Our group of 8 friends, all aged 60+, hired this agency through Z to arrange a 16 days(14nights) vacation trip to Slovenia and Croatia with a side trip to Montenegro. We ended up with a very relaxing and memorable vacation.
This agency set up a itinerary for us with 9 nights 5 star hotel, 4 nights 4 star hotel and 1 night 3 star(due to location issue) hotel with sea view or lake front rooms whenever possible. The itinerary also provide plenty of leisure time so we have the freedom to explore the local attraction or restaurants as we wish. They also arranged all ground transfers and local guides for the whole trip. All the hotels are clean and provide good services. The sea view and lake front rooms offer unobstructed fantastic view of the sea or lake. All transfers between cities are minivan ( except the later part of the trip they use mini bus which is a bonus for us ) with driver/guide. All transfers are on time and the drivers are friendly and accommodating. Even though there are a couple of issues along the trip but this agency moved in quickly and resolved all issues to make this trip a smooth sailing. Whenever there are local guides for city or old town tours, they are knowledgeable, friendly and professional. We are grateful that this agency arranged such a nice itinerary so we could enjoy a worry free and fun vacation. We would highly recommend this agency if you want to have a nice vacation to that part of the world.
Our trip started at Zagreb and stay for 2 nights with a city tour. The hotel we were staying is highly recommended for her old elegant setting , professional services, and a very nice breakfast. Besides, the down stair street side restaurant is highly recommended for her 20+ euro daily 3 course (include 1 glass of wine and coffee or tea ) special dinner. The portions are generous and the taste is very good. The city walking tour is very informative and the guide did show us some of interesting places, including the best ice cream parlor which we whole hearty agreed.
Next we were transferred to lake Bled, neighbor country of Slovenia with minivan and driver/guide. Along the way we visited the Postojna caves and Ljubljana, Slovenian Capital. We need to ride a electric train into the deeper part of the cave and it was a very interesting sight. The minivan drive also act as guide to give us a walking tour of Ljubljana which we did try their local tasty cuisine. We then arrived at the hotel in lake for 2 nights stay. We have lake front rooms and I can spend the whole day sitting in the balcony just to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the lake. We also explore the Bled castle and Bled island which provide numerous photo opportunities. The restaurant inside the hotel provide a tasty and reasonable priced lunch. Don't forget to try their famous cream cake which originated in this hotel restaurant. We also recommend the Oštarija Peglez'n restaurant for the delicious John Dory Fillet( fish ) and other seafood dinner. You should also try the lemon or grapefruit beer which is fruit juice with about 3% alcohol beer. I like it so much I been ordering it the rest of the trip.
After Lake Bled, we were transferred to the National park Plitvice lakes. We stayed at the only hotel inside the park that can walk to lakes without further transportation. The rooms are bare minimum equipped (bring your own water if you don't want to buy their overpriced water) and the food in the restaurant is nothing to write home about. We hiked through this world famous park which takes about 3-4 hrs walking to enjoy the lakes and waterfalls. It's regrettable that at this time of the year due to melting snow, the lower walkway was closed we won't be able to close up with the lakes and waterfalls. We only able to view the lakes and waterfall at a distance on the upper walkway.
The next day we were driven to the city of Split. Along the way, we took a short visit and lunch break in the city of Zadar. We found this is an interesting city with quite street, nice seashore walkway, and delicious seafood. We wish we have a couple more hours there because we don't even have time to visit all the attractions out agent recommended. However, we particular enjoy the sea organs and it's surroundings.
The hotel in Split, even though it is no sea front or sea view rooms , the rooms are a super clean and the service is very friendly. The famous breakfast provides so many delicious breakfast items that will satisfy all your craving. The Split and Trogir city walking tour did provide us an in-depth understanding and appreciation of her history and culture. We did stroll along the waterfront and found the best ice cream parlor. We also tried several restaurants and we found the Konoba Marjan provide the best fresh fish of the day for a reasonable price. We tried the pan fried sole and gilled red snapper and they were outstanding.
The catamaran boat trip to island of Hvar is about an hour and the ticket is about 5 euro. When we arrived at the Hvar, we were taken to the hotel. We had sea view rooms and the view of the sea and all the surrounding island is breath taken. The outdoor swimming pool is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. From the hotel to town is about 15 min walk along a scenic seaside walkway which is we enjoyed, especially after lunch or dinner. However, the rooms are a little small and worst of all is the shower/bathtub. The shower shield is useless and no matter how we adjusted, the bathroom floor turned into a swimming pool every time when we finish the bath. The resort did provide a $166 kuna , about $28 US 'International Buffet' . We found the dishes are not 'International' and beware that they don't even provide free tap water. There are many nicer restaurants with more reasonable price in town so we do not recommend the 'International Buffet' .Hvar is rated one of the 10 most beautiful island in the world and we really enjoyed out stay on the island. A few of us did take the long walk up the hill to the castle and took great pictures. Due to off season, there are not many people on the island and we didn't feel the crowd. However, some of the restaurants were not opened and most of the water related activities operator were still closed till late April or May. We are lucky just to find an operator just to take us for a speed boat tour around some of the neighboring islands and have lunch in the Zori restaurant located in a beautiful small bay on the island of Palmizana. This restaurant has both indoor and outdoor settings and is beautifully decorated. We tried their fish soup and chocolate soufflé and both are outstanding. Also, back in the town of Hvar we did find a family run restaurant which provide very good fish dishes and the 'buzzara' style( tomato based) seafood cooked by their grandma for a reasonable price.Our agent also arranged a special wine tasting and dinner event while we are on the island. We had a good experience tasting some of the wine brewed with grapes only grown on the different parts on the island. The dinner took place in a remote abandoned town where the owner and cook are the only 2 person in that town. We have a nice dinner with beef and lamb.The trip from Hvar to Dubrovnik took a boat ride to the mainland and a few hours of breadth taking scenic drive along the beautiful coast of Croatia. Along the way, we have a lunch stop in the town Ston at peninsula Peljesac which is very famous for oyster and seafood. Our agent arranged a seafood tasting menu for us in the restaurant Bota Sare. All the seafood were fresh and delicious and we ended up ordering a couple dozen more of their oyster.In Dubrovnik, we stayed a hotel and again the view of our sea view rooms are just fantastic and the facility are well maintained. This is a popular hotel and is busy even during off season. The famous indoor sea view swimming pool and spa were always crowd and we didn't spend much time there. The restaurant inside the hotel is a little pricy but if you do not want to go out for dinner, then their dinner seafood buffet ( 230 KRN, $38 US ) worth a try. They have a lot of fresh seafood to choose from and cooked to your order. This hotel is outside of the Dubrovnik and has bus service for 12 KRN one way to old town. We found more convenient and economical to use Uber (about 15 KRN) if you have more than 1 person. The Dubrovnik old town walking tour is interesting and informative. Also we tried a fast food lunch at Barba inside the old town and their octopus burger was surprisingly delicious. Another meal at restaurant inside the old town, offered delicious pan fried fresh John Dory fish, Sole, Jumbo Shrimp. We also have a good time enjoying the ice cream (especially coffee and walnut) at Dolce Vita. The old town also offered good bargains in red coral jewelry. Since one of our group is a jewelry appraiser, we all ended up buying good quality ear rings, necklaces, and bracelet with good price at a jewelry adjacent to the ice cream polar Dolce Vita. Another day trip our agent arranged for us is to visit the town of Kortor and Parest in the neighboring country Montenegro. The trip to the small town Parest right on the water edge took about 1 1/2 hrs and the scenic view along the coast is absolutely stunning ( my hand get sore for taking pictures ). In Parest, we took a short boat ride to a man make island called Lady on the Rock. A church on the island offer very interesting history and culture of the region. Another ride took us to the town of Kotor where our local guide gave us another walking tour. We found there are many boutique shops that carry nice lady fashion and shoe from Italy with good price. We wish we have more time to explore shopping but unfortunately we only have time to make a couple of quick purchases before we headed back to Dubrovnik. On the way back, we stopped by a restaurant for lunch recommended by our agent. This restaurant is situated on the mouth of the Mad river and is converted from a Mill. The surrounding is beautiful they offered catch of the day fishes on a plate for you to choose from. I have the fish stew and grill king squid stuffed with fresh shrimp and my wife order the baked scorpion fish. All were cooked perfectly and we did enjoy a wonderful meal there.
Our drivers did promptly picked us up at 4:30 am for a 6 am flight back home.
All in all, we all enjoyed this trip very much because it offered so many breaths taking sceneries and delicious seafood. On top of that, our agent selection of itinerary and coordination make our trip go smoothly without a hitch to make this to be one of the best memorable trips of my life.
If I have to do this trip again, I would prefer
1. Fall is better than Spring because a) The Plitvice lakes lower route would be close due to melting snow in spring. b) Many of the restaurants and water activities operator won't open until May on the island of Hvar.
2. For 8 person a larger vehicle then a minivan is preferred because the front 2 seats in the minivan are too tight and uncomfortable.
3. A few more hours to explore Zadar and shopping in Kotor's old town.
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