Since being out in Istria, we have realised that we took so, so many things for granted in England. Of course, having lived in England for 50+ years, you do get used to things – and boy, did we often complain about how things worked. Or didn’t work. But, when you plunge yourself into a fairly unfamiliar European country, wow – things aren’t half confusing at best. Unfathomable at worst. So, what’s been confusing us these past few weeks? Let’s begin with…

BANKS

We had to open a Croatian bank account as we couldn’t keep spending like tourists, using our UK account. We took advice and researched which bank would be best for our needs. Privredna Banka Zagreb, as one of the oldest and most stable banks, with good online facilities, ticked our boxes, so we headed off to Novigrad to sort things out. As with nearly everyone we’ve encountered so far in Istria, the bank employee was more than helpful – although things were slightly hampered by the fact she could really only speak German and Croatian and we could only speak English, although we all muddled by Esperanto style, with a bit of Italian thrown in. We could set an account up in either Kunas or Euros, but our understanding was that euros would be more beneficial as this account would be less expensive to operate, especially if we’d be travelling frequently to countries which used the Euro. We gave our Croatian address, as well as what we thought we’d been asked for – and what we are used to providing – our last address. So, our Didsbury address. (Nore in a later blog…) Paperwork took forever – multiple copies of things to be signed, but eventually all was done & dusted. Fast forward a week and our PINs arrived in the post (this service to be dealt with in a separate blog…) and off we trotted back to the bank to pick up our cards. An exciting moment, as I felt like things were all clicking into place.

Oh, they so were NOT clicking into place 😉 As we found out when we visited another branch of PBZ to set up online banking. This time, English was spoken. The setting up of a Euro account was absolutely fine – BUT we could not pay bills etc from this account and we couldn’t simply change the Euro account into a Kuna account. Nope, we had to go through the whole process again. And two weeks later we’re still waiting for the PINs for this account. (Postal service blog coming right up…)

So, we have an assortment of bank accounts now. Our UK one, our Euro one (which, we found out hammers you when you withdraw from it in Croatia) and a kuna account which is currently floating around in the banking ether. Luckily, in Croatia, cash really does seem to be king. If you pay via a card for a service, there is usually a transaction fee of about 7%, so most people/businesses (including legal people) prefer cash so they can avoid these fees. It’s all completely above board, and we always have invoices/receipts – but thank goodness cash rules, as even though we seem to be acquring bank accounts weekly, none can actually currently do what we need them to do! Yesterday, we bought a used car (another blog of the confused variety coming up!) and the cashier at the bank didn’t bat an eyelid when we withdrew, in cash, quite a sizeable sum. The kind of sum, that in England, would have the bank wondering why you were doing this transaction in cash. Not so here. Just another one of those things that is very confusing to people used to dealing with UK systems…