Celebrity Race Across The World

Celebrity Race Across the World in Croatia

Tonight’s episode of Celebrity Race Across The World (Wednesdays on BBC1) featured the four celebrity teams making a dash across central/southern Europe from Zermatt in Switzerland to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Hercegovina. There’s no two ways about it – you don’t even need to consult a map – you have to go through Croatia if you make such a journey! And so, with delight (for this is one of Visit Croatia’s favourite TV programmes at the moment) a slice of beautiful Croatia filled TV screens across the UK on this autumnal midweek day.

Celebrity Race Across the World

Rain, rain go away

Well, let’s backtrack a little… Croatia was sadly not as spectacularly beautiful as it normally is. This episode showed it to be more like…very rainy. And even quite stormy at times. It’s unknown when this TV programme was filmed, but I suspect that it must have been at some point in late autumn or early winter last year judging by the light snowfall in Switzerland, the teams wearing warm jackets in most episodes and an apparent lack of tourists in the portions filmed in Croatia.

The four teams – Harry Judd from noughties band McFly and his mum Emma, Mel Blatt from 90s all-girl group All Saints and her mum Helene, weather presenter Alex Beresford and his dad Noel and racing driver/TV presenter Billy Monger and his sister Bonnie – all seemed to encounter and be rather bogged down by weather that’s not typical for most travellers to Croatia.

Each episode of the show sees the teams race (of course!) from one checkpoint to another as quickly as possible whilst also sometimes stopping to work to top up their funds or to take in an “experience”. Whilst Harry and his mother Emma did work in Split by cleaning a luxury yacht, no teams sadly enjoyed any kind of experience in the country.

Two of the teams did however enjoy a little downtime (and work) in Slovenia. Alex and Noel cleaned boats on Lake Bled and then enjoyed a free boat trip, admiring the cleanliness of the water. Billy and his sister Bonnie cleaned the famous Lippizan horses and stables in Lipica, then enjoying what looked to be rather swanky accommodation. (Lucky them!)

Harry and Emma took a direct but surely incredibly tiring 19-hour bus journey from Innsbruck in Austria to Split, even enduring a blown tyre at one point. After a job and an overnight stay, they then took a direct bus from Split to Sarajevo. Here’s a little clip of their “tyring” experience (excuse the pun):

Billy and Bonnie made their way from Slovenia to Zagreb, sadly (apparently) only enjoying the bus station there before making their way to Sarajevo by bus. And Alex and Noel made the same journey too – literally in fact, given they were on the same bus to Bosnia’s capital.

Mel and Helene hopped from Trieste in Italy to Rijeka, staying a night there, to Zadar before choosing this point to make their way over to Sarajevo. Lucky for them, a helpful waiter seemed to plan their journey by summoning up a taxi for €350. (A taxi! From Zadar to Sarajevo! €350!) We wouldn’t recommend you copy them.

Alternative routes the celebrities could have used

The whole point of the show is that the celebrities – and the “normos” featured in the non-celebrity version too, of course – have no access to smartphones or the Internet in any way. So they can’t just bring up a list of bus timetables in roughly five seconds flat as per normal.

The teams travelling from Slovenia to Zagreb to Sarajevo were onto the right idea, as was Harry and his poor tired mum Emma by making the not exactly short hop from Split to Sarajevo. (Although I don’t envy their aforementioned 19-hour bus journey in getting to Split.)

The view of Rijeka from Trsat Castle

Mel and Helene however seemed to waste time going to Zadar (where Mel seemed to think she would hit the beach). They could have in fact taken a bus directly from Rijeka to Sarajevo, although there is only one a day (and it may not necessarily have worked to their timings) and, in fact, only operates 4 hours a week. Taking 10 hours and 45 minutes and costing just €53, it’s a more economical journey than their €350 (normally €500) cab from Zadar to Sarajevo.


Despite the teams enjoying some cheap and speedy trains in Italy and scenic mountain trains in Switzerland and Austria in the previous leg and earlier in this one, trains wouldn’t have helped the racers in Croatia. So thankfully, no one attempted to take a train.

Speaking of trains, my initial reaction on the idea of travelling from Zermatt to Sarajavo (via Split) was “ooh – they should get a ferry over from Ancona!”. To attempt this, they would have first had to travel to Milan in northern Italy. The Die Bahn website tells me the shortest option from Zermatt to Milan takes 3 hours 15 minutes and involves a train, a bus, a train and then another train – so, not particularly straightforward.

But once they had reached Milan, it would have been a straightforward 3 hour 21 minute direct train to Ancona. From here, Jadrolinija have an overnight ferry to Split, which arrives at 7am. The teams could have easily got another cheap ferry ticket and slept on the floor! (As they’ve done in previous episodes.) And then made the onward bus journey from Split to Sarajevo.

Of course, the ferry only operates 2/3 times a week in winter and may not have worked to the teams’ schedule. Perhaps a kindly BBC producer was guiding them away from this option to avoid them getting stuck in Ancona for a few days.

Croatia again?

The next leg of the race sees the teams heading up to Berlin, so no doubt the teams will return to Croatia to then make the journey up to Germany.

More info

You can find out more about Celebrity Race Across the World at You can also watch tonight’s episode (and previous episodes) there.

Spiky Cactus, Hvar

Which celebrity child is Croatia going to help name next?

Spiky cactus on Hvar

A spiky cactus on Hvar – which celebrity couple will this influence?!

All throughout yesterday, Twitter and Google News seem to have been clogged up with one story alone. No, not the goings on at Wimbledon, or the super-exciting news on the re-unification of the Spice Girls. It was that the most famous child in the world, Blue Ivy, had been made an “honorary citizen” of the town of Hvar. That’s all anyone was talking about online yesterday, it seemed!

News that the offspring of Beyonce and Jay-Z (but of course, I definitely didn’t need to tell you that!) had had this honour bestowed on her made the rounds on distinguished online news sites such as Huffington Post, The Telegraph and even Time, as well as the far-less distinguished heatworld, a million and one US gossip sites and (ahem) The Mirror and The Sun. The Christian Post even got so excited that they decided she’d been given honorary citizenship of Croatia. All of these reports and articles seemed to stem from a report in Dalmacija News that appeared at the end of last week.

It was the mayor of the beautiful Hvar Town who proclaimed that Blue Ivy has been granted this special type of “citizenship” of the town. Mayor Pjerino Bebic cleverly “wrote a letter” (that has somehow made its way into the public sphere) to Mr & Mrs Jay-Z stating that because of the story behind their child’s name (supposedly because the couple stumbled across a tree they liked in/near Hvar Town), and the increase in media attention of Hvar that that has brought as well as helping promote the town and island, he has decided to reward little Blue Ivy with this special honour.

If you watch the video of Beyonce (perhaps best viewed at where she’s apparently discovered the very bit of nature that will give her future child its name, I can’t help but think…”That? That thing?! That just looks like a tree that’s been painted blue! Where’s the ivy bit of it?!” (And is there even such a thing as ivy that’s blue?)

More to the point, exactly how has the news evolved that this most famous of celebrity offspring got her name from a tree in Croatia? If you watch the pregnant-Beyonce-standing-by-tree video, you’ll notice she introduces the tree (“Hi tree – meet my millions of fans”…or words to that effect) and then concludes by saying “I think it’s blue ivy, which would be quite appropriate”. This, to me, indicates that a decision on their child’s name was made way before any visit to the island or even meeting this particular tree.

But I’m probably being a party pooper by saying the above, aren’t I? So ignore all of that – Beyonce and Jay-Z definitely named their child after a tree on Hvar, Croatia!

I’m not well-versed on the next super-famous celeb sprog to be born, but who knows where this will lead? Maybe Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes will take a trip to Hvar sometime this summer (we’d highly recommend it, Tom and Katie) and taking inspiration (and some romance) from the island, they’ll have their second child sometime next year, naming it Spiky Cactus Cruise after a bit of nature that they stumbled across on Hvar.

…it could happen.