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Karen and Tom's Adventures in Croatia

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Jul 7th, 2013, 05:58 PM
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Karen and Tom's Adventures in Croatia

For our first big trip together, my boyfriend and I (Tom and Karen, mid 50s) chose Croatia, with a brief side-trip to Bosnia. We'd built up high expectations: we wanted romance, great scenery, beautiful beaches, history, culture, and charming towns. We figured we'd bring the romance with us; Croatia/Bosnia would have to provide the rest. And we were not disappointed! Croatia/Bosnia are beautiful and we had a wonderful time.

With just 9 days on the ground and a desire to see as much as possible, we set a fairly fast pace:

- Day 1, Arrive In Zagreb, pick up rental car, drive to Plitvice Lakes
- Day 2, Plitvice Lakes, drive to Trogir
- Day 3, Trogir
- Day 5, Hvar Island
- Day 6, Hvar
- Day 7, Mostar
- Day 8, Dubrovnik
- Day 9, Dubrovnik
- Day 10, early morning flight home

We flew business on Lufthansa using United frequent flyer miles. Seats were comfortable, although they didn’t lie completely flat, and the food was good. We spent 5 hours in the Frankfurt airport business lounge, where I pretty much cleaned out the bowl of Haribo licorice. We then boarded Croatia Airline for the flight to Zagreb – an older plane on which business class consisted of economy seats in the first three rows with a lap table covering the middle seat.

Zagreb’s 1950s-era airport is small. As the plane rolled toward the terminal, a pick-up truck mounted with stairs began chasing us. We deplaned in short order and clambered aboard a bus for the 50-yard drive to the terminal.

Passport/immigration control was quick and because we hadn’t checked luggage, we proceeded directly to Fleet Car Rental, where we got a free upgrade from a VW Polo to a Golf (we'd booked through Auto Europe). With some simple directions from the Fleet guy who walked us out to the car and a free map provided by the tourist information office, we set off for Plitvice Lakes on a warm, sunny morning – excited to be setting off on our adventure!

Although the Fleet guy had suggested staying on the 4-lane toll road for most of the trip, I studied the map and found a shortcut that would save a few dollars. Unfortunately, the two-lane road was narrow, windy, and slow. Well, WE were slow.

The locals sped to within inches of our bumper and passed whenever and wherever they pleased – to heck with caution and trucks potentially coming around blind curves! After a somewhat harrowing two hours, undoubtedly exacerbated by our jetlag, we made it to the small town of Rakovic and House Zupan, our home for the night.

House Zupan (we had booked all of our rooms in advance via Booking.com) was delightful - the hostess, friendly and helpful, and the rooms, clean and simple. After dinner at a nearby hotel, during which we nearly fell asleep on our pizza, we went to bed around 7:30 or 8 and slept through till morning.

Next up: Plitvice National Park
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Jul 7th, 2013, 07:41 PM
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Looking forward to the next installment!
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Jul 7th, 2013, 07:41 PM
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Looking forward to the next installment!
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Jul 8th, 2013, 04:30 PM
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I am so interested in this report. Please do update!
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Jul 8th, 2013, 06:22 PM
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We got an early start for Plitvice - not quite as early as I'd planned - but we were at the ticket gate by 8:30. Following the recommendation of our B&B hostess, we went to Entrance 1. Parking was about $7. At the ticket booth, the guy asked how long we planned to spend inside the park and then recommended the trail we should take based on the amount of time we had. We said four hours and he said, follow trail P3. It was easy as can be, with the trails well-marked.

Plitvice is beautiful and I'm so glad we included it as part of our trip. It's unlike anywhere I've been - gorgeous blue-green water, waterfalls everywhere, and boardwalks winding through the entire park. A water wonderland.

It was another blue-sky day, and our timing was perfect because for much of the morning we saw few other hikers. I took at least a couple hundred pictures. We started at the bottom and hiked up - many, many steps and quite a bit of climbing, but mostly a gentle slope, so not that difficult. To avoid the climbing, take the bus up to the top and do the trail in reverse.

At the mid-way point between the lower and upper lakes, there's a boat to take you across the lake (included in your admission). There's also a snack bar, but not many choices for food. We bought a couple of sandwiches, but they weren't very good (bland).

Tips for Plitvice:
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. The boardwalks were dry when we were there, but I think they might get slippery if wet - so good shoes are important.
- Although there's a snack bar, you're probably better off to bring snacks/lunch. You can buy drinks and ice cream bars, though.
- Get an early morning start to avoid the tour bus crowds.

We left for Trogir shortly afternoon. More to come...
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Jul 11th, 2013, 04:46 AM
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So interested in this trip!

LisaG
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Jul 11th, 2013, 05:25 AM
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I've wanted to go to the Plitvice Lakes ever since I first heard of them. So glad to get another first hand report. Thanks. Tell us more about your trip.
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Jul 11th, 2013, 05:32 AM
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Please, more, please!
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Jul 11th, 2013, 05:44 AM
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Great report. It brings back so many wonderful memories of walking around Plitvice. Thank you
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Jul 11th, 2013, 05:51 AM
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Great report !
Other than Plitvice which I'd have loved to visit but sadly just didn't have the days to fit in, I've been to all the other areas in Croatia you've mentioned as well as a side trip to Bosnia from Dibrovnik, so looking forward to reading of your impressions.
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Jul 11th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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Thanks, everyone! I'll write more tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are the best of my Plitvice photos:


http://kbutler1122.zenfolio.com/p463...2fb4#h67c52fb4
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Jul 11th, 2013, 04:18 PM
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Great photos! Thanks
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Jul 11th, 2013, 04:44 PM
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Oh my! What great photos. Please keep sharing!
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Jul 11th, 2013, 07:03 PM
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I second that. Your photos of Plitvice are simply stunning ! Really makes me want to go back and see the place myself now.
Great shots and thank you for sharing them with us.
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Jul 12th, 2013, 01:27 PM
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At Plitvice, skip the sandwiches and eat sausages and drink beer. I never had a bad glass of beer in Croatia, though their wine, which they are very proud of, was variable . If you like grilled sausages, you will like their grilled sausages.
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Jul 13th, 2013, 07:11 AM
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I love the photos!! We will be there in September!!
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Jul 13th, 2013, 02:10 PM
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We left shortly after noon for Trogir. It was an easy drive, much easier than the day before, four lane much of the way. Although the last segment was a narrow two-lane road, there was very little traffic, which kept Tom's stress level low. Roads are well marked, not with route numbers but with the city you're headed toward. We never once got lost driving between cities.

From the lush forests around Plitvice, the terrain got drier and rockier and more mountainous as we headed toward the coast. We passed through several tunnels and saw quite a few windmills. As we neared the coast, the views overlooking the Aegean were gorgeous. We had no idea exactly where our hotel was, but we passed a tourist information place and they were able to direct us.

We stayed at Aparthotel Bellevue Trogir, which was directly across the street from the wooden pedestrian bridge into the old town. A perfect location, especially given that we had a car. The old town was pedestrian only, so we'd have to pay for parking. We were very happy with the hotel - the room was decent with good air-conditioning, but it was the staff and the breakfast (included in the room rate) that were outstanding. We were offered a free (alcoholic) welcome drink, which we decided to hold off on until the next day.

After a brief rest, we set off to scope out the old town. It's very quaint, with narrow alleys, an old cathedral, lots of shops and gelato stands, and a lovely promenade and an old castle. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant overlooking the promenade and water. Tom had lasagna and I had spaghetti with "shrimp" - and they were true to their name. Not sure I've ever seen smaller shrimp. The food was decent, though, and after a romantic stroll along the promenade, we got some gelato (yum!) and stopped in an excursion agency and booked a sea kayaking tour for the next day.

We again slept like babies - even Tom, who usually wakes up at 1 in the morning and again at 5, slept through the night.

More later.
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Jul 13th, 2013, 02:22 PM
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Trogir pictures

http://kbutler1122.zenfolio.com/p846...5cec#h6f3b5cec
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Aug 19th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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does anyone ever consider to take local driver, english speaking, and make some private tour in croatia and bosnia?
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