Saturday, October 21, 2006

Croatia Online - Update

Croatia Online will be taking a busman's holiday in the UK over the next couple of weeks. There are plenty of new postings, on a variety of subjects, which will hopefully keep readers informed and entertained until we return. And for those of you that like numbers, this is Croatia Online's 101st post so we will be celebrating our centenary tonight!

Croatia Online - Biograd Boat Show

The Biograd Boat Show, which finishes tomorrow, scored a remarkable coup by getting Russell Coutts, skipper of the winning America's Cup crew for the last three years, to participate in today's match racing against Cro-a-Sail. The photo shows Russel (red cap) taking part in yesterday's press conference.
For those near Biograd (in between Sibenik and Zadar) it will cost you 25 kunas (about £2.50) to get into the boat show where you will be able to see the racing today. It's a small show by UK standards but, apart from the racing, there are plenty of boats and a few stands to look at. Stands include the Zadar Chamber of Commerce, Biograd Tourist Board, a number of insurance and leasing companies, charter companies, yacht brokers, sailing gear suppliers and one UK company, Marina Facility Solutions, MFS specialise in equipment and services for the Croatian Marina Industry and also provide expertise to UK companies looking to invest in, or trade with, the Croatian Marina Industry. As the Croatian representative of The Yacht Harbour Association, MFS can also advise Croatian companies in the marina industry of the many advantages of TYHA membership. These include the ability to market spare marina berths to an international audience, the Golden Anchor Awards, which set international standards for the quality of individual marinas, a quarterly magazine, and training courses which provide internationally recognised qualifications for marina managers.

Croatia Online - Business Information

Readers interested in doing business in Croatia might be pleased to hear of a relatively new online information service available. Croatia Business Report is published quarterly and provides a unique insight into Croatia’s business environment via interviews with some of the key figures involved, as well as editorial comment and analysis. The current issue features interviews with Croatia’s EU negotiator Vladimir Drobnjak, Charlotte Ruhe, of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a review of the latest book on the Croatian property market, an analysis of the recent survey on doing business in Croatia and a report on the meeting between Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, and Tony Blair.

There are regular features on the property market, normally interviews with an active participant in Croatia’s growing property sector, periodic book reviews and the archives contain some fascinating perspectives on doing business in Croatia. For more information and subscription details, go to

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Croatia Online - Property News

Readers might be interested to listen to a radio programme produced by the Buy Association which talks about buying property in Croatia and Montenegro. Read about the show and listen to it online (preferably via Broadband) by following this link Buy Association Radio Show

Croatia Online - New Hostel in Split

Great news for backpackers - a new hostel opened this year right in the centre of town. You can find the hostel at Narodni Trg 8, tel (0) 21 342 787. It's run by a couple of young and enthusiatic australian/croatian ladies who are determined that all visitors should make the most of their stay in Split. Be assured of a warm welcome, friendly and helpful travel advice, and a fun stay.
Read more about it on

Croatia Online - Split Riva

For those of you visiting Split out of season, it’s a great place to explore but be aware that the sea front promenade is currently “under reconstruction”. The works started yesterday and will not be completed until early May 2007, much to the chagrin of the locals. There is some new landscaping involved, and a new surface, but the prime purpose is to relay the asphalt properly. Unfortunately it means that the outdoor terraces of the cafes, still popular in the winter months when the sun shines, won’t be open and most of the promenade will be a building site for a few months. No one’s quite sure either whether the April Split Boat Show will be able to take place, as normal, in the bay adjoining the Riva. The protests made the Croatian news last night and there was concern about the amount of money being spent, not to mention the length of the period of disruption. That’s progress!

Croatia Online - The Motorway and Skradin

The motorway tends to be relatively deserted outside the peak summer season so, if you’re in a hurry and don’t mind paying the tolls, it’s much easier than the windy coastal road for long distances. However sometimes it’s quite a distance from the main towns, for example 20 to 30 minutes drive from Trogir and Biograd. We travelled from Kaštela to Zadar on Sunday taking the inland road, just north west of Trogir, towards Šibenik and then a very short drive from the main road onto the motorway just before Šibenik. I suppose we spent about half an hour on the motorway and it cost us 35 kunas (about £3.50) instead of the 41 kunas we would have spent from Trogir but it was the easiest of journeys. We also stopped off to have a look at the Škradin service station. Škradin has an ACI marina popular for wintering boats as a result of the fresh water from the Krka river, and is one of the villages from which to visit the spectacular Krka waterfalls. The service station has a restaurant and café, is well landscaped and affords great views of Škradin so if you’re facing a long journey, it’s not the worst place to have lunch.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Croatia Online - Yugoslavian Coast in 1981

If you read yesterday's posting, you'll see that the Croatian Coast was every bit as popular in 1981 as it is now. We made a passing remark that it would be interesting to hear accounts of what is was like more than 20 years ago and the New York Times has kindly obliged with an article published in 1981 that can be found by following this link:

New York Times - Yugoslavia 1981

As we suspected, it does not seem to have changed much, except for the prices!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Croatia Online - Tourism Statistics, Split Airport

Rather naively, we were wondering in an earlier posting, just how long Split Airport would be able to cope with the ever increasing levels of traffic. It’s a small airport with limited room for expansion and a car park and departure lounge that sometimes show the strain in the peak season. However, looking at the statistics available on the airport’s website its current popularity is probably just a reminder of times past. Below are a few interesting facts:

There were 7249 air movements in the nine months to 30th September 2006 compared with 7976 for the whole of the previous year. However the corresponding number of passengers carried was 960,156 compared with 934,049. Either the planes are getting larger or they are much better filled – an average of 132.45 passengers per plane in 2006 versus 117 for 2005.

Aircraft movements as far back as 1979 were 7365, bringing in 928,889 passengers, almost up to the 2005 levels. Movements and passengers remained at around this level until 1991 when they plummeted as a result of the political crisis. However in 1987 and 1988, the number of passengers surpassed the million mark, well above the 2005 levels.

There’s not much change is the concentrated seasonality of flights and passengers, with a huge amount of activity taking place in July and August and relatively little in the winter months. Some memories may have faded but Split Airport and the Split region is obviously used to the current volume of tourists and may have more capacity than we thought. It would be great to hear from someone who recalls what the Croatian Coast of Yugoslavia was like in 1979 though I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests it’s not much different now!

For statistical buffs amongst you and some easier to digest graphs, go to the airport website and see for yourself.

For other travel and airport information on this site go to:

Zadar - Low Cost Airlines?

Travel Information and Holiday Tips

Split Airport - The Insider's Guide

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Croatia Online - The Croatian Language

In previous postings on speaking Croatian, we've mentioned that though the grammar is not easy, Croatian is a very phonetic language with all letters generally pronounced separately and consistently. That may be the reason for the rather odd translation displayed outside a restaurant in Mali Losinj on Losinj island in north Croatia. Alternatively, the owner may have misunderstood one of the Two Ronnies sketches! Double click on the photo to enlarge it.
More seriously, if you live near London and want to learn to speak Croatian properly go to This Croatian language school also organises regular immersion courses, combined with a holiday, in Croatia itself. The website has regular newsletters and you can also access its very useful phrase leaflet in pdf format.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Croatia Online Business - Debate on Croatian Business Culture

With many reports suggesting that Croatia may be, if anything, losing ground in its attempts to deal with bureaucracy, corruption and the general transparency and attractiveness of its business climate, the Adriatic Institute for Public Policy is inviting anyone with something pertinent to contribute to “raise your concerns regarding the relevant issues pertaining to the legal framework negatively affecting business community and your particular industry ….. whether it is a domestic regulation/legislation or EU imposed, or a specific case of corruption, we would be eager to hear your voice”

They will then use this input in the first debate of the Libertas Debate Series, to be held at the European Parliament in Brussels on October 13. The debate is entitled “Is Croatia on the Road to Reforms or Not?" and will be moderated by Edward Lucas from the Economist Magazine. The debate will be introduced by Roger Helmer, MEP, UK and the Croatian Government will be represented by Ana Lovrin, Minister of Justice, and Damir Polancec, Deputy Prime Minister.

The Adriatic Policy Unit was established on September 6th 2004 and claims to be “an independent free market think tank dedicated to providing ideas and practical solutions which make societies and economies prosper”. You can read all about it by going to and it would be good to think that the debate might have some influence on government. Time will tell.


Today’s photo shows Croatia Online’s editor sitting next to the Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs, Tourism, Transportation and Development and participating in a conference on sustainable nautical tourism back in April 2005. At that time the government suggested it would be bringing in regulations for the disposal of marine waste, as a matter of urgence, to ensure pump out systems were provided at ports and marinas to help prevent the dumping of boat waste at sea. We’re still waiting for effective regulations to be put into place.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Croatia Online Lifestyle - The Seasons; A Personal Perspective

As an ex Londoner, it took me a while to appreciate the seasonality of fruit and vegetables in Croatia (and most other places for that matter). Now I realise just how much I took for granted in my past life – effectively the ability to pick up any recipe, no matter how exotic, and be confident that you could find all the ingredients somewhere in a London supermarket. Apart from all those air miles, there is a certain pleasure in planning the menu according to what’s locally available, rather than the latest fashion trends set by the celebrity cooks. Following the seasons and anticipating the timing, abundance and taste of the next crop, adds a little spice to everday living.

The Croatian supermarkets, with some notable exceptions, are not great for fruit and vegetables, though there is a growing tendency to import for “the rich foreigners”. However, I have a strong suspicion that Croatia gets the EU rejects – no problem if it’s just that the shapes are less than perfect but very irritating when its flavourless Italian tomatoes! The markets are a lot better, Trogir and Split being lively and bountiful trading places in our neck of the woods. Better still is the lovely beaming grandmother who sits on the wall outside our house for a couple of hours with whatever she happens to have dug up from her garden that morning. It’s difficult to imagine such a frail lady spending so long cultivating so many good things and trundling her wheelbarrow a couple of miles every day, to gain poll position opposite the supermarket. However she’s consistently there with the freshest of produce, at knock down prices, and always in the best of humour. No matter that her ten words of Croatian, receive only a few stuttering syllables back but my Croatian numbers have improved rapidly as counting is not her strongest subject and she frequently asks me to work out my own bill!

We are lucky to live on the ground floor of a large house with what might be described as a small holding and an extra piece of land “somewhere else”. I’m challenged to think of any vegetable or fruit which doesn’t spring to life sometime during the year around us and September/October is a particularly rich time of year, with our landlords at their busiest.

The white grapes came in two weeks ago, though we had to decline some of the basinful we were offered on the grounds of potential waste (and we’d rather have an extra bottle of home made wine!), the pomegranates are pretty well ready, the red grapes came in today (no question of refusing the basinful this time) and the kiwis look ready to drop from the leafy bush that has provided our welcome shade throughout the summer. In a couple of weeks it will be time for the olives.

By all accounts 2006 is going to be a great year for Croatian wine. There was a lot of rain a few weeks ago but plenty of sun recently and that is, apparently, ideal for grapes – sweet and juicy and plenty of them. Let’s hope the forecast rains don’t have an adverse effect on the olives as Croatian Olive Oil is pretty special too.


Today’s photo shows the freshest of seasonal produce, straight from the vine, just fallen off the tree, or ready to drop. Rosie the dog has never been camera shy but is finding the pomegranates hard to resist – they make great substitute balls!

Croatia Online - Property News

As some readers will be aware, letting your property in Croatia can be a legal, tax and bureaucratic minefield. Martin Westby of Croatia Property and Home is looking for those who have been at the sharp end of the letting process who might be prepared to participate in a Channel 4 program highlighting property problems in Croatia. Hopefully, the program will at least ensure some probing questions are asked of the right people, raise general awareness and perhaps get things moving a little bit in favour of property owners!

Martin is the author of a book on purchasing property in Croatia and has also produced a booklet, available in PDF form from his website, on the ins and outs of letting. It’s probably the most practical and detailed guide you will be able to find and is the result of Martin’s considerable experience in all aspects of Croatian property dealings.

For more information, or to contact Martin, go to Croatia Holiday and Home

For our earlier postings on property, including our initial review of Martin’s publication and other news, follow the links below to go directly to the relevant page.

Croatia Online - New English Language Magazine Reports on Property Prices

Permission For Foreigners to Buy a Croatian Property - Long Waits?

Croatia Online Property News - A Guide To Renting in Croatia

Croatia Online Property - A Personal View and Some Tips

Looking back to Croatia Online’s very first posting on property (the last link listed above), written in February this year, it’s interesting to reflect that not much seems to have changed in the property market and some might consider that purchasing is more difficult than before. Many of the town councils have yet to release their long term plans and there still remains a lot of confusion as to what can be built where. The second link is to a posting that suggests the process for foreigners getting permission to buy may be speeded up but we’ve yet to hear of the reality of the situation.

However, whatever the complications, all of the people we know who have bought might not want to go through the process again but remain highly delighted with the end result. It’s easy to get used to living here and taking things for granted, but you only have to entertain a first time visitor to Croatia to remind yourself what a special place it is.

And finally, if you haven’t time to go through all our postings, on a variety of subjects, click on the third link on the top right of the page to get a full index of postings.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Croatia Online - Tourism News

We spotted a couple of interesting articles on tourism in Croatia over the weekend.

The first, from the South African Independent, reports that the Croatian government are pushing for the development of inland tourism by providing grants for the construction of family hotels. It expects about 500 to be built over the next 3 years, offering a number of different activities such as agrotourism and mountain climbing. The Independent also reports that an estimated 7.9 million tourists visited Croatia in the first eight months of this year.

Tourism accounts for about 25% of Croatia’s gross domestic product but is increasing much more gradually now that existing facilities are almost saturated. One also has to wonder just how complete the official statistics are with the ever present grey market. However, hopefully, lengthening the season and capitalising on the intrinsic assets of inland areas will enable Croatia to grow tourism without compromising too much on the natural unspoilt beauty of the coast.

For the full article, go to South African Independent - Croatia

The second article appeared in The Times and focuses on the merits of the Istrian Peninsula, and the Kvarner Region in northern Croatia. There’s some great detail on Poreč, Rovinj, Opatija, Lovran and Pula, as well as some interesting insights into the Istrian cuisine.

For the full story, go to Times Online - Croatia

For those who missed Croatia in the summer, there’s still time. The weather at the moment is lovely and the sea is still warm enough for a refreshing swim. Even better, the beaches are pretty well deserted!

Today's photo is of Livno, about a couple of hour's drive inland from Split