What’s “Chasing the Donkey” – I hear you say?
As part of our series “more Adventures in Croatia” – we interview friends and like-minded people who are building/renovating property in Croatia or who have moved to this beautiful country.
Today our guest is someone who is doing both, read on for the story of SJ Begonja who’s moved all the way from Australia to Croatia, and learn about her blog:
Welcome SJ to our Blog. First of all, tell us the reason for calling your blog Chasing the Donkey, what’s behind this name?
Well, you see, I fell in love with Croatian donkeys on the Kornati Islands when I first came to Croatia in 2000, and then in 2010 there was a donkey near the house we inherited. I straight away said 'I want one'. Ever since when talking about Croatia and our plans to come here (3 years in the making), I kept saying I want a donkey - so I feel like coming to Croatia I was chasing my donkey.... I wanted to buy my Son one for his 1st Birthday - but we do not have the fence set up, so I still do hope to get one, after we get more settled here.
We read in your blog that you are building your new home in Croatia, why did you decide to do this?
Part of the reason we came to live in Croatia was because my husband Mate inherited his Grandfather's house (Dido's house). The majority of my husband’s family live in the small town we’ve moved to, called Privlaka near Zadar in Dalmatia.
Along with wanting to enjoy a slower paced life, and enjoy fresh food, we came to Croatia, as we wanted to renovate the house. Sadly the house can’t be saved as it’s fallen into disrepair over the years it’s been vacant. So instead we are building a new one.
Why did you choose Croatia (rather than buying a house in another country)?
I guess we could have lived anywhere in the world. But after spending a few months in Croatia in 2010, we both felt that Croatia would be a great place to raise our son and for my husband Mate to get back to his Croatian roots. Even though I am not Croatian, I have been a part of his family for 15 years and feel very connected to the Croatian culture, food and hopefully soon the language.
What do you like about Croatia and specifically your area and your neighborhood? What is there to see and do in your area?
What’s not to love bout Croatia? Beaches, simple delicious food and great weather. As for my little town, I love it because our families grow almost all of the fruit and vegetables free from all pesticides.
We have family here, and the beach is a 2-minute walk away. I’d challenge anyone not to love it. Although come winter ask me again, and I may have a different outlook….
Can you tell us about a funny (or not so funny) during the design or build project for the house?
So far the design process for our house has been great, nothing out of the ordinary. YET – I am certain that as the build takes place there will be a few tears and oh-my-gosh moments as I manage to do that while he is at work. We took about 8 months to design, with my husband working abroad for 50% of that time being the only hold up.
Although I love what we ended up with & contributed, I left all of the final decisions up to Mate. I did not want a mish mash of a design, and more than anything I want what he has worked so hard for to be something he loves to come home to. I can make any house our home, and I am now looking forward to designing the interiors.
Do you have any suggestions or word of warning for people who want to buy land or house in Croatia?
Not having purchased land or houses ourselves, I can’t be too specific. But along with anything here, be prepared to wait, and when you think you’re finished – wait a little more. Sadly the bureaucracy here is rife, and things take much longer than they should to arrange. You just have to know that the end is worth living in this paradise.
Do you have any tips for travellers to Croatia?
Explore the REAL Croatia. Croatia is much, much more than the islands of partying and beaches. Find your local fruit and veggie markets and buy local. And please, please stay away from pizza when you come, you can eat that at home. Head to a local Konoba and try some Crna Risotto (black risotto) or Stuffed Peppers (click HERE for SJ recipe).
You’ll be ever so glad you did.
Summarize in a short sentence why you recommend Croatia as a holiday destination
Croatia has everything for everyone and for every budget. Croatia is known for the Islands, and that can be expensive, if that’s what you’re after. Or you could head out to where we are in Privlaka/Zadar and have a more family friendly stay and then of course there is so much in between.
You can find SJ Begonja busy writing her blog Chasing the Donkey, telling the story of her move to Croatia, life in Croatia, and Croatian food.