Saturday, March 31, 2007

Croatia Online - Split Boat Show April 2007

Spring is here and it’s time for the Split Boat Show again. Hopefully the work on Split’s Riva should be finished by the 14th April 2007, when the show opens, and Dalmatia’s capital will be fit to welcome its visitors. At the moment there’s a flurry of activity to get everything ready but progress seems to be good.

Croatia Online will be based at the Boat Show for most of the time, on the stand of one of our associates, Marina Facility Solutions Ltd (MFS). MFS will be exhibiting the normal wide range of marina equipment as well as the very latest designs for electricity and water pedestals. Check out their website for more information on what they do.

Some Facts and Figures On the Boat Show

It started in 1999 so this is the ninth boat show, increasing exponentially in size every year.

It’s on between 14th and 22nd April 2007

Last year, exhibitors from 18 countries exhibited over 400 vessels on 120,000 sq meters of space and attracted 50,000 visitors

From memory, last year’s entrance price was about £5 and shouldn’t be increasing significantly this year. Look at the website for more information.

If you like boats then its something to build a trip to Split around though don’t expect the sort of entertainment you’d find at the London Boat Show. Also don’t expect quite the number, size and opulence of superyachts that you would find at more established shows. This side of the show is expanding but it will be a while before it can compete with London and elsewhere in this respect.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, please come and see us. Otherwise we’ll be posting the latest Boat Show news here on Croatia Online.

It’s also the week that Time Out’s new Magazine for Visitors to Croatia will be on the news stands so that will add to the excitement.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Croatia Online - Travel News

Zadar Region: Ryanair

The hottest travel news this year is Ryanair flying to Zadar which will open up northern Dalmatia to low cost flights and out of season visits. See our earlier posting for more details Croatia Online News - February 2007

Trogir – Ciovo – Split: Ferries

The local newspaper suggests that last year’s summer ferry service between Slatine, on the west end of Čiovo, and Split will be extended to Trogir and possibly Arbanija on Čiovo. The service is due to start in April so watch this space for more information. It was great news last year for holidaymakers in Slatine, allowing them to hop on a ferry and take a short trip right to the heart of Split. The alternative is battling the traffic driving east along Čiovo to Trogir and then west along the main road to Split, a journey time of at least an hour in the summer.

Incidentally if anyone’s looking for a modern, well equipped, self contained holiday apartment in Slatine, a three minute walk from a great beach with its own restaurant and bar, look at Apartment Slatine. The owners are good friends of Croatia Online and we don’t know of a single guest of theirs that hasn’t wanted to come back again.


Apparently Kaštela will “soon” have a fast rail link with Split which may involve some underground travel once the train gets to Split. We will keep you posted on what “soon” means.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Croatia Online – Music With a Difference

We were lucky enough to be invited to a performance of the Sanctus Domnio Rock and Mandoline concert last night at the “Domn” (Gradsko Kazalište Lutaka Split) just off Marmontova, the main shopping street in Split.

The one and a half hour performance was as professional as it was moving. The mandoline is a beautiful instrument, and when you hear twenty plus of them, with guitars and the occasional flute and vocals, it’s difficult not to let the haunting music get to you. Led by Vladimir Lukas, an obviously inspirational conductor and full of modesty and good humour, the young orchestra breezed faultlessly through a repertoire of contemporary and traditional pieces including the theme from The Godfather. Classicists will love it but so also will anyone with an ear for good music who enjoys something a bit different.

The orchestra was founded in 1990 and has given numerous concerts in Croatia and abroad, winning several prizes along the way. Its repertoire includes many compositions originally composed for mandolins and arrangements of works for other orchestras, by contemporary and classical composers. However, it has achieved most recognition for modern interpretations of original mandolin orchestra compositions, by contemporary Croatian composers.

The new website is, understandably, only written in Croatian as yet but worth a look – CD's are available and they're almost as good as the real thing. We’ll try and keep you posted of any forthcoming events.

The theatre itself was also a pleasant surprise – it seats about 300 people and looks like it’s recently had some money spent on it. The Italian lighting system would put London’s West End to shame and the new flip seats had interesting variations for couples – occasional double seats with no arm rests in between that disconcertingly only flip back into place when you both get up! It’s a great space though.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Croatia Online - Trogir

We’ve extolled the virtues of Trogir in previous postings and it certainly has a lot going for it. Unesco protected, the lovely old town is squashed onto its own little island, between the mainland and the larger island of Čiovo, to which it is joined by road bridges. In its centre there are all the cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and boutiques you could wish for, not to mention an all year round, virtually 24/7, fruit and vegetable market, a fish market, plenty of supermarkets, the grand cathedral and plenty of entertainment, particularly in the summer.

Trogir is an all year round destination. Some may find it too busy in the summer with the traffic over the bridges sometimes stretching for a mile or so as people leave the Čiovo beaches in the afternoon. However it’s the perfect place for an off season visit. It’s just a fifteen minute drive from Split Airport, there are plenty of good quality hotels, including a clutch of new ones, and there’s a wealth of history to absorb as well as the buzz of the cafes on the waterfront promenade (riva) to watch the world go by from.

If you are thinking of a holiday in Trogir, check out Portal Travel Agency’s website - Given the myriad of hotel, apartment, travel and excursion options it helps to have a friendly local to guide you through the process and Portal offers you exactly that. They know which local hotels suit which tastes and pockets and run a number of special offers at different times of the year. Their smart professional offices are bang on the Riva and they’re owner managed, rather than part of one of the huge chains, so can be flexible enough to tailor make your holiday to suit. That flexibility extends to the range and type of excursions on offer. As well being able to offer all the normal excursions, they have an eight seater people carrier which can be made available to groups, couples or even individuals for special trips or transfers. On top of that, their web site is comprehensive and up to date and you’ll also be able to buy your copy of Time Out’s Visitors Guide to Croatia in their offices!

It’s not often we find a Croatian travel agency that’s a little bit different from the norm, and this one certainly is. Try it and you’re likely to get a holiday in Trogir that suits your pocket, your entertainment needs, your taste in accommodation and gives you the inside track on what’s happening in the area.

For more detailed information on Trogir see our earlier postings:

Croatia Online - Trogir News
Croatia Online Destinations - Trogir

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Croatia Online - Nautical Tourism

Croatia's crystal clear waters and 1185 islands and islets help to ensure Croatia's status as one of the best cruising grounds in Europe. We've published a number of postings on the subject and recently assisted in some detailed research on nautical tourism in Croatia. In the process of carrying out this research and through some very enlightening comment from our readers, we've learnt that not much has changed in some cases, and much has changed in others.

We understand that, in certain areas, Croatia is still seen as a somewhat greedy host by yachtsmen, compared to other areas such as Turkey and Greece. Examples are the need for a one year cruising permit for visits, no matter how short, the preponderance of private concessions in small ports and anchorages, who will charge a fee for anchoring or the use of mooring buoys, and the relatively new draconian rules designed to curb the black charter market, which have had a big impact on multiple boat ownership and the Superyacht Charter Industry.

Croatia clearly needs to regulate the use of its waters, and has a way to go to become more ecologically effective. Pump-out facilities are still much talked about but very hard to find, and uncontrolled anchoring obviously has an impact on the spread of algae. However Croatia would do well to look at the image it is projecting amongst nautical tourists of all kinds. Charter visitors come and go and may just see their two weeks in Croatia as a more adventurous alternative to a beach holiday. Cruising in July and August is no longer the relaxing experience it was with the need to try and find a space in a port, anchorage or marina ever earlier in the day to beat the crowds. Yes the charter companies are a significant source of income to the industry but private boat owners also have their place and are arguably much more important to the long term sustainable future of the industry. Many private boat owners have been driven away by the complex rules, rising costs, and the side effects of the booming charter business.

Of Croatia's overall marina capacity of over 14,000 berths in 50 marinas, only 2,500 are filled with charter yachts. It's surely the normally considerate private owners that should therefore be encouraged to spend their hard earned cash in Croatia, just as much as the fleeting charter visitors who arguably cause more ecological damage and more disruption. Financially however, the charter companies pay 10% over the odds for their berths and leave them mostly free during the busy summer months so that the marina owners can charge again for overnight visitors using the same space. With the current stock of marinas at full capacity, it's hard to blame the operators for trying to maximise the cash they receive from the facilities they have. It's surely time however for the government to implement a well thought out policy on sustainable nautical tourism rather than just talking about it, and also to revise its regulations so it can truly be seen to be welcoming sustainable nautical tourism

Follow the links below for earlier postings on this subject and many thanks to Brian for his insightful comments as an experienced and very well travelled yachtsman.

Croatia Online - Nautical Tourism Report
Croatia Online - Boat Shows in Croatia
Croatia Online - Regulations for Charter Yachts in Croatia
Croatia Online - New Charter Regulations: Impact on Private Owners
Croatia Online - Find a Marina Berth In Croatia
Croatia Online - Match Racing in Croatia

And finally, below is a link to a posting that gives you an idea of how little has changed in Croatia since 1981. It's a land based travel article published by the New York Times but you'll get the picture!

Croatia Online - Yugoslavian Coast in 1981