If you ask me, I would have thought that there was still one more week left of the Zadar Digital Nomad Week. Although six days loaded with various activities, workshops, panels, and keynotes have passed, I felt that there was more. And surely there is. I hope this doesn’t sound like dissatisfaction, but I have come to the conclusion that a week in Zadar is still not enough. Looking at Zadar as a region, it becomes clear that there is still a lot to discover and do.
The participants were able to see a destination that, although it definitely stands out for its infrastructure, coworking spaces, and life on its streets, also stands above the rest when it comes to reconnecting with nature and authentic experiences. Living and working in Zadar means being in pure contact with rich history, being able to choose hundreds of destinations to visit, nature to discover, being part of its potential as a tech city, and much more.
The Zadar Digital Nomad Week program reserved three very interesting keynotes for the last day, which were held online. The first of them was led by Sara Dyson, better known as ”Expat in Croatia”, who moved to Croatia 10 years ago. Sara founded ”Expat in Croatia”, now one of the top English-language resources for everything related to Croatian bureaucracy and assimilation including residence, citizenship, business, healthcare, and culture. In her live session, Sara explained how a blog managed to become a business that today has managed to facilitate the path of many people to achieve their dream life in Croatia.
The second keynote was held by Orest Zub, a digital nomad from Ukraine. Orest was recently at the Work.Place.Culture Conference in Dubrovnik, where he participated in keynotes and panels, recounting his experience as a digital nomad in times when his country is at war. Orest tells about the internal debate of being a person with a desire to explore the world (he has visited 129 countries to date) and the feeling that he should return home. Orest, precisely, returned home to take care of his family and use his influence and platforms to recount the events of the current war in Ukraine. Almost four months after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Orest is traveling again but this time not only to connect with other digital nomads but to use his voice and raise awareness about what is happening in his country. Definitely, a keynote that helps to understand the social roles and responsibilities that a digital nomad can also assume beyond remote work.
The last keynote was held by Diane Erceg, an Aussie with Croatian roots. In her live virtual session, Diane takes us all out of the box and makes us wonder, what about Antarctica as a destination for digital nomads? Diane’s doctorate has covered 50 years of tourism on the ”seventh continent”, and whose many experiences at the globe’s south pole are soon to be made into a book. Digital nomads tend to pursue destinations that, in addition to satisfying their most personal desires, such as destinations with tropical climates, paradisiacal beaches, or jaw-dropping landscapes, also have to meet the requirements that allow them to work remotely, such as good WiFi or coworking spaces. Precisely, in a Zadar Digital Nomad Week that has brought us closer to nature and the authenticity of a destination, Diane tells us about the ways in which it is possible to reach Antarctica as a digital nomad and live a truly unique experience compared to others destinations in the world.
There was no better way to close not only the day but also the Zadar Digital Nomad Week, than by packing all our things and heading to Paklenica National Park, 50 minutes from Zadar city by car. Reconnecting with nature took on a new meaning, as we hiked for almost two hours in the direction of Planinarski Dom Paklenica, a cabin that welcomes adventurers and hikers. The cabin is located in the middle of the national park, and the only thing that surrounds you are its forests and impressive peaks. It sounds curious that the closing activity in a digital nomad event means being away from WiFi, technology, and coworking spaces, but at no time was it a reason for complaints. All the participants began the walk with the mindset of reconnecting with nature, with themselves, and even as an opportunity to share and create authentic bonds. Fireflies lighting up the night, and the morning donkeys bringing supplies to the cabin, are details that helped create that real atmosphere of presence.
We all spent the night in the cabin and woke up very early to start our way back. There could not be a better setting for Diane Erceg to carry out her long-awaited keynote while we descended towards the entrance of Paklenica. The end of the Zadar Digital Nomad Week meant everyone’s return to their daily lives and work. But I am very sure that we all now have a unique memory of a valuable experience, and we can boast of authentically knowing a destination that perhaps we would never have imagined being like this before. Congratulations to Tanja Polegubić from Saltwater Nomads for putting together an outstanding program, as well as the support of the Digital Nomad Association, the City of Zadar, the Zadar Tourist Board, the University of Zadar, and all the sponsors who made this event possible.
For the latest news and features about digital nomads in Croatia, check out the dedicated TCN section.