A Survivalist in Croatia’s Wilderness - interviewing Paul Bradbury

A Survivalist in Croatia’s Wilderness - interviewing Paul Bradbury

A humanitarian, writer, online personality, and some would even say comedian, Paul Bradbury has been running the Total Croatia News website since 2015. With his new book, Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners, freshly out from the presses, Paul sat down with us and discussed some of our burning questions about the new release, his inspiration, and life in Croatia.

  1. We have to first congratulate you on your newly published book! J What inspired you to write another book about Croatia – was there a specific “trigger”?

A few months ago, I started following a Croatian copywriter named Dina Čalaković, who wrote that you only need three things to make money – a laptop, a LinkedIn account, and a niche. Having written a lot about Croatia, I started writing about that as my niche, and very soon the idea of a new book came out.

  1. Your new book, Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners, has a somewhat strange, but intriguing and creative title. How did you come up with it?

Having lived here for 20 years, I market myself as someone with local knowledge and a foreign eye. I have been giving out tips and advice for years, and having lived here for so long, Croatia's mysterious ways have become normal to me, but I realised that, if I documented them, it could save new arrivals a lot of time learning the way things work (or don't work) here. So I decided to write a survival kit.

  1. In the book, you wrote about 20 things that changed you in Croatia in 20 years. What is it actually about?

As part of my niche writing on LinkedIn, I tried to come up with original content. As I was approaching my 20th anniversary in Croatia, I did a series on 20 ways that Croatia has changed me in 20 years. Doing business in Dalmatia, the culture and community of the olive harvest, business and cafe culture, language and the j*beni dialects, safety, raising children, Vukovar, Slavonia, 13 years living on a Dalmatian island… It is a warm but honest appraisal of different aspects of life here.

  1. You’ve also mentioned both good and bad sides of Croatia – could you share them with us?

Good – safety, lifestyle, and authentic experiences.

Bad – corruption and the default negative mindset.

  1. There is a concept called Cromads that you’re working on – what is the story behind it?

It is a video platform aimed at the remote work revolution where we showcase one of Croatia's biggest tourism selling points – the richness of its authentic experiences 12 months a year, all over the country. People want to try unique and authentic things, but Croatia does a terrible job at promoting what it has.

I broke down the experiences into 5 sections for the site – natural Croatia (lavender festival on Hvar, making silk in Konavle), sport & adrenaline (sailing and kayaking, but also picigin and škraping), traditional Croatia (Za križen, Sveti Vlaho etc.), gourmet Croatia, and 5-star innovation Croatia (Rimac, Infobip, Osijek Software City visits). Imagine if we documented all those into a video calendar – what an offer of authentic experiences for people to try!

Paul Bradbury

  1. You are doing a series of reflections on Croatian “returnees” as well. Where did you get this idea?

I have always had a lot of contact from the diaspora as I run an English-language news portal, so useful for those who do not speak Croatian. Many are interested in returning but don't know how, and some who have returned contact me to thank me for the info on TCN.

Recently, I have noticed a LOT more emails, especially from those who have returned. I posted on social media, offering a free interview with anyone who wanted to share their story. An incredible 63 people replied, wanting to tell their story. And so the series began, which quickly became a social meet up and now a Facebook networking community.

  1. Many people from abroad contact you saying they want to return to Croatia. What is your message to them – should they stay or should they go?

Come! We have the best lifestyle in Europe, and are one of the safest countries. Croatia desperately needs people with positive mindsets. With the right attitude and approach, Croatia is a phenomenal place to live.

  1. You’ve conducted interviews with these Croatian “returnees”. What did you find out – why did they leave, and why did they eventually come back?

A lot left to see if the grass was greener on the other side. Corruption, nepotism, and lack of economic opportunity. Safety, remote work opportunities, lifestyle are among the reasons for returning.

  1. How is life in Croatia treating you so far?

I honestly don't think I could live anywhere else. As I said in the book, it is Absurdistan with the best lifestyle in Europe, with a sprinkling of Balkan insanity on top. I love it.

  1. How do you perceive Croatia, and how is this perception different from your first impression?

When I moved here in 2002, I could not see beyond Croatia's beauty and chilled lifestyle. And then I discovered the Mighty State of Uhljebistan. Despite all the negativity, I perceive Croatia as a very positive place. A Croatian can forgive you everything except success, and so much of the fun stuff is under the radar. But there is a lot of very exciting stuff happening – I have never enjoyed my job more than I do today.

  1. And what did you do before you came to Croatia?

I was a humanitarian aid worker in Northern Somalia.

  1. One of your most successful projects here is Total Croatia News. What does the site mean to you and why did you decide to start it?

I started TCN back in 2015 as Croatia did not have an English-language news website, despite being in the EU. It has been quite a ride, and it has taken me all over the country, meeting the most incredible people and having the most interesting experiences. It is hard to see it as a job most days. I am very proud of what our small team has achieved in that time – amazing humans.

  1. And finally, back to your new book – have you planned a book tour for the new literary arrival? Which cities will you visit?

We had our first event on the 17th of November in Zagreb, which was a great night; we had a book promotion in Split, Zadar, Osijek and Vukovar. We’ll try to do a book promo in Varaždin, Dubrovnik, Rijeka and Pula as well.

A copy of Paul’s new book; Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners; can be bought online on Amazon, through the Hoću Knjigu website, or in person at the Hoću Knjigu, Školska Knjiga, and Ljevak stores in Croatia


Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn

Ponedjeljak, 05.12.2022.