Monday, 21 November 2022

Vukovar 2022 Remembrance Day: Visitors are Gone, the City Remains

November 21, 2022 – Wherever you find yourself around the 18th of November, Vukovar will be with you. Whether you like it or not, the name will follow you like a shadow; it will keep calling you, whispering, "Think about me." This year’s day has passed. The visitors have all gone, and the city once again remains. It is time for the first TCN Vukovar 2022 Remembrance Day reflections through the eyes of a resident. Big ask. As a tourist guide here and someone who has written about the city many times before, thinking about what to say to contribute to the discussion in a valuable way is a daunting little task. No words would be enough, yet it feels like four are all we need: We are still here.

1991 – 2022. It has been 31 years. It sounds like a long time, but it feels like time has stood still on the day. Something feels different with every year that passes by, but something is always the same. It’s hard to name it; I can’t put my finger on it. It happens if you live here. You learn something every time you meet someone new. New information, new emotions, new reasons to laugh or cry. But you connect in the old way. And there are two sides to that – the lessons are hard, but they force you to grow. Like Vukovar has been growing. With and without the parade. With and without politics. During November and the remaining eleven months.

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18 November 2022 (Photo by Grad Vukovar 2022)

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Jean-Michel Nicolier bridge (Vukovar 2022)

If you ask anyone from Vukovar to talk about it in November, they are likely to do at least one of the following things: politely ask you to move on and talk to someone else, tell their family’s story, or ask where you’ve been by now. These are some of the ways people deal with what happened here and what the reality is now.

Some don’t want to or can’t talk about it. Shake their hand and move along.

Some find it easier to tell their stories; they need compassion, appreciation, and a thank you for your sacrifice. They will open their homes and their hearts to you. Sit down with them, let them make you a cup of coffee, and listen. Cry with them, laugh with them. At times feel overwhelmed. And if they say they don’t expect you to understand, don’t believe them. Of course, you should understand. It’s not that complicated; what happened here. The human experience was reduced to its lowest form. Houses were burned, families broken apart, and lives ruined on all sides of the flag. Keep that in mind, and be respectful. Walk the parade, light a candle, and say a prayer. Remember that the whole point is to thank those who gave their lives for you to walk free and never allow that to happen again.

On the other hand, you could meet people who had nothing to do with the war, whose families were lucky, or who ended up moving to Vukovar recently. Your instinct may be to ignore them; it’s not about them. Don’t. Listen to them carefully. They live here now by choice or by fate. The city is theirs, and the city is them just as much as it is you who visits, who remembers, and talks about it.

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City centre Vukovar 2022 (21 November)

That brings us to the message I would like to send this year. The message that rings painfully accurate whenever we hear our co-residents say it to the cameras pointed at them in November. Come to Vukovar on the 18th, do the thing and take the pictures. We appreciate it; we really do. Without your support, we wouldn’t even be where we are today.

But don’t let that be your only visit. Do not reduce our city to pain, our streets to the parade. Recognise the artisan shops under the baroque vaults, the business that blooms daily. Sit down for a hearty meal and chase it down with a cold Vukovarsko brewed right here. Wear the Borovo shoes, which still promise and provide quality. Check out the municipal museum or hop over to Vučedol to go on a journey of five thousand years. Come and see July and August – take it easy swimming in the Danube, or get your culture fix at the Vukovar Film Festival. Run, walk, or cycle kilometres of routes through plains and forests. Try fishing for dinner.

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Like in many other places in Slavonia, life is hard in Vukovar. Many leave in search of a somewhat normal life. Not because they want to but because they have to. They will come back, though, because enough of Vukovar’s driving force is still here. Those who stay and those who come to Vukovar refuse to live in the bubble of the 18th and have decided to give Vukovar what it needs and what it deserves. Love, laughter, optimism, and friendship – every day. Never forget its sacrifice, and never stop talking about it. But never ignore its future and never underestimate the willpower of its children.

Vukovar is 365, full of life. 

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

 

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Programme Published for Vukovar Remembrance Days 11-20 November

November 8, 2022 – The city of Vukovar has published the full programme for this year’s Remembrance Day. The full schedule will stretch over ten days, from Friday, the 11th November, to Sunday, the 20th.

The scope of the programme is broad, with institutions such as the county hospital, the city library, its museums, veteran associations, and more all taking part. On top of the events happening in Vukovar, the official programme includes other Croatian cities where candles will be lit on the evening of the 18th of November.

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The first of the events included in the programme will be a professional meeting of the Croatian Society of Emergency and Medical Intensive Care at the National Memorial Hospital in Vukovar at 5 pm on Friday, the 11th and Saturday, 12th November. On Saturday, the 12th, the Sv. Bono Centre by the monastery will host an exhibition of artwork and models of the Vukovar Watertower and a meeting of war reporters.

On Monday, the 14th, the Municipality Museum is organising a Multimedia Exhibition of their archive photos and videos, while the Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar will host an online seminar titled Vukovar Today – Memories, Experiences and the Reality of Living.

On Tuesday, the 15th, the Croatian Culture House (Hrvatski Dom) is hosting an exhibition titled Vukovar Execution Grounds, opening at 1 pm. The same venue will host the 18th Stories From My City Memorial on Wednesday, the 16th at 5 pm. The Association of Vukovar’s Women Veterans is hosting the 10th Festival of Unpublished Patriotic Poetry Grad u Školjci (The City in a Seashell), starting at 6 pm at the Ružička House.

On the morning of Thursday, the 17th, at 10 am, the associations of families of the city’s volunteers will lay roses and candles on the graves of Vukovar’s defenders. At 11 am, the Dragutina Tadijanovića primary school will host the 13th Vukovar History Lesson titled Naša pjesma, naša snaga (Our Song, Our Strength). At noon, the City Library will host a Siniša Glavašević memorial panel on the Croatian Diaspora for Vukovar, titled The City – It Is You. At 1 pm, a scientific symposium on the Vukovar’s war hospital will take place in the Sveti Bono Pastoral Centre. At 2 pm, a monument to Kata Šoljić and her four sons who have died defending Vukovar will officially be revealed at Bartola Kašića bb. At 4 pm, the veteran associations will lay wreaths and candles and say their prayers at the votive chapel Put Spasa (Way of Salvation) at Kukuruzni Put – a path through the cornfield which served as the only link between Vukovar and the territory of the Croatian army in late summer and autumn of 1991. At 5 pm, the National Police Union will pay their respects at Hrvatski Dom. Ending the day, at 7 pm, the Vukovar Hospital will be the traditional venue for a candlelit prayer, with the support of Klapa Sveti Juraj.

On Friday, the 18th, Vukovar’s pupils will traditionally light the candles along the city’s main roads in preparation for the memorial parade, whose start will be at the hospital at 10 am for the commemorative programme, and 10.30 for the parade itself. The arrival at the Vukovar Memorial Cemetery is expected at 12, with the national and city officials laying wreaths and paying their respects at 12.15, while the holy mass will take place at 12.30. At 5 pm, the Danube will become a Memorial River of Light. At 6 pm, other Croatian cities will pay their respect by lighting candles on their local Vukovar Street or the main street.

On Saturday, the 19th, the pupils will light candles in the Borovo naselje area. The memorial programme starts at 9.30 at the Borovo Commerce, which served as a war hospital and shelter. The memorial parade will pass through the Blago Zadro and Trpinjska Cesta streets, reaching the Gospa Fatimska Church for the holy mass at 11. At 12.30 pm, respects for the veterans and civil victims of the war will be paid at the bank of the Danube in Borovo Selo. The same will be done at the Lovas Farm at 1 pm, while the Vukovarske Majke Association will honour those who went missing in the war at 1.30 pm at Sportska Ulica bb in Borovo naselje.

Finally, on Sunday, the 20th, respects will be paid, and wreaths will be laid for the victims of concentration camps at the Velepromet venue in Vukovar, where the holy mass will start at 9.30 am. At 10.30 am, a memorial parade from the Memorial Cemetery to the Ovčara site will walk to honour the victims of this concentration camp. At 1 pm, wreaths will be laid there, followed by prayer. At 2.30 pm, a holy mass in honour of all the dead and missing Croatian veterans and civilian victims, as well as the victims of the Ovčara mass grave. It will take place at St Philip and James Church in Vukovar.

TCN will be in Vukovar to pay respects and walk the memorial parades on the 18th and the 19th of November. In the meantime, let us remind you that Vukovar also lives the other 364 days of the year.

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For more, follow our dedicated Travel section.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life - Valentina Šimak's Holiday Home

November 3, 2022 – November is always a difficult month in Vukovar. The feelings are a mix of pride and gratitude, sadness and hope. All further aggravated by the sudden interest in what goes on. And while the city often only gets one weekend of attention, people here live, work, and thrive every day. Just another example of that is a young lady called Valentina, who not only decided to take the plunge and start a business with her partner but was brave enough to do that in tourism. Yes, in Vukovar. In the beautiful area of Vučedol.

Could you tell us about yourself and your project?

I'm Valentina, I'm 28 years old, and I grew up in Vukovar and lived here all my life. I studied public administration, and I graduated in 2020. I worked various jobs until I found one in the profession; now I work as a school secretary. I often go to holiday homes with my friends to take a break from work and the hustle and bustle of the city or to escape from everyday life. The cottage, located 3 kilometers from the town of Vukovar, in the forest of Vučedol, has become our oasis of peace and a corner where all worries disappear. I thought it would be good for other people who visit our city to have their own oasis of peace, so I decided to open a vacation house called "Vučedolska Golubica" (The Vučedol Dove). Just as the dove symbolises peace, our home also exudes peace due to its location in beautiful nature.

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What inspired you to start something of your own?

Thinking about my hometown, my fellow citizens, visitors, and tourists who come from different parts of the world, I realised that our holiday home is all they need to spend quality time resting and relaxing. From there, they can take a short walk to the Vučedol Culture Museum, the beautiful Danube, and the island that can be seen from the shore, the wonderful wine road. People who enjoy walking and cycling will love the proximity and accessibility of all the sights and amenities.

What were the main challenges of starting such a business?

Every beginning is complex, and so was ours. I was always thinking about how to start a business, how to advertise, how to do marketing, and how to show people all the great things they could experience here... Really, there were a lot of challenges because I didn't know where to start. After we took the first step, though, all my worries disappeared. The visitors who came rated us very well and gave us the strength and motivation to be even better and more persistent in our goal. We strive to be better every day.

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How does your location in the east of Croatia affect the development of your business?

Vukovar is located in the very east of the Republic of Croatia, in our beautiful Slavonia. Our city has a lot of historical stories and events that every individual should learn about to experience Vukovar as we, the people of Vukovar, share it. For us, the city of Vukovar, a hero city, is our strength.

Our location is challenging since we are not at the coast. Visitors do believe that it is much better to go to the sea, but I can convince them with photo evidence that we also have our sea, our beautiful Danube. In summer, free boat transportation to the island (Vukovar's Ada) is organised. And it boasts a diverse world of content for all ages and desires. 

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Are you happy with your progress so far?

I am satisfied with what we have done so far, even though we are at the very beginning. The house has two floors, a kitchen, two bathrooms, and a bedroom with panoramic windows upstairs, while downstairs, there is a large living room and dining room. We are planning to build a children's playground on the property, as well as a swimming pool. We currently have a jacuzzi, an area for barbecuing, and a fire pit for outdoor cooking.

What is the situation with this type of tourism in Vukovar?

Most of our visitors come to Vukovar from Croatia. The reason is that few foreigners know our city's history and what it has to offer. I recommend everyone who hasn't been to visit us and see all the cultural sights of our city and take a break from everyday life in beautiful nature. Indeed,we are surrounded by fantastic nature and have wonderful things to offer.

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Are you connected with other similar businesses in Vukovar?

In the city, there are many renters, but we are unfortunately not connected. I want to connect with others to reach a place where everyone would present their suggestions and criticism so that together we can keep up with the times and take off into new business ventures.

What is it like to live in Vukovar, and what is unique about the area of Vučedol?

I would describe life in Vukovar as a priceless gift. Most of us from Vukovar know what the city experienced in its past and how it rose and became a wonderful, peaceful, small town over time. Next to Vukovar, which exudes uniqueness because of everything it has experienced, you can find Vučedol. This area is a peaceful natural oasis where our holiday home has found its place, adorned with untouched nature and the beautiful wild coast of the Danube, which is incredibly charming for fishermen. Of course, cyclists won't be disappointed either because a cycling route through Vučedol goes all the way to Ilok, following one of the most beautiful cycling routes in Europe.

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Why should people visit your holiday home?

After all, it can be concluded that our vacation home exudes uniqueness and peace, and gives you a touch of home. It's a place where you feel like it's your home. Why? Because it provides peace, security, and a sense of freedom. Visit us, come to us, and see how you can get immense quality, warmth, and acceptance for a small price. We will be at your disposal throughout your stay, ready for any questions and always helpful.

How can they reach you?

Book your stay on Whatsapp or Viber at +385989532320 and follow us on Facebook at Kuća za odmor Vučedolska golubica.

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

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life - Karla of Karla's Arts

September 24, 2022 - Autumn is on the doorstep; the leaves are crunchy, and the air is crisp. Vukovar is still full of life. Not that it matters which season it is. The new generation that breathes life into the city is agile, resilient, and adaptable. They create digitally and remotely; they take inspiration from the world around them but do not fear stepping out of it and finding creativity or letting creativity find them at every step. The digital era has made it significantly easier to make progress and expand. Today, meet Karla. She draws.

Tell us about Karlas Arts, what do you do?

I'm Karla Fehir, on Instagram as @karlas.arts; I'm 21 years old, a computer science student, and I do digital drawing. I've loved drawing since kindergarten, but it wasn't until 2018 that I became more serious about digital illustrations.

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How and when did you start, and where did the inspiration come from?

When I was little, I watched my mom draw, and that inspired me to start mainly drawing cartoon characters. At school, I always drew in my notebooks; it was just a hobby and something I enjoyed. But after a while, I stopped until 2016, when I came across several profiles of artists engaged in digital art on Instagram. I fell in love with the digital style and started drawing using Photoshop on my laptop. On paper, my favorite was the realistic black-and-white style, while on digital media, I prefer the "cartoon" style. The combination of these two styles led to a semi-realistic style that is now my favourite. Two years ago, I started using the iPad as my primary medium for drawing, which drastically affected the progress, drawing speed, and appearance of the illustrations.

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What was it like to start such a business in Vukovar? What were the main challenges?

It took a long time to find my style and clients who were interested. I didn't have a client for the first 2-3 years until I began to take the potential of digital illustrations more seriously. The key was daily practice and finding my style. I tend to be a perfectionist and found myself in many blocks where I could not progress, but I continued until I was satisfied with the final look of my illustrations. Eventually, I found my voice in the Beauty Logo area. My clients are mostly young female entrepreneurs from the USA and Canada. After the first client advertised my work on her profile, other clients from the same area started coming. And that's how things developed. One of the biggest challenges of drawing was the cost of materials; that's why I switched to a digital medium where all the colours, brushes, and backgrounds for drawing are readily available. These days I enjoy drawing with pencil and watercolours, which is something I would like to devote more time to and improve.

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Does the fact that you are in the east of Croatia affect your work and art?

Initially, I thought it would have an impact, but since we live in the era of social media and online payments, we can reach clients from any part of the world. I have had a lot of clients from Croatia, but it still took place online. The final product is an illustration that can be printed on any medium, and I give my clients the freedom to use that drawing.

Are you satisfied with how your business is developing? What is the outlook for the future?

At the moment, I am satisfied with the progress, although, at some points, I have not been as active as I planned, which has a lot to do with finding clients. But I believe that in the future, it will be even better; I am planning different projects and to one day combine my professional work with digital illustrations.

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What opportunities are there in our city and region?

I believe that it is much easier to "breakthrough" in our city than in bigger places due to the smaller population and fewer people who are engaged in art on a serious level. But on Instagram, it is much more difficult to gather an audience on a global level, as in every field of illustration and art, thousands of artists see each other as competition.

Are you connected with other artists in town? What's the scene like?

I am connected with several artists from our area who are also engaged in digital drawing. We share illustration tips and techniques. Each person I meet has their unique style, illustration look, and specific client group. The relationship is friendly, and we do not see each other as "competition" as one might expect.

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Finally, tell us about life in Vukovar. What do you like most? What would you say to potential visitors?

Vukovar is the city where I grew up, and it will remain in my heart forever, even though my career and education temporarily moved to Osijek. When I have time, I like to walk along the promenade along the Danube or cycle to Adica, and during the summer, I also go to Vukovar Ada. Vukovar is a small town, but it has many attractions and ways to spend quality time.

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

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life - Mess, Underground Music Collective

September 13, 2022 – There are doctors, and lawyers, and business executives… and then there are florists, and artists, and Mess. Vukovar’s underground scene might be a bit like a certain city that suffered a nuclear catastrophe in 1986, but something is cooking. If you try hard enough, you can learn about it today from the creative minds behind Mess. Mess is what they are, Mess is what our interview was. Mess is all you need to know, it’s all we can say, it’s nothing, but it’s enough. This colourful group of young individuals somehow got together and decided to start producing hip hop. In Vukovar. 365.

What is Mess all about?

Mess is a music collective and Telegram group with a focus on rap, but we dabble in various genres.

Our members are Kien, Kari Gasparov, Sky Kole, Sveti Melodije, Ivica Šetač, Glone, and 2 much-respected telegram bots (all our birth names).

How did that happen, what inspired the movement?

We met on a night out by chance, talked, and found out that we share a love for hip hop and music in general.

Not long after that, we agreed to meet in the spaces of Youth Peace Group Danube where they had a music studio, and those gatherings became Mess.

Not, that’s what it looked like on the surface, but the reality is that Trun was behind it all. It connected us metaphysically to channel his agenda and enter the collective consciousness of this city, possibly even beyond.

We only found out after 3 years when he appeared at an after-party to tell his truth.

Can you tell us more about Trun?

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Dall-e2 and Pegla (Mess)

Trun? Trun is a powerful entity that lives mainly in the 6th dimension but possesses the ability to appear in the third dimension as well, though exclusively in after-parties. We were able to learn about his form with the help of another one of our friends, Dall-e. Dall-e is an AI image generator that creates art based on briefs where you can indicate the subject, the style, and more. We had a chance to Beta test the program and are thankful for the gift of Trun.

What message are you sending through this project?

We don't send messages, we send messages through things.

The overarching message would be that we live in a society.

What is your main product?

Our main product is music, we are not really planning anything else, except Mess merch.

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What is the underground scene like in Vukovar?

The scene in Vukovar is something like Chernobyl, with only mutants and strong genes remaining, we might be something in between.

On a serious note, though there has been some interest, we believe that it is not strong enough to call it a scene.

Attempts to create a vibrant alternative scene in the city have so far been unsuccessful and miserable.

Are you connected with anyone else, how does that work?

We are not really connected with anyone, nor do we have any plans to do so, that can only happen if we vibe.

How is your music perceived in Vukovar?

From time to time people say “good stuff”, that’s all we know.

Some of you have left Vukovar, how is it living abroad?

“I know that over there is better, but over there is not mine”. - Coby.

What about home then, what would you change?

The city is as it is, we can't change anything there, but if we could, we would like to see a livelier alt scene, we’d like it if everyone had more money and there were more people.

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Who was your inspiration?

The late Ringo.

Tell us about your latest drop.

It’s called Inžinjer, give it a listen. The cover art was directly inspired by the line

Kontam da sam nekad mogo bit inžinjer

Al’ povuko me mulj iz Panonske nizine.

(I wish I could have been an engineer

But I was pulled by the sludge from the Pannonian plain).

Tools used: Dall-e2 for the background representing the sludge and Photoshop for blending and text.

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For more, make sure to check out our Lifestyle section.

If you are in or from Vukovar, do something interesting, and would like to be featured, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Subject 365.

Friday, 26 August 2022

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life - Antonio Horvat aka Jones Wire

August 26, 2022 – Meet Antonio Horvat, aka Jones Wire. Having developed an interest in Photoshop, and then digital art, this young graphic designer now regularly creates and sells works of art and has developed an interesting visual identity to go with his alter ego. His Instagram looks professional and artistic, his art has a retro-futuristic vibe inspiring a pleasant, cosy feeling. At least that is the beauty that the eye of this beholder sees. Read all about him, learn about the process, and appreciate his art with us.

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Tell us about Jones Wire, what you do, and what inspired the name.

I create digital collages, which basically means combining different images to achieve one that can convey multiple messages or a story. The name Jones Wire comes from a play on words that have a special meaning for me. The name Jones can also mean an appetite or lust for something, in this case, art, and personal expression, while the word Wire in American colloquial speech denotes a lack of self-control in terms of inspiration and work. Sometimes I can work on collages for days, and sometimes I don't have any ideas for days.

How and when did you start, and where did the inspiration come from?

The world of collage attracted me recently after graphic design became monotonous. Projects I did for other people, unfortunately, lacked personal expression. Some works are based on my dreams, thoughts, and films, and some are inspired by the music I listen to.

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What was it like to start such a business in Vukovar? What were the main challenges?

Currently, I still do digital collages as a hobby, and my main source of income is my full-time job from home.

Are you satisfied with how your business is developing? What is your outlook for the future?

I'm happy with my personal progress as far as collage design goes, but I also have a couple of digital collage artists who helped guide me on how to do the skin and avoid some rookie mistakes. In the future, I would like to do this full time and I would like it to become my job. I would like to expand my scope of work into albums, book covers, and commissioned paintings.

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What opportunities exist in our city and region?

As for work, I wouldn't know because I have been working from home, for foreign companies, or I have been doing work with foreign clients. As far as art is concerned, I think that in larger cities there is an advantage due to the ease of connecting with various mentors and meeting new people at art events, even though these days everyone is relatively connected via the Internet, so living in a smaller city does not pose a challenge for learning about my current work.

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Are you connected with other artists in town, what's the scene like?

Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who does this kind of art here. Due to a lack of connections which are important in this business, I try to use all resources, in my case the Internet, for promotion.

Finally, tell us something about life in Vukovar. What do you like most, what would you say to potential visitors?

Everything is close at hand and life is slower than in other parts of Croatia, which suits me. I would recommend everyone take their time, walk along the Danube and go on a walk through the times visiting the Water Tower, Eltz Castle, the City Museum, and the Vukovar Baroque Centre. Discover that this city is so much more than meets the eye. Of course, everyone should also try the top Slavonian food and Vukovar beer.

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

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life – Tomislav and Mara of T&M

April 20, 2022 – The Vukovar business scene here always welcomes new and exciting ideas and products, but appreciates anything handmade, this time made by Tomislav and Mara Ozdanovac of T&M.

They are a young married couple from Vukovar who decided to invest their time, money, and a lot of work into what used to be a hobby yet fulfilled them on multiple levels. After years of careful consideration, saving, planning, and worrying, they finally decided to take the plunge and try and make a living producing wooden household and decorative items, as well as embroidery, both traditional and modern. Their business is still very young, but they are happy with how it’s taken off and feel motivated and inspired to keep going, doing what they do best. You can find them on Facebook, and here are some of their thoughts and opinions.

Tell us about your business, what do you do?

T&M opened a few months ago, headed by Tomislav and Mara Ozdanovac, a young married couple and parents of two girls. We make wooden products such as serving trays, boards, toys, shelves, etc. as well as chiffon and cotton embroidery.

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Where did you get the idea and what makes your offer unique?

We decided to turn our previous hobbies into a business and thus bring our products closer to everyone at affordable prices. After a while, we decided to turn our thoughts and conversations into action, and one evening we sat down and created T&M.

What is unique is that we craft everything by hand, though a lot of things have been modernised and it’s possible to have it done by machines. You may have to wait longer for some products, but you can rest assured knowing that you are investing in handicrafts.1.png

What was it like starting such a business in Vukovar? What were the main challenges?

We didn't have any major obstacles because we made sure to save up and acquire our own space and materials before we even started the business.

Do you think that the fact that you are in eastern Croatia influenced your success?

Yes, in a good way. Most of our products are bought outside our city and our county. This was greatly influenced by social networks and the purchasing power of the rest of our beautiful country. Other people tend to think that we are a poor, underdeveloped region, yet our people continue to prove them wrong with their effort and ideas, and we like to believe that so do we.

Are you happy with how your business is developing? What is your perspective for the future?

Seeing as we have only been open for a few months, we are very satisfied with the customer feedback and the number of orders we’ve received. You never know what the future holds. We are still a small business, but we hope that time will do its thing and that we will become recognized more widely, which gives us a lot of motivation for the future.

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What opportunities are there in our city and region? 

There are many small businesses and craftsmen in our area who work and strive to improve our living standards and the offer in this part of Croatia. The opportunities are many, it's just a matter of how many customers will recognize the work and the ideas behind it.

What is your view of other small businesses in Vukovar?

In principle, everyone works for themselves, but we support each other and encourage the growth and development of "the small ones".

Finally, tell us about life in Vukovar. What do you like most, what would you say to all potential visitors?

Vukovar is a city tailored to every person who appreciates peace, does not like crowds and the hustle and bustle of large urban areas. You will love the generosity and hospitality of our fellow citizens, nature, rivers, promenades, museums... We tell future visitors to enjoy our city and the benefits it provides because now they are numerous.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life – Matea Mađaroš

March 30, 2022 – Meet Matea Mađaroš, a young architect from Vukovar who turned down an interview with Universal Studios in Florida because she was already employed with another kickass company. 

The fact that a lot of young people end up leaving Croatia, especially the east of the country, to build a good and steady future is unfortunately well known. And as if the pressures are not enough, they are often met with judgment for not wanting to stay and keep fighting with everyone else. Yes, Croatia is developing and so is the east of the country, but it still is hard. And sometimes the reasons for that are very different as well. We spoke to a young architect from Vukovar, whose move to Denmark was purely a career choice and not survival. It was an attempt to play with the big guys, to learn and to reach heights to match her talent, ambitions, and hard work. And it’s working out wonderfully.

Meet Matea, a multitalented young lady who is known in Vukovar for her skills, dedication to art and friendly smile. She is the girl behind the keyboard making it produce wonderful sounds. It started when during primary school she attended music school and became obsessed with the piano. From a very young age, the only thing that was on her mind as a possible career path was music. She played at festivals, competitions and with choirs, including the church and the city choir in Vukovar. By the end of her primary education, however, she became interested in a different form of art. She then decided to keep music to herself and instead make her contribution to society through architecture and design. She went on to study architecture on the undergraduate level in Split. The focus laid heavily on developing the conceptual thought, and Matea found that very helpful. For her master’s studies she moved to Zagreb. By that time, she had already presented some of her projects and won awards. She stayed the course and currently works with one of the world’s leading architecture firms, the Copenhagen-based Bjarke Ingels Group. We spoke to her to see how she did it, where she is now, and to get her views on Vukovar and Croatia as well. 

Tell us about your first projects.

After my undergraduate studies in Split I had the perfect first client. Father Ivica of the Church of St. Philip and James in Vukovar asked me to design the candleholder for the newly renovated areas. I was hesitant about the idea since it had a lot more to do with product design than architecture, but I am so grateful for the opportunity as it really opened my eyes and made me realize that I can do it and that I can expand my skillset and really let creativity flow. I truly appreciate that Father Ivica gave me complete freedom and accepted all my ideas. He saw value in what I created. On my last year, another project followed where I designed the souvenir and ticket shop for the church’s museum. I was inspired by the museum itself so we decided to arrange the shop in a similar way where the souvenirs would be presented as exhibits in a museum, and the actual products for sale would stand in the background. Again, I was met with approval and the project was quickly finished and is now in full operation.

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Your graduate thesis was an interesting proposal, can you tell us about that?

I started thinking about Vukovar and I realized that one of the biggest unresolved issues there was situated right in the middle of the most valuable area – the old hotel Dunav, which now stands in ruins without any purpose. I became curious and started exploring the possibilities. I knew that it did not make much sense to just go with a massive hotel and that it needed other facilities, so I decided to make it into a conference centre as well.  As for the design itself, I wanted it to be an extension of the architecture of Vukovar so I based it on the famous arcades of the city centre.

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After I graduated, I even had an opportunity to present my project to the mayor. Though he did like the idea, the question remains of who the investor would be for such a project. There are a few different sides to the story, and it’s really about politics. It might be very slow, if at all possible, to reach an agreement and get started, but my main goal was to at least get the conversation going. I heard that the discussion is indeed happening and that makes me happy. 

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Why Denmark, how did that happen? 

At the beginning of my studies our professors presented the largest companies in the world, including Bjarke Ingels Group. I started thinking about how great it would be to work for a company like that, where it’s all about creativity and play. So many architectural offices are places where they simply churn out projects. I am more interested in architecture that brings something new to the scene, that changes perceptions. There were two ways of landing a job like that – coming from an Ivy League School or shooting directly for the stars. Obviously, I had to go for the latter. Just before my graduation, I created a portfolio of all my projects and sent it over to all the top companies along with an open application letter. The reply from BIG came in two days later, then an interview, and two weeks later I was already in Copenhagen. I was brought on as a trainee architect, but I was so lucky to have been in excellent teams with some very important people which gave me a chance to work with the very top of the company early on. After a year I was promoted to a junior architect. Ah yes, around that time they also invited me for an interview with Universal Studios, but I had to turn it down since I had already accepted the job with BIG and I was happy with that.

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Were your job expectations met?

I love working here, the atmosphere is very friendly, and we have a lot of fun. Most of our days are spent discussing ideas and just talking, and that is exactly what it should be. It is an open space where everyone is truly equal, and everyone can participate in any project. I worked on a couple different projects for opera houses, which is incredibly rare in the world of architecture. One of my projects has already been finished – the city square in Esbjerg in Denmark.

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How is life in Denmark?

I know that there are some negative opinions of living abroad, but my situation very different. I left because I knew this was the right place for me to develop my skills. I'm not here with the goal to acquire enough money to buy a fancy car and move back. I am truly growing and learning. I'm open to all cultures and other people. There are 36 different nationalities at my office. I lead the most normal life here – I have a partner and friends, and I have my family and other friends in Croatia. I do miss home, but I don’t have an urge to leave Denmark right now. As for the country itself, I would say that it’s apparent that they are richer than Croatia. What I like the most is the fact that a lot of thought is put into appearances as well as the functioning of their cities. 

What are your plans for the future, thoughts on going back to Vukovar?

I am open to anything – this company is my beginning and not my end. I am here to learn and connect with people. I do have ambition to eventually go my own direction and start designing beyond architectural boundaries. I am not bound by location either, and a lot of people misunderstand that as non-patriotic tendencies. I love our country and I love the people there. Vukovar is a place where I will always go back and will always stay in touch with. I follow the developments and I can see some new projects that look exciting. There are many ways to contribute to your home whether you are physically present or not. With that being said, I will say that if the same opportunity presented itself in Vukovar or any other part of the world, I would choose Vukovar and my roots. 

What do you think about how Vukovar is developing and the direction it’s going?

This is a bit sensitive. I will say that there is this mental barrier present, you can sense the atmosphere of our past. Building beautiful buildings and large monuments will not solve the problems. We need to work a lot more on the relationships between people, achieving balance and creating a positive atmosphere first. At the same time, with other aspects I feel like the passive period has ended and everything is now starting to bloom. As far as the architecture of the city is concerned, I do see potential in future projects, and I think that everything is going in the right direction. 

I will emphasize that great potential lies in Vukovar and its surrounding area. It is certainly the place with the greatest tourist potential in the region. It lies on the largest river in Europe, it’s at a crossroads of countries and regions. It’s steeped in nature, surrounded by nature parks, and national parks are nearby. Vukovar has always been a source of inspiration for me, and I want to give back. I hope that there are other people who feel the same way. As long as we are aware that we need to give back, everything will be okay.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life – PRONI Centre for Social Education

March 17, 2022 – Meet Goran, the director of the youth department at PRONI, Vukovar’s centre for social education. 

Though their name and title might seem a little ambiguous, a quick visit to their website has the word youth stand out more than anything else. This is quite indicative of what PRONI stands for and what they have been doing for over 20 years. With their primary focus on youth work, which includes working directly with teens and young adults aged 18-30, as well as working with trainers and educators who are involved in such work, the main goals of the centre are the improvement of quality of life of the youth and their social awareness and inclusion. Primarily through EU social programs, in PRONI they have partnered up with the relevant institutions to promote informal youth education, mobility, and volunteer work as the modern values and ways of achieving everyone’s full potential.

We spoke to Goran, PRONI’s youth director, who told us all about what PRONI does and what the youth in Vukovar still need.

What is PRONI, how long has it been here, and what is it that you do daily?

PRONI was first officially registered in 1998, which means that we have been going strong for well over 20 years now. With our first office in Vukovar, we also opened offices in Osijek and in Sisak. The one in Sisak, unfortunately, had to be closed, but we did spend a good 15 or so years working there as well. Our focus is on direct work with the youth regardless of their status (students, unemployed, employed, etc.). This means that we also work with youth workers and institutions, including city councils, schools, and other organisations involved in social work. We are currently running 16 projects and our days are packed full of activities. We are hosting 2 Erasmus participants here in Vukovar, who spend their days volunteering, studying, and learning Croatian!

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What are your long-term goals?

Our mission is to improve the quality of life of the youth through opportunities to develop their skills, abilities, and competencies. We strive to achieve this through practical work in volunteering and social projects, as well as their inclusion in a so-called structured dialogue. More precisely, in cooperation with the city council of Vukovar and through the input we receive directly from the youth, we implement the city youth program. The program does not consider the cultural and entertainment aspect of life, but also employment opportunities, education, and public facilities to provide nurture hobbies and interests.

How do you reach the youth of Vukovar?

PRONI and its friends have a way of discovering each other. We have set up an info centre for them to easily reach us on social media or in our physical space where we always keep our doors open and the atmosphere warm and welcoming. We try to stay on top of social media and follow the trends and reach our audience across all the trending platforms. We have set up our little corners in schools as well and have engaged teachers to be our ambassadors. The students themselves also spread the word quite effectively, as they really enjoy many of our activities and are excited to come back with friends.

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What are the main projects of the Vukovar branch right now, what makes you proud?

The dialogue that we have successfully established between the youth in our city and the city council is something that we are quite proud of. The long-term results of our work are also starting to show, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work. Our Youth Advisory Board serves for better information exchange and resource networking with all the relevant institutions. As I mentioned, this includes the city council, the national employment office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the local library and more. Possibly the best thing that has come out of our initiatives was the organic and spontaneous formation of School Volunteering Clubs where students are the managers and planners. They enjoy autonomy, and it keeps them motivated to keep learning, developing, and connecting.

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Which groups would you like to invite for better cooperation?

Firstly, I would like to say that we are very thankful for our partners and all the amazing work that we have done together so far. We do not lack institutional support in the physical sense, but we do think that the school curriculum should follow suit. Schools should work a lot more on encouraging critical thinking, activism, quality management of free time. Students do not have enough autonomy when it comes to extra-curricular activities where they are often offered what is available based on the teachers’ schedules and not on their interests. Schools should also be involved in, or at least promote informal education a lot more.

Is Vukovar a good place for the youth, how do your foreign volunteers perceive it?

Of course, Vukovar is excellent! It is quite small but practical. All the facilities are easily available and often within walking distance. The standard is still much cheaper than in a lot of other European cities and thanks to PRONI’s unique position in the city, there are a lot of things that we can provide for free. Our volunteers find it interesting, though different, usually coming from much bigger cities. The main things that they like about Vukovar include feeling safe, secure, and accepted. They also find that sometimes things here seem a lot simpler than in their home countries. They are excited to visit, and they leave fulfilled and happy. Another great thing for our foreign volunteers is that everything we do is integrated and we provide them with additional activities and free language courses.

What message would you like to send?

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Just that we are here and that what we provide should be used. Youth exchange is a wonderful thing and possibly one of the most enriching experiences in life. In our areas, it is still unknown and not promoted enough. Sometimes there is a fear of this unknown, but everyone should know that the process has become very smooth, and I would like to encourage young people to step forward and grab the opportunity to learn and travel.

For more, check out our lifestyle section 

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Meet Vukovar, 365 Full of Life – Humanitarian Organisation Duga Vukovar

March 9, 2022 – Meet Jasna, Tijana, Tamara, and Nevenka, the presidents, administrators, and employees of the Humanitarian Organisation Duga Vukovar, who spoke about those in need in Vukovar, how they provide it, and how we all can do the same.

Duga Vukovar was founded back in 2013 to provide help to those who need it the most. This includes people who were marginalised for various reasons, but in most cases due to unemployment which leads to poverty. The elderly who live alone and in poverty are in an especially unfavourable position. Duga Vukovar has had a long tradition of workshops, programs and projects that would engage the most vulnerable members of our society, be it through education, financial support or by providing a place to enjoy some much needed friendly company while expressing ones' creativity. While Vukovar is developing and attracting visitors thanks to its modern infrastructure, interesting locations, awesome food and genuinely the nicest people, organisations like Duga exist to remind us that there are still many who haven't been able to live their full potential.

Tell us about the organisation. What do you do, which groups do you help, what inspired you?

Many demographic changes have happened in recent years, such as negative natural population movements, continuous emigration, unemployment of young adults, low pensions, increasing poverty rates. All this led to an increasing number of people whose incomes were insufficient for a decent life, especially in the elderly population. Often, they cannot even afford basic dietary and hygienic necessities, and unfortunately, some of them have no income whatsoever. In 2013, we decided to establish the Humanitarian Organisation Duga Vukovar to promote the quality of life and protect the human rights of the most vulnerable groups in our society, primarily those on the brink of poverty and the elderly. 

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In 2014, the so-called Vukovar Social Self-Service was founded through our organisation. It operates on the principle of collecting donations of food and hygiene items and their continuous distribution to the most vulnerable residents of the city of Vukovar. In accordance with the collected donations, we strive to continuously ensure the distribution of food on a daily basis every month of the year. This helped manage the organisation in a better way and ensured that we had more time to dedicate to each individual. It also helped build a better relationship and give people a sense of security, trust and belonging.

The self-service cares for about 600 families, which is roughly 1,500 people. Its clients are people living on the edge of poverty, elderly people with low pensions, users of social welfare, single mothers and fathers, people with zero or very low incomes. We noticed that in addition to the lack of financial resources, there is also a risk of social exclusion mostly for elderly people, as well as a lack of assistance in performing daily activities.

What is your mission, what are your main goals?

Our mission is to create a just and compassionate society of equal opportunities for every individual. Our goal is to improve the lives of the elderly and people at risk of social exclusion by having them actively participate in our projects and programs such as education and counselling programs on financial literacy, consumer rights, social and health rights which could help reduce health care costs. We also provide opportunities to learn about social care, health and disease prevention, entertainment, socio-cultural content and workshops, as well as excursions. We provide a space where people can actively spend their free time, increase their productivity and creativity, nurture their talents. We want them to feel a sense of belonging and empower them to develop a positive self-image. In addition to all that, we want to continue to network, develop and strengthen our partnerships, include new donors and continue working with our old associates, strengthen the capacity of the organisation and provide employment for the disadvantaged groups.

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Do you accept volunteers and which groups would you like to activate more?

We are especially grateful for our volunteers who enrich the work of our organisation. It is important to encourage all social groups to be actively involved in volunteer work because it is the responsibility of each of us to be active and responsible individual who participates and drives positive change in society. Of course, we would like the younger population of volunteers to be more involved. This would help shrink the growing generation gap with prejudice and stereotypes they might have towards the elderly, which can also lead to violent behaviour. Every stage of human life has its unique advantages and disadvantages. We can always learn from each other, pass on the knowledge and experience to future generations, create memories. We need to be more supportive of each other.

What is it like to run an organisation like this in Vukovar? Does the fact that you are in eastern Croatia affect your success?

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Once an industrial center, today the Vukovar-Srijem County is one of the least developed areas in Croatia, and Vukovar is one of the poorest cities. Still, if we look back at the starting days of our organisation, we do see significant progress. We keep growing and developing, and we want to expand our activities for the benefit of the wider community. As our organisation is a non-profit, we depend mostly on donations and projects. Unfortunately, such sources of funding are uncertain, with a limited duration. While the organisation is continuously making progress, the existing space has become too small and inadequate for quality implementation of our project activities and programs, hindering the work of our employees which should be a lot more pleasant. Yet, there are so many plans that we can and want to implement. Our biggest challenge at the moment is finding an adequate space. We are aware that any space that is unused and needs to be put into operation requires significant financial expenses, and as a non-profit, we are not able to cover that right now.

Would you like to participate in the Vukovar Card initiative? 

We would indeed like to participate in the Vukovar Card initiative. Vukovar has a lot to offer. Primary and secondary school students from different parts of Croatia visit us often, and they even help with donations for our social self-service. We would like their visits, as well as the visits of tourists to our city and our organisation to last longer for them to better experience all the beauty of the city. Unfortunately, most visits are only day trips.

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What are the ways organisations and individuals can help?

Our doors are always open to all who want to visit us and get to know us better.

Address:

Humanitarna udruga Duga Vukovar

OIB: 89493546468

Sajmište 23, 32000 Vukovar

Working hours:

MON - FRI - 07:00 - 15:00

Contact person: Tamara Mikulić 099 520 2211 / Tijana Prokić - 099 750 3734

Visit our website: www.duga-vukovar.hr

FB page: Humanitarna udruga Duga Vukovar

Instagram: Humanitarnaudrugaduga.vukovar

If you wish to financially support the work of our organisation, donations can be paid to the account:

IBAN: HR72 2340 0091 1105 9315 8

SWIFT: PBZGHR2X

Privredna banka Zagreb

Payment description: Financial support to the organisation (Financijska potpora Udruzi)

If you wish to help the work of our Social Self-Service, donations can be paid to the account:

IBAN: HR42 2340 0091 5106 3886 7

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

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