Sunday, 27 November 2022

Pandemic Who? Advent in Zagreb Returns to 2019 Glory

November 27, 2022 - And so we go back in time to a pre-pandemic world, as the award-winning Advent in Zagreb returns to its former glory with last night's opening.

It is a very cosy feeling walking out of your apartment on a crisp November evening to find Christmas lights all the way down the street - a reminder somehow of a world we used to know just a few years ago. 

Walk through the imperious Tunnel Gric, whose 500m under the old town of Zagreb is steeped in history, only to find it transformed. 

Emerging from the tunnel was like entering a time warp - we had gone back in time at least three years, a world where was no pandemic, and where Advent in Zagreb was internationally accepted as one of the best Christmas markets in the world. As if to confirm this time warp, The Guardian used a photo of Zagreb for its lead picture in this week's Santa shops here: 10 of Europe’s coolest Christmas markets

It felt like we were walking into the peak season of Split or Dubrovnik. Zagreb was packed! So nice to see so many people on the streets having fun and in obvious anticipation of seeing an Advent in Zagreb as it once was. Remember that the Croatian capital was voted Best Christmas Market in Europe three years in a row from 2014-2016.

And, as the opening ceremony began, so the city came even more to life... and light.

4:30 pm Manduševac Fountain, Lighting of the first advent candle.

5:30 pm Gradec Plateau, opening ceremony.

6:30 pm Ice Park, ceremonial opening.

7:30 pm Zrinjevac, Lighting of the Christmas lights.

Advent in Zagreb has steadily grown from humble beginnings since its first branding as Advent in Zagreb in 2010 to European champion just four years later (you can learn more about the story so far in this TCN feature story, From Zero to European Champion: a History of Advent in Zagreb), until the pandemic stopped the event in its prime in 2020. Last night showed that things had returned to normal, and the huge presence on the streets showed that locals and tourists were ready to enjoy the next few weeks on the streets, parks and squares of the capital. The opening of the iconic ice rink on King Tomislav Square was perhaps the biggest symbol of a return to normality. 

And far from trying to merely emulate the Advent of old, this year's event has a very ambitious programme, and is taking Advent in Zagreb into new parts of the city for the first time. For a full guide to this year's Advent in Zagreb, including maps where things are taking place, check out the comprehensive TCN guide to the next few weeks - Advent in Zagreb 2022, Winter Fun is Back: Your Full Guide

You can also check out the official website for more details.

If you have never been to Advent in Zagreb, or if you came in the last two pandemic-restricted years and left disappointed, this is the year to try again. The atmosphere in town is magical. 

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Thursday, 10 November 2022

How Many Fines Have Been Issued for Incorrect Zagreb Waste Disposal?

November the 10th, 2022 - The rather unpopular (initially, anyway) new rules surrounding Zagreb waste disposal came into force on October the 1st. Just how many fines and warnings have been dished out to people failing to respect the new rules here in the capital?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as of December the 1st this year, there will be no more ''blue and yellow bag'' weeks, and plastic (yellow) removal will increase to once a week, announced the head of Cistoca, Davor Vic. By the end of next year, the new Zagreb waste disposal system should be fully operational across the entire capital city, he said for Vecernji TV.

He expressed his satisfaction with the speed with which the residents of Zagreb accepted the model that came into effect on the first day of October. In the first month of the new rules surrounding Zagreb waste disposal, the capital's residents produced 27 percent less mixed municipal waste, increased the separation of bio-waste by 30 percent, while plastic is 40 percent heavier in terms of weight and even more by volume.

"Even on the ground, it can be seen that there is less mixed waste in general, so the prerequisites have been created for us to shift our capacities to recyclable waste," Vic said.

For this reason, for 90,000 service users living in family homes, the removal of mixed waste will be gradually abolished from twice to just once a week. This was introduced for about 60,000 houses by Monday, and it will cover the rest as well before end of the month.

"In family houses, their charged volume is sufficient for removal once a week. But in multi-apartment buildings, where the tanks are outside, we'll reduce the removal of such waste gradually,'' he explained.

Paper, glass and especially plastic will be picked up more often after December the 1st this year. "We have about 100 critical locations from which we collect waste every night because the yellow containers are spilling things out there. In cooperation with communal wardens, we also started issuing fines, which turned out to have an effect,'' said Vic.

This can best be seen in the very centre of the city, where, despite the initial skepticism, the new model for Zagreb waste disposal worked very quickly because people recognised the advantage of not having bins lift out on the pavements. In the first month of its implementation, not many fines were issued or collected, he revealed.

"Over the past few weeks, Cistoca employees stuck warnings or thank you notes on the bins and as such let it be known that we're actually monitoring what bin users are doing. Most of the fines were written for non-compliance with communal rules, which is nothing new. It has always been stipulated that waste can't just be dumped anywhere. We immediately punish people for doing that, and after that we'll start checking what is being thrown in the rubbish containers. The punishments aren't symbolic or excessive, but they're definitely sufficient for people to correct themselves and to understand that we're doing all this for the common good," Vic said.

The focus is on the centre of Zagreb, he added, because it is quite a specific case. As in any city, the highest volume of people stay and pass through there and it is the most touristic.

A big problem, Vic added, is being caused directly by unscrupulous owners of catering and hospitality establishments who use other people's rubbish containers for their own waste.

"We're dealing with that with the municipal police, because they have to deal with their packaging in their own arrangement with Cistoca or with another company. We're in charge of taking away their municipal waste," he said. He also commented on the complaints of residents from Novi Zagreb about the unbearable stench and bad readings at the Zagreb 3 air quality measuring station.

"We haven't yet come across any parameter according to which this could be related to what we're doing at the Jakusevac landfill, because nothing has changed in our business except that we have less mixed waste. It is "business as usual" with us,'' Vic said. As a possible source of the stench, many are pointing the finger at the Zrinjevac compost plant, where biowaste from households is currently processed.

"We have impurities in bio-waste, but we separate it all first and take it to the landfill in the form of mixed waste. There's more biowaste than there was before, but it is still within the planned capacity of Zrinjevac. We constantly have inspections due to reports, but the more they come, the more they determine that we're working according to the permits and rules of the profession," emphasised Vic.

Project documentation for the biogas plant and composting plant in Novska is now also being prepared, sources of financing are being sought, and proper solutions are expected soon. Applications for landfills are still ongoing, two have been built so far, and three are in the process of being constructed.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Sunday, 6 November 2022

Advent in Zagreb 2022, Winter Fun is Back: Your Full Guide

November 6, 2022 - Festive fun is back in the Croatian capital, as the plans for Advent in Zagreb 2022 are unveiled. A return to normality and arguably the best programme yet from the 3-times best Christmas market in Europe.  

It is almost 50 years since I last got really excited about Christmas and the Advent festive period, but I felt a little tingle of nostalgia, excitement - something - as I attended the Advent in Zagreb 2022 press conference at Hotel Sheraton on Friday. 

The pandemic and other doses of bad news have done much to dampen the mood and restrict activities over the last two years, and I found myself warming to the promise of a return to the magic of winter socialising on the streets, parks, squares and courtyards of Zagreb with the forthcoming season. A sudden yearning for festive cheer began with the promotional video for this year's event.

Zagreb may have a bigger budget than other tourist boards, but there is no denying that they are superb at press conferences, everything flawlessly orchestrated, with a little touch of style. Mayor Tomasevic and Zagreb Tourist Board CEO Martina Bienenfeld were the key speakers, flanked by two important transport partners for this year's Advent - Croatia Airlines and Turkish Airlines.  

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After the press conference, participants were invited to an adjacent room at the Sheraton for a glass of wine and some nibbles, and that is when the Christmas buzz began to start - a little preview in the video below before the guests arrived en masse.  

And so to the presentation itself. What would Advent in Zagreb 2022 look like? After three glory years of being voted the best Christmas Market in Europe (2014-2016), the Croatian capital became synonymous with festive cheer, and the event grew in stature and popularity until the fateful year of... 

... but even as most other cities cancelled or severely scaled back their Advent programmes, Zagreb tried (and succeeded) to keep the tradition alive, albeit it in a more virtual and hybrid form in 2020 and 2021. 

But the good news is that Advent in Zagreb is back, in full force, to the memories of 2019 and before. These have been tough times for all, and the prospect of a jolly festive city full of life is one that I, for one, will be very much looking forward to.  

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So what can we expect this year? Firstly, the dates. Advent in Zagreb 2022 will officially open on the evening of November 26 and run until January 7. The iconic ice rink on Tomislav Square will return, and Advent will take place in more than 20 locations throughout the city, with more than 100 concerts, as well as a rich programme for kids, and a multitude of exhibitions. 

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Both the Upper and Lower Towns will be a hive of festive activity, including three new locations this year - Dr. Franjo Tudjman Square, Park Gric, and Stara Vlaska. 

Meet some of the superstar locations:

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The Ice Park on King Tomislav Square next to Advent in Zrinjevac will once more play a central - and very picturesque - role. 

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While Strossmayer Square and Ban Jelacic Square are also sure to be popular. 

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And Europe Square and the Gradec Plateau are your go-to places for foodies and Christmas scenery.  

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Head to Strossmayer Promenade for the charming 'kucice', or little wooden huts, and no Advent would be complete without a little fooling around - Fuliranje 2022 will take place on the terrace of Hotel Esplanade. 

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The official lighting of the candles on Mandusevac will take place at 17:00 on November 26, and the long-awaited opening of the ice rink will happen at 19:00, with the symbolic lighting of the lanterns on Zrinjevac at 20:00

And then let the fun begin! 

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Magical locations in both the Upper and Lower Town.

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Art and culture have always been strong pillars of Advent in Zagreb, and this year is no exception. 

Music all over the city, including Advent Classic Fest, Advent concerts of the Zagreb Chamber Orchestra, Advent concerts of Zagreb soloists, The Festival of Advent and Christmas Songs in Zagreb, Concert of "Ivan Filipovic" Chamber Choir, Evenings with Brahms, Advent under the Lantern, To Zagreb from Christmas Balconies, Advent postcards from Zagreb, and Advent at Katarinac Square.

For more on the musical component of this year's event, click here.

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Cultural highlights are to be found at Advent in the Ethnographic Museum, Advent in Vidra, Advent in Mala Scena Theatre, the Museum of Chocolate, and Advent at Dagmar's in Krlezin Grad.

For more on this year's cultural offer, click here.

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Some of the main attractions for kids can be found at the Advent in Mala scena theatre, Advent in Zagreb Zoo: Croatian Tales of Long Ago, the Museum of Chocolate, the Croatian School Museum, the Live Nativity Scene, and the Backo Mini Express - Train Museum. Some of the main attractions for kids can be found at the Advent in Mala scena theatre, Advent in Zagreb Zoo: Croatian Tales of Long Ago, the Museum of Chocolate, the Croatian School Museum, the Live Nativity Scene, and the Backo Mini Express - Train Museum. 

For more on what awaits the little ones, click here.

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(Photo Zagreb Tourist Board/D. Miloslavic)

Other events include Advent of the University of Zagreb, Project Ilica Q'Art, and the annual Zagreb Advent Run. Other events include Advent of the University of Zagreb, Project Ilica Q'Art, and the annual Zagreb Advent Run.

For an overview of other events, click here

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A key component of the success of Advent in Zagreb in recent years has been the participation of the private sector, including hotels. There is once more a strong show of support from some of Zagreb's leading hotels, who are actively taking part in this year's event. Learn more about this.

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The promotional campaign looks impressive, with a focus on countries in the region, as well as other European countries accessible by air. Promo campaigns are being conducted in Austria, Belgium, BiH, Czechia, Denmark, France, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Canada, Holland, Hungary, Norway, Germany, USA, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, and UK.

Accessibility is enhanced by Advent partnerships with Croatia Airlines, as well as a more global partnership with Turkish Airlines. In a nice gesture to the domestic market, train travel to and from Zagreb will be half-price within Croatia, and free from within Zagreb County. 

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The stage is set. Advent in Zagreb 2022 is ready for you. Are you ready to once more feel the Christmas magic? 

Follow all the latest on the official website.

For more information about the Croatian capital, check out the Total Croatia Zagreb in a Page guide

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Zagreb Advent is Coming Back in All Its Glory! Plus Three New Locations

November 5, 2022 - Zagreb's mayor Tomašević believes the city is gearing up for the best Zagreb Advent.

As Poslovni writes, this year's Zagreb Advent will be held from November 26, 2022, to January 7, 2023. Along with Tomašević, the director of the Zagreb Tourist Board, Martina Bienenfeld, participated in the presentation of this year's Advent.

Three new locations

The Dr. Franjo Tuđman Square, Park Grič, and Stara Vlaška. These are the three new locations of Zagreb Advent, which won the title of the best Advent manifestation for several years and then took place in a more modest form during the two pandemic years.

The Museum of Icons will open in the Upper Town, and a glass ball blowing workshop will be in the Museum of the City of Zagreb. The live nativity scene will most likely be located in Opatovina Park. Cultural programs will be organised in Stara Vlaška on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, while an amusement park will spring up on Franjo Tuđman Square.

Other city museums will also show off exciting schedules. The ice rink is returning to the Kralj Tomislav Square, albeit on a smaller scale. This decision was explained by mayor Tomislav Tomašević: "We will occupy less of the green areas to reconcile both the profession and the wishes of our fellow citizens." "Advent begins on November 26 and will last, together with New Year's events, until January 7, 2023, which is 43 days. The opening is scheduled for Saturday, November 26, when the first Advent candle will be lit on Ban Jelačić Square at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m., the opening of Gornji Grad locations will follow, at 7 p.m., the Ice Park will open on the Kralja Tomislav Square, and at 7:50 p.m., the lights on Zrinjevac will be lit", he said.

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Zagreb Advent Facebook

Concerts all over the city

Director of the Zagreb city Tourist Board, Martina Bienenfeld, announced that more than 100 concerts will be held in closed and open city spaces, squares and streets.

"There will be special exhibitions in museums and galleries, and we should highlight the cooperation with the HNK in Zagreb, the Croatian Chamber of Crafts, and the Zagreb Zoo, which are also preparing special programs. We are also working with Zagreb hotels and domestic and foreign transport companies and have started international promotion in 21 markets. "Zagreb Advent is one of the most important events for Zagreb and Croatian tourism, and I expect that, just like in previous years, it will contribute to the growth of tourist traffic in Zagreb," said Bienenfeld.

By the way, more than 100,000 visitors on average visit Zagreb in December, of which more than 50,000 are domestic guests.

A rich cultural and musical program at various locations in the city, detailed schedules of all programs, and current information are available on the official website of Advent in Zagreb.

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

Monday, 31 October 2022

Reflections of The Cure in Zagreb from a 53-Year-Old Fan

November 1, 2022 - My live music dreams have finally all been fulfilled after last week's visit of The Cure to Zagreb. Reflections of a 53-year-old fan.

It is a strange feeling finally going to see one of your favourite bands for over 30 years at the tender age of 53, with your two teenage kids in tow, one of them impressively dressed as a Goth and knowing more of their songs these days than I do. 

Zagreb has been very good to me musically. Back in the Eighties, I was fortunate to see many of my musical heroes in their prime: the original Sisters of Mercy on their farewell tour of 1985; a quite unforgettable 15-minute set at 1am by The Jesus and Mary Chain at the legendary Manchester Hacienda in 1984; and sneaking out of boarding school to catch Siouxsie and the Banshees in Preston the following year. 

But there were four bands and artists I still really wanted to see live decades later.  And Zagreb has delivered all four over the years. Never has the saying 'Better late than never' been more true. 

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I missed out on the Smiths in Manchester in 1986, but was compensated by Morrissey in Zagreb.  Leonard Cohen, at the age of 75, lit up the Zagreb Arena for over three hours. And when I was invited to a private audience with one other journalist to interview the man himself, Johnny Rotten, my life was almost complete. There was just one more band that I had to see to make my musical journey complete. 

If The Smiths assuaged my teenage suicidal feelings back in the mid-1980s, it was The Cure which helped me through a broken relationship 25 years ago. Disintegration, Close to You, and Pictures of You would drown out the misery I was feeling. Although he will never know who I am, Robert Smith has been a part of my life since I came across him first as the Banshees guitarist in about 1984. My Cure fest a quarter of a century ago was enhanced by my Cure-loving neighbour Darren, whose appreciation of the band pre-dated mine, and he was even a penpal of Smith in those early years, showing me some of the letters over yet one more bottle of wine. 

So long ago, and how would it be to see The Cure today, and what kind of performer was Smith today, now a sprightly 63? As I took the kids into the arena, I looked around and was struck by just how young the crowd was. A whole new generation of fans inspired by this musical genius. 

Was I perhaps too old for this concert? And when did seemingly every fan in the audience film every song rather than actually enjoy the experience? It would be great for embedding YouTube videos for this article for sure. 

I got my answer in the second song on an impressively long set (27 songs and 2 hours 35 on stage). 

Pictures of You. 

Eyes closed. Back to the pain of 1999, my darkened living room, Darren's letters. Cathartic. It had been worth the cost of the ticket in one song. Smith may have aged but he is still a great performer, and so many memories flooded back, of a former life with which I have long ago been at peace. 

One Croatian portal described the concert as something for everyone, and there was certainly a lot of variety, with the first half of the concert a lot heavier and focusing on some new songs from the long-awaited new album.

But there were plenty of older classics, augmented by superb lighting and sound effects. Spiderman is having me for dinner tonight. Lullaby was the first of the second encore, and very welcome for this old fart. Many of the songs before that were unknown to me, and I was hoping for my reminiscing with Disintegration, Just Like Heaven, Close to Me, and a host of Cure hits from when I was young. 

I need not have worried. The second encore was heaven indeed. Among the highlights. 

There was no doubt which was the most popular song of the night - The Cure anthem, Friday I'm in Love, a song known and loved by fans of all generations.

Followed by one on my bucket list - Close to Me

In Between Days - I was rolling back the years to 1985. 

And then another of my must haves, and only one of two songs I will dance to - Just Like Heaven.

And a fitting end to my career attending live concerts, to a song from a band who have helped me shed so many tears over the years - Boys Don't Cry. 

I got what I came for, and more, and looking around the arena at different generations of joy, I could see I was not alone. Magical band, well worth the 30-year wait. 

Full playlist:

1. Alone 2. Pictures of You 3. Closedown 4. A Night LIke This 5. Lovesong 6. And Nothing Is Forever 7. Cold 8. Burn 9. The Hungry Ghost 10. Push 11. Play for Today 12. A Forest 13 The Last Day of Summer 14. Shake Dog Shake 15. From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea 16. Endsong

First encore: 17. I Can Never Say Goodbye 18. Want 19. Prayers for Rain 20. One Hundred Years

Second encore : 21. Lullaby 22. The Walk 23. Friday I'm in Love 24. Close to Me 25. In Between Days 26. Just Like Heaven 27. Boys Don't Cry.

****

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

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Monday, 24 October 2022

Zagreb Traffic Special Regulation for International Crimea Platform Summit

October 24, 2022 - Today and tomorrow, the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform is taking place in Zagreb, for which the arrival and stay of a large number of presidents of parliaments and parliamentary assemblies and international organisations are expected in Zagreb and Velika Gorica. The local police are regulating Zagreb traffic.

As Index writes, the attendees will include the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, Nancy Pelosi. The President of the Ukrainian Parliament, Ruslan Stefančuk, also arrived in Zagreb and met with the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandroković on Saturday. Before the summit, at 8 pm, the Parliament organised a dinner for the delegations at the Westin Hotel. Before that, Jandroković held a series of bilateral meetings in parliament, including with Pelosi at 3 p.m.

The police announced that temporary traffic regulations will be established due to the implementation of special security measures. On this occasion, there may be an occasional short-term interruption of traffic with the presence of police officers.

A temporary ban on stopping and parking on Tuesday

In addition to the above, on Tuesday from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., a temporary ban on stopping and parking vehicles will be established in places marked with "stop - police (stop - policija)" tapes, about which the vehicle owners and tenants of the buildings in the mentioned locations have already been informed, as announced by the police.

The Zagreb Police calls on citizens, that is, all participants in road traffic, especially drivers of motor vehicles and pedestrians, for their understanding and patience during the establishment of temporary traffic regulations on the specified days.

Also, the Zagreb police call on citizens to consistently respect the instructions and orders of the policemen and the rules specified in the temporary regulation of traffic on certain roads. Traffic will be specially regulated from Zagreb Dr Franjo Tuđman Airport through Buzin, Novi Zagreb, Trnje and Centar to Gornje grad.

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

Monday, 17 October 2022

Zagreb Tourfilm Festival Returns, Spain Triumphs in Strong International Field

Zagreb, October 17, 2022 - After two years of being held virtually due to the coronavirus, the favorite autumn festival returned to the big screen this week. The 11th Zagreb Tour Film Festival, which promotes audiovisual production and tourism, began on Wednesday, October 12, with a ceremonial opening at the Kaptol Boutique Cinema. Numerous visitors had the opportunity to watch top films from the world of tourist films, participate in tastings and city tours, and last night awards were given to the best tourist films!

The international tourist film festival - the 11th Zagreb Tour Film Festival - began on Wednesday, October 12, with the opening ceremony at the Kaptol Boutique Cinema. Organized by Balduči Film and the Zagreb Tourist Board and under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia Zoran Milanović, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Croatian Tourist Board, the festival returned to the big screen after two years of virtual holding due to the coronavirus, and the selected program met with positive reactions from the audience. among which were many famous Croats, tourism workers, media representatives and other numerous guests.

11th ZAGREB TOURFILM FESTIVAL from 12th -15th October, 2022 from ZAGREB TOURFILM FESTIVAL on Vimeo.

"This year's edition of the Zagreb TourFilm Festival meant a lot to us, especially after two pandemic years that significantly changed the trends in tourism. As many as 106 films were submitted to the Festival, of which 32 were tourist films from Croatia, which is the largest number ever. We are also pleased that we have films submitted from 29 countries around the world, from exotic destinations such as Fiji, Madagascar, Uganda, Australia, Japan and Iceland" - said Spomenka Saraga, director of the Zagreb TourFilm Festival, announcing the winners. Tourist reportages, documentaries and vlogs competing for prizes in the mentioned categories and the Grand Prix for the best film of the Festival will be specially evaluated.

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The second day of the festival was marked by free film screenings for all interested citizens, who had the opportunity to watch the best domestic, European and world tourist films at the Kaptol Boutique Cinema from 15:00 to 18:00. Foreign visitors were introduced to the magical Zagreb with a tourist guide, Josip Siklić, better known as Purgerica, who revealed to them several seductive faces of the Croatian capital - the one mysteriously filled with legends and stories, medieval, wacky and humorous.

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In addition to the rich film and tourist program, accompanying activities were also prepared for festival guests, such as a tasting workshop that showed how wine and extra virgin olive oil are the perfect accompaniment to film art and tourism. In partnership with the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival and the ART&TUR Tourism Film Festival and the support of the Tourist Board of the Istrian County and Vinistra - the association for viticulture and winemaking of Istria, a workshop with wine and olive oil tastings from Portugal and Croatia was held.

Portuguese sommelier Bebiana Monteiro, professor at the Polytechnic of Porto, presented three wines from Bairrada: Aliança (sparkling), São Domingos (white) and Messias (red). Regarding olive oils, three olive oils stood out: Azeite Fátima and Cabeço das Nogueiras (Premium Cobrançosa and Premium Cornicabra) from Sociedade Agrícola Ouro Vegetal, from Abrantes.

Istrians, sommelier Emil Perdec and Ivan Marić director of Vinistra, presented sparkling wine Festigia Blanc de Moi Vintage Brut, Vina Laguna from Poreč, dry Malvasia Santa Lucia from 2017, Kozlović wine from Momjan and Teran Il Primo from 2018, Fakin wine from Motovun and olive oil - Ipša Istarska Bjelica 2022 from Livada, Meneghetti's selection Buža 2021 from Bala and Salvela Aurum blend from 2021 from Vodnjan.

Given that this tasting workshop was a success and has great cultural significance for both countries, sommeliers Bebiana Monteiro and Emil Perdec will repeat this event, with the same wines and olive oil, on October 25 and 26 in Ourém, during the 15 ART&TUR Festival. This cultural bridge between Croatia and Portugal has the technical and scientific mentoring of the Portuguese team as part of the European Olive4All project, which aims to preserve and promote the olive heritage.

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The guests of the festival also visited the most famous medieval fortress in Zagreb, which shone in its full splendor last year after a major renovation and became even more attractive to visit. For years, the Medvedgrad fortress was a favorite meeting place and location for summer film and music festivals, and now it is possible to discover its interior through the Medvedgrad Visitor Center. The restored walls delighted visitors, as well as the impressive center and one of the most beautiful views of the Croatian metropolis.

The well-coordinated team of Balduči Film and the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb ensure that the gathering of the world's best filmmakers, top experts on tourism and the audience goes perfectly. "This year, we have prepared for the guests of the Festival a superb tourist experience and a tour of the city, with great tastings, but above all phenomenal films. The audience thus had the opportunity to enjoy the best tourist films in the world that talked about various types of attractiveness. The best ones tonight were chosen by relevant domestic and international experts, led by the president of the jury, Boško Grubić (Bobby), an Emmy award winner," said Saraga, director of Balduči Film and the Zagreb Tour Film Festival.

The Zagreb TourFilm Festival has been supported by numerous media sponsors for years, and this year we were joined by our academic partner Edward Bernays University College and the gold sponsors of the festival Podrumi Kolar and Chic IB bags leather goods.

The Grand Prix was won by Spain!

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At the gala dinner at the Esplanade Hotel Zagreb, where the participants of the three-day gathering of filmmakers and tourism experts, professionals dealing with this, one of the most lucrative branches of the economy, and lovers of attractive destinations gathered, awards were presented to the best films as judged by an expert jury, namely:

GRAND PRIX – for the best film of the festival
NO JOY IN LIFE IS SMALL, Spain

No Joy In Life Is Small.mp4 from Filmservice International on Vimeo.

The best tourist film in the category TOURIST DESTINATION - city

1st place TIME SWITCH AVEIRO, Portugal

2nd place 10 PLANS TO LIVE MADRID, Spain

3rd place CANNES IS STILL STANDING, France

The best tourist film in the category TOURIST DESTINATION - region

1st place NO JOY IN LIFE IS SMALL, Spain

2nd place LOVE RIAS BAIXAS. A LOVE STORY WITH THE PROVINCE OF PONTEVEDRA, Portugal

3rd place JUST BETWEEN US, Portugal

The best tourist in the category TOURIST DESTINATION, country

1st place EXPERIENCE A WORLD BEYOND, Qatar

2nd place THE NAMELESS CALL – INSIDE COSTA RICA, Italy

3rd place (shared) EXPLORE UGANDA – THE PEARL OF AFRICA, Uganda

3rd place (shared) INTRODUCING THE ICELANDVERSE, Iceland

In the TOURIST PRODUCT category

The best Wellness & Spa travel film

LITHUANIA. FIND YOUR SAUNA SELF, Lithuania

The best Gastro film

WORLD PAELLA DAY, Spain

The best heritage presentation film

CROATIA: THE INTANGIBLE HERITAGE, Croatia

The best event Film

WHY CHOOSE PORTO & NORTH OF PORTUGAL FOR YOUR EVENT? The Majestic Adventures of Ofelia de Souza, Portugal

The best film about wine tourism, Croatia

A TASTE ABOVE, Croatia

Best film - Hotel and Resort

HOTEL BOHINJ – MEET YOUR SPIRIT, Slovenia

Special award - Cultural tourism

BOL & CULTURE, Croatia

In the category BEST TOURIST FILM and TV REPORT

Best documentary film

1st place THE HOUSES OF LIGHT, Croatia

2nd place NATURE WITHOUT BORDERS, Slovenia

3rd place MAMODY, THE LAST BAOBAB DIGGER

Special jury award - Ethnography and society

LILANJE IN LOZNICA, Serbia

The best environmental film

FOREST RIVERS, Poland

The best TV reportage

IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE I'M FROM, Serbia

In the category the best CROATIAN TOURIST FILM

Tourist destination - city

MEET. FEEL. EXPLORE. ZADAR, Croatia

Tourist destination - region

AUTHENTIC ISTRIA – GOOD MOOD/GOOD FOOD, Croatia

In the category TOURIST COMMUNICATION, advertising

UTOPIA, Greece

The best video blog - vlog

1st place JORDAN, Croatia

2nd place THE REAL EGYPT, Croatia

This year, the STUDENT'S CHOICE AWARD awarded by a student jury composed of students from Edward Bernays University College - an academic partner of the festival, went to BUDAPEST MICE image film, Hungary.

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You can watch some of the selected films here.

 

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Next Stop Zadar! 50+ Attendees at TCN/AVG Returnee Reflections Night

October 12, 2022 - The inaugural TCN/AVG Croatian Returnee Reflections night took place in Zagreb last night. It will be the first of many. 

Things are changing.

Slowly. 

But I can feel it.

It is still a trickle, but the diaspora is starting to return to the Homeland.

A younger generation, not blinded by politics and Communism conspiracy theories, but rather enthused with love of their roots and with an entrepreneurial spirit. 

And this whole thing escalated VERY quickly. 

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One month ago, I posted a status on Facebook and LinkedIn. I have always had lots of email from the Croatian diaspora over the years, but it has increased considerably this year. My haters still send in their abuse and occasional death threats, but less so. I do miss their love though - does anyone have a better epitaph on their tombstone than me? 'Tito cock-sucking British Jew writing fluff to humanise mass murderers in the Jewish style when socially engineering a people for ruin.'

But the increased email activity is coming from returnees, both actual and wannabes. More and more people are getting in touch to tell me about their experiences returning to the Homeland and giving it a try. And even more telling me how they would like to return but there is so little information. 

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And so a month ago, I posted that I would be happy to do interviews with any returnee who wanted to share their experiences. I was stunned by what happened next. No less than 63 returnees contacted me, all wanting to share their story. Not all were positive experiences, but I agreed to publish them all, good and bad, to give those thinking of returning a better overall picture. The Croatian Returnee Reflections series has been the most interesting thing on TCN in recent weeks, and you can follow it in the dedicated section here

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A few days ago, another returnee called Marija Franic contacted me on LinkedIn to ask if we could organise a returnee event, so that people could meet, exchange experiences, and network. I tested the idea on social media and invited those who had done interviews for the series and lived in Zagreb. The response was very positive, and Sime Lisica from Bibinje via Sydney also got involved. And so the concept of TCN/AVG Croatian Returnee Reflections Nights was born, the first of which took place at the fabulous Swanky Monkey Garden in Zagreb last night. 

Am very grateful to our named speakers for sharing their stories - Eugene Brcic Jones, Andrian Juric, Maria Pokrivka, and Sime Lisica - as well as about 10 others who stood up to share their stories. 

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I think many were surprised at just how many returnees showed up, and I also think that people are slowly beginning to see that there are a growing number of returnees bringing their positive mindset. 

It is time to connect them, to tell their stories, and to show those thinking of making the move that - as flawed as Croatia undoubtedly is - the benefits outweigh the problems. Not for everyone, as Croatia full-time is most certainly not for everyone, but for many. 

It was a wonderful evening of new connections, heartwarming stories, and lots of laughs, and one which we agreed we would repeat soon. 

Sime has agreed to work with me on this, and we will start to organise regular TCN/AVG Croatian Returnee Reflections Nights all over the country in the coming 12 months. We will do one more in Zagreb next month, then Zadar is next on the list, as there seems to be a growing returnee community there. We plan to do this in December when I visit Zadar for the book promotion event for Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners, which is out now on Amazon.

I will create a TCN/AVG Returnee Networking Facebook Group in the coming days to see if we can find ways to better connect and get the story out. Additionally, with the imminent relaunch of TCN, the online magazine with news, we will have a big section on How to Return. This will be full of practical advice as well as real experiences. If anyone wants to help me with this, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Returnee Help. 

Thanks to all who came last night. I think we took the first step in what could be an incredibly interesting journey. 

If you would like to share your returnee experience, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Returnee

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What's it like living in Croatia, and where can you get the best survival tips? TCN CEO Paul Bradbury and TCN Editor Lauren Simmonds have teamed up to publish Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners - out now on Amazon.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 10 October 2022

Ultimate Guide to New Zagreb Waste Management Rules

October 10, 2022 - If you've spent any time consuming Croatian media, you must've noticed the now infamous word "vrećica". What does it have to do with Zagreb waste management?

You'd be excused if you thought that vrećica had something to do with the global climate crisis that is gonna get the rest of us, not already fallen victims to global pandemics or the dictators occupying neighboring countries while wielding nuclear weapons. But no, let me put your mind to ease, it only means "baggie". For the last month or so, specifically, referring to the garbage disposal baggies, which became emblematic of the new system of waste management introduced in Zagreb at the end of September.

The rationale is obvious: we buy more and more stuff, the stuff we buy is packaged in more and more (mostly) plastic and, generally speaking, there is more and more of us (not in Croatia, as the recent census has shown, but in Zagreb, the number of inhabitants is still managing to grow). And it's a worldwide problem, I don't know that there are any cities in the world where the waste management is handled perfectly. There are (partial) successes and failures; if you live in any city you probably heard about the Swiss or the Tokyo model of dealing with that particular problem that's not going anywhere.

In Zagreb, there's one landfill, Jakuševac. It has been in horrible condition for as long as I can remember (and I've lived in Zagreb for my entire life, which is not... short). The former mayor promised and promised that it would get "remediated", which is a phrase that got repeated so many times I don't think anyone even knows what it means and what would happen to our garbage after that. One of the ways his administration started dealing with so much waste created by the people of the city was to put many (MANY) recycling bins for paper, plastics and biodegradable materials everywhere. So, every building and house in Zagreb got some of those. Let's take an example of my small building, 2 km north of Ilica (so, not really in the suburbs): we have two wheely bins for mixed communal waste ("miješani komunalni otpad", abbreviated to MKO, which is the abbreviation I'm gonna continue using in this article), a bin for paper and bio-waste each and we're supposed to put our plastics somewhere to be picked once every two weeks in yellow bags. It's been like that for years, the last major change was that the frequency of pick-up for plastics and paper was reduced during the pandemic and never returned to the pre-pandemic state.

So, we all had the possibility to separate our MKO from the plastics and biodegradables for a while now, and the yellow bags for plastics and brown ones for bio stuff was (semi-)regularly distributed to each household in Zagreb. There are also numerous "reciklažna dvorišta" (recycling centres of yards) located all over the city, where you can take just about any type of waste to be disposed of for free, as well as the so-called "green islands", communal bins for plastic, paper, glass, textiles, which have been notoriously under-managed and unkept by the city, which is something that will hopefully change soon. 

This article will not get into the nitty-gritty of how the global recycling of plastics has gotten to an abrupt halt, nor about the fact the facilities for the treatment of the biodegradable waste in Zagreb are nowhere near the capacity needed to process what was being produced annually by the city's inhabitants. What has changed for the people of Zagreb as of October 1st is mostly as follows: 

- most of the wheelie bins for MKO, paper and biodegradable waste have been removed from the streets in the center of the city. I have to say that the "center" is defined very loosely, and there are complaints about that being done in some places and not in others, but that's a constant in this saga: there are non-stop complaints about every single decision here. People living in the center have to put their MKO in their "blue bags" in front of their buildings, each day between 8 and 10 pm if they want them to be removed, and wheel out the paper/bio bins on scheduled days to be emptied;

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- the infamous "vrećice": all of the mixed communal waste, meaning stuff you produce minus the recyclables should be disposed of exclusively in the blue bags, sold by the city in all major stores. They're made in three sizes, 10, 20 and 40 litres, they're sturdy, they're not cheap (2, 4 and 8 kuna apiece, respectively) and there's a whole legal argument about the legality of how they're sold, procured etc (look at the previous point if you forgot about the favorite Croatian national sport: complaining). So, in addition to paying a fixed fee for waste management (currently at 45 kuna a month), you basically pay for the bags, which means that you pay for the amount of MKO you produce and dispose of. The more you recycle, the smaller amount of blue bags you'll need, in theory. Then, you either put them in front of your building (if you're in the center), or drop them in your still-existent wheelie bins in front of your house/building. You already see the problem: people here are not really good at following rules. They will throw their garbage in regular, non-blue-and-city-approved bags in their trash, so we were warned that there would be fines. Of course, the first thing you think of then is "I will just throw it in someone else's trash", which leads just about everyone to talk about locking/securing their wheelie bins in various ways, and some buildings have already done that, some plan to, and some just stick to the idea that it's completely unimaginable that an apartment complex could be fined for something there's no proof any of them have actually done.

For a while now, there has been a shortage of the blue vrećice in Zagreb supermarkets, especially the smallest, 10l ones, which is what most households are expected to use after learning to separate their waste. I'm sure the dust will eventually settle, and we'll collectively learn to separate our trash (it's really not that difficult or demanding; I've been doing it for at least 10 years and I don't feel like it's a bit inconvenience for my way of life) and then maybe we'll be able to turn to the more important stuff in our lives than Zagreb waste management.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Fines For Failing to Separate Zagreb Waste as of 1 October Revealed

September the 28th, 2022 - The fine amounts for those who fail to separate their Zagreb waste as of the 1st of next month when the new system comes into force have now been revealed.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as of October the 1st this year, a new system for the separation and disposal of Zagreb waste will finally be launched, which is a new way of municipal waste collection service spanning the area of ​​the City of Zagreb.

The move has been made because of two main things, namely that the city's problematic waste containers will finally be under the control of their users and that a system will be introduced that encourages users to separate their waste, and then they'll only pay for the amount of mixed municipal waste that they actually produces, Davor Vic, the director of Zagreb's Cistoca, said for Dobro jutro, Hrvatska/ Good morning, Croatia.

"With the appearance of official, standardised bags in stores, counterfeit bags have now also appeared. Creating these was a criminal act," he emphasised, adding that the original bag has been protected. When asked how it will be possible to get the yellow bags intended for separating plastic and metal, Vic said that they will continue to be available as they have been until now. The distribution of new bags will start in October, and people can also come to Zagreb Holding on Vukovarska (Vukovar street), where they can pick up these bags for themselves, as well as buy the new standardised blue ones.

What will the fines for the improper disposal and separation of Zagreb waste under the new rules amount to?

When asked what the fines will be for people who don't behave in accordance with this new decision, Vic said that the fines will be 500 kuna for individuals and 1,000 kuna for legal entities, adding that the City of Zagreb has created a price list of services where the relationship between the minimum public service and the variable part is high. This relationship must encourage users to properly separate their waste.

"The more people separate their waste, the lower their bills will be. Today's system doesn't encourage this at all and we expect that we'll manage to reach the required percentages so that people don't need to pay fines,'' he pointed out in an interview with HRT, emphasising that discounts are being provided in the form of additional bags that won't come at a cost for people who need to dispose of diapers, as well as for households with small children up to three years old. More detailed information about this can be found on Zagreb Holding's website.

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

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