Archive for the ‘Life in Croatia’ Category
It’s not enough to be the “pearl of the Adriatic”; Dubrovnik would also like to be part of Croatia. Politically, it’s part of the country but geographically, not so much. As part of the agreement settling the former war in Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Hercegovina was awarded an outlet to the sea at Neum, 160km to the north. That means that in order to go from Dubrovnik to the rest of Croatia along the coast, you have to pass through a border control. All well and good; the war is over; let bygones be bygones. It’s not as though Croatians or anyone else have a problem crossing the Neum checkpoint. But still, it’s disagreeable, which is why several years ago the government devised a plan to bypass the Bosnian border by building a bridge to the Peljesac Peninsula. The expensive plan proved controversial as some accused it of being a government boondoggle meant to line the pockets of politicians. So it was put on hold. Also put on hold was the planned extension of the Rijeka-Split motorway down to Dubrovnik.
Austerity is austerity but when transportation minister Zlatko Komadina announced that there was no money for the Peljesac Bridge or for extending the motorway while at the same time Rijeka was to get another highway, Dubrovnik citizens were dismayed. The dismay turned to fury when Ivan Dadić a supervisor with the Croatia Roads Authority commented that Dubrovnik really didn’t need the bridge or the highway because “in Dubrovnik nobody moved during the tourist season” anyway and as for the border: “In my opinion it is enough to have a ferry and to wait for ten years until Bosnia and Herzegovina enters the EU, then the problems with the border at Neum will disappear”. In the meantime, “Dubrovnik is well-connected by air”.
Nice. Let me assure you, Mr. Dadic, that the visitors I’ve been writing for over the last 15 years want to visit Split, Dubrovnik and several islands in between. And they need to do it fast because they often have only a week or 10 days in Croatia. It isn’t just about Dubrovnik; it’s about tourism in the entire southeastern tip of Croatia. If your idea is to fly people into Dubrovnik and keep them imprisoned there, it hurts the whole region. Please remove foot from mouth and insert brain in head.
With such a bountiful natural heritage to choose from, where do Croatians go when they want to destress, wind down, relax? If it’s just for a short break, a recent survey showed that the number one choice of Croatians is the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park. With 16 lakes and myriad waterfalls, that can’t be a surprise. And Plitvice Lakes is stunning to visit any time of the year from the snows of winter to the greenery of summer. The second choice was the thermal spa resort of Sveti Martin in Medimuska County, not far from Zagreb. The third choice was Istria, another all-year destination. In the top eight measured, nowhere was Dubrovnik, the unquestioned first choice of foreign tourists. Why? I suspect price has something to do with it.
The summer season has barely started and Croatians visiting the coast and islands are outraged by the high prices of food. Accustomed to paying 5KN (€0.70) for a single scoop of ice cream in Zagreb, visitors were shocked to discover that the same little scoop costs 9KN (€1.25) in Rovinj. According to Vecernji list newspaper, it wasn’t only ice cream that seemed expensive to seaside visitors. Readers reported paying 15KN (€2) for a cup of black coffee in Hvar, 70KN (€9.60) for a pizza in Rijeka and found that a seafood dinner ran about 170KN (€23) on the coast as opposed to 120KN (€16.50) on the continent. And that’s not even considering Dubrovnik which is generally even more expensive. When questioned, merchants offered the excuse that a short season leaves them no alternative but to grab as much money as they can as fast as they can.
With that kind of attitude, a short season may well become no season at all if tourists find they can get better value elsewhere.
See more on travel costs & prices in Croatia.
The gay and lesbian community in Croatia is preparing for the annual Pride Parade to be held on June 19 in Zagreb. The theme of this year’s parade is “Freedom of sexual expression and diversity of sexual practice”. Although there is certainly a lot of the latter in Croatia, the “freedom” part of the theme is a long way from being achieved. For historical and religious reasons, Croatia has long clung to rigid definitions of sexual identity which has disadvantaged the LGBT community. Discrimination is rampant and violent attacks on gays are not rare.
The Pride Parade has taken place yearly since 2002 and often draws angry and hateful crowds. This year may be no exception, particularly since a proposed constitutional change will protect sexual orientation. Introduced under pressure from the EU to bring Croatia’s human rights legislation into line with European standards, the proposed change has already provoked a public outcry.
The Pride Parade is the culmination of “Zagreb Pride” a series of local events celebrating LGBT identity and agitating for political change. This year’s schedule includes a roundtable with government representatives to discuss the proposed constitutional change. Despite this year’s slogan, “Croatia can swallow this”, it’s not at all clear that it can.
Once again, Croatia has changed its anti-smoking law. At the beginning of 2009, a strict anti-smoking law went into effect immediately followed by an outcry from the hospitality industry. The law was amended to allow a six-month grace period for bar owners to comply with requirements for no-smoking sections in bars larger than 50 sq m and ventilation systems for smaller bars.
Now, the government has announced a system of subsidies for those who cannot afford the ventilation systems. Also, bars can request special permission to become “smoking establishments” but the process is expensive. Few have applied.
See more on smoking in Croatia.