Monday, 30 May 2022

Sosice Visitor Centre, Latest Addition to Zumberak Nature Park Near Zagreb

May 30, 2022 - Good things are happening in Zumberak Nature Park, with the Sosice Visitor Centre the latest addition to this idyllic day trip from Zagreb.  

It was only after moving to Zagreb that I realised just what a wealth of tourism options lay around the city. Zagreb County has a fantastic mix of nature, adventure tourism, heritage and gastronomy, with several great day trips for those looking to explore. The Around Zagreb website has proven a great success in the last couple of years, connecting the city to the tourism of its green surroundings. 

One area I have enjoyed getting to know a little better is Zumberak Nature Park, yet one more slice of Croatian natural goodness, just a short drive from Zagreb. With over 300 km of bike routes, 350 km of hiking routes, a protected cultural landscape, more than 20% of Croatia's entire flora, more than 34 archaeological sites, and several traditional villages more than 800 metres above sea level, there is a lot to explore in this very under-visited region. 


Longtime followers of TCN may recall my first visit to Zumberak a couple of years ago, transporting the first free-range wagyu cows to the eco-village of Tihocaj, high in the Zumberak hills. The four black Japanese cows were the first cows in the village for 40 years, and they certainly enjoyed their immense freedom and natural surroundings. You can read more about that project here


The arrival of the cows (who now number 9) are perhaps symbolic of the rebirth of Zaumberak, which is undergoing something of a renaissance, after a slow and gradual decline.  The village of Tihocaj, for example, has just one inhabitant compared to about 40 more than 50 years ago - a 96-year-old lady whose house and vegetable plot are next to the field with the cows (pictured above with visitors from last year's Zagreb Digital Nomad Week to Tihocaj). 


However, a local entrepreneur is busy breathing life into the village by renovating many of the houses and turning it into an eco-farm. It is an investment which is being mirrored elsewhere in Zumberak, with the latest 30 million kuna investment officially opened a few weeks ago - the Sosice Visitor Centre.   


The centre, which was officially opened on April 11, breathes a little more life into the park, offering facilities hitherto unavailable. Among the various things on offer, Sosice Visitor Centre boasts a cafe and restaurant, as well as accommodation with 28 beds for hikers and cyclists  who want to spend the night in the park. The interactive info centre, outdoor stage and amphitheatre, as well as outdoor children's playing area.


The aim of the project is to improve and enrich the offer of the Park with multimedia tools, as well as to enable the implementation of a school in nature for children and volunteer activities. The offer of the Park has been expanded with the purchase of electric bicycles that can be rented, and new educational boards and educational trails have been set up throughout the Park.


The total investment of 30 million was largely co-financed by EU funds from the Operational Program Competitiveness and Cohesion, while the rest was co-financed by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund with HRK 4 million and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development through Joint Parks Funds with HRK 2.3 million.


"This is the largest investment in the area of ​​Zumberak ever. In the future, we expect that several thousand students will visit us annually, who will introduce us to the values ​​and history of this area through educational programs, as well as several thousand volunteers and about 10 thousand visitors," said the director of the Zumberak Nature Park, Kristijan Brkic.


On behalf of the County, the opening ceremony of the Visitors' Center was attended by Deputy Prefect Damir Tomljenovic and President of the County Assembly Martina Glasnovic.

"Over the last 20 years, the number of inhabitants in this area has halved, from 1,200 to about 600, so we hope that this valuable investment will succeed in revitalizing this area," said Tomljenovic, adding that the County has invested in paving roads in Zumberak.

You can learn more about the new Sosice Visitor Centre on the dedicated project website.

And once you have explored Zumberak's wonderful nature, head to nearby Samobor for some culinary delights - Samobor, a Culinary Day Trip Treat from Zagreb with Much More than Kremsnita.

Friday, 28 January 2022

PHOTOS: Snowy Riversides and Magical Mountains of Croatia in January 2022

January 28, 2022 – The snowy riversides and magical mountains of Croatia in January 2022 show a spectacular and all-natural winter wonderland.

Snow finally stuck to the streets of central Zagreb for a couple of days this week. Early morning temperatures dropped to the lowest yet of this winter. Despite the chill, clear skies and sunshine days were enough to see the snow soon melt away.

But, far from the city, the snowy riversides and magical mountains of Croatia in January 2022 have kept their white blanket for longer. These all-natural landscapes look epic after the snowfall. For winter walkers and climbers – or even just lovers of photography – these images are way more spectacular than the bright lights and theatre of the Advent season.

Let's take a closer look at the winter wonderland of snowy riversides and magical mountains of Croatia in January 2022.
Gorski Kotar
Delnice, Lokve, Fužine, Stara Sušica, Ravna Gora

261435205_280374700697029_6373214118916472871_n.jpg© Turistička zajednica Gorskog kotara

Delnice2345678.jpg© Turistička zajednica Gorskog kotara

Vladimir_Franolić.jpgFrom above, Dvorac Stara Sušica © Vladimir Franolić

GorskiBranko_Lautar_Višnja_Bolf.jpg© Branko Lautar & Višnja Bolf

Gorski_Fužine_Jezero_Bajer_Marino_Kirinčić.jpgJezero Bajer near Fužine © Marino Kirinčić

GorskiGorskiBranko_Lautar_Višnja_Bolfrtghbn.jpg© Branko Lautar & Višnja Bolf

Japlenški_vrh_Forest_Park_Delnicedfghjmn.jpg© Turistička zajednica Gorskog kotara

GorskiBranko_Lautar_Višnja_Bolfsdfghjmn.jpgAnother view of Dvorac Stara Sušica © Branko Lautar & Višnja Bolf

Risnjak National Park and Snježnik Hrvatski

Risnjak.jpg© Risnjak National Park

Snježnik_hrvatskiĆuća-Žentil.jpgSnježnik hrvatski © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Snježnik_hrvatskiĆuća-Žentildfgbhn.jpgSnježnik hrvatski © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Snježnik_hrvatskiĆuća-Žentildfghbn.jpgSnježnik hrvatski © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Snježnik_hrvatskiĆuća-Žentilfgt.jpgSnježnik hrvatski © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Snježnik_hrvatskiĆuća-Žentilftgyh.jpgSnježnik hrvatski © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Snježnik_hrvatskiĆuća-Žentilgfyhn.jpgSnježnik hrvatski © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Snježnik_hrvatskiĆuća-Žentilrftgvb.jpgSnježnik hrvatski © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

For more about Risnjak National Park, look here

Northern Velebit National Park

VelebitNPDejan_Delač.jpg© Dejan Delač

VelebitNPDejan_Delač4rtgh.jpg© Dejan Delač

VelebitNPVedran_Katalinić.jpg© Vedran Katalinić

For more about Northern Velebit National Park, look here

Velebit Nature Park

Ljubičko_BrdoIvan_Cuca-Zentilxdfghnm.jpgLjubičko Brdo © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Ljubičko_BrdoIvan_Cuca-Zentilrtyh.jpgLjubičko Brdo © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Ljubičko_BrdoIvan_Cuca-Zentildrtyhgbn.jpgLjubičko Brdo © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Ljubičko_BrdoIvan_Cuca-Zentil.jpgLjubičko Brdo © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Ljubičko_BrdoIvan_Cuca-Zentilrf.jpgLjubičko Brdo © Ivan Ćuća-Žentil

Paklenica National Park

PaklenicaMario_Jurina.jpg© Mario Jurina

BojinacPaklenicIvanCoric.jpgBojinac © Ivan Coric Photography

BojinacPaklenicIvanCoricedfgvb.jpgBojinac © Ivan Coric Photography

For more about Paklenica National Park, look here

Kloštar Podravski, Podravina and Koprivnica-Križevci County

IvanN.jpg© Ivan Nemet

IvanN4rfghjn.jpg© Ivan Nemet

IvanN1234.jpg© Ivan Nemet

IvanNdfghjmk.jpg© Ivan Nemet

IvanNt5yhj.jpg© Ivan Nemet

IvanNtghb.jpg© Ivan Nemet

IvanNtyuhjnjk.jpg© Ivan Nemet

IvanNtgh.jpg© Ivan Nemet

IvanNsdfghjkm.jpg© Ivan Nemet

For more about the Drava river in Koprivnica-Križevci County look here. For more about the area of Podravina containing Kloštar Podravski and Đurđevac, look here

Slavonski Brod

BrodMirna_Šikić.jpg© Mirna Šikić

Oriovac_na_ribnjacima_Slavonski_BrodAntun_Lukšić.jpgThe wetlands and ponds in Oriovac near Slavonski Brod are not only home to fish - over 50 species of birds visit these waters © Antun Lukšić

For more about Slavonski Brod, look here

Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje Nature Park

ZumerakSvetiGeraDomagoj_Novosel.jpgThe high peak of Sveti Gera, on the western edge of Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje Nature Park © Domagoj Novosel

The author would like to thank each of the photographers who kindly loaned their work to him for this article

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Unique Gourmet Experience: 1st Croatian Free-Range Wagyu Holstein Beef Tasting

January 9, 2022 - Calling all gourmet lovers looking for a unique experience - a tasting dinner of the first free-range Wagyu Holstein beef in Croatia. 

One of the things I love most about TCN is that this 'job' gives me access to all areas of Croatian society and the characters one finds therein. 

And there are some truly crazy characters...

I first met celebrated Varazdinske Toplice restaurateur Nikola Bozic over a dinner of very fine wine and very fine tripe in a Zagreb basement as a guest of Taste Atlas founder Matija Babic about 7 years ago. By chance, the other guest that night was Davorin Stetner, who plays a key part in this story years later. 


Nikola invited me for dinner at his excellent meat restaurant, Djurina Hiza, back in 2016 - and a very fine dinner ensued - but it was only when I returned to Hiza with the legend that is Croatian gourmet blogger Ribafish that Nikola and I started to really click.  

Things moved quickly after that, despite the global pandemic of 2020. As Croatia locked down and restaurants were forced to lay off staff, Nikola Bozic was the only restaurateur in the county to expand his business. Having understood that the customer could not come to the restaurant, he decided to bring the restaurant to them by setting up a national delivery service of his steaks, burgers and other selected products. 

It was a huge hit. 

I am not sure how, but on the day when Europe opened its internal borders on June 15, 2021, I found myself in the passenger seat of his car, which was filled with his fine gourmet products, and on the road to Brussels via Munich and Luxemburg. The European distribution of quality Croatian products had begun. 

During that trip, I learned to expect the unexpected from Nikola, and so when he called and asked if I wanted a fun day out transporting four Wagyu Holstein cows from Medjimurje to Zumberak Nature Park, I knew that there would be at least three great stories involved, as well as a fabulous day out. 


And so it proved. Read more in Medjimurje to Zumberak: Transporting Croatia's 1st Free-Range Wagyu Cows.

And there we were, reunited with our 2015 tripe dining partner, Davorin Stetner, whose project to create an eco-village in Tihocaj is truly phenomenal.


Time passed, and the four cows became seven, with the addition of three little ones and three more on the way.

And the time has now come for the first-ever tasting of the first free-range Wagyu Holstein beef in Croatia, a very limited and exclusive dinner for a maximum of 20 people, to be held next month at Djurina Hiza in Varazdinske Toplice. 

The details... (video intro by Nikola in Croatia, before the haircut)

Planned date - Friday, February 18. 

Number of places - 20.

Number of courses, with wine - 4 (burger, steak, low and slow).

Price per person - contact Nikola on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 098/9562435

If you can't make the dinner, but would like to try the first free-range Wagyu Holstein beef in Croatia, Nikola has prepared an offer for both steaks and burgers, so contact him directly.

1 kilo of steak.


Pack of 5 burgers (180 gram each). 

To be continued... 

Read more in Nikola Bozic: Wagyu Beef, Burger Champion, Varazdin Street Food Artist.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Žumberak Samobor Protected by Zagreb County TZ via Sustainable Tourism

September 5, 2021 – In a series of spectacular new photos, we see this vast, beautiful park and learn of Zagreb County Tourist Board's efforts to balance preserving nature, improving the park's visitor offer and implementing development necessary for the quality of life of the local population, via sustainable tourism and the EU-sponsored Pronacul project.

Žumberačka_polja.jpg© J. Škof

For residents of Zagreb County, City of Zagreb and their visitors, the most convenient thing about Žumberak Samobor Mountains Nature Park is that it's right on your doorstep. Less than 90 minutes drive to the west of the Croatian capital, it's an easy escape into a spectacular natural landscape; epic, rolling hills, gushing waterfalls and streams beside which historic water mills lie.

Mlin.jpg© J. Škof

It's the perfect place to go to free yourself of the noise, pressure and stress of life in the city. Particularly if you love hiking or cycling. There are 300 kilometres of cycling routes and 350 kilometres of hiking trails through Žumberak Samobor Mountains Nature Park. That's plenty to explore.

Miroslav2.JPG© Miroslav Vajdić

In total, a vast 342m2 of beautiful rural landscape is protected as a Nature Park. Partly, what makes Žumberak Samobor Mountains area so charming is that it is a topography that has been moulded by its inhabitants. Their agricultural efforts can be traced in the lines of fields, the dry stone walls, the crops, animals and produce found here. Their piety is the reason for the rich wealth of historic sacral buildings you can visit in the park.

Miroslav3.JPG© Miroslav Vajdić

But, this is an area that has undergone extreme population decline over recent decades. In fact, the park area is one of the least densely populated places in Croatia. The agricultural endeavours that helped shaped this pretty place are nowhere near as popular as they once were. However, the park is still inhabited. Traditional life can still be seen in Žumberak Samobor Mountains.

Miroslav.JPG© Miroslav Vajdić

One of the best ways to preserve this beautiful Nature Park, the lifestyles and endeavours of those who live there, is to receive visitors. Visiting such thrilling epic nature is so rewarding in itself, its strange to think that just be being there you're helping to preserve it.

Pronacul: Balancing Tourism, Development and Preservation of Nature

Staza_na_Žumberku.jpg© J. Škof

Žumberak Samobor Mountains Nature Park and Zagreb County Tourist Board have long been working to balance 1) the preservation of the protected area, 2) increasing and improving the park's visitor offer and 3) implementing development necessary for the quality of life of the local population.

It is to that end that Zagreb County Tourism Board have submitted Žumberak Samobor Mountains Nature Park to join the EU-sponsored Pronacul project. Joining partners in Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Serbia and Bosnia in the scheme, Pronacul's key aim is the promotion of natural and cultural heritage and the development of sustainable tourism in protected areas. The total value of the project is 1.770.348,98 EUR.


For more ideas of great places to visit and great things to do in Zagreb County, be sure to read our dedicated pages here

Thursday, 11 February 2021

PHOTOS: Outstanding Contemporary Croatian Architecture of the Year

February 10, 2021 – 10 of the most outstanding examples of contemporary Croatian architecture have been selected by the Association of Croatian Architects to compete in the extremely prestigious Mies van der Rohe Awards. Held only once every two years, they are the European equivalent of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture.

The Mies van der Rohe Awards are a really big deal. The greatest works of European architecture compete for recognition in the competition. The greatest success of Croatian architecture in the awards was attained by UP studios' Toma Plejić and Lea Pelivan, who received a special award for upcoming architects and had their high school in Koprivnica named the best building in that category in 2009. The success has had a considerable impact on their careers since.

Being held only once every two years, Croatian architecture projects completed since the closure of entries for the 2019 awards are eligible to be submitted. Here are the outstanding examples of contemporary Croatian architecture that will represent the country in 2022.

Cinema Urania Zagreb

An old neighbourhood cinema built into the back streets near Kvatric. In their redesign, 3LHD preserved the best features from this early example of concrete engineering in Croatian architecture. They added a glass pavilion at the entrance, atriums and skylights, flooding the former darkness with the natural light needed for its new purpose as an event and work space.

3LHD_264_Urania_photo_by_Jure_Zivkovic_622355555555.jpg© Jure Živković

Grand Park Hotel, Rovinj

Sprawling widely across six stepped levels, the new luxury Grand Park Hotel and spa could easily have looked a long swipe of concrete. But, by places greenery on each of its staged roofs, architects 3LHD have ensured that no matter where you are in the 500-guest-capacity building, your view places you within a garden, looking out onto Rovinj Old Town and the expanse of the Adriatic. Croatian architecture at its most breathtaking.

Grand_Park_Hotel_Rovinj43333.jpg© Alukoenigstahl hr
Ivanja Reka Elementary School, south Sesvete, east Zagreb

If every elementary school looked as pretty and was as well equipped as Ivanja Reka Elementary School in the south of Sesvete, eastern Zagreb, you could well believe daily attendance would never drop below 100%. Designed by a team of architectural authors (SUBMAP studios Marija Burmas and Ivo-Lola Petrić, and Jakša Kalajžić from JKA Arhitekti), the multi-level main building sits centrally, surrounded by sports, recreation and other facilities creating an impressive view for both those outside and within.

a3a8dd73fd11ef837e65386313eb8c6529c4b842blaz.jpeg© Ivanja Reka Elementary School / Domagoj Blažević

Roxanich Wine & Heritage Hotel, Motovun, Istria

The view is unmistakably Istria. Vineyards carpet the land below and - rising above - the picturesque hilltop town of Motovun. Helmed architecturally by consistently bold Rijeka designer Idis Turato, this multi-level, multi-purpose redesign retains the traditional feel of its existing stone building and its purpose – there's a huge wine cellar beneath – but has opened up the space to give stunning views, not least over a sun deck that spectacularly reflects the sunrise and sunset. This is an active winery, with works and equipment all housed within its lower floors, not that you could tell from the 25 person capacity boutique hotel, restaurant and wine shop upstairs.


Four Houses for Four Brothers, Diklo, Zadar

Judging from a theme of project titles used by architects Iva Letilović and Igor Pedišić, we're not sure that Four Houses for Four Brothers was actually commissioned by four brothers or that four live there. But, you could well believe they could. The ultra-modern set of independent houses, located next to a beautiful stretch of coast in a north Zadar neighbourhood, was specifically designed to address a distinctly Croatian reality – how to open up some of your dwelling to seasonal guests while you remain at home. The design separates the buildings clearly into separate quarters which allow privacy, comfort and minimal encroachment for both visitors and residents.

bazencetiri.jpg© Igor Pedišić

Galić Winery, Kutjevo

Award-winning outfit Zagreb-based studio Dva arhitekta have an existing, jaw-dropping design for a rural winery commissioned by famous makers Galic. However, that project, as yet, remains unrealised. But, their winery for Galic in the centre of Kutjevo town is complete. Melding the traditional and the contemporary, the upper section of the building is a bold and unblemished red brick, adorned with the winemaker's unmistakable logo. Beneath, concrete arches invite your eyes into the actual wine cellar – neat rows of barrels, protected behind glass walls that are set back from the facade. Brilliant!

8dammy.jpg© Damir Fabijanić

Seecel Centre, Zagreb

Designed as a regional centre for the development of entrepreneurs and its construction costs generously part-funded by European money, the Seecel Centre arrived long overdue and does not house its intended inhabitants. Such matters are best left for different articles as, here, we're concerned with the undeniable finery of this building's architecture and appearance. Holding space for accommodation, offices, communal collaboration, education and presentations, the five-floored building uses ultra-modern building materials and construction methods to make it low-energy, its great blocks of covered concrete, with glass windows set further back, echoing old fortifications. It was designed by Igor Franić who, in Croatia, is perhaps best known for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb and completed by him and his team at SZA / Studio za arhitekturu d.o.o.

endGV7_1096-mindarklav.jpg© Site Project d.o.o.

Trg Poljana, Šibenik

Not a small amount was asked of project architects Atelier Minerva from Dubrovnik in the task to create Trg Poljana in Šibenik. The site had long been earmarked for a much-needed, official town square – a place for events and public gatherings. But, the town was also woefully short on parking. By burying a multi-level car park beneath the open space, the architects successfully met both demands. Triangular shapes sit at an angle above shaded seating, echoing the inclines on the roof of the Juraj Šižgorić City Library opposite. Clever.

Poljana-Sibenik-Eccos-inzenjering-1-compressed-scaled.jpg© Ervin Husedžinović / Eccos-inzenjering

Homestead on Hartovski vrh, Žumberak, Zagreb County

A collection of multi-purpose rural buildings, Homestead and Meditation Centre on Hartovski vrh was commissioned and designed for use by the Buddhist Center Zagreb. Their aim was to relocate activities such as chan, yoga, meditation, healthy living and teaching to a peaceful retreat outside of the city. Architects Branimir Rajčić and Mariela Žinić began the project in 2015, with the completed site arriving in 2019. Modern building materials are used, but not so the striking collection seems out of place within a partially agricultural setting. The set of buildings includes a residential dwelling and a larger hall for meetings and activities, both of which use large windows to allow the light and nature to flood in.

6_3BERCFUINAL.jpg© Robert Leš

Square of Traditional Crafts, Varaždin

A tricky task was given to architects Studio Konntra – how to enliven and modernise a traditional old square in the centre of one of Europe's best-preserved Baroque Old Towns. They did this by constructing transportable kiosks to house small outlets for local artists and craftsmen that cater to visiting tourists who come to the square. When occupied during the day, the plain wooden interiors allows the crafts to take centre stage. But, after closing time, the outsides of the wooden doors are brightly coloured and adorned with paintings, a welcoming environment for residents to use at night.

sqaureee23455.jpeg© Studio Konntra

Monday, 28 September 2020

Zagreb Secrets: Sleep, Cook and Drink Rakija Free Near Slovenian Border

September the 28th, 2020 - When it comes to hearing about isolated little houses deep in the forest in the middle of nowhere, it can either be a childhood fairytale or a the basis of a good horror story, but what if it isn't? Zagreb secrets are abundant, and one of them is a little hunting lodge in the woods, close to the Slovenian border, where you can sleep, cook and even drink rakija for zero kuna.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Mr. Petar Miljenovic, simpy known as Pero to his friends, is one of the few, if not the only Croatian hospitality worker who rents out his accommodation completely free of charge. His hunting lodge is located "in the middle of nowhere" on the Croatian-Slovenian border and is one of the very, very well kept Zagreb secrets indeed.

In the vicinity of Pogana jama at 980 metres above sea level, the secret of excursionists, hunters, mountaineers and even lovers who come to the idyllic Zumberak area has been kept, according to a report from punkufer.

"Above the village of Gric, which is located at 780 metres above sea level and is the most populated place in Zumberak, we go another 5 kilometres uphill. The key is always ''next to the mat'' - the cottage is open to all casual travellers and photographers who easily get lost in the expanses of Zumberak. Next to the house is a picturesque spring, and the water, after about 300 metres, flows into a large cave called Pogana jama. In addition to the stove and, of course, ready chopped ​​wood, the house has several pots, a map of the Zumberak Nature Park - Samoborsko gorje, and most importantly, a bottle of Zumberak brandy.

"The doors of the house are open to everyone, and hunters and hikers know that they can rest and sleep there if they need to. Ten people can sleep there, but you have to know that it is a Robinson Crusoe holiday. There is no bathroom, only a toilet. There's also a roaster and brandy available, which I bring every few days. Sometimes I get 50 kuna, and sometimes 2 euros instead of a thanks. In the future, I'll rent out the house, but for now, nothing needs to be paid,'' says Petar of perhaps one of the best kept Zagreb secrets of all.

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Thursday, 2 April 2020

Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer? Rene from Holland in Zumberak

April 2, 2020 - Do foreigners in Croatia feel more or less safe sitting out COVID-19 here than in their home country, and what are their experiences? A new series on TCN, with Rene Pronk from Holland in Zumberak as our 15th contributor.

Oxford University recently published some research on government responses to coronavirus which showed that Croatia currently has the strictest measures in the world. While inconvenient, this is a good thing in terms of reducing the spread of the virus, and I am certainly not alone in my admiration of the official Croatian handling of this crisis in recent weeks, both in terms of action and communication. 

But what do other expats here think? And how does it compare with the response in their home country? Would they rather sit this one out here or there? In the first of a new series on TCN, we will be featuring expats from all over the world to see what their views are on life in corona Croatia rather than back home. So far we have heard from expats in Croatia from Romania, USA, Ireland, UK, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Singapore, Canada and Germany. Next up, Rene Pronk from Holland, who lives in Zumberak.

If you would like to contribute to this series, full details are below. Now, over to Rene. 


Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

We are happy, healthy and hopeful. I am with my wife, my son, the cat and the dog and nowadays more wild pigs coming to our land than some weeks ago. Thank God for social media these days. We stay in contact with many friends all over the world and feel very blessed at this moment to be Croatia-based. I am a bit worried about the Dutch approach to this pandemic. The Netherlands is where my parents reside, and my mum is very fragile at her age.

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business?

Ever since day one of our arrival in Croatia we have just been paying. So I will be surprised if there is something in store for us. I am satisfied with Mr. Plenkovic, he seems a calm and trustful man. We still have income from rents and some online sales. It is not enough but we can get by for a couple of months. My photo tourism business is down. All my photo tours are cancelled and so is the accommodation. But my main concern is for the many hard-working entrepreneurs in Croatia. Many of them have no cash reserves and live on credit. The situation can last for a couple of more weeks but then shops have to re-open with strict safety measures of course. I found some great online shops of Croatian origin and I hope they do good business right now I buy from them for I want to support Croatia wherever I can.

When did you realise that corona was going to be a big issue? 

It was on February 16 when I was on a Ryanair flight back from Thessaloniki to Bratislava. Everybody was wearing mouth caps and awful reports from Italy were starting to come in.

What is your impression of the way Croatia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

Information is always hard to find in Croatia and it is always multi-interpretable. This time it is like I suddenly woke up in a different world. And that is not because of the lockdown. The information is so accurate. The stozer team is so calm, self-assured and they sail us right along the dangerous rocks in this ocean of uncertainty. I cannot think of a safer and better country to live in right now. We feel much safer than our family and friends in the Netherland where the IC units have reached their full capacity. But we also live in a village. And people here are used to live with the seasons, the weather and the wars. They just adapt and the impact on them seems not as catastrophic as for the urban Dutchman whose trust was in his wealth and economy alone.

Furthermore, I am a praying and meditating person. So my safety does not depend on the circumstances around me.

Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Croatia doing better/worse?

I really do not like the ban they put on travelling. I am a photographer and I want to be out there when the sun comes up, near the river or on a hilltop. I cannot leave my village and that is kind of frustrating, especially now that Spring is coming. I run a humanitarian organization and I am not allowed to visit Croatia’s most poor and lonely people in the remote areas. I do not blame the government, for they cannot make an exception for me. But this ban has to be lifted soon. It is a basic freedom principle that people still have in the Netherlands to travel. Croatia does not have a “business climate” so this time it works in its favour... The government really is doing their job well and protects us from evil. Shopping centers are turned into emergency centers and the measures to spread the virus are very strict. Yes they do a good job. But let’s see in a few months if this was really all worth it. Let’s also see how the virus develops as it might lose its strength in due course.

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

The viber app is great. As I said the communication surprises me as getting information in the Netherlands is really taken for granted. Not so in Croatia. That is different this time. So I hope that the information virus spreads to many of the clerks after this Corona is over.

What's the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation.

We are pretty much used to a self-sustainable lifestyle. So we are ok. My son is at home so I do a lot of creative activities with him in addition to homeschooling. But even the wood glue and some tools I could order online. So there is nothing I really miss at the moment.

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis. 

I have learned to remain thankful even more. If the big world is no longer accessible for you and you cannot go where you like to go the garden suddenly becomes a friendly paradise. Birds still whistle, the dog wants to play, the flowers grow, the butterflies fly, the seeds are sown, the beautiful Kupa river invites me to just sit and relax. It is all there but you take it for granted and yearn for more spectacular pictures. I did not appreciate it that much as I do now.

Today I ordered flower seeds besides the veggie ones. Let’s plant a flower garden and make it even more beautiful. I have browsed too many of my pictures lately. Croatia is a paradise. What a beautiful country. It is a time for reminiscing without getting melancholic. 

What I learned from the Croats that they are a calm nation unlike the Dutch. The Dutch still have the freedom to travel. They can still export a lot of their food and goods but they are all the time speaking about a crisis. Here we are so dependent on tourism. So I feel that the repercussions of this lockdown for Croatia will be far worse but more easily accepted.

Croatia has been through so many stages and seasons. We will battle this one and become stronger than before. I hope we will focus more on quality tourism and see ourselves as a green lung and paradise in Europe. I hope we will see beyond the crisis and reach our potential, which is huge. I even think that many people in Western Europe that went panic shopping will maybe begin to think about a better life with a little piece of land that can supply most of their own food. Perhaps in Croatia.

Thanks Rene, stay safe and see you on the other side.  

TCN is starting a new feature series on foreign experiences of sitting out covid-19 here in Croatia compared to their home country. If you would like to contribute, the questions are below. Please also include a para about yourself and where you are from, and a link to your website if you would like. Please also send 3-4 photos minimum to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Corona Foreigner

If you would be interested to record a video version for our partners please let us know in the email. Thanks and stay safe. 

Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer Than in Your Home Country?

Firstly, how are you? Are you alone/with someone? Tell us a little about your situation and sanity levels.

What do you think about the economic measures the government is taking, are they helping your business? (PLEASE IGNORE IF THIS DOES NOT AFFECT YOU)

When did you realise that corona was going to be a big issue? 

What is your impression of the way Croatia is dealing with the crisis? How safe do you feel?

Now compare that to your home country and how they are handling it. What is Croatia doing better/worse?

What about official communications from the authorities, compared to your home country?

What's the one thing you wish you had taken with you into self-isolation.

One thing you have learned about yourself, and one thing you have learned about others during this crisis. 

TCN has recently become a partner in Robert Tomic Zuber's new R+ video channel, initially telling stories about corona experiences. You can see the first TCN contribution from this morning, my video from Jelsa talking about the realities of running a news portal in the corona era below. If you would like to also submit a video interview, please find Robert's guidelines below 


The video footage should be recorded so that the cell phone is turned horizontally (landscape mode).

There are several rules for television and video news:- length is not a virtue- a picture speaks more than a thousand words

In short, this would mean that your story should not last more than 90 seconds and that everything you say in the report should be shown by video (for example, if you talk about empty streets, we should see those empty streets, etc.).

How to do it with your cell phone? First, use a selfie camera to record yourself telling your story for about a minute and a half. Ideally, it would be taken in the exterior, except in situations where you are reporting on things in the interior (quarantine, hospital, self-isolation, etc.). Also, when shooting, move freely, make sure everything is not static.

After you have recorded your report, you should capture footage that will tell your story with a picture, such as an earlier example with empty streets.

One of the basic rules of TV journalism is that the story is told in the same way as a journalist with his text. Therefore, we ask you for additional effort. Because we work in a very specific situation, sometimes you may not be able to capture footage for each sentence of the report. In this case, record the details on the streets: people walking, the main features of the city where you live, inscriptions on the windows related to the virus, etc.

The same rules apply if you are shooting a story from your apartment, self-isolation, quarantine. We also need you to capture footage that describes your story.

When shooting frames to cover your reports, it is important that you change the angle of the shot (in other words, shoot that empty street from several angles). Also, when shooting a detail, count at least five seconds before removing the camera to another detail.

The material should be about 5 minutes long (90 seconds of your report + frames to cover your story).

After recording everything, send us to Zagreb, preferably via WeTransfer to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Saturday, 17 February 2018

Croatia, Images of Life: Meet Pronk Pictures from Zumberak

February 17, 2018 - Far from the fashionable Croatian coast, life in continental Croatia is very different, a life which is being documented by a resident Dutchman in and around Karlovac County. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Croatia's Foreign Entrepreneurs - Meet René, from Holland to Zumberak

We wish to write this series to share the stories of expats (or returned Croatian heritage) who chose to move to Croatia and start a life here, particularly those with an entrepreneurial spirit who have successfully started a business in Croatia (an achievement in itself) and are finding success in their new homes. By doing this we believe we might debunk the myths that: EVERYONE is leaving Croatia, and that there are no opportunities here.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Samobor and Žumberak