Thursday, 19 August 2021

Croatian Seaports Handle More Passengers and Cargo in Q2 2021

ZAGREB, 19 August, 2021 - The turnover of passengers at Croatian seaports in the second quarter of 2021 reaches 5.4 million, up 81.8% on the year and 41.9% more than in the same period in 2019, according to the national statistical office (DZS).

The port in Split recorded the highest number of passengers -- 739,970 -- which is 115.3% more than in the same period the year before.

The port in Zadar follows with 474,089 passengers or 63.8% more on the year.

Maritime freight increased by by 10.2% with Croatian ports handling 6.2 million tonnes of seaborne goods in the said period.

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

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Croatian Author Igor Pavela on Hospitality and His Scientific Book

August 12, 2021 - Croatian author Igor Pavela who wrote the first Croatian scientific book on hospitality, is currently waiting for the book to be translated into English. TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac met up with Pavela to discuss both the book, but also the current situation in the Croatian hospitality sector.

April 2021 saw the release of ''Excellence as a Standard in Hospitality Business'' (Izvrsnost kao standard u ugostiteljskom poslovanju), the first Croatian scientific book on hospitality in which author Igor Pavela explored what it takes to successfully run a business and ensure both an excellent offer and enjoyable atmosphere for the guests.

The book's author, Igor Pavela, has been in the hospitality business for the past 16 years. He has gained invaluable experience in various aspects and from multiple positions. Back in April, he was a manager in one of the largest American cruise ship companies and today works for the Maslina Resort in Stari Grad on Hvar island.

He has closely worked with top managers and CEOs of various big international tourism and hospitality companies in his rich career, and he also found time to train management and other employees with his educational material helping them to increase the quality of their overall standard. The educational materials Pavela has written for his training sessions eventually pushed him to write this book, now reviewed and praised by the academic community both in Croatia and in the wider region.

The book boasts a combination of his personal work experience and extensive scientific research encompassing marketing, communication and even ethics (to name just a few), and how one can go about applying it to hospitality sector success.

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Maslina Resort management team. From left to right: Mario Kolumbic Maitre'D , Chris Edwardes as consultant, Igor Pavela Bar Manager © Maslina Resort

Ground rules in one place

With academic opinion being relevant for knowledge when it comes to scientific literature, Pavela, at the very start of the interview, also said that the first version of the book, which was constructed as his personal business manual, was reviewed by his close friends, colleagues, and ex-partners, all those who have been established in the hospitality business for decades.

''The first information I got as their feedback was that they'd never seen such valuable information presented in a way which is both easy to read and easy to implement. It combined the scientific research that provides the facts and my personal experience which I tried to pass on in the book like a tutor would in order to say what works and what doesn't,'' recalled Pavela.

Pavela pointed out that the hospitality sector encompasses a very broad range of occupations, and there are differences between cruise ships, fine dining restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, and other types of hospitality businesses. With that being said, there are also basic ground rules that are the same for every type of function. His colleagues who learned what works in business the usual way, by experimenting and seeing how things work out before changing and adapting things, rated the book in such a positive way, and Pavela looked more than happy with the impression his writing had had on others in his field so far.

With support from University College Aspira that both published and also held a book presentation for their former student, significant developments are happening for the book as it is currently being translated into English. With the global market not really having a scientific book of this kind under its belt yet, the options seem endless once the translation is complete. Ambitious but realistic, Pavela revealed further plans for the book.

''The book just recently came out in April (it could've come out earlier, but we waited for the unprecedented and catastrophic period for hospitality as a result of the pandemic to calm down). The translation will take around a month and a half to be completed by a professional agency that we hired, and after that, it will be reviewed. As the Croatian version was given to three doctors of science to be reviewed, it will also be reviewed by three very well-known and established names before going out onto the European market. They will, upon agreement, get an example of the book to review it and score it objectively,'' explains Pavela.

He continued by explaining that the book is now the subject of negotiations with a very known high-level sponsor in the hospitality sector. While not being able to reveal the name of the sponsor, Pavela says this sponsor plans to open an academy and to educate their staff based on Pavela's book, which is making its way to hospitality-related education in Croatia, from those in high school to those in higher levels of education. In addition, there is a plan to distribute the English version as an electronic book. The plan is to connect with big e-book distributors such as Amazon to make the book accessible globally, for students, professionals, those who want to start their business and those who are just curious readers with a desire to learn more.

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© Maslina Resort

Switzerland is the place for experimental physicists thanks to CERN, Japan is doing wonders in robotics, and American and British scientists are making significant historical contributions to the fields of sociology and anthropology. Maybe this book would position Croatia as a leader in scientific observations of hospitality. When asked about this, Pavela said that it is a wonderful idea, and his greatest desire.

"My first intention when I started writing this book was to collect all global experience, which is different, if not more advanced than what is garnered in Croatia alone. I wanted to bring it home because at the end of the day, this is my home and where my heart belongs. Croatia has natural resources that need to be used more, and that also means not just promoting them, but we should be on the level required to be the high-level destination to attract high-level clients from all over the world.

I think Croatia, unfortunately for years now, hasn't been at the required level, and there has been a sea of negative comments from guests as a result. There were good sides too (tourism has been growing more and more since the Homeland War), but from the side of science, we have to see the negative sides because that's something we need to look at in our analysis and research to see what is wrong and why something is wrong so that we can work on it,'' explained Pavela.

The up-to-date research needed to scientifically and successfully explore what works and doesn't work truly needs to be constant, and the spirit of that mentality is reflected in the fact the book already has references and findings in regard to COVID-19.

Hospitality isn't just business but a purpose, too.

When it comes to things that need to be worked on, Pavela pointed out that many people in Croatia who work in hospitality are students and people who don't really take much interest and aren't really educated in the sector, thus bringing down the level of the country's hospitality services in general.

Within twenty minutes of interviewing Pavela, it became clear that he talks about hospitality with the kind of passion that isn't unusual to see among journalists or maybe even lawyers and doctors for their fields, professions who are generally quite romanticised in pop culture and where workers in the field don't view it as a job to put food on the table, but rather a call to contribute to better future. However, it is very unusual to recognise such passion for hospitality among people. How does one find such a spark in an field most people only view as a side job to achieve some higher goal? I asked.

''In one specific moment, I saw hospitality from a completely different level. I was still involved in the operational part of the industry, the back of the counter, serving and having conversations with hundreds of people every day. At one point, I had this click in my mind where I realised that just as food and water are a necessity for the body, these places of socialising are food for the soul that will not disappear even as the world changes with all this technology,'' Pavela said, recalling how he first fell deeply in love with hospitality.

He looked around the beach bar where we sat with delight, which, if more people could recognise it, would no doubt make your morning coffee in a cafe be taken in with a completely different view.

In recognising the energy which takes place when socialising after a hard day at work or school, he saw all members of the hospitality sector, from the highest decision-making managers to the waiters, as actors all involved in the collective task of making socialising as good as it can be.

''Hospitality isn't just an economic transaction of buying a product, here we offer so much more. Our service can make someone's day,'' said Pavela proudly, reminding me of how business deals, relationships, friendship and so much more is formed in a great atmosphere of hospitality service, thus really making a difference to the world.
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Maslina Resort's Mediterranean John Dory © Nikola Radovani

As you read through the book, Pavela stays true to his words, pointing out good examples but also bad ones from which other employees and owners can learn what to avoid. Despite positioning some of the aforementioned negative practices to his hometown of Split and the wider Dalmatia area, Pavela at no point mentioned a specific name or a venue that fitted any negative practices. Pavela is sure this doesn't damage scientific data and gathered knowledge, and his scientific objectives are evident in him not name dropping people or places that have good practices either. In this way, he avoided the potential accusations that his book is either paid trash talk or a paid word of praise for some business, which would put a serious strain on Pavela both as a scientific observer and as a hospitality professional.

''When you're writing something like this, it's a very sensitive thing. The purpose of the book isn't to call anyone out for doing bad things, and I don't think that should be in the book. If somebody does something bad and it ends up in the news or with them being sued, then there are other ways to learn about that. The book is about focusing on changing bad practices to positive ones, and even though I had specific places and names in my head, I didn't want to bring them out and sound unprofessional,'' explained Pavela.

''What I want is for those people behind positive and negative examples to recognise themselves,'' he said.

Solidarity should trump competition when building a destination.

In the end, this book of science and practice has an aim of helping others improve their own business. That wouldn't be weird if Pavela had already retired from the business, but with his active employment for Maslina Resort, an outsider's point of view might leave you thinking whether or not it is wise to ''spill the beans'' and all the tricks of the trade as direct competitors could out beat the master as the students of his findings and knowledge. That's a very logical question from outside, but Pavela only smiled with confidence as he assured me that this book's release would neither sabotage himself nor his colleagues.

''The beautiful thing about hospitality is there is something for everyone. The more types of hospitality we have present in our destinations, the better, because opening a new bar doesn't mean stealing guests from another bar. It means offering something different. Everyone can find something for themselves. Somebody will want to hit a brew bar. Someone will want a clubbing experience, and so on. Passing on knowledge is not damaging any of the places. The point is that we all grow together in terms of quality and the commitment to what we do,'' elaborated Pavela, revealing solidarity in hospitality which is hard to deduce from the guest's point of view.

As his book clearly elaborates on, it is wrong for a hospitality owner to try to catch everything and everyone with his offer. Specialising and targeting a particular audience (e.g. those who love quality food and wine, leaving out those who want cocktail bars as you focus on improving your gastronomic offer), along with investing in quality ingredients and keeping your workers happy are the key to success, as Pavela mentioned himself. These are just a few of the points you can find in the book, but in the end, it's best you read it for yourself here. Either in Croatian or you can wait a little longer for the English version.

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Maslina Resort's Chocolate Cherry Sphere © Nikola Radovani 

It's worth remembering that science never sleeps, and with Pavela himself warning of this - the situation is changing constantly. Today's top formula for happy guests may be completely outdated tomorrow. Researching and learning are always welcome in order to show all those involved in this industry the way to providing the best service possible.

Learn more about Stari Grad on Hvar on our TC page.

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

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Croatian Beach vs Pool Dilemma: Arguments For Both Sides Overview

August 11, 2021 - Looking at the broad offer of swimming options on Adriatic, you may find yourself in the middle of a Croatian beach vs pool dilemma. TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac found pros for both sides.

With exciting history, heritage, and interesting experiences to be had, coastal Croatia and the Croatian islands known how to sell what they've got. The clear, refreshing, and clean sea has been the most valuable arsenal in Croatia's tourist offer from the very start.

In that spirit, it may seem unusual to see many hotels with glorious sea views and short walks to beaches that have pools, both indoors and outdoors. Sure, the indoor pools are great if you have the misfortunate of some bad weather when you're dying for a swim, but do outdoor pools really make sense next to the lovely Adriatic?

Well, both sides of this argument have valid points. Here is a shortlist of the cases when one dominates over the other in this epic Croatian beach vs pool debate.

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Looking for safe fun? Then the pool wins

With Croats enjoying the reputation of being ready to help and watching over others, and even with some of the beaches having lifeguards, pools are definitely the safer option if swimming isn't your strong side. The majority of pools have a shallow and deeper end, and while the sea can suddenly become deeper than you what you've bargained for, the transition is much easier in the pool.

If you do get cramp or get in some sort of trouble, even if other swimmers don't respond, you can be sure that hotel staff will pull you out just in time. The rules of conduct (which you have to oblige to) ensure your safety and that of the other guests. The limits of a pool can make it easier for you to watch over your kids while they have safe aquatic fun. In addition, sea urchins or painful rocks on which you can hit yourself while entering the Adriatic, as well as small pebbles that can be annoying on the soles of your feet, aren't an issue in a controlled pool environment. sea_vic_1.jpg

Looking for space? Then a Croatian beach will win

If you feel claustrophobic in the small and typically confined limits of the pool, then a Croatian beach is the best place to go for a longer swim. With experienced swimmers being able to swim from one side of the pool over the other, the sea provides a better challenge in terms of routes and directions you can take. Additionally, pools can be quite crowded, and if you want to take a refreshing dip as some ''zen'' time for yourself, then chilling in the Adriatic can be done at a more considerable distance from others that came to enjoy the day.

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Do you fancy a space reserved just for you? Head to the pool

We all know that moment of frustration when a beach is crowded like hell, and you just can't find a place to leave your towel for the life of you. As pools are limited to the guests of the hotel, you can rest assured that when you arrive poolside, you'll manage to be able to find a place to soak up the sun and get a nice tan after you're done with swimming as the hotel calculates the maximum number of people that they can accommodate at any one time (at least the good hotels do).

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 Broadening your circle of friendship? Then a Croatian beach wins

With the Croatian hotel scene being more and more frequently branded to attract certain clientele, those who are interested in meeting new people on holiday, can expect that other guests in the hotel are similar to them in terms of interest and lifestyle. That's great, but keep in mind that other guests may just be interested in chilling, eating, and sleeping in the hotel, and not really socialising. On the other hand, the world of the Croatian beach is much more dynamic and with long history of interesting real and fictional stories (in books and movies) about awesome friendships and passionate relationships which started with an exchanged glance at the beach; the beach is the place to meet new people.

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Want to be content with the water? The pool wins

When it comes to the Croatian beach offer, there are many types to choose from. Some beaches don't only offer unhindered access to the beautiful Adriatic as their lure but also much more, such as flotation devices to waterslides, sunbeds, and more. That said, certain pools also have more content than another. But, as a guest of the hotel, you can use everything that has been included in the price of your stay, while beaches (in the majority of cases at least) charge extra for these additional features. croatian-beach-683035_1280.jpg

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Do you want to experience nature at its finest? Then the beach wins

With pools being man-made, they lack the joy of coming across unexpected discoveries which is what the sea offers. From pebbles to seaweed or sand underneath you to fish and other marine life sharing the swim with you, your experience in the Adriatic isn't just an opportunity to relax and freshen up but also to connect closely with nature. When a wave comes, those who are more in the market for excitement will surely have their blood pumping that bit harders as they are carried by the waves. You can also lie on the beach and enjoy the zen the sound of calm waves brings free of charge.

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If proximity is what you're after, then the pool wins

When you're searching for a hotel, you probably want the one which is as close as possible to a beautiful Croatian beach. However, if you're a bit of out shape (with no desire to really improve that), and you learn that the promised three-minute walk to the beach lasts up to seven minutes or more at your pace and you just don't feel like walking that much as the heat is draining the life out of you, then the pools are right there inside the hotel complex. The only way to dive in for some aquatic refreshment faster is to take a shower in the hotel room, but really, where is the fun in that?

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Viva la anarchia! – The beach wins

As mentioned above, pools are safer, not just because of their size and safe terrain, but also because of the rules they have. That said, if you've arrived at your destination listening to the greatest Sex Pistols hits and that little anarchist in you ready to get wild, head over to the beach to learn a whole new meaning of freedom. Swim where you want, jump from wherever you want (at your own risk, of course), and as long as you don't pollute the sea, pose a threat to other people or endanger the native marine life, where your sense of creativity ends is your only limit. Swim any time you want. You don't have to take a shower before diving in, and as many Croats will whisper to you in a clandestine manner when nobody is listening: you're free to pee in the sea if you need to.

The Croatian coast has you covered - the choice is yours

These are some of the arguments to help you decide would you prefer to be by the pool or next to a Croatian beach. Since the Croatian coast can offer both salty and freshwater options for your enjoyable holiday, it's best to try out both.

Learn more about beaches in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about the Croatian Adriatic Sea, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Pharos Bayhill Hotel on Hvar Full: Amazing 2021 Success Story

August 10, 2021 - With the Pharos Bayhill Hotel on Hvar full at the moment, TCN looks back at how the hotel started out back in 2016 and the newest adaptation in 2021. 

The tourist season is going well for Croatia in 2021, and if the crowded streets of coastal Croatia are not enough proof, the guest count of Pharos Bayhill Hotel in Hvar Town, one of Croatia's top island destinations, says it all. Every room is filled as a fantastic season continues for one of the swankiest accommodations on the island.

Dating back to the 60s, Hvar's Pharos Hotel, a member of the Sunčani Hvar hotel chain, received a makeover in 2016. As TCN reported on the opening party five years ago, not only did the event see Hvar's VIP and locals attending the main event, but the hotel was already filled with guests who had started arriving two weeks before the official opening. And from the very start, it targeted young people.

After a decade of no investments, Pharos was the first hotel to stand out for Sunčani Hvar. From the start, its concept was adjusted to the younger crowd, those we'd now call millennials (both those who fit the group age-wise and for anyone who feels like one).

These adjustments to the younger market were casual, informal, and evident in every single detail – from the room design (with pop art comic strip decorations) to the uniforms and the attitudes of the employees.

The hotel's target markets were the UK and US, and the effort was rewarded with success back in 2018 when the Times magazine praised Pharos for being affordable and it made it to the list of top 30 best holidays to be had in Croatia that year.

Still, one could say the price is a relative term.

Affordable for an average UK citizen, it may not really be the case for the same target groups from Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Germany. Pharos provides quality accommodation, but for people who don't look for four or five stars hotels, but want a quality three-star accommodation. Of course you have to be ready to pay for it.

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Inviting pool at Pharos © Pharos Hvar Bayhill Hotel

With a quality reputation building for Pharos, the dramatic plot twist in 2020 tourism required them to adapt the hotel to achieve the success it currently enjoys.

With a brief look around the terrace and lobby, one can see staff wearing masks and watching over the guests who, in return, can feel relaxed and safe and truly take a break from the virus. These adaptations aren't evident only in Pharos which managed to keep its relaxed and casual atmosphere, but in the other members of the Sunčani Hvar hotel group as well, as modelled by the best standards from the world's top hotel companies and chains.

New procedures and standards were defined in regards to COVID-19 itself. Every employee who enters the Sunčani Hvar system is either vaccinated or tested before entering, and special room cleaning procedures were introduced. Each room has a clean seal that guarantees that the room hygiene was checked and everything is good.

In addition, the unprecedented situation which dominated 2020 saw the hotel adapt in terms of pricing too and become more accessible to Croatian tourists. In 2021, the hotel also opened its doors a little further to being more family oriented, too.

As the summer season continues, every room is filled, and while that will depend on measures and other things, current announcements are good and could push Pharos as far as September. 

Croatian epidemiological measures also suspend events and gatherings, and regular DJ nights that used to entertain the guests at Pharos are for the moment a nostalgic memory.

However, with the aforementioned changes, the terrace is still alive, with more ambient music and the intimate socialisation of guests at the other tables.

With DJ nights not being appropriate to the current situation, Pharos experience is now switched to the Mediterranian ambient, to the Mediterranian garden. 

The offer of Pharos, which always attracted younger people, people hungry for adventure and recreation, also offers activities such as kayaking and surfing.

With sports and boat renting on offer, other activities Sunčani Hvar hotels offers include options known as ''Sun & Sea'' (where you can visit and cruise the islands, explore caves, and more) and ''Dine & Wine'' (which takes you on an impeccable journey of wine tasting accompanied by traditional Dalmatian Peka feasts), proving Hvar and its surroundings will never let you down when you want a holiday to remember.

Learn more about Hvar on our TC page.

For more about Suncani Hvar, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Plenković Says Tourism Results Good

ZAGREB, 8 Aug, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was attending the 306th Sinjska Alka tournament in Sinj on Sunday, saying it was "a beautiful event" for the area and Croatia because it was "our tradition, our heritage and everything that embodies Croatia's identity."

Speaking ahead of the lancing competition, he congratulated the people of Sinj and the Alka Knights Society on the 306th Sinjska Alka.

The tournament commemorates a victory over 60,000 Ottoman soldiers on 14 August 1715 by 700 Croatian defenders of Sinj, about 30 kilometres inland from the southern coastal city of Split.

The event features period-clad horsemen riding at full gallop and aiming their lances at an iron ring, called the alka, which is suspended from a rope above the race track.

It was inscribed on UNESCO's world intangible cultural heritage list in 2010.

Members of the press asked Plenković to comment on the COVID situation in Sinj, whose Mayor Miro Bulj asked that hospitality establishments be allowed to stay open longer for the tournament, a request rejected by the national COVID crisis management team due to COVID rules.

The prime minister said the rules were the same for all and that they were adopted for, not against, citizens and tourists.

He said he saw no problem, as more spectators would be allowed than last year, and that after 18 months it should be clear to everyone why bars were not allowed to stay open after midnight, not just in Sinj.

Plenković went on to say that the tourist season was above all expectations, and that the state and all other segments of society had done everything for it to be better both in terms of the COVID situation and efforts to promote Croatia.

He announced a tourism sector meeting in Opatija on Tuesday to be attended by six ministers aimed at reviewing what has been done in this year's tourism season which, according to current estimates, will be at 65-70% of the results achieved in the record year 2019.

"Considering our neighbours and the situation we were in, that is brilliant," Plenković said

He added that people should be more disciplined, wiser and more responsible to each other in order for the season to last as long as possible, so that Croatia's coastline was an orange COVID zone for at least two to three more weeks which, he added, would indicate strong economic recovery.

He said the growth announcements for the second quarter were "brilliant" and that if the season continued like this, they would be "very good" for Q3 as well. "That's what is most important at the moment to me as prime minister."

Asked to comment on the Hague war crimes tribunal's confirmation that Slobodan Milošević took part in a criminal enterprise against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said Croatians knew that very well and did not need proof.

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE. 

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

How Far Can Zagreb Grič Cannon Fire? Ideal Conditions View of the Fire Range

July 21, 2021 - Ever wondered about the Zagreb Grič Cannon fire? TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac played with Google maps to provide an answer in ideal conditions.

While Zagreb Grič Cannon did not shoot at the time of writing this article, it is still one of the key symbols of Zagreb, and memories of its bang during midday is a vital part of the living in Zagreb experience.

As TCN previously wrote, the Grič Cannon was first introduced on January 1, 1877, and was located at the State's Meteorology department, back in the times when Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It wasn't until 1927 that it was moved to Lotršćak, where it is situated to this day. In addition, the current cannon serving this purpose is actually the fifth to do the job and was donated to Zagreb by the Yugoslavian National Army (JNA), during Universiade.

Apart from signaling noon, the old legend says the Grič Cannon also served a defensive purpose. As TCN previously wrote, legend has it that the Ottoman commander Hasan Pasha (Hasan Paša) settled his army along the coast of the Sava river, in today's area of Novi Zagreb. He was preparing to cross the river and invade the city, but before that, he was about to have lunch, and Zagreb fired a cannon in the Ottomans' direction, close to Hasan, blasting a chicken he wanted to eat. The shot scared the hell out of the Ottomans, and they retreated, leaving Zagreb totally intact.

The legend itself is part of a book titled ''The Grič Cannon legend'' in which writer Dubravko Horvatić has gathered 20 Croatian legends, and the book is a mandatory book report title for Croatian pupils in the third year of elementary school.

ptc_pixsell.jpgPreparing the cannon, screenshot / PIXSELL

Legend vs facts

With the story taking place way back in the 16th century, it's obvious the tale is just a legend as the cannon wasn't introduced until the 19th century. Still, it's a cool story, and a bit of a twisted mind can't but help think: what's the range you could actually shoot with the Grič Cannon?

As the Wikipedia page says, and as a member of the Zagreb Tourist Board in Lotrščak tower confirmed to this sleuth reporter, the current cannon's range is 7,929 metres (almost eight kilometres), and the sound of the blast has a solid 140 dB.

Legend says Hasan Paša was on the coast of the Sava river, which means he was in southern Zagreb, and sure enough, the Grič cannon is facing south from Lotrščak. The cannon floor also has windows looking in each direction, meaning you could move the cannon to north, west, or east.  

When playing with Google maps distance measuring tools, you can see that the smallest distance between the Sava river and Lotrščak is, give or take, about 3,1 kilometres. So, the current cannon, under the right angle, could easily make that shot.

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The distance between Fort Lotrščak and Sava river, screenshot / Google Maps

Apart from the possibilities of buildings and hills messing up the shot, there are other things that need to be taken into consideration. As the Department of the Army U.S. Marine Corps identified back in 1996, in their manual, there are many factors that affect artillery fire.

Muzzle velocity, projectile weight, range wind, air temperature, air density, even the rotation of the Earth, not to mention the overall condition of the barrel, all of which are challenges that could limit the cannon's full potential. And yes, Google maps isn't really the most precise tool on the planet, but let's take a shot in the dark and see how far the Grič cannon could actually fire (keep in mind these projections are made solely based on the maximum range, and the factors aren't taken in account but are mentioned for the sake of trivia knowledge).

South! Aim! Fire!

Let's start from the cannon's current position. Assuming no buildings, hills, or anything else gets in the way, and you're a physics genius that managed to isolate yourself in Lotrščak with live ammo and achieve a clear straight shot, your cannonball makes an impact all the way in line with Donji Čehi (but a bit away to the east from that place). Donji Čehi, along with Gornji Čehi, used to be independent villages but are today part of the City of Zagreb. With only 1,72 km2 of length, the place is inhabited by 232 residents, based on a 2011 census.

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Grič Cannon maximum range to the south, screenshot / Google Maps

 West! Aim! Fire

Continue clockwise and set your cannon to take a shot towards the west, with a range of little under eight kilometres. You can score all the way to Krnska street in Gajnice. Krn is both a name of a mountain and a peak (2244) in neighbouring Slovenia. The mountain is a part of the Triglav National Park in Slovenia (and if this side note makes your attention turn to Slovenia, be sure to check our friends at Total Slovenia News). Gajnice is a neighbourhood in Zagreb that is inhabited by around 10,000 residents. The neighbourhood is notorious for its pretty lousy connection with the rest of the Zagreb, and local residents often complain about infrequent buses that connect them to Črnomerec from where they can travel to the city centre. Well, at least, the centre doesn't aim at them with a cannon. 

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Grič Cannon maximum range to the west, screenshot / Google Maps

 North! Aim! Fire!

The new target, or perhaps better to say lucky shot, lies towards the north. Don't worry about Medvednica mountain getting in the way of a clear shot towards Zagorje, as the range isn't long enough. The shot will hit Medvednica mountain, more precisely, to the close proximity of Tusti Vrh. This location is 648 metres above sea level and serves as a stand for a communication station with some antenna polls. But, there's no need to shoot the place up and destroy a lovely piece of nature, which also serves as an important social role in regards to telecommunication. Instead, you can visit the place as the Gračani trail leads there.

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Grič Cannon maximum range to the north, screenshot / Google Maps

 East! Aim! Fire!

Finally, it's time to ruin someone's day in east Zagreb (fortunately, no person was hurt during these simulations in reality). Specifically, this applies to whoever lives in Retkovec III near Bruma Interijeri d.o.o., a company specialised in woodwork.

Petkovic is a neighbourhood that is part of the Dubrava district. It's mostly a residential place, like much of eastern neighbourhoods considered to be a bit of a rough area to live in. Still, things aren't as bad as they were as before.

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Grič Cannon maximum range to the east, screenshot / Google Maps

 

Shooting blanks

Again, it's worth noting these projections aren't accurate science and imply conditions which are perfect. Of course, in an ideal world we wouldn't need firearms and everyone would be living in peace. In reality, where these ideal conditions don't apply, residents of the aforementioned areas, but also citizens in general, can be relaxed, as the ranges are irrelevant.

shot_fired.jpgShots fired aftermath, screenshot / PIXSELL

''It's worth noting the cannon is modified, and it can't fire live ammo,'' warned the Zagreb TB official, who was a bit puzzled as to why I would even ask her for the potential range of a weapon overlooking the Croatian capital from Fort Lotrščak. But, as I'm sure any researcher will confirm, scientific curiosity often calls for asking controversial questions.

Learn more about Zagreb on our TC page.

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

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Zagreb Grič Cannon: Explosive Noon Reminder

July 9, 2021 - Zagreb Grič Cannon - a reminder of noon, and a reason to avoid the centre if you aren't a fan of loud sounds. Get your noise-canceling headphones and read about the cannon's history, courtesy of TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac.

If you find yourself walking around a wider Zagreb centre (such as Savska Cesta or Marin Držić Avenue) around noon, and you focus on the sounds of the city, you may notice a weird sound in between traffic and people passing. An unusual sound, as if someone dropped a heavy box. But, if around noon, you find yourself at Ban Jelačić square or upper town, you will hear a clear and loud BANG! Fear not, as this is not a terrorist attack, and you weren't lied to when your tourist agency swore to god Zagreb is safe from such horrors. The heart-stopping bang is a signifier of noon. If you hear a boom at 11:59 or 12:01, your watch is behind a minute. The cannon states that clear and very, very loud.

Loudest time checker you could think of

Grič cannon first started signaling noon on January 1, 1877, and was located at the State's Meteorology department, back in times when Croatia was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. It wasn't until 1927 that it was moved to Fort Lotršćak where it is situated today.

According to the Klovićevi Dvori Gallery's official website, Fort Lotrščak was named after a bell and comes from campana latrunculorum, which is Latin for „Bell of Thieves“ that rang before closing city gates. Historians aren't exactly sure what the Fort looked like in medieval times, although it is speculated based on old sketches that it had only two floors. It wasn't until 1857 that romanticistic architecture gave the fortress today's four floors and an additional tower at the very top (from which you have a breath-taking view of Zagreb today).

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Fort Lotrščak © Ivor Kruljac / Total Croatia News

In the 17th century, the Fort served as trading storage and had various other ways to adapt to the need of Zagreb and Zagreb's citizens at different times. At one point, when the City was out of money to restore and repair the Fort, it gave Lotrščak to citizens for rent. Citizens who wanted the Fort also had the obligation of maintaining it, and in case of enemy assault, it was to be returned back to the City for defense purposes.  

Warning shot 

Speaking of defense purposes, an old legend says how this cannon managed to save Zagreb with a single shot from the Ottoman conquerors. Legend has it that the Ottoman commander Hasan Pasha (Hasan Paša) settled his army at the coast of the Sava river, in today's area of Novi Zagreb. He was preparing to cross the river and invade the city. But before that, he was about to have lunch one day, and Zagreb fired from the cannon in the Ottoman's direction, close to Hasan and blasting a chicken he wanted to eat. The shot scared the hell out of the Ottomans and they retreated, leaving Zagreb intact.

Changing arsenal

Over the course of time, there were five different Grič cannons that served the purpose of signaling noon. The current canon was given during Zagreb's Univerzijada in 1987, courtesy of the Yugoslavian National Army (JNA) as Croatia at the time was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ).

As for the first three, you can find them today in the collection of the Zagreb City Museum. The first cannon originated in 1876 and was replaced by the second cannon in the unidentified year at the end of the 19th century. The third cannon you can see in Zagreb City Museum, and the first that was situated on Lotrščak fort, was introduced in 1928, and it was made by restoring a Polish cannon from 1912.

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Three cannons showcased at Zagreb City Museum  © Ivor Kruljac / Total Croatia News   

So finding yourself in front of Fort Lotrščak (whose entrance is located right next to the Upper town funicular station) is not recognizable if you are not a fan of loud noise as it can give you a sound fright even down below at Jelačić square and the surrounding area. But, for the brave ones, the Grič cannon can provide a unique souvenir from Zagreb. It doesn't use live ammo (the cannon is modified so it can't), but it does fire several pieces of thick cardboard that then flies down to the area underneath Lotrščak's entrance and smelling like gunpowder.

Ceased fire

Despite being a regular background sound for the experience of living in Zagreb, Grič cannon went through periods when it ceased fire and stopped making statements. The first such instance was World War I and then followed by the war in the nineties. Most recently, the cannon was silenced after the Zagreb earthquake on March 22, 2020, but it re-fired hot and heavy sometimes in May 2020. However, followed by the December 29th Petrinja earthquake, which was also felt heavy in Zagreb, the cannon is silent even today.

„We are not quite sure when it will re-fire“, briefly commented the Zagreb Tourist Board member that welcomed me in Fort Lotrščak, one of the locations where Zagreb TB has a regular stand. Still, despite the cannon being silenced, you can climb and sightsee Lotrščak, the famous cannon as well as the watchtower on top of the Fort, for the prize of 20 kunas.

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One of the exhibitions at Lotrščak © Kula Lotrščak

The Lotrščak Fort address is Tomićeva 9, and the Fort occasionally also hosts various exhibitions at times too. But, the cannon is a regular feature, and there are lots of info on the history of the cannon and the Fort itself there too on the walls- both in English and Croatian.    

Learn more about Zagreb on our TC page.

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

Friday, 25 June 2021

Maritime Welfare in Croatia: Drvenik Case and What Law Says

June 25, 2021 - The issue of maritime welfare in Croatia was raised once again after a heated discussion on a beach in Drvenik Veli. Here are the details of the case and legal guidance to the maritime welfare in Croatia.

With the 2021 tourist season already being 58% better than 2020, tourists once again visit Croatia as one of the top holiday destinations.

However, like any year, the season can't go without at least some sort of incident.

Lovely beach, disgusting words

Yesterday, Croatia was shocked and enraged with the incident that happened on a beach on Drvenik Veli island (not so far from Trogir). Croatian journalist Tonka Alujević and her friend went to a beach where two Czech tourists started complaining that it's a private beach, perks of paying for a villa, and that Alujević needs to leave. Alujević refused to leave, stating that beaches are maritime welfare and cannot be privatized, refusing to move. After, as Alujević claims Czech tourists hit her head with a phone, they called the villa owner. 24 Sata daily newspaper published a video Alujević's friend recorded.

„Ma'ams, Ma'ams, how did you get here? On foot?“, asked the owner on a phone that was on speaker and held by the Czech tourists.

„I'm a journalist. Do you know Croatian laws? Do you want to end up in media?“ replied Alujević with a chill face while smoking a cigarette on a sunny day at the beach.

„Come on, put me in the media, come on put me! But first, go to the land register and see that my beach is private," screamed the owner in Croatian, with a lot of derogatory phrases (if only Czech tourists had a translator to understand the rich swear word heritage of Croatian language, right?)

The whole thing ended up with inspection stepping on the scene. Despite the video footage being clear, the owner, identified by Index.hr as Tomislav Meštrović, owner of Centovi Dvori Villa, tried to justify himself, saying everyone is welcomed at the beach, and he attacked the women because they passed through his doorway.

„No, I have no idea what video, who what... who knows what that is... I called the police for trespassing through my land“, said Meštrović to Index.hr when asked about the footage.

24_sata_drvenik_video.jpg

the conversation at the beach, screenshot/ 24sata

Law and order

Following this story, Index.hr's columnist Goran Vojković analyzed the law to clear up the issue of maritime welfare.

„The Maritime Welfare and Sea Ports Law states 'at least six meters from a line horizontally distant from the line middle waters'. But it can be wider, for example, if part of the land that in its nature or use serves to exploit the sea. It can also be narrowed- for instance, if support walls or a public road are close to the sea“, Vojković listed general rules but adding that maritime welfare border is specifically determined.

„So, the coast is free to use where the beach is, in general, six meters. You can come and use it for your needs, such as bathing, tanning, or walking. The land behind can be private, but the coast cannot“, concluded Vojković.

On the other hand, there are ways to limit the use of maritime welfare.

„There are some parts of the coast where you cannot enter. You can enter the marina and walk around it, but only until 10 pm. You cannot enter at all in a shipyard port. Those are the parts of maritime welfare for which the state assigned a concession to someone. The concession can limit or terminate public use“, explained Vojković.

Additionally, the law states that it is possible to have a beach in its concession and limit public entrance. But it needs to be registered, and the prices are so expensive that there are very few beaches like this in Croatia (Drvenik one not included in that small list).

„If someone claims that has a concession and that he/she can exclusively use some part of the coast, he needs to have a proof you can easily check in the register. I repeat, there are very small examples; even beaches in front of five-star hotels are public good“, Vojković pointed out.

And such beaches are filled with deck chairs, food stands, etc. But as Vojković pointed out, on a public beach, you have the right to bring your own deck chair, your own food, and drinks, and you can't be forced to consume content on the beach.

„In short, enjoy the Adriatic coast- with some very small exceptions of exclusive concessions, the entire coastline (including island coast) is free for your use and joy. Nobody can hold a grudge or complain if you came to a bath where they think it's 'their' beach. If someone is uncomfortable, don't debate, call authorities“, advises Vojković.

topgirl_at_the_beach.jpg

Pixabay

And the beach is open for public happily ever after

As Jutarnji List reported, the Drvenik case has a conclusion to an intriguing plot. Unhappy with Meštrović's behavior, Dalmatian locals went vigilantly and started writing bad reviews on Google, seeing the villa losing its value and tourists.

„Even though neither the building, nor its surroundings changed since the video was released, the unkindness of the owner was enough to move once-prestigious villa to the lowest grading Croatian places on Google“, says Jutarnji.

A couple of more lessons can be learned for a successful and enjoyable season from this tale.

For owners: present your offer fair in accordance with the law as transparency is the best way for your offer to beat the competition.
For tourists: if you were promised a private beach, but you see locals coming, don't be rude to them and don't attack them. The only one you can really be mad at is your host, who perhaps lied about what they can truly provide.

Learn more about beaches in Croatia on our TC page.

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

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Croatian Mountain Rescue Service Book Presented by Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute in Gospić

May 16, 2021 - Suitable for the 30th anniversary of one beloved Croatian civil protection organisation, the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service book was presented by the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute based in Gospic.

With many tourists and visitors (and Croats too), not being too careful when going on ''their little adventures'' up mountains such as the Dinara, Velebit, or elsewhere, the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS) is as busy as Batman in Gotham. What with saving people who get lost, being bitten by poisonous animals that live on the mountains, or dealing with people who have hurt themselves in any way, they truly are praised as superheroes and are often the most beloved people on Croatian TV, either in commercials or when the press, telling their heroic tales.

Apart from mountains, their training was also shown to be useful for easing the numerous issues left following the 2020 earthquakes too.

Marking the 30 year anniversary of HGSS's station in Gospić, the Gospić Culture And Information Centre saw the presentation of the book ''The Day Replaced the Night, The Bura Wind Cleared Our View“ (Dan Je Zamijenio Noć, Bura Nam Očistila Pogled), last Friday. As reported by the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute website, the authors of this pop-science monograph are dr. Ivan Brlic, dr. Nikola Simunic and Dr. Anita Busljeta Tonkovic.

''The Gospic HGSS station, even though with a relatively small member count, operates on the biggest and toughest rescue surfaces in all of the Republic of Croatia. This monograph, through geographical, historical and sociological context, aims to explain how important, but also how difficult the mountain rescuer's job is. The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service book, covering over 150 pages in an honest and interesting way, shows why HGSS is one of the cornerstone operative forces of civil protection and that, in its professional, altruistic, and humane approach, contributes to the overall civil rescue system with the goal of saving human lives,'' they stated from the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute.

Apart from the authors of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service book themselves, the event saw HGSS Croatia's main man, Josip Granic, the director of the HGSS Gospic station, Josip Bozicevic, Deputy Interior Minister Damir Trust, as well as the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute Headmaster, Dr. Zeljko Holjevac sit down and speak. All of them agreed that this book is an important statement of gratefulness to HGSS members for all of the hard work they do.

The book is a product of the Ivo Pilar Institute's successful collaboration with the institutions in Gospic, and the wish for the further and deeper continuation of that cooperation was expressed too. In case of need, HGSS can be reached by calling 112. But, to prevent becoming yet another damsel (or a bachelor) in distress, it's not a bad idea to check their safety guidelines for enjoying the outdoors in Croatia.

Not to far from Gospic is the North Velebit National Park with its glorious mountains, about which you can learn more on our TC page.

For more about the Ivo Pilar Social research Institute in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

10 Things Croatians Do That Tourists Find Weird

June 15th, 2021 - As the summer season begins and the country is welcoming a large number of tourists, it's time to take a look at 10 things Croatians do that tourists may find weird on their visit here. 

 1. Our coffee culture 

10-things-croatians-do-coffee.jpg

Pixabay

Croatians love drinking coffee and taking their time, and we tend to take our coffee culture very seriously. At home, we make Turkish coffee, and outside we drink Italian, simple as that. We like our coffees very strong and mostly black, nothing fancy. The only acceptable additions are milk and sugar, no fancy sweeteners or syrups allowed in Croatian households. Another thing about our coffee culture is that we take our time and sip it slowly. It can take hours to get through one cup of coffee because we are in no rush. Drinking coffee in Croatia is a carefree and relaxed part of our culture that we embrace daily. 

2. Rakija fixes everything

Rakija is considered to be the magic fix for any trouble in Croatia. Do you have a sore throat? Take a shot. Did someone break your heart? Take a shot. Do you have a fever? Maybe don't take a shot, but you should soak a towel in Rakija and put it on your head. Did you hurt yourself? Have a shot and disinfect the wound with Rakija. It is an all-around problem solver in Croatia. 

3. Family comes first 

In Croatia, there is nothing more important than family. It's normal for children to leave the nest very late and live with their parents until they get married. Most people also stay in their hometown, so they see no point in moving out. It's just how things have always been here, and family is number one always. At home, you are known because of your parents, and your name determines your value and social status. In Croatia, it's very common to be asked "who are your parents," especially in small towns because people really do know everyone. 

4. Cooking with Vegeta

10-things-croatians-do-vegeta.jpg

Podravka Facebook

If you enter any Croatian household and don't have Vegeta, are you really in a Croatian household? Vegeta is a vegetable seasoning used daily in any Croatian kitchen and on everything you can think of. It simply is an all-purpose seasoning that is a staple in any Croatian household. 

5. Seafood Fridays 

Seafood on Fridays is very popular in Croatia because of our religion, so you'll notice that most restaurants have some seafood specials every Friday. Most people follow it even if they aren't religious, and in a Croatian household, you cannot and should not be eating meat on Fridays. It mostly consists of fish, but it's considered acceptable for as long as it's from the sea. 

6. Propuh

If you're from Croatia or have been to any Croatian household, you're aware that propuh is pretty much illegal. Propuh is a wind that blows right through the house, and doors and windows shut almost immediately. It's a habit we have gotten used to here, and we associate propuh with being extremely dangerous because you could easily get sick, and we do our best to avoid it. When propuh occurs, the whole household goes into panic mode to close the entire house immediately as if the world is falling apart. 

7. We eat everything 

Croatian cuisine is diverse and offers the freshest products in its regional dishes, and menus vary accordingly by season and region. Strangely enough, Croatians do eat everything from dormouse, Vitalac (Skewers made of baby goat or lamb’s entrails such as lungs, liver, or spleen), beef tongue, and frog legs are a few unique delicacies in Croatia. Don't judge it until you try it but maybe don't ask the waiter to translate the dish when ordering and go with it. 

8. If it grows, we celebrate it 

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Squid fishing festival (Hvar)

As simple as that. Croatia has plenty of food festivals all year-round to celebrate delicious natural food. Some of these may sound silly, but we take our food festivals very seriously across the country. They vary from squid fishing in Hvar, Lavander festival in Hvar, Beans festival in north-eastern Croatia, to Chesnut and Paprika festival. In addition, there are lots more unique natural food festivals which you can explore to dive into the best of the best Croatia has to offer.  

9. Hair drying rules

In Croatia, we take our hair drying rules very seriously because we are taught from a young age. You must always blow dry your hair, or you'll get sick, and when you do blow dry your hair, you have to wait at least an hour before going outside. Our parents and grandparents will probably get a heart attack if we leave the house with wet hair, even in the middle of summer. Also, you cannot be sitting next to an air conditioner or a window with your wet hair, it's just a big no from Croatian parents. Letting your hair dry naturally doesn't exist in Croatia and if you're brave enough to do it, prepare for some arguments with your Croatian friends and relatives. 

10. The Dalmatian grunt 

 The way of greeting people across Dalmatia places is unique and confusing for both locals and tourists, known as the Dalmatian grunt. The greeting is very basic, and the same one can be used to say hi to a friend, give a compliment or even say bye. Mostly heard along with the Hvar dialect, the island people keep their vocabulary very simple; shouting "ee!" or "ej!" can mean many different things. Check it out in the video below. 

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.

Find out more about Croatian food here HERE.

 

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