in the market. 

Clients are willing to pay more because they know they get outstanding service, now that I have turned my approach into a brand. You know how it goes: they initially laughed, then they threatened, and now they call me because I am well-known for being direct, decent, and productive. While some projects based on knowing the right people are failing, my projects are expanding.

6. What were the opinions of your friends and community, were they supportive of your idea, or…? 

My husband is also crazy about his own ideas, so he fully supports me and stands by me. I am the one who always fears, questions. He keeps asking me, so what if you do not succeed, what can happen that would be so terrible? Then, when faced with the bleakest scenario, I realise we have nothing to lose. We have two kids, and that is what is really important and fixed. Everything else is just passing projects, work. 

Everything I do is for the family, to be a full and happy person, to show my children that they should be persistent and believe in themselves. Other people... so-so. I have people who not only support me but embark on crazy ideas, like coworking in Ogulin or an entrepreneurial incubator - the Entrepreneurship Academy. Some come to me with their crazy ideas that we turn into reality. If the Croatian society were so conservative and passive as it is believed to be, I would not be here because, in the end, I cannot write all the projects, I am only structuring them, but the ideas come from people. And people here are really wonderful when they are given an opportunity to express themselves. I do not care about jealous and envious people. If they want to hinder me, I become even stronger. But I do not care about them; I have too much work with positive stories.

7. What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced in business in Croatia?

Each project is a challenge. But the most challenging project was to start doing business here, without my own capital and knowledge, in Ogulin.

8. If you knew then, what you know now, would you have come?

Definitely. But, if I knew everything I know now, that would have saved me a lot of nerves and getting upset about things I could not influence. The system is a system, and you cannot bring it down, you can only show by way of example that it can be done differently and that others can follow you and give up on the system which will collapse eventually on its own.

9. What are 3 things you love about Croatia?

1. Food - I suppose I needed to come here to figure out that green salad can be eaten just with olive oil and lemon, the finest side dish after Brussels sprouts.

2. Biodiversity - everything is so close, the sea, mountains, forests...

3. Relaxed way of living – I am choleric so this “let it be” approach by the Croats suits me well. My hyperactivity and the nonchalance produce an exciting combination.

But I have to note that these three things are the reasons that can easily make you slow down and get lazy in Croatia. That is the rabbit hole in the wonderland. But you realise that in the end, the queen cuts off the heads for fun. Yes, it is lovely, but you cannot relax too much.

10. What are 3 things you would like to see improved in the business climate in Croatia?

We should cut the public sector by 75%, shift most services to the more efficient private sector. We should merely unleash the market, and then everything will come to its own. The invisible hand will sweep the mess. So, in short, we should improve the business climate and just let people do their jobs. We do not need any incentives, laws, just let people do it.

11. How is it working with Croatians in terms of a business mentality?

Well as I have said, in the end, I have personally created a good combination with the Croatian mindset that works very well. Croatians avoid effort and change, and I am a hyper-activist who continually moves the boundaries. I teach them that you can always do something differently, while they teach me that it sometimes makes no sense. 

Sometimes you have to reconcile with how things work and do not force changes but work systematically on them.

12. Advice for foreign entrepreneurs thinking of coming to Croatia?

Find reliable partners from Croatia who have experience in this and know how to find their way around. Otherwise, you will spend time and money hitting your head in the wall, while there are a lot of people who have built their own exit. Use them, their experience and knowledge. Otherwise, there is a significant risk you will be duped. Crude but true.

You can learn more about Natalia's Euro Grant Consulting on the official website.

To learn more about the foreign entrepreneurs trying to make it in The Beautiful Croatia, check out the heroes we have covered already. 

Are you a foreign entrepreneur trying to make it work in Croatia and would like to promote your story? Contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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