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Croatia, Slovenia, and a day in Montenegro! Wow!! So Many Beautiful Places!!

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Croatia, Slovenia, and a day in Montenegro! Wow!! So Many Beautiful Places!!

Old Sep 19th, 2019, 02:56 AM
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The Riva in Split

Seafood Platter for two at Konoba Mandrac!
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Old Sep 19th, 2019, 08:16 AM
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September 8: Discovering Beautiful Split and a Private Guided Tour of Diocletian’s Palace

After having a delicious and filling breakfast at Bokeria, we decided to walk to the ferry and catamaran terminal. It’s a little bit confusing because there are lots of berths and boats, and the berths are spread out, so we wanted to get our bearings for our trip to Hvar the next day and to inquire about tickets. We were told we could easily buy tickets the day we were traveling and to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure.

We then explored Old Town Split and walked through the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace on our own. We visited the market and bought some food gifts to bring home, and then had drinks on the Riva and enjoyed the scenery and people watching. Ivo, the manager of ID Regal Residence, told us not to eat at the restaurants on the Riva because the food isn’t very good so that’s why we chose to only have drinks. And we weren’t hungry after our filling breakfast.

We had reservations for a private guided tour of Old Town and Diocletian’s Palace with Maja Benzon at 4:30PM. She is recommended by Rick Steves. Maja is an excellent and knowledgeable tour guide, and our tour with her is one of the highlights of our trip. She is warm and friendly, and we felt completely at ease with her. Often times when we visit a site, we use audioguides to help us understand what we are seeing. However, for Diocletian’s Palace, that is not possible. For those who may not know, Diocletian was a Roman emperor who built this palace for his retirement in AD298. What remains now are the ruins of the palace, and the city of Split grew around the palace ruins and encompasses the palace. So there is no ticket booth where you buy tickets and no audio guides. The only place, I believe, where you need to purchase tickets are the substructures, or basements, of the palace. So I thought it made sense to hire a guide to learn more about Diocletian and the palace ruins.

The walking tour with Maja was 2 hours long, and the cost is 500 kunas for 2 people. We also had to pay to visit the substructures (45 kuna per person). We covered the important sites of the palace, the Venetian part of the Old Town, and the French area on Marmontova Street. We learned that the French introduced the concept of free education and healthcare during their brief rule. Maja pointed out all the different architectural styles, a “mish-mash” of architecture. I told Maja I felt ignorant because I never heard of Diocletian until I started planning this trip. She told me that many people have not heard of him. His name has been erased from all over Split because he persecuted Christians. I know that I never studied him in my history classes. This was a fascinating 2 hours, and I highly recommend Maja Benzon.

We really like Split a lot! I love the architectural diversity, and I think it’s an elegant city. Split is larger than Dubrovnik; it was crowded and bustling and very lively. It’s definitely not a quiet place. I was surprised when Maja told us that Split was primarily used as a transit city until about 10 years ago. People would stay for only a few hours before catching their ferry or catamaran to somewhere else. What a difference 10 years makes!

For dinner, we ate at Zlatna Ribica near the fish market. I think they serve only fish and shellfish. This is a very casual small restaurant that only accepts cash. I ordered grilled shrimp with the peels, so I had to peel my shrimp. It was messy but delicious. My husband ordered a mixed plate with some tiny fish and squid, not sure what else was on his plate! We shared French Fries and a fresh garden salad. Then we stopped for ice cream before returning to our room. We had ice cream almost every day of our trip!

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 19th, 2019 at 08:20 AM.
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Old Sep 19th, 2019, 02:38 PM
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September 9: Day Trip to Gorgeous Hvar Town!

When we woke up in the morning, it was very overcast, and we thought we might have to postpone our trip to Hvar to the next day. However, by the time we finished breakfast, the sun was shining, so we decided to go ahead with our original plans. We walked to the boat terminal and purchased our tickets for the 9:45AM Jadrolinija catamaran. We decided to purchase one-way tickets because we werenít sure if we wanted to return to Split on the 2:45PM or 6:00PM catamaran. And as soon as we boarded the catamaran, the sun disappeared; it was very overcast and threatening rain. I remembered that yesterday Maja told us that it can be overcast or rainy in Split, but the sun would be shining on Hvar. And lucky for us, she was right! By the time we reached Hvar Town at 10:50AM, the sun was shining brightly!!

We had a wonderful day in Hvar Town! It is so pretty. The views of the harbor as we approached are gorgeous with all the boats, the lovely architecture, the fortress on the hill! Our first order of business was to go to the TI to get a map of the town. We decided we should climb the hill to the fortress first before it got too hot. We followed a zig zag path, lined with pine trees and cactus, to the fortress. Along the way, there are benches where you can rest, and of course, spectacular views of Hvar Town and the harbor. We went inside the fortress. There isnít too much inside, but I thought it was worth the small entrance fee to see more dramatic scenery from the fortís ramparts. You can see small islands, (the Pakleni islands), and Vis in the distance.

When we returned to the main square, we were hungry and stopped for lunch at La Bamba in the main square, with lovely views of the water, boats, and harbor. We assume because of the location that the food would be mediocre, but it was actually very good, and I would recommend it for lunch. My husband had a fresh white fish, and I had a very filling and fresh Greek salad. We shared grilled vegetables. This was also one of our less expensive meals. We did notice that restaurants in Dubrovnik and Split are on the expensive side.

We were enjoying Hvar Town so much that we decided to take the 6:00PM ferry back to Split, so we purchased our return tickets right after lunch. Then we planned on visiting St. Stephenís Cathedral, but it was closed to the public because there was a wedding ceremony going on!! So we thought of visiting the Franciscan monastery, but it was closed on Mondays. (Yes, the 9th was a Monday!) Not sure what to do next, we bought ice cream and sat on a bench under a palm tree near the harbor for about half an hour.

Then we decided to follow the coastal path near where we were sitting; this is west of the Old Town. It was an excellent decision and helped make this day one of our favorite days of our trip! What gorgeous scenery! The path leads past a cactus garden and a childrenís playground. There are green pine trees, too, so there is lots of greenery contrasting with the blue skies and blue water! So beautiful! We walked past some small bays and people swimming and sunbathing on the rocky beaches, where you can rent loungers. It was so peaceful! A simple thing to do, and free, but a highlight for us. We walked past the Amfora Hotel to a small cafť/bar, where we stopped for a drink before we had to walk back to the harbor. It took us 30 minutes to walk back to the catamaran berth.

I know Hvar Town has a reputation as a loud party town, but not in September. It was crowded, but not unbearable, and people were not drunk. The weather was perfect; you can swim if you want; a perfect time to visit. I was initially thinking of visiting Stari Grad, but we decided we didnít want to be on a ferry for 2 hours each way, so we chose Hvar Town, a 65 minute ride, and it was a great decision for us. We were back in Split a little after 7:00PM.

Our friends who were here in the spring recommended Kod Sfinge Vaneuropske Zviri for dinner. Itís a difficult restaurant to find, hidden away on a narrow alley and up some stairs. We asked for help, and finally found it. Our friends loved it and told us it was inexpensive. Maybe they increase their prices in September because it was one of the more expensive restaurants we ate at. They make very good gin tonics! I had 2! Maybe our meal cost more money because we each had an appetizer and we each had 2 mixed drinks. I had large shrimp in hard shells that I had to break apart with my hands, almost like eating lobster without the lobster crackers! In fact, the waiter gave me a plastic Hello Kitty apron to wear! We were disappointed that they were out of a lot of dishes. No mussels left, so they couldnít make seafood soup. Lamb is out of season. I never heard of lamb being out of season. Why would it be??? Other restaurants on our trip were serving lamb. I wanted cold cucumber soup for my starter, but they were out of that, too. So it was a bit of a disappointment. The restaurant does get good reviews, though, so itís worth trying, I think.

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 19th, 2019 at 02:42 PM.
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Old Sep 19th, 2019, 02:52 PM
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Photos of Split and Hvar Town


The Peristyle, former central courtyard of Diocletian's Palace

View overlooking Hvar Town

Pretty harbor at Hvar Town
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Old Sep 19th, 2019, 04:40 PM
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It is a beautiful part of the world, isn't it? I'm glad you finally got there and have been enjoying it.
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Old Sep 19th, 2019, 05:08 PM
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Hvar looks beautiful in that photo. When you said that food in Split and Dubrovnik is expensive, is it in the range that we find in Western Europe?
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Old Sep 20th, 2019, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
It is a beautiful part of the world, isn't it? I'm glad you finally got there and have been enjoying it.
KJA, yes, Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro are all so beautiful! We had an awesome trip. It was difficult deciding what to omit but we were very, very happy with the places we visited.
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Old Sep 20th, 2019, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by tripplanner001 View Post
Hvar looks beautiful in that photo. When you said that food in Split and Dubrovnik is expensive, is it in the range that we find in Western Europe?
Yes, it's in the range we would find in Western Europe. However, we noticed that restaurants in Zagreb and Ljubljana are much less expensive.
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Old Sep 20th, 2019, 02:32 AM
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September 10: A Visit to Lovely Trogir, and the interesting Ethnographic Museum in Split

After breakfast, we drove to the town of Trogir. I had asked Ivo about taking the bus there, but he discouraged us from doing so because the bus trip is long and makes a lot of stops. He didnít think we would have trouble finding a parking space in September. The drive to Trogir from Split was about 40 minutes. Trogirís Old Town is situated on a small island between the mainland and the larger island of Ciovo. Itís such a beautiful setting! Our GPS took us directly to Ciovo; however, we couldnít find any parking spaces there, so we double parked while my husband went into a nearby store and asked someone where we could park. He told us to drive over 2 small bridges to the mainland where we would find a large parking lot next to the market. We easily found a parking space, so no problem with parking.

We visited the market first; itís a very large market; we bought more food stuffs for gifts, such as honey and jam. Then we walked across the bridge to the Old Town. We visited the St. Lawrence Cathedral which has an amazing door with intricate religious carvings. There is a very tall Venetian tower that we did not climb. The warning that you climb the tower at your own risk was intimidating!! I took a peek inside, and the stairway is a very narrow circular stairway that I wasnít willing to attempt!

We didnít spend a lot of time in the Old Town because at this point we had already visited lots of old towns so we walked out on to the Riva, which faces Ciovo. This is another beautiful seafront promenade, lined with palm trees, and boats bobbing in the water, and cafes and restaurants. We took our time enjoying the scenery and taking photos.

Then we made our way to the Kamerlengo Fortress where we climbed the stairs to the ramparts and then to St. Markís Tower for more gorgeous views. To get to the top of St. Markís Tower, we had to climb a rather steep iron ladder that luckily had railings on both sides. This was a little scary for me, but I did it. We entered into a small room, and then had to climb about a dozen stone steps to get to the top of the tower. The views of Trogir are definitely worth it!

After doing all this climbing in warm weather, we stopped to have some cold beer at one of the cafes on the Riva and to enjoy the coastal scenery. We then returned to Split in the late afternoon.

Next on our itinerary is a visit to the very interesting Ethnographic Museum. The display of costumes is very interesting, and we really enjoyed the wine-growing exhibits. There are also some very interesting old photographs of people working in the vineyards. We learned that most people made their living in the vineyards, and unfortunately most vineyards were destroyed (I think by insects?) in the 1960ís, so sadly there was a mass migration to other countries. This is a small museum, located on several floors, and very educational. We spent about an hour here.

Our last dinner in Split was at Central Kavana Restaurant in Narodni Square. We really enjoyed our meal here. My husband had stewed beef, and I had lamb chops. So I still donít understand why the other restaurant told us lamb chops were out of season. Strange, indeed! For dessert, we each had our own crŤme caramel. So delicious! One of the best weíve ever had.

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 20th, 2019 at 02:36 AM.
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Old Sep 20th, 2019, 03:02 PM
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More photos

Here are some more photos

Another view of Hvar Town from the fortress

The Riva in Trogir
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Old Sep 20th, 2019, 03:57 PM
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September 11: PLITVICE LAKES IS PARADISE!!!

After our last hearty breakfast at Bokeria, we returned to our room where Ivo met us to help carry our luggage downstairs, and to help us pull them to the bus stop, where we said our good-byes. I waited at the bus stop with our luggage while my husband got the car and picked me up. Then we were off to Plitvice Lakes National Park!! Plitvice is inland, near the Bosnian border, so we were also saying good-bye to the stunning Croatian coastline.

It was easy driving to Plitvice on the highway. There really isn’t a lot of traffic on the roads. We stopped for lunch at a highway stop. The drive was about 3 hours.

Our accommodations for tonight are at the Plitvice Miric Inn, recommended by Rialtogirl. I want to thank her very much for recommending the Inn. It’s a wonderful place to stay, just 5 minutes from Entrance 2. We paid 130 euros which included a magnificent home-made breakfast buffet, probably one of the best I’ve ever had. Our room and bathroom were good sizes, and they were very, very clean.

I purchased 2-day tickets for Plitvice online last May, and I purchased them for Entrance 2. Our entry time for September 11 was 4:00PM, but you can pick up your tickets 30 minutes prior. My plan was to hike the Upper Lakes today and the Lower Lakes tomorrow (Sept. 12). When we checked into Plitvice Miric Inn, the receptionist suggested that we take the shuttle bus from ST-2 up to ST-3, and then hike down on the H Trail. That is what we did, and it worked out perfectly.

One thing I’d like to mention here is that there is a lot of walking at Plitvice Lakes, and there is some uphill and downhill walking. I strongly recommend wearing sturdy sneakers or walking shoes. I can’t imagine doing this hike in skinny sandals, although I did see some people doing just that.

We had no trouble finding a parking space. Then we walked to the Ticket Booth and exchanged our vouchers for the real tickets. We then walked quite a long ways to ST-2. Even though this was a downhill walk, I found it tiring and used my fold-up walking cane that I brought with me just in case! The bus driver scanned our tickets, but we did not have to show our tickets for the boat ride back. So please do not throw your tickets away at any time. You never know when you have to show them. It was about a 20-minute ride up to ST-3. So, all in all, it was about an hour from the time we parked our car to the time we started our hike around 4:30PM.

At first I was a little disappointed in the top half of the Upper Lakes. There wasn’t a lot of water coming from the waterfalls, and I assume it’s because of the time of year. The lower half of the Upper Lakes was more impressive with much more water thus making the waterfalls more impressive and loud. I thought, Wow, this is what I came to see!!! Because I walk slow, and because we stopped to take a lot of photos, we didn’t reach the boat ramp at P-2 until 6:20PM, so it was almost a 2-hour hike for us. We had to wait about 20 minutes for the boat. It’s a very short boat ride to P-1. Then it was a very long hike back up to the parking lot! Like I said, a lot of walking, but well worth it!!

When we checked into the Inn, we signed up for dinner for 8PM, and we both ordered the whole fresh trout. This was an amazing meal!!! Again, I want to thank Rialtogirl for recommending this Inn. The meal was superb and only costs 20 euros per person. Our dinner included home-made chicken soup, a very fresh salad, and a platter for 2 people that contained 2 whole trouts, an assortment of roasted vegetables and potatoes, risotto, polenta, and a unique dish I’ve never had before. It’s chunks of white zucchini with sour cream and sesame seeds. Simple, but very delicious. And dessert was included, too. The best apple strudel I’ve ever had. Light and flaky. To die for!! And there was a very small bottle of plum brandy on our table for us to taste. That’s all you need!! Just a little taste. It is very strong! As Rialtogirl says, it puts hair on your chest!

Tomorrow was an even better day at Plitvice Lakes!!! The Lower Lakes are magnificent!!!

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 20th, 2019 at 04:00 PM.
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Old Sep 20th, 2019, 04:13 PM
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Plitvice Lakes National Park is Paradise

Photos of Plitvice Lakes

The Lower Lakes - near Veliki Slap

The Lower Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park - the Lower Lakes

Our delicious meal at Plitvice Miric Inn
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Old Sep 20th, 2019, 06:00 PM
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KarenWoo, really enjoying yourTR. Dubrovnik and Split are the last 2 destinations on my trip next Spring through Prague, Budapest, BiH and southern Croatia. Unfortunately I only have 2 nights in each city. Iím thinking that probably 1 1/2 days (2 nights) is the minimum needed for Dubrovnik itself? If so, Montenegro is out. For Split itself, Iím thinking 3/4 of a day should be sufficient and am then debating whether to use my last day to trip to Hvar or Korcula, or just hop onto a catamaran for a day of sailing around Split.

Enjoying your TR.
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Old Sep 21st, 2019, 01:53 AM
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Hi Karen, I am so glad you liked Plitvice Miric inn. The trout is my favorite. The family works so hard to make their guests happy.

I was in Hvar on the 9th and Split on the 10th! Maybe we walked by each other
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Old Sep 21st, 2019, 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by rialtogrl View Post
Hi Karen, I am so glad you liked Plitvice Miric inn. The trout is my favorite. The family works so hard to make their guests happy.

I was in Hvar on the 9th and Split on the 10th! Maybe we walked by each other
Rialtogrl, I want to thank you so much for recommending Plitvice Miric Inn! We loved our stay there, and our trout dinner was one of our favorites of the whole trip!

What a coincidence that we were in Hvar and Split on the same dates. What time did you arrive in Hvar and how long did you stay? Hvar is one of our favorite places of the trip.
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Old Sep 21st, 2019, 03:05 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnBeef View Post
KarenWoo, really enjoying yourTR. Dubrovnik and Split are the last 2 destinations on my trip next Spring through Prague, Budapest, BiH and southern Croatia. Unfortunately I only have 2 nights in each city. Iím thinking that probably 1 1/2 days (2 nights) is the minimum needed for Dubrovnik itself? If so, Montenegro is out. For Split itself, Iím thinking 3/4 of a day should be sufficient and am then debating whether to use my last day to trip to Hvar or Korcula, or just hop onto a catamaran for a day of sailing around Split.

Enjoying your TR.
MinnBeef, your trip itinerary sounds wonderful! What time are you arriving in Dubrovnik? What time do you leave Dubrovnik? How long you need in Dubrovnik really depends on what you want to see and what your interests are. We basically had one full day for sightseeing in Dubrovnik. To summarize, this is what we did: walked the walls which might have taken us longer than some people; had lunch; visited the Franciscan Monastery; saw War Photo Limited; and took cable car to top of Mt. Srd. We did not have time to visit the Dominican Monastery, and there are also several churches to visit and the Sponza Palace. I don't feel the need to see everything, and we have visited many, many churches in Europe. You do need a whole day to do the drive around the Bay of Kotor and to visit at least a few places on the Bay. Choices would be Kotor, Perast, Budva, and/or possibly Herceg Novi. So it sounds like you don't have time to visit Montenegro.

I think you would need a whole day to see Split, and again that depends on your interests. If you can, I recommend a private guided tour of Diocletian's Palace; our tour was 2 hours long. Then time for exploring on your own; walking along the Riva; and some museums if they interest you. Then, personally, I would visit Hvar Town on your second day. In the spring it won't be a party place, and it is so beautiful. The boat ride is only 65 minutes each way.

If you want to see Korcula, it makes sense to do so from Dubrovnik, not Split.

Another consideration is ferry/catamaran schedules. They don't run as frequently in the spring as they do during the summer.
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Old Sep 21st, 2019, 04:27 AM
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Hi Karen, I was in Hvar from the 4th to 10th, and went to Split for a couple of nights after that...
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Old Sep 21st, 2019, 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by rialtogrl View Post
Hi Karen, I was in Hvar from the 4th to 10th, and went to Split for a couple of nights after that...
Hi Rialtogrl, How nice that you were able to spend a lot of time on Hvar. It is so beautiful! I thought maybe you were there for a day and that perhaps we were on the same catamaran.
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Old Sep 21st, 2019, 05:32 AM
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September 12: Another Day in Paradise and onward to Zagreb!

We woke up early and had a very delicious and filling breakfast buffet at the Inn!! Everything is home-made!! Choices are omelets, hard and soft boiled eggs, various meat selections, fresh fruit, cereals, yogurts, and a huge selection of home-made pastries and breads, such as peach bread, plum bread, pear bread, cherry bread, etc. One of the best breakfast buffets we have had!

This morning we hiked the Lower Lakes. We entered the park through Entrance 2 again. Because we purchased our tickets for Entrance 2, we had to enter via the same entrance on our second day. We took the bus from ST-2 to ST-1, and we were on the trail by 9:15AM. We asked at the information desk which trail was best, considering we saw the Upper Lakes yesterday, and the person recommended Trail B, so that is what we did. For us, at least in September, the Lower Lakes were more impressive and beautiful than the Upper Lakes. There was so much more water cascading from the waterfalls and water gushing everywhere! Our friends who were here in late April/early May told us both lakes were equally impressive and beautiful to them, but the spring was rainier, so I assume that’s the difference.

Plitvice really is gorgeous, and I hope people can include it in their itinerary. There is the sound of water cascading (sometimes thunderous) from the waterfalls and water gurgling everywhere. The water is a beautiful turquoise blue and very clear and clean. We saw fish and ducks, and the vegetation is very lush, and the boardwalks add to the scenery.

At the end of our hike, we took the boat from P3 to P2. This is about a 20-minute boat ride. At P3, there are snack bars, picnic tables, and rest rooms. We had to show our tickets to get on to the boat here. Surprisingly, no one asked for our tickets when we boarded the bus at ST-2 this morning. You never know when you will be asked for your ticket, so this is another reminder not to throw away your ticket! Then we took the boat from P2 to P1. This is the shorter boat ride. We were driving out of the parking lot by 12:30PM, and we saw about 20 tour buses!!! I forgot to mention that we did encounter 2 large tour groups in the morning, but we managed to escape them and stay ahead of them!! So, if you can, I recommend visiting Plitvice the way we did to avoid the crowds: hike one part in late afternoon, stay overnight, and then hike the other part in the morning.

Now we are on our way to Zagreb, the landlocked capital of Croatia! The drive to Zagreb was beautiful; we drove through some very pretty countryside and through cute villages on narrow country roads before picking up the highway. The drive took us about 2.5 hours. We had to drop off our rental car at the Oryx office in Zagreb, and this was a bit stressful. Driving was a little difficult because there was lots of traffic in the city and numerous one-way streets. We entered Oryx’s address into our GPS, and when it told us we arrived, we couldn’t see the office. So we entered the address again, and we were close by and finally found the office. But the weird thing is there weren’t any parking spaces, so my husband pulled up on to the sidewalk; I went inside and asked the clerk where we should park the car. He told us to drive 60 meters, and take a right at the round-about, and then pull up on the sidewalk! Weird! Another employee met us there, inspected the car, took care of final paperwork, and we were done. I noticed a parking garage nearby so maybe that’s where they park their cars but didn’t want us to drive into the garage.

We took a cab to our hotel: the Hotel Jagerhorn located at Ilica 14, Donji Grad. We were very happy with our stay here. The hotel is in an excellent location, just a short walk from Trg bana Jelacica (Governor Jelacic Square – the main square). The staff is very friendly and helpful. Our room rate included a breakfast buffet, and there is a nice courtyard where you can eat breakfast. The hotel is in an older building; our room was on the smaller side, but still comfortable and very clean.

We asked the receptionist for restaurant recommendations. She recommended Vinodol, which she described as traditional food with a modern twist but not adventurous. Or Stari Fijaker, traditional food that her mother made and more adventurous. So we chose Stari Fijaker. The dining room is very pretty and inviting with red print tablecloths and warm wood. For an appetizer, I had home-made tomato soup, which was very good and thick. I forgot want my husband had. For our main meals, he chose a mixed platter with sausage, ham, and another meat. It came with mashed potatoes and a stuffed pepper. We both thought the sausage was dry and the ham was a little too salty. I ordered a pork cutlet meal with garlic tomato sauce, which I liked very much. We had apple strudels for dessert, which were good but on the heavier side. The apple strudels we had at Plitvice Miric Inn were better, lighter and flakier.

We had time to walk around a little bit before returning to our hotel. Zagreb reminds us somewhat of Prague, with its architecture, trams, and food. But, luckily, not as crowded. The tourist buses have not discovered Zagreb yet!!!

Last edited by KarenWoo; Sep 21st, 2019 at 05:36 AM.
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Old Sep 21st, 2019, 05:18 PM
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It sounds fantastic, KarenWoo, and lots of great tips in your report.
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