Sunday, 15 January 2023

International Supermarket Tourism: More than Lidl near Bregana Border

January 15, 2023 - Niche cross-border tourism doesn't get much publicity, but Schengen and the euro have brought a new type to Slovenia from Croatia - international supermarket tourism.

For decades it was known (to me at least) for only two things - the largest border crossing befween Croatian and Zagreb (where I and many others have spent hours in border queues), and the only place I knew that had a pub with the bar in one country and the toilets in another (you can read about that in Fortress Europe? Meet Slovenia's Open Schengen Crossing with Croatia.

Bregana. Just 20 minutes from Zagreb, the Slovenian border town now has a new lease of life with its open border with Croatia and more affordable shopping - international supermarket tourism. 


I first came across niche cross-border tourism a few years ago in Baranja close to the Hungarian border, where an enterprising ice-cream vendor with a Dinamo Zagreb ice cream parlour was doing a roaring trade with Hungarian clientele. Not one for Hajduk fans perhaps, but Slasticarnica Dinamo in Baranjsko Petrovo Selo is located just 2km from the Hungarian border. The ice cream is so good (and it really is) that many Hungarians come over for an ice cream. And that was before the borders were without checkpoints. 

But Bregana is already doing a roaring trade with a steady stream of cars from the Croatian capital popping over the border to shop at the Lidl supermarket in nearby Brezice. The introduction of the euro in Croatia has enabled consumers to compare prices in the same supermarket chain in stores in Croatia and Slovenia. There have been several articles on the subject, with a shopping basket of 100 euro in the Lidl store in Croatia being 20% more expensive than its Slovenian counterpart, this despite the average salaries in Croatia being significantly lower than in Slovenia. As previously reported on TCN, Lidl Croatia Explain Why the Same Products are Cheaper in Slovenia.

But if Bregana and its open border is now reinventing itself as a gateway to cheap supermarket option for Croatian consumers, why not encourage Croatian consumers to learn more (and spend more) in the town itself? A rather enterprising article promoted by the Slovenian Embassy in Zagreb which appeared in Jutarnji List highlights 12 things to check out in nearby Brezice while on your next Lidl trip. I, for one, had no inkling of Bregana and the surrounding area other than a border crossing town, but there is plenty to investigate in Brezice apart from Lidl, it seems. Learn more in the original Jutarnji article



Friday, 9 September 2022

Croatian-Slovenian Foodtech Startup Attracts Large Investment

September the 9th, 2022 - One Croatian-Slovenian foodtech startup has attracted an impressive investment and is likely to have its image boosted beyond what the creators ever though possible.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, a winning combination of incredible youthful energy, a tried-and-tested product that quickly conquers the health food market with "know-how" and a financial injection from a venture capital fund - that's the story of Juicefast, a new investment of the Feelsgood fund worth half a million euros.

The Juicefast brand, which will be launched at the beginning of October, is a newly founded Croatian-Slovenian foodtech startup that will unite the current brand and the Healthy Meals pilot project of young entrepreneurs David and Marko Dravinec.

This Croatian-Slovenian foodtech startup and its accompanying entrepreneurial story started back in 2018 from the confines of the small neighbourhood fruit shop Mali vrt (Little garden) where the idea of ​​freshly squeezed 100 percent natural apple juice for detoxification and fasting was first born, 22-year-old David explained.

On the wings of conquering the lucrative (and very rapidly growing) healthy food market, which was also affected by the coronavirus pandemic, given that the spread of the virus emphasised the importance of a good diet and general healthcare, their income growth was rapid: in 2020 it amounted to 1.5 million kuna, then it grew to 2.8 million kuna, and the last figure they reported reached a massive 6.5 million kuna. Juicefast is a neat play on words which alludes to the speed and simplicity of the process.

"We were amazed at how much people liked simple juice. Now we understand that there's a reason in this simplicity. Each of our juices is made with 1.5 kilograms of fresh fruit and vegetables. We all know we should eat it, we know it's good for us, we know we'll feel better, but...sometimes we just don't feel like it," he says with a giggle.

"And then, if you can be bothered, you've got to prepare your juices.... Buy the groceries, prepare them, then you've got to clean the juicer after using it, all of which takes time. It's easier to jump down to the bakery and buy it all already done for you. The hectic pace of modern life imposes some other priorities on us, and we often put our health on the back burner. These are problems that we've manage to solve, and we've provided both simplicity and practicality,'' he added.

The range of detox juices offered by this Croatian-Slovenian foodtech startup is made exclusively from fruits and vegetables from domestic family farms, except for exotic species for which Croatia is simply not a natural climate.

The juicing is carried out in a 500-square-metre hall in Laduc using slow-juicing devices that retain nutritional the fruit's values, especially vitamins. Detoxification has become extremely popular in the last few years with a combination of intermittent fasting that gives the body a "break" from constant food intake. The entrepreneurial duo has as such successfully found their niche with a range of juices that are not pasteurised, have no preservatives or additives, but are processed with high hydrostatic pressure.

Feelsgood, the only Croatian venture capital fund that requires a positive social impact from its investments in both Croatia and Slovenia, has invested 500,000 euros in the project, recognising the synergistic effect of the production of juices and healthy meals, sustainable agriculture and cooperation with local producers.

The investment injection, on top of the 250,000 euros from other investors, will be used for the growth and development of the company here in Croatia, as well as to provide the spring in the startup's step for their move to the markets of Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Italy and Hungary. The glittering USA is also on their radar.

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

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Fire in Slovenia Causing Thick Smoke in Istria, Croatia


July 21, 2022 - The fire in Slovenia is the worst in the country's history. A look at the latest updates and the impact it is having on Istria. 

Overnight, 800 firefighters brought the biggest fire in Slovenian history under control. However, the situation is still difficult. Due to the wind, the fire is moving from Italy towards Slovenia.

Latest updates from

Minister of Defense: The situation has worsened in the last few hours
"In the last few hours, the situation has worsened; extinguishing fires from the air is greatly hampered by poor visibility. The headquarters determines measures depending on the development of the fire. Three settlements have been evacuated: Novelo, Temnica, and Vojščica. At the moment, our main task is protecting buildings," the Minister of Defense Marjan Šarec announced on Twitter. 

According to the locals, the fire has already approached Vojščica - about 300 meters, which can be seen from the increasingly thick smoke, soot, and ash, reports a 24ur journalist.

Helicopters from Austria, Croatia, and Slovakia arrive to help
It is expected that around 1,000 firefighters and several helicopters, including four Slovenian army and two police helicopters, will fight the fire. A helicopter from Austria is already putting out the fire, and Croatian and Slovak helicopters are also on the way.

The fire also threatens settlements in Italy
The fire is threatening the Slovenian Kras region and spreading to the Italian side. It threatens the inhabitants of the villages of Sablici, Jamiano, Medeazza, and Doberdo. Slovenian and Italian firefighters are trying to protect the mentioned locations.

At Medeazza, according to the head of Duino-Aurisina, Igor Gabrovec, the fire is only a kilometer away from the settlement. The highway in the direction of Trieste has reopened today, while the section in the direction of Venice is still closed.

Numerous explosions in the area of the fire, exploding devices from the First World War
A fire in the Kars area caused numerous explosions of devices that remained in that region from the First World War. Commander Darko Zonjič said they no longer count explosions but only mark them along roads so they can be recorded later.

"Even during the night, there were a lot of explosions due to high temperatures in the area affected by the fire. Yesterday, 18 different explosive devices were removed from the villages of Sela na Krasu and Korita," said Zonjič.

Civil protection headquarters: Three fires are currently active
The Slovenian Civil Protection Headquarters announced that three fires are currently active. Firefighters are most concerned about the fire in Klarići, a hamlet near the Italian border. More than 1,000 firefighters are on the ground.

Sirens sounded for the evacuation of residents
Evacuation sirens sounded in three villages in the Kras region; Temnica, Vojščica, and Novelo. The place for gathering citizens from those areas is the gymnasium in Komno, the Civil Protection HQ announced.

Civil Protection Commander: This is the biggest fire in the history of Slovenia
Civil Protection Commander Srečko Šestan said they had never had so many firefighters on the ground at night. Almost 1,300 people, including 1,000 firefighters, fought the fire during the day. When the fire began to threaten the houses, additional forces were called in. Šestan assessed that it was the biggest fire in Slovenia so far.

"At the moment, the situation is under control; there is no strong wind, which makes it easier to put out the fire because the fire does not spread. Of course, the situation can change quickly because a storm has been announced," wrote Defense Minister Marjan Šarec this morning, adding that he is participating in firefighting with the Slovenian army.

"Since yesterday, the army has been helping with water supply and accommodation, the military ambulance service has been called, and they will also inspect with a thermal camera to detect hidden hotspots. They will also provide meals for the troops on the ground. If necessary, we will also send soldiers," Šarec said. 

A lot of smoke in Istria
"A good part of western Istria is still in smoke; the situation has even worsened. A lot of reports are coming from Poreč," writes Istramet.

After Canadairs, the Ministry of Defense sent a helicopter to the fire scene in Slovenia
During the day yesterday, the water cannon dumped 48 tons of water on the burned area in nine bursts.

Polluted air throughout Slovenia
The fire caused air pollution in the area of Koper, Postojna, and Nova Gorica.

Stronger winds are not expected
"We can look at wind as optimists or as pessimists," says Brane Gregorčič from the Environmental Protection Agency. He said that there really wouldn't be any stronger wind. He pointed out that the problems on Wednesday were caused by the western wind, which spread the fire from Italy towards Slovenia. "We expect similar winds today, but in between, there were about 18 hours of calm as far as the wind is concerned," he said.

Smoke in Istria
A large amount of smoke from the fire raging in the Slovenian Kars region covered Istria with thick smoke, bringing a significant deterioration in air quality, reports Istramet.

The station for measuring air quality in Žužići near Tinjan at 5:15 am recorded a significant increase in floating particles. During most of the night, PM 2.5 particles were below 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air, and after 5 hours, it increased more than three times and reached 40 μg/m3.

This morning, smoke in the form of haze is particularly visible in northern Istria, where there is a strong burning smell 

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

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Plenković Supports Janša Ahead of Slovenia's Parliamentary Elections

ZAGREB, 23 April 2022 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has expressed his support to his Slovenian counterpart Janez Janša who is seeking a second term in office in parliamentary elections on Sunday.

"Ahead of parliamentary elections in Slovenia, I give my strong support to my friend, Prime Minister Janez Janša, and the Slovenian Democratic Party," Plenković said on Twitter on Friday.

Plenković said he had had excellent cooperation with Janša over the last few years in advancing relations between the two countries.

"We have improved economic cooperation, addressed unresolved issues and tackled together major crises such as COVID and the present energy crisis," the Croatian PM said, adding that he was confident that Janša would win.

Janša's Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and Plenković's Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) are both members of the European People's Party (EPP).

Nearly 1.7 million Slovenians are going to the polls on Sunday to elect a new 90-member parliament and choose between the policy pursued by Janša and the alternative promised by business manager Robert Golob.

According to surveys published by the Dnevnik and Večer newspapers earlier this week, Golob's Freedom Movement enjoys the support of 26.3 per cent of the electorate, while Janša's SDS is backed by 25.5 per cent.

For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 21 February 2022

Covid Measures in Slovenia Dropped from Today: Should Croatia Follow Suit?

February 21, 2022 -  As Covid measures in Slovenia become a thing of the past, should its neighbor Croatia follow suit?

"The measures introduced by the headquarters have proved ineffective and should be considered to be removed because if they are not effective, then it is unnecessary to have them."

Today, Slovenia takes a step towards the life we once knew. COVID certificates will generally no longer be needed anywhere, travelers will no longer have to qualify to be vaccinated, recovered, or get tested, and the same is true for employees, reports Novi List

There are no more restrictions on the number of guests in restaurants and cafes, and nightclubs are starting to operate. The self-testing of students, which Croatia is only beginning to implement, is being abolished, but the basic measures remain in force - masks, disinfection, and distance.

There are no such announcements in Croatia yet. 

Although the number of newly infected people in Croatia decreases, there are no announcements of lifting the measures currently in place. 

"Each state, according to the epidemiological situation, assesses when it is time to repeal or strengthen a measure. We have seen a decline in the number of the newly infected in recent days, but these are still high numbers. As a result, we have high numbers of patients in hospitals and many deaths," said Vesna Višekruna Vučina, epidemiologist of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, for RTL.

Scientist Ivan Đikić said that measures in Croatia had not yielded results, many were introduced too late, and people do not adhere to them.

"The measures we have, such as COVID certificates and other measures introduced by the headquarters, have proved ineffective and should be considered to be removed because if they are not effective, then it is unnecessary to have them," said Djikic.

So, should Croatia abolish all remaining epidemiological measures?

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Croatian and Slovenian Companies to Form Security and Defence Consortium

ZAGREB, 24 Sept 2021 - The Croatian DOK-ING company on Friday signed a letter of intent with the Croatian Orqa and Slovenian MIL Sistemika, Bijol and Defensphere OU companies on forming a consortium of complementary companies in the field of security and defence.

An agreement was signed at the same time between Croatian and Slovenian defence industry competitiveness clusters with the aim of supporting the two countries' defence industries in absorbing available EU funds.

The signing ceremony was held at the 8th International SOBRA Defence, Security, Protection and Rescue fair, which is being held from 23 to 25 September in Gornja Radgona, Slovenia, DOK-ING said on Friday.

The new Croatian-Slovenian consortium comprises members of the two countries' defence industry competitiveness clusters and opens opportunities for joint applications to the future European Defence Fund and use of EU funds for defence.

The consortium is a result of years of promoting the connecting of companies which, through the transfer of know-how and joint action, strengthen their capacity to develop high-tech products and position themselves on the international market.

For more on business, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 13 August 2021

€3m Croatian-Slovenian Flood Protection Project Finished

ZAGREB, 13 Aug 2021 - A project to reconstruct an embankment on the River Mura in the northernmost Croatian town of Sv. Martin na Muri and build an embankment at Benice on the Slovenian side of the border has been completed, the Hrvatske Vode state-owned water management company said on Friday.

The total value of the FRISCO 2.2. project, financed by Hrvatske Vode and the Slovenian state-owned water management company with roughly equivalent amounts of money, is €2.99 million.

The FRISCO 2.2. project, designed to improve cross-border flood protection, is the third cross-border flood protection project approved for EU financing as part of the Interreg V-A Slovenia-Croatia cooperation programme.

That programme aims to reduce the threat of the cross-border rivers Dragonja, Kupa, Sutla, Drava, Mura and Bregana flooding the areas they run through and FRISCO 2.2. project refers to flood protection activities in the area of the River Mura.

The purpose of the project is adjustment to expected climate change and its challenges and reducing the risk of floods in Sv. Martin na Muri in Croatia's northern Međimurje County and in the settlement of Benice in the nearby Slovenian municipality of Lendava.

For more news, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Slovenia Absolutely Supports Croatia's Schengen Entry

ZAGREB, 2 July 2021 - The Slovenian Council of the EU presidency absolutely supports the Schengen entry of Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, and is willing to put that on the agenda as soon as the member states reach agreement on it, Slovenian Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said on Friday.

Frankly, we are most interested in Croatia's entry, for understandable reasons, because they are our neighbours and that would ease many of the problems we have on the border, for both Croatia and Slovenia, Hojs told a group of Brussels correspondents invited to Slovenia on the occasion of its Council of the EU presidency, which started on 1 July.

Over the next six months, Hojs will chair the Home Affairs Council, which is in charge of Schengen enlargement.

He said he was willing to put the issue of the three countries' Schengen entry on the agenda at any moment, but that he felt it was not a good idea before all member states agreed on that.

Hojs said it was smarter not to vote until there was full consensus. He added that as chair, he would do his best to convince those states that were still sceptical about Schengen enlargement that it was the right decision.

Early in June, the European Commission called for enlarging the Schengen Area to Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, which meet all the technical requirements for membership.

The Schengen Area consists of 26 states, including four that are not in the EU - Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. All EU member states are in the area without border control except Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus and Ireland.

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

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Croatian PM Attends Ceremony Marking 30 Years of Slovenia's Independence

ZAGREB, 26 June 2021 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attended a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's independence in Ljubljana on Friday, and in his speech he pointed out the ties between the two nations in history and at the time of their independence from Yugoslavia 30 years ago.

"Croatia and Slovenia are two friendly countries, and Croats and Slovenes are two friendly peoples. What divides us is a trifle compared to what binds us together," Plenković said, congratulating Slovenia on the 30 years of independence.

He said that on the same day in 1991 the parliaments of Slovenia and Croatia had taken crucial decisions that led to the independence of the two countries. He noted that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, other countries had also become independent, but that Croatia and Slovenia did not gain their independence peacefully. 

"Both our countries were the victims of military aggression, we both know what war is like," Plenković said. This fact binds Croatia and Slovenia even today as they both know what was happening then, he added.

Plenković said he hoped that the Slovenian presidency of the European Union in the second half of the year would be successful and that he was sure that Slovenia would make a significant contribution to this process with its knowledge and creativity. He stressed that Slovenia can count on Croatia as a partner and friend in this process.

The ceremony was also attended by the Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the foreign ministers of Italy and Portugal, and EU Council President Charles Michel.

In his address, Slovenian President Borut Pahor called for unity in diversity, for an end to political quarrels and for achieving "a third consensus" on how Slovenia should be developing over the next 30 years. He said that his country should develop through a smart and green strategy by strengthening plurality and dialogue in society. 

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

Friday, 11 June 2021

Adriatic Counties To Be Removed From Slovenian Red List

June 11, 2021 - Good news after it was established yesterday that Slovenian tourists would not need to go into self-isolation when returning from the Adriatic counties, according to the decision of the Slovenian Government to remove the Croatian coast from its red list, which will take effect from tomorrow.

At yesterday's session, the Slovenian Government decided that the Adriatic Croatia administrative unit is no longer on their red list. The counties of Istria, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, Lika-Senj, Zadar, Šibenik-Knin, Split-Dalmatia, and Dubrovnik-Neretva were thus removed from the list of countries and areas with a high risk of coronavirus infection, reports

Namely, in areas not on the dark red or red list, there is no high risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, so a person coming from such an area can enter Slovenia without being sent into mandatory self-isolation if they submit proof that they've been in the area.

Apart from Croatia, Switzerland, the Vatican, the Austrian administrative unit of Tyrol, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and the Portuguese Azores were removed from the red list of European Union countries at yesterday's session. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro are no longer on the same list comprised of third countries. The administrative units of Pannonian Croatia, the City of Zagreb, and Northern Croatia are still on the red list. This means that a person coming from these areas in Croatia is quarantined for ten days due to possible infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus upon returning to Slovenia

The decision to remove the Adriatic counties from their red list, made by the Slovenian Government yesterday, will take effect on Saturday, June 12th.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including travel, border, and quarantine rules, as well as the locations of testing centers and vaccination points across the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

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

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

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