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Help me decide future vacation: Norway or Croatia

Help me decide future vacation: Norway or Croatia

Jul 13th, 2012, 03:21 PM
  #1  
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Help me decide future vacation: Norway or Croatia

Hi all. For our travels in the US, we love visiting the scenic beauty of the National Parks. In Europe, the Norwegian fjords and Plitvice Lakes National Park both look amazingly beautiful.

I love sight-seeing in Europe - my favorite is art museums, but also like other kinds of interesting museums and exploring picturesque cities and small towns. Norway and Croatia don't seem to have a lot of interesting art museums - I love Baroque and Flemish and Dutch art best; Munch doesn't do much for me.

I wanted to know your thoughts on both places - pro and con. In Norway, seeing Gerainger and S-something fjords would be high on our must-do list. In Croatia, I would like to see Plitvice, Dubrovnik and Lake Bled in Slovenia looks pretty, too. These places do seem quite far apart - is there any easy way to get between these places? We are wililng to drive - or do a combination ferry/driving if that might be easier.
karens is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 03:44 PM
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Can't help you with Norway (haven't been there since I was a kid), but take a look at my trip report (Chapters 11 - 21) of my 2008 journey to Central Europe (lots of photos). These chapters focus on Croatia and Slovenia. Driving was easy. Roads were good. We went from Dubrovnik to Trogir to Plitvice to Ljubljana to Lake Bled (with some side trips along the way). Have fun.

http://www.travelswithmaitaitom.com/...nice_2008.html

maitaitom is online now  
Jul 13th, 2012, 04:30 PM
  #3  
 
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Can't help with Croatia - haven't been there. But I can tell you the only sensible way to get from one to another is to fly - driving or training would take days.

Separately, Norway doesn't have a lot in the way of art museums - it has some interesting small museums (mostly folk or vikng), some wooden churches and a lot of outdoor stuff (although much of the country is flattish scrub oak and not much to look at - at least to someone used to New York State's beauty. If you want to see more combine with either Stockholm or Copenhagen - both of which have much more to do that is historical, artistic and cultural - many museums, historical sights, castles and palaces.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 06:26 PM
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Croatia has a limited rail network especially on the Dalmatian Coast (Dubrovnik). So if you want to get from Slovenia down to there, you can either take the bus (not ideal, but a lot nicer than it sounds) or drive. I've driven in both Slovenia and Croatia, and it's quite easy, a lot less stressful than driving in Philly!

One tricky thing about renting a car and seeing everything is that if you try to fly in/out as an open jaw, you have to pay a big drop charge if you pick up the rental car in one country and return it in another. So you should expect either to rent the car in one country and drop it at the end in the same one (requiring a bit of a round trip) or two rentals, one in each country. Or...just pay the drop charge.

You don't HAVE to have a car in Slovenia if you just want to see Lake Bled - but a car is great if you want to drive around and see the breathtaking scenery nearby; remember, you are in part of the alps up there. Many people drive over the Vrsic Pass when they are in Bled, through the Julian Alps and Triglav national park (I did this last fall). I highly recommend it. But, if you want to see just Bled, public transportation will get you there. Then you could take a train from Ljubljana (delightful city, highly recommend at least a stop!) to Zagreb, Croatia, rent a car, and drive down to Plitvice and Dubrovnik (I did that in 2009).

It can also be tricky to fly into the Balkans directly from the states without a bunch of stops. In 2009, I flew into Italy, stopped in Venice, then bus to Ljubljana, train to Zagreb, drive (with stops) to Dubrovnik, and then flew back to Paris from Split, Croatia. So my open jaw to Europe was into Milan, out of Paris. You can also use easyJet to fly cheaply between London (and perhaps Paris) and the Balkans, if that works for your flight plans.

But i's true about the museums: there aren't a lot of noteworthy museums in Croatia and Slovenia. One thing I love about Slovenia and Croatia, though (except for Dubrovnik) is the lack of mobs of western tourists like you'd see in Italy, Both countries are laid back but easy to navigate for Americans, plus there is lots of natural beauty. And there ARE some interesting little museums here and there (in Zagreb and Ljubljana, plus a noted World War I museum Kobarid, Slovenia). Dubrovnik is sort of an outdoor museum; it sure feels like a piece of history.

So while I can't comment on Norway, having been only to Sweden years ago, I've enjoyed the Balkans enough to do two trips there, for whatever that's worth. And I hope to return.
Andrew is online now  
Jul 13th, 2012, 06:59 PM
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Hi karens,
We just returned from Norway. We spent 5 days back in the fjords driving around enjoying the beauty, as well as a couple days each in Oslo and Bergen.

It is extremely beautiful and I am really glad that we went, but we will probably never return because of how expensive it is.

I have no idea about Croatia but just keep this in mind if budget is a determining factor for you.
michele_d is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 07:45 PM
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You can easily drive between Dubrovnik, Plitvice and Lake Bled, with stops in between. All are worth seeing. Dubrovnik gets crowds from the cruise ships but if you are in the old town either early in the day, or in the evening its much quieter. In the afternoons the crowds may be gone but it can be very hot in the summer with all that stone and not a lot of shade, but it will be a perfect time to take a break and go for a swim.

Plitvice has lots of walks through the Park and while you wont be alone, you wont be mobbed either. You will see waterfalls after waterfalls... lots of natural beauty. The paths are pretty easy, and there is a boat ride across a lake that takes you to other pathways. There is also , in the summer, a trolley that will take you from these paths back towards the park hotel..a short walk away.
There is one hotel within the park that is pretty simple, and convenient.

Lake Bled is in the Julian Alps and its very scenic. There are hotels and restaurants along the lake; a castle you can visit, and a variety of outdoors activities in the area. There is also a music festival in the summer at a variety of venues. Walk around Lake Bled in the early evening; its about 4 miles and quite safe.

I also liked Trogir and Split, where you can see the remains of Diocletian's palace and mix of shops and restaurants amid the Roman bits and pieces. Enjoyed wandering in Zagreb and in the old part of Ljubljana as well.

You won't find major art museums, but you will see a variety of historic and scenic sites.

Norway's fjords are very scenic. Olso and Bergen are both interesting, small cities. In Oslo the Vigeland Sculptures in Frogner Park and the Viking Ships museums are worth seeing. I was there years ago when the cost of living in Norway was a lot less than today.

Other considerations: Norway is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. Oslo has been ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world. You can expect to pay $20 for a street shack burger; $13 per gallon for gas.

Croatia and Slovenia are among the most reasonable countries in Europe.

You know your own budget.

Travel: There are no non-stop flights to Croatia from the USA. Traveling from JFK, you can go via Munich, Frankfort, Vienna, etc.

Climate: Obviously the weather in Norway will be cooler. Croatia is on the Adriatic.
You may have a preference.

Whatever you decide, you will have a great trip
maxima is offline  
Jul 14th, 2012, 05:23 AM
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Hi Karen! We spent a week in Norway a couple of summers ago and loved it. We have a trip report w/photos here under my name. Croatia/Slovenia are next up, in early September, including Plitvice (although we aren't going as far south as Dubrovnik). Happy to share thoughts when we get back. When are you thinking of going?
ms_go is offline  
Jul 14th, 2012, 05:32 AM
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I would think Norway will require at least double the budget of Croatia. At least. It is phenomenally expensive.
It doesn't have many art museums but the small local museums are interesting. The scenery and the people are the main reasons to visit Norway, not the value for money, museums or weather.
To visit both countries in one trip you will need to fly between them, possibly via another European country.
hetismij2 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2012, 10:14 AM
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Thanks for all your input.

maitaitom - thanks for your info - and for posting the link to your report. I started to read it, and then started looking at all your great pictures. What a wonderful trip! I am looking forward to reading your report at lesiure later.

Thanks for your Croatia info, Andrew. I did notice, after a very brief kayak search, that it's a lot easier to fly to Oslo than Croatia. Glad to hear driving is easy - we have driven in Italy and England and really didn't care for either one. (Germany, Austria, Switzerland were fine and we plan on driving again in Germany next year).

michele, maxima and hetismij -I just recently read that Oslo is the most expensive city in Europe (Zurich was 2nd). Perhaps, sometime in the future, we can do a cruise of Norway and that might offset the expense as we can eat most meals on the ship.

maxima - thanks for the pros/cons - gives me more to consider.

ms. go - I look forward to hearing about your Croatia trip! I will look for your report - I love travel photos We are thinking of going summer 2014.

BTW,nytraveler and hetismj - we are considering Croatia OR Norway - not both on the same trip.
karens is offline  
Jul 14th, 2012, 10:57 AM
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Karen, if you like travel photos, check out my trip reports from 2009 (mostly Croatia) and 2011 (mostly Slovenia).

If you're flying in the summer, you can probably fly easyJet out of Dubrovnik to somewhere else in Europe, if there's some other city you wouldn't mind spending a night or two in before flying back to the states.
Andrew is online now  
Jul 14th, 2012, 12:53 PM
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Karens consider doing a Hurtigruten trip - smaller boats than cruise ships, and you get to see masses of Norway, more than you would on a cruise. All food provided and you can take duty free on board to consume in your cabin if you feel the need for some wine. Very relaxed atmosphere and a great trip.
hetismij2 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2012, 02:19 PM
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We are just back from a Central European trip. If you go in summer, be warned that it is very hot. The highest temp reading we saw was 44 C. I looked it up when I got home, and it converts to 111.2 F. In those walled Old Towns, it was baking hot. In Plitvice, the lodge is not air conditioned, has no fans, and has no screens on the windows. Again, it was hot.

I'm not trying to be negative--we had a good and enjoyable trip--but if I were ever to go to that area again, it would not be in summer!

Haven't been to Norway yet. It's on my list.
carolyn is offline  
Jul 14th, 2012, 03:46 PM
  #13  
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Wow, carolyn, that is very hot.

hetismij - after a very brief search on cruise critic, I do recognize the name Hurtigruten. I will look in to that more.

Andrew - I will definitely do that. (Yay, more travel photos for me to look at).

P.S. I didn't get to maitai's report yet. After looking at the pics from his month-long trip that included Croatia, I moved onto to his other photos of Germany and Switzerland. I did learn a great tip about visiting Eltz castle, which we plan to do next year. Thanks for including that in your report, tom.
karens is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 12:21 AM
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karens - if you search the forums you will find a few trip reports for the Hurtigruten - including of my first (solo) trip on it. I did it again this March with DH, combining it with Oslo for a couple of days.

My photos from the first trip are here: http://www.buckphotos.garafiano.nl/2...ten/index.html
Bear in mind it was early February when I did the trip!
hetismij2 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2012, 03:40 PM
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hetismij - nice pics! Was it really cold on the ship?!

Andrew - your pics are terrific! I very much enjoyed looking at them today. (I perused them while watching the Phillies - will go back and read your reports).

I especially liked your pics of the island on Lake Bled - beautiful.
karens is offline  
Jul 16th, 2012, 12:33 AM
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Indoors was toasty. Outdoors it got pretty cold, but still nowhere near as cold as huge areas of North America get in winter.

The coldest daytime was the dog sledding trip at -19C (-2F), though the North cape was nearly as cold. But that was a cold winter they said. This year was exceptionally warm, and they had a very short season for the snow hotel and dog sledding.
hetismij2 is offline  

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