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Trip Report Trip Report - Croatia, Sept 22 -Oct 12 (Slovenia, Bosnia..)

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This forum was invaluable in planning my 3-week trip to Croatia. Everyone was so helpful. All of our questions were answered ,either by me asking questions on my own posts, or by searching through threads of previous posters. I owe it to everyone, now that I'm home, to write (my first-ever!) Trip Report. It's kind of a thank you for all your help and guidance. You deserve to know how I fared, after all the help you gave me.

First, a little background. This was our first trip to Croatia. I went with my fiance (we are in our mid-fifties, my son, 26, my daughter, 29, and her boyfriend, 35. There were 5 of us. My daughter and her boyfriend were unable to get three weeks off, so they chose to split their time between Croatia and Italy, and were with us for 8 nights.

Our preliminary itinerary was: Dubrovnik, Trogir or Split, Hvar, Plitvice, Rovinj, Zagreb, and originally, we were planning to leave in mid-October and stay through early November. We learned early on that the weather tends to change dramatically sometime in October. It can get very cold, very windy and very rainy. October generally starts the end of tourist season - some restaurants start closing, some ferries start winding down or cease entirely, depending. When we learned this, we all looked at our calendars and fortunately we were able to depart a little sooner than we originally expected. It was definitely the right decision.

We changed our itinerary as well. We decided to go from Dubrovnik to Hvar instead of Dubrovnik to Trogir (or Split) because Hvar was somewhere we all wanted to see, and the only way all five of us could go there was to switch things up a little. It made for a longer journey to Trogir/Split afterwards, but at least everyone got to be in Hvar together. We also decided to go to Rovinj first and then go Plitvice, instead of the other way around, but I can't remember why we switched it. It sure was a long drive from Rovinj to Plitvice! Maybe I'll remember when I get to that section of the trip report. I'll be sure to fill you in on those details.

I'm sorry to say that it's already past my bedtime, so I have to stop already. I will keep posting here and there in the weeks ahead. Since arriving home, I've been waking up early due to the time change, and I 'm trying to use it to my advantage. I'm hoping to switch to becoming a morning person, and the only way to do that is to get used to going to bed early.

Goodnight for now! (Going to Florida in a week, so it might be difficult to write a lot, but I'll do my best!) I'll get it down, one way or the other, no matter how long it takes me!

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    (Keep in mind that there have been some occasional posting problems lately on Fodor's - therefore, I suggest you type your report first into a text editor on your computer before typing it into the reply box here, so you won't lose it all if something goes wrong!)

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    Hello again, I thought I'd try to take a least a half an hour today, to get some more written... thank you for your advice and support.

    My son is from San Francisco, and my daughter and her boyfriend are from Nantucket, so on Sept. 21st, we all met in Boston, where my other son lives, and the 6 of us went out to dinner that night before our Lufthansa flight departed at 8:10PM. It was nice to see Michael before our big trip!

    I bought a 24" Lucas Vortex Ultra Lightweight Collection suitcase from Amazon even though I was planning to use the IT suitcase I'd bought from Marshalls... My suitcases are in need of replacement any way, because they're too heavy. I decided on the Lucas because it was expandable, whereas the IT wasn't, plus, there was about an inch of extra room in width and height. My carry on was a duffle bag by Kyoden, 18" long by 9" wide by 9" tall.

    I wrote down how much my bag weighed at the airport, but I can't find the note now, - if I come across it, I will let you know.. because my focus was to PACK LIGHT!!! (For the first time in my LIFE!)

    Our flight was very comfortable. We flew to Frankfort, arrived at 11:10, then at 15:10, we flew from Frankfort to Dubrovnik, arriving at 5pm. Managed to sleep a few hours on the plane.

    At Dubrovnik, we caught a cab to our hotel, Hotel Bellevue, Dubrovnik. We had wanted a hotel closer to Old Town, but they'd been booked. This hotel was excellent, and it wasn't a long walk to Old Town at all... it was probably one of the best hotels in Dubrovnik, and I hadn't expected the views from our room, oh my God, it was just gorgeous! We looked down onto a beautiful turquoise bay, ringed by cliffs, and the hotel's beach. My son, daughter, and her boyfriend got right in their swimsuits and found their way down to the beach and went swimming while I put away my stuff. I would like to share a picture I took from our room, but I am not sure how to do it here. I am going to hit "Submit" now, in case any of this gets lost somehow...

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    The best way to share picture(s) in a Fodor's post is first to upload the picture(s) to some photo sharing website like Google Picasa, Yahoo Flickr, Photobucket, something like that. Then you can add a link to the picture/album on the photo sharing website in your posts here.

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    After their swim and a quick shower and change of clothes (I put on some capris I'd bought from Job Lot, sweater that matched it, and my gray cargo jacket I couldn't leave home because I loved it so much, and a pair of leather Tieks because they looked better than my Clark Wave shoes with socks. I'd bought a Travelon pocketbook for the trip, and brought that along too. I didn't end up liking that bag at all. Too many zippers (I never knew which compartment I'd put something in) and the strap was too wide to be comfortable.. I didn't like the texture either. I didn't use the bag much, I switched to the Outlander day pack someone had suggested for basically the rest of the trip...)

    we decided to walk to Old Town and find dinner.

    WOW.. we were really impressed with the entrance to the Old Town... "Pile Gate" (I was keeping an eye out for the calico kitty Andrew had mentioned he'd seen twice in two separate visits) and once we went inside, we were even more impressed, all that stone!!! And then, when we reached Old Town itself, we were really stunned to see this surreal village.. I couldn't get over the limestone walkways.. the polished limestone walkways, so wide, with "gutters" on either side for when it rains... I've never seen anything so beautiful, the moonlight was shining on it, it looked wet, glistening, but it was only because of thousands of years of pedestrian traffic (no cars in old town)...

    It was just so enchanting and lovely and otherwordly. I had no idea it was going to be like this... Old Town.. full of restaurants, cute little shops, all sorts of wonderful things!

    We were looking for a restaurant that served pasta because my daughter is a vegetarian and we figured a pasta restaurant would offer more choices. It was a little difficult finding a pasta restaurant with a lot of options, but we found it at "Segreto Pasta & Grill" We sat at a little table outside of the restaurant, and it took the waiters a long time to get to us, but when the food came, we were in heaven! One of my favorite splurges for dinner is pasta carbonara, and they had it on the menu. They made it perfectly, I think without heavy cream, and that was a blessing! Now, this is the moment when we discovered a great thing, the Croatian wine!!!

    I hadn't gone to Croatia even thinking that wine was going to be a pleasure... but when we tasted the "IVAN BUHAC" Grasevina 2014, man oh man, it was nirvana for me!!! Everyone loved it! Grasevina was my mantra for awhile after that.. always looking for Grasevina... (later on, I discovered other wines that were just as good. I was reminded that I was in another country, and I should be sampling other wines, and they were right.. but I do love Grasevina!!!)

    After dinner, we sauntered around a little bit in Old Town, feeling so lucky and fortunate that we were actually here, and we had three whole weeks ahead of us, this was going to be a great trip, we could just feel it!

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    The next day, Wednesday, Sept 23rd, we got up and decided we'd "walk the wall". I forgot what we did for breakfast... so the five of us walked the pleasant walk there.. it was a really nice day! Hot even! I wore my little A-Line skirt a tank top, and my new leather Teva sandals I believe...
    I couldn't believe it when I saw a calico kitty just inside of Pile Gate!!! She was sitting right there, outside of a doorway inside the gate, and she was allowing my fiance to pet her, but then when I approached, ready to take her picture so I could share it with Andrew, she bolted and ran into a "safe zone" inside the gate, in between some metal bars where she knew no one could get at her, and laid down and started grooming herself. I took some pictures and when I figure out how to post them here, I will certainly do that, because I'm dying to know if she's THE cat Andrew saw before! My fiance and kids thought I was nuts, thinking this was the same cat,(my daughter's boyfriend knew enough not to say what he felt) but I believe she is... there aren't many calicos just inside Pile Gate... in fact, she was the ONLY one!!!

    The walls were so much fun to do (fun is not quite the right word). I mean, I had no preconceptions as to what "walking the walls" meant because I was too busy asking questions on Fodor's pre-trip to do any advance research, so basically, I went to Croatia without any idea about anything, really. I thought the walls were just big high things going up hills and stuff. I didn't know they surrounded a city, a tightly packed city, somewhat small, with the beautiful ocean on one side or anything! It was pretty cool being so surprised by everything, I liked it. Kind of felt like a little kid at Christmas (the kind of kid who doesn't write a list and gets everything they asked for and knew it beforehand,know what I mean?)

    We could see all the rooftops which had been replaced since the war and noticed that it appeared that all the churches were spared... We were lucky that it was not mobbed on the wall. We didn't have to do any shuffling, we could walk, stop at will, continue. Very pleasant, with the sun shining on our shoulders.. we really appreciated the moments on the wall, definitely. We stopped at "COCKTAIL SALVATORE" on the wall, and we ordered fresh smoothies made from just fruit, they were absolutely delicious!!! Just the thing for a hot day. We sat down on some chunky wooden benches under a big umbrella in a corner of the wall where the restaurant was, and enjoyed our luscious drinks, then we continued on. At the end, we climbed up the tower and enjoyed the wonderful views. All in all, we spent maybe 2 1/2 hours on the wall.

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    Tagging along for the ride - and your take on two counties I love - Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina (yes, one country inclusive of two entities, one of which is The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the other is the Republic of Srpska. And each of these entities includes part of Bosnia and part of Herzegovina. Mostar is not in Bosnia though, it's in the region of Herzegovina.)

    Like you, I loved Grasevina!

    Looking forward to more...

    PS another way to share pics is to make an album on facebook, and share it by making it public. I find it a lot easier (and cheaper (it's free!)) than using flickr, picasa, etc.

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    I didn't take notes so I don't know what we did after the wall. I think we walked around old town.... we went to somewhere where there were boats.. a marina... and there was an odd looking boat with a big black window on the front of it that looked like a huge space age thing. When we saw it coming in, we asked the lady at the podium what it was (she was the person who signed people up to go on it), and I think she said that you went inside, and you looked out the window and could see through the water...
    We politely declined her invitation to go on it, saying "Maybe tomorrow..." but she said, "No. Not tomorrow. It's going to RAIN tomorrow."
    Rain?!! What? Does she mean rain-rain, like an all day rain, or maybe just a chance of rain?
    We went looking for dinner wondering if it was going to rain and how it would impact our day. We had been thinking of going to the Bay of Kotor tomorrow.
    We walked around, looking for pasta restaurants. We really couldn't find any that had a lot of options... mostly fish, meat...
    There was a nice girl standing against a corner near Segreto's restaurant, trying to get customers to go to Segreto's. When she asked us if we'd like to dine with them, I said no thanks, we were just there last night - I'd love to go again, but the other's wanted something different. I explained that my daughter was a vegetarian, and we were hoping for pasta.
    She said she knew just the place. She led us down a street and brought us to "THE DUBROVNIK". She said to wait and she'd run up the stairs to ask if they could take us... she came back and said they said sure. But we'd been looking at the menu, and it didn't look right for our needs.. and it appeared to be fine dining. We weren't dressed for that, and we were tired. Tonight wasn't the night for this kind of restaurant, but she assured us it didn't matter how we were dressed, and that she'd spoken to someone there, and they could modify the menu to suit.. somehow or other we ended up ascending the stairs, but when we got to the top, we wanted to run back down, it was so fancy! White table clothes, people really dressed up, hushed tones.. but we felt like we had come this far, so we were seated, and they brought us the big thick menus (?wooden covers?) and the menu had all sorts of things on it that no one even felt like eating, and the prices would not inexpensive, so what's worse than ordering something you don't even want, then paying through the nose for it? As nice as the restaurant was, it wasn't for us, even IF they could modify. It didn't seem right to ask for things a certain way in this place. It would have been uncomfortable for us. I said we should just explain and leave, as uncomfortable as that would be for us.. but at least we'd be out of there, and not enduring a long drawn out dinner eating something we didn't want. It took some coercing, and everyone just decided to just get up and go, especially since they had not yet brought our water or anything to us yet.
    We apologized and left as discreetly as we could, and right in between The Dubrovnik and the corner where the girl was looking for customers for Segreto, we found a place that looked okay - it had a cheese plate at least, so we decided to sit down at one of their outside tables. It was late, and we were really hungry, and embarrased now, and we tried to act like it didn't really matter that we find the perfect place.
    I'd say this was the WORST restaurant we ate at, possibly during our whole trip. It was called Konoba Buffet. The wine came in those little bottles. I had a chardonnay that no one liked. The guys got HUGE steins of beer which they liked very much. The menu had some soups on it... vegetable soup, beef soup, some others. I asked the waitress about the soups. She said that she would suggest that we get the "beef or the (I forgot which one) soup" and I asked why. She said, "Because they're home made". I guess that meant the others came from cans. My daughter and I had cheese and olive oil and grilled vegetables, and I ordered an omelet with ham even though I don't eat ham (I'm a quasi-vegetarian myself, but not as strict as my daughter is). I hardly ate any of it.
    The restaurant was pretty strange. We used the bathroom inside. It was not a very clean restaurant...
    After we ate, we found a wine bar and went inside. I don't have the name of this place, but I'll try to get it somehow. It was so great in there, the people who ran the place were extremely pleasant and helpful. We sat at a curved round table in the corner of the little place, it was so cozy inside, so intimate, we were in 7th Heaven in there!
    After that lousy wine at the buffet place, we sampled some really wonderful reds and whites in flights...
    We drank a lot of wine and were definitely ready for bed by the time we got back to our hotel. How could I not have any pictures or notes for this wonderful wine bar? Someone in our group must have something.
    Well, it's suddenly Friday night, and it's about time for me to stop my musings on this wonderful trip of a lifetime. I don't know if I'm telling you anything of interest, or if you want to know more specifics, but I'm doing what I can and I'm doing it my way, which is the only way I know, really.
    The next day it did rain.. and rain it did.. it rained and rained and rained - we thought that we never saw rain before like this! And it rained all day.. it never let up. Where did this rain come from, it was coming down in torrents! Anyone venturing out the door for even a second would be sopping wet no matter how they were dressed, it was something ELSE!

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    Bummer about the rain! I know I had to endure downpours in Korcula and Split at the end of my 2009 trip - not fun!

    I'm not exactly a restaurateur as some of you may recall, but I don't remember thinking Dubrovnik was a place I was excited to eat. I'm not a big fish eater, either, and that is a specialty there. On my two visits, I mostly had pizza slices. (Once, I got a full pizza to go from one of the pizza restaurants then ate it while sitting out by the boat marina outside one of the gates.) I did have my only real meal of that entire 2009 solo trip in Dubrovnik when I met up with with Julia_t and Barb - honestly don't remember what I had, probably fish of some sort, which I enjoy once in a while.

    Other towns seemed more friendly to me as a solo traveler (which you weren't, but also more options for casual dining). A lot of the restaurant scene in Dubrovnik seemed formal, once reason I mostly ate pizza by myself.

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    we stayed in The Bellevue in October 2013 and loved it.
    I had beautiful fish in Dubrovnik incl sardines which are my fav. Even had a good meal in the hotel.
    enjoying your report.

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    My wife is Croatian, we spend time each year with her family in Split, Drnis, Cavtat,Makarska Hvar and Zagreb.Some are Fishermen others farmers with vineyards. One claims to be the only true producer of Drnis Prsut!
    Croatian cuisine is very limited, generally in the past they took some pride in its preparation.This year the quality was lousy and the subterfuge for profit immense A good friend and foodie in Petrcane blames the lack of knowledge of the tourist clientèle and the EU.Massive food wholesalers like Metro/Makro have moved in to virgin territory. Most of the salad ingredients come from Dutch poly tunnels, the beautiful Bass or Bream etc are from Greek Fish farms(coastal water fishing is poor at best in the summer as the fish seek cool water).The beef you are eating is from South America.

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    The wine bar you went to in Dubrovnik could have been Razonoda.

    There are many good restaurants in Dubrovnik, but a little research is helpful to find them. At least you found a good one the first night.

    Konoba is a regional word for a tavern-style, rustic eatery. I hope you didn't let them name stop you from eating at some other Konoba on your journey, there are some excellent ones!

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    Golly, it is too bad you didn't find pizza! I think Croatian pizza may be the best in the world and is cheap, cheap, cheap. Perfect for vegetarians! We ate it in Zagreb and a couple of times in Dubrovnik, great both times, and we walked in off the street, though the place in DBV was a well-known bar.

    I'm not sure I remember even eating meat other than sausages, though I am sure I did in two weeks, but I remember wonderful fish in Dubrovnik (whitebait), Cavtat (multiple kinds at a long table under some trees), Hvar (grilled fish and vegetable up the hill above the harbor), and a fancy waterside restaurant in Opatija where our fellow diners were Russian Mafiosi and their teenage girlfriends. But the shellfish were great.

    I wanted to stop at one of those konoba out in the country with whole pigs and cows roasting on spits, but it was never the right time of day.

    Finally, hotel breakfasts in Croatia were the best we have ever had -- prsut, smoked salmon, caviar, champagne if you wanted it, sausages, eggs, cheeses, and every pastry known to man. It's what God and I will be having for breakfast up in heaven.

    Can't wait for more of your report!

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    No, we never had pizza, at least not me... The wine bar was not the one you mentioned, it,s name was a more traditional, common-sounding name, like "Martin" something like that... And, no, we caught onto the Konoba word pretty quickly, so it didn't deter us moving forward!

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    Hello, I thought I'd try to write a little more while I have a few moments... Yesterday, when we went to the old town, as soon as we got into the town, through the "gates" and out into the town, there's a fountain... to the left of the fountain is the entrance to walk the walls.. to the right, somewhere not far away, is some sort of tourist bureau. My fiance went in to inquire as to how we might get to Hvar, since that was our next destination (we were going to be in DBV a total of 5 nights)... We knew we could take a bus to Split, then a ferry to Hvar, or maybe rent a car or maybe rent a boat. He got some brochures for boat companies that might be able to help us. They had a lot of good information in there, including a nice dark card advertising Game of Thrones tours...
    Also, I wanted to mention that due to the time change, we were all waking up quite late in Croatia.. around 1 pm, the latest we slept was 2 pm, crazy! Oh, and this is really weird. Me, my daughter, and my son were all having the most vivid, bizarre, macabre dreams - dreams we've never experienced before. We had them just about every night, even in Hvar... My daughter dreamed about giant black spiders with red eyes dripping goo that were trying to get her. I dreamed about people cutting limbs off of people, my son had very weird dreams too. It was always so interesting to tell each other about our dreams. We wondered why this was happening to us. Could it just be the everpresent backdrop of war in this country? When you enter pile gate, and round the corner in order to exit the gate, there's large sign on the wall showing where each bomb fell, or which buildings were hit, or were completely obliterated by bombs. Maybe this is what made our dreams so strange and macabre.... I don't know, but I do know that it was happening to all of us, every night, for quite some time, and it started right off when we got there.
    Back to Sept 24th. We woke up to rain. We had breakfast at the hotel this morning. My daughter and my son were already there, so we found them and sat with them... One aside about coffee... It's true that you can not really get "American" coffee in Croatia. I'm not a coffee drinker anyway, but sometime's I'll order something very light. I found out that if you ask for "White coffee" you might get lucky and get something like a cappuccino, which I like. It was funny with my fiance asked for "Coffee with cream" one day in Rovinj. He received a little cup with a huge dense dollop of whipped cream! Someone had posted somewhere along the line that if you really like your american coffee, bring some with you, along with some filters, and that way you'll be able to have what you like somehow...
    We found my daughter and my son seated in the restaurant, facing the rainy, wet windows looking out on a very wet gray day. One of the outdoor tables had overturned, and there was shattered glass everywhere. It had been windy, big gusts of wind. My daughter told me that earlier, she and her boyfriend had been standing on their balcony looking out to the area where the bay opened up to the sea, and all of a sudden they saw a "wall" of white moving through the narrow channel, and it was coming for them. They watched the water under the white "wall" churn as it moved, very quickly, straight for the hotel. Then in seconds, they were engulfed by a wall of water and wind, they said. It just moved in that fast. They'd never seen anything like it before. I guess that's how the storm hit. Not gradually at all. Just a big sudden thing of rain and wind. That initial gust must have been what flipped the outdoor table over outside the restaurant. It was also lightning out too...
    We didn't go anywhere that day because the rain was just too much. It was extremely heavy, very windy, very wet. My daughter and her boyfriend braved the weather and tried to go to Old Town. I don't know how long they were out, but they said it was rather a fruitless outing, and they returned soaking wet.
    I used the day to try organize and settle in, later we went down to talk to the concierge about getting to Hvar, and how to get to some of the places we had on our list for side trips from Dubrovnik. Ston, Mali Ston, Bay of Kotor, Kupari Beach, Trsteno aboretum, the Peljasic Peninsula - it was clear we wouldn't be able to see and do everything, especially with the rain. We hoped the tomorrow would be better. Reports were kind of iffy..
    We decided on the most time efficient option of getting to Hvar, taking a boat. Someone would pick us up from the hotel at 9am and bring us to the boat dock. We discussed making a sightseeing tour of sorts on the way.. stopping at Miljet, perhaps... She also arranged for a private driver to pick us up the following day for a full day of seeing what we were interested in seeing. I forgot what time it was arranged for.
    She suggested that we dine at Magellan's down the road that night, it was very close to the hotel.
    We walked to dinner at Magellan's, and it was really a great restaurant. They had the best parmesean cheese ever. I didn't write down what I ordered, I believe it was a home made pasta dish.
    I wanted to mention that the music that is playing in the restaurants and shops in Croatia is really cool. It is mostly music from the 70's and 80's. Many songs I had forgotten about. This night in Magellan's, I heard "The One You Say Goodnight To" by Kina Grannis, "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles, "Big Big World" by Emilia, and Dangerous, by someone.. not sure who... but I really liked that about Croatia, hearing old music from my past. It's sweet stuff. Simple and sweet.
    I guess that's "it" for today!

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    Dubrovniktravelady. I am remiss that I am not familiar with certain terminology and admit that I didn't know there was a difference between bombing and shelling. It's important to know Dubrovnik was never bombed, that it was shelled from the mountain and the sea with mortars. Thank you for that.

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    The bura and yugo, The coastal climate is also characterised by its winds. The most frequent wind in Dalmatia is the south-easterly “Yugo”, which blows toward the mainland in autumn and winter bringing warmer and moister air with it. The “Bura” however, is a cold, dry wind which blows from the mainland in sudden and powerful gusts bringing dry air and cooler temperatures. The westerly “Maestral” is a pleasant summer wind that blows in from the sea (reaching its peak force in early afternoon) and that refreshes the air.

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    It was so interesting to hear about the different winds there...
    I'll going to Florida for a vacation, so this trip report will go on vacation too.
    I hope that the cessation of my reporting does not mean that I will lose my interested parties.
    While I was packing for Florida, I found among my things some stickers that the wine bar in Dubrovnik which I mentioned earlier, had given to us.
    They had a small restroom in the wine bar, and they had used the stickers for the wallpaper. Every inch was covered with the same sticker.. but they were different colors.
    The wine bar was D'VINO. Big thumbs up for this place!!!

    After Magellan's, where I stopped my post... we went to the CAVE BAR, and that was a fascinating place.. so I will tell you all about it when I return. I'll have to make some time before Thanksgiving to write again.

    Take care

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    Coffee, isn't it great when you go abroad and things are different there. :-)

    Still, try and go to Germany and guess what cream of tomato soup is (think red sea and white iceburg)

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    I'm enjoying your TR. Your description of the rain reminded me of our trip. We were in Hvar at the end of May a few years ago and encountered the most incredible amount of rain. It reminded me of an Asian monsoon it was so heavy. The water was coming in a huge torrent down the stone staircases.

    When we visited the exchange rate was very unfavorable and surprisingly we found the coast very poor value and frankly very touristy. For me Dubrovick was ruined by the cruise ships - though there was a brief respite at night. I can't imagine what it must be like to live there. The history in Split was indeed fascinating and Zadar had the feel of a more sustainable community but it seemed to me in many places the locals have been pushed back from the coast.

    We were lucky enough to take a day tour with a winemaker which we very much enjoyed but overall we preferred Istria and Slovenia to coastal Croatia.

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    Hello there,
    I wanted to check in and let you know that I have not quite forgotten this trip report.
    I was in Florida this month, and when I returned, I had to clean my entire house from top to bottom to get it ready for hosting friends and family for Thanksgiving!
    (all this traveling does not make for a happy home.. it was feeling very neglected!)
    I hope to be able to write some more here and there, but as we all know, the next holiday is nipping at our heels and I am again going away for it..
    I will try my best to report back. Welltraveledbrit, it's so funny how so many people say how the cruise ships have such an impact in certain areas of Croatia, but for us, traveling when we did, we never noticed them. There was one morning when we had our breakfast at one of the cafes where the cruise ships were docked, and we just watched the people coming off of them, which was interesting. There were only 2 or 3 ships.
    Never did crowds of people ruin anything for us.
    We were fortunate to have gone just when we did. We had the best of everything. - It was such a great trip. We do hope to return, maybe next year... we'll see...
    But I WILL return with my trip report, and I will finish it. Please stay tuned. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

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    Trip Report, (Dubrovnik through mid-Rovinj)

    The next day (9/25/15, and our last day in Dubrovnik,(for we would be checking out tomorrow) we awoke to much better weather and had a busy day planned, but first, my son took a dip in the beautiful bay and swam into the cave with my new Lumix underwater camera. We couldn't leave this place without some cool pictures of the water and the cave!
    We had organized a driver yesterday through our hotel with specific places we wanted to visit, and we left our hotel just before noon.
    Our first stop was Kupari beach which was about a 20 - 30 minute drive from our hotel. There are several very large and all very unique hotels dating back to the 50's right on the beach here. The majority of them were destroyed quite significantly during the Yugoslav conflict in the early 90's. These decrepit buidlings serve as quite the backdrop to what used to be one of the most popular beaches in the area. The hotels can be walked through, but mind your step, there's broken glass, puddles of rainwater, and debris inside them. It was a fascinating stop. Eerie. Great spot if you like this kind of photography. We heard that the buildings will be razed, perhaps this year, so if you are going to Croatia and want to see this, do look into it to see if the hotels are still standing.
    Our next stop was Trsteno Arboretum which might have been about 1 hour or so north of Dubrovnik. This was a really great stop and is one of the oldest arboretums in the world at about 700 years old. We were amazed at the mature species that had been growing here since its beginning. There was also a beautiful old fountain unlike any of us had ever seen. Many scenes from the Game of Thrones had been shot here. We spent about 1 hour in the park which was perfect.
    The next place we visited was about an hour further north. These were the towns of Ston and Mali Ston. We stopped in Ston first which is known for its very old salt fields. Salt has been collected here the same way for hundreds of years or more. This was the main attraction in Ston, and we went and watched a short but interesting film and saw the salt fields and felt the salt in big bins outside. You can buy small bags of salt if you want. It's nothing fancy at all, but worth a visit for the sake of why not.
    The town itself was small and some in our party felt it had somewhat of an unwelcoming feel to it. Some of the people who lived here didn't appear too warm to outsiders. Two in our party decided to walk to fourteenth century wall to the top and back, which took less than 30 minutes. It was okay, but nothing like the walls in Dubrovnik. The walls here are undergoing some restoration.
    We next took the short drive of about 5 minutes to Mali Ston. This town was small as well but felt more inviting and had a better selection of restaurants. I should mention as well that Ston and Mali Ston are connected by a very large wall on a steep mountainside that looks a bit like the great wall. You can walk between the two towns but it is very physically demanding and time consuming so we did not. We ate at Kapetanova Kuca in Mali Ston and enjoyed some grasevina wine and food. This town is known for the oysters which are farmed in the nearby lake, just about 20 yards from the restaurant. Those of us who enjoy seafood had a variety of oysters, fried and not fried, and described them as very tasty, but more briny than usual. They thought this was the best restaurant so far because of the atmosphere and for the oysters not to mention the service, very efficient and friendly. Afterwards we had a fairly long drive back to our hotel and arrived shortly before dinner. A few of us went for a last (pre-dinner) swim at our hotel's beach. We enjoyed swimming in the natural cave which was situated below our rooms. It felt sad that we were leaving.
    Our last dinner in Dubrovnik was in the old town at a place called 360 degrees. We chose it because we wanted something special. It was a fairly high end restaurant, and it was amazing in every regard. We all came to the conclusion that THIS was one of the best resteraunts we had been to - in our lives. Highly reccommended! We had some gelato afterward before making the short and pleasant trek back to our hotel for a good nights sleep.

    The next day (9/26) the time had come to leave Dubrovnik and head for our next location of Hvar. We were up at 7:30.
    We had arranged through our hotel to rent a boat and have a skipper drive us and all of our luggage to the island of Hvar. We also arranged to make a stop along the way, at the island of Miljet. We wanted to go to Miljet because it was farther south than Hvar, and would not really be day-trippable once we had reached Hvar.
    A driver picked us up at 9 AM and brought us to the boat for a 9:30 AM departure. (A small sign on the boat said it was: "8 1/2 Leader 805 464DB") The trip on its own was to take about three hours. About 1/2 way through the boat trip we discovered that our skipper, ("Mario#1) had a mind of his own, and seemed to be pretty set that we were not going to go to Miljet, that we were going to Korcula, and then to Hvar. I think he was trying to make his day shorter for himself even though it's not what we wanted or had arranged and paid for.
    Eventually we got our wish and the boat was rerouted to Mljet.
    We arrived at the dock and the small town of Pomena and thought we could have a quick lunch at "Barba Ive" which was right on the dock. We were rushed for time now because of the “change in plans”. We had only about an hour 1/2 to spend on the island because our driver still needed to get us to Hvar and then had to make the roundtrip on his own back to Dubrovnik before it got dark and unnavigable.
    Unfortunately our lunch took a bit longer than we were hoping (they take great pride in their fresh seafood, and make a big deal about how they cook it.. we had grilled fish, which was deemed the "best ever" for the olive oil (and lemon?) that as drizzled over it. After lunch, we were only allowed a short 45 minutes to go see the salt lakes which Mljet is so well known for. We definitely could have used so much more time here, but we all got to take a swim in the smaller lake before running back to the boat and hoping we wouldn't be chastised for being 5-10 minutes late.
    The inner salt lakes are truly one of a kind and seem like heaven on earth. The water was so blue and the scenery of the allepo pines and the solitude there was absolutely amazing.
    We departed Miljet at 1:45, and had just under 3 hours to go til we got to Hvar. It was exciting to see the topography change...the cliffs that emerged from the waters were different here, so high up and green at the top, charming, dramatic, spectacular. This was definitely different than Dubrovnik! We were happy to arrive there at 4:30 in the afternoon. Hvar was an amazing looking place and the town was almost reminiscent of Dubrovnik's oldtown, but without the walls and mostly centered around a popular harbor. We had rented an AirBNB for our 3 night stay. It was not situated in the town itself, but up a hill a ways. We took a cab which was about a 10 minute drive from the town center. We thought the cabs were really pricey, but walking wasn't really an option so we dealt with it. The house itself was nice, but oh my goodness, the setting was unsettling... it was bizarre. We were kind of scared when the cab driver took a right off the main road and started zig-zagging down narrow dirt roads with barbed wire here and there and desolation. We passed a gray cinder block house under construction. It had an old mattress lying against it, and then our brand new-looking house reared itself - it was the only house around, very new, pretty clean, - and we got used to the setting. It's very safe in Hvar, nothing to worry about.

    We showered and started researching where we might find dinner that night. We decided on "Gariful", in town. We had a nice meal and the wine that night was Kutievo Grasevina 2012. Very good. I believe they told us that the wine was made here in Hvar, at a winery called Tomic.
    We got "home" at 10:30 that night.

    Our first day (Sept 27) in Hvar began with no schedule in mind. We all ended up rising at different times and we hadn't had time to stop anywhere for groceries so we had to go out looking for a bite to eat. Rick and I taxied into town to look for a light breakfast at one the cafes in the downtown area. We ate at "El Classico". Good dinners are a lot easier to find than good breakfasts in Croatia. There is not much of a selection, so we ordered eggs (it was difficult to understand what KIND of eggs, fried? scrambled? over easy? what? and orange juice. We ended up with fried eggs and white bread (not toast. The OJ was "Cappy Naranca" the kind that comes in glass bottles with tons of sugar added. I can't drink the stuff myself. The rest of our party met up with us as we were finishing up. We went in search of information concerning the possibility of perhaps renting a boat for the day or doing some wine tastings, trying to figure out a game plan while the rest of the group went to "Cafe Anna - Cafe Bar" for their breakfast. They make great smoothies - very healthy and delicious. Afterwards, we went to toursit bureau called Secret Hvar. We passed a guy right outside of Secret Hvar that rented private boats. We chatted with him a bit then went into Secret Hvar and spoke with a really nice girl in there about what some of our options were. She was very helpful and honest.
    We decided that we would go to two wineries later in the day. One of the wineries we'd be seeing would be the Tomic winery. We first heard about it the night before. We booked it for 3:30. We then decided to walk to the fortress above Hvar town, called Gran Hvar. It was a VERY HOT day! We walked for about 20 minutes up the gradual terrain and bought the most amazing honey moisturizer from a man selling stuff from a cart on the way up. Once at the top, we were rewarded with amazing views of the town and water from high above. We walked around the fortress (and paid a small price to go inside it) and the prison. The walk up also gave quite a glimpse at how many agaves dominate the land here. They almost could serve as a defensive tactic against attackers. It seemed like an alice in wonderland type of landscape.

    At 3:30, the owner of Secret Hvar, Simon, (Sinisa, real name) picked us up at our house and took us two different wineries. We first went to Tomic winery which was pretty high end and has a large number of bottles released each year. We enjoyed our time here, but the second winery called Pinjata was the cream of the crop. They are a very small winery that releases a much smaller number of wines compared to Tomic. At Pinjata we did our tasting in an authentic stone farmhouse, a woman by the name of ... Merlaina? Miranda? Melinda (we, or was it I, kept forgetting - note to self, her real name was Marina.. or was it Maria?) did a great job taking care of us. It was a chilly evening outside, but we were very cozy in the quaint farmhouse environment. Maybe too comfortable... in other words, the setting was so comfortable that we relaxed into the evening. We had excellent wines that blew us away and were in awe of their excellent homemade food they served us along with the wine. We ended up purchasing a large number of bottles at the end of our "tasting". Too many for this early in the trip we found out later! Our guide took us to dinner that night at Restaurant Pinetta in Stari Grad (pretty little town) and we had a fantastic meal there. The restaurant was pretty quiet due to it being the beginning of the off season. We were just one of three groups dining there that night. We must have dined for a good three hours! It was great. The beef stew was divine, so tender, so tasty. We highly recommend Restaurant Pinetta. I think Simon told us that it is owned by a former city councilman.

    Our tour guide, Simon, he was so great. He stopped at his house on the way home, and came out with a bottle of wine for us! He said it was a very special wine, and he thought we'd enjoy it.

    Of course, we gave him a good tip, we had such a splendid day thanks to him! Contact: Secret Hvar, Sinisa Matkovic-Mikulcic (CEO and guide) Secret Hvar Travel Agency, email [email protected] mobile +385/(0) 95.805.9075 address Trg Sv. Stjepana 4a, 21450 Hvar - Lesina

    Our final day in Hvar, Sept 28th, was spent making some time for shopping in the town for our friends/siblings back home, and doing a little laundry at the house, but first we had breakfast.

    My son and daughter and I went for breakfast at The Adriana hotel which is right on the water (everthing is right on the water, it seems, in Hvar) We had the most FABULOUS BREAKFAST EVER!!! They have the most amazing buffet there - so much variety in everything you can imagine... so many different kinds of honey,(all labeled) milk, of teas, of grains, freshly squeezed juices.. I have never seen such quality and I am sure never will again. Beautifully set up, nothing fancy, just so perfect. So clean and organized. Someone knows what they're doing there. Breakfast there was heaven on earth. (ok, so you CAN find a great breakfast in Croatia.. but it's ONLY at the Adriana on Hvar!!!) You can order off the menu as well.

    There were some really great shops, and really nice store keepers, and it was a good way to spend half a day. In the afternoon we searched for a way to get to Trogir/Split from Hvar along with all our luggage. We used the company which was right across from Secret Hvar, a man sitting under an umbrella with a few signs for boat tours. He was able to help us reserve a boat for the next morning to travel to Split/Trogir. We made another boat reservation at a different place for dinner that night on one of the islands east of Hvar. A friend of ours had been there and told us to go if we could. It's a very authentic Croatian restaurant with a most unique atmosphere called Pension-Tonci, and it's the place to go for fresh fish. We found a zodiac that would be willing to take us there and back that night for a 6:30 reservation. Around 4:30, most of our group headed back to the house to get ready for dinner, but two went in for a swim right there in the harbor before going back to the house to get ready with the rest of our group...


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    We met our boat and were taken across the choppy seas to Pension-Tonci, the fish restaurant on the island of Sveti Klement, just east of Hvar.
    I can't remember the boat driver's name, but he was a great guy, and he was from Montenegro. He picked us up on time, dropped us off, and came back for us when we were done to bring us back to Hvar.
    The atmosphere of the restaurant and it's surroundings had a rustic kind of Hawaiian vibe to it - overgrown foliage, very laid back, little white lights, family run.
    The woman who greeted us had a baby on her hip and there was an old dog lying on the grass, probably kid's toys strewn about...
    It's a restaurant that is run from a family's home, and everything is locally caught or grown there.
    If you don't eat fish, you're sort of out of luck, but they will be happy to cook you vegetables.
    The restaurant owners are charming, and their food is delicious. It is clean and comfortable, and they do a very good business.
    It felt very "removed" from everything when you're there, that you almost forget that you have to catch a boat back "home"!!!
    When the time came to leave, we were all caught totally unawares that while we were dining, a big wind had come up. Those choppy seas had been an indicator of foul weather to come!!!
    It was HOWLING outside, and it was difficult to get the boat lined up so that we could get in.
    We had one heck of an exhilarating ride home. The "men" loved it, including the boat driver, they were all standing, feeling full of life and bravado, but the girls (me and my daughter), sat down behind the driver, clinging to each other and wondering when it'd be over!
    I don't know how long it took, (a lot longer than it'd taken to GET there), but we made it back in one piece and it was a ride we'll not soon forget! - Croatia is so full of WOW's!!! Every day, something wonderful happens, a wonderful sight, a wonderful experience, but always something wonderful.
    And the people here are wonderful....
    We got back to our rental house - it was our last night in Hvar, and we opened up the bottle of wine Simon had given us and we all shared it. I wish I had the name of it. Maybe someone does and can add it later.
    We made a phone call home and put them on speaker. We told them how much we were enjoying Croatia and all our experiences and we really hope that they'll be able to come back with us again because they'd love it too. For sure.

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    The following day was a sad one because our group of five would be splitting up with three of us headed to Trogir and the other two heading to the airport in Split and moving on to Italy. Split and Trogir are very close, so we had decided on a plan with the skipper that would allow us to stop in Split briefly, so that we could view Diocletian's Palace, and then move onto Trogir by boat, where we had hotel reservations for 5-nights.
    The two going to Italy were going to get from Split to the airport.
    We had made these arrangements a day or two before with the man under the umbrella who rents boats and was set up right across the way from Secret Hvar. He assured us that we would have a big boat big enough for the 5 of us and all our luggage and we'd be very comfortable. He did mention the size of the boat, but I don't remember what it was. We seem to have lost the paperwork and can't think of the name of his company.
    We got up at 8:30AM and caught a taxi from the house at 9:30. The cab driver was very friendly. He talked about the changes in Croatia as of late, the increase in tourism, and lamented that within the past year, unfortunately, there have been many people coming from (he mentioned specifically) Germany and Australia who's first question when they arrive is where are the bars? He said they all drink too much, are too roudy, sleep late, bring drugs and it's not good for Croatia... Croatian's aren't really party people. They aren't into drugs and their culture is one of good values and there is not much crime there. It's refreshing.
    When we got to the boat, it wasn't quite as large or quite as nice as we thought it'd be...It needed to fit five people comfortably, but the skipper had brought his girlfriend along for the ride which took up one good seat. She sat in the seat next to him. The rest of found quasi-seating around a plastic table in the back of the boat, right behind the skipper and his girl, and one of us had to go up front and sit on the bow of the boat with his back against the windshield.
    That wind (?bura wind?) from last night was still wreaking havoc with rough water that made for a jarring ride. Whoever got the outside bench seats were soaked. It was a very slow going, very rough, uncomfortable two hour drive that was just plain LOUSY. It seemed like we would NEVER get to Split. I had to use the bathroom really bad and there was no bathroom on the boat, so with Split in sight, but seemingly not getting any closer, I finally said something and the boat was stopped so that I could somehow solve the problem off the side of the boat (nearly falling off in the process due to the rocking of the boat, thank God that didn't happen, it would have been the straw that broke the camel's back!!!)
    We arrived, having felt like we'd been through the wringer, in Split with the Palace sitting right there before us. We told the skipper that we were going to see the palace so would he stay and watch our luggage and we'd be back in an hour or so. When we returned, he'd drop the two off at some place near the airport (a short boat ride, apparently), and then continue on with the three of us to Trogir. The two going to Italy said they wanted NOTHING to do with the boat - they'd gotten really banged up and wanted nothing more with it and said they would take a taxi to the airport instead.
    We got off the boat and headed toward the palace. The fifth person in our group was the one who'd gotten banged up on the boat. He said he was too shaken up to tour the palace and needed to just take a break right now. He probably had a drink or two .. there were a lot of outside tables for bars and restaurants lined up outside the palace.
    The four of us bought our tickets and started to tour the dark basement and tried to read the signs. We were all in quite a daze from the rough boat and couldn't seem to make sense of anything. We actually didn't find the palace that incredible, at all. We said, "Is this it? A tour of an unfinished cellar? Where's the upper part of the palace with all the fancy furniture and stuff?" We never did find what we imagined we'd see in the palace, but we did enjoy touring the cathedral in Split, and seeing the crypt, the bell tower, and the treasury, etc
    When we emerged from the cathedral, we found the fifth member right outside and we sat and had some drinks (lemonade, iced coffee and a beer)at an outside table at Julius Meini. At 1:50PM, the five of us walked to the boat so the two that were leaving could get their luggage. The skipper took a picture of us, and then we hugged and said goodbye. Three of us got back (bravely) on the boat and as it pulled away, we waved goodbye. We went from a party of five down to a party of three just like that. It was hard to see them finally turn and walk away. Split grew smaller and smaller and I felt the absence of my daughter's presence. I was happy for them, though, and hoped they would enjoy Italy together as much as we were sure to keep on enjoying Croatia. I set my sights on the horizon, anticipating our next adventures in Trogir.

    Our ride to Trogir was not as rough as the trip from Hvar to Split was. We had departed Split at 2:10, and we arrived in Split around 2:45.
    The first thing I noticed upon entering Trogir was all the cranes, there was a lot of construction going on, in the water and beyond. They were building a bridge, I guess.. and probably other things. Bells were ringing all around us. There are lots of churches in Croatia, and they all ring their bells independently. That's another thing about Croatia that you may not really think much about, but the sounds of church bells ringing are part of the country, a part of the air itself it seems.
    We docked on the outskirts of the town and said "so LONG!" to our skipper and admitted to him that we found it unfortunate that his girlfriend had come along and had taken up one of our seats. He said it was that law that the captain have a mate. The last I saw of him was him riding off into the sun with her by his side..
    We did pretty well with our wheeled luggage by the way. It really wasn't hard at all, dragging it over the cobblestones, which aren't really like the cobblestones I know of.. these are mostly flat stones.. not big rounded ones.. but we found our hotel, Hotel Tragos, in the old town, soon enough. It was 3:00.
    After checking in at Hotel Tragos where we would be staying for five nights, we meandered the streets inside the old city. The town is similar to Dubrovnik where there is an older town inside the walls with lots of character and history. It is way way smaller, but a great area with medieval type streets and limestone surrounding. We had a late lunch of cheese and wine at 4:00 outside at a restaurant called Don Dino which was great. We had the best olive oil to date here called Ol Istria - Leccino. We did some more walking around and watched with amusement the cutest kitten (it was in-between the kitten and cat stage) hunt pigeons and prance around in excitement... She would lie down with her belly flat to the ground, and creep ever so stealthily towards a non chalant pigeon. Then she'd go in for the kill.. she'd arch her back and so a succession of jumping hops before stopping abruptly when the bird flew away. I saw an older boy come out of a large stone doorway with a tissue in his hand that he opened and let go of something he had held inside it. Shortly after, we saw a man emerge from the same doorway. He went and got the cat. He picked her up and carried her inside the doorway. I saw her put her on a ledge and he stepped back and disappeared. Shortly afterwards, she came walking out, to look for pigeons again. They must use cats to keep certain things in check behind the scenes. There are many stray cats in Croatia, but many do pretty well. Many are pretty affectionate, and people do feed them. Some of them for sure are suffering, but I was glad to see the respect for them as well. I myself took to saving my leftovers for the cats. I even went to a food store and bought a small bag of cat food. It brought me great pleasure to see strays that I could feed, and I know they appreciated it.
    After watching this cutest kitten-cat and her antics (we could have watched for hours, she was so animated!),we went to the Trogir Cathedral, which is in the Romanesque style and dates to the 5th century. There was so much to see, inside and out. Different atriums, portals, chapels and vestibules, all so intricate, so beautiful. Master Radovan's portal is a work of art. It is the most successful and the most original synthesis of Dalmation medieval art. It's a masterpiece. This portal is not the work of only one artist. Two dominating sculpting phases can be recognized in it, the first one from the 13th, and the other from the 14th century. There is so much to see in this Cathedral. You would be as enthralled as we were.
    We climbed up the tower and overlooked the square, it was quite the narrow climb and was well worth the short time it took to get up to the top. I had flip flops on. So far, the weather was great - hot and dry for the most part, apart from that wind the other day, but it was gorgeous, and flip flops were suiting us just fine. It can get a little slippery on those well worn limestone alleys which are all over Croatia, so just make sure your flip flops are not worn smooth on the bottoms before you pack them!
    At 8PM, we had dinner at Capo Restaurant. It looked charming from the outside, and sat on a corner inside the old town. We did not think too much of it, we had a lousy table in a bad place in the middle of everything, just in front of the counter that throws food out for the waitresses to pick up, and right up against some old refrigerator. I don't think there was supposed to be a table in this room either. But the food was not very good at all (I had spaghetti carbonara) and neither was the wine. Lackluster - Outside appearance looked nice, (kind of like an old German restaurant, rustic-like) but I shrug my shoulders when I think what was great about it?
    I understand they're doing some renovations at this point in time there.
    I will resume on another day. Good to be back. Reliving this is almost as great as being there. I miss Croatia!

    This would now be our first day of a few in Trogir. Our breakfast in the hotel was a very simple buffet. It had a minimal slection of items but was doable. We had many notes on what to do in Trogir, but no itinerary for each day. After breakfast we got in contact with a guide named Mario who had been referred to us by our guide in Hvar at Secret Hvar tour group. We set up two days with Mario where he would pick us up and go to a variety of areas by car. We decided on Bosnia and Herzegovina one day and Krka-Zadar-Sibenik the other. Those plans were now set for the future, but today we had completely free. We decided to do a bit more walking around Trogir and outside the gates before taking the Bura boat from Trogir back to Split. We had only seen the palace at Split the day prior, but were told that there was much more to see and do there. The Bura boat was quite slow, but cheap and got us to Split in about 1 hr 15 minutes. We were given a schedule that showed what time the last boat would be going back to Trogir. We had a few hours to meander the streets of the large and quite busy city of Split. We really enjoyed our afternoon in Split admiring the history and doing some shopping. There are no cars in the old city of Split and it is a great and expansive area to walk around. We went to meet our boat where it had dropped us and we were about five minutes ahead of schedule. We waited, but never saw the boat after a the scheduled time. We eventually found out that it left from a different dock from where it dropped us, but we had no idea. It was an easy twenty five minute cab ride back, but definitely more expensive. Once back in Trogir we went to dinner at Konoba TRS. It was excellent and I personally enjoyed a traditional Dalmatian Beef over Gnocchi. It was similar to a pot roast and had a fantastic brown sauce. We also first tried Tomislav's dark beer here which would be a favorite over the rest of the trip.

    Our next day we were scheduled to be up early to meet our guide around 9:00 to head out to Imotski, Mostar, and Kravice Waterfalls. Our trip to Imotski took about one hour and it was a town just before the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We wanted to see the red and blue lakes that we had read about. These are both in huge canyons that you can only view from the surrounding rim. We were amazed at the red lake in particular as it was so so deep in the ground. We viewed an old fortress above the blue lake and were quite impressed with that as well. We enjoyed a coffee in Imotski town before hitting the road into Bosnia and on to Mostar. We thought Imotski had a strange feeling to it and probably could have done without stopping there for a drink. Our drive to Mostar was probably about another 45 minutes. Mostar is a major town in Bosnia and well known for its history. The area is shared by two religions, Muslim and Christian I believe which made it a major area of conflict during the Yugoslav crisis. It did not take long too see old damaged buildings and signs of the war here. This was probabaly the most preserved damged we had seen on the trip with the exception of Kopari Beach. The old town in Mostar was very enoyable and had a Muslim feel to it compared to other old towns we had been in. The town has a very picturesque bridge called Stari Most (Old Bridge) going over the river. This is a main attraction when visiting Mostar and is so beautiful. Some of the locals there jump off the bridge once they recieve enough tips into the freezing swift moving river below. We never saw this during our few hours there, but it would have been neat. After walking the town and having a quick bite we met with our tour guide again to move onto our last stop of the day. We arrived at Kravice waterfall after about a 1 hour trip from Mostar. This definitely felt like it was off the beaten track and a hidden gem. It was amazingly beautiful and very worthwhile. On our trip back to Trogir we spoke with Mario about some reccomendations he had for us for our free day in between when we would go to Krka etc. with him. We decided on spending a day on the water so he got us in contact with one of his skipper friends and we made plans to be picked up the following morning. We eventually returned to Trogir by dinner time and ate before heading to sleep.

    We were picked up this morning just outside the hotel gates by a skipper named Josip. He had a nice small boat that would be perfect for the three of us. We started off for our first stop of Milna which was about 45 minutes away. The seas were much calmer today compared to our crossing from Hvar-Split a few days prior. Milna was a very small harbor town where we stopped for about half our to walk around. We enjoyed walking some of the quaint streets here, but there was not all that much going on. Our next stop would be at Zlatni Rat beach on the southern side of Brac Island. Our guide surprised us with a stop beforehand at some old submarine tunnels built into the limestone. These were incredible and dated back to the 50's I believe and were made by the Yugoslav army. These tunnels went deep into the mountainsides and could hold a large submarine and hide it quite impressively. We got off our boat here and walked some of the corridors of the bunker. It was great! We eventually made it to the well known beach called Zlatni Rat or Golden Horn. This is one of the few "sand" beaches in Croatia and is a very unique peninsula that jets out into the sea. This beach is usually extremely crowded during the summertime, but was quite empty at this point in early October. We really enjoyed our time here doing some swimming and people watching. My mom said it was the best beach she had ever been to. From Zlatni Rat we went to the small town of Bol by boat. We had about 1 hour or so to spend here before we would have to go back as it was getting late in the day. We ate at a really great pizza spot here called Topolino before walking around. We really enoyed Bol! It had a great feel to it, and might have to be a place we overnight next time around! We had a nice sunset cruise back to Trogir which probably took an hour or so. We had a really awesome day with this private tour group on the water. After another long day we got back and ate before going to sleep.

    Today was our final full day in Trogir and we had plans to meet up with Mario again to visit Krka Waterfalls, Zadar, and Sibenik. We decided to try and eat out on the waterfront for breakfast today. It was really difficult to find a perferct breakfast spot in Trogir. We would find one on our last morning, but today was quite the opposite. Two of us had some small "english breakfasts" which consist of eggs, meat, and potatoes and the other had some crepes. I had one of the english breakfasts and started to feel sick just a few minutes afterward. It was a shame as we were about to spend another long day on the road and were getting picked up soon. I contemplated staying at the hotel because I felt so terrible, but pressed on and hit the road to Krka as planned with Mario. He was helpful and stopped once or twice to help with the nausea. Krka national park was very large and we drove down through the gates before starting a walking tour. We walked just inches above the water on a variety of boardwalks that came out to a number of viewing points of larger waterfalls below. Upon reaching the largest falls on the walk we had an oportunity to swim. I decided to capitalize on it in hopes that a swim would help take my mind off feeling sick. It was an incredibe swim and due to the late season and lack of park rangers our guide told me I was able to swim below the ropes right to the base of the falls. That was ceratinly a helpful remedy and seemed to improve the nausea. After Krka it was off to Zadar. We were dropped here and given a short tour by Mario before allowing us some free time. We started with the wave organ which Zadar is well known for. It was a stormy day and the choppy seas made for some excellent music. We enjoyed walking around this city, but enjoyed others on the trip more so. Our next stop would be to Sibenik. After a brief drive we were given another walking tour by our guide Mario before a bit more free time. This city had a really great feel to it. It was built on quite a steep hillside so there are more stairways going places than actual pathways it seemed. We enjoyed this town and doing some walking around the quiet picturesque neighborhoods. It was my mom's favorite city we went to on the whole trip. She described it as just having so much character to it. We enjoyed our last dinner in Trogir at a place called Callebota. This restaurant was exceptional and got our vote for the best in Trogir.

    We started off with breakfast at the same restaurant we had gone to the night before. It was so difficult to find a quality large breakfast in Trogir, but this place was the exception. I feel like its also be good to mention that we did enjoy our stay at Hotel Tragos for the five nights in Trogir. It was very boutique and small with few added benefits besides lodging. We would probably stay here again upon return. We had inquired with Mario about how to get to Rovinj from Trogir a few days prior and he had set us up with a driver he knew. We met him outside the gates after breakfast with all our luggage. It was going to be a long drive of about five hours to get to Rovinj from Trogir. We stopped about halfway or so in a small town called Cricvenica to grab a bite to eat. This town was very quiet since it was fairly late in the offseason. It was a nice stop though and we stayed just long enough to take a few pictures and eat at a small restaurant. From there it was a few more hours to Rovinj and our hotel called Monte Mulini. We were told that the Istrian peninsula where Rovinj is would be a bit different from the other parts of Croatia we have seen. Its an area that consists of lots of italian culture and impressive dining/lodging options that are a bit more upscale. We were in awe at the size and “five starness” of the Monte Mulini. This would be the nicest hotel of the trip clearly and we would be staying for five nights. We unpacked and walked around the grounds for a while before heading into Rovinj for a bite to eat. There is an "esplanade" that goes alongside the water from the Monte Mulini to the old town of Rovinj. It was about a twenty minute walk each time we wanted to go to Rovinj center, but a very nice one. Just before arriving in the town we recieved a call from Mario's contact here named Matthias. Mario recommended him as a tour guide in Rovinj while we were in Trogir. Just before dinner on our first night we ended up meeeting with Matthias for a quick drink to talk about some potential plans for the next few days. We once again had many notes, but no concrete plans set. We ended up making plans with him to go to a variety of places the next few days. We ate at a great restaurant he reccomended before going to sleep.

    Our first full day in Rovinj started out with a fantastic buffet breakfast at our hotel. The options were numerous and everything was top notch. Our guide Matthias picked us up at the hotel afterward to head to Porec. This was our second day out of the whole trip where it was raining. We had lucked out for most of it but today was a messy one. It was also at this point in the trip that we started to notice it was getting colder and we were all wearing pants and sweaters. We were a few days into October now and more north then we had been all trip. It was a short drive to Porec with a brief stop or two of interest along the way. Porec is a small harbor town that is home to the Euphrasian Basilica. We did a small walking tour with Matthias through the town and basilica before being left with some free time for lunch. We enjoyed the basilica very much and found the ancient mosaics to be incredible. After lunch in Porec we headed back to Rovinj where Matthias would give us a walking tour of the city and church atop the hill. We found the tour enjoyable and really enjoyed the chacter inside the hilly city of Rovinj. After a few hours of free time at the hotel where we did some swimming in the ocean and nap taking etc. we were picked up once again by Matthias to go to see the colliseum in Pula. Two of us had been to the colliseum in Rome before, but one of us had not so we decided it would be worthwhile to see. We got there just before dark, but unfortuantely they were closed for some unforeseen reason. Matthias gave us a walking tour around the outside which was perfect. It was almost as impressive as the one in Rome so I highly reccomend. We went to a really nice resteraunt in the outskirts of Pula afterward that was called Oasi. The meal was great, but wow were the portions large! We had a short drive back to Rovinj of 45 minutes and were certainly ready for some sleep.

    -- We have a few more days ahead to write, 3 in Rovinj and Slovenia and then a night in Plitvice and two in Zagreb. I will continue writing this week to finish up the trip report. If you need any further elaboration on tour groups or any other information please let us know. They are in our notes for sure. Thanks!

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    Hi teadrinker just wanted to say I checked back today to see where you got to in the end and am delighted to see you had such a great time in Croatia. Thanks for writing the trip report, am enjoying it immensely.

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    I'm back home from being away over the holidays, and now that I'm settled, I can post the rest of the trip report! Thanks for sticking by me, and for your interest and support!

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    Today (10/7/15), we would be doing our second tour with Matthias. (MATT TOUR GUIDE, Rovinj, Istria, Croatia, +385 91 2903 925 email is [email protected]) Some information about Matthias...He was born in Serbia. He told us that after his mother divorced, he moved here. He speaks "Balkan English". He's been a guide for 22 years. in addition to English, he speaks German, Hungarian, Italian and Croatian. He was a very organized, intelligent, nice guy. He inundated us with so many interesting facts and certainly knew his history. He was a walking book of knowledge... incredible. We were lucky to have found him.

    He picked us up at our hotel at 10:45 in the morning and we were off see a few towns in the interior Istrian peninsula known as “green Istria”. It was a foggy day, about 66 degrees F, and threatened rain.

    Our first order of business was to go to the town of Buje to try to find a crumbling cemetery which fellow Fodorite, Andrew, had written about in one of his posts. I had taken notes, especially because he had said it was "fascinating to photograph". It was was behind an "old church near the top of a hill" Buje is a very small town. Very interesting little town. Our guide, I don't think, had ever really been to Buje, so he was finding this a fun little adventure! He stopped and inquired at the Visitor Center, and the woman mentioned cypress trees asked a woman in the town, who helped us out.

    We were able to find it and the weather was just right for a cemetery walk. It was quite foggy, and there were goats below us on the hillside. We stayed for as long as we could, and enjoyed taking pictures. It certainly was an old and crumbling cemetery, just as Andrew had said.

    Our next stop was Groznjan which is a small hill town known for its art culture. We spent about an hour or so walking around and browsing the art shops and galleries. There were beautiful views of the countryside from this elevated town. I bought an owl sculpture and a nice plaque with an owl on it for myself and a friend who shares my love of owls. The shops were quite unique and interesting. We ate lunch at a small cafe in Groznjan called PINTUR. We had Union beer, minestrone soup, crepes, a salad, and a white truffle pasta dish which was excellent. It consisted of noodles with a white truffle sauce on top. The hill towns of Istria are known for their black and white truffles, which are a common delicacy in restaurants. We liked the pasta a lot and wished we had ordered a second plate! Our lunch ended at 2PM. I saw a cat outside and fed it some of the cat food from the little bag I'd purchased earlier in the trip. We left Groznjan at 2:10PM.

    From there Matthias skillfully drove us to our next destination which he had arranged beforehand. We were going to go on a truffle hunt. It would be in the Motovun woods, and it would be more of a demonstration than an actual truffle hunt. On the way, he spoke all about truffles. As I said, he is a book of knowledge. He told us so much, I can't remember everything, but I was taking notes in the little notebook I carried around with me, and here are some of the things I was able to write down:

    Truffles can be 1/2" to 3 feet across. Truffles are a very rare food. Italians, especially, think they're an aphrodisiac. From mid-Sept to mid-Jan is white truffle season. From May to the beginning of October, it's black truffle season. Until two years ago, no permit was needed to truffle hunt. They can be artificially grown but....

    And then we entered the place of Truffles.... passing a huge sign and going under an arch that stretched over and across the road that was emblazoned with Truffle this or that on it. It looked so commercial, I was taken aback. This area was very new-looking. We stopped at a truffle store (Trgovina-Shop) which probably was only a year or two old... it had everything-Truffle. It was pretty cool in there. They had truffle olive oils to sample and lots of other things including chocolates behind a glass case. My son purchased a few samples of chocolate to try. They were truffles of the chocolate variety, filled with a creamy chocolate center which had the most distinct and wonderful truffle flavor I've ever had in my life. I have had truffle fries, mashed potatoes,and gravy before but never a truffle chocolate! It was delicious. I'll never forget the taste of that little bit of chocolate I had that day.

    From the shop, we drove to the "Truffle hunting demonstration".

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    teadrinker: Our first order of business was to go to the town of Buje to try to find a crumbling cemetery which fellow Fodorite, Andrew, had written about in one of his posts. I had taken notes, especially because he had said it was "fascinating to photograph". It was was behind an "old church near the top of a hill" Buje is a very small town. Very interesting little town. Our guide, I don't think, had ever really been to Buje, so he was finding this a fun little adventure! He stopped and inquired at the Visitor Center, and the woman mentioned cypress trees asked a woman in the town, who helped us out.

    Oh dear! I'm sorry to hear you had so much trouble finding this spot in Buje. Had I known you were even interested in finding the church, I could have pointed you to it on a map. I don't even recall how I found it - it may have been mentioned in my Rick Steves book or maybe I just followed signs to a church, but I had not especially planned to visit. I kind of just found it while walking around and thought it was neat.

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    Yes, we knew you had just happened upon it! We had fun trying to find it, really! If I remember correctly, you had gotten lost somehow, and ended up in Buje and somehow found the cemetery... we were glad you did!

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    We met Nicola Tarandek, the truffle hunter, ([email protected]) +385 91 569 68 35 and his two dogs and stood talking with him (as he leaned against his old red car along a dusty dirt road with nothing on it that we could see). He told us all about truffle hunting, how the dogs were trained, how they work, what the nature of the business is, the joys and the difficulties. He was very patient and answered all of our questions. His dogs were lovely - they're half Ridgeback and half Labraodor Retriever. They were very thin, pretty horribly thin I thought. At first I was certain they were abused, and I was trying to figure out when and how I was going to tell Matthias that I was sorry, but I could not patronize a business that abused animals, but then I saw how much the dogs loved Nicola, and how much Nicola loved the dogs. The animals exhibited no fear, no submissiveness, nothing of the sort which would have verified my thinking that he mistreated these animals. There was nothing but genuine sweetness and respect between them.

    We walked with the dogs and they searched for a while and eventually found the truffles that Nicola had hidden prior to our arrival. It was impressive to see how the dogs and Nicola worked. It was a very cool experience! We learned that unfortunately there is a lot of abuse in the business, however. It is not regulated. Nicola was sorry to tell us that it was a true fact. He knows the balance, but many do not. I told him I would put a really good work out about him so that anyone who's lucky enough to go to Croatia and wants to experience truffle hunting, can give him some business. It's a very hard business to be into, because it's hard work, and the hunters can't set their own prices. They are taken advantage of by the people they sell them to. The buyers offer a low price and say if you won't sell to me, I'll just move onto someone who will. I don't know how he can survive in such a business. He was a good, honest man, and I wish him and his beautiful dogs the best of luck and much happiness in life.

    Afterwards, we drove to the “smallest town in the world”, Hum, with 25 inhabitants...

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    It took us just a little over half an hour to reach Hum. Our guide talked all the while, about the language, the 250 migrating birds that Croatia sees, and so many other things.

    There really wasn't that much to see in Hum, but the views were really nice and we enjoyed sampling a variety of unique liquors from the area at a cool shop.

    We also visited a very old church and saw an area where long ago, people that had disagreements had to hammer it out in a peaceful way. We saw an old cemetery too, quite different from the cemetery in Buje.

    We left Hum at 5:15. On the drive back to our hotel, Matthias mentioned a good book to us that's easy to read, "Mathias Sandorf", written by Jules Verne, a French writer, who also wrote "20 Leagues Under the Sea"...

    Back at our hotel, we tried to take advantage of their 6:30 "Olive Oil and Wine Tasting" event which we had received a notice about upon check in, but when we reached the doors to the event, we were told that unfortunately, it required advance registration. Nothing doing. No twisting of arms. They were full... so we decided to head out and look for dinner.

    We went out onto the streets of Rovinj and enjoyed the walk while we searched for a restaurant.

    We met a very interesting man in one of the back "alleys". Stray cats were all around him. He fed the cats. I think his name was Mikhalel. He said he lives with the cats. He had a black tee shirt on that said F U you F'n F's emblazoned across the front in white block lettering. When I commented on the uniqueness of it, he said his dentist gave it to him. He told us he's a poet. He reads Emerson and recited some poetry by Robert Blake for us. He loved "A Midsummer's Dream", he said, "Best play by Robert Blake". I was glad to see that someone was taking care of the stray cats. I asked him why they don't have a spaying a neutering program and he said no one listens or cares, that's why he does. Bless his heart.

    And now I come to what was THE BEST RESTAURANT in my opinion at least, in all of Croatia, because I LOVE healthy, vegetarian food, which is hard to come by where I live, and also, apparently, in most of Croatia as well. It's called, "TIPICO" +385 91 349 40 06 They're on Instagram and Pinterest and also Grooveshark, which I never heard of, but I'm looking on the back of their business card, which is in the form of a book mark. It's in Old Town, Rovinj. I had tofu with mediterranean herbs on roasted vegetables with seeds, and also vegetable risotto. We also had sheeps milk cheese. The chef there is an "artiste". We could see him working from the corner table where we sat. We were fortunate to have gotten that table.. Our waiter and the chef, everyone there, was passionate and earnest and so down to earth, and the food - and the wine - and the atmosphere - could not have been better. When I said something about being appreciative of the organic food, our waiter said, "People call food "organic", but we just call it "Food". He said there's like a ring... and America is way inside the ring as far as "real Food" goes. I believe it! Go to Tipico if you're like me... always searching for good, healthy food.. grains, vegetables, protein.. I would LOVE to return to Tipico's if I have the good fortune of a return trip to Croatia. If not, at least I can heartily recommend it to my fellow travelers! One more note... the chef (or was it the sou chef?) used to dally in art (paintings) before he became a chef. Two small (?4 x 6? 5 x 7?) gold framed paintings hang in the ladies room. They're reminiscent of Monets. One is of seahorses, the other jellyfish. I would have loved to have been able to buy them and take them home. I inquired about them, but I could tell they weren't interested in parting with them. For understandable reasons. They're priceless!

    After getting dropped back off at our hotel in Rovinj we went to dinner at Tipico. It was one of the best restaurants on the whole trip. They had many delicious meals that catered to vegetarians and were so great.

    Our next day we would be driving up to Lake Bled in Slovenia which took about two and a half hours. Matthias wasn't available, but recommended a friend who would provide transport to and from. We drove around most of the lake taking in the scenery before having lunch at a vila preseren which we really enjoyed for the food and atmosphere. We wanted to take some great photos of the island with the church on the lake and visit as well. There was a boat rental place just a short walk from the restaurant. The three of us rented a rowboat and had about a twenty minute row to the island. Two of us switched on and off witch was helpful. We loved the boat because you could really take your time on the lake unlike a hired driver who would just take you there and back. We parked our boat and visited the island. It was pretty busy with tourist groups, but we visited the church and rang the bell inside. It was a great trip there and back. We had a long drive back before making it to our hotel and having dinner in Rovinj again.

    We went back and forth on what to do on our last day in the Rovinj area. We had reservations in Plitvice Lakes at Hotel Degenija for the next night. We thought about going to the Lungomare and Opatija and doing the seaside walk there. We decided instead on going back to Slovenia and visiting the capital city of Ljubjana before proceeding on to Plitvice. Matthias friend was driving us today and it was about two hours to Ljubjana from Rovinj. We had heard great things about the town so we set aside about two and half hours to see the area. The driver visited some friends while we toured the area. The city had a really great feel to it. An idyllic small European city with lots of charm to it. The city center was divided by a river with a number of unique bridges spanning it. We walked around for a short while before coming upon a large outdoor food festival. What luck! We believe it is only on weekends in October and fortunately it was Friday afternoon. There were so many different varieties of delicious food available in a variety of kiosks. We all had some great food, drinks, and dessert and sat at one of the many tables scattered about. Afterward we split up and two of us went and did some walking around and brief shopping while the other went to visit the castle. We got some crafty items at Galerija Rustika before all meeting back up at the car. The visit to Ljubjana was probably one of if not the best experiences on the trip even though we were there for so short. I'd like to return some day without question. We had about a two and a half hour drive to Plitvice and checked into our hotel. We had some dinner at their restaurant right near by and called it a night.

    We awoke to stormy conditions for our morning tour of Plitvice Lakes! Matthias had put us in touch with one of his co workers out of Zagreb who would pick us up and do a tour of Plitvice with us before driving us to our hotel in Zagreb later that night. We were fulled geared in rain attire with umbrellas, all of which were necessary. The entrance was quite busy, but we eventually got through and into the park. It was raining pretty steadily so the views of the falls and lake were blocked by fog and clouds. It was unfortunate, but we did do a two hour walk around the area and it was magnificent. The lake is like nowhere else we had seen before. It was probably in the low fifties and we got cold by the end of our hike. On our way back to Zagreb that afternoon we stopped in Rastoke for lunch. It is a very small historic mill town. A number of building are set on different small islands as the powerful river divides them. We had a really nice lunch here on this rainy afternoon. We were dropped off afterward at our hotel jagerhorn in Zagreb. The concierge recommended a nearby restaurant that was great. I cant remember the name at the moment exactly, but it did have the word cannon in it. It was a very nice setting and great meal.

    Our last full day of the trip would be spent touring around the capital city of Zagreb. It was raining fairly similar to the day before, but it didn't stop us from getting out and seeing all we could. There was a marathon going on on the street right outside our hotel. People lined the streets and cheered the runners as they ran back and fourth down the road. We walked alongside them to go visit an antique fair that we had heard would be going on. We had been looking for some Croatian ephemera to bring back to friend at home. It was about a fifteen minute walk to British Square from our hotel where the fair was. It was raining quite hard so there were just a handful of vendors out with tents and umbrellas covering them and their goods. I found some really great things for our friends which was great luck. We also ran into a local guy there who we talked with for a while. He offered to give us a short driving tour of the city and we accepted. He was very nice and a photographer. We visited a huge cemetery there that was beautiful and saw a number of other sights. He recommended we eat at grandpas dream which is a rustic Croatian tavern and he dropped us there. It was a really cozy place with a great feel to it. The menu had all sorts of different unique cuisine to the area. We tried a few things and most unique was the grilled frogs. They were good! After lunch we walked by the museum of broken relationships and decided to visit. It was cool to see, but a strange exhibit. We enjoyed walking to the cannon tower nearby and getting an elevated view of the surrounding area. We had lots to pack for our trip home later that afternoon. We had our last dinner just a short walk from our hotel at a great Italian restaurant that served as the perfect last evening of the trip.

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    What a shame that your visit to Plitvice was kind of rained out! I've had plenty of rain-outs on my trips to Europe but have been lucky with my two visits to Plitvice.

    I too love Ljubljana - one reason I've visited three times! (I think I've had rain part of every visit there.) You really should go back someday. The city is wonderful at night when all the little bridges are lit up, etc. There is a lot to see in little Slovenia. There are some neat towns near Ljubljana like Skofja Loka (on the "slow route" from Ljubljana to Bled), and the drive from Skofja Loka through the hills to Bled (not on the freeway - on narrow roads) is breathtakingly scenic. Many people also drive up through the mountains over the Vrsic Pass into the Soca Valley.

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    Well, that's it. I realize my report isn't perfect (all this copying and pasting can be a little difficult sometimes). My son helped me with it. He emailed a full trip report of his own to me, and I pasted it in, then went line by line, inserting notes of my own, or certain additional details, to round it all out.
    Sometimes, I'd decide to stop at a certain point, and I'd hit "submit", forgetting that beneath it all, was his trip report, the part that I was meaning to still get to, so that I could add my details to!
    It's what happened after the Tipico restaurant portion. You can see where the two merge... but that's okay. I planned to stop at that point and continue on tomorrow, but I hit "submit" so now it's DONE.
    I have so many notes and papers and cards and there's alot that didn't get written about. There's a few people I want to mention, and maybe a few more details I would have liked to add.

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    Thank you, Andrew, for everything. I do hope to return. We really want the other two members of my family to join us. I have four children, and two were able to go this time. The other two would have loved it.

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    Thanks for posting this! I think your adventure was quite a bit different from mine e.g. truffle hunting(!). I love reading about a variety of experiences in the places I've already visited, and I'm sure others do too!

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    We had fun writing descriptions for the portions of food we were served the night we had dinner at Oasi, in Pula. Oasi is situated in a beautiful boutique hotel. The service was excellent, as was the food, but as my son noted in the trip report, the portions were huge! Here's some of the descriptive words the three of us had fun coming up with to help describe just how huge the portions of food were. I had written them in the notebook I always carried around.
    hard to believe
    generous (the understatement of the century)

    Another thing I wanted to add was the very nice waiter who worked at Konoba TOMA in Trogir. His name was Peter. He said anytime in the future, if we wanted help with anything, we could reach out to him through the restaurant. He gave us his card. The "table wine" was really good there, and my son really enjoyed the the Vegetable Bolognese. There's an upper level, patio version, with a railing over looking the square below, where we ate. The service was excellent. Peter was a great guy. Konoba Toma looks right down on the restaurant, Dom Dino, which we had also eaten at, and that place was where we had our first taste of the best olive oil we had during the whole trip. In fact, we bought some of it at the truffle store, to bring back home. We were happy to find it for sale there. It's called "OL ISTRIA" We were offered three different kinds of it, each with a different-colored label, one was green, one was brown and one was purple. My son tended towards the purple one, and I liked the brown. You should have 2T of olive oil a day for good health, of which I've been very happy to do since arriving back home.. but I wish I bought more!

    Third note: We were so worried about all the WINE we had bought after our wine tasting event less than a week into our trip! We had no idea how or IF we'd even get it home! My son gave his away to people he deemed worthy of a fine bottle of wine. He gave a bottle to one of our drivers, to one of our boat guys, and to maybe another driver, rather than worrying about customs (he had a tight connection going home to California, and he didn't want to miss it because of the wine) We neglected to mention that our guide, "Matthew", the guide who brought us to Plitvice Lakes, helped us out by bringing us to a MALL in order to buy a hard-backed suitcase so that we could pack the wine we'd bought, and also, we were looking for some Tomislav beer to add to our worries, I mean cache. I don't know the name of the mall, but I am almost disappointed to say it sure was great! Modern, full of wonderful, intriguing stores, - and beautiful, tall women! Matthew, upon seeing a gorgeous long legged girl dressed in black leather (I saw her at the same time), looked to my son and said, "Another reason people love Croatia... the women are beautiful" and he is right. BUT... we did find a lovely suitcase to bring home, and my traveling partner and I spent a couple of hours on our last night, wrapping up bottles of white wine, red wine, dessert wine, beer, cherry liquore and olive oil in paper and bubble wrap (which is almost IMPOSSIBLE to find in Croatia!!! Ever since Hvar, I'd been searching for it, but there aren't any UPS stores or anything like them in the country. Due to my persistence, one of our guides made a phone call to his parent's and found out they had some old bubble wrap hanging around. We went to his parent's house, where he ran in and came out with several large sheets of it for me)- and then trying to fit everything into three suitcases. We didn't find the Tomaslov beer in the mall. We walked all over Zagreb out last night searching for it (Liquor stores are also a rarity in Croatia.. amazing, isn't it?), and finally found a department store that had it. I wanted a six pack to share with my family on Christmas.. which we did... delicious!
    We also bought (more!) wine when we got to the airport to go home. In the duty-free shop. Figured we'd checked all the wine we'd brought, might as well carry some on, right? I had some of the wine at Christmas that we bought at the duty free shop, though, and it was NOT the same as the grape we'd savored in the country. Same bottle of wine I believe, but a sharply different taste! I left the second bottle of it in the refrigerator of the people's house we rented over Christmas, hoping they'd enjoy it - it was not something I cared to bring home. Not sure why. It was decidedly sweeter than the wine we had before. It was a grasevina. Strange.
    When we checked our bags at the aiport, I noted the weights of each of ours. My son's was 27.0 KG. My Significant Other's was 21/1 KG. My bag was 18.7 KG and the extra suitcase we bought at the mall was 21.7 kg. The prosciutto we bought at the duty free shop was confiscated by customs, however. Meat is not allowed, unless there's a stamp on it, and there was no stamp on the package of prosciutto. They let the cheese, truffles and truffle relishes through, however, which was bought at the same time however. Those custom agents make out like bandits!

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