Wojtek and Agnieszka are simply mad about Croatia. This young couple from Lublin in Poland have travelled to Croatia five times and every time they come they collect information and photos. After writing down their journeys, documenting their discoveries throughout the country, they decided to turn these musings into a blog. To say it went viral would be an understatement; crolove.pl is the most popular travel blog on Croatia in Poland. Through the summer more than 100,000 people visit their blog to read about the couples Croatian adventure. The Dubrovnik Times caught up with the bloggers to find out why Croatia is so close to their hearts.
Your blog is the most Polish travel blog about Croatia, when did you first fall in love with Croatia? And how many people visit your blog?
It all started with Wojtek’s sister who instilled in us a love for Croatia. She visited this country soon after the breakup of Yugoslavia. We were fascinated with her stories of crickets and their constant roaring, the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, amazing views from Biokovo, and we decided to experience it ourselves. It really paid off. We will never change Croatia for any other country, despite the fact that when we came there for the first time, Croatia welcomed us with rain. Our fascination has lasted to this day and it will last forever. We went on our first tour in June 2012. We had no particular plans, even when it came to the destination. The only thing we knew was that it had to be Dalmatia. When we see every corner of Dalmatia, which will take some time, then we will go towards Istria and Slavonia.
Indeed, our blog is the most popular Polish travel blog fully devoted to Croatia. Last year our website was visited more than half a million times. In the peak of summer season our site was visited by over 100,000 unique users monthly. Every year these numbers are doubling. At the end of 2016 we want to reach 1 million visits. Unfortunately, our blog is only in Polish. Naturally, we would have more readers if we wrote also in English.
How often do you travel to Croatia and how many times have you been in Croatia?
We have been to Croatia only 5 times. Last year we managed to go there in May and again in July. We try to make the most of every hour spent in this beautiful country and to get to know it as much as we can. We take lots of photos and gather valuable information from inhabitants of a given area, so that we can use it for our blog. Unfortunately, our jobs do not allow us to visit Croatia very often. We do not worry about it, though. Instead, we dream about having a small house near Dubrovnik in the future.
Why did you two decide to write your blog about Croatia?
At the beginning the blog served as our notebook. Instead of writing everything down on paper, we decided to create an online notebook. In 2012 we started to write a professional blog thanks to encouragement from our friends who found our tips very useful. Writing this blog makes us feel fulfilled. We do something not only for ourselves, but also for others. Currently, our website is a big online Croatian guidebook, which has already helped many people, for instance, in deciding to visit the country. Thanks to the blog we also had a chance to meet many interesting people from Poland and Croatia. However, the most important thing is that this blog makes us love Croatia all year round, not only during our visits.
What are some of your favourite places in the country?
It is definitely Dalmatia! We have a special liking for Dubrovnik and the surrounding area. We fell in love with this place from the first visit. I have to mention that I proposed to Agnieszka at the Jesuits’ Staircase in the heart of Dubrovnik. We love the Mediterranean climate, palms and cypresses. In Dubrovnik we also met two wonderful Poles living near the city – Daria and Paulina. Paulina is a certified tour guide in Dubrovnik. They both are managing the company "I Do in Du" specialising in wedding organization in Dubrovnik and Montenegro. We are even more eager to visit this place because of our friends, Daria and Paulina. Apart from Dubrovnik we also like visiting Zadar, Trogir, Omiš, Cavtat and their surroundings. There are also our small magical places which we must visit every year. This is Srđ Mountain, where you can admire the wonderful view of Dubrovnik.
How often have you been to Dubrovnik and what would be your recommendations to our readers?
We visit Dubrovnik each time we come to Croatia. We cannot leave without seeing such a magical place.
Everyone who visits Dubrovnik should:
- see the panorama of Dubrovnik from the Srđ mountain during the day and at night
- visit numerous interesting museums in the old town
- find a medieval graffiti on one of the walls in the old town
- walk along the Walls of Dubrovnik
- see Sveti Jakov beach
- sail to Lokrum island
- come at dawn to the old town when there are no tourists yet, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the magic of this place
Polish people definitely should see the places connected with our country:
- the former monastery of St Jacob which became the home of Ludomir Michał Rogowski, the well-known Polish composer and writer, who was appreciated also in Dubrovnik. He was buried at the local cemetery.
- the statue of Ivan Gundulić, the author of "Osman". There are reliefs on the base of the statue which show scenes from the epos. One of them presents Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz who is coming back after a successful Battle of Chocim. On the other side of the statue another relief presents St Blaise blessing Polish armies which are preparing for the battle with Ottomans.
What are your Croatian travel tips, what do visitors need to see and what needs to be avoided?
There are lots of beautiful places in Croatia. It is difficult to list them all. In Dalmatia you definitely have to do the following things: see the sunset in Zadar, visit the Cathedral of St James in Šibenik, walk through Trogir at night, visit the ruins of Salona, do the Zip line and rafting in Omiš, drive up to Sveti Jure, see Pasjača beach in Popovići, go for the whole-day fish picnic, try fresh seafood in Ston, drink wine in a winery on the Pelješac Peninsula and eat Burek.
I will not list any places that we do not recommend because others can have a different opinion. We also apply this principle to our blog. We do not want to harm someone's business.
How popular is Croatia as a tourist destination in Poland?
Croatia is very popular among Poles as a tourist destination. Our two nations are on good terms and Croats are very accommodating to Polish tourists. I guess it is the Slavic blood! The data presented by the Croatian Tourist Community show that in the first eight months of 2015 Croatia was visited by over 575,000 Poles. Poland is the seventh largest incoming tourism market for Croatia. A car is the most popular means of transport. Poles love Croatia but we would love it even more if flight connections were improved. Unfortunately, there are not as many fast and cheap flights from Poland to Croatia as in the case of Great Britain or Germany.
How would you describe Croatia in three words?
Friendly, Tasty, Sunny
The UK airline Jet2 has launched cruise packages to Dubrovnik and Split for this summer season. The seven day cruise features seven different destinations and is sure to prove popular with tourists looking to island-hop along the Croatian coastline.
Passengers will be able to experience the islands of Brac, Korcula, Hvar and Mljet, plus the Makarska Riviera and Omis.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “It’s the first time we have offered cruises and we are really excited about the packages available. They are tailored to provide the very best value and are a fantastic way of exploring the Croatian coastline and islands. I’m sure they will prove very popular.”
The seven day cruise set sail from either Split or Dubrovnik, depending if you want to travel north or south, and will give a great opportunity to see the stunning coastline and islands. With only 18 cabins onboard guests are sure to have a relaxing and tailor-made experience.
“We are always looking for innovative new ways to give our customers the best choice of holiday experiences. This latest product is one of several new developments planned for 2016. It’s going to be a very exciting year for our customers,” added Heapy.
Dubrovnik in numbers - part one
14 – centuries since the founding of the city
45 – length of Dubrovnik Summer Festival in days
1979 – Dubrovnik was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
1234 – the highest mountain in the region, Snijeznica in Konavle
2629 – hours of annual sunshine (they aren’t all in the summer!)
20 – kilometres from the airport to the city
1317 – the year the first pharmacy opened (the third oldest pharmacy in Europe)
72 – the size of the Lokrum island in hectares
4 – the number of entrances into the Old City
1418 – the year that the Republic of Dubrovnik abolished slavery
29 – degrees Celsius – average summer temperature
1,940 – length of city walls in metres
Expect to see a few hundred Mercedes driving around the streets of Dubrovnik; the Mercedes Global Training Event is getting underway. The first charter planes full of participants to the Mercedes training program landed at Dubrovnik Airport today.
Sales staff and sales coordinators of this luxury German brand will arrive in Dubrovnik from all over the world. In total around 15,000 employees of Mercedes are expected to visit the city until April. The first two planes, one from TUI Airlines and the other from Transavia, landed this morning at around 11 o’clock. According to reports on the website avioradar.hr the two planes brought 322 passengers.
The participants to the Mercedes event will be based at two Dubrovnik hotel chains, the Valamar Group on Babin Kuk and the Radisson Hotel in Orasac.
According to the latest information from Eurostat a quarter of all internet users in the European Union had security issues such as viruses or data loss last year. And the country inside the EU with the most number of problems was Croatia!
The list of countries where security problems are the most common is headed by Croatia and followed by Hungary, Portugal, Malta and France. And the least number of virus attacks were in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Ireland.
The main problem for internet users was the so-called Trojan, which enters into computers and invites other viruses to attack. In comparison to 2010 the number of virus attacks inside the EU fell, expect for Croatia. The greatest progress was made in Slovakia where the percent of users with problems fell from 47 percent to only 9 percent.
However when it comes to using the internet to purchase goods or services Croatians are not shy, only 14 percent of Croatians polled said that they wouldn’t use the internet for shopping purposes. Whilst in other EU countries that figure was much higher, Romania 37 percent and Sweden 34 percent. And when it comes to internet banking Croatians also feel safe, only 6 percent of people said that they wouldn’t use the internet to check their bank accounts.
Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut who lived on the International Space Station (ISS) and who is famous for publishing photographs taken by the space, has today published on his Twitter account a set of photos entitled - Croatian islands.
Obviously the view of Croatia from space impressed the German astronaut. While the International Space Station, where he stayed from May to November 2014, circled around the Earth Gerst busily snapped the view.
Today he published two photos showing the Croatian coastline, and the island of Brac near Split can be clearly seen.
Benedict Cumberbatch is coming to the screen in Dubrovnik in his role as Hamlet. On the 13th of February at 8.00 pm in the Visia Cinema in the Old City of Dubrovnik a broadcast of the successful production of Hamlet by the National Theatre in London.
Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the globally popular Sherlock, appears in the title role as the Danish prince. Cumberbatch has won critical acclaim for his performance. “Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet comes into its own on the screen,” wrote The Guardian, with the Los Angeles Times saying that “Benedict Cumberbatch's 'Hamlet' is good and righteous.”
Hamlet at London's Barbican Theatre played for only two and a half months and all of the shows were sold out in minutes. The play, directed by Lyndsey Turner and produced Sonia Friedman, has been shown in over forty countries around the world and Croatian subtitles will be included in the Dubrovnik performance.
Tickets for Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch in Cinema Visia are available at 50 Kunas and can be booked via phone on 020 638-640
Visia Cinema to be the host for Hamlet
The Mayor of Dubrovnik Andro Vlahusic is on an official visit to the United States where he will meet representatives of the producers of Star Wars, LucasFilm.
The eighth episode of Star Wars is planned to be partly filmed in Dubrovnik this year. And according to an inside source the mayor will meet with senior representatives, quite possibly George Lucas, on his trip to the United States. Lucasfilm are based in San Francisco, California and was founded by George Lucas in 1975. In 2012 Walt Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion.
During his trip to the United States the mayor of Dubrovnik also participated in the celebrations of the St. Blaise festivities in Los Angeles. The festivities in Los Angeles are traditionally organised by the Libertas Foundation and this year was a double celebration as the foundation also marked their 25th anniversary. The mayor thanked his hosts for their generous hospitality and wished them every success in their future endeavours.
Fresh on the heels that the Russian airline Red Wings has been granted permission to operate daily flights from Moscow to Dubrovnik comes news that another Russian airline is to fly more regularly to the city. S7 Airlines started operations between the Russian capital and Dubrovnik last summer season with once-weekly flights.
According to the Russian airlines recently released flight schedule for this year S7 has increased the number of flights per week to Dubrovnik. From the 2nd of June S7 will fly twice a week to Dubrovnik from Moscow, on Thursdays and Sundays, until the 4th of September. The flights leave Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport at 13.00 and arrive in Dubrovnik at 17.05. Tickets are already available online at start at around 200 Euros for a return ticket.
S7 Airlines has a fleet of 58 aircraft and operates to 87 destinations worldwide. It is also a member of the “Oneworld” airline alliance which includes British Airways, Cathy Pacific and American Airlines.
After a record year in 2015 this year has also started on the right foot for Zagreb Airport. January this year was the best January for Zagreb Airport since it started operations 54 years ago. In total Zagreb Airport handled 156,947 passengers in the first month of this year, an increase of 4.2 percent compared to the same month from 2015. According to information from the specialised website EX-YU Aviation this was the 23rd month in a row that Zagreb Airport has experienced a growth in passenger numbers.
Although the number of flights through Zagreb Airport in January 2016 was slightly down on 2015, by around 2 percent, passenger figures rose. This is an indicator that flights to the Croatian capital had a higher capacity percentage. Also the reintroduction of flights by the LOT from Warsaw assisted in pumping up the numbers.
Construction work on the new Zagreb Airport is well underway and due to be completed by 2017. The construction of the new Zagreb Airport is an investment worth 331 million Euros. The new terminal will spread over 65,000 square metres. Once opened the new Zagreb Airport will attract even more international airlines to the capital.
Visualization of new Zagreb Airport planned to open in 2017