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Tripgirls Trip Report: Slovenia/Croatia/Paris: A Messy Start, The Case of the Missing Shoes and Lots of Calamari!

Tripgirls Trip Report: Slovenia/Croatia/Paris: A Messy Start, The Case of the Missing Shoes and Lots of Calamari!

Old Jul 25th, 2006, 07:53 PM
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you have that right LCBoniti, but I have to admit I will be spellimg something a whole lot worse if I have as much trouble as Tripgirl, LOL!
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 08:56 PM
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What a treat to finish reading your Amalfi Coast report, and then have this one of Slovenia and Croatia to look forward to. I am already hooked...these travel tales are SO much better than any novel ever could be! I can't wait to hear more. And I'm glad the iffy start is turning around, and we are to the part where you and DH are reunited.

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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 12:07 AM
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Thanks for your report thusfar! While we won't get to Slovenia this time around, we'll be in Croatia soon, too. Perhaps in your upcoming report, you can help shed some light on how much to budget for our lunch and dinnertime meals (typically we tend to spend $5-7 for lunch and $10-$20 for dinner; in your recent experience, would this work or should we budget less/more?). Can't wait to read more!
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 12:56 AM
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This report is really "inénarrable" as the French say.
The Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced ´Bouquet´) style I like.

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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 06:57 AM
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ok I'm back....

So its Sunday July 9th.

We are supposed to go to Lake Bled for the day but with all the delays as you now know, DH has first arrived just the night before and has not seen Ljubljana, so we cancel the Lake Bled trip in favor of staying in town. It's fine; we'll do it another time.

After a good breakfast; the hotel has a lavish buffet and its all of good quality, we set out for the 10 am walking tour that leaves from the Town Hall.

Now, as most of you know, DH and I usually use private guides when we visit places, as DH has always lots o questions and we get alot out of having our own guide. In essence we love the fact the the guide essentially "works" for us and so our time with guides usually prove very valuable.

But for Ljubljana, I decided that just a group walking tour would be fine. The guide was ok, but certainly not on par with any guide we've had over the many years of travel. Her schpeil( sp?) was basically canned, but she did interject some spontaneous banter.

The tour was about 2 hours and was comprised of showing us both the right and left banks of the city. She described the history, past and present and it was a good introduction. As I said the city is very small, so I think a walking tour is sufficient. Tickets for the tour can be bought at the information center of the right bank as soon as you cross over the Triple Bridge.

We had the rest of the day free to wander and explore. I took DH all over the city, exploring all the little streets and a few stalls were open at the market where we picked up a few gifts.

Lunch was great. Zlata Ribica, right on the river at Cankarjevo Nabrezje 5-7, was very good. We snagged a riverside table and dined on seafood salad and tagliatelle with seafood, an indication of the many many many seafood meals to come. It was all very good. DH enjoys a cold Union beer.

This is the night of the World Cup, so we eat dinner around 7;30 so we can catch some the game.

Dinner: Spazja, Gornji trg 28. A darling restaurant on a very cute street. We are led through the restaurant to an outdoor garden where there are several people dining already ( we usually like eating quite late, more like 9pm and onwards, but tonights game has us eating earlier.)

Tonights service is the friendliest and most humourous yet. We found the people in Ljubljana to be certainly nice, no rudeness whatsoever, but still a bit guarded. Our experience with them is what you might classify as cordial, but not overly warm. But tonight's waiter is warmer and friendlier.

The meal is great, I choose grilled shrimp and DH has a lovely veal ( the only meat he ever ate on the whole trip) and we shared a goose breast carpaccio appetizer. We opted for gelato later on. The wine is good but not as good as in Croatia.

For anyone who is does not travel often in Europe, please be aware that when you order shellfishes such as shrimp, lobster, etc , they will not usually come shelled. It is some work to extract the meat out of the shells, so be prepared. It is the way I enjoy eating, as the food is much more flavorful; but just a warning for those new to Europe to not be surprised when you see the entire shrimp placed before you.

We stop along the riverside to catch some of the game, as the outdoor bars all have the game on their wide screen TVs. It's very crowded so naturally all seats are taken. We stay for a awhile at the bar next door to Macek, the bar that is the see and be seen place. Macek did not have the game on, but two bars practically run into each other , so you could sit at Macek and watch it.

But after awhile DH wanted to be more comfortable, so we opted for getting back to our comfy room and finish watching the game there.

Yes, our time in Slovenia was way too short, but Ljubljana was so manageable, we felt good about our visit. We missed seeing alot of the country, but the main focus of our holiday was Croatia and we knew that going in, so it was fine. I know Lake Bled is just enchanting, so another time, another time....

Ljubljana Resources

Hotel Grand Union Executive: There are actually 3 different buildings under the Grand Union name. The executive is the most lavish of them all. Mikosiceva cesta 1. www.gh-union.si. We had the suite that from when you are looking at the building upon approach from the main square, it is the corner room with the flower pots and balcony( long but not wide enough for any furniture). Its the only room of its kind, so its easy to identify.


Ljubljanski Dvor, Dvorni Trg 1: For
pizza; There are about 50-60 different kinds. Great spot in front of the river.

Nobel Burek Stand: For burek. Yuo should try just once. Miklosiceva 30.

Zlata Ribica: Varied menu. Great spot along the river. Dine on the seafood. Cankarjevo Nabrezje 5

Spajza, Gornji trg 28. Lovely spot on a darling street. Eat outside in good weather.

Macek: Krojaska ulica 5. For great poeple watching and drinks

Since most of the store were closed, I did not shop barely at all, except for the few stalls open at the market. But do try to get to the market, as it really looked like it was a good one!

We did not visit any museums as the weather was so nice we wanted to be soley outside, but there are lots to choose from depending on your interests and take a walking tour if you are type that needs an overview of the city in an efficient way.

I would recommend Ljubljana highly as it really is a nice city , calm and collected with a certain aristocratic air without being in your face. The population appears to young and vibrant and it looks to be a city that is doing well.

I am certain the rest of the country is very beautiful as well

Monday July 10th

Departure to the train station for trip to Zagreb and start of Croatia. Getting to station is a snap and we're off,

Or so it seems........

I'll leave you all hanging there, while I do some actual work and then I'll be back later
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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Thanks for the nice work on Ljubjana. I'm hoping to go there over the next year. Did you think that 1 day was enough to see the city, or are 2 required ... it seems like there are a few appearling art museums that might necessitate 2 days. At any rate, it sounds like a great city. Can't wait for more of your report.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 07:24 AM
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Yes I think you could see the city in a day, but do stay for 2 nights at least so you don't feel rushed around too much.

Yes, there are art galleries, museums and so much more to the city. But like I mentioned we wanted to be outdoors.

I know some previous posters, stayed 1 night and made their way to the Bled area or skipped staying in Ljubljana and used it as a day trip from basign themselves in Bled.

I think it is a matter of what you like; we prefer cities so we chose to stay in a city.

In any event, it is a lovely city worth a visit.

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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 08:13 AM
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Excellent trip report! I am excited to hear about your adventures in Croatia. My grandfather was born and lived there until late in life, but died when my father was young, so I never really got to know him or about a piece of my culture.

Been a dream to go there, as I have many aunts and uncles and cousins still there.
Looking forward to the next installment.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 09:38 AM
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tripgirl, welcome home. can you please specify on your thoughts of hotel croatia - i remember you saying somehwere else that you were staying there while in hvar. i booked for sept. w/out realizing there is no AC!! hope it wasn't too much of a problem...
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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Travel bug,

you must go to Croatia, especially since you have ties there; you will love it; just go...

ok to continue...


Like I said it was easy to get to train station. We waited on the platform and it became past our departure time, when an announcement was made the train would be an hour late! Hey this is nothing right, after our delay fiasco, we can handle it.

In the meantime, DH starts talking to a nice young lady, commenting on the book she is reading. Then we both talk to her and she is just precious. Her name is Eliza and she is traveling to Split via Zagreb. She is from Australia, but is currently a student in medical studies in Lyon. She is on break from school and has set out to see alot of Europe until Sept when she returns to France. For part of her journeys she was with her Dad and sister, and now she is alone until after Croatia when she hits Italy with a friend.

She tells us now that the train is delayed she will miss her next train connection to Split and will have to wait 6 hours until the next one and then she will be in Split really late at night.

Since we we also going to Split by the car we are going to pick up in Zagreb , we offer her a ride. She is very gracious and wants to make sure it ok, we are glad to have her aboard as we love meeting new people.

So the train arrives and we get to Zagreb and get to National Rental car for a car I booked through Auto Europe, no problems.

We had originlly planneed to hang out i Zagreb just a bit before we left for Split, but with Eliza with us now and the idea now is to save her some time, we opt for just eating lunch and hit the road. A wise choice since we got to Split at a reasonable hour.

The A1 road is A++++++++++++++++++++++++++. WOW!

This new road, built last year proves to be a dream. We have driven all over Europe and this is best road we've been on. It's smooth as glass, no traffic ( but it's monday too)and so delightful to be on. The other drivers are good, no craziness.

With one stop and great conversations with Eliza about Australia, we pull into Split just fine, but have trouble locating our hotel, Hotel Park. After what seemed like asking hundreds of people, we found it.

HOTEL PARK: Tower, you were right, the place is classy and does indeed hark back to the feel of the 1920's.

The hotel is beautiful and has this fabulous terrace out front with palm trees set with twinkling white lights. The place has a great resort feel to it. Our room is small, but we are only here overnight as a midway point to Dubrovnik and to see the Palace the next day, so this is ok.

We take Eliza in with us to see if they had a room for her ( she made room reservations for many of her destinations, but some she left to fate as she did here). There were no rooms and they were too pricey for her anyway. We arrange for a taxi to take her to the center of the old town and there she finds what she needs.

We invite her to join us for drinks on our terrace and dinner which she accepts. She is so delightful, although I wondered why she'd want to hang out with "two old people"! She is quite sophisticated for 21 and on the proper side, so perhaps we were entertainment enough for her!

We have drinks and then saunter down to the beach front where there are alot of restaurants and we dine at a place called Bota.

The setting is divine overlooking the sea and we enjoy a fish platter appetizer with fish pate, mussels, clams, etc and then I enjoyed seafood risotto, DH has seafood with noodles and Eliza, not being a fan of seafood actually, enjoys a well prepared steak. We dawdle for a few hours discussing world politics, travel, her adventures and boyfriends, etc, etc.

We walk her back to the old town and it gives us a chance to see it for time there tomorrow. The walk is about 15-20 minutes from Bacvice beach. As we were returning from the old town, there were people still in the sea well after midnight!

We bid our farewells to Eliza and she makes sure we have her number to call when we come to Australia, a trip that is in the works for the near future.


After a good breakfast on the fantastic terrace, we meet our private guide I hired, Tanya to show us the Palace, a good move since DH likes history so much and she was very good.

We visited the whole Palace and received a good education on the days Diocletian, not the nicest of Roman Emperors ( who really was??!!)I do love however how the Old Town is incorporated into the walls, so its two treats in one actually. We spend about a good 2 hours with Tanya and then set out to eat before we dpeart for our drive to Dubrovnik.

On the Riva ( promenade), we have the first of "Lots of Calamari" at a place called Adriana. Fabulous, fabulous grilled and fried calamari, I am ruined now for it. Although we've eaten calamari all over the Med, I think here in Croatia it is the best?! Tough call, but its beats by a hair other countries Greece, France, Italy... anyway, its to die for and we are beyond satiated!

Time to pack up and move on to Dubrovnik.

I know some previous posters completely avoided Split, but I think it deserves an overnight. We felt our time was adequate there and even if we had one more night, that would have been great too. Don't be put off by the industrial sprawl you might encounter outside the old town. We found just visiting the old town and staying on Bacvice beach was good enough. Outside of that, I could indeed see why people might be turned off to Split.

Next up... Drive into Dubrovnik. The road is GOOD! Do not fear it!!!!

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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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I will certainly get to what happened at Hotel Croatia, but as a preview let's just say it was not a good choice ( for us) and we ended up in a little adventure that proved to be fabulous in the end.

I will say upfront, the Hotel Croatia may be a good budget choce, but for us, it was a truly not up to any of our standards. We do not travel budget, rather pretty upscale and luxurious and usually 5 star, but with so many issues in trying to book a place on Hvar, I was sucking it up knowing that it probably would not be what we wanted and it for sure wasn't. Honestly, if I knew what I know now about Hvar, it would have been different. But no one, even on this board really knows because as I will tell when I get to it, its all changing........

But I will leave our happy ending to when I get to the section on it, so I hope you can wait. We found all about the hotel situation in Hvar that is upcoming and if you like hip and upscale, Hvar is going to be a dream!!

Stay tuned!!! Our time in Hvar does prove to be all what we had wanted, there is a happy ending......
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 09:53 AM
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ahhhhhhhhhhhh...i hope you post soon. my husband and i definitely dont like/do budget either and only booked there, bc like you, getting anything else was so hard. wonder if there is enough time to cancel my reservations...
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 10:00 AM
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ok, so I won't keep you in too much suspense, so perhaps even today you can swtich your hotels.

I will go into the whole story of what the Hotel Croatia was like for us later, but briefly we ended up staying at the new hotel , Hotel Riva right on the harbourfront, an extremely hip hotel that we LOVED!!!!!!!!!!

Sept is off season, so the rates should be better, but rates started at 215E with the top price of 370E for July and Aug. It's worth it.

Do you want to e mail me, so I can give you the lowdown right now. I kind of want to keep the Trip Report flowing nicely, but I can see you are anxious and would certainly want to be of help to you.( [email protected])
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 10:12 AM
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One thing for sure about Croatia is it's changing faster than any European country. Big money is being poured into the infrastructure, with a special focus on anything tourist oriented. It needed to be done if American's will be attracted to visit. The old Yugoslav era hotels would not please most. Sobes are great for younger, more adventurous, experienced travelers. However, most people are going to expect a different standard. Witness the success of Dubrovnik's new Hilton; in my opinion, on the wrong side of the old City and while comfortable and well appointed, not nearly as special as the Argentina and Villa Dubrovnik.

Unfortunately all
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 10:14 AM
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woops, my fingers stuttered!

Unfortunately all this spells both good news and bad news for young Croatians. I have friends who can no longer afford homes of their own, as they've watched housing prices quadruple in just the last half dozen years. And the new road from Zagreb to the Coast has become a stop and go nightmare on summer weekends.

All in the name of progress.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 10:16 AM
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Tripgirl, since you like farmers markets so much, it is a shame you didn't get to visit Dolac, Zagreb's main market. It is large and very lively, and just off the main square.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 10:21 AM
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Hvar does have a new upscale hotel. Here's the link: http://www.slh.com/croatia/hvar/hotel_hvariv.html

It opened right about the time we arrived in Hvar, a few weeks ago.
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 10:29 AM
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tripgirl, I'm loving your report so far!

I'm so glad that you said that a day or two would be sufficient in Ljubljana. We plan on spending two nights there in November, but will only have about a day and a half before we head to Zagreb for our flight back to Dubrovnik. I know its not a long time, but DH and I really want to visit Slovenia so we are going to go for it.

So sorry to hear about your flight mishap! We just had one as well, although luckily it was well before our trip. We are flying BA ORD to LHR, and then Gatwick to DBV. Well, BA changed the flight time from Gatwick to DBV, which means that we would only have an hour and a half to connect from LHR to Gatwick in London. Craziness! So I called and we are leaving a day early, giving us a whole day and night in London (darn) before we leave for DBV. Hopefully this will avoid some of the problems that could arise. I'm no stranger to messed up flights though (like our one night in Brussels in March...oops!) so I know what its like!

We too are spending one night in Split. Could you give me the information of the private guide that you used? DH and I are major history buffs, and a private guide of the palace would be wonderful.

Can't wait for the rest!

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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 10:35 AM
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Fascinating report, tripgirl. Thanks for sharing -
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Old Jul 26th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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So glad to hear your wonderful Ljubljana report. Did you by any chance pass by the Emonec Hotel on Wolfova? We'll be there on Sept.12 & 13.What was the cost of the private transport from the airport & how long was the ride? Did you climb up to the castle &, if so, how was that? Above all, did you arrive in Slovenia with their currency purchased beforehand & same question for Croatia? Looking forward to the rest of your journal with great anticipation.Thanks!
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