Croatia Trip Report at last!

Jun 13th, 2004, 06:20 AM
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Croatia Trip Report at last!

Wow! What a fantastic country! There are many cities and towns in Europe that I am enthralled with but as a country, Croatia kicks butt! I will start with my reflections and follow up with details of our trip.

The people in Croatia are the friendliest people I have encountered in my travels. Even if you are not going to utilize their service they will kindly and helpfully direct you to the right place. The beauty of the coastline took my breath away. The unfortunate part about driving is that you can barely take your eyes off the road for fear of driving right over the edge of the cliff and getting a little too up close and personal with the Adriatic! The food has a Mediterranean flare with lots of mouthwatering grilled fish. Also, since Italy is just right across the Adriatic there is plenty of Italian food. My favorite beer in Croatia is Karlovacko (pronounced Karlovachko) and it is served ice cold and generally costs 10-25 Kuna for a large, depending on where you are in Croatia. The wine is definitely worth trying out. It is not necessary to know the language if you are English speaking except when communicating with the older generation. Everyone is taught 2 languages in school so English is spoken almost everywhere. I recommend reading about the history of former Yugoslavia. It is extremely heartwrenching but interesting.

We took the night train in from Rosenheim, Germany after spending a couple of days with friends. Upon our arrival in Zagreb,we were greeted by cold and rain. We took a bus from the rail station to our rental car place where we picked up our rental car. We easily found Hotel Ilica. The positive things about this hotel are that it is centrally located, has adequate parking and it is inexpensive. I wish we would have splurged on our first night and stayed in a nicer hotel. We checked into our tiny (even by European standards) room and decided to try to take a quick nap since it was raining. The bed was one of the worst I have ever slept in. It had a thin, springy, squeaky mattress that made sleep nearly impossible. I gave up the idea of a nap and headed into the bathroom to freshen up. As I looked down to the floor I watched as a strange green bug crawled through a small hole in the floor followed by a parade of ants. I walked up to the main building to notify the front desk clerk and she complained that the owner was cheap and never took care of the hotel. She had me follow her to a closet in our buidling where she pulled out a can of raid and stomped to our room to spray the entire floor. The clerk told me to help myself to the can if I needed it again. That put an end to our bug problem but the room was now polluted with the smell of bug killer!

We headed out to explore Zagreb. We walked for hours all over Zagreb. The upper town is a nice place to spend some time with plenty of outdoor cafes that would have been great for people watching. Bogoviceva street runs parallel to Ilica street. It also has some great looking outdoor cafes. Unfortunately the rain kept most people under cover that day. Zagreb seemed dismal but I don?t think we were able to give it a fair shake due to the rain and colder than normal conditions.

Day two we headed to Plitvice National Park. We began at entrance 1. The entry fee is 750 Kuna per person and that includes the ferry bus shuttles within the park. It wasn?t until the last couple days before we left that I convinced my boyfriend that we should work this park into our itinerary. Thank God for the power of persuasion! It is spectacular! We spent about 4 hours in the park but could have easily spent another couple of hours. The color and clarity of the water is amazing! You can see hundreds of trout swimming in the blue/green water.

After our visit to Plitvice, we headed west to the Island of Rab. We had not originally considered this island but our friend in Rosenheim, Germany is a private pilot and he raved about Rab Town. We took the car ferry over to Rab. The cost was 82K for two people and the car. As we approached the island it seemed as if we were arriving on a moonscape. There was no sign of life on the barren eastern end of the island. We drove off the ferry and followed the road into Rab Town. Upon our arrival we went to the tourist office to find a place to stay. We were directed to a great Sobe about a 5 minute walk away. It didn?t have a name but it was #150. Our room was on the first floor. There was plenty of room and we had a nice patio with a couple of chairs and a table. There is also a clothes line if you are ready to wash some clothes on this part of your trip. The cost was 24 Euro per night. I think they also have larger apartments on the upper floor.

Rab is a beautiful island and you can easily cover it on foot in half a day and that includes stopping for a refreshment, taking in all the sights, meandering through the park and climbing to the top of the bell tower of St John?s Church. The view from the top is breathtaking! The stone walkways look as if they have been polished to a shine. We ate dinner Santa Maria. It was decent but nothing to write home about. The one place that sticks in my mind is a restaurant/wine bar called Palacio. The owner lives in Zagreb in the winter where he runs an art gallery. His love of art reflects in his restaurant. It is definitely one of the most beautiful and well thought out places in Rab town. You can?t miss the imposing columns surrounding the outdoor area. They carry some great wines too! You are able to shop from their selection of bottles in the shop attached to the restaurant.

From Rab island we left for Split. On our way there we decided that we didn?t want to stay in a big city so we stopped in Trogir instead. We drove on to the island and around the east end and across the bridge. We stopped in to Vila Sikaa ( to check on room availability. They were booked but allowed us to take a look at a room. It is a very nice place and we would have stayed there had been a room available. The staff kindly offered to call Apartmani Bakica (, up the road about 100 meters. There was a very nice apartment with kitchen, living area, deck and bedroom available for 60 (or 70?) Euro and a regular room for 30 so we opted for the room for 30. It was as nice as any standard room in a Marriott and the owner went out of her way to make us feel at home offering us a bottle of wine as a gift. You are also able to utilize their nice yard with outdoor seating and a swinging bench. This island is a perfect place to relax for a couple of days. We took a day trip to Split and wandered through Diocletian?s Palace and the market. Both were very interesting but we were happy with our decision to stay on Trogir. The best meal I had on the entire trip was at Top Balloon on Trogir. I highly recommend eating at least one meal here!!

After a few days on Trogir we took the ferry to Hvar. As we got off the ferry we were approached by very nice people offering a room but we decided to forgo their offers and check out a place we found in a guide book. We gave the Jagoda & Ante Bracanovic? Guesthouse a call and, luckily, they had a room available! Be prepared for a long climb up many stairs but staying there was worth it, especially for 195 Kuna a night. We loved Hvar Town! A couple of restaurants worth mentioning are Junior (dinner for 4 people with 3 bottles of incredible wine and a few beers was 850 Kuna) and Pape (dinner for 2 with drinks was 190 Kuna). The grilled squid at Pape was the best I had on the entire trip and the service is ultra friendly!

We rented a car on day two and drove over the Zavala beach. Driving through the long dark one-way tunnel to get over there is an experience! The beach is an untouched slice of heaven with a nice little restaurant on it but not much else. I think this may be a place that comes alive with windsurfers in the summer time. After a couple of leisure hours on Zavala beach we headed to the winery of Zlatan Plavac. The wine that we drank at Junior the night before is made here so we bought a couple of bottles (100 kuna each). The wine is different from any wine I have ever tasted. Because of all the lavender that grows on the island the wine picks up some interesting flavors. It is a smooth jammy red that I will look forward to drinking again on my next trip to Hvar! On our way back to Hvar Town in late afernoon we stopped in Vrboska, a very picturesque town but not a lot to see or do. It is definitely worth a stop if you have a car but I wouldn?t choose it as a destination to stay.

This is long winded and detailed but I hope you find it helpful. I will finish my report later today and cover our stay in Dubrovnik!! Feel free to ask questions!

Although there are many cities in the world that I love, Croatia now tops my list of favorite countries I have ever been to and I know I will be back soon!
eurotraveller is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 07:55 AM
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Thanks Euro,
Great to hear about Plitvice National Park.....that is on our list for our next trip to Croatia!!
Croatia is terrific!!! Have you been to Slovenia??
Thanks for taking the time to write a great report!!!
Bailey is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 08:09 AM
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Eurotraveler. Great report. I will certainly consider Croatia in the future.
job816 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 10:47 AM
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Bailey, I have not been to Slovenia. We had planned to stay a couple of days in Ljubljana but decided to visit friends near Munich instead. I am going to make a point of visiting on my next trip to Croatia.
eurotraveller is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 01:50 PM
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Eurotraveler -
That tunnel to Zavala is an experience - I did it on a vespa - was the traffic signal working?
And that beach at Zavala - pure bliss. Glad you had a great time. I'll have to visit the winery of Zlatan Plavac when I'm in Hvar this summer.
marktynernyc is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 02:35 PM
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Oops! The great wine bar/restaurant in Rab Town is Paradiso, not Palacio.

Mark, the light was not working! 1/3rd the way through a car entered from the other side. I was not sure what to do but as we drove a bit further we found a place to pull over to the side to let the car pass. We met up with a German couple who biked through it! We ended up getting stuck down on the beach in Zavala because once we got down there the road workers decided to pave the road! Hours later a local guided several frustrated people to an alternate way out up a very steep and narrow road.
eurotraveller is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 02:43 PM
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Excellent report. I am definitely going there next year. Croatia was our first destination for holiday this year but I couldn't coordinate flights,ferry etc for the time were going,so this year we are doing Italy.
cruzingypsy is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 02:51 PM
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Eurotravaller, there was a little mistake in your wonderful report. Entry fee for Plitvice is 75kn, not 750, which would be over 100 EUR.
In July and August the price goes up to 90kn and in winter months down to 45kn.
Jonas is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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Eurotraveler -
That is so funny about the tunnel - it's very similar to what happened to me. There I am zooming through the tunnel and sure enough, a car entered from the other way. Then I saw two people on bicycles - luckily there was that pull over spot. I had lunch at Skalinada - that terrace is wonderful.
marktynernyc is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 05:13 AM
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Thanks Jonas for picking up on my typo! That little "0" makes a big difference!

eurotraveller is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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I'm enjoying your trip report-- keep it coming!
I can't wait to hear about Dubrovnik.

Were you there in May? We're also thinking about Croatia for next year, and wondered about the weather in May vs. June.

Thanks for posting your very helpful report!

marcy_ is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 08:40 PM
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For part 2:

Eurotraveller... great report.
SharonNRayMc is offline  
Jun 16th, 2004, 12:46 PM
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I found another error in my report. I wrote that Rab Island can be explored in 1/2 a day on foot but what I meant was Rab TOWN, not the entire island!
eurotraveller is offline  
Jun 19th, 2004, 04:49 PM
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Great report. We are going to many of the same places in Sept/Oct and appreciate your comments.
dcdee is offline  

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