Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Deer Killed By Train, Stolen By Train Driver, Later Caught Drunk Driving

January 26, 2021 – Road kill we've heard of. But rail kill? One Slavonia deer killed by train was due to end up on the dining table of a train driver, who stopped his train to stuff the dead deer into his cab, before later being caught drunk driving with the decapitated animal in his trunk

Road kill we've heard of. But rail kill? One Slavonia deer killed by train was due to end up on the dining table of a train driver, who stopped his train to stuff the dead animal into his cab. Alas, the čobanac (a spicy, wild meat stew, popular in Slavonia) was not meant to be. He was caught drunk-driving the next day by police at a traffic stop in Vinkovci and arrested.

It's perhaps easy to understand the train driver not wanting to look such a gift horse, or deer, in the mouth. This is not the first deer killed by train or car within the wild rural landscape of Slavonia. With the unfortunate collision having offered the opportunity for fine dining, the train driver apparently had a one track mind.

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However, with the benefit of hindsight, it was perhaps not the best i-deer to retrieve the sizeable body of the deer killed by train to save for a later feast. Less easy to forgive is that he was caught with the deer while driving his car under the influence of alcohol. Such foolhardiness is no way to go about covering your tracks.

Police halted the man around 5pm on January 12 at a regular traffic roe-d stop and breathalysed him, as they correctly suspected he had been drinking. The 56-year-old man, who had Vinkovci license plates was found to be under the influence of alcohol (1.22 g / kg). However, that was just the first of the finds on the stop.

Upon searching the car trunk, police discovered the decapitated corpse of a sizeable deer. It turned out the train driver had stopped his train the day before to retrieve the animal and placed it in the driver's cab for consumption at a later date. The animal was presumably being transported home – or to a local butcher – by car the next day. But, the traffic stop put an end to any notions of a free meal.

cobanac.jpgCobanac, a hearty, spicy stew made in Slavonia using deer and other wild meats. Alas, it was not meant to be © Youtube screenshot

The deer corpse was confiscated and handed over to the hunting society of Stari Mikanovac for safekeeping until a warrant for an autopsy was obtained in order to determine the cause of death. Pursuant to the order of the Vinkovci Municipal State Attorney's Office, the examination of the deer carcass was performed by the Vinkovci Veterinary Institute.

For the appropriation of the deer, the police filed a complaint at the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Vinkovci against the 56-year-old for the criminal offence of theft. For his inebriated driving, the man was issued a misdemeanour order, imposing a fine of HRK 5,000 and was banned from driving a "B" category vehicle for two months. Having been charged for both excess beer and excess deer, at the time of the police road stop you could say the game was well and truly up.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Croatia Pan Europe Trains Will Run 160 Kilometres Per Hour By 2030

November 2, 2020 – From southern Spain to Budapest through Rijeka and Zagreb and from Salzburg through Zagreb, Belgrade and Skopje to Greece, Croatia pan Europe trains will run 160 kilometres per hour by 2030

In the biggest investment ever made in the infrastructure of the country's rail network, Croatia pan Europe trains will run 160 kilometres Per Hour By 2030. In an investment costing 4.5 billion Euros, 750 kilometres of railways will be modernised.

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The lines that will receive the upgrade will connect Rijeka to Budapest in Hungary via Zagreb (RH2) and Zagreb to Belgrade via Vinkovci (RH1). Though these lines already exist, they have never undergone an overhaul of the scale proposed. The modernisation with ensure double lanes across the whole of both routes and facilitate passenger train speeds of 160 kilometres per hour.

The level of investment means that during the next ten years, HŽ Infrastruktura's (Croatian Railway Infrastructure Company) rebuild of the Croatia pan Europe trains network will be the largest infrastructure project in the Republic of Croatia and the largest beneficiary of EU grants in the transport sector. Most of the money for the modernisation is coming from European Union grants.

ddzphoto.jpgAlmeria on the Mediterranean, in Andalusia, southern Spain, where the Mediterranean Corridor begins © ddz photo

The RH2 line is part of the Mediterranean Corridor which connects the south of the Iberian peninsula with eastern Hungary via six countries. The line runs from Almeria on the Mediterranean coast in the south-east of Spain, through Madrid and Barcelona. It passes through Marseille in France, then northern Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, the Hungarian capital of Budapest, before finishing in Záhony in the east of Hungary, not far from the border with Ukraine. The route covers more than 6000 kilometres. The Croatian section will pass through Jurdani (six kilometres north of Opatija), Rijeka, Karlovac, Zagreb, Dugo Selo, Križevci and Koprivnica.

PatriceAudet.jpegTo Croatian rail passengers, the Spanish city of Barcelona will be just a few hours away by 2030 © Patrice Audet

The RH1 line is part of the Pan-European Corridor X. The Croatia pan Europe trains section of this transport route was once one of the three lines taken by the Orient Express. The modernised rail line will start in Salzburg, Austria and pass through Ljubljana before reaching Zagreb. The line will pass through Slavonski Brod and Vinkovci before making its way to Belgrade, then Niš in southern Serbia. The old Oriental Express line then headed east, to Istanbul via Sofia, Bulgaria. The EU-funded train section of the Pan-European Corridor X instead heads south, to Thessaloniki in Greece via Skopje in Macedonia.

Djordje Jovanovic.jpgThe rail journey time between Zagreb and Belgrade (pictured) will be shortened considerably by the improvements © Djordje Jovanovic

Trains are currently the greenest transport option for long-distance travel. As the world heads in the direction of seeking energy sources that do not rely on finite fossil fuels, rail also currently looks to be the long-distance travel option best-equipped to meet this challenge. In the future, visitors from all across Europe may increasingly rely on the Croatia pan European trains network in order to access the country. The improvements also increase business and leisure opportunities for Croatians in Europe.

Dimitris Vetsikas.jpgThessaloniki in Greece is one of the most popular cities in Europe for visitors. The renewed rail section of the Pan European Corridor X will end here © Dimitris Vetsikas

Around 935 million Euros was invested in the Croatian railway infrastructure between 2010 and 2019. The new investment dwarfs those figures. The initial investment, occurring between 2020 and 2024 amounts to as much as 1.8 billion Euros, of which almost 78.7 per cent is co-financed by the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI) and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). From 2025 to 2030, EU funds totalling more than 2.7 billion Euros are expected to be invested in the Croatia pan European trains network.

Freight train passage along the lines will also be increased, reaching a new speed of 120 kilometres per hour. The Croatia pan European trains network also offers great potential to open up continental Croatia regions to international visitors. The Croatian railway network currently has 2,617 kilometres of track, of which 274 kilometres are double-track and 980 are electrified.

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Saturday, 3 October 2020

Continental Croatia Trains: Inland Opens Up With Green Travel

October 3, 2020 - With charter airlines in a state of flux and Croatia Railways beginning a renewal of their fleet in Slavonia, are continental Croatia trains the eco-friendly and best way to unlock the inland's amazing potential?

Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. Even before 2020 arrived, lifestyles and trends were headed in new directions. Eco-tourism and agro-tourism were two of the fastest-growing areas within the travel sector, this behaviour change a response to concerns about the environment. And nowhere in the country stands better poised to take advantage of this interest than continental Croatia.

ivo-biocinaCNTB.jpgImpossibly pretty Zagorje - the region lies just north of Zagreb and is accessible by continental Croatia trains © Ivo Biocina / Croatia National Tourist Board

From the impossibly pretty hills of Zagorje, the peaceful rivers of Karlovac county and the hidden vineyards that surround the capital Zagreb to the vast Pannonian flatlands that stretch to Slavonia, Baranya, Vukovar-Srijem and beyond, the varied topography of continental Croatia is wild, exciting and - by many - wholly undiscovered.

This is land where agriculture and nature thrive side by side, where the stresses of modern-day existence ebb away as you readjust to a way of life that would look mostly familiar to the people who lived here centuries ago. These are places where you can truly be at one with yourself and with your surroundings. In continental Croatia, you often find yourself in an environment that is both timeless and traditional, yet wholly contemporary in regards to its ecological aspirations. And you're never far away from an exciting city environment that you can dip into on a whim – not just Zagreb, but Osijek, Slavonski Brod, Karlovac, Sisak and Varaždin too.

kalendar04.jpgTo those who really know and love Croatia, Osijek is simply unmissable. It is both the capital of and the doorway to Slavonia and Baranya and should be more accessible by continental Croatia trains. Sadly, international transportation links to the city by air are also quite poor. Improvements in accessibility to Slavonia and Baranya by rail and road are imminent © Romulić & Stojčić

Unlocking the incredible potential of continental Croatia relies on getting the message out there and facilitating travel to these regions

In recent TCN features we have detailed that motorways within Croatia are among the best in Europe - once you're inside Croatia, travelling by car (or bus) between the regions couldn't be easier. We have also seen evidence of the huge interest in travelling here by rail and using continental Croatia trains.

Of all the modern methods of long-distance travel, rail is by far the most eco-friendly. What better way to begin an environmentally friendly holiday than by arriving on continental Croatia trains? When the country wisely decided to prioritise its internal motorway system, a modern and fast inter-regional rail network was put on the back burner. Nowhere suffers greater from this decision than continental Croatia.

Croatian Official Document uploaded to Wikipedia by Epepe.gifThe Croatian rail network © Croatian Official Document uploaded to Wikipedia by Epepe

The only high-speed line that currently exists in Croatia links Rijeka to Budapest, via Zagreb and Koprivnica. Planned improvements hope to cut journey times between Zagreb and its nearest coastal city to an hour. Same as it ever was - Rijeka was the first Croatian city to be connected internationally by rail. That line also ran into the heart of Austro-Hungary and facilitated upper-class travel to places like Opatija. But does it best benefit the country to invest in more links to the coast or in continental Croatia trains? Well, the inland is not being ignored. Upgrades are being made to continental Croatia trains.

IMG_8990.jpgThis impressive beast actually services the country's coast. But would more investment in the continental Croatia trains network better service more people and help unlock the inland to tourists? Around 70% of the country's inhabitants live in continental Croatia © HŽPP

The rail link between Zagreb and Slavonski Brod is so historic that it was once part of the four routes of the Orient Express. It has been maintained to a standard where you can make a relatively quick journey from the capital to Vinkovci via Slavonski Brod. The same cannot be said for rail travel to Osijek, the access point to Baranya and much more. So slow is the connection between Osijek and Zagreb that it has been possible over recent times to reach the Slavonian capital quicker by taking the train to Vinkovci, then the bus to Osijek, rather than travelling direct by rail.

Slavonija_Osijek0191.jpgOsijek train station. A renovation to the building is planned for the near future © Romulić & Stojčić

However, in February this year, Croatian Railways introduced four direct daily lines between Slavonski Brod and Osijek. And there will be a new tilting train line that will run between Zagreb to Osijek on Friday afternoon and from Osijek to Zagreb on Sunday afternoon, facilitating student travel. On October 15, the first low-floor train will run between Osijek and Vinkovci as an additional part of the renewal of their continental Croatia trains fleet in Slavonia. The welcome return of Croatia's second-oldest international rail line - linking Osijek to Pécs in Hungary, via Beli Manastir and Baranya - was introduced in late 2018.

23e1f08a601e02be10403fbc28ced968_XL.jpgA motorway stretch between Metković and Dubrovnik, integrating the Pelješac bridge and the Croatian segment of the European corridor are the final big remaining projects in a three-decade-long undertaking to give Croatia one of the best motorway networks in Europe. Should Croatia's rail network be next? © Hrvatske Autoceste

Access to Slavonia and Baranya will also be massively facilitated upon completion of the European corridor, which will connect North Europe to the Adriatic. Starting in Budapest, it necessitates the building of a bridge near Beli Manastir. Thereafter the motorway will pass by Osijek, connect to the Zagreb-Slavonia motorway near Lipovac, then pass through Bosnia and its capital Sarajevo and on to Ploče.

The removal of budget airline flights to the airport in Osijek remains a hindrance to attracting many international visitors to Slavonia and Baranya. However, with charter airlines facing the greatest uncertainty of all modes of transport at the current time, though their return is a must, it is perhaps now an ambition that should remain more long term. For the immediate future, improvements to rail travel look to be a brilliant way of opening up not only Slavonia, Baranya and Vukovar-Srijem, but also an eco-friendly access point capable of serving the whole of untapped continental Croatia.

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Sunday, 20 September 2020

55th Vinkovacke Jeseni Folklore Festival Ends

ZAGREB, September 20, 2020 - The 55th Vinkovacke Jeseni (Autumn in Vinkovci) folklore festival, held this year in line with measures introduced due to the coronavirus pandemic, ended on Sunday in that eastern Croatian town with a parade of participants and horse-drawn carriages.

Members of 31 folklore troupes from Vukovar County and 25 horse-drawn carriages and 30 horse riders walked through the city centre.

There were no visiting folklore troupes from other parts of the country and the Croatian diaspora this year due to the coronavirus pandemic but their previously filmed performances were shown on a video wall.

The parade of folklore troupes was followed by numerous visitors.

 

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Thursday, 17 September 2020

55th Vinkovačke Jeseni Becomes Folklore Festival of the Future

September 17, 2020 – Beginning today, one of the country's largest and oldest annual folklore events - Vinkovačke Jeseni – finds new ways to continue the music, dancing and preservation of Croatian culture

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Of all events requiring a serious rethink because of epidemiological guidelines, folklore is perhaps the most problematic. The traditional folk dancing of Croatia requires participants to be in close proximity. Often, groups are joined by the hand – and hundreds can join in. But, not this year.

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Being one of the largest traditional folklore events in the country, Vinkovačke Jeseni (Vinkovci autumn) has had a lot of thinking to do. Having been enjoyed by inhabitants of the eastern Slavonia town every year continuously for over half a century, not to mention many thrilled visitors, cancellation was a last resort. And it's one they have thankfully not reached.

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The 55th Vinkovačke Jeseni is going to look very different to previous editions,. But its colourful costumes, wonderful dancing, great music and preservation of Croatian culture can still be enjoyed by all. Only this year, you'll be enjoying it on TV.

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Instead of inviting visits by hundreds of folklore societies (KUDs) from across Croatia, for the 55th Vinkovačke Jeseni, the event has visited them. From August 27 to September 4, a special film crew visited all of the counties in the country and made short films with local KUDs about the traditions, culture and customs of each region. These will be shown as video postcards at the ceremonial parade. Made by Plave Vinkovačke televizije (Blue Vinkovci Television), they will also be available for anyone to watch internationally until September 20.

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The physical event in Vinkovci will still have its traditional parade of participants, and horse-drawn carriages will still parade through the town, although this year there will only be around 30 KUDs from the wider Vukovar-Srijem County in attendance. The opening event will take place on the main square and this year there will be no large tent for nighttime revelry.

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All photos from previous editions of Vinkovci Autumns © Vinkovačke Jeseni

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Monday, 17 August 2020

Vinkovci Film Week 2020 Begins

August 17, 2020 - Now a much-enjoyed highlight of the city's cultural calendar, the Vinkovci Film Week festival pairs the 14-year-old DORF music documentary festival with the Classical Antiquity Film Nights. Here's what to expect...

At just four years old, Vinkovci Film Week has become a much-loved highlight of the Slavonian town's cultural calendar. Given its age, it's less surprising that it's become so when you find out its component events are actually very well established.

The film week actually pairs a 14-year-old music documentary festival, DORF, with the 8-year-old Classical Antiquity Film Nights. Beginning tomorrow, Tuesday 18 August, and running until Saturday 22 August, here's what you can expect to see...

Classical Antiquity Film Nights at Vinkovci Film Week

Tuesday 18 August

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'The Last Well / Posljednji bunar' directed by Filip Filković (2017, Croatia), is a dystopian tale set in a dry Croatian hinterland, where the last source of drinking water has a significant impact over life. It has won more than 30 festival awards.

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Immediately following is 'Lo and behold: reveries of the connected world' (2016, USA) by iconic German-American film and documentary maker Werner Herzog. The viewer is taken on a journey through a series of provocative conversations revealing how the internet has changed (and continues to change) the functioning of the real world and life itself - from business to education, from space travel to healthcare, as well as the very core of our private relationships.

Wednesday 19 August

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Dalibor Platenik's 'Man and Tree / Čovjek i drvo' (2019, Croatia) looks at the life of Vladimir Dimić Joda, who lives in the centre of Zagreb and spends his days hanging out with trees. He started planting trees anonymously more than 30 years ago and has so far planted more than 450 of them. He talks to them, waters them, and tends for them. In doing so, he feels he is returning a debt to Mother Earth. Vladimir Dimić Joda was actually born in Vinkovci and is a frequent visitor to the town.

DORF music documentary festival at Vinkovci Film Week

Thursday 20 August

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'Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami' (2018, USA) is a human portrayal of the intangible Jamaican icon. Through her modelling and music, Grace Jones has provocatively and unflinchingly bared all to the public. While examining these elements of her career, this documentary shows what few have ever seen before; the very real person that lies beneath the enigma.

Friday 21 August

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Premiering at the festival, short film 'xYUGOx' (2020, Croatia) follows Croatian-Serbian hardcore punk band The Truth in preparation for a two-week European tour and asks how their straight-edge lifestyle (eschewing alcohol, tobacco, and all other drugs) impacts such an undertaking.

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Also premiering here, 'Erik' (2020, Croatia) is a portrait of composer, singer, keyboardist, and award-winning songwriter Erik Balija, whose cerebral palsy restricts only his physical movement, not his spirit.

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Another premiere, 'New York: The Pilgrimage' (2019, Macedonia) follows a Macedonian hip hop obsessive as he makes a once-in-a-lifetime journey to the city which birthed his passion.

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'Winners Are Boring / Pobednici su dosadni' (2018, Serbia) is a portrait of life-long music fanatic, publicist, and journalist Žikica Simić, examining the impact the cult radio shows he has helmed have had on many.

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'Sonnyboy iz Stubičke Slatine' (2019, Croatia) looks at the life of Krešo Oremuš from rural Zagorje. By day, Krešo is a metal worker. By night, he's a blues music fanatic and one of the country's greatest blues harmonica players.

Saturday 22 August

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'Tusta' (2019, Croatia) is a biography of Branko Črnac Tusta, the leader of infamous Pula punk-rock band, KUD Idijoti. Because of his uncompromising anti-fascist and tolerant stance, this true working-class hero was considered a "communist" in the 1990s, and his music all but banned from Croatian media and music outlets. The band were not deterred. KUD Idijoti were the first Croatian band to perform a concert in Serbia after the war.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Buba Bar Opens as First Cafe in Croatia to Employ People with Disabilities

July 7, 2020 - After a little more than 3 years of effort, persistence and work, Buba Bar has opened in Vinkovci as the first cafe in Croatia that employs people with disabilities.

HRTurizam writes that in December 2016, a crowdfunding campaign was launched on the Indiegogo platform, which was, among other things, the second most successful crowdfunding campaign in 2016. With the noble goal of opening the first cafe in Croatia to employ people with Down syndrome, the honorable Buba Bar was born.

The brave and more than praiseworthy vision finally brought a smile to the faces of ten people with Down syndrome and other people with disabilities in Vukovar-Srijem County who realized their basic human right - the right to work - with their first job in life.

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Udruga Bubamara

The campaign was launched by the Association Bubamara from Vinkovci, which cares for over 1,600 people with disabilities in Vukovar-Srijem County, employs over 200 people, and has successfully applied for and implemented over 100 projects. The Bubamara Association, which with its excellent results, unofficially bears the title of the most successful association in Croatia, and is an excellent example of the development and business of associations.

Alen, Domagoj, Dario, Ivana and Marija are just a part of the team that started working at Buba Bar, and in the past a few years, they diligently practiced and honed their skills to make their start as successful as possible. The group was trained, and through various activities and events where they had the opportunity to show their skills, both in the city of Vinkovci and throughout Croatia, they showed that they are ready for a new challenge.

As part of Buba Bar, there is also a bowling alley with four lanes as new entertainment in Vinkovci!

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Udruga Bubamara

Perhaps the biggest victory of the Bubamara Association is that they fought for a change in legislation so that people with disabilities can now work without fear of losing their rights, i.e., disability benefits, as has been the case so far.

Namely, it was Buba Bar who contributed to the change of national policy through amendments to the law, which ensured that persons with disabilities can now work without being deprived of disability benefits or reducing any rights.

Buba Bar will also be an education center, but also an example to other caterers to recognize the potential of people with disabilities. Thus, Buba will at least become a place where people with disabilities will exercise their basic right - the right to work and, of course, a salary, and will have the opportunity to contribute to the community through their work.

In the end, the Bubamara Association points out that they hope that Buba Bar, as the first example of social entrepreneurship, will serve as a model for others in Croatia.

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Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer? Steve from UK in Vinkovci

March 31, 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 TCN, starting with Steve Gaunt from Leeds in the UK, currently holed up in Vinkovci.  

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? In the first of 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. Having started with an excellent contribution from Romanian Mirela Rus and American/Irishman Jason Berry in Split, we move to an English pub in a field in the middle of nowhere near Vinkovci in eastern Croatia to see how things are with Yorkshireman Steve Gaunt from Leeds.

If you would like to contribute to this series, full details are below. Now, over to the one and only Steve Gaunt. 

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

Well, I have a large family, my wife and six children and all but one are with me. I am a very flexible person when it comes to change around me; I may not like it, but I can certainly deal with it. I have always dealt mentally with problems with humour, but there is little humour to find in the current situation.

The biggest problem is how it is affecting my children, especially those who should be at University in Zagreb. My daughter Emma doesn't know what the state of affairs is regarding her apartment in Zagreb after the earthquakes, and she and my son Daniel are finding it difficult to proceed with online studies as they have no access to their books, notes and other material. Luckily we all have access to computers so the younger children can still keep up with school work online. My wife Dragica works for the Red Cross and is allowed to move freely.

I admit I was confused and annoyed when restrictive measures came into force one after another, but I am much more at ease with them now than I thought I would be. We had a problem that my son Daniel was stranded in a village not too distant and couldn't come home.

You asked how we deal with "self-isolation" but the fact is we are not doing anything different other than what is forced upon us, like the schools being closed or businesses being shut down.

I can still travel to my land in a nearby village without hindrance and I can work on my land and enjoy a beer in my pub. I also have a pass which was very easy to procure and can travel a little further afield. I also got a pass for son Daniel so he can now return home should he wish, but he still hasn't. I see very few people about town but many in the countryside, walking, jogging, riding, biking and I feel they are absolutely right to do so; nobody should be isolated by walls, they should be in the fresh air and sun, isolated only by natural space. But the easy to follow basic rules should always be adhered to. 

On my land it is rare to see more than one or two people passing each day, nowadays dozens come by each day. People are sociable animals, and it is comforting to see people passing by and enjoying the fresh air and greeting each other (though at a safe distance!). In the town it is different, the few people who venture abroad scurry about with their masks on, trying to avoid each other. Depressing to witness.

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

As an army invalid and pensioner, this doesn't really apply to me, though it doesn't stop me from being concerned. Croatia has never had the best economy, though we seemed well blessed by having a stable currency. I worry about small businesses and their ability to ride out this period of inactivity, but Croatians know how to deal with serious problems as the Homeland War showed.

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

I realised quite late. I am used to seeing news predicting or discovering potentially disastrous calamities. Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Global Warming caused freak weather and more. The media loves a good disaster, so I took it all with a pinch of salt. I wasn't even concerned with the spread patterns and actually became less concerned when it was revealed that the virus wasn't airborne. But the daily death toll in neighbouring Italy really put things in perspective for me.

My son Paul and I succumbed to a nasty case of flu in early February. It passed quickly for him but laid me low for three weeks. Comparing the symptoms then to the symptoms known today for the Covid virus, I see they were very similar. I wasn't concerned at the time but if this flu attack had have happened now, I admit I would be very frightened. I take it seriously. If I catch this virus, I know it will kill me.

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

I feel safe enough, though I take care. Not to the ridiculous extent that some citizens have, like locking themselves in their homes, but enough to avoid any situation that could infect me or my family. Croatia is a country used to doing what it is told and the measures placed upon the populace through repressive are effective. Nobody seems to be complaining. The virus came to us locally recently and that caused anger more than pity, that the carrier could have been so careless. There is little more the authorities can do and hopefully folk with tolerate the annoyances of restriction, but the question is, for how long?

There is one stage of regulation I will not conform with, however, and that is being forced to wear a mask.

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

Well that is an easy question, Croatia is doing very well, not just the authorities but the general population. I sometimes think Croatians welcome a crisis, just to show how they can deal with it and rise above it.

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

I cannot speak for the UK as I have no information regarding offical communication. But here it is endless. It is this continuous barrage of news, information, warnings and instructions that worry me more than the thought that the virus could affect my family and friends. There is literally nothing else on the News. The Zagreb earthquakes crept in for a while on a national level, though friends and family in the UK had no idea of the disaster. 

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

As I said earlier, our isolation is natural or forced on us by circumstance. I can't go for a beer in a bar or to a restaurant for a meal, but then I didn't do that very much before. I can still travel a little, buy fuel, metal detect, cut the grass, prune my apple trees. The TV works and I have my books and my web sites to manage. I am actually more active than normal. If I was in total lockdown, I cannot think of a single thing I would take with me, other than prescibed medicine.

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

That I am less selfish than I thought. I reserve comment on others.

Thanks Steve, stay safe and see you on the other side.  You can learn more about Steve and how he came to open a pub in the middle of nowhere here.I am sure he will be glad of the company when this is all over, but at the moment there is a typically welcoming message from Yorkshire on the board at the moment (see below).

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You can find more foreigner corona stories in our dedicated section here.

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.

 

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Repairing a 25-Year-Old British Telephone Box in Europe's Oldest Continuously Inhabited Town

March 11, 2020 - It is 25 years since Vinkovci got a rather unusual gift from the UK - a traditional British telephone box, which continues to receive love and attention. 

I am not sure what surprised me more - finding out that the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, dating back some 8,400 years, was in Croatia - or finding out that there was a traditional British telephone box which functioned right in the middle of the historic centre. 

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As is often the case when you see something that makes no sense, such as a British telephone box in the middle of eastern Croatia, the explanation can be attributed to a Yorkshireman. 

It took me some time to get the full story of how the telephone box came to be in Vinkovci, and rather than repeat it, you can find the full account in this feature story on how and why there is an English pub in a field in the middle of nowhere a few kilometres from Vinkovci - How I Came to Open an English Pub in a Field in Eastern Croatia

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Since coming to Croatia to volunteer in the Homeland War, Steve Gaunt has made an immense contribution to life in Vinkovci, and he is clearly a man who takes pride in his work and believes in keeping things tidy. A few weeks ago he posted on Facebook that he had finally found some gold leaf paint, and so was able to touch up the telephone box, which had been looking a little jaded. 

And this week, a slightly bigger mission, to replace one of the panels. Team Gaunt went into action, with the results for all to see in the video above.

A quaint - and unusual - part of Vinkovci's rich history, and nice to see it being preserved. Steve is a fascinating guy for a Yorkshireman, and if you do find yourself in that part of the world, a pint at The White Boar is a worthwhile eastern Croatian experience you had perhaps not bargained for. Learn more about The White Boar here.

To learn more about the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, here are 10 things to know about Vinkovci

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Metal Detecting Tours Near Europe's Oldest Town in Eastern Croatia: Fascinating!

January 18, 2020 - Croatia has a diverse tourism offer, but some of its most interesting aspects rarely hit the news. The fascinating story of metal detecting in an around the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe - 8,300 years of treasure to discover. 

It is quite rare for a man from Lancashire to publicly compliment a Yorkshireman, so I will keep this short - one of the most interesting characters I met last year in Croatia was Steve Gaunt from Leeds. 

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Having discovered that he was the man behind the red London telephone box which stands in the middle of Vinkovci, the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, I soon learned that he had made some other, equally quirky contributions to life in and around this historic eastern Croatian town. He introduced Yorkshire puddings to the menu of a Vinkovci restaurant, started producing the first cider in Croatia, and even opened an authentic English pub in the filed literally in the middle of nowhere

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I finally met Steve on perhaps the most interesting night of the year at his pub, the White Boar. November 18, Vukovar Remembrance Day, as he holds a barbecue for all the foreign veterans who - like him - volunteered to fight for Croatia back in 1991 and 1992. It was quite an evening

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During the evening, he told me about another of his passions - metal detecting. He has been a keen metal detector for years, but imagine his joy when he found himself living in a town dating back 8,300 years, birthplace of two Roman Emperors, and just a short distance from the phenomenal Vucedol settlement, which we featured recently (see above).

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The recent find of a Roman chariot with horses close to Vinkovci was one of the global Croatian stories of 2019, and the more I looked into it, the more I realised that this whole section of eastern Croatia is arguably one of the richest untapped archaeological sites in Europe. And what a great playground this must be for a metal detectorist, provided he abides by the cultural heritage laws of the land, of course. Which Steve does absolutely. I was amused to learn that not only does Steve hold metal detecting tours for global enthusiasts, but at least three of them, all Brits, ended up buying houses in the field where his pub lies. The most unlikely of British colonies in eastern Croatia. 

It had been on my list to catch up with Steve and learn more about metal detecting in Croatia, but I started with a little internet research, which brought me to my first amazing discovery - the unearthing of an Avar burial ground in Nustar by Steve and his Croatian metal detecting friend. A piece of land was slated to be turned into a football stadium, and when 17 graves were discovered while digging, their bones were taken and reburied elsewhere. 

As you can see from Steve's documentary in the video above, the Avar burial ground in Nustar yielded quite some treasure, and all thanks to two metal detecting enthusiasts and their quick reactions. Great story. 

Steve's metal detecting rallies seem pretty popular too - here is a report from an international visitor, from where many of these photos come from, and you can check out the video report in the video above. I contacted Steve to answer some questions about metal detecting. I was expecting some interesting responses, but nothing quite like what he sent, which I produce for you here, uncut. 

1. You live in the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, 8300 years old. Tell us a little about how you felt about the potential as a man with a passion for metal detecting.

I have been a metal detectorist since 1976 when it was in its infancy in the UK. I never found anything really ancient but it didn't matter, I was in it for fun not reward. In Croatia it was after the war that I realised just how rich they are was in ancient history and up until about 2003, I helped on archaeological digs for the town museum. After that I bought a metal detector hoping to use it with the museum and on my own searching out unknown sites. Unfortunately, the museum reacted negatively to this and reported me to the police. Meanwhile I published every single find on a web page (Ex Preteritus) which is still active. Museum staff informed the police that I was SELLING items on this site with no evidence at all, and I was arrested, my detector and computer were confiscated, which contributed towards the ill health I Have today. They decided there was no criminal case to answer to, but it took me a year to get my detector back (the police are in the habit of illegally confiscating detectors and were surprised I pushed for the return of mine.

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Eventually, a younger team took over at the museum and I managed to convince them that the detector was a tool that couldn't be ignored and eventually the staff as a whole became pro-detector.

2. What are the rules? Presumably you can't just find and keep your finds. How strictly are things enforced in Croatia?

There are no laws against metal detectors, but that doesn't stop the police and aggressive museums from moving against them.

What there are are laws against "Illegal archaeological excavations" and "Taking into possession items of cultural value." What this means is that if a local museum and the local police are on good terms, they will work together to prosecute detectorists on those two counts. This manifests itself in two ways. The law is that everything of cultural value belongs to the State. So, if a detectorist finds something, he should hand it in to the local museum or representative of the Ministry of Culture. In practice, museum staff have been instructed to break the law and REFUSE any items brought in from detectorists. On some more cynical occasions, a museum has taken the best items, told the detectorist he can keep the rest, the sent the police round. Osijek Museum is infamous for this. On a recent rally I sent out two scouts to find new fields and they were stopped by traffic police who looked in their camper van, saw their machines and arrested them. Two new detectives to the area were ready to charge them with illegal archaeological excavation, but the police chief who knows the local system tore into them and put them straight. Too long have lazy or jealous museum staff used the police to bully law-abiding detector hobbyists.

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(Steve Gaunt, the metal detectorist)

3. I hear that your personal contribution to the museum in Vinkovci is quite significant. Can you be more specific?

My personal contributions are that I have discovered over 70 previously unknown sites and thousands of artefacts.

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4. Tell us about some of the finds you have had?

I have found unique items, Celtic, Roman, Greek provincial and medieval coin hoards Whole burial grounds, lost villages and Roman villas.

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5. Tell us about the archaeological potential you feel there is in this part of Europe. Vinkovci the oldest town, Vucedol an ancient culture etc.

With regard to potential, this changes from year to year. Ten years ago I could find the ruins of local buildings with perfectly preserved artefacts. But agriculture is the main enemy of archaeology. I can now inform the world that all metal age sites and most Neolithic sites on arable land in Croatia are totally ploughed out. What does that mean? It means that the plough has destroyed everything and all that is left are a few metal artefacts that deteriorate continually due to machine damage and chemicals. In a few years there will be nothing left for the detectorist to recover.

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6. I am sure that metal detecting in this region has not been without controversy. Anything you would like to share?

Controversy. This means that detectorists can fill a museum with stuff and it is never mentioned,  but the moment someone pockets a coin then the wave of hate descends upon us. A recent example shows the ignorance of many archaeologists. A deep tomb was excavated by robbers over time. When the staff of Varaždin Museum finally visited the site, they found that it had been systematically looted over time while no locals noticed anything. The archaeologist in charge then screamed to the press " We knew something would happen when we saw detectorists in a field 3 kilometres from this site. Good grief! Unfortunately they continue in the same vein and recently Jutarnji List has repeated the same unfounded allegations. Archaeologists believe that commercial metal detectors can go 5 metres deep, when in reality its 25 cm.

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7. You have attracted some enthusiasts from the UK to this part of Croatia in search of treasures under the ground. Tell us more.

Due to the destruction of sites in Slavonia, I decided to organise two metal detecting events a year when right-minded folk could come over and help pinpoint sites and recover remaining artefacts for the local museums. Usually we worked with permission of the Ministry of Culture which allowed us to detect even on protected sites. We have had ten of these events to date.



8. When is your next tour and how do people sign up?

We are planning the next official tour in March 2021. You can contact me via the White Boar website for more information

Apart from donating everything to Vinkovci Museum, Steve has also preserved a momento of some of his findings in a book he wrote - Medieval Ring Designs.

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Want to learn more about the oldest continuously inhabited town of Europe? 10 things to know about Vinkovci

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