Thursday, 23 December 2021

Improving Croatian Tourism: 8 Key TCN Areas of Focus for 2022

December 23, 2021 - 2022 will be a year of change for tourism in Croatia. An overview of 8 key areas TCN will be focusing its efforts on improving Croatian tourism in 2022.

2021 has been a great year at TCN, as we diversified from a news portal into some other projects. There is such potential in so many areas in this country that I am constantly surprised at how few people I see exploring the opportunities. I know a few people who laughed when a certain Dutch expat announced he was going to grow tomatoes in northern Croatia, but having seen the project develop at first hand, it is heartening to see that such ideal dreams of Jan de Jong, Jerko Trogrlic and the team at CROP Hrvatska will become a reality. 


(The Slavonian Wannabe Tomato Growers Convention with CROP Hrvatksa, Osijek, December 2021)

And once it starts, the floodgates could open. Contrary to the general media portrayal, I genuinely think that this is an incredibly exciting time to be alive in Croatia. And I leave 2021 and enter 2022 with perhaps more energy, optimism and determination than ever before since I moved here permanently back in 2003. 

Of course, Jan is a much more successful businessman than I could ever hope to be, and so my main focus in 2022 will be to develop the eco-system of sustainable tourism all over the country, 12 months a year, rather than watch the current lazy status quo which is slowly destroying Croatia's Adriatic jewels. 

It has been another completely random 12 months at TCN. Just as I never expected to be named International Medical Travel Journalist of the Year in Malaysia a year ago, so too I did not expect to be giving a keynote speech at Digital Nomad Week based out of Bali on VIP Day almost exactly a year later - you can see the first presentation of our new CROMADS platform during my online presentation above.

2021 was a year of awards and lawsuits for TCN. A total of 11 international awards for projects that we were partners in, and an impressive 3 lawsuits, the first in my life (I don't count the one publicly announced in 2018 by Mayor of Jelsa, Niksa Peronja, as it never arrived). Seven awards for the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community, delivered in partnership with Manjgura and Mediacor (including 3 at the Polaris Awards in London), 2 for Zagreb Digital Nomad Week with Saltwater Nomads and Zagreb Tourist Board, and 2 for Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program with Saltwater Nomads, City of Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik Tourist Board. 

But as nice as it was to win the awards, it was actually the lawsuits which gave me the inspiration for a new direction for TCN. If our constructive criticism was not only read by the Kings of Accidental Tourism, but bothered them so much that they were prepared to sue me for 100,000 kuna, perhaps I had a voice that was being heard further than I had imagined.  


I am certainly very grateful to the Kings for the lawsuits. Apart from being described by one journalist as the biggest PR own goal in the history of the Croatian National Tourist Board, it was also the best free promotion TCN has ever had (thank you!), as a staggering 16,000 people took part in an online poll by after the story hit all the major news networks. 

If the Kings were that sensitive to a few words, what might happen if we publicly started pushing a few initiatives via TCN to see what stuck, and what progress we could make? The lawsuits will be entering their third calendar year next month, and you can follow progress every step of the way in our Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit feature, which will probably go on for years until we win in the European courts in Strasbourg. TCN promo budget 2022 - 2026 - tick.  


But it seems more and more people are recognising TCN and the various initiatives we are pushing to celebrate the little guy and connect the eco-system outside the crumbling walls of the Mighty State of Uhljebistan. It was an honour earlier this week, for example, to receive an invitation from His Excellency Raj Srivastava, Indian Ambassador to Croatia to the launch of the India-Croatia Startup Bridge. Even more so when the Ambassador told me he was a TCN reader and that some of our articles celebrating Croatian startups influenced his thinking on this initiative. It is a great initiative, and I look forward to TCN reporting on various successes.

Rather than just reporting on the news and blogging about the latest lawsuit postponement by the Kings (Read more in Diary of a Croatian Lawsuit: 50 Lawyers, No Secretary, No Hearing), I started to think about ways that TCN could advocate for positive change in some targeted niches. Although I am not a tourism expert, I am getting to know Croatian tourism very well and travel extensively. Meeting so many people from all walks of life has helped me form a few conclusions on how we could improve a few things. 

As we take a break for Christmas (TCN will be offline from midnight tonight until December 28), here are 8 key areas we will be focusing on in 2022, in addition to delivering you your daily Croatian news in English. 

Split Winter Tourism Roundtable


After posting a few TCN articles on the potential of Split winter tourism and questions why we no longer have much, some of the private Split tourism operators came up with a suggestion that TCN host a winter tourism roundtable, inviting all key stakeholders (including the Mayor of Split, Split Dalmatia County, regional and city tourist board director, Split Airport, State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, GMs of Split's 5-star hotels, representatives from the restaurant, hotel, hostel and MICE sectors, and tourism consultants) to have an open exchange of ideas in search of a way forward. 

Not only did everyone invited come, but they all engaged and left an excellent lunch at CHOPS Grill with the desire to try. We meet again in January. Special thanks to Jasmina Kruscic, Jelena Tabak, Mare Mustapic, Daniela Rogulj, Mario Seric and MIchael Freer for pushing this initiative. Let's see 2022 deliver the first results.  You can read more in Reflections on the First TCN Split Winter Tourism Roundtable

Vukovar Card and Vukovar 365, Full of Life


How many of you have been to Vukovar on any other date than November 18?

Having been to Vukovar Remembrance Day in 2019 and 2021, as well as several other visits, I came up with a suggestion called the Vukovar Card, a chance for people who change their Facebook status every November 18 for a day to do something more concrete (Vukovar Card: Support Local Economy Rather than Temporary Facebook Status). I was very grateful for the positive reaction and support of regional tourist board directors Ivana Juric and Rujana Busic Srpak, who devised a Vukovar Card 7-day itinerary through the magic of Vukovar Srijem and Osijek Baranja Counties. I sent this to Minister of Tourism Nikolina Brnjac and State Secretary Tonci Glavina with a request for a meeting to develop the concept. 

That meeting will take place on January 10 at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and I was encouraged by Tonci's positive initial feedback at the Split winter tourism roundtable.  

If you are interested to know more about the new Vukovar and the people and businesses framing a brighter future, follow the TCN series, Vukovar 365, Full of Life, with new TCN writer Katarina Andjelkovic from Vukovar.

Digital Nomads


The growth of the Croatian digital nomad story has been one of the highlights of my year. So much positive energy, innovative ideas, fabulous people and unforgettable experiences - it has been a privilege to be part of the journey. Working with Jan de Jong, Saltwater Nomads, the Digital Nomad Association, the Digital Nomads Croatia Facebook group,  Swanky Travel, Zagreb Tourist Board, the City of Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Doma Zagreb Aparthotel, and others has been one of the undoubted highlights of 2021. Zagreb Digital Nomad Week & Ambassador Program and Dubrovnik Digital Nomads-in-Residence program complemented Jan's visa initiative and has helped put Croatia well and truly on the digital nomad map.

2022 will be more of the same... and more. Exciting initiatives in both Zagreb and Dubrovnik will be announced in early 2022, and if we can dot the Is and cross the Ts on a couple of other projects, things could get very interesting. It seems that next year will have me travelling internationally to promote the Croatian digital nomad story, with Digital Nomad Festival in Turkey in May, and Digital Nomad Summit in Bali in September already in the diary.  

Medical tourism and digital nomads


2022 will see the 10th anniversary of my favourite conference in Croatia, the annual Crikvenica International Health Tourism conference in Crikvenica. CIHT has been good to me over the years, giving me my first exposure to the global medical tourism community (and leading to those awards in Malaysia). The pioneering work of Ognjen Bagatin and the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster have placed Croatia firmly on the medical tourism map, and after the major blip that is the pandemic, it is time to renew efforts. You can read a report on CIHT 2021 in Kvarner Full of Health Tourism Opportunity, as CIHT 2021 Shines.

A major new medical tourism opportunity has presented itself since 2019, one which I will be pushing hard - digital nomads. Rather than having to work hard to attract foreign patients to come to Croatia for treatment, why not instead spend less energy informing all the nomads who are already here how Croatian medical tourism can fix their medical issues at a fraction of the price back home. No need to travel, for they are already here. 

The potential of the Kvarner region for health tourism is huge, and there is a much underutilised airport on Krk, Rijeka Airport. An issue I will also discuss with Minister Brnjac on January 10, as she is a transport expert.  

Spreading the Truth about Slavonia, Full of Life


The biggest surprise of 2021 for me was not only how full of life Slavonia is, but how ignorant the rest of Croatia is about what is really out east in their own country. I was shocked at how few of my Zagreb friends who are among the 200,000 Croats who go skiing abroad each year had ever been to Slavonia and the East. With such little local knowledge, how can we expect tourists to know?

Lots of activity coming next year on this, including a fun survey on the streets of Zagreb to highlight the gap in knowledge. Here are two questions from the survey to get you in the mood. How many of you can answer both:

1. What is the main town in Baranja?

2. Can you name three famous buildings in eastern Croatia, not including the Vukovar Water Tower? 

Want a taster of what you are missing? Read more in Time to Tell the Truth about Slavonia Full of Life

Danube Drone Days


What happens when you meet an English businessman over breakfast at your hotel in Osijek in November?

Sometimes it leads to a night of sushi and gin in the company of the CEO or Orqa, three drone geeks, and a plan to promote Slavonia and the Danube with some of the best drone pilots in the world. 

 I love the concept of Danube Drone Days, and I am looking forward to working with these two geeks above to make it a reality.  


Our new baby. What more can I say, but watch the official promo vid above, and check out after Christmas for more. This is going to be fun.  

Total Croatia Travel Portal


2021 also saw TCN launch its sister site, Total Croatia, a multi-lingual tourism information platform answering the questions people are asking. Launching in May, I was perhaps a little ambitious wanting to be the leading portal by the summer, but we are working hard behind the scenes to make sure Total Croatia's first full year in 2022 will be a big one. You can check it out here

And that - more or less - is that. If you are interested in getting involved to build the eco-system outside the crumbling walls of the Mighty State of Uhljebistan, drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject TCN 2022, explaining how you can help and what you can offer. 

Enough from my side, except to thank you all for your company, interest and support in 2021. We have a great readership, and I even enjoy the contributions of the trolls these days. 

Things are starting to move slowly but surely. The default negative mindset is being challenged by new ideas and shoots of positivity. Croatia is a great country with a really bright future once we overhaul the current system. 

And you will be able to read all about it on TCN in 2022. 


TCN will be offline from midnight tonight until December 28. Merry Christmas to All. 


Saturday, 18 December 2021

Vukovar 365, Full of Life: Lidija Mlinarević of Slatkoteka

December 18, 2021 - In today’s edition of TCN’s Vukovar 365 series, meet Lidija Mlinarević, the owner of Slatkoteka, a sweet shop in the Vukovar city centre.

So many times have I heard my friends and acquaintances complain of nowhere to sit down for cake and tea. Lidija is still in the process of acquiring her license to be able to offer a place to sit down, but the cake is ready. Her offer includes traditional recipes, as she says “from our grandmothers”, which are usually rich in walnut and butter and never fail to bring back memories of warm winter nights by the fireplace. Though she built her business on that idea, Lidija does also provide some modern little treats, including cupcakes, cake pops, letter cakes, modelled cakes, desserts on the go, and more. She is always happy to listen to her clients and bake the most delicious and stunningly decorated cakes for various occasions.

She was happy to take some time out of her incredibly busy day and share her thoughts and opinions with TCN.

Tell us about your business, what do you do exactly?

I sell cakes and sweets, including custom-baked and decorated cakes for any occasion.


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

I would not really call this an idea, but rather a calling. Some people dream of becoming doctors, police officers, some are called to serve God, while I wanted to become a baker since I was little. The offer is unique not only in our city but in a wider area, because it focuses on traditional recipes of our grandmothers instead of a more modern approach.

A picture containing indoor, breakfast

Description automatically generated 

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

In short, Vukovar is my city. I am a mother of two beautiful little girls and I wanted to make sure I inspire them to love the city just as much as I do, along with all its traditions and history. That is where it all started and eventually resulted in me deciding to start my business here. The challenges were your standard clerical little quirks, but it was all worth it. May be an image of food and indoor

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

I would dare say that I am more than satisfied considering the fact that my business has only been open for a few months, though the paperwork is a bit tough. As for the future, I truly can see how much this city offers and I can see so many opportunities in general, but even more so in the tourism sector.

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

I would not say so. The location has nothing to do with it. I really believe that if you love something and give it your all, success is guaranteed. 

A picture containing indoor, several, cluttered

Description automatically generated  

What opportunities are there in our city and region?

There are opportunities to develop our economy, especially focusing on tourism and gastronomy. We have got such a rich cultural heritage. In our region, I would say Osijek is an excellent example. Rural tourism was developed in a very clever way there. If there were opportunities to connect and create itineraries that would get tourists to experience both Vukovar and Osijek, that would certainly create a better offer and ensure that our visitors stayed for longer periods.

What is your view on other small businesses in Vukovar?

Firstly, I would like to say that I never really viewed them as competition, but I was quite surprised when owners of businesses similar to mine came up to me to start some kind of cooperation. I am happy to work with others.

If we were to implement the Vukovar Card, would you participate and offer our guests discounts or special packages?

I would love to take part! I think that is an excellent, clever, and much-needed incentive.

A picture containing indoor, old, painted, dirty

Description automatically generated 

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

One thing that I love the most about my city is the fact that I can really see my future and my families’ future here. It is a city with perspective and there is so much to learn and do.

May be an image of cake and text that says 'LONDON NEW YORK HAWAII ROMA PARIS'

Where can we find you?

My shop is located on Ulica I.G. Kovačića 3 in Vukovar. You can also find me on Facebook – Slatkoteka Vukovar and Instagram @slatkoteka_vukovar

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

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Contract Signed for Project Documentation for Vertical Quay in Vukovar Port

ZAGREB, 16 December, 2021 - A contract was signed on Wednesday between the Vukovar Port Authority and the IGH Institute for making project documentation for a vertical waterfront at the Vukovar Port worth €1.67 million.

The project is being co-financed with EU grants, which account for 85% of the funding, while the remainder will come from the state budget. The project should be completed by 31 March 2024.

"When the project is completed, we will have 300 metres of a new vertical waterfront at the Vukovar port. To date, we have signed a contract for project management and today we have signed a contract for project documentation with a consortium of bidders comprising IGH, KPMG Croatia d.o.o. and the Vodoprivredni Projektni Biro from Zagreb", the port's acting director, Iva Horvat, said.

The document should result in the issuance of building permits, after which we will apply for EU funds required for construction, she added.

"The idea is to construct 300 metres of a new vertical waterfront at the Vukovar Port that will be connected to the railway infrastructure by building new industrial tracks, as well as with the road infrastructure by building access roads. A new handling area and warehouses should be built as well," she said, adding that this would enable ships to dock regardless of the River Danube's depth.

IGH management board president Robert Petrosian said that the project is part of a broader development project for the port along the Rheine-Danube corridor.

The head of the inland navigation office at the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Duška Kunštek, said that this was a strategic project for Slavonia's development.

Vukovar Port is the only river port in Croatia. It is located on the right bank of the Danube River and enables navigation throughout the year.

The port covers an area of about 19 hectares, with 2.68 hectares used by concessionaires. The four-berth waterfront is 450 metres long. With its current capacity the port handles between 1,200,000 to 1,500,000 tonnes of cargo annually.

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life: Mirjana Kopf of Cvjetni Studio Čarolija

December 12, 2021 - Last week we introduced a new TCN series exploring talented local businesses in Vukovar, with innovative and persistent owners behind them with the right mindset for Vukovar's future. This week, meet Cvjetni Studio Čarolija. 

Cvjetni Studio Čarolija is a small flower studio in the city centre, run by two amazing, ambitious and incredibly hard-working young women. A picture containing indoor

Description automatically generated

Neither Mirjana nor Dijana had any formal education or experience before they started their florist business and, as they say, decided to go based on their instincts and pure passion. In the meantime, they did acquire formal education and now hold certificates, but they achieved so much more. In the past three years, they have gained the trust of Vukovar's residents and there is not a person in this city who doesn't know about their studio. Besides building flower arrangements, they decorate venues, events and festivals, and create personalised gifts working together with other Vukovar's creatives and businesses. They have also done projects for the city and its tourism board, including the magnificent autumn fair held in September 2021.

Čarolija (Magic) is what they call their studio, and there is no denying their magic touch. 

This is the kind of passion and energy that will drive Vukovar, including its tourist offer, forward, and I was delighted to speak to Mirjana.  

Tell us about your business, what do you do exactly?

We are a Flower Studio and we design flower arrangements, bouquets and decorations from living and fresh flowers, as well as dried and artificial. In addition to that, we also offer decorations for various ceremonies such as weddings, christenings, birthdays, and all other celebrations. We also make personalized frames with prayers, graduation celebration texts, etc. Other than the mentioned, you can also find various gifts such as chocolate cakes and pralines, special gifts for newborns, savory and sweet packages that often include a few bottles of alcoholic beverages to cheer up our stronger halves. 

May be an image of food and indoor

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

Primarily the idea came about because we had nowhere to buy any of the above when we needed it. So, we made the decorations and gifts ourselves. Realizing that something like this was missing in our city, we first did a floristry course, passed the exam in the Chamber of Crafts and then embarked on this little journey. What makes us unique? Hmm, simply put, everything we do. We are not a classic flower studio with a classic offer. We can really find something for everyone, and when clients come to us with an idea that we haven't tried so far, we don't turn them down, in fact, we really look forward to creating something for them. Our studio itself is different from anything you can see in Vukovar, so often people come to us just to see “what we made of the space now".

May be an image of tree

What was it like starting your own business in Vukovar? What were the main challenges?

It is not enough to say that it was challenging. However, we are one of those who really do not give up easily so we have successfully overcome all the obstacles so far. One of the bigger challenges was finding a space where we could open our own studio. When we resolved that, everything else somehow just came together. With the support of our families and their help, we put everything in order very quickly. Our clients quickly recognized us as something valuable in the market and we did not have any difficulties in this segment either.

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

We really are. Although I am by nature never completely satisfied, I always think that something can be better, I would dare say that is not a bad thing. During the first year of our existence, we managed to hire our first employee. In the future, we hope and want to expand our business to some other segments, hire at least one more person and provide something good again for Vukovar. We also hope that the cooperation with all our fellow entrepreneurs will continue but also expand. For now, we are cooperating really well, but good things can always be improved.

May be an image of flower, indoor and text that says 'GRAFL FERRERO ROCHER'May be an image of indoor

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

Yes and no. Eastern Croatia has its advantages, but unfortunately also its disadvantages. I got the impression that it would take us much longer to be recognized in the market if we were in another part of Croatia, even though we are followed by people from all over the country. On the other hand, if we were in a bigger city, maybe the demand would be so high that we would already have more employees, more space to work and more clients. We are really pleased with what we have brought to the east and that the east of Croatia has recognized us in turn.

What opportunities are there in our city and region?

So many! Both Vukovar and our region are not just about the war. We are a city of joy, friendship, companionship, love, work and so much more. Vukovar and its surroundings have positive young people who are eager for progress and change. We still need some restaurants, pastry shops especially, where you can sit and eat some fine cake, drink a cup of hot tea and simply enjoy life. We do lack some places where we can relax and enjoy our free time.

What is your view on other small businesses in Vukovar?

I see them as great support. We recently had a gathering where the need was expressed for this support that we provide to each other. Most of us have the same problems and it's easier when you know you're not alone. By buying from each other, we give each other support and express how much we appreciate the local products in Vukovar.

If we were to implement the Vukovar Card, would you participate and offer our guests discounts or special packages?

Of course. Vukovar Card is something that would further connect us and encourage people to shop locally.

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

Vukovar is one of the most beautiful cities in eastern Croatia. We have a lot to offer no matter what others think. We have beautiful museums that you simply must visit, great family farms that have top local products, a lot of creative people who run their own shops and crafts. Finally, I have to mention the promenades along the Danube, as well our park forest Adica which you can visit and rent bikes to cycle around and see some beautiful nature.

Where can we find you?

May be an image of flower and text

Our shop is located in Ulica K. A. Stepinca 9, in Vukovar.

You can also find us via our Facebook page Cvjetni studio Čarolija Vukovar and our Instagram carolijavukovar

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Vukovar Card: 7-Day Tour to Enrich Eastern Croatia Understanding

December 9, 2021 -  What if it was possible to support Vukovar economically rather than just emotionally, while having an incredible discovery of eastern Croatia. Meet the proposed Vukovar Card and itinerary. 

The idea is simple, and it puts money into the Vukovar economy, allows Croatians from all over the country and the diaspora to have a direct connection and contribution to the Vukovar today, as well as having one of the most incredible weeks of discovery of a part of Croatia that few know about in details. Here is a detailed look at my recent 6-day trip to eastern Croatia in November. It was one of the best weeks of my 18 years in Croatia.


I presented the concept of the Vukovar Card recently in Vukovar Card: Support Local Economy Rather than Temporary Facebook Status.

The concept is simple.

Vukovar is a very emotive issue for all Croatians after the events of 1991, and November 18 sees an outpouring of emotion each year, as Facebook statuses are changed to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

While emotion and remembrance are appreciated in Vukovar, there is zero economic impact for a region which is suffering economically more than the rest of Croatia. 

Many Croatians have never been east and have little knowledge of the magic they are missing out on. 


The Vukovar Card provides a partial solution to that. 

Once in a lifetime, rather than heading to the beach for that 2-3 week holiday, take 7 days to head on east instead. Go and meet the people of Vukovar, drink in their cafes, eat in their restaurants, and enjoy a fabulous 7-day tour of eastern Croatia that will literally blow your mind and wonder how you have been missing out on all this for so long. 

Once you take the tour, you receive the proposed Vukovar Card. It is proposed that the Vukovar Card is like a loyalty card (a little like the ill-fated Cro Card). Hotels, restaurants and bar owners on the coast, can all play their part to boost the Vukovar economy by offering a 10% discount on selected services by bearers of the Vukovar Card. 


Nothing more complicated than that. 

I pitched the idea to the two regional tourist board directors, Ivana Juric of Osijek-Baranja County, and Rujana Busic Srpak of Vukovar Srijem County, and they were both supportive of the concept. I asked them to prepare a sample 7-day itinerary that would show that, far from being charity, the Vukovar Card was actually a great way to stimulate tourism in the east and give participants a genuinely amazing tourism experience. I told them that if they came up with the itinerary, I would make an appointment to present the concept to Minister of Tourism and Sports, Nikolina Brnjac, to see if we could get national support for the initiative. 

This is what Ivana and Rujana put together.  I am emailing Minister Brnjac later today. 

Proposal for visiting Croatian Danube region: Srijem and Slavonia and Baranja

Day 1

08.00 – departure from Zagreb

10.30 – Syrmian breakfast, restaurant Aquarius, Bošnjaci

11.30 – visit brandy tasting room Matkova pecara, Bošnjaci (announcement required)

Option: Forestry Museum in Bošnjaci

12.30 – visit to Gradište, Snašini kućari – tour of the estate, presentation of old crafts and traditional architecture (announcement required)



14.00 – visit to Otok, Bio-ecological centre Virovi: walk on the educational trail, kayaking, canoeing, cycling

16.00 – Nijemci, ride on the tourist boat Sv. Katarina from the centre of Nijemci according to the desired direction (reservation required)

18.00 – Vinkovci, tour: Vinkovci Town Museum, Birth house of Ivan Kozarac, overnight stay


Day 2

09.00 – visit to Vukovar

09.30 – Tour of the Eltz castle


10.30 – War hospital museum

11.30 – Franciscan museum

12.30 – Ride on the Danube


13.30 - Lunch, recommendation: „Lola“

14.30 – 16.30 – Afternoon city tour: Zadruga Vrhunsko vukovarsko, Vukovarsko pivo, Street art


16.30 – Vučedol Culture Museum

17.30 – Tour of the Memorial house Ovčara

18.00 – Departure to Ilok

19.00 – dinner

20.00 – Tour and tasting: Wineries/Vinarija: Ivan Čobanković, Papak

Ilok, overnight stay 

Day 3

09.00 - A tour of the medieval core of Ilok: the church of St. Ivana Kapistran with the monastery, Ilok Interpretation Center, Ilok City Museum


11.00 - Tour of Ilok cellars: tasting

12.30 – Lunch, recommendation restaurant of the hotel Dunav

14.00 – Principovac


Departure to Osijek-Baranja County 

NOTE: the program is proposed in a way to visit the key attractions and experiences of Vukovar - Srijem County in 3 days. The proposed facilities can be visited for a longer, more relaxed period of time, according to the choice of the traveller.

Day 4.


16.00 Arrival in Osijek, check in Hotel Osijek 4* / Guesthouse Maksimilian 3* / Hotel Boutique Tvrđa 4* / Hostel Stara Pekara (or other)

17.30 Sightseeing of the city centre: discovering Picasso along the most beautiful river promenade in Croatia, Bridge of Youth, finding traces of Freemasonry and tour of Co- Cathedral; local craft beer tasting (Von Becker’s, Runda, Beertija, Gajba, etc.)

20.00 Dinner Crna svinja (meat), Čepin / Slavonska kuća (traditional), Osijek / Lumiere

(international, city center), Osijek / Hotel Osijek – Zimska luka restaurant (international,

city center), Osijek / Čingi lingi (traditional), Baranja-Bilje / or other 

Day 5.


8.30 Breakfast

10.00 Kopački rit Nature Park – Heart of the Danube, boat ride, interpretation centre or

boardwalk stroll,


11.00 Tikveš castle sightseeing

12.00 Visit to Asztalos Art Ceramic Atelier, Suza; option: workshop can be arranged

12.30 Discovering the typical style old wine cellars in Zmajevac village


Wine tasting and lunch, Josić winery,

14.00 Batina Battle Memorial Complex / WW II - Red Army


Sightseeing point over the Danube and three countries - Croatia, Serbia, Hungary

15:00 OPG Matijević family farm in Suza village, tasting of local products with PGI certificate,


15.45   Belje wine road in the Bansko brdo hill, rolling wine yards and the breath-taking views of southern Baranja and Osijek in the background

16.30 Arrival to Osijek, break

19.00 Sightseeing of the Tvrđa, old town

Other options for Baranja:

  • Village “museum” - Ulica zaboravljenog vremena / Street of forgotten time, Karanac


  • Lunch in Baranjska kuća in Karanac (traditional),
  • Lunch in Hotel Lug (top chef),
  • Vinarium Borarium, Zmajevac – collection of Baranja’s wine history
  • Guided hiking on Bansko brdo with “Landranje team”


  • Discovering Zlatna Greda, the forest lodge with adrenalin park and picnic site in the nature park Kopački rit,

Day 6.

Erdut-Aljmaš-Dalj area:

8.30 Breakfast


Milutin Milanković Cultural and Scientific center,

10.30 One of the family run boutique wineries / Antunović – Dalj ( , Brzica – Erdut (, Magistra – Erdut (, Siber – Erdut (, Danubio (, offers accommodation), Janečić (…


12.00 Visit to Erdut vineyards / Erdutski vinogradi, historic wine estate

Visit to Erdut tower


Lunch – OPG Etno kuća Stari dud / Zlatica Blagojević


Visit to Aljmaš – pilgrimage site, Lady of Shelter, Marian shrine since 1704 

Return to Osijek, free time


Day 7.



9.30 State stud farm Đakovo – Ivandvor,

10.30 Visiting sacral cultural heritage - Cathedral of St.Peter


State stud farm Đakovo – the stallion station, 

Lunch, departure

Optional: visit to Wine cellar of Đakovo-Osijek Archdiocese and to family-owned wineries in Trnava and Mandićevac wine area surrounding Đakovo (fantastic views!). In case of visit during spring and summer we recommend also visit to Borovik lake.

I have personal and recent experience of just how amazing eastern Croatia is on a 6-day tour. Learn more in Time to Tell the Truth about Slavonia Full of Life.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Dylan Dog in Vukovar: 35 Years of Famous Comic Series in Croatia

It’s been 35 years since Dylan Dog made his first appearance in Croatia. An exhibition dedicated to the popular comic series opens in Vukovar on December 8th, 2021


Here at TCN we’re well aware there’s plenty to see in eastern Croatia all year round. That being said, we still get an occasional surprise - it’s not every day that you see Dylan Dog and Vukovar in the same sentence.

It’s been 35 years since Dylan Dog was first introduced to Croatian readers, just one year after its first Italian edition published in 1986. It soon gained a cult following and remained massively popular in Croatia to this day. 

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the beloved comic series in these parts, an exhibition of selected illustrations and notable Croatian editions of Dylan Dog is being put up in the Vukovar Municipal Museum. 


It’s worth noting that some of the works on display feature well-known landmarks from the Croatian capital, such as the Zagreb cathedral, the Cibona tower and the iconic Džamija!

The exhibition was first displayed in Zagreb earlier this year, organized by the association Crtani Romani Šou in collaboration with the Italian Institute of Culture. It’s now heading to eastern Croatia, to the beautiful Eltz Manor that houses the Vukovar Municipal Museum. 

The exhibition opened today, December 8th. It will remain on display until January 8th, 2022 and can be visited free of charge.


Vukovar Municipal Museum

Address: Dvorac Eltz, Županijska ulica 2, Vukovar

Working hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10am to 6pm

Monday, 6 December 2021

Meet Vukovar 365, Full of Life: Lidija Azinović of Ella Design

December 6, 2021 - In our new TCN series, we meet the Vukovar businesses that are changing the landscape of the city. First up, introducing Ella Design. 

Vukovar, oh Vukovar. What comes to mind when you hear the name? Most likely war, the parade, the memorial museums. Its citizens are leaving, searching for a better life in Ireland, Germany, Austria. Fortunately, that is not all it is. It is a living breathing city, full of wonders and full of amazing people with passion and a vision for a bright future right here. The thing is, not many people realize how much potential there is in a place that is now brand new. How many smaller cities (bigger, too) can show off their refurbished baroque facades, perfectly maintained parks and greenery, strategically grown all around the city centre to allow for walks of several kilometres along the river? New infrastructure, housing, and roads? A 10-minute drive or a pleasant walk to get anywhere? An abundance of schools and kindergartens? What a dream. And yet, rarely is this a picture that is painted. There is tradition, culture, gastronomy, you name it. And with the implementation of Vukovar Card, outlined here who knows where we can go? Though the challenges are numerous, so are the advantages. 

In this edition, we will discuss business, ideas, perspectives. 

Running a small business anywhere in the world is quite a challenge. Doing so in Croatia is a slightly bigger one. Starting from scratch and running one in the east of Croatia, in Vukovar – mission impossible. Or is it? In a series of interviews, we present some excellent businesses in Vukovar. We talk to the owners to see how they are doing at the moment, the challenges they are facing, and their plans for the future. We also discuss the Vukovar Card idea with them to see what they think and if they would be willing to take part. Let their stories inspire you to visit and shop their products in Vukovar! 

Today we present Ella Design, a family-run creative design business. The owner, Lidija Azinović, is a bubbly personality with lots of stories to share and ideas to discuss. Her family's way into this was not very straightforward, but eventually, Lidija and her husband, who is now her employee, decided that it's worth pursuing a hobby if you love it.  They built a successful business selling personalised gifts such as picture frames, hanging decorations, and keychains. All their products are custom designed and made by Lidija and Kristijan in their home in Vukovar. Even though the times are quite challenging with the price of materials having gone up 100% for some, they keep a smile on their faces and a more than positive outlook with ambitious plans for the future. After our conversation, I had a sudden urge to go home and create something, start a business, be colourful, imaginative. I'm much better at writing though, so for now, I will only share what Lidija said to some of my questions:A person and person posing for a picture

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Tell us about your business - what do you do exactly? 

I am the owner of Ella Design, more specifically the brand “Mamine Ručice” (Mother’s Little Hands), and I make custom gifts for various occasions. The materials that I use include wood, MDF panels, different kinds of plywood, acrylic sheets, etc. We cut the shapes out with a CNC laser and then sand, paint, put together, and pack by hand. A picture containing text

Description automatically generated

Where did you get the idea and how did you begin? 

I got the idea when I gave birth to my little daughter Ella as I was searching for something to decorate her room. Two months later, my husband and I created our first MDF wall decor and handed it as gifts to our little friends at my son Leon’s birthday party. Back then we did not have a laser but used my father-in-law's manual CNC machine which was, you can imagine, slow and tedious. We managed to surprise our friends and family who immediately wanted to order more! And so it began.

What makes your product unique?

I think that our offer is quite unique in the sense that it is really wide-ranging and customizable. I really dove deep into the idea of setting up a business and used all the advantages that I had. We did not need to rent space since we had some spare rooms in our house. Also, I made sure that my products are available outside of Vukovar in all of Croatia. A picture containing text, indoor, different, chain

Description automatically generated

How was it setting up a business in Vukovar? What is your outlook for the future? 

I am really pleased with the way we were able to set up our business, conduct it and grow so far. The fact that our efforts are seen even outside of Croatia makes me so happy. I am looking forward to all future projects and collaborations and I think that we will soon expand our business. 

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

The fact that we are located in the east did not affect our business in any significant way. I truly believe that the things that matter for success include willpower, desire, and hard work. With these combined, success will come your way no matter the location. 

What opportunities are there in our city and region? 

The opportunities in the city, as well as the region, are numerous, with a good business plan and vision, any business owner can create an amazing story of their business. I believe that it is important to connect with the city, the county, as well as the end client. A picture containing indoor, wall

Description automatically generatedLong-term success is not about how much money you make, but about how well connected you are and how much you matter to the community. 

What is your view on other small businesses in Vukovar? 

I liaise with other business owners, I buy their products and use their services because I want to encourage them and support their work and effort. Those who really try I support through my social media accounts, I praise their effort and recommend them to my followers. They do the same for me, creating an amazing circle of positivity. I see them as my partners and not competition. 


Description automatically generated

If we were to implement the Vukovar Card, would you take part and offer our guests discounts or special packages? 

The idea is excellent! I would be more than happy to take part in order to boost the local economy and connect with other stakeholders and express our support in such a way. To make it all worth it, we would be happy to offer discounted prices of our products for the holders of Vukovar Card. 

Finally, tell us about life in Vukovar. What is it that you love the most, what would you say to all potential visitors? 

A picture containing text

Description automatically generated

I love everything about Vukovar! I love the fact that there is more to our city than war tourism and that is slowly but surely coming out to the surface. An excellent offer of restaurants, wine, museums. Vukovar is a place that is only about to reach its peak and our generation will make sure that it does soon. 

Where can we find you? 

A piece of paper with a bow

Description automatically generated with low confidence

On my Facebook page “Mamine Ručice” and my Instagram - mamine_rucice.

Welcome! Hopefully, you can find something you’ll love. 

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Smart Villages Concept Presented in Vukovar

ZAGREB, 3 Dec 2021 - A project - Smart Villages - EU Concept for the Development of Rural Communities - was presented on Friday in Vukovar, with Croatian MEP Tomislav Sokols saying that the document represents a good basis for efforts to keep young people in rural areas and halt the scaling down of the local population.

"Investing in health and education infrastructure, developing business, good management, strengthening human resources and building additional capacities in communities are required for the concept of the smart village to come to life in the full sense," said Sokol and added that this is a new concept that is supported by the EU and has already opened new prospects for Croatian villages.

According to Sokol, the Smart Villages project "will enable the development of health, education, traffic and other infrastructure throughout rural areas to make them more attractive, particularly for young people."

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković, who attended the presentation, supported the concept saying that the ministry would continue to finance social and utility infrastructure and that it has gone a step further and will request financing for agriculture infrastructure.

"There is no smart village without smart people, nor a future without young people. That is why we have increased planned support units through the 6.1.1 operational programme which is earmarked for young farmers," said Vučković.

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

Friday, 26 November 2021

Danube Full of Life: American Cruise Guests Still Visiting Vukovar

November 26, 2021 - The Dalmatian coast may be sleeping through winter, but out east it is very much the Danube Full of Life, as the river cruise ship tourists keep on comin'.

One of the most controversial aspects of tourism on the Adriatic surrounds cruise ships. With over a million passengers a year, they undoubtedly bring traffic, but at what cost? There are pros and cons to the argument, and it has been a hot topic of discussion, at least until the pandemic temporarily halted that discussion. 

But Croatia has another cruise ship sector which receives much less attention, and one which is still going today at the end of November - Danube river cruising. 



Touch history in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, as you sail along the exotic lower Danube. Celtic fortifications, medieval towns and grand cities, along with the natural beauty of pastoral landscapes and the Danube’s famed Iron Gates, showcase the best of eastern Europe. Nature lovers will relish the opportunity to see Bulgaria’s natural wonder, Belogradchik, a fairytale stone world of fantastic shapes associated with interesting legends; or to bike through Belgrade’s sprawling Kalemegdan Park. Wine connoisseurs will have a chance to taste history from the centuries-old wine-growing hills dating back to the Romans in Ilok, a royal and vinous town. Be treated to the flavors, sights, sounds and cultures of this diverse swath of the continent.

Some 60 American guests arrived in Vukovar today as part of their cruise. Three buses were waiting to take them on their excusions. And there were two choices on offer. Two buses took the tour of Vukovar, Eltz Palace and Ovcara, while one bus headed for one of the best wine tasting exepriences in Croatia, the fabulous Ilocki Podrum in Ilok. 


We visited Ilocki Podrum last week. Where else in the world can you hold wines that were served at the Queen's coronation in 1953, as well as the weddings of both Prince William and Harry? You can try them too. There are 92 bottles of the Traminac 1947 left, the wine that the Royal household served 11,000 bottles of at the coronation. A bottle of this unique wine today will set you back 55,000 kuna.


Our fearless guide from last week, Dom Butkovic, was on hand to take the American guests around Vukovar, and I am willing to bet that there are at least four bottles of rakija just outside this shot. 


Today is the last cruise of the year, but cruise ships in November show that there is plenty of life in eastern Croatia, even if few people write about and promote it. 

For more news on Vukovar, follow the dedicated TCN section.  

Friday, 26 November 2021

The Vukovar You Never Hear About: Igor on 'Dinner for 5'

November 26, 2021 - The people of Vukovar live 365 days a year, and not just on November 18. Nice to see the fabulous Vrhunsko Vukovar food and wine garden featured on RTL's popular 'Dinner for 5' show. 

One of my top finds on our recent trip east was the Vrhunsko (Excellent) Vukovarsko Cooperative Food and Wine Garden and Shop. If you were looking for a symbol of the new Vukovar, then this was it. Around 20 top producers of local products have come together to offer the finest gourmet products the region has to offer, direct from the small local producers. 

Located in the city centre on the main route of the November 18 Remembrance Day Parade, I spent quite a bit of time with the fabulous team at the shop, and it was a strange contrast sipping a glass of refreshing Grasveina as we took a break from filming as the estimated 50,000 participants walked by.  


We will be doing a LOT more on this wonderful place and the personalities who run it in the coming months, but I was very pleased to notice that the wine garden was featured on national television earlier this week on the popular RTL show, Dinner for 5. Below is the report from 24 Sata. Photos are from the cooperative's Facebook page, as I don't have permission to use the ones from the show. Great place, check it out on Facebook, and feel free to order from their online shop

Igor’s burger surprise in “Večera za 5”: The food was so greasy, it was dripping all over”

As a gift, the contestants received products from the cooperative where Igor works, which made everyone happy. As a special surprise, they sang famous Slavonian songs on karaoke.

Today's host in the Vukovar edition of “Večera za 5 na selu” was Igor, an agricultural technician, who served his guests a Black Burger, the Šokačko-srijemski Steak and Drunken Crepes. Some people didn't like the appetizer, while others loved it, the main dish was mostly well received, and the wine chateau crepes didn't sit equally well with everyone. Despite having prepared interesting dishes with a lot of effort to prepare dinner, Igor only scored 35 points and missed out on taking the lead.


He greeted his guests with plum brandy (šljivovica), pear brandy (viljamovka) and cherry liqueur and they toasted for a good dinner and even better company. "The best choice of aperitif so far, I adore viljamovka," said Marina, and the others praised the brandy. For starters, they ate burgers with black Slavonian pig bacon. Everyone liked the wine that the host served, however they had some objections to the meal. "Grease was dripping all over, I don't like it when it's too greasy," said Marina, while Nenad disagreed: "Tasty, good, juicy, greasy, yummy… I swallowed it in three bites."

The host then brought out two main dishes in one - veal steak and stuffed breaded pork steaks in a sauce, and everyone noticed how nice the plate looked.

“It's hard to describe. It was as if I had tasted a ray of sunshine, as if I had tasted a piece of paradise…, the mushrooms, the sauce… It was very, very good“, Lorena praised the main course, and Marina and Nenad found it tasty even though they found the pasta to be a bit much. “The veal steak was fine, though it could have been a little less cooked so that it preserved a little of that juice. You can tell he made an effort, so thumbs up for that”, concluded Mario.


Dessert was wine chateau crepes. Nenad especially looked forward to that because his mother used to make it for him, while Mario found that his plate was too full. “It was difficult to start eating the crepes without having the chateau overflow” he said, adding that the chateau was unfinished. The others thought it was delicious.

As a gift, the contestants received products from the cooperative where Igor works, which made everyone happy. As a special surprise, they sang famous Slavonian songs on karaoke.

Lorena and Nenad rated Igor's dinner with tens because they thought everything was great – the food, wine, ambience and the mood, while Marina and Mario were more critical - Marina didn't like the appetizer because it was too greasy, so she rated it with an eight, and Mario said, “I rate it with a seven because the appetizer was too greasy, the main course bulky, and the dessert was average.”


For more news and features about Vukovar, follow the dedicated TCN section

Page 6 of 28