Saturday, January 20, 2007

Croatia Online - 1st Birthday and 10,000 Hits!

This weekend is something of a milestone for Croatia Online – tomorrow’s our first birthday and today we reached 10,000 hits in total. That’s an average of 27 hits a day from day one. Our daily hit rate is currently around 40 and starts to go up as spring approaches. Most gratifying is the amount of time readers spend on the site and the number of regular readers and return visitors.

We’d like to thank all those who have helped with input into the site and a special thanks to the friends of Croatia Online who have linked to the site. Some of them are listed below and if you’re reading this and we’ve missed you out, please let us know.

Visit Croatia
Escape Artist
Guardian Travel - I've Been There
The Croatian Language School
Marina Facility Solutions
Croatia Holiday and Home
Lifejacket Adventures

Today’s photo is courtesy of Time Out publications – the front cover of their first guide book on Croatia published last year. The second edition of their magazine, Time Out Visitors’ Guide to Croatia, will be out in April this year and promises to be full of the latest discoveries in terms of news, best locations, places to eat, drink and stay. If you can’t wait until April, you should still be able to find the 2006/7 magazine on the shelves at the best city bookshops and in Croatia.

Croatia Online - Learning the Language

We’ve had a few comments on the blog asking for more information on learning Croatian. If you’re in the UK there’s a great school in Ealing which does immersion courses in Istria, in the summer, as well as regular lessons at the school. Go to their website for more information.

If you’re anywhere near Trogir in Split, drop in at Katedra in the old town. It’s just off the Cathedral Square by the café Corte (opposite the Loggia) and has a burgundy banner showing the way. Alternatively email or call (from Croatia) 021 884 214. As well as teaching Croatian, Katedra offer 6 other languages!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Croatia Online - The Australian Influence

It’s not just the Brits that love Croatia, there’s an ever growing band of Aussie explorers who have discovered its delights. Like Ireland, there is also a huge diaspora of Croatians spread throughout the world, including Australia, a few of whom have returned to their Croatian roots. In the latter category is the owner of the Arsenal in Zadar and the Illyria group of Hotels and marina in Biograd. The Arsenal is a stunning historic venue, now adapted in style to provide boutiques, a great live events stage and an ideal place to eat, drink and chill out. "Returnees" also include Shane Braddock who, with his partner Julie Morgan, under the banner of Lifejacket Adventures, have an innovative portfolio of business interests designed to make your trip to Dalmatia just that little bit different. Top of the list are their day and multi day tours from Split on a traditional Dalmatian wooden fishing boat, the Gajeta Falkuša (see today’s photo). The tours are a total immersion in the old fishing life of the region - guests are given lectures on the maritime heritage of Dalmatia, taught to cook authentic Dalmatian food and instructed on rowing or sailing the boats. Other activities offered, depending on the season are grape, olive, carob or fig picking, rosemary harvesting, and grappa making. Lifejacket Adventures also organize walking tours of Split and set up the first self service launderette in Croatia.

For more information link to:

Lifejacket Adventures

The Arsenal Zadar

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Croatia Online - An Affluent Society?

It appears that in 2006, a record number of 78,775 new cars were registered in Croatia. That’s 1.75% of the 4.5 million population which means that roughly every 57th man, woman or child bought a new car last year. If we could exclude children and pensioners from the population statistics, and judging from what we see on the streets, it’s a fair bet that there’s a huge proportion of 30 and 40 somethings with newish wheels.

Tightening credit, poor financial regulation and low incomes don’t seem to dampen down the enthusiasm for a decent car on the “never never”. Average income is around £6,000 a year though unofficial earnings would raise this figure considerably if declared. Let’s hope the new generation of baby boomers in Croatia learn from mistakes made earlier, elsewhere in the world, and don’t have to go through both parts of the boom or bust cycle.

For those interested in the detail, the top ten most popular makes and models, together with the number sold and their percentage of the total, were:

1 Opel Astra - 7,000, 8.89%
2 Renault Clio - 4,860, 6.17%
3 Fiat Punto - 3,021, 3.83%
4 Skoda Octavia - 2,887, 3.66%
5 Skoda Fabia - 2,540, 3.22%
6 Opel Corsa - 2,481, 3.15%
7 VW Golf - 2,393, 3.04%
8 Renault Megane - 1,936, 2.46%
9 VW Passat - 1,855, 2.35%
10 VW Polo - 1,824, 2.32%
Apologies for the layout - blogger doesn't lend itself to tables!

Source: Auto Supplement, Slobodna Dalmacija 9.1.2007

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Croatia Online - New Year, New Life?

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to find that place in the sun, perhaps you’re thinking of Croatia? Yes the weather has been great for the last few months but, unlike southern Spain, expect winter temperatures only a little warmer than England.

This site has plenty of postings on lifestyle issues, the property market, specific destinations, business opportunities and a host of other subjects, so browse at your leisure. However if you’re interested in making that life changing move, here’s a general indication of latest property prices around the country.

Source: Burza Nekretnina,, as reported in the daily newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija on 5th January 2007.

Split District: averages around €2,000 per square metre for a flat, a little less for a house and between €150 and €380 per square meter for land.

Zadar District: averages around €1,500 per square metre for a flat, €1,300 for a house and between €70 and €380 per square meter for land.

Šibenik Region: averages around €1,700 per square metre for a flat, €1,300 for a house and between €80 and €95 per square meter for land.

Dubrovnik Region: averages around €2,700 per square metre for a flat, €2,400 for a house and between €200 and €650 per square meter for land.

Clearly there is a wide difference in prices, within the region, depending on specific location, build quality, etc and you can still find a good deal if you look hard. However Croatia is no longer the bargain it was a few years ago and the complications that accompany the property buying processes do not seem to have diminished significantly. If you want to minimise problems, go for a new build by a reputable developer where you can be fairly certain that the title is clean. Land purchase is risky with the building laws changing all the time and many town and district councils yet to announce their long term zoning plans.

If you don’t have time to browse the Croatia Online site, here are some direct links to a sample of previous postings on property:

Property Radio Show
Letting Your Property
New Regulations For Estate Agents
Permission For Foreign Buyers To Purchase

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year From Croatia Online

A very Happy New Year to all Croatia Online readers. Here in Croatia it started with a bang! Five years ago we went out to party in Trogir, a biggish town by Croatian standards, and there was not a single bar or restaurant open, or a person to be found on the streets. This year there were parties everywhere in the town squares and even the local villages in Kaštela were alive with fireworks and celebrations.

On New Year’s Eve HTV, the main television company, published the results of a survey they conducted to find out what the most memorable events were in Croatia in 2006 and came up with the following:

Some 28% of Croatian citizens chose the repayment of debts to OAPs as the most memorable event in 2006 – not surprising since every fourth Croatian is an OAP. 80% of OAPs have opted for the swift repayment option during two years, while 20% have chosen the slower repayment which is spread over 4 years. The state has earmarked approximately seven billion kuna ( 10.5 kuna ≈ £1) for pension repayments.

Radman's Scientific Breakthrough - 28.1 %
Academic Miroslav Radman and his team's breakthrough in reviving dead bacteria cells may change the future of the world. This has been chosen as the best event in 2006 by 28.1 percent of the surveyed.

Soccer Win over England - 11%
Understandably, for a nation of football lovers, the national soccer teams two-nil victory over England was also significant.

Negotiations with the EU - 6.6%
Slowly, but surely, Croatia is on the path to EU membership. Two chapters have been completed in the accession process – culture and science and education. The government hopes to complete another six to eight chapters this year. However the Croatian population remains sceptical about EU entry and the majority is against it.

Tesla's Year - 6.3%
150 years after his birth, scientist Nikola Tesla features in the survey. After many years of being overlooked, 2006 was named “Tesla’s Year”. Both Croatian and Serb politicians have now recognized the importance of his inventions and celebrated his significant contribution to science, in particular the invention of alternating current. It’s ironic therefore that some 200 “returnee” villages in Croatia are still without his main invention - electricity.

Murders and Robberies - 26.3%
Robberies at FINA branches (state accountants/auditors) and betting shops, murders of security guards and residents have plagued 2006. Every day a till, cash point or a petrol station is robbed. Some 10 million kuna has been stolen during 2006 and citizens are feeling less and less secure. [ed – this is paraphrasing a Croatian report; visitors to Croatia should be reassured that although crime is on the up, Croatia is still a much safer place, in general, than eg the UK]
Glavas Trial - 12.8%
The break up of the legal system was how the case against Branimir Glavas could best be described. Through a 37-day hunger strike Glavas dictated political events. Witnesses retracted their testimonies and were moved from town to town, judges appeared to be swayed by politics and the politicians seemed to change their policies day by day.

Detention of Branimir Glavas - 9.9%
Branimir Glavas was the first MP to have legal proceedings filed against him for alleged war crimes and also the first to lose his immunity and be detained. In the space of two years he became a prisoner and the greatest opposition to the current government. The long-time friendship between parliamentary speaker Vladimir Seks and Glavas was also ruptured by these events.

Diplomatic Drug Scandal - 8.4%
It all started with a $17 joint in Los Angeles and mushroomed into a story of three tonnes of cocaine from Bihac. Croatian diplomats are accusing each other of drug dealing and cover ups at different Croatian embassies. This is a story that broke only recently but started in 2004.
Secret Bank Accounts - 5.5%
Dragica, Lex and Kata are just some of the names of secret bank accounts meant for the defence of Croatia. Fifteen years after the war the issue has come up again - who knew about the accounts and who benefited from them when hundreds of millions of German marks ended up in the pockets of individuals. Some have made a fortune from the war and others lost their lives but the issue of the secret accounts falls under the statute of limitations [time barred] and is unlikely to come under court proceedings.”
We take it as a very hopeful sign that matters such as the above are now being fully aired and hope 2007 will be the year in which the state, and the related bureaucracy, will cease to provide quite so many obstacles to home grown and foreign entrepreneurs alike. Croatia has great natural beauty and many other intrinsic advantages – let’s hope it continues to become an easier place to work and live in, for young and old, through 2007 and beyond.

Sretna Nova Godina!