Thursday Column - Croatia Lifestyle 7: Easter Break
It’s easy to forget that we came to Croatia for the lifestyle rather than to earn our fortunes! Watching the ex pat documentaries on British television, it seems that we’re not alone in working twice as hard for half as much. Still, there are compensations and we’re intending to make the most of them over the Easter weekend. Our little Dalmatian fishing boat has now been repatriated and needs some work done on it before we launch her back into the water. She never actually left Croatian waters but was “exported”, quite legitimately, by her previous owner, partly because it was easier for him, as a non resident in Croatia, to register her, and also to avoid the Croatian VAT on her new engine. It’s not been the cheapest or easiest of exercises but, apart from wanting to be as Croatian as possible in our lifestyle, it also has the advantage of enabling us to use our local municipal marina rather than the more expensive tourist orientated ones. Our 20 year old boat looked a little out of place amongst all the swish yachts and cruisers but is now completely at home amongst the local private fishermen’s boats!
We’re also going to make a point of trying to see as many of our friends as possible – sorely neglected recently, with all the time we have spent working, and we are way behind on their news. One couple we know has tied up deals on a small house up in the hills past Split, and a restaurant in Split centre, so things can move quickly when you’re as determined as they are.
It’s not too easy to make friends with the Croatians and I suspect it’s a mixture of language/cultural barriers and the sort of reserve you find in places like Yorkshire. Still we do have a few good local contacts and we know we are accepted when we walk through the streets and get tooted and waved at. I’m looking forward to the day when I can hold a decent conversation in Croatian with them and believe that a degree of proficiency in the language will open a lot of new doors.
In the absence of yet being fully absorbed into the local community, we are lucky to be part of an ever expanding and sociable ex pat community and pleased to have made a few really good friends. Our lives all have very different rhythms but maintaining these friendships is very important to our quality of life out here and, so far, the Brits that seem to come to Croatia are a cut above the ones that pick, for example, the Costa del Sol. Certainly in the Split area, the network is informal and there’s a gap for some kind of “forum” which we have dreams of filling when other commitments allow. If someone gets to it first then we’d be equally pleased to give them our support. Until then, English speaking ex pats have a great propensity for finding each other in the most unusual of places!
As part of our personal commitment to Lifestyle, over the Easter weekend, we won’t be posting an article tomorrow so below is some recent news.
Croatia Exclusive Exhibition
It seems that a number of the more innovative exhibitors affected by the cancellation were able to divert to the Excel A Place in the Sun Exhibition and therefore retrieve something from the organisational shambles.
Unfortunately Croatia, the defending champions, nursing a couple of injuries, have been knocked out of the Davis Cup by Argentina. It appears that England are out as well having been defeated by Serbia and Montenegro.
Economic, Judicial and Political Reform
A statement issued after a meeting of the Council for Stabilization and Association in Luxembourg suggests that Croatia continues to meet political criteria, but it should increase its efforts to reform the judicial and public administration systems to deter corruption and increase the freedom of the press. The Council is also increasing pressure on Croatia to move forward with the restructuring of the steel and shipbuilding industries. Without acceptable restructuring, any state support would be considered illegal. See our posting on the shipbuilding industry for more information - http://croatiaonline.blogspot.com/2006/02/wednesday-column-croatia-business-3.html