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I hate the first few days of planning a trip to a new country~can you help?

I hate the first few days of planning a trip to a new country~can you help?

Dec 18th, 2011, 01:29 PM
  #1  
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I hate the first few days of planning a trip to a new country~can you help?

Thanks. We are a group of 6-10 people from the US that will be making out first trip to Croatia. The trip is planned for the 3rd (?) week of September, 2013. We make plans very early because most of us use frequent flyer miles and to avoid conflicting schedules. After leaving Croatia, we will fly to France for a few days in Provence, Beaune and Paris. I am the unofficial tour guide. Participants in our group have traveled together many times from Australia to Italy. We we be, if I may say so, an athletic group from 60 to 70. Don't want to say price is not important but less so than other factors. Food important but again less so than other factors. Want special local hotels (no Holiday Inns) say 4 to 5 stars ~ location, location and location. Problem, will probably want to spend between 5 and 6 nights in Croatia.

Have spent several hours trying to figure tentative itineraries, hotels, etc. Let me be honest ~ I am confused. Would greatly appreciate your input to get me on the right tract. Sounds like we want to see Dubrovnik, Hvar (maybe Trogir) and Split (only for airport?). Keeping this in mind, what is your opinion:

1. Is this a good time to visit (will want to be on the water and beach or 2)?
2. Best airport to fly into and depart from (e.g., Dubrovnik and then Split)?
3. Using AMEX points (e.g., Delta), best city in Europe to fly into that has good flights to/from Croatia?
4. Dubrovnik hotels (e.g., Hotel Excelsior, Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik)?
5. Sailboats (with skipper) for day visit to islands (e.g., Hvar) ~ any recommendations?
6. Any sailboats with skipper for 4 night trip between Dubrovnik and Split?
7. Should we plan on Croatia Airlines to get us to and from European hub to either Dubrovnik or Split?
8. Absolutely do not miss sights?
9. Do not miss eating experiences?
10. Itinerary for the 6 nights (we don't like to move except every 2 or 3 nights)?

What have I forgotten to ask to get me more up to date?

Thanks for help. Philip
Philip is offline  
Dec 18th, 2011, 01:57 PM
  #2  
 
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We plan early as well. We used Air France (Delta miles ) when we went to Croatia. We had more than 6 days so flew into Zagreb from Paris then to Dubrovnik on Croatia Air. After a few days in Dubrovnik we worked our way back to Zagreb by car stopping in Trogir, Hvar, Plitvice Park and Rovinje, then flew to Paris for a few days. FF miles covered all but the Zagreb Dubrovnik leg.

With your limited time, flying into Dubrovnik and out of Split would be ideal.
Judy is offline  
Dec 18th, 2011, 02:05 PM
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I'll take a stab at some of your questions. Five to six nights is not very long. We spent 8 and thought it was "just enough" and only covered Dubrovnik to Split. We are going back next summer for northern Croatia. You say you are also going to France. Any chance you can steal a few days to add to Croatia. I read a lot of trip reports and most people seem to agree that 7-8 days is a minimum unless you just want to go to one place. Here's a link to my trip report (Croatia portion is in the center, just scroll to day 11-18 (http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rful-weeks.cfm)

I think the major "not to miss" site is Dubrovnik and probably late Sept would be a better time to visit then when we were there (July) but I think it will still be pretty crowded. You say you want 4-5 star hotels. However, in Croatia the hotels are more expensive than many other parts of Europe, while 'sobes' or 'apartments' are a good deal. I was a little apprehensive when I was planning our trip but I am so glad we stayed in one. Also, they are in the old town while all the 'hotels' are not.

I know nothing about renting sailboats but there are ferries that go from Dubrovnik to the main islands (Korcula, Hvar) and on up the coast to Split.

In addition to Croatia airlines, Easyjet flies to Dubrovnik and Split from eight or nine of the major European cities (London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Berlin, etc) so that would be an option.
isabel is offline  
Dec 18th, 2011, 02:28 PM
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Don't want to complicate things for you further, but...

Have you considered the Istrian peninsula, particularly Rovinj and Motovun? Plitvice lakes? These were really the highlights of our 2009 trip to Croatia, even more so than Dubrovnik which, while beautiful and interesting, resembles a Disney World creation in the sense that it is over-run with tourists and coach parties, is a reconstruction of the original town, and exists mainly to serve the tourist industry at this point in its history.

I'm sure my comments will provoke screams from those who love Dubrovnik above all else Croatian - but it's just my opinion.
julia1 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2011, 06:14 PM
  #5  
 
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Hello...

As you won't be able to fly into Croatia directly, London, Frankfurt and Rome are good cities to fly to in order to get connecting flights to Croatia, but you might also like to consider other alternatives to make use of budget airlines. I flew Delta to AMS on the way to Croatia in September and it was fine. I just loved Air France's service, amenities and planes. I just want to give general advice and say maybe choose a specific continent and focus on it properly. It took us two months to do Spain, France and Italy and we still didn't have enough time. So i would say either spend four months in Europe, or four months in South east Asia/India/Australia, or four months in south America.

Regards,
Ankush
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AnkushBaghel is offline  
Dec 18th, 2011, 08:08 PM
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I'd say the must see sight in Croatia is Plitvice. I spent two nights there so I could have one full day, and wanted more. I'll also put in a good word for Zagreb and Split over Dubrovnik. I suppose you do have to spend at least one night in Dubrovnik, so you can walk the walls and admire the place, but please try to make it a day when there aren't 10,000 cruise boat people in town (I'm not exaggerating).

Useful sites: http://cruisett.com/ports.php?PortID=184 and http://www.portdubrovnik.hr/girica1.php for cruise ship schedules so you can avoid the worst days

whichbudget.com and skyscanner.net for cheap flights

http://www.jadrolinija.hr/default.aspx?lang=2 for ferry schedules
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 19th, 2011, 03:44 AM
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1. Two weeks later would be better. It will still be hot and crowded in Sept and warm enough to swim in October.
2. I would fly into Zagreb from Paris or Amsterdam, then go to Plitvice lakes, a good place for an active group since it is all hike, but not difficult.
3. Then to Split for Diocletian's Palace, with a long day trip to Hvar. You won't sail to Hvar. It is too far. Then south to Dubrovnik.
4-6. If you find someone to sail to Dubrovnik, you aren't really going to Croatia; you might as well sail on a gullet in Turkey or go to the BVI.
7. Fly out of DBV, but I don't know where you can fly to for Province.
8. Dubrovnik and the nearby parts of Montenegro are scenic in a very California way. Hvar is fascinating, esp the tiny theater. But you are totally missing Istria, which is the most delightful part of the country, like Tuscany within a few miles of the ocean.
9. Croatia has the best pizza in the world, absolutely bar none. It has great spit roasted meats at local taverns. It has delicious fish, though you often pay market price by the kilo so you can get socked if you are not wary. The food is more Italian than Turkish, but Turkish cuisine certainly influenced all these Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean countries.

You don't have remotely enough time to do what you want to do, even without the travel in France. Good luck figuring it out!
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 19th, 2011, 10:04 PM
  #8  
kja
 
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> Problem, will probably want to spend between 5 and 6 nights in Croatia. ... Have spent several hours trying to figure tentative itineraries, hotels, etc. Let me be honest ~ I am confused. Would greatly appreciate your input to get me on the right tract. Sounds like we want to see Dubrovnik, Hvar (maybe Trogir) and Split (only for airport?).

Croatia is a huge and incredibly diverse country. With only 5 or 6 nights, I think you are wise to limit yourself to a very small set of destinations; Dubrovnik, Hvar, and/or Trogir/Split might suit your needs, although trying to see those 3 or 4 places in 5 or 6 nights would be too rushed an itinerary for me (and I travel HARD!). But you haven't said enough about your interests or those of your travel companions for me to comment further on how to plan your time.

It is a beautiful area with much to offer.
kja is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 11:40 AM
  #9  
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Thanks everybody for your help so far. I am slow but I am getting it ~ 5/6 days does not work. Lets say I can get the troops to agree to 7 nights. Better for survey trip? Max of 3 locations?

Also, our group particularily likes architecture, scenery, nice lounge or restaurant with beautiful views. Our group loves wines but I have never heard anyting about Croatian wines.
Philip is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 12:36 PM
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Croatian wine may be a nice surprise then. I've had some quite drinkable wine there.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 01:57 PM
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The women are also extremely beautiful, tall and thin. I didn't notice the men.!
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 05:48 PM
  #12  
kja
 
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7 nights is definitely better.

> our group particularily likes architecture, scenery

Then Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Trogir should prove of interest.

> our group particularily ... nice lounge or restaurant with beautiful views.

Then DO NOT MISS the Buza Bar in Dubrovnik.

Like thursdaysd, I had some very pleasant Croatian wines.
kja is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 06:21 PM
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Istria is Croatian wine country. Lots of vineyards marching up and down and across hillsides. It's also truffle country if you're into truffles, the fungus kind, not the chocolate kind.
julia1 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 05:09 AM
  #14  
 
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For 7 days you should do Zagreb - Split - Hvar - Dubrovnik if you want to do see a lot! If into more relaxing journey, then skip Hvar.
Someone mentioned that you cannot sail to Hvar in one day - so not true: we did it on a sailing boat and it was one of the highlights.
Croatian wines are superb but not cheap! They make such small quantities and I would really recommend at least one wine tour while there. The company that planned everything for us this past summer this superb job as we had no clue where and what we wanted/could see except that we REALLY wanted to see Dubrovnik! But the country was such a great discovery for us that we are surely coming back!
amanam is offline  
Dec 26th, 2011, 08:51 AM
  #15  
 
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amanam, did you really sail round trip from Split to Hvar in one day as a day trip with no overnight?

This is very interesting. What time did you leave? How long did it take to Hvar? How much time did you have ashore before returning? How long to return? What time did you get back to Split?

Thanks for pursuing this!
Ackislander is offline  
Jan 6th, 2012, 04:39 PM
  #16  
 
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I'll comment on the DBV hotels, at least as far as location. Both have beautiful views. We stayed very near the Bellevue twice and walked by it each time we went into town. I haven't done much research on it, but I'd be tempted to stay there next time I'm in DBV. I can tell you that the walk from there to the Stari Grad (Old Town) is incredibly beautiful. It takes about 10 minutes (and it's a bit uphill from town back). You'd get a different but also lovely view from the Excelsior which is on the other side of the Stari Grad.

We really enjoy Croatian wines; we weren't expecting good wines from Croatia so it was a pleasant surprise. We've also flown on Croatia Airlines several times, although mainly within the Balkans, and they were fine. The drive along the coast from Split to DBV or vice-versa is stunning.

I agree with the other posters; you'll regret not spending more time in Croatia (and this comes from a huge francophile!).
ellen75005 is offline  

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