We agreed on a 4+. More than a 4 but a bit below a 5.
We enjoyed this trip very much, above our expectations. Andrea with our Croatia travel company was very helpful in tailoring the trip to the things we wanted to see. Her suggestions were useful and the services provided were good in almost every case. We have recommended Andrea to several friends who are considering Croatia. As a result of this trip, we plan to return to Croatia.
The experiences we had with three of our guides were both enjoyable and memorable. We especially enjoyed the guide, Mladen, who drove us from Korcula to Dubrovnik, taking us to a great winery on the Peljesic Pennisula, introducing us to the wonderful oysters at Mali Ston, and providing information, insight, and humor along the way. He was very willing to discuss, in a diplomatic fashion, the history, politics, and culture of Croatia. We feel we learned a lot from him.
The best interaction we had on the entire trip came from the guide, Lucka, who showed us the old town of Korcula then invited us to her home where we spent three hours seeing the work she had done there, drinking a local wine and rose brandy, and sharing stories with Lucka and her husband. It was one of those unscheduled experiences that allows insight into the lives of the people of the place we were traveling in. It also made us feel that we were more than just tourists, we were friends as well.
The guide who took us to Salona and Trogir on a day trip from split was an older gentleman who was very knowledgable. We learned a great deal about the Roman presence at Salona and the man who excavated it in the 19th century. We felt this gentleman was the most experienced and informative on historical and architectural topics.
We especially liked the Casa Garzotto in Rovinj and Villa Nora on Hvar. At both places, we found the people friendly and helpful. The surroundings were delightful. Once the owner of Casa Garzotto learned we were going to have our 50th wedding anniversary next year, he surprised us with a chilled bottle of wine in our room when we returned there that evening, another example of the unexpected friendliness we found in Croatia. The young man working there, Robert, was friendly and fetched our car, carried our luggage, and spoke with us of his plans. We enjoyed conversation with the woman, Marina, who served us breakfast and did our laundry. She was a very nice person.
The Villa Nora people were vey accommodating, helping us with touring information and providing excellent laundry services at a reasonable price. The accommodations were spacious and modern in the heart of old town Hvar. Good restaurants were nearby.
We liked the hotel, Peristil, in Split, for its location in Diocletian's Palace. Generally, we liked staying in the old towns because of the nearness of the historical sights, good restaurants, and because, after the bulk of the tourists left, we could get a better sense of the town.
We really enjoyed three restaurants: Trilogica in Zagreb and in Dubrovnik, Taj Mahal for its good Bosnian food and Bota for amazingly good fried oysters, flash fried sushi, and spring rolls.
In sum, we really liked Croatia. The people were friendly, accommodating, and went out of their way to help us when we needed it. The roads were good, driving was easy although we found the GPS essential, especially in cities. English was spoken widely and well, to our surprise. Croatia is a very safe country. At no time did we feel threatened or uncomfortable. It is a country of outstanding natural beauty that cannot be overstated, and it is full of well preserved historical, cultural and architectural sites.
These problems and inconveniences, however, will not prevent another trip, equally enjoyable, to Croatia and the area.
Travel Company's Comments and clarifications
- About the guide and experience in Zagreb: The tour of Zagreb is not complete without visiting open market Dolac where local people buy their food and little things made by hand (like slippers, Croatian hats, umbrella’s…). The people which are selling home made products are dressed in typical costumes from Zagreb and Zagreb area. Local people and tourists do like taking pictures with them just because of the costume which you cannot see in the city any more. Picture like this does not cost anything and our guides idea was just to take a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Norton with local person in local costume which is free of charge and for some people a nice memory. We are using the same guides for many, many years and our guides are not allowed to sell anything or to make any profit from someone’s sale. Beside that this kind of sales are not even common in Croatia. They are more common in Turkey, Greece, Middle East…
- About the day trip to Mostar from Dubrovnik and the day trip to Montenegro: Unfortunately there are only two companies in Dubrovnik that offer bus excursions from Dubrovnik. We do not usually offer bus tours for our clients either but in the case when clients are not willing to pay for private tours, these bus tours come as a cheaper option. Those bus tours are not the same quality as the ones with private guide or car and driver, but the price of this tour is also not comparable with private tour. We offered both options to Mr. and Mrs. Norton. They thought that private car and driver were a little bit too expensive and they did not feel like driving them self’s because they had a car for the most of the trip. Bus tours with many people from different hotels and countries are just informative tours and the guide has everything scheduled in advance. Unfortunately tour guides on the buses are not able to pay attention to every client’s interests because of the big number of travelers. I completely agree that after having few private tours, those two bus tours cannot deliver the same experiences.
- About the time in Plitvice National Park: Most of our travelers are visiting National park Plitvice lakes and spending only one night in the park. The tour of the park usualy takes about 3 – 3,5 hours. Since there is nothing interesting near the park (towns, restaurants, other places of interest), my personal opinion was that spending one day whole in National park was more then enough time. I am sorry I did not know that Mr. and Mrs. Norton would like to spend more time in nature. I would not be a problem at all to have two nights at Plitvice lakes.
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