Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Trip Report- Croatia and Venice August 2017

Trip Report- Croatia and Venice August 2017

Old Aug 27th, 2017, 08:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 318
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Trip Report- Croatia and Venice August 2017

I booked the entire trip for my husband and I through Tasteful Croatia Journeys with Wanda Radetti out of NY, WWW. Visitcroatia.com. While I primarily dealt with a young girl Maxime, who works for her and was really great, I did start off dealing with Wanda. I was referred to her by our friends who own a home in Dubrovnik. While they had never used her they did know she specialized in Croatia vacations. To start, I felt Wanda knew her stuff but there was always a sense of urgency to get everything booked and paid for ASAP. I must say I felt a bit pressured at times but maybe it was the time of year and she didn't want us to find ourselves booked out of hotels, etc. The only other complaint I had was that while we knew we were booking a very high end luxury vacation, which she specializes in, she only provided the cost for the entire vacation without breaking out the cost of hotels, guides, drivers, etc. The total price included all hotels, breakfasts, guides, drivers, transfers and they made all of our dinner reservations for us. I must say that all the guides were great, the hotels amazing, transfers/ drivers were there exactly when they should be. Additionally we always had the best table at all the restaurants they booked for us. We also had a personal concierge,Iva Roucher, available to us who checked in with the drivers and guides and us at all times.

8/16 Wednesday

We left JFK at 530 PM to Dublin on Aer Lingus in business class and arrived in Dublin at 5:30AM.

8/17 Thursday

We then boarded the plane to Dubrovnik at 7:30 AM. We got our luggage and went through customs. We were picked up and drove about 20 minutes to our friends home Villa Splendid. Our friends were all not there but their staff was as they had to go to the hospital because one of their children fell and fractured his arm and had a concussion. We settled in to our cottage on the property and had lunch that Nada, Mia and Nero put together for us. Soon our friends returned. We had a wonderful steak dinner that their chef prepared at their home. We hung out for a while after dinner until bed time.

8/18 Friday

We had breakfast with our friends and relaxed at their home and at noon our friend took us out on their boat and we got off the boat to take a quick swim in the blue water cave. After I went with my friend to a clothing store Kenia Design where I bought a couple of outfits. They have some really great pieces. Later on we all had another wonderful fish dinner at their home that the chef prepared. We chatted after dinner and went to sleep.

8/19 Saturday

We had coffee by the sea with our friends until our driver came to get us at 8:00AM for our drive to Port of Drevnik, about 2 hours away. Because of the long wait at the Bosnia border to get through the 2 border checkpoints the trip took 3 1/2 hours. When we got to the port our Ferretti 43 foot yacht, the skipper and his mate were there waiting for us. We cruised for about 45 minutes and we stopped at a cove to swim. We then cruised a bit more and stopped in Scedro to swim again. It is an island owned by 4 wealthy people. The boat was beautiful and equipped with wine, fruit, chips, sodas, etc. We then cruised to Milna and had lunch at Konoba Kotin. We buoyed and the restaurant's dinghy picked us up. We invited the skipper and his mate to lunch with us at a wonderful table on the terrace looking over the sea. We ordered a large sea bass encrusted in salt. So fresh and delicious. We also ordered a wine that only 1000 bottles are made and we had bottle #473. The wine is Ivan Dolac Eko . 500 of the bottles go to the Parliament, some stay with the family and the rest to the restaurant. It was very good. We actually passed the vineyards when cruising which is why we ordered it. The cost was 800 KUN, about $120 per bottle. After lunch they drove us back to our boat and we snorkeled a bit and saw lots of fish. We cruised through the Pakleni islands. We cruised around Palmizana which had some huge yachts buoyed by the bar and restaurant there. Apparently there is an amazing chef there that the skipper recommended we try. We docked at Hvar at 730 PM. Since we had 8:00 dinner reservations and we had lunch so late we cancelled dinner. The day on the yacht was incredible. We got picked up at the boat and driven to the Amphora Hotel. Not sure I would give the hotel 5 stars but it was fine. We were to have a junior suite with sea views. The room actually only had partial sea views so we were moved to another room. We showered and dressed and strolled through town and had ice cream. It felt like Mykonos in Greece. Lots of huge yachts and lots of young people. We strolled back to the hotel for bed time.

8/20 Sunday

We slept in a little and had breakfast at 10:00. We walked directly to the fortress Spanjola. Beautiful views and very interesting. After we strolled the small alley way streets and did some shopping. We bought 2 bracelets at Silverina. They had some nice things. We then had lunch at a small cafe,Fig, off the square. We had a lite bite and met some young guys and girls at the next table. They were playing a card game called Cabo (Cabu). They invited us to play and my husband started playing with them and won his first hand-beginners luck!! After we went to the sister hotel of ours, the Adriana, and had great massages at their Spa. We would have preferred to stay there as it is much quieter than our hotel but I believe we were told they were booked. It is a more boutique type hotel and even though it's off the square it was quieter than ours as there were many families with lots of kids at the Amphora. They have a beautiful roof top pool and restaurant. We walked back to our hotel and bought 2 hats on the way from a sidewalk vendor. We rested a while and got ready for dinner. We went to Divino which was really great. The manager Mario was great and helped us pick out a wine, Stagnum 2007. The dinner was amazing. After dinner Mario took us to their store and we bought some Croatian wines he recommended to bring home along with a great olive oil.

8/21 Monday

We had breakfast and checked out. We were picked up at 10:00 to get the 10:45 Jadrolinija catamaran to Split. Since the taxis can't go on the pier by the boat the hotel took our bags. The hotel van is allowed to drop the bags by the boat so they took our bags and met us on the line to board the catamaran. There really is no reason to take a taxi to the boat without bags as it is just as easy to walk. It would be difficult to drag all the bags on the cobblestone streets where the taxi left us off. We waited quite a while on the line as the boat was late . We didn't leave until 11:30. Instead of waiting on the line with tons of people and their bags it would make sense to have coffee and breakfast at Carpe Diem which is right in front of the boats boarding platform. Since the boat was late we didn't get to Split until 1:30 instead of 12:30. Our transfer to the hotel was not there since the boat was running late but they got there pretty quickly. We checked into the Marmont Hotel which is really well located near the main area. On Fodor's someone wrote that many of the room's windows are blocked by building's walls so I specifically requested a room that was unobstructed. Great hotel. We dropped off our bags and walked around and did some shopping. We had lunch in the square near the hotel at Marul. It was OK. My husband bought a pair of sandals at a store that makes homemade leather goods. I bought an outfit at Boutique Olivia which happens to be right near the hotel. We went back to the hotel at 5:00 where our guide met us to tour Diocletian's Palace. It is amazing that people live in the palace and all sorts of stores and restaurants are in the palace. There are poor squatters living there as well. Hotel Vestibul is in the palace walls where we were going to stay. Our guide said it was very expensive, small rooms and loud since music plays outside all the time. Our guide Ajlin was great. When she asked if we wanted to go into the cathedral and we said no that we have been in a million churches, she came up with JABC- Just Another Boring Church!! We also noticed that all throughout Croatia we did not see a lot of police yet we felt completely safe everywhere. At around 6:45 the guide left us on the street that goes all the way up the hill where there are amazing views and a cafe where where we had a cup of coffee and chatted with an older couple from Scotland. Behind the cafe was an old Jewish Cemetary. We walked around there a bit. After we walked back to the hotel to change for our 8:00 dinner at Bokeria, which was really good. After dinner we strolled to the square in the Palace where they have musicians playing in front of the Luxor Cafe. We stayed for a few songs and then went back to the hotel.

8/22 Tuesday

We had breakfast and then took a quick stroll through the fish market which is right by the hotel. The hotel electric cart drove us into town where our driver was waiting for us. We started our 1 1/2 hour drive to Zadar. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to drive there as there were major fires there the day before. Our driver Philip (gold prestige.hr) did get clearance that we could go. We got to Zadar at noon. We saw the sea organ which was pretty cool. We walked around the town and saw St. Anastasia cathedral which was somewhat of a waste. We had pizza for lunch at Skala. We walked around some more. We bought underwear at Intimissimi. We went to the Chagall exhibit at the museum which was quite good. At 6:00 we went for dinner at Pet Bunara which was good. It was late enough after dinner to see Greeting to the Sun which was very cool. They are solar panels that soak up light into electrical energy. After that our driver came to take us to the Zadar airport at 8:30 for our 10:30 flight to Pula. Since most of the day was a bit of a waste we wish the travel agent had recommended we go to the Kirka Falls National park. We saw pictures and heard from the driver that they are great. The falls were literally on the way from Split. Zadar does not warrant a whole day. We really were quite upset that we did not go to the falls. When we landed our driver was there and took us to our hotel Monte Mullini in Rovinj, which was about 20 minutes from the Pula airport. The hotel is beautiful and we had a room overlooking the sea.

8/23 Wednesday

We had breakfast and was picked up by our guide for a walking tour of Rovinj. She was excellent. Her name was Maslinka Kempf ([email protected]). We walked around the sea coast up to the church. There is also a few lighthouses that we saw. Our guide said you can stay in a few of them which is definitely on my bucket list and would arrange for that in the future.We walked down and I bought a pair of earrings at Atelier Ajda. We then walked through the fish/fruit market and we bought some figs. Our driver was waiting for us and we drove to Pula and walked around the amphitheater and through 2 gates. Then we went out of town to a remote area and had lunch at Meneghetti, which is a small boutique hotel that also makes their own wine and olive oil. It is a charming beautiful serene place that I would definitely recommend staying at. The lunch was amazing. We had pasta with truffles and a smoked aged steak. After the manager gave us a tour of the property and winery. We purchased 7 bottles of wine and 6 bottles of their olive oil that they packed up for us. We then came back to our hotel and quickly changed into our bathing suits and went into the rocky sea and sat by the sea for a couple of hours. We then went to the hotel's complimentary wine and olive oil tasting at 630. It was great. They showed us the hotel's wine cellar and kitchen. They have a private chefs table dinner in their kitchen that requires 24 hour advanced notice that we heard was truly an amazing experience. Next time I would definitely book that. We got changed and walked back up the hill towards the church and had dinner at Monte. It is the only Michelin star rated restaurant in Croatia and they deserve it. It was spectacular. We has a table for 2 on our own private terrace. We ordered the 5 course Essence tasting menu. Beyond amazing and the sommelier helped us order an amazing wine, Veralda, which won best in the world in 2016. The food was presented like it was art. We walked back to the hotel and on the way we stopped at a jewelry store where we bought a bracelet for my husband and a bracelet for me at Lapidarium. Very beautiful things. All of the waitresses and owner of Monte were wearing necklaces from there. We got back to the hotel and went to sleep.

8/24 Thursday

The same driver that took us to Pula picked us up at the hotel at 9:00 and we headed to the Istria region. We headed off the coast inland to Groznjan. A very small quaint town known for their artists and museums. We bought 2 necklaces (one from Mirjana Rajkovic and the other from Maribon designs) and heard a few young people playing piano and horns with their music teachers. The music was heard throughout the little town. Our driver was amazing. Goran Pavkovic (www.smart-transfers.net) We would highly recommend him. We then drove around 20 minutes to a small walled town, Montovun, that we walked around to see the views as it is on the top of the hill. It is known for truffles and it is also the birth place of Mario Andretti. We then went to a truffle place/home. It is the home of the Kotigas and their business is called Miro Tartufi (www.miro-tartufi.com. )They have a business of hunting for truffles with their dogs. The mom, Mirjana and daughter, Deana, cooked us eggs and pasta with truffles that were hunted the day before and fresh home grown salad. They were wonderful and we would highly recommend going there. Next time we would arrange to go on a truffle hunt with the husband which we heard is amazing. Their son Dean is in Zagreb on a TV show like Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The motto of their business is "A Taste to Remember" .We certainly will remember our time there. We bought some of their truffle products and grater to shave the truffles at home. We then left and drove through the Croatian border and the Slovenian border. There was a bit of traffic. We arrived in Venice and our guide met us to help us to the private water taxi with all our bags and wine to our hotel Sina Centurion Palace which is directly across from the Gritti Palace on the grand canal. We arrived at 6:30 and went to our lavish room looking out on the Grand Canal with 2 balconies. It was once a monastery. I would highly recommend this hotel. We freshened up and went to an ATM to get euros and then took the public boat to our 8:00 dinner at Antiche Carampgne. The food was quite good, not great. We took the #1 boat back to the hotel.

8/25 Friday

We had breakfast and our guide Alessandra (www.visitarevenezia) met us at 9:00. We took the gondola across the canal to get to the other side and then we headed to San Marco square. We first went up the Bell Tower and saw great views of the city. We then went into St. Marks Cathedral. If you are with a guide you don't have to wait on line which was quite long. After we went to Doges Palace. We then walked over the Rialto Bridge, saw the Rialto market and sat at a cafe, Bancogiro, for tapas for lunch. The guide sat with us to plot the rest of the day. We ended up shopping a lot. We bought a backpack at Mandarin Duck, great shoes on sale for me and my husband at Pollini, cufflinks and a vase that is a piece of art that will be shipped home from Giobadnara, gloves at at Sermoneta, shoes at Febos, men's shirt at Empresa, hand made sandals that we will order from Kalimala as they did not have the size sandals we needed, next door a purse at Luna Bputique We then walked across the canal to get to the other side and strolled bank to our hotel with many bags in tow and stopped along the way for gifts at stores that were still opened but about to close as it was 7:00. We went to the room and changed. We went back down to the lobby and the hotel provides a shuttle boat to get to the other side of the canal near St. Marks square at 8:30. We walked to the gondola station and took a wonderful gondola ride on the grand canal. It costs 20 euros more to take a gondola after 7:00PM (100 euros total) but so worth it as it is not as crowded on the canal at night. The gondola driver (5th generation) dropped us off at our restaurant Da Ivo. They picked up the gate and we walked in from the gondola. Very cool. Great restaurant with great food. We talked with a couple from Copenhagen . Many famous people frequent this restaurant. We walked back to St. Marks Square and listened to the musicians for a bit and met the hotel boat shuttle at 11:00 back to the hotel. We got back to the room to pack for our journey home the next day.

8/26 Saturday

We had breakfast and watched seagulls swarm over one of the tables on the balcony from a couple who walked away from their food for 1 minute. It was crazy. Our water taxi picked us up with all our bags at 8:30. He dropped us off and our driver was there waiting to drive us to the Venice airport for an 11:45 flight to Dublin. We got off late but arrived in Dublin an hour before our flight. We went through pre clearance and did some duty free shopping and boarded our flight back to JFK business class, which really helped us avoid many lines both in Venice and Dublin as we were priority due to flying business class. We landed safely and had an amazing trip.
rjbriskin is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2017, 10:05 PM
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 29
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ah, sounds like an amazing trip. Croatia is very high up on my list of places to visit.

Thanks for sharing.
AATOlive is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2017, 03:42 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,367
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Nice report. Your day on the water in Hvar sounds amazing. Sounds like everything was well arranged for you and you got a good amount of shopping done!!
mnag is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Sep 4th, 2017 09:17 PM
Dec 29th, 2008 02:00 AM
Sep 23rd, 2006 08:41 AM
Jun 3rd, 2006 09:14 AM
Sep 22nd, 2004 06:58 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -