Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Best Beaches in Slavonia - Freshwater Paradise

May 12, 2022 - Summer is on the horizon, temperatures are higher and people are already planning how to cool down in the coming hot months. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford or reach the Adriatic coastline for much-deserved relaxation. However, Croatia has countless beautiful rivers and lakes used for swimming and recreation and Slavonia is full of those. A look into the best beaches in Slavonia.

As mentioned before, some people living outside of regions located near the Adriatic coast can’t afford or travel great distances for the ultimate Croatian summer. Because of those limitations, people needed to find ways to cool themselves and relax in their cities during unbearably hot months. Slavonia is definitely one of those regions. Older Slavonians will remember those summers decades ago when only a few families could afford to go to the Adriatic coast, after saving money all year, and others “less fortunate ones”, would go to rivers and lakes near their hometown. Those swimming places were made up on the go - “beaches” were mostly covered with untouched nature and unexplored terrains. Let’s just say they weren’t particularly safe but after a few accidents and realizations that structured swim places can be profitable and safe havens for families with kids, local authorities started investing in swimming and recreational infrastructure on those lakes and rivers. Water quality began to be reviewed for swimmers and after tests showed that the quality is excellent, the building could start. Without further ado, these are the best beaches in Slavonia.

“Copacabana” on Drava River in Osijek - “Kopika” 

The list of best beaches in Slavonia starts with non-other than “Kopika”. One of the most popular river beaches in Slavonia, this is one of the swimming places in Slavonia that you can’t miss. Beach that offers views of iconic places in Osijek like Tvrđa, co-cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, Hotel Osijek, and the Bridge of Youth? Amazing. Since 2020, the beach and recreation center went through a lot of renovations and “Kopika” will shine in its new guise this summer. Modern pools, showers, cabins, and many more, make this beach unmissable this summer.

 

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"Kopika" beach in Osijek (image credits: Mario Romulić)

Križnica Island on Drava River 

This island is located on the Drava River near the small town of Pitomača, the westernmost municipality in Virovitica - Podravina County. Once the border between the Kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia, this ancient island was the last one in the historic Pannonian Sea and its sandy beach attracts swimmers and recreationalists all over the country. Its bike routes, local cuisine, and natural private retreat make this river beach one of the best in the country and it’s an unmissable place to visit for refreshments and relaxation.

 

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Križnica Island on Drava River (image credits: glaspodravine.hr)

Poloj Sports and Recreation Center 

Apart from the Drava, the Sava River and its Poloj beach takes the crown as one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. During summer, this beach attracts plenty of swimmers in need of refreshments. The white sand beach that can compete with some on the Adriatic coast, offers a lot of content - sandy fields for volleyball, futsal, places for barbecue, bike and pedestrian routes, and many more. Slavonski Brod and its surroundings is an amazing place for Digital Nomads and other tourists because it offers everything for everyone. So, visit this amazing place during summer, you won’t regret it.

 

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Beach Poloj on Sava River, Slavonski Brod (image credits: Alen Vrlazić/tzbpz.hr)

Lakes Banja in Vinkovci 

Once upon a time, these two artificial lakes had different usage. More precisely, it was used for clay excavations for a brick factory back in the day and only brave men would go and swim there. However, in 1997, the realization of the potential these lakes have for sport, recreation and relaxation hit, and since then, Lakes Banja became a popular swimming place for residents of Vinkovci. The amazing quality of water and clean and tidy beaches are a perfect place for fishermen and people who want to have a proper swim. After that, barbecue, beer, and an amazing time.

 

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Lakes Banja in Vinkovci (image credits: Banja Vinkovci/Facebook)

Ada Island on the Danube River in Vukovar 

Ada is a beautiful Croatian river island on the Danube River covered in a sandy beach and it’s a favorite swimming place in the city of Vukovar. Only 10 minutes away from cities center by boat and ranked among the ten most beautiful and interesting beaches in Croatia located along rivers and lakes. All those interested in peaceful vacations or maybe active vacations and adventures will surely find something for themselves. Amazing tourist offer that includes boat tours, volleyball on sand, and a gazebo full of refreshing drinks under the shade of the forest, makes this one of the best beaches in Slavonia.

 

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Residents of Vukovar playing beach volleyball on Ada Island (image credits: Branimir Bradarić/lokalni.hr)

Lake Orahovica near village Duzluka  

Only 1500 meters away from the historic town of Orahovica, this artificial lake is probably the only proper place to swim in its radius. Last year, this famous lake celebrated its 60th birthday and it’s not stopping soon. This lake is a magnet for fun. From the most popular music festival in Slavonia Ferragosto Jam to the rich recreation offer, Lake Orahovica is an unavoidable place to visit and what’s also really important to mention, its water comes from the mountains! Besides its clear natural water, location is idyllic - just at the foot of Papuk Mountain and the historic fortified city Ružica City that, according to one legend, was a gathering place of fairies. It’s truly looking like a fairytale from Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić novels indeed.

 

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Lake Orahovica is surrounded by historic sightings and mountains (image credits: orahovica.hr)

 

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Ferragosto Jam brings the best of Croatian music every year to Lake Orahovica (image credits: screenshot/ferragostojam.com)

Honorable mentions are recently officially opened for swimmers Bajer Lake in Đakovo, Lake Borovik located west of Đakovo, natural Lake Đola in Darda near Osijek, beaches in Batina and Aljmaš where Drava River flows into Danube River, Lake Petnja, northwest of Slavonski Brod and so many more.

All of these places are rooted in Slavonians' lives. Great tourist offers and safe place for families, makes river and lake beach a must-visit during this summer. Yes, summers in Slavonia can be more insufferable than in, for example, Dalmatia (different climate), but for that, these freshwater beaches make every hot summer durable. Furthermore, it makes it the most anticipated season in Slavonia. Hopefully, this list of best beaches in Slavonia will encourage tourists to come - Slavonians will welcome you with open arms.

For more, check out our travel section.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Science Festival Vukovar to be Held for the First Time

May 6, 2022 - This week, for the first time, an event aimed at bringing science closer to the public, the Science Festival is being held in Vukovar.

The Science Festival is an event that has been held in Croatia since 2003 with the aim of bringing science closer to the public by informing about activities and results in the field of science, improving public perception of scientists, and motivating young people to research and acquire new knowledge, reported Sudarić, dean of the Vukovar College of Applied Sciences.

"We brought this event to Vukovar precisely to encourage our young people, especially children attending kindergarten and primary school to do science and introduce them to the idea that science is very important. We are witnesses that during the pandemic, scientists were key, they were the ones who had to find a solution to end it", said Sudarić.

The longing for expansion of knowledge and encouraging innate curiosity in all ages are valuable goals of the Science Festival, which will take place in Vukovar on 6 and 7 May. As part of this event, more than 40 activities will be carried out at four different locations, some of which are open to the general public.

"The festival will be held at four locations - the Vukovar Gymnasium, the Vučedol Culture Museum, the Vukovar City Museum, and the "Lavoslav Ružička" College in Vukovar, where all fans of science and those involved in it, depending on age, will be able to expand their knowledge of life because it is the central theme of this year’s Science Festival. We have a lot of activities this year, the first year of the festival in Vukovar. I must admit that when we started the event, we thought that there would only be three or four registered activities", said Dean Sudarić.

The Vukovar Festival is the result of cooperation between the Vukovar Gymnasium, the Vučedol Culture Museum, the City Museum in Vukovar, and the Lavoslav Ružička College in hopes that Vukovar will receive its place on the map of the Festival and become part of this scientific event, says Sudarić.

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

Monday, 2 May 2022

History of Vukovar or History in Vukovar? No, Our Future Please

May 3, 2022 – Vukovar is indeed full of life. The 3rd of May is Vukovar Day, marking the day it became a free royal town in 1231, and the day of Saints Philip and James who became Vukovar’s patron saints when their church was built in 1723.

Traditionally, this day is a bank holiday in Vukovar, with celebrations and events in the city centre. With the Svi zaJedno Hrvatsko Naj festival leaning onto Vukovar Day, the city becomes the site of culture, sports, gastronomy, music, and more, for over a week. And if you take a closer look, you will see that it’s Vukovar’s youngest who make the city come alive. The little ones are jumping with joy and running between the stalls, the decorations, and the popcorn vendors, and our high schoolers are even here to teach us something. And if you listen closely, you can hear them speak both Croatian and Serbian.history vukovar.jpg

Courtesy of TZ Vukovar / Marko Balaži

This co-existence in Vukovar still sparks debate among those who know about its history, and curiosity among those who are yet to learn. On this Vukovar day, we decided to have a look at history in hopes of making a step in the right direction for our future. We went to schools in Vukovar, both primary and secondary, where we had a chance to speak to the headmasters and teachers. The guiding thought was the idea that the subject of history is a sensitive area, especially in Serbian minority classes. This question has been explored before, with varying conclusions, so we wanted to see where we stand in 2022. The outcome is interesting, but not surprising, refreshing, and yet completely normal.

The demography of Vukovar

Vukovar has historically been a diverse urban centre, whose population throughout the 20th century was made up of the Croatian, Serbian, Hungarian and German nationalities to varying extents, with the Serbian population steadily growing and reaching 25,5% in 1948 and 32,3% in 1990, whereas the German and Hungarian population significantly declined during the same period. In 1990, the Croatian population made 47,2% of its 44,639 inhabitants. It is important to note that the social structure of the city kept changing throughout the 20th century due to the Yugoslavian policies, as well as the fact that the socialist state discouraged expressing religious beliefs or national identity in everyday life. Our interlocutors who have lived all their lives in Vukovar shared that in pre-war Vukovar “you wouldn’t know other people’s nationalities or beliefs” (I.A., 68), “unless in a political situation, no one cared” (A.J., 63), “in everyday human lives it did not matter one bit, we all played together as kids, grew up together and watched our children grow up together” (J.G., 72). Their memories of the city make their faces light up and their eyes sparkle, and they happily share stories of life by the river, the best ice cream, friendship, and family. The things that mattered. Of course, the events of 1991 shattered that image of the city and it took decades to start even imagining something like that again.history of vukovar.png

"The Danube Bath", courtesy of Vukovar Municipal Museum

Model A for the education of national minorities

Like anywhere else, the rights of national minorities in Croatia are emphasized and respected in all aspects of life. One of the areas serving as a constant source of inspiration for debate in Vukovar is schooling. In Croatia, schools follow a three-model system (A, B, C) with several additional programs (such as summer school ). In model A, minority language and writing systems are fully adopted, with the Croatian language taking an equal amount of school hours as the minority language. Model B uses both Croatian and minority languages, with social subjects taught in the minority language. Model C teaches minority languages and cultures as an additional subject, with all other instruction and teaching done in Croatian.

In Vukovar, models A and C are most often chosen by minorities, with model A being the most likely choice of the Serbian national minority. What this means is that schools following model A will often have students of the same age group take separate classes based on the chosen model (i.e. if they are a member of the minority group or not). The purpose of the three models is the preservation of minority languages and cultures with enough flexibility to accommodate for integration.

Peaceful reintegration of the Danube Region and the history moratorium

One of the conditions of the Serbian representatives in the peace negotiations of 1997 was that there was a moratorium put on the teaching of Vukovar’s recent history in national minority classes. The moratorium lasted 5 years and officially ended in 2003. From 2003 to 2022 it has been a rocky road, and there were numerous attempts to have a peek behind the scenes and see if the sensitive parts of history are being taught in minority classrooms. Sensationalist headlines would appear, stating that Croatian history is only taught over something like 3 pages in the Serbian textbook written in Serbian using the Cyrillic writing, that teachers deliberately skip and ignore the whole section, that they twist it, etc. Having spoken to headmasters, teachers, parents, and students, the truth is simple – it is highly individual, and if teachers feel strongly about the topic, they might be inclined to adapt their way of teaching. The opinions of parents are varying, some feel strongly, and some don’t, depending mostly on the generation they belong to. What probably sums it up best, are the words of the mother of a second-grader, stating that “we cannot avoid the topic, certainly not in 2022. No matter which classroom my children attend, they will learn about the events and hopefully, they will be able to form their own opinions. What we want for them is to live a normal life and grow up in a society of equal opportunity”. (S.G.)

The headmasters of primary schools and secondary schools all agree that they are currently facing much bigger issues, some caused by the pandemic, some by the modern way of life, but that history on this or that side has become a rather dry topic which is not in their control anyway. They emphasize that having started from completely separate classrooms, teachers, subjects, and extracurricular activities, students these days all play together, attend workshops and sports clubs, take part in competitions and plays, and even go on excursions, exchanges, and cultural events together, forming separate groups around things like celebrity crushes, candy or games, and not nationality.

Like it or not, Vukovar is healing as nature always finds a way

The honest truth is it has been 30 years and time and nature have started doing their thing. A change of generations has happened. Make no mistake, what happened in Vukovar in 1991 were inhuman atrocities that can never be denied, and there is a lot of injustice still making it that much harder even after 30 years. Unfortunately, those who deserve punishment might never be punished for the crimes they committed but let us not punish those who had nothing to do with it, those who are at the same time the future of our city. Children are children, they might grow up to become assholes or they might go on to save the world. They might learn history in Croatian written in Latin writing, or that could be Serbian in Cyrillic writing. Chances are, they will find it equally boring and would much rather play than study. Some might be fascinated by it. They are all different. We are all different. Maybe it’s time to start learning from the young ones and celebrate diversity while working together for a better future for all of us. history of vukovar 2.jpg

 National day against peer violence, courtesy of OŠ Siniše Glavaševića

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

Sunday, 24 April 2022

From Požega to Ilok: Best Bike Tours in Slavonia

24th of April 2022 - A few days ago, the world commemorated Earth Day, so it’s only convenient to present one of the most ecological and recreational ways of transportation - bikes, or in this case, bike tours. A look into the best bike tours in Slavonia.

Spring is in full swing which means a yearly reminder of recreational tourist offers Croatia, or in this case, what Slavonia has to offer. Bicycles are a huge part of Croatian lives. Bike clubs, amateur cyclists, and regular people who want to be part of these events became more and more frequent and stayed part of these movements and events. Of course, with every recreation or hobby, there’s always a potential for tourist opportunities. For example, Dalmatia with its already diverse tourist offers incorporated bike tours, which suit really well with the geographical location of the region. Hilly and somewhat mountainous terrain with the scent of sea salt and a view of the Adriatic Sea, attracts every tourist who wants to experience the beauties of the Dalmatian region recreationally. Even islands like Brač, Hvar, and Korčula where you can transport your bikes with catamarans, have various offers of bike tours. Istria does an amazing job as well and northern Croatia with Međimurje, Zagorje, and Zagreb regions attracts more and more bike lovers every year!

However, the full circle couldn’t be rounded without the region of Slavonia which is doing an amazing job in promoting its land and presents new and creative tourist offers every single year. From Požega and its Golden Valley to the wine roads of Srijem and Baranja, bike tours in Slavonia could easily have one of the best tourist offers in Croatia. So, without further ado, let’s start with the best bike tours in Slavonia.

Vinkovci, Vukovar - Srijem county 

If you want to explore Vinkovci and surrounding places a bit more adventurously, definitely consider these available trails which stretch through the whole Vukovar-Srijem county. There are a few different types of surfaces available - macadam, earth, gravel, grass, and asphalt, which are intended for riding mountain or other types of quality bikes. The trails are marked in blue, red and yellow and they all have one thing in common - the bridge on river Bosut in the center of Vinkovci which is the start of every bike trail. The blue trail is 19 kilometers long and leads from Vinkovci to the village of Borinci to a rural home called “Antin Stan” in Ivankovo and back to Vinkovci. The red one is 15 kilometers long, moving the new dam on Bazjaš canal to the Kunjevci forest and back to the center of Vinkovci. Last official trail is marked with yellow color and is the longest, around 21 kilometers, stretching from bridge on Bosut towards rural house and picnic area Sopot in direction of Rokovci. After that, the trail continues to Kunjevci forest and back to Vinkovci. If you’re ever interested in trying these bike tours, contact the Vinkovci Tourist Board for maps of these routes here.

 

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Apart from these official bike trails, there are a few routes that go further in Vukovar-Srijem county:

  • Danube cycling route (EuroVelo 6) - This one passes along the Danube River and its length is 138 kilometers in Croatia. Probably one of the most popular bike routes in Europe cuts through Vukovar-Srijem county, connects with cycling route Srijem and continues toward the Black Sea. The route can be checked here.
  • Srijem route - Connects the southern area of Vukovar-Srijem county with the northeastern part. Its starting point is the center of Vinkovci near the popular Lamp and goes through Rokovci, Andrijaševci, Cerna, and Gradište towards Cvelferija (9 villages of Županja’s area) then through Gunja, Vrbanja, and Drenovci to the city of Otok.
  • Route Otok - This bike route offers two possibilities: the first one is a ride across Privlaka to the city of Vinkovci and the road from Nuštar and Bogdanovci to Vukovar while the other route is going through the village of Komletinci to Nijemci, towards Tovarnik and Ilok.

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Route Otok and Srijem with other bike tours in Slavonia around Županja area, (Screenshot: tz-zupanja.hr)

Even though the area of Vukovar-Srijem County seems small, it has a lot to offer. Golden fields of wheat and sunflowers that have been just planted, sun in the sky, multiple options for eating and drinking, and most importantly, the people. If you need quick transport, buses and trains are available - most of the time.

Osijek, Osijek - Baranja County 

Besides already mentioned EuroVelo 6 Danube River route that goes through Osijek and its county as well, there is the Greenway Cycling route that connects Croatia and Hungary with the goal of cross border relations, building up tourism and eco-tourism in the area along the Danube-Drava Rivers. There is already a great piece on our dedicated to cycling Total Croatia Cycling site, about the Greenway route and the whole project that took place in 2016. You can read it here.

Another European bike route goes through Slavonia - EuroVelo 13 or “Iron Curtain Trail”. The name stems from the fact that the border was part of the infamous “Iron Curtain”. Beautiful landscape, pristine forests, Drava River in all its glory, and of course gorgeous cities along the way - Beli Manastir, Belišče, Valpovo, Donji Miholjac, Koprivnica, and many more. Of course, great food and drinks for relaxation. For more information about this route, check here.

When it comes to cycle tourism, Osijek and Baranja regions are top-notch. It’s not a surprise that Osijek has the most cycle paths in Croatia which spread through the whole city. If you own a good bike and love cycling moreover public transport, Osijek is a great city for you. Here are a few suggested bike tours exploring Osijek and its surroundings:

  • OSIJEK - UŠĆE KARAŠICE - OSIJEK: This route starts from the city of Osijek and goes to Višnjevac. After that, there is a wooden bridge towards the west that continues through beautiful forests and natural landscapes near the Drava River. The route stretches all the way to fishing house located on mouth of Karašica and Drava rivers. The length of the route is around 20 kilometers and it’s not particularly complicated. Suited for mountain and track bicycles. You can check the details of the route here.
  • OSIJEK - KOPAČEVO - BILJE - OSIJEK: This time, the best city exit is the one towards Podravlje where the ride goes to Kopačevo and the reception center of Kopački rit. Beautiful landscape and the only traffic participants are cyclists, pedestrians, and animals. From there, the route goes through Kopačevo, Bilje in Baranja all the way to Osijek. This bike route is around 32 kilometers long and suitable bicycles are mountain and tracking ones. Visual details can be found here.

A few others are:

  • KOPAČEVO - ZLATNA GREDA - TIKVEŠ - KOPAČEVO, route details
  • BIZOVAC – ČOKADINCI – KOŠKA – LADIMIREVCI – BIZOVAC, route details
  • KNEŽEVI VINOGRADI – KOTLINA – KAMENAC – KARANAC – KNEŽEVI VINOGRADI, route details.

On the other hand, Baranja used its tourist offer of great food, wines, and other products and, most importantly, beautiful wine yards that unfurl through the whole region to the maximum.

Wine roads are the most popular routes in Osijek - Baranja County, so it’s not surprising that out of a total of twelve tourist and wine roads in the county, just in Baranja are eight. During these bike tours, tourists can visit multiple wine cellars along the way and explore beautiful landscapes. For all details about wine bike tours in Baranja, check here. Beautiful nature park Kopački rit also included bike tours recently for an easier and more exciting experience of Slavonian nature and enriched tourist offer even more. Check the website here.

Požega, Požega - Slavonia County 

When we talk about cycling or any other type of recreation, we have to mention the center of Slavonia. The Hilly mountain terrain of old Slavonian mountains Papuk, Psunj, and Krntija, make this region even more exciting for bike lovers. Thirty marked bike trails make Požega - Slavonia County a place for one of the best bike tours in Slavonia. Besides the already mentioned EuroVelo route and other state bike trails, Požega and its surroundings offer an amazing variety of bike trails for everyone. If you thought Slavonia is flat, you’ve been grossly deceived. The landscape around nature park Papuk is a great reason anybody trying these routes needs to have high-level body fitness.

  • The so-called “Green route” that passes through the Požega Wine region - beautiful wine yards (almost similar to Ilok’s or Baranja’s wine roads), hills, and exquisite views of old mountains. Route details.
  • Požega vistas trail is another one that stands out in that region - This trail has all sorts of terrains - from asphalt ones in the old town of Požega to forest trails and open landscapes with dirt roads, all the way to Požeška gora and trails and obstacles that pumps up the adrenaline, passing by old wells and trails of old, ancient life and back to Požega. Route details.
  • The trail through fields and meadows - goes through traditional Slavonian villages and hilly places rich with agriculture. Exciting long upward and downward roads between villages and eventually back to Požega. Route details.

For more details about the most exciting bike tours in Slavonia, definitely check here.

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Papuk (photo credit: Mario Romulić)

To conclude this list, we need to shoutout few honorable mentions that definitely deserve their own article: off-road routes of Virovitica - Podravina County, muddy, exciting forest roads around rivers, sunny fields of Podravina, and glimpses of Western Slavonia, which has probably one of the best bike trails in Croatia. Pannonian bike roads pass through the calm landscapes, across the hills, through the woods and fields, along rivers, streams, and lakes. With the wind on your face, definitely discover the beauty of Pannonian cycling trails. For more details, check here.

Slavonski Brod and Brod-Posavina County with a must-visit to the monumental Brod Fortress, the largest of continental Croatia with its unique Tambura Museum. Posavina villages of Klakar, Donja, and Gornja Bebrina offer even more pleasures and forests that express the greenest places in Slavonia. Lipik, Pakrac and their Lipizzaner and Kuna Trail... What are you waiting for? For more details, check counties official website.

After an exhaustive analysis that can reach five more such articles, it’s only left of us to invite you and visit these beautiful places. From Požega to Ilok, these truly are one of the best bike tours in Slavonia, but not just that - in Croatia as well. For more cycling articles, visit our dedicated website.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 22 April 2022

The Road to Freedom: Vukovar Welcomes Ukraine from the Front Line

April 22, 2022 - Croatia 1991 - Ukraine 2022: The Road to Freedom. Meet Vukovar 365, full of compassion. The city that is still recovering over 30 years later knows the pain. Its people have been through hell and back. They would not wish this upon anyone, yet it's happening. Ukrainian people have always been Vukovar's friends, their culture enriching the area that this minority has historically been a part of. Not that we should seek reasons to help, but the people of Vukovar have got plenty and they are always willing to step up.

Hrv reports on a conference that was held in Zagreb, titled "Croatia 1991 - Ukraine 2022: The Road to Freedom", citing Vukovar's hero war reporter Siniša Glavašević who said, "You have to rebuild. First, your past, your present, and then, if you have any strength left, invest it in the future".

As the title suggests, the topic of the conference was the similarities between the ongoing war in Ukraine with the war that Croatia fought in 1991 to gain its independence and freedom. Damir Luka Saftić, representative of the "Za Vukovar" association commented that the pearl of the Danube bled 31 years ago like the Azov Sea's Mariupol is today, saying that "the resemblance is appalling".

The participants of the conference included Vasilj Kirilič, Ambassador of Ukraine to Croatia, Željka Antunović, former Minister of Defense, Yevhen Stepanenko, Ukrainian journalist, Tomislav Marević of the Croatian Civil Protection Directorate, Robert Barić, military analyst, Jakov Sedlar, film director, and Vukovar veterans Damir Poljaković and Tomislav Orešković.

"Croatia has defended its independence and the message for Ukraine is that it can do so too because we are strong in spirit and I believe that we will defend our country. The city of Mariupol is a symbol of defense, as is the Croatian city of Vukovar", said Ambassador Kirilić.

"When you know that your whole family, wife, child, and parents are in the basement, your whole city is in that basement, everyone from your street, friends, your football club, factory, then your strength appears from somewhere and it was either us or them, there was nothing else," said Damir Poljaković, a Vukovar hero who defended the city in 1991 at Trpinjska cesta.

Following the conference, and with Orthodox Easter approaching, the city of Vukovar in partnership with the local Red Cross organised a humanitarian donation action for the Ukrainian refugees in the city. 

A total of 40 refugees from Ukraine are accommodated in Vukovar, writes hrv, which includes 16 families with 18 children. To provide assistance in difficult times, but also to celebrate the upcoming Easter holidays, the City of Vukovar and the Vukovar Red Cross Society provided special food packages for refugees from Ukraine in the Vukovar area, as well as candy packages for the youngest.

The packages were handed over to the Ukrainian people by the Deputy Mayor of Vukovar, Filip Sušac, who emphasized that the City of Vukovar, in cooperation with the Red Cross, is trying to make life easier for refugees. "The city of Vukovar has decided to help Ukrainians who are in the area of ​​our city through a series of measures. In cooperation with the City Museum, the City Library, and sports clubs, we have ensured that all Ukrainian refugees can use their services completely free of charge. The City of Vukovar has called on all fellow citizens to help the refugees as much as they can, and we appeal to the Government of the Republic of Croatia to make Hostel Zagreb available - explained Sušac.

Marija Semenjuk Simeunović, Secretary of the Ukrainian Community of the Republic of Croatia, emphasized that all persons who came from war-torn Ukraine feel welcome in Croatia and thanked everyone for their support.

"Displaced persons who came from Ukraine to our city, county, but also the Republic of Croatia, in general, feel welcome. We have all shown compassion and solidarity in some way, especially since we went through the horrors of war 30 years ago. Through their programs, our Ukrainian associations from the entire Republic of Croatia want to include and integrate the Ukrainian people into our society", said Semenjuk Simeunović.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Fifty Volunteers Take Care of Croatian Veteran Needs

18th of April 2022 - The Palliative Team was launched which included six Croatian veterans who volunteered together with the staff of the Vukovar Health Center.

As Novosti.hr reports, the president of the association “Defender Helps the Defender” (Branitelj pomaže branitelju) Željko Miškulin, wanted to expand the projects so three months later, they founded an association whose goal is to support the Croatian veteran population.

“I saw the needs of the veterans and their sense of forgetfulness since they fell ill. Veteran health and mortality problems were high, several of us suffer from multiple sclerosis, and most members have the status of Croatian war invalids. It was my path and guidance to embark on an adventure that proved useful and successful”, says Miškulin. The association has 50 members of volunteers and, although at the beginning it gathered people from Vukovar - Srijem and Osijek - Baranja counties, today they come from other Croatian counties as well.

In the beginning, the founding members and President Miškulin as volunteers of the Vukovar Health Center, provided palliative care to veterans in their homes, socialized and talked with them, and enabled family members to perform other tasks. After some time, they secured a visit from a dentist to a veteran who was then a bedridden patient for two years, with clergy and priests later joining the cause. Now they provide psychological support, organize examinations, controls, ambulance transport, free accommodation, and food during treatment for family members in Zagreb.

“We have excellent cooperation with the hospital in Vukovar but also with health institutions in Osijek, Zagreb, Zadar, and the health Center in Vinkovci. We also focused on helping the children of Croatian veterans with developmental and severe disabilities, we provide them with equipment and aids with Caritas helping us”, explained Miškulin, adding that the veterans are delighted that someone thinks about their needs.

 

Behind them are four implemented projects, three more are underway, and new education and an increase of the member numbers are planned as well.

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.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Living in Vukovar - Support for Ukrainian Refugees

April 12, 2022 – Ukrainian refugees are welcome in Vukovar, the city that has felt their pain. It’s now time to rely on past experience to serve as a guide in supporting those in need. The city's institutions, organisations, and residents are coming together to provide a warm welcome and offer a helping hand to those living in Vukovar.

As Jutarnji writes, the citizens of Vukovar and members of refugee families from Ukraine all gathered in Vukovar on Monday, 11th of April to take part in the public forum “Living in Vukovar”, organised by Europe House Vukovar and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

“Since the people of Vukovar have experience of war and living in other areas, we know that we all needed friendly words and little signs of appreciation in the beginning. We thus wanted to organise a meetup for people in the local community with the aim of exchanging information, making new contacts and so that refugees from Ukraine can integrate into the local community regardless of how long they will stay”, said the executive director of Europe House Vukovar, Dijana Antunović Lazić.

According to the project coordinator at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Branka Smoljan, it is extremely important to work on integration to make sure that refugees have the best chance of fitting into a new environment.

“This is the first such project, to be followed by similar projects in the north of Croatia, in Koprivnica, Čakovec, and Varaždin, where the largest number of Ukrainian refugees arrive,” Smoljan said.

According to the secretary of the Ukrainian community in Croatia, Marija Semenjuk Simeunović, about 200 Ukrainians have so far arrived in the Vukovar-Srijem County.

“We recently organized a workshop to which we invited many displaced persons, especially children, to connect with our members and to feel welcome in our city”, said Semenjuk Simeunović.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Vukovar Gymnasts Best in 1st Round of Croatian Cup

April 6, 2022 – The Vukovar Gymnastics Club performed outstandingly in the 1st round of the Croatian Cup, bringing home team gold and an array of individual medals.

As hrv writes, the 1st round of the Croatian Cup in the Basic Program of Women's Sports Gymnastics was held on April 3 at the Sokol Centre in Osijek in the organisation of the Osijek-Žito Gymnastics Society. The Vukovar Gymnastics Club had representatives in all categories in the team and individual competition. The oldest category was the only one without new competitors. In the other three categories, in addition to already experienced competitors, new members of the competition group performed. In the junior category, one new competitor performed, while in the cadet and junior categories half of the team consisted of girls who all took part in a competition for the first time. All of them did very well and successfully completed the first competition. Special praise goes to those who won individual medals in their first official competition: Lea Služek, Franka Markešić, and Iris Špehar.

The Vukovar Gymnastics Club was the most successful in this competition where the gymnasts in all categories won the team 1st place, as well as the most individual medals. All Vukovar’s gymnasts performed as follows:

Cadets – team 1st place. Individually: 1st Ema Županović, 2nd Franka Markešić, 3rd Una Baždar 5th Jana Cvetković, 8th Marina Đerđ and 9th Franka Ljubić.

Younger juniors – team 1st place. Individually: 1st Služek Lea, 2nd Špehar Iris, 6th Mirosavljević Adrijana, 7th Gavrilović Ljiljana, 11th Velerajter Natali, 18th Horvat Livija.

Juniors – team 1st place. Individually: 1st Badanjak Helena, 2nd Gavrilović Olivera, 4th Jaman Mirjam, 5th Božanović Ana, 10th Mirosavljević Marijana and 11th Roša Lorena.

Younger seniors – team 1st place. Individually: 1st Gužvić Kristina, 2nd Ivanković Tena, 4th Skokić Lana, 5th Andrašević Dijana and 9th Mašić Tea.

The next competition for the Basic Program will be held in June.

After this competition, The Vukovar Gymnastics Club has brought home another 4 team gold medals, and individually 4 gold, 4 silver, and 1 bronze medal.

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

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.

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