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Friday, 29 July 2016

Croatian City Of Varaždin Celebrating 18th Year Of Špancirfest This August (+Video)







It's that time year again for the annual Špancirfest in the historic baroque town of Varaždin.





I already mentioned this topic previously HERE, so this is just a refresher since I came across some decent video footage from last year. (This is not a tourism post though because I don't do tourism posts, just information for the benefit of the reader). Just basically to show the readership that it's not all just on the coast where all the summer entertainment and various events and good times take place, or the only place in the country that is worth checking out, far from it. Because there's more than enough talk and images from the coastal areas in the summer, but it's important to remember that there actually is life, existence and plenty of interesting summer things going on and to see and do elsewhere in the rest of the country, including the small towns and cities like Varaždin in this case. People do exist and truly live lives away from the coast in the summer and still have things to do. (It may seem unbelievable to some but it's true). The truth must be told, this is the blog of truth after all.








What is Špancirfest exactly anyway you may wonder? (pronounced "shpawn-tseer-fest") Well, Špancirfest is a summer festival that takes place in the city of Varaždin. And where is Varaždin exactly? Varaždin is located in the northwest region of Croatia just between the Slovenia and Hungary border. It's an old historic settlement from the times of the medieval Kingdom of Croatia and recorded for the first time by name in 1181 as an important newly elevated fortress town.

(As an interesting sidenote, (because so many readers keep begging for those spontaneous quirky math and history facts all the time), in 1756 as part of measures to cut administrative costs throughout the empire, Maria Theresa the Empress of the Habsburgs (and the Croatian crown lands within Austria-Hungary), moved the Croatian Government from Zagreb to Varaždin and established the Royal Croatian Council overseeing the Croatian Triune Kindom lands, (Headed by the Croatian Ban/Prime Minister [pronounced like 'Bahn' sort of like the word autobahn] and Croatian nobles), so Varaždin actually became the Croatian capital until it moved back to the Croatian Parliament in Zagreb in 1776). Castles, palaces, mansions, fortresses, baroque buildings, classical theatre houses, classicist and secessionist homes and even cobbled roads are still found in the medieval-renaissance-baroque historic Old Town nucleus of Varaždin. Today, besides some other annual festivals here the old town quarter is for the most part a quiet and relaxing type of location throughout most of the year. (the nearby Varaždinske Toplice have been popular natural hot springs for many centuries also)





Varaždin Civil Guards in the 1840's.



I should also mention that it's not generally known that Varaždin was under attack a number of times during the centuries of Ottoman Jihads into Europe, yet from the1530's onward every single Ottoman army and their Serb volunteers attacks from the Sanjak of Smederevo was repelled in their attempt to take the strategically important town. (As a matter of fact, from the Seige of Vienna in 1529 to the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the combined Ottoman armies and their Serb volunteers allies had to repeatedly circumvent around the Croatian defensive military positions, including Varaždin, to attain their goal of reaching Vienna. The bloodthirsty Ottoman Serb Grand Vizier and de facto ruler of the Ottoman empire, Мехмед-паша Соколовић (English: Mehmed-Pasha Sokolovich, aka Sokollu Mehmed Pasha) led numerous combined Turkish Ottoman and Serb jihad campaigns to try to break through Croatian positions but with no success)

Also worth noting of course is the still kept tradition of the Varaždinska građanska garda (Varaždin Civil Guards, who were grenadier soldiers and aka the "Purgari" seen above), which is a historic civil military unit formed in 1538 and then officially founded in a 1750 statute by imperial decree, they are still used for Varaždin county events and official ceremonial functions even today (example) as well as representatives of the historical units of Varaždin Hussars that existed in the vicinity until 1813. Varaždin and the surrounding county suburbs is of course also known for various local gastronomical choices (foods), wines, specialty liquors and pastries etc, because you gotta have local good eats and recipes.








However, and getting back to the main point of this post, once a year for 10 days in August, Špancirfest comes along. A time of mixing the old with the new, bringing out the foods and drinks, old costumes, crafts, displays, historical reenactments and related events, and also more modern events, jugglers, costumes, street performers, entertainment, programs and music, (It can seem sort of like medieval times in a way when you think about it, because there used to be court jesters, fools, musicians, magicians and various entertainers back then too, of course along with the local village wench and goblets of frothy mead and those big turkey and ham legs)





Varaždin was also a host city this past April during the Tour of Croatia cycling stage races.




There is something for one and all and a time to celebrate the town with food, entertainment, art and the arts. Even the cool 3D projection mapping visuals and neon drumming mimes will be there again this year. (see previous post festival-visualia-2014-3d-projection-pula for more about that) Maybe it's not as well known, long running or on the scale of festivals like the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and some other different themed ones, but Varaždin is not Dubrovnik and it isn't located on the coast, that's the way geography is and which also explains the lack of boats, rubber dinghies and shrimp and mussels in Lake Varaždin.





Cobbled roads still visible within the old town quarter paths and walkways. Instagram photo.




Varaždin from August 19-28 will once again feature over 1,000 well-known street performers, musicians, theatre performers, comedy acts and acrobats from all over the world. More than 40 concerts will also take place this year, during these days Varaždin regularly hosts over 100,000 visitors coming from all over Croatia and even visitors from the surrounding countries.








It's still mainly Croatian music acts that perform at Špancirfest, but over the years it's become more eclectic in regards to entertainment and things to do and see. Practically unheard of to most, Varaždin is located in the northwest corner of Croatia just between Slovenia and Hungary, quite a ways from the Adriatic coast, and all the boats and beaches, and there are many similar events taking place all across Croatia during these summer months, but believe you me, Špancirfest will be a happening interesting place to be at this summer. Guaranteed. If you're in the area you should definitely check it out, and if not it's still good to know. Below is some video footage from last year's Špancirfest 2015 and what to expect more of this year, so I don't have to add a bunch of photos.


More information at the official website spancirfest.com.







Related: spancirfest-2014_varazdin

www.likecroatia.com

twitter.com/spancirfest

www.instagram.com/spancirfest

www.flickr.com/photos/spancirfest

www.facebook.com/spancirfest

croatia.hr/Varazdin/Culture/Fun/Spancirfest

wikipedia.org/wiki/Varazdin




A few video highlights from last year's Špancirfest 2015.




Some of the music entertainment for Špancirfest 2016.




What the heck, just one Walmart People photo everyone keeps asking for just so the readers don't get Špancirfest overload, there's some really good recent ones added and videos too, consider it a public service announcement.



More music entertainment for Špancirfest 2016.




One of the special circus acts showing up this year again.




A wide variety of music acts that performed in 2015.




Various foreign travelling televangelists and subversive cults over the years have tried to set up pools, crusades and sell books in Varaždin during Špancirfest, but luckily the heavenly clouds opened up and a great fire swallowed them up unto the lands of the Moabites and Jebusites, and Detroitites and some other places, they were then rebuked and denied permits and barred from the town by citizens with pitchforks and thrown bricks of cheese and various canned jams by all the old grandmas in the city center market. That's why every year there's a children's programs and activities center during Špancirfest instead.




...and interactive stuff also.



More than 40 concert performances over 7 days for 30 bucks during Špancirfest 2016, not a bad deal actually.



A few sample scenes of the various street performers and entertainment from 2015.




And lastly, some interesting views of the Old Town section of Varaždin during Non-Špancirfest time.











Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Photo Of The Day: Clothed Statue In Podgorica Croatia Shocks Thousands






This is of absolutely no importance whatsoever or any news at all really, just interesting and amusing enough to throw in here quickly. Basically just a popular statue on the Croatian coast near the small Dalmatian town of Podgora near Makarska on the Adriatic sea, (about 65 km south of Split and 135 km north of Dubrovnik)...the statue locally known as "the siren" ("sirena", as those sirens of mythology), that someone decided to adorn with a Croatian top.

As a show of support for the upcoming Olympics, someone took on the witty endeavour probably late at night after too many drinks probably, or just bored, but whatever. Also between July 11-22 is particularly a popular time for beginning of summer celebrations in Croatia anyway, a glorious and joyous time when many Croatians will have bbq's, roasted pork and sasauges, various smoked bacon and ham dishes, and of course beers, plum brandy (rakija), wines and other drinks to usher in the coming joyous summer and water festivities, (from March 24th to June 10th is the spring time pre-summer festivities with similar happenings) Nobody was actually shocked like the title of this post suggests, I'm just humorously mimicking the way many media and entertainment stories and articles are titled many times to sensationalize for ratings or divert from reality. (I could have used "Croatian Citizens Up In Arms Over Defaced Landmark Statue" , "Terrorist Defaces Podgora Statue, Croatians Enraged & Military On Standby", or "Croatian President Declares Statue Terrorism Act A Crime Against Normalcy & Civilization")

The statue normally looks like this, and is one of numerous other popular local landmark statues dotting the whole coast. It sort of is artsy or artistic too when you think about, an artistic statement. Sort of like if you put a jersey or top on a famous historic landmark or well known nude woman art statue in Athens, Rome or Munich etc, or a hijab, grass and feathers skirts, Tupac tee or one of those banana-pineapple hats on the Famous 5 women statues in Calgary to give it a more authentic Canadian ambiance. I would actually have no issue having this as a framed photo hanging on a wall in a room somewhere, it's artistic, interesting, different, amusing, philosophical and even just a good conversation topic while drinking some adult beverages. ("Oh hey there, what's the story behind that photo in the hallway anyway? better than those Elvis oil paintings one comes across here and there at shitty garage sales and flea markets) Maybe even as a 3D version with glow in the dark neon paint, that would be pretty cool. That's about it, art and the arts and an amusing interlude between my usual stuff.

(Come to think of it, this would probably be a cool topic for down the road, about some of the many interesting statues along the coast. Or maybe about the many cool lighthouses too, there are some really frikin cool lighthouses worth posting about also, some of them you can rent complete with furniture, modern amenities and wi-fi, even your own private island lighthouse which is a pretty cool idea)




Image: www.slobodnadalmacija.hr















Friday, 15 July 2016

Cro-Cop Looking For Pokémon At Frankfurt Airport (+Video)







Former Croatian champion heavyweight mixed martial artist, kickboxer, boxer, (and former politician, soldier, elite anti-terrorist unit member cop, hence the nickname) was seen recently in Germany caught up in the world-wide Pokémon craze.




Sources: www.24sata.hr

www.vecernji.hr

net.hr

www.index.hr


This is not a sports post, it's just another short amusing post like my previous one about the new super hero/mascot Hrvatko that I did last week. (which come to think of it, could very well include Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipović on a list of potential actors to portray Hrvatko in a future television series or film, he's still in descent shape and retired so he has the time anyway)

Basically a humorous recently uploaded video of Mirko at Frankfurt Airport, doing what? Why playing that new Pokémon app game of course. (It's all the rage now as everyone knows and for the last week has been all over the news, people are so obsessed with it and that they're falling off of cliffs, into holes and crevices, off of rooftops and even walking into traffic and in front of trains and buses all over the place playing the addictive game, even baseball players in the major leagues are playing it between their ball scratching and chewing spitting between the innings. Now that's an addictive game)

Actually he's not really playing the game, he's just making it look like he's playing Pokémon, it's a brief impromptu sarcasm comedy video to make it look like he's playing Pokémon to the casual observer, because Pokémon is all the rage again and everyone just cant stop talking about it. I've been to Frankfurt Airport a few times and that's what goes on, plenty of agents, operatives, assassins and professional hitmen are walking around Frankfurt Airport all the time, just making it look like they're browsing tourists or innocently smoking cigs in the glassed smoking area room. He was probably really just texting, checking his flight schedule, hotel reservations, emails or ordering some schnitzel and sauerkraut to go, but it sure looks like he's part of the whole huge Pokémon game craze phenomena.

That's about it, the new Pokémon game is big news now and everywhere and all the rage, not much more to explain. Watch Cro Cop obsessively playing Pokeman at Frankfurt Airport....








I might as well throw this in too, because like I said at the beginning, Mirko could very well be put on a list of possible actors to portray super hero Hrvatko in a film or television series, along with other possible candidates. Because many people probably don't know that he even already has some film and acting experience. For instance, this movie 'Ultimate Force' was definitely not a big budget blockbuster star studded movie like Sharktopus and every Anaconda film ever made, but if we replace the black leather coat and shoes with an updated and more sleak looking Hrvatko outfit, maybe have him grow his hair out a little more or wear a wig, add more lightning, explosions, flying and super hero special effects and of course that epic super hero orchestra music, then it just could be the next big thing in Croatian cinema. (and comic books of course also)



And here's a few other previous commercials acting roles...







* Update - Then incredibly the next morning after doing this post, news came that surprised even the whole Pokémon world. It seems Cro Cop officially announced on his Facebook page that he's coming out of retirement one more time. First the return of Pokémon and now this? How much nostalgia can the world take? (I feel like I should throw on some Stone Temple Pilots and drink some Jägermeister, White Russians or Mezcal tequila and then watch Scream, Lost Highway or X-Files on VHS to complete the time traveling to 1996 experience) According to the press conference, he couldn't resist the offer from the Japanese organizers and was also just plain bored at times, so he will be part of the 16-man openweight Japanese mixed martial arts RIZIN FF tournament which starts up Sept. 25 in Tokyo. More information at; www.vecernji.hrwww.24sata.hrwww.index.hr.








Footage from the press conference. (In Japan Cro Cop is sometimes also known as the World Executive)






Related: www.mirkofilipovic.com

www.facebook.com/MirkoCroCopOfficial

www.facebook.com/pages/MIRKO-CROCOP

www.youtube.com/user/crocopofficial

Related previous posts: cro-cop-returns-to-k1-ring

croatian-hpb-bank-introduces-new-mascot-super-hero

cro-cop-visits-young-kickboxers-in-karlovac

mirko-cro-cop-filipovic-victorious-in-poland

bornda-renduic-scores-first-nhl-goal-cro-cop-igf-title

zagreb-hosts-last-fight-of-cro-cop

mirko-filipovic-wins-k-1-world-grand-prix




Sunday, 10 July 2016

Croatian HPB Bank Introduces New Croatian Super Hero Mascot 'Hrvatko' In Latest Advertising Campaign







'Hrvatko' is a new Croatian company mascot super hero, and he could very well save parts of the world in the future.





This post is just for the hell of it, basically something amusing for me to quickly comment about and throw some ideas around. In a nutshell, recently the Croatian HPB bank (Hrvatska Poštanske Banka) started a new advertising campaign in Croatia, along with a new so-called bank "mascot" to be used on television, billboards and in various advertising. The name of the new mascot? Why it's none other than the new super hero "Hrvatko." (a nickname based on the name of Croatia in the Croatian language...Hrvatska)

Over the last month he's been featured in a television commercial by well known Croatian actor Goran Marković, appeared in HPB advertising comic strips in magazines and newspapers, on billboards in Zagreb and across the country, on HPB bank merchandise given out to people and even showing up in person at locations. The topic has been commented on in the media and social media, with some people thinking the idea as tacky and comical, and some people really liking their new mascot and commercial.

What do I think? I like it, what's not to like. He looks better than their previous mascot and way better than a talking and dancing teller stamp or calculator. Now this is not a new Croatian super hero (super junak) comic book character remember, it's just HPB's new advertising campaign mascot character, but I think this "Hrvatko" could very well be one in the future, there's potential if he's used more in their upcoming commercials and advertising campaigns. Hrvatko would just need to be tweaked a bit, spruce up the uniform eventually, perhaps some sort of horns like the Zvončari or the Dare Devil, and maybe given a weapon of some sort, maybe a hammer, shield (a shield would make sense, being that the Croatian COA is in a shield), or maybe a smart phone that turns into a weapon or has all kinds of magical gadgets, or a magical and powerful ages old pendant or ring (maybe a even a magical ring or orb belonging to one of medieval Croatian Kings, the one from the famous "orb prophecies")...that can turn into a phone and shoot forth bullets of ancient pure frikin ten thousand year old lightning. Then throw a title or adjectives in like they do for most super heroes...."The Invincible Lord Hrvatko"..."The Astonishing Hrvatko"..."Hrvatko, Magician of the Underworld"..."The Unconquerable Warrior, Major Hrvatko"..."Commando Hrvatko, Lord of The Hyperborean Guards"..."Hrvatko, Defender of the Galaxy and beyond" etc, something like that, something for the kids to really get a kick out of and hope to grow up and be someday. They could also give him a cool background story, that he used to be a soldier or special ops or whatever, maybe some experiment or secret ancient relic in a cave discovery.

Besides, there are plenty of super hero characters specifically connected to countries already, Captain America of course, but also Superdupont, Captain Britain, Captain Sweden, Shamrock, Capitão Falcão, Captain Switzerland, Polish Biały Orzeł (White Eagle), Alberto Barbosa, Denmark DukseDrengen, Comandante Italia, Romanian Harab Alb, Slovenian Martin Krpan, Hungaria Kapitanya, Captain Sweden, Captain Lithuania and many others from various countries. (In case you were wondering about Superman, I left him out because he's not really even one of the humanoid populations of earth or even a mammal from earth, techically a foreign alien from another planet and sun, it's a whole different solar system altogether, so he can't be an earth super hero)...and some comic super hero characters over the years have been just plain awful and ridiculous, just pathetic. Bird-BrainZooman the Human FlyMadam FatalSkatemanUSA. 1Color KidChlorophyll KidEl Guapo, Hindsight LadMatter-Eater Lad, Tagak Leopard Lord3D ManBouncing BoyLeap-FrogDoll Man are just a few examples, but there's many, many more absurd and laughable super heroes. Hrvatko looks practically like a mighty immortal god compared to many of them, totally worthy of his own comic book in the future.

Besides also, we can't expect Shazam, Spiderman, Iron Man, Thor or the Green Lantern to always come to save the day, where was even Batman in the 90's anyway? He actually died in the 90's, well, he actually died quite a few times over the years, but always came back from the dead. The main point though is that Hrvatko will always be around on home soil or in the area. After the ecomomy and defence, this is probably the most important issue going on in the world these days, as in every country and nation should have the unequivocal inherent right to their very own super heroes. He will also protect the country from Walmart people and those always scheming, lurching and lying through their teeth subversive televangelists in the process, (pure frikin' subversive evil). which will help save civilization as we've known it.





Case in point, Arby's mascot is an oven mitt, and Geico uses a gecko.



Well look at this, it's the mascot Senhor Testiculos in Brasil (Mr Balls, I don't make this up). Hvatko is probably seeming like a pretty good choice as a super hero mascot now. (why the pantyhose arms? is he healthy or diseased testicles? is that girl walking over to hug him? is so why?) Don't ask me about the Ernest Angley toupée, it is what it is and no further comment about the fiasco...



Well, you have to admit that at least Hrvatko doesn't have a cup for a nose or shoebox on his head, so that's a good start.



Some good comic book plots worth considering, Hrvatko's main nemesis in the early years, SuperSerb and SuperSerbBoy in Vukovar.....



...Hrvatko's main adversary in a later comic edition scenario, resurrected and brought back to life in Serbia through a strange Serb voodoo church ceremony...the dreaded return of the Amazing ZombieSerb, the world shudders in horror as he flies the skies. (Including pitched battle scenes with Hrvatko in the skies above Dubrovnik, Split, Rijeka and Zagreb, lightning all over the place. wow! pass the popcorn)...



...Hrvatko's main adversary in comic book number 12, "Hrvatko saves Osijek", the scene brought to life where the main villain even attempts to hold his dynamic duo partner hostage just to save his own puny and soon to be snuffed out pointless existence. Will Hrvatko even bother trying to stop him? (the viewers at home yell out "No Hrvatko! Don't stop him, just let him do it!) Tune in to find out what happens next...spills, thrills and chills!



.....SuperSerb flying out of Belgrade to go forth and rape fuck your baby superbly, will Hrvatko be able to stop him? (wow! pass the refreshing soft drink and Cracker Jack)...



...Hrvatko is given a mission by the UN and US Congress to eliminate 7,000 Bloods and Crips under the leadership of Chris Brown (that guy who beat the crap out of Rihana) and Snoop Dog, Perun grants Hrvatko magical powers to shoot forth holy 50 megaton bolts of lightning. (wow! pass the M&Ms and licorice)



Capitão Falcão, an example of a foreign super hero. (see previous mentioned list of foreign super heroe links)



Another example of an actual real foreign comic super hero...Superdupont. (I'm not making these comic super heroes up) I don't think the Croatian public would really have anything to complain about if Hrvatko gets his own official comic book publication eventually. Let him send forth lightning from the rooftops and mountaintops I say. Zoom! Bam! Crackle! Crrash! Wow!




If he becomes popular enough, I think he should be developed into a real super hero character with his own official and regularly printed comic book. He's only in the television commercial for a few seconds near the end, but he seems to be able to transform with the aid of lightning and magic. So maybe when he utters some kind of word or phrase he can transform into "Hrvatko." Almost like a Thor or Captain Marvel/Shazam etc, perhaps he transforms with the aid of those old Croatian chthonic and primordial deities and spirits from antiquity.

In the brief 30 second commercial, the character is informed how he can instantly transfer his bank account free of charge into a new HPB bank account right over the phone, which according to the commercial then helps transform him into the new super junak (super hero)...Hrvatko. Campy and cheesy yes, perhaps even humorous, but an amusing and entertaining commercial, and that's how adversting works after all, many times nothing even has to make any sense at all, or even be related to the products being advertised. Selling coffee? paint? window cleaner? tupperware or chewing gum?...just throw in a bunch of men and women Guess or Diesel jeans models laughing and sitting around doing absolutely nothing related to the product and it's a guaranteed advertising success.

The few seconds ending automatically reminds one of some of the super hero characters in the movies these days, which are all the rage and coming out on a regular basis, (because Hollwood is running out of quality movie plots/writers, but mainly because people are actually hoping for a real life super hero to fix their real fucked up world, that the movie screen world is the real world, that the fictional super hero will save their world, or just plain not to think about the real world)

It's time for a real Croatian super hero too I say, why not? I say it's a great idea with lots of potential. Best case scenario maybe his own official comic book down the road, or television series or even a whole feature length movie. (He will also travel to other cities, Split, Rijeka, Dubrovnik, Osijek etc, and even outside of Croatia, battling all kinds of terrorists, subversive groups and infiltrating scum, summoning ancient spirits and deities for amazing magical powers, working with the other EU countries, their governments, militaries and special agencies to make Croatia and the useful good parts of the world a safer and better place)

Anyway, below is the short commercial clip......


Articles and images sources:

www.hpb.hr

www.index.hr

www.tportal.hr

www.sbplus.hr

www.24sata.hr

kinogerila.com

www.netokracija.com



Youtube screeenshot: The final sequence in the 30 second commercial, Hrvatko looks down below at the city of Zagreb. (something to consider down the road would be adding a cape, hammer, shield, pendant ring or even a magical razor sharp boomerang option)



Croatian actor Goran Marković  who portrays Hrvatko for the commercial, for only about 10 seconds unfortunately, but 10 inspiring seconds worth many volumes of encylopedias. The next commercial needs some more lightning and action scenes.



A recent comic book adverstisement in a magazine, the same story as the commercial.



One of the new billboards seen throughout the country. (much better than Color Kid and the other mentioned super heroes I think) Image: Twitter.



'Hrvatko' showing up at a newly opened branch in the town of Slavonski Brod. Image: www.sbplus.hr



"Hrvatko" promotional merchandise and gifts. (I say grab some of those tees while supplies last, a future collector's item for sure at least)




An updated image after originally doing this post, an actual real "Hrvatko" postal stamp and seen with a new campaign commercial character "Crna Luca" (Black Lucy). Image: www.epostshop.hr.




Commercial synopsis; Croatian actor Goran Marković's character is coming home through an alleyway after a day at work one late windy rainy evening. Long line-ups at the bank, illegal foreign migrants try to mug him, he feels tired, weak and confused. He manages to make it home, he receives a special message on his phone that he can transfer his account free of charge to a new HPB account right over his phone instantly. He feels refreshed, empowered and mighty, he is suddenly and magically transformed into.......Hrvatko! Campy and cheesy yes, but Hrvatko doesn't care what you think because he's on a mission.





And lastly since already on the topic of mascots, here's some related news that Croatians the world over have been waiting for on pins and needles. The official mascot for the 2018 European Men's Handball Championship which will be taking place in Croatia has been chosen and it will be....(drum roll)....the Croatian Tornjak dog. (His official name to be decided through a later contest) And as added bonus related news, this summer in Brasil will be the first time since 2008 that the Croatian Handball, Waterpolo and Basketball team each qualified for the same Olympics, so that's a good sign for the future. (For more information about the Tornjak and other Croatian dog breeds, see everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-croatian-dog-breeds)







Wednesday, 6 July 2016

2 Croatians To Race At Tour de France For 1st Time &...Ins & Outs Of Buying Beer In Croatia






The 2016 Tour de France starts up in just a few days, and for the first time ever 2 Croatian racers will be taking part. Robert Kišerlovski and Kristijan Đurašek will be Croatia’s representatives during the multiple stage race that starts on Saturday. I don't really follow cycling racing or the tours, but I did do a few posts in April about the 2nd annual Tour of Croatia that took place. I never watched cycling races before, except maybe some parts here and there during the Olympics, but I ended up watching all 6 stages of the Tour of Croatia this time since I posted about it. And in the process developed a whole new appreciation for this sport considering all the training, techniques, conditioning and intestinal fortitude involved. (there will only be 2 measly off days during the whole 21 days of race stages, 21 days = 3 weeks for those not in the know)

If this is already your thing and are already familiar or just are curious to know more, hit the previous post links below for much more information, cool images and video footage that took place during all 6 stages all across Croatia this past April.




A scene from the Tour of Croatia stage races this past April.




The 2nd post below that I threw in just for the hell of it, I personally don't drink much these days but is some good to know information for the benefit of the reader. From my personal experiences the last few times I went, if you're not planning on going out I recommend getting those 2 litre bottles that are available at practically every store, they're brand name Croatian beer, taste good, stronger than beers on this side of the pond...and inexpensive. Pretty well any of the local beers in the stores there are cheap. As for drinking out, like the article says, it all depends where you go. Most patios and pubs/bars are still a good deal I found, for pretty well any brand, but if you're at one of the busy and trendy popular summer hotspots then be prepared to pay more.

(Not that much different from when you go to the movies here, or some sporting event or some festival-ish thing, like 4 bucks for a shrivelled up greasy hot dogged sausage thing, 5 bucks for a little bag of popped corn and liquid yellow topping, $3.50 for a cup of ice with liquid soft drink flavouring and a straw, 4 bucks for larded potato slices or melted orangey cheese material on some crunchy round or triangular things etc. Dubrovnik mentioned in the article, although a summer hotspot, it's not nearly as bad as Monaco though, there at some places it's 10 bucks for a can of Coke)

If there I would also recommend trying out some of the newer Croatian microbrewery craft beers available, some of which have won European and other awards. Also, my last few times I made sure to try out the different Croatian beers available at the locations I was at, each one was different in it's own way, but they all tasted good...and were cheap. I ended trying every major Croatian beer brand available at the time. Various imported beers are available, but more than 90% of all beer sold in Croatia is domestically produced brands. predominantly by one of the six largest beer companies...Osječko, Karlovačko, Ožujsko, Pan, Tomislav and Velebitsko. But like I said, the growing microbrewery regional beers have become another option lately also, such as Zmajsko Pale Ale, Vunetovo Aljaški Mrgud, Nova Runda Pale Ale, Varionica, ABV – 5th Element, Križevačko Tamno Pivo, Vukovarska Pale Lager, Velebitsko Pale Lager and beers from Croatia's 1st microbrewery Pivnica Medvedgrad based in Zagreb and celebrating it's 20th year.

There's also interesting facts one can learn while trying different beers, for instance many people may not know that it's Osječka Pivovara (Osijek Brewery, post link at the bottom) that is actually the oldest Croatian beer brewery and brand, they've been making beer for over 300 years in Croatia and its history officially dates back to 1664, (although it was being brewed for decades even before that), and that makes it officially the oldest Croatian beer. It's actually even older than the popular oldest British beer and brewery Shepherd Neame. Also probably surprising to many outside of Canada, the most popular sold beer in Canada is not a Canadian beer but Budweiser, it's been Budweiser for even the whole last decade, I think all the Walmarts opening up here might also have something to do with that, and maybe even partly explain why Jerry Springer show reruns are still popular and regularly on television. (see and-most-popular-beer-in-croatia-is or vinepair.com for the whole beer/countries map) Anyway, enough of the pointless intro babbling......



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Robert Kišerlovski taking 2nd place at stage 8 of the the 2014 Giro D'Italia. Today he rides for UCI ProTeam Tinkoff. Image: bikeraceinfo.com






Two Croatian Cyclists To Race At Tour de France For First Time





For the first time in history there will be two Croatian riders at the the biggest cycling event in the world – the Tour de France – which will be held from 2 – 24 July 2016…

Two Croatian cyclists were named on Tuesday to take part in the prestigious race which is in its 103rd year. Robert Kišerlovski and Kristijan Đurašek will be carrying Croatia’s hopes when the multiple stage race starts on Saturday.




Kristijan Đurašek winning the 2nd stage of the Tour of Switzerland in 2015. Earlier in the year he also was victorious as the overall general classification champion at the Tour of Turkey, scoring a historic result for Croatian cycling. He currently rides for the UCI World Tour team Lampre–MeridaImage: www.cyclingnews.com




Kišerlovski will race as part of the 9-man Tinkoff team, whilst Đurašek last week signed fot the Lampre-Merida team. This year’s Tour de France on 2 July in Mont Saint-Michel and ends in Paris on 24 July.

Đurasek (28) from Varaždin will be racing in his third Tour de France in a row and is hoping to realise his dream and notch up a stage win. It will be 29-year-old Robert Kišerlovski’s second Tour de France after he took part for the first time in 2012.






Beer Price Guide to Croatia 2016, What Are The Differences?...




Karlovačko is one of the two best selling beer brands in Croatia, at 5.4% alcohol it is brewed in and named after the city of Karlovac since 1854. *Note - 10 Croatian Kuna will run you about $1.91. (For those not in know, the logo of the beer brand Karlovačko actually is the official city of Karlovac coat of arms dating back to 1781)





Source: www.total-croatia-news.com


We all know that nothing quenches your thirst better on a blistering hot summer day than an ice cold beer. We also know that drinking beer in Croatia is almost as necessary as drinking water. You almost never see a cafe table without a half liter sitting pretty atop it, and you know all the local bars are pumping up taps with your favorites. Since beer is considered the cheapest way to drink in Croatia (and the definite quickest way to get drunk) what does cheap beer mean in Croatia and how do you know when you’re getting ripped off? We’re here to bring you the beer pricing guide to Croatia in hopes that you’ll never order wrongly at a bar or restaurant again.

The cheapest beers you can get: Obviously, whatever is domestic is typically going to be the best bang for your buck. Pan, Karlovačko, and Ožujsko run about 12kn for a 0.3 liter, and about 15kn-20kn for 0.5 liters. Paying upwards of 20kn for any of these is a rip off, and even paying 20kn for these beers is a steep price. Another great thing? You can find domestic beers in 2 liter plastic bottles in supermarkets for around 15kn, so if you’re really trying to budget your drinking, you know where to go.

Croatian craft beers: Croatia is currently going through a craft beer revolution, and with that comes some great new beers, at prices still reasonable for the product. Craft beers such as Barba, Zmajska, Medvedgrad, and Nova Runda name just a few of the bustling bunch of craft beers we have in the country now. You can typically get 0.3 liters of a Croatian craft beer for about 15kn-18kn, and 20kn-24kn for 0.5 liters.




Just a few of the newer Croatian microbrewery and regional craft beers available at pubs, bars, patios and restaurants in Croatia these days. Image: TripAdvisor.



 Osječka Pivovara (Osijek Brewery) in the city of Osijek is actually the oldest Croatian brewery and beer brand, they've been making beer for over 300 years in Croatia and its history officially dates back to 1664, (although it was being brewed for decades even before that), which makes it officially the oldest Croatian beer. It's actually even older than the popular oldest British beer and brewery Shepherd Neame. (see days-of-first-croatian-beer-osijecka post for more)




Other top 6 best selling Croatian beers includes Tomislav, (named after the first officially recorded Croatian King Tomislav from the year 925 of course), it's the second strongest beer in Croatia with a 7.3% alcohol content...



Velebitsko, brewed near Gospić on the Velebit mountains in the Lika region by the Pivovara Ličanka (Ličanka Brewery), has alcohol content of 5.1% and 6.0% for the dark lager...



Vukovarsko named after the eastern town of Vukovar, interestingly it is produced naturally according to the Bavarian Beer Purity Act of 1516 with absolutely no preservatives and is 4.5% alcohol...



...and Pan. (pronounced like "Pawn" or "Pon", short for Panonski Pivovara/Pannonian Brewery) including lager, light, and lemon beer. This beer has also been a regular sponsor of the Zagreb Bears hockey team (KHL Medveščak Zagreb) and related sports and entertainment events....



Interestingly, Daruvarska Pivovara (Daruvar Brewery) in the town of Daruvar has been producing beer officially since 1840 and today it brews mainly popular regional beers. It makes Daruvarsko beer but its most well known popular brand is Staročeško beer (Old Czech Beer) It was named after Czech immigrants to the Daruvar town region and has been produced under this name since 1893, it is also the only Croatian beer using a traditional Czech recipe. (The town of Daruvar still today is the political and cultural centre of the Czech minority in Croatia, see post daruvar-croatia-festival-beer-festival) In addition to light beer, under the same name the Daruvar brewery makes Staročeško red, Staročeško winter, Staročeško 10 (slightly less alcohol) and Staročeško limun (lemon radler) More interesting background information about this less well known Daruvar Brewery and their beers at www.starocesko.com, but it's in Croatian though.



Among other beer brands is Hajdučko pivo (Hajduk beer), oriented mostly towards fans of the football club in the city of Split, but also available throughout the coastal Dalmatia region. Brewed by Carlsberg Croatia in the city of Koprivnica it is a pale lager with 4.5% alcohol content, Carlsberg made a promotional contract in 2011 whereby 1 Croatian Kuna from every litre sold went to the Hajduk Split football club. (Coincidentally to the previously mentioned beer, HNK Hajduk Split was officially founded in 1911 while drinking beers at the U Fleků pub in Prague. (more about that at hajduk-split-plaque-hangs-in-u-fleku-prague)



Also worth mentioning is a few of the beers available from Croatia's 1st microbrewery Pivnica Medvedgrad, based in Zagreb and celebrating it's 20th year. Grička Vještica is the strongest Croatian beer with 7.5% alcohol. (It's especially popular with the historical reenactment actors and crowds because it's similar to what they drank in medieval times)




Bottled beers: If you’re getting a domestic bottled beer, you’ll usually be paying the same price as draft, give or take a few kuna. Imported beers are where you need to watch out, as those can knock you back 25kn and upwards just for a 0.3 liter! At the end of the day, we have so many good beers here it’s usually never worth it to order a Corona (why?) or anything relatively similar.

Where you’re drinking: Another massive factor that will come into play with your beer drinking is where you’re drinking it. Split and Zagreb for instance boast some of the cheapest beer prices for Croatia, and being the one and two largest cities in Croatia, that’s pretty reasonable. If you’re in Old Town Dubrovnik and Hvar Town? Good luck. Since those destinations are known as tourist traps and attractions, they’ll up the prices generously. And by generously we mean starting prices for 0.3 liters are around 20kn. Pintprices.com even justified this, naming the average price for a pint in the city of Zagreb is €1.45, in Split €1.84, on the island of Hvar starting at €2.3 (this is not for Hvar town), and Dubrovnik a whopping €3.22.

The very basics of modern-day beers and beer brewing hasn't changed much in many centuries, not since German monks introduced hops as a vitally important main ingredient, codified and recorded their recipes and started brewing beer in their monasteries during medieval times, water was unsanitary many times, equipment was not always hygienically clean and without hops the ales would spoil very quickly (historically "ale" being a type of beer brewed without hops). Interestingly, beer was actually the most consumed beverage already and an important source of nutrition in the medieval world, it was drank by children, nursing mothers, the old and the sick and everyone in between. A pretty cool Croatian site these days devoted to all sorts of beer news topics, articles, new and retro images/posters and the interesting history of beer in Croatia up to today, as well as in Europe and elsewhere around the world is www.pivnica.net.




As an example, Tkalčićeva Ulica/Street near the central upper old town section of Zagreb is a long pedestrians only street that is mostly 18th-19th century buildings and bar after pub after patio and more of the same, a popular place to head out in the summer especially and where lots of different beers are available. It's sort of the rundown ghetto part of the city where crack whores are plentiful and most of the people are just mutant riff-raff types, (even worse than Walmart people), it's quite disgusting and appalling. But I spent a fair amount of time here during my times in Zagreb and I can vouch that local domestic beers were by far the most seen on tables, ordered and drank by customers, same goes in Rijeka, Zadar, Split and other locations I was at.



And lastly rounding out the top 6 list is Ožujsko beer. (named after "Ožujak" which in Croatian is the month of March). Brewed by Zagrebačka Pivovara which was founded in 1892, it's currently the most popular best selling beer brand in Croatia and is a lager beer with 5% alcohol content. Along with Karlovačko pivo they are the most sold beers and can be found pretty well anywhere you go in the country.




All in all, be conscious, be aware, and use this guide so as to not get ripped off. Beer is love and we want you to enjoy it just as badly as you want to enjoy it. Order wisely!





And lastly as supplementary information for the benefit of the reader. Besides being well known as a natural conditioner/shampoo for smoother, shinier highlights and softer hair, remember there are also many other less well known and beneficial uses for beer besides just drinking it. (beer is like magic in a way when you think about it)





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