Monday, 25 October 2021

One of the first words I learned in Croatia (aside from the basic everyday greetings), was “Polako”.

Little did I know back then that it was the word that has come to shape my whole existence here.

I had come to live in the magical coastal paradise that is Molunat, and I was learning all about the local lifestyle and just why I felt so healthy living there.

My inspiration was a woman called Marija, who was the eldest in a four generation household. I never asked her age, but she was the fittest Great Grandmother I had ever seen.

The first time I met her, she’d carried my rucksack up three flights of stairs as if it was light as a feather (it was probably 30kg!).

I’d often see her early in the mornings pulling the fishing nets in, lifting the heavy buckets, climbing out of the boat to tie it up. She was as fit and active as any average person in their 20s I knew from back home.

Watching her handle a huge tuna they had caught one day, cleaning and gutting it, and then cutting it up into pieces with a knife I would have struggled to lift with one hand, I was inspired. This is who I want to be when (if) I grow up.

Marija made her own wine, olive oil, she always had oranges or apples, or whatever fruit was in season.

 

 

And there was the Rakija, which was prescribed for any days I was feeling even slightly under the weather. I found myself drinking it one morning on her terrace at around 9am, before my class, and it felt completely normal by then. Whatever she was doing, I was thinking “I’m in”.

It is Marija’s voice I have in my head when I think of “Polako”.

In the early days in Molunat, when I was still on U.K. pace of life, I would often take the stairs three at a time. The quicker I got there the better, no wasting time, things to do, life is short, blah blah blah.

“Polako”, she would say to me, sound advice given it was often slippery from the rain (or from me traipsing in with wet feet straight out of the sea).

But it wasn’t just about safety, it’s their way of life. Everything gets done, but nothing is rushed. There’s no stress about doing the work, they just get on with it. They take time for their meals, whether it’s in the catching, the preparation or the eating.

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I don’t think I ever saw anyone in Molunat eat on-the-hoof, or wolf down a ready meal in front of the television. I love this about how they live.

Then a few nights ago, enjoying a dinner with friends at Ludo More, I realised maybe it’s not just Molunat, or Croatia even, maybe it’s just age-old wisdom.

We were talking about making big life decisions, and one of my friends Mel tells me about his Uncle Jim, who lived well into his 90s.

Jim’s advice was very simple - “Bowl a steady ball”, he would say.

Don’t rush it, take it easy, consider your options, and then commit having weighed it all up.

I’m not a fan of either cricket or bowling, but this made absolute sense to me.

Whether in sport or in life, composure is everything.

I wonder if Uncle Jim had anything to do with Andy Murray’s turnaround, before he won his first Wimbledon. He’d always struggled with composure, but over time he learned how to handle his emotions, and his Wimbledon win was like a Masterclass in emotional management.

Now I’m thinking actually “Polako” is not just a more enjoyable way to live, but it’s also smarter.

When we make decisions that are rushed, that’s when we make mistakes. Because if we are hurrying, we are stressed. Our nervous system isn’t in balance, and we are likely operating from a state of fear and urgency. This rarely leads to successful outcomes.

But when we sit back, pause, weight things up, calculate our next move, from a place of calm, that’s when we tend to make good decisions.

I realise I’ve changed a lot since I first arrived to live in Croatia. I’ve slowed down for sure, and I tend to take a pause before committing to action.

There’s no rush, and sometimes we just don’t know which path we want to take, and that’s ok.

I’ve done a lot of this recently.

“I don’t know”, I’d say.

“And I’m going to sit with “I don’t know” until I do know.

I’ve made mistakes when I have rushed decisions and ended up in situations that weren’t right for me, but I’m looking back at what I learned in Molunat from Marija and Mother Earth, and I’m remembering it’s ok to take your time.

“Adopt the pace of nature where nothing is rushed”.

It seems there are wise souls on all corners of the planet, and although I never met Uncle Jim, his words have left a mark, and brought new meaning to “Polako” for me.

“Roll A Steady Ball”.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Read more Gillie here...  

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Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Cavtat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to www.behappyfit.co.uk

The National Civil Protection Headquarters announced today's numbers of newly infected, it what is the 600th day of the Covid-19 pandemic in Croatia.

In the last 24 hours, 1,301 new cases of Covid-19 virus infection were recorded, and the number of active cases in Croatia today is a total of 10,284.

Among them, 903 people are in hospital, of which 116 are on ventilators.

Unfortunately, a further 19 people died in the past 24 hours.

Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 427,914 people have been infected, of which 8,896 have died, a total of 408,734 people have recovered, of which 1,329 recovered in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 19591 people in self-isolation

To date just over 2.9 million people have been tested, of which 8,054 were tested in the last 24 hours.

 

In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, 35 new cases of coronavirus infection have been recorded in the last 24 hours.

These are 20 males and 15 females: 16 from Dubrovnik, eight from Vela Luka, five from Orebic, four from Trpanj and one from Konavle and Korcula.

30 people made a full recovery: 13 from Dubrovnik, eight from Ploče, two from Konavle, Metković, Vela Luka and Župa dubrovačka and one from Lumbarda.

In the last 24 hours, 427 samples were processed, and since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 147,024 samples have been analyzed.

In the Dubrovnik General Hospital, 24 people tested positive for coronavirus were hospitalized, and three patients require intensive care and are on ventilators. 

774 people are in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours no case of violation of the self-isolation measure has been determined. 

 

Over half the ATMs in Croatia could soon be closed due to the introduction of additional regulations for the protection and security, reports HRT.

There are around 6,000 ATMs across Croatia, although banks have already shut down some of these, the ATMs for which they estimated that the cost of their maintenance is greater than the benefit they have from the amount of turnover and the number of customers.

According to the regulations, greater security of the banking network is necessary in order to reduce criminal actions at ATMs. Banks should therefore invest several thousand euros in ATM security. Therefore, they have announced the withdrawal of some ATMs from use, especially those in rural areas.

But these new security issues, one of which is an electrochemical protection system which permanently marks and destroys banknotes in an attempted burglary, isn’t the only problem facing banks. Croatia’s impending entry in the Eurozone and the introduction of the Euro as the official currency means that banks are investing up to 100 million Euros into IT systems.

This has meant that banks are asking the Ministry of the Interior for a compromise solution regarding the security of ATMs.

 

While fuel prices in Croatia are breaking records, owners of petrol stations across the border in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and rubbing their hands in glee. One man’s loss is another man’s profit. And as petrol prices started to soar in Croatia many drivers made their way across the border to make the most of cheaper fuel prices. Of course, petrol prices in neighbouring BiH are slowly rising but they are still considerably lower than in Croatia. Figures suggest that a litre of petrol is on average two and a half Kuna cheaper in BiH, which if you are filling the tank is a considerable saving.

As the world market fluctuates like a bucking bronco so fuel prices around the globe rise. This week diesel prices in Croatia broke the 11 Kuna a litre mark, the most expensive a litre has been in the past seven years. The Croatian government also decided to react, and to stabilize prices for a period of 30 days, which limits the price of gasoline to about 11 Kuna per litre. And in reaction to this the main oil company INA stated that they will only sell premium fuel until stocks run out. The government passed a decree according to which traders in petroleum products can sell petrol for a maximum of 11.10 per litre for the next 30 days, and diesel for 11 Kuna. "I believe that in the next 30 days there will be a stabilization of prices on the market and that after that period we will continue to function normally as an economy," said the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Tomislav Ćorić.

So whilst the government locks horns with the main fuel company many citizens have decided to take their business elsewhere and save some hard-earned cash. And it isn’t only petrol companies in BiH that are enjoying the windfall, supermarkets and restaurants have also seen a jump in customer numbers. As drivers go to fill up their tanks so they stop off to do some shopping or have a meal, the knock-on effect of rising petrol prices. And as winter comes drivers are also stocking up on anti-freeze, winter tyres and de-icer across the border.

This could be in a strange but true section, or even in a pub quiz. Even though the German Mark (DM) has not been in circulation since 1 January 2002, it is still accepted as payment for misdemeanour fines in the Republic of Croatia.

Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, a currency that has been out of circulation for almost 20 two decades can still be used to pay fines in Croatia. Or at least it could be. Due to the introduction of the euro, the Ministry of the Interior has planned to change almost 30 regulations for next year, and one of them is the law on misdemeanour fines.

"Amendments to these laws will mean converting from German marks to kuna will no longer be used, and when the entire package enters into force, regarding of Croatia's expected entry into the EU monetary mechanism, all penalties will be set in euros," said the Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović.

Croatia’s path, however popular or unpopular it my be, to adopt the Euro as the official currency will at the very least change this out-of-date law.

 

We went from swimming to shivering! It is the same every year. It’s as if there somebody presses a light switch and we go from short sleeves to scarves. Dubrovnik doesn’t really do seasons. It’s either bright, sunny and hot or windy grey and cold. There is no middle ground, no happy medium. Those long colourful autumn days they have in New England, or even middle Croatia, are only something that we can see on screensavers.

So as October marches on the Indian Summer has been blasted out to sea by the whistling northerly wind our thoughts turn to the long winter ahead of us and looking back over our shoulders at what turned out to be a positive (no not that positive!) season.

So what will the winter bring? Well there will certainly be much fewer conferences than a usual season. I feel it will be a winter of planning, of rethinking and reorganisation. With two years of a pandemic behind us we are (or at least should be) wiser and more equipped to understand what we can and can’t do.

I am predicting that we will still be divided into two groups, the pro and anti-vaccine. If we can just get to a percentage that herd immunity kicks in, then I’d be happy and the anti-vaxxers can protest as much as they want. They are basically protesting about something that isn’t compulsory. It’s a bit like protesting that you don’t want to eat ice-cream. The rest of society is silently screaming “Don’t eat f***ing ice-cream then you imbeciles.”

As we slowly start the hibernation process, the central heating gets turned on and the winter wardrobe is uncovered we should really pat ourselves on the back for a successful tourist season. In spite of the flood of pessimism at the start of the year the season, or more importantly the earnings from tourism, were much higher than anyone expected.

How can Dubrovnik learn from Split? 

Although some people were calling to “shut down the country” and to lock ourselves away in a New Zealand approach to fighting Covid they were proved wrong. From around the middle of July to the end of September we were full, completely full.

I do have one question though. How is it that Split Airport has so many more flights and passengers than Dubrovnik? I have actually heard this same sentence amongst business meetings all year. In fact, Split Airport set to be the most frequented airport in Croatia in 2021, taking the title away from Zagreb. For a coastal destination to have more passengers than the capital is unusual.

So what are Split doing than we aren’t? 330,000 passengers used Split in September, Dubrovnik came in at around 208,000. And this winter Zagreb will be connected to a whole range of destinations with the budget airline Ryanair. We, on the other hand, will be in our long winter sleep, busy congratulating ourselves on how clever and how lucky we were that the season ended up being positive.

I gave up on the idea of winter tourism in Dubrovnik a long time ago. It’s just not possible. The problem isn’t that we don’t have the conditions or the offer, the problem is that in our heads we really don’t want to work in the winter.

It isn’t so much a lack of creativity more a lack of need. Earnings in the summer more than cover our winter needs, well in most cases, and we just can’t be bothered, we’re lazy. We won’t have flights in the winter because no airline wants to fly here, we’ll have no flights because we don’t want them to fly here and spoil our sleep.

Do you think that the airport would be empty if it were named Hamburg, Belfast or Manchester, no! But that “all work no play” attitude isn’t our style. It’s a characteristic that starts at school when a pass is seen as all you need, rather than striving for excellent.

We seem all happy with a pass, to be average. But being average in a world-class destination seems a little ironic. “Most people are happy being average. Most are happy being faceless in a sea of faces,” wrote Robert Kiyosaki.

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to  

   

The Tourist Board of Orebić have reported that they are satisfied with the number of tourists in the first half of October, and stated that there are around 650 guests are still staying on the Pelješac Riviera.

It is also encouraging that as of October 15, the number of 800,000 overnight stays this year was reached and exceeded. This number means that there were more than 270,000 more overnight stays over that period than the same period from 2020. And even more encouraging is the fact that tourism numbers reached an impressive 86 percent of the record breaking year of 2019.

The majority of guests in Orebić are staying in the larger hotels, such as Aminess Grand Azur. Several camps are still open as well as a large number of private apartments and villas.

One of the loudest complaints from holidaymakers in Croatia is the price, or rather the high prices. In fact, it isn’t really the price that is the main gripe but the value for money. However, according to a recent article and survey in the renowned UK publication “Which” it seems that Croatia is in fact the cheapest of the most sought after Mediterranean destinations.

The Which article states that a “A three-star package holiday in Croatia could cost you an average of £350 less than a similar trip to Malta – and it was the cheapest location to visit across the board, including Greece, Portugal and Spain.”

It must be empathised that the price surveys included the whole of Croatia, if it had concentrated on Dubrovnik, which along with Hvar is the most expensive destination in Croatia, then the results could have been much different.

“Which? carried out snapshot research across a number of popular European short-haul destinations to determine which is the cheapest for October package holidays, including flights from London,” states the article.

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Hotel Excelsior overlooking the Old City of Dubrovnik - Photo ALH

And here is what they uncovered about Croatia. “Out of all the destinations we looked into, Croatia was the cheapest to visit for a package holiday. At an average of £485pp, a three-star holiday in Croatia is more than £350 cheaper than a three-star holiday to Malta. Even when comparing the average price across three, four and five-star holidays, Croatia remained the cheapest destination, at £520 per head. That’s a difference of £347,” wrote Which. They also added that in October the weather can be changeable, and this October is a perfect example of that autumnal weather.

And with half-term in England a week away this publicity could certainly help boost the number of Brits who arrive on the Dalmatian coast. British Airways are still operating up to 11 flights a week between London and Dubrovnik and other carriers, such as EasyJet are also still flying until at least the end of this month. British Airways are offing return flights to Dubrovnik from around £240 and as an example of a package deal are offering seven-nights with breakfast in the five-star Hotel Croatia in Cavtat including flights for around £740pp. Or is you want to take a step up to the most iconic hotel in Dubrovnik, the Hotel Excelsior, with views directly over the Old City of Dubrovnik you can get a similar deal for £1,363pp.

 

In 2020, 28,615 entrepreneurs operated in the trade sector, employing 192,367 workers and generating revenues of more than 260 billion Kuna, according to an analysis by the Financial Agency (Fina).

According to Fina, in 2020, 28,615 entrepreneurs operated in the wholesale and retail trade. For comparison, in 2004 there were 27,044, in 2009 27,262, and in the mentioned period the lowest number was in 2014, 26,260.

The largest total revenues in 2020 were generated by the supermarket chain Konzum, with around 10 billion Kuna. And in second places came the German supermarket giant Lidl with revenues of 6.1 billion Kuna and then Spar Croatia with around 5 billion Kuna.

In fact, Lidl was the biggest financial winner in 2020 with profits of 274.8 million Kuna.

The largest importer last year was Lidl, with imports of 2.3 billion Kuna, followed by Medika with 2.1 billion Kuna.

As far as salaries for the almost 200,000 workers in the retail industry in Croatia the average net monthly salary was 5,816 Kuna in 2020. When compared to 2004 salaries are just over 85 percent higher.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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