Insider Stories - Hrvoje, Sanja & TenaIn these times, even a single day can change our fates. In these times, when we travel in our thoughts and make new plans, we bring to you the stories of local people, people who you might meet on your travels in Croatia but more likely would not.
Here are stories from the insider’s point of view, from the local community. From people who living here and are discovering new moments for themselves. As well as their stories, each of them also shares with us three unforgettable things that everyone should see in Croatia.
Right now, while Covid-19 is changing the way we live, how are you living and working? Can you tell us how you feel, how you are experiencing things and how you see yourself?
My name is Hrvoje, I am a tourist guide .I have been in this line of the business for 25 years and have witnessed many changes. One of the changes was the post war period when parts of my country were still destroyed, followed by a slow recovery where everybody was very sceptical about their arrival and had no idea what to expect. Also we learned that even though my country is well and safe we are just a small dot on the world map. Tourism is one of the first branches that suffer because of a world problem. All the diseases like SARS, bird flue, swine flue, they all affected tourism. I remember very well the year 2008 , there were problems all around the world, market crashed down and terrorist attacks around Europe. They were very far from Croatia, but for many to close. Later on, problems with migrants passing to Germany. But the work was never really shut down completely. All until 15.03.2020 when my last group ran home, getting some of the last flights out of Zagreb. Since then, all of the groups were cancelled. It seems that it is going to stay like this for a long period. So why am I a guide?
I love my job, hope to be there for another 25 years. I love to travel, I love my city and country. Now I got the present of time, luxury that fades so fast, and I am going to use it well. Somewhere you lose, somewhere you gain.
My name is Sanja and I am a kindergarten teacher in Zagreb, and have been for the last 15 years. The life I led pre Corona virus was a normal teachers life, preparing lesson plans, preparing materials for the classroom going to work and then coming back home. It was a fulfilled day at work, like any job it has its ups and downs but in the end when you see results it makes it all worth it.
Now during this stay at home period it is very difficult to bond with a child in a sense that you cant hug them or be near them in a physical way. Some lesson plans have changed and were modified to fit the current working environment we are in at this time. Me and my colleague are in touch with our parents via e-mail, viber, whatsapp and our kindergartens web page (where all of the teachers post) providing activities and ideas on how to spend quality time at home with their children. We also record ourselves telling a story so the children would be able to see us. Besides the individual activities and ideas we also have group activities, like we all sing a song together and make it into one video, we will not let our children and parents forget that they are still part of us and our group no matter where they are now.
There are daily reports as well telling us what they did that day or just to say hello which we enjoy very much. For the preschool children activities and preparations for school are also posted and upgraded weekly on the kindergartens web page. We are here to support each other during these difficult times and our wishes are that this will end soon and we can go back to a normal life .
Last January, when Covid -19 started to show its scary face I was visiting friends in Asia, having a great time, celebrating the beginning of the New Lunar year, the year of Rat. As explained by my friends, a rat is everything but an unpleasant animal... my intuition was telling me differently.
Since then, the world had changed. MY world changed heavily at the end of 2019, with personal and professional looses, and I was trying to embrace them and turn into gains or lessons learned.
After 20 years I am not working, I am staying at home and having lots of time for myself and my family. My personal sabbatical period has been extended, due to Covid.
In a fact, this extended, at-home period, was granted by Covid. What can I learn in the meantime ? How to cook on a daily basis, how to be better organised housewife? How to help my child with home schooling ?
Covid, in a way, enabled me experience life that was hidden and far away from me. I was busy, too busy.
This situation enabled me to stop and have a long pause, a break, and to go deeper into my wishes, plans, to observe my needs, very basic one: what do I want from my life ? Do I want to continue like this ? Where do I want to go from here ? What do I need to get me further away ?
I am calm and thankful for being at home, in a lockdown, doing online yoga on everyday basis, having no stress and having time for my loved ones, having time to retching and reinvent myself. Quite luxurious time of my life, I would say.
Which three things should someone planning to visit Croatia definitely not miss?
Hrvoje & Sanja
Boat ride on river Kupa
Just one hour by car from Zagreb is the beautiful river Kupa,a paradise for all that love nature. The true hidden gem is the boat, a replica of an old boat for wheat transport . Curios travellers that would like to discover the river can explore it by sailing and not just from the river bank. It is a perfect match, great crew , thrill of a boat ride, and nature. And if you are lucky , maybe spot a beaver, various species of birds and fish. In the summer season you can even enjoy a swim.
Čigoć, village of the storks
A little more than an hour by car from Zagreb is Lonjsko polje, a nature park. It is in the area between river Lonja and Sava, known by its swamps, fish, horses, wild animals and many birds. One of them is a stork, and can be seen in the little village Čigoc, sitting on top of a roof or a chimney of old wooden houses. Perfect example of people living in peace with animals.
North from Zagreb, sitting next to the border with Slovenia is one of the most interesting and visited castles in Croatia. It is easy to get there because of the modern highway and the last few kilometres are on a local road through a wonderful forest and passing a nice lake. On the top of the hill above the lake is Trakošćan castle, owned by different families, usually connected with Drašković noble family because they owned it until the end of the Second World War. Now turned into a museum,a great place to learn about the architecture of the period, history of that family and enjoy the forest and lake.
If your travelling bring you to Croatia do not miss the following places:
Dubrovnik, beautiful city, recently full of tourist so try to go there in off season. Explore the old city as well as hinterland.
Plitvice lakes, is THE national park in Croatia, beautiful lakes and power of water will freshen you up and connect you deeper with a nature.
Inland of Istria, a magical and mild hinterland, with timid people. Great food and wine. Enough said.