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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Friday, 2 October 2020

Vukovar Student Becomes Croatia's First Animal Rights Lawyer

October 2, 2020 - Ivana Kramer from Vukovar became Croatia's first animal rights lawyer after graduating from the Faculty Of Law in Osijek

Ivana Kramer from Vukovar has become Croatia's first animal rights lawyer. She did so after graduating from the Faculty Of Law in Osijek, having received her diploma on September 23. The Faculty Of Law in Osijek is the only one in Croatia that has an elective course in animal rights.

In a recent interview with Vecernji List's Suzana Lepan Štefančić, Ivana explained that her desire to become Croatia's first animal rights lawyer stemmed from always having been around animals. “I have three dogs,” she said, in explaining her choice of the elective course in animal rights, “and my mother Željka adopts and helps abandoned animals.”

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Some of the animals that Ivana's mum Željka looks after in Vukovar. Photos from the Facebook of Željka Kramer.

Ivana commuted to the Faculty Of Law in Osijek for five years in order to complete the course, choosing to stay living at home in Vukovar rather than move to the Slavonian capital. She says she would ideally like to stay in Vukovar to begin working in this field of law.

Her elective course in animal rights was undertaken in the final year of her studies and was the step that propelled her to the status of Croatia's first animal rights lawyer. During this final year, she researched the Animal Protection Act, which was implemented in 2017, with an emphasis on the situation in the Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem counties. Her research included dog shelters in Vukovar and Osijek, where she occasionally volunteers.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Emotive New Vukovar Father And Son Monument Unveiled

September 22, 2020 – Their lives taken in the Homeland War, Petar and Igor Kačić are depicted in the new Vukovar Father and Son monument. Igor was just 16-years-old at the time he was killed

During recent days, family members, the town mayor and veterans representatives attended the unveiling of a new Vukovar Father and Son monument. The statue is the work of Zvonimir Orčić and Josip Cvrtila and was commissioned in remembrance of Petar Kačić and his son Igor. Aged just 16-years-old at the time of his execution, Igor is the youngest victim of the massacre at Vukovar.

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Petar Kačić was killed on the front line of the fighting in Vukovar on 2nd October 1991. He and other town residents were trying to defend their families and neighbours from the approaching Yugoslavian National Army forces. They were hopelessly outnumbered and inadequately armed for the task. They faced one of Europe's then-largest and best-equipped armies, whose numbers were bolstered by savage and ruthless paramilitaries.

Although the new Vukovar Father and Son monument shows the two males of the family together in defence of the town, Igor was actually killed one month after his father's passing, on 20 November 1991. While still grieving for Petar, the family had been moved into a shelter at Vukovar hospital to escape the intense shelling that rained down on the town each day. It had already destroyed their home two months previously.

Following the fall of the town, all refugees from the fighting were taken into the custody of the Yugoslavian National Army and their paramilitary accomplices. In a barbaric act that was to be repeated time and time again during the violent break up of Yugoslavia, the men were separated from the women, and small children, and then taken away.

Igor_Kačić.jpgIgor Kačić, aged 16

Although only 16-years-old, Igor Kačić was a strong and muscular boy. The look on his face was perhaps nearer that of a man, aged by grief, relentless shelling and the new responsibilities he had taken upon himself. After his father had been killed, Igor assumed the role of the family protector and stood on watch at the hospital while his mother Irena and his two sisters slept inside.

Around 300 men were taken from the Vukovar Hospital. Their number contained not only wounded fighters but sheltering civilians like Igor. They were transported by the Yugoslavian National Army to a farm in a hamlet called Ovčara, south-west of Vukovar. The army drove away, leaving the prisoners in the custody of the Serbian paramilitaries. 260 prisoners were lined up in groups, then shot. The bodies of 200 were later found in one mass grave.

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“It is not just a monument to Petar and Igor, it is a monument to all fathers and sons who gave their lives in the Homeland War,” said Igor's mother, Irena Kačić, at the statue's unveiling. Aged 69 years old, Irena Kačić had made the journey from her present-day home in Rijeka to attend the ceremony for the new Vukovar Father and Son monument.

All photos © Grad Vukovar / public domain

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Sunday, 13 September 2020

PHOTOS: Vukovar Water Tower Lights Up The Night Sky Over Eastern Slavonia

September 13, 2020 – The famous landmark is now visible out of daylight hours as a flood of colours sees the Vukovar water tower light up the night sky

With the recent completion of the VukovArt street art event 2020, you might have thought Vukovar would be retiring from the limelight for a while. Think again.

Over recent days, the Vukovar water tower has lit up the night sky over eastern Slavonia in a range of colours. The Vukovar water tower is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the town.

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The multicoloured display heralds the opening up of the tower for visits. Famously damaged in fighting during the war, its scars are a constant reminder of the heavy bombardment the town received. The tower has been undergoing work in order that the structure can survive. The reconstruction and renovation has taken place over two stages. Around 37 million kuna has been spent on the project, with half of the money coming from donations, the other half from the Croatian government.

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The water tower was built in 1968, stands 50 metres high and has a capacity of 2,200 cubic metres. At the time it was constructed, it was one of the largest water towers in Europe. In the times before the war, it also had a restaurant and offered visitors an incredible view over the town and Vukovar-Srijem County. During the war, it was hit with more than 600 missiles. It thereafter became a symbol of resistance, then of remembrance.

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© Grad Vukovar

The town Mayor, Ivan Penava, announced that the Vukovar water tower will be open to general visitors at the end of October. Between now and then, the interior will be decorated, and a memorial room completed. Children from all over Croatia each year visit the town and the Vukovar water tower on organised school trips.

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Sunday, 6 September 2020

PHOTOS: Five Amazing New Murals Vukovar Street Art 2020

Sunday, 6 September 2020 – The Vukovar street art 2020 event VukovArt has just finished. Here are the five fantastic new works its left in the colourful Slavonian town.

The paints have dried, the scaffolding has been removed and all but the last few organisers have set off home. But, though VukovArt, the annual Vukovar street art 2020 has finished, the paintings from this year will remain.

These wonderful new works join a spectacular series of paintings which decorate the town, thanks to previous editions of VukovArt (you can check them ALL out on this link). Residents of the town now live their everyday lives among these incredible pieces of public art.

Here's a look at the Vukovar street art 2020 collection and a little from some of the artists who've made them.

OKO (Croatia)

OKO Because he’s mister Strength, Courage and Health.jpg

Because he’s Mister Strength, Courage and Health

Human bodies, dressed in Victorian finery, topped with the heads of animals and, especially, birds; OKO's intricate and sometimes sinister designs have been seen at Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the European Parliament in Brussels and in more proletarian spaces such as Zagreb’s Medika club and Theatre &TD. Her murals are often similar, only produced on an industrial scale.

"I chose to paint a bear because this animal often symbolises amazing strength and endurance," OKO told TCN. "When they invited me to paint in Vukovar it seemed like best possible symbolism for a city that endured so much and yet which still stands strong.

Boogie (Germany / Switzerland)

Boogie Boogie Down Vukovar.jpg

Boogie down Vukovar

Some 20 years ago, Boogie aka André Morgner formed the SML Crew in a region of eastern Germany not far from the Czech border. They've been active ever since, although Morgner himself moved to Switzerland. There, he's a now full-time artist, drawing his murals on walls of buildings, parks and offices, on commission for people like Google, Burton Snowboards and BMW. His pieces are vivid and contemporary in colour, but often take inspiration from the bragging tag work of vintage hip hop.

Tea Jurišić (Croatia)

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Bora

Having worked in many different modes of visual art, Tea Jurišić is, to many, known more for her drawings, paintings and illustrations than she is her street art. Yet, she has created various murals in Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Norway. Since 2017 she has had 8 solo exhibitions in Croatia and overseas. She uses comedy and surrealism to add a playful edge to her simple storytelling.

"My challenge was a 300 square metre wall in the Olajnica neighbourhood, which I was painting between the 28th of August and the 3rd of September," said Tea. "The mural's name is Bora. It's the name of a fiercely strong wind that sometimes visits the coast of Croatia. I chose the name as I was trying to connect thematically two Croatian waters - the continental Danube river and the Adriatic sea. I relied on fresh colours that would bring a touch of summer to the gloomy days of winter that lie ahead. I tried to adapt the colours to the building, and the environment around the building. My experience in Vukovar was wonderful - from friendly people, a beautiful city and delicious food. It was an experience to remember for a lifetime."

Eugen Varzić (Croatia)

Eugen Varzić Future Freedom.jpg

Future Freedom

A graduate of the Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka, Eugen Varzić is something of a classicist operating inside wholly modern mediums. His paintings adorn city streets in Madrid, churches and the streets of his native Istria where, in Poreč, you'll also find his two mosaic sculptures, Trosjed and Konfin.

"This piece was a challange for me, because of the size, the positioning and the motif," Eugen said of his piece of Vukovar street art 2020. "The whole place used to be a military camp. After the fighting finished, they turned it into a memorial centre for the war, a kind of museum where you can see the planes, tanks, learn about Vukovar. Kids from all over Croatia come. There is a hostel where they can stay. When they asked me to paint this wall, because of where it is, that put some boundaries on my work. I had to think differently. This wall is not so easy to paint on – it's broken, it has windows, it's surrounded by steel, there are fire stairs."

"I decided on a half portrait of my daughter's smiling face. I wanted to show something happy and which looks forward into the future. Half of the face is pixalated, so it's clearly placed in the 21st century. I used squares within the piece because it's so connected to Croatia – you can see them on the shirts of the national team football players, on the Croatian flag. There are also 87 birds in the paintings. That number was chosen because there were 87 days of fighting before the town of Vukovar fell."

Arsek & Erase (Bulgaria)

Arsek & Erase The Golden Snake.jpg

The Golden Snake

Operating as a duo for 20 years, Arsek & Erase create playful, bright and colourful images - and highly memorable characters - using illustration and surrealism. They have painted works all over Europe, their own native Bulgaria, and in Russia, China, Taiwan, El Salvador and the United States.

All photos Vukovar street art 2020 © VukovArt

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Sunday, 21 June 2020

Off-Road Cycling Route Between Vukovar and Sarengrad Presented

ZAGREB, June 21, 2020 - A 30-km-long cycling trail running through the countryside and vineyards from Vukovar to Sarengrad near Ilok was presented at the Vucedol Culture Museum, outside Vukovar, earlier this week.

The route is intended for the growing number of cycling tourists in eastern Croatia.

"The Vineyard Trail is an off-road route through the countryside and vineyards which we have designed because the road to Ilok is very busy and is not adapted for use by cycling tourists. The route goes past the Vucedol Culture Museum and many family farms," the head of the Vukovar-Srijem County Department for Tourism and Culture, Marija Budimir, said.

She said that last year the county had spent HRK 490,000 (€65,000) on the promotion of cycling tourism, of which 60% were grants from the Ministry of Tourism.

County prefect Bozo Galic said that Vukovar-Srijem County "has a lot of potential for cycling tourism and with the aid of EU funding we will build infrastructure for the development of this branch of tourism."

Friday, 19 June 2020

President: Football Fans' Clashes in Vukovar Indicate Situation in Town Not Normal

ZAGREB, June 19, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic said on Friday that conflicts between football fans' groups in Vukovar showed that the situation in that eastern town "is not normal" as local youth was constantly being poisoned, and he called for punishing the perpetrators.

"The perpetrators should be punished and that, I'm sure, is what will happen in this case, which is just an indicator of the situation in the town, which is not normal," Milanovic said in a comment on an incident in Vukovar's neighbourhood of Borovo Naselje, when six people were injured in clashes between supporters of the Dinamo Zagreb football club and those of Partizan Belgrade.

Milanovic does not believe such conflicts are accidental but he does not see how they are linked with the election campaign, noting that they happen all the time.

He said that he was not familiar with the details of the incident but that he did know that back in 2008 there had been an agreement between the then city authorities and representatives of the Serb minority on the official use of the minority's Cyrillic script, after which "the situation has simply regressed to the situation of years ago."

"A series of events in the political life of Vukovar and Croatia have resulted in a radical change of government at all levels, and, unfortunately, a group of people could not imagine their coming back to power without restoring the situation to how it was in 1991," he said.

He said that new generations of young people, notably men, who had been exposed to strong indoctrination on both sides, were now growing up.

"We know what happened in 1991 but 11-12 years ago, when I was just entering the world of politics, the situation in Vukovar looked much better than it is today. I think that one can identify by name the group of people who are responsible for this situation, and the majority is always at least equally responsible as the minority. The majority are we, Croats," he said.

The president would neither support nor criticise comments by politicians regarding the issue of abortion, saying that he was saving his neutrality for the duration of electioneering.

Nevertheless, he noted that his position on the matter is already known and that the right to choose is not only a technical right but also a complex matter.

"The woman is the one to decide. I also respect the more conservative views but I do not agree with them and believe that a line should be drawn somewhere."

As for his predecessor Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic showing her middle finger as a sign of protest at some positions on the right to abortion of raped women, Milanovic said that such a style was always a method of fight and should be viewed in a certain context.

"The middle finger does not mean anything to me, it can be funny, it can be vulgar. It depends on the context," he said.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Six Injured in Clashes Between Dinamo and Partizan Fans in Vukovar

ZAGREB, June 19, 2020 - Six people were injured in clashes between supporters of the Dinamo Zagreb football club and Partizan Belgrade in Vukovar on Thursday, and they were given treatment in the local hospital.

Local police spokesman Dragoslav Zivkovic said the police had arrested several people and we're looking for other participants in the conflict which occurred in the neighborhood of Borovo Naselje.

According to eyewitnesses, about 20 people participated in the fight between Dinamo's Bad Blue Boys and Partizan's Global (Grave-diggers), using flares, clubs, and other objects.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Vukovar Donates HRK 200,000 to Zagreb

ZAGREB, May 29, 2020 - The eastern city of Vukovar has decided to donate HRK 200,000 (approx. €26,700) to Zagreb to help it remove the consequences of an earthquake that hit the capital city on March 22.

Offering Zagreb congratulations on the occasion of its day, May 31, and the Feast of Our Lady of the Stone Gate, Vukovar City authorities said they hoped reconstruction work in Zagreb would be completed as soon as possible and the city would emerge even more beautiful and stronger than it was before the quake.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Employment in Vukovar: Workers to Make Parts for Boeing and Airbus

The words ''employment in Vukovar'' aren't commonly said or heard. Vukovar, as well as the entire eastern region of Croatia is known more for its workers abandoning it in favour of Germany and Ireland than its workers generating their income there. Vukovar, once ravaged by war, isn't a place that draws much attention from would-be investors or business owners. Is all of that about to finally alter?

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of March, 2020, interest in Vukovar has been expressed by a Zagreb-based company which employs 650 people in Croatia, Germany and across the Atlantic in the United States. Just when the factory in Vukovar is due to begin work is unknown so far, but the plans for employment in Vukovar look promising.

Although speculation about the arrival of a company from the aviation industry sector to Vukovar has been rife for some time now, official confirmation of what will likely be a much needed spring in Vukovar's step arrived this week. Namely, Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava visited the headquarters of Enikon Aerospace in Zagreb, which manufactures plastic parts for aircraft interiors.

Penava announced on the occasion that the employment of fifty people in Vukovar is expected in April, and that, ultimately, 200 workers will be employed by Boeing and Airbus in Croatia's beloved Hero City on the Danube.

It is not yet known exactly when production could begin in Vukovar, as fifty of the first workers will be sent to training after signing their contracts, which will last, as Penava points out, between six and twelve months.

''The arrival of Enikon Aerospace in Vukovar, in addition to the fact that it brings with it the creation of 200 new jobs, also sends us a clear message that new opportunities are being created in terms of acquiring and improving knowledge and skills in the field of this technologically advanced industry, which did not exist here until now. Considering the fact that the needs of Enikon regarding the profile of workers and their qualifications are really diverse, I believe that in this area, we'll find the necessary workforce, which will be trained and improved for all further needs of the company,'' Penava said.

Enikon points out that at first they plan to produce 100 parts per day here, and as many as 1500 later on in the year, meaning increased employment in Vukovar.

''We came to Vukovar exclusively for business reasons. The airline industry is specific and relatively small, and quality and precision are the primary things to take into consideration. Certainly, a commitment is necessary, and there are all these virtues in Croatia,'' said Enikon's Vice President Jakov Baricic.

It's worth recalling that last year, the Austrian FACC bought land in Jakovlje near Zagreb, where it plans to invest thirty million euros in its aircraft parts factory. In the first phase, they plan to hire 600 people, and ultimately it could result in the creation of several thousand new jobs.

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

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