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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 28th, 2006, 09:53 AM
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tripgirl,

My bad. You had every right to be curt (you were not) - I totally missed the FF mention!

Looking forward to hearing more...

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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 10:01 AM
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I love this! Have you ever noticed how Croatia threads are always polite? Like Croatians!
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 10:04 AM
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Tripgirl-

I'm also enjoying your trip report. Even though we were just there in June, I can't wait to return. In the meantime, I will enjoy it vicariously through your wonderfully detailed report.

We liked the Grand Villa Argentina as much as you did! And we had lots of grilled calamari too. It's nothing like we would get here.

Look forward to more!
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 10:23 AM
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Tripgirl...

You have me salivating already after reading all the great restaurant descriptions and the "high marks" for Buza Bar. I've made notes and will definitely check out some of the restaurants you've mentioned here so far. And I am anticipating kicking back and relaxing at Buza Bar with a cocktail!

Can't wait to hear about your time in Hvar!
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 10:23 AM
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Saturday, July 15th: THE CASE OF THE MISSING SHOES( and a lazy day)

Saturday was selected a lazy day. We thought about going over to Lokrum, but an even 15 minute boat did not appeal and the lounge chairs called.

So most of the day was spent between sunning, gazing at the sea, some last minute shopping, etc.

Lunch: Kamenice ( which means oysters) on gunduliceva poljana 8.

Octopus Salad and yes, you guessed it... calamari. The setting is on the square, service is not friendly, but the food is good and its fun to watch the people parade.

That's 5 now!

THE CASE OF THE MISSING SHOES:

So, as we are getting ready for dinner, I want to wear my black sandals.

I look for them casually and when I can't find them, I speed up, then more frantically and then crawling on my hands and knees.

DH begins to help and together we crawl under the bed, pull out every draw, look behind all the curtains, look outside, no stone was unturned believe me!!

So, I call the front desk and ask them if when the day housekeeper came in did she perhaps move my shoes? They responded with the housekeeper would not move anything to an entirely different spot ( actually a true fact, as having grown up in the hotel business and worked in it as well, that pretty much is a cardinal rule).

But he said when the turndown housekeeper comes later, they will try and look for them.

We both could not possibly see how they could find them, as every square inch of that room was searched on hands and knees and every crevice and crack was looked into.

DH is sympathetic for the most part and says he'll buy me a new pair.

We go to dinner. I upset about my shoes...but both of us are just mostly confused and feel we've lost our minds.

Dinner: We decide to have dinner at Victoria restaurant, which is located in our hotel, actually in the Villa Orsula part and it is just lovely. a welcome respite from the hubub of the Old Town.

Dining is on an open air terrace, all romantic, sea view. Service is elegant and there are only about 10 tables so its very intimate.

We started off with a seafood salad and a fish soup, followed by melt in your mouth swordfish and another serving of....

CALAMARI!!!

Thats 6 now!!

We ended with a delightful chocolate mousse cake with orange sauce and DH has lots of Dingac wine( red).

So DH and I and my black sandal-less feet make their way back to the room

We get back and right in front of my side of the bed are the shoes!!!! We both know well and good that they were not there before.

Just as I am about to pick up the phone and ask how the shoes were found, DH says....

"Honey, wait. Your shoes reappeared and there really isn't any harm. Let's have more fun with this and instead let's leave this one a mystery. When you write your report on Fodors , why don't you ask your Fodor friends to give their version of an ending to the case of the missing shoes. You are always telling me how clever so many of them are, let's see how clever they can be"

And so there you have it,; we'll never know how they reappeared as we swear up and down they were not in the room prior to dinner. But as DH said, they came back and it is kind of more fun to leave some things as a mystery and make up fun stories about an ending.

So feel free to have fun, and think of your own ending.....

I'll end my Dubrovnik portion of the trip later on and my impressions of this part of Croatia.
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 10:47 AM
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Hi Tripgirl,
Really enjoying your report, we've been to Dubrovnik (briefly) and loved it, would like to do a more in depth trip in the future and your report is helping!

Ah, the missing shoes, perhaps they went for a walk and got lost for awhile? I know, pretty lame.

How are the plans for AR coming along? We've decided to go back next winter, a third trip, before we hit Europe again in 2008.
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 10:53 AM
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owlwoman,

so nice to see you on this board!

plans for south america are coming along, except we are not at our usual 18 in our gang for this trip so far. A few in our gang decided to go to other locales, so we'll work on it!

Having a little tough time with this one.

but still hoping to go....

Yes, perhaps my shoes did take a walk on their own.... anything would explain it perhaps......

good to hear from you!!
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 11:45 AM
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TripGirl:

As I've said before, I'm an old time traveler of Yugoslavia going back to the 70's..and I should have warned you before you started out.

There is a legend in the southern parts of Croatia that goes back to 15th century, when fiercely independent Italianate Dubrovnik was called "Ragusa"...and among other quirks, all foreigners were restricted to wearing brown boots and other varieties of footwear, as well as all outer clothing.

Seems that black clothing or shoes were considered an insult to the sovereignty of Ragusa.

It had become the solemn duty of all citizens to report any deviation from these rules, even up to the point of forecfully disrobing the "perp" and hiding insulting articles of clothing.

In later years, prior to WW II, the disrobing was discontinued and just the pilfering aspect went on.

In short, your black sandals are a flagrant reminder of this ancient custom, and no doubt someone on the Argentina staff still respects the old edicts.

Thankfully, he/she tempered this with a respect for paying guests and returned the shoes, hoping tht you will never again show such disrespect for custom!

Happy travels...your report is such fun to read.

Stu T.

Stu T
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 12:07 PM
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Stu,

you had me rolling in my chair!!! WOW! no wonder you are such a great writer.

DH comes home from CA tonight( yes, he left immediately for the West Coast a day after we returned from Croatia, he always seems to do this) and can't wait to share this with him.

BRAVO on an excellent and oh so funny ending to my mystery!!!

Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 01:04 PM
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Tripgirl - would you recommend a special trip to Victoria to someone not staying at your hotel?
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 01:10 PM
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HC,

i am not sure what your post means......
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 01:41 PM
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I think Cheesehead is asking would you recommend the restaurant Victoria to someone not staying at the Argentina.
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 03:16 PM
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Yes indeed - that is what I meant - I am sorry I did not express my self very well. I am saving restaurant rec's for Dubrovnik at this point, and wonder if you thought the restaurant Victoria was a nice enough place to make a trip out to the Argentina just to eat there?
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 05:10 PM
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Tripgirl,
Great tri report, love it! We’ll be in Croatia in Sept, following some of the same routes you took. How long was the drive from Split to Dubrovnik? Please specify if the time includes the stops (lunch, pictures, stretching, etc).

We are still debating the best way of getting from Hvar to Dubrovnik: either ferry back to Split then drive to Dubrovnik, or ferry to Korkula and drive from Orebic through the Peljesac peninsula…The way you describe the drive from Split sounds great!

Looking forward for more (and our share of Croatian calamari, of course)
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Old Jul 28th, 2006, 06:29 PM
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This is to let all of you know that to find the rest of tripgirl's report, you'll need to look for her new screen name -- Kalamari Kid.
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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 06:05 AM
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HC;

Yes, I think Victoria is worth it; it is nice change from the Old Town. It is more formal service ( but still relaxed) and so if that is what you may be up for, I'd say go.

where are you staying?

xyz99

We left Split at 1:30pm and pulled into Dubrovnik by about 5:30pm with one stop for DH to rest his eyes. I'm glad we drove as it gaves us a good chance to "put toether" the country. Of course you can do it all wihtout driving, but if you like to drive, I think you'll enjoy the road.

MB: yes that is true and I have not eaten any calamari since I am back and doubt I will for a long time!!!

JULY 16TH: DEPARTURE FROM DUBROVNIK AND ON TO HVAR!

Impressions of Dubrovnik: I think Dubrovnik is one of those must see stops in Croatia. But how long you stay is a matter of personal preference. We chose 5 nights so as to not rush ourselves and feel like we were moving around too much ( 2 extra nights in airport hotels did not help!)

There is alot to do in Dubrovnik, but we found we lazed around alot and enjoyed not planning a zillion things everyday.

And of course having such a wonderful hotel added immensely to our experience.

While Dubrovnik is a busy little place and I appreciated the lack of in your face commericalism; the lack of a zillion Starbucks, McD's and such was a welcome relief.

While summer is certainly crowded, it was not unbearable and I can only imagine how delightful it may be in May, June and Sept.

Onwards to Hvar!

We left on the 10am Marko Polo ferry. A poter helped us wiht the luggage and since we were one of the firs tonthe boat, he escorted us to a really nice salon area and where we had a comfortable corner couch area with tables. We decided not to sit outside the whole time and i am glad we did not as the outside decks were wall to wall people and did not look too comfortable. We did take air out onthe deck and it was fun to see the scenery,but I am glad we chose to actually sit inside.

We sat next to a delightful young couple from Sweden who we spent the whole time talking to . We learned alot about Sweden and it was fun to exchange ideas.

The journey was about 6 hours, but it went fast. And eating lunch helped.

guess what we had.

Yup... that's seven calamari now if you're counting and a seafood salad. It was all quite good, a surprise for what you would perceive for ship food.

We stopped at Korcula, but no chance to disembark. It looked like a lovely place and perhaps next time.

We pulled into Hvar ( Stari Grad) about 4;45pm and the masses gathered on the car deck. Once the plank was lowered, en mass everyone runs out.

We bid farewell to our new Swedish friends and our driver is spotted ot the Hotel Croatia.

The drive over from Stari Grad to Hvar Town kind of reminds me of the drive from Fira to Oia on Santorini. Because we have set out to spend most of our time in Hvar Town, we are glad to see some of the island which looks quite rural to us. If we were staying in Hvar longer,w e would have ventured out, but we were so content with just Hvar Town, we are glad at least for this drive over.

Ok, the story of our time at the hotel Croatia is about to be told. When you read this , please just bear in mind this was our experience. I know alot of travelers would not have not done what we eventually did.

Without saying this ad nauseum ( although I am afraid I have already), you all know that hotels are important to us. I "collect" hotels like so many collect stamps or coins. A hotel for us should be very much a part of the whole experience. I know alot of travelers separate their lodging from their actualy trip, a room is a room and what difference does it make, but not so with us. It's a total package.

Given that we chose to plug into the hip and chic vibe we felt in Hvar Town, and so it was all downhill with the Hotel Croatia for us.

As you know choosing a hotel in Hvar is a challenge. The Hotel Adriatic, my original first choice is closed for renovation. The rest of the bunch under the suncanihvar hotel group did not appeal as I heard the Palace was a dump, the Amphora was ok, etc etc.( all at the present moment this is what these hotels are like, althought the Amphora is about half re-done) I briefly looked at apts which were either way too far from the center or they wanted a full week.

So I think it was Syl, who found the Hotel Croatia on this board

( Syl, I am not at all "blaming" you for our eventual experience, in fact you were indeed so very kind to be proactive in finding lodging in what so many of us had a hard time doing for Hvar.)

The website is indeed nice. But there is nary a mention of it anywhere and I was suspect, but I do trust Fodors on alot of things and my options were running out, so I booked with Hotel Croatia.

So here goes...

The grounds are nice, But it added nothing to our stay and it did not make our stay there any more special.
They are just nice, not in anyway really special.

The hotel entrance is your basic 2 star looking kind of hotel. There is a terrace where people take their breakfast and its nice, but not in anyway spectactular.

There is no elevator, but we did get assistance with our luggage.

The room what is the real dissapointment and so this was the deal breaker for us. The carpet, if you call it that, is completely flat with no texture and feels like sandpaper. It's all pieced together.

The bed is really low to the floor. and made me uncomfortable. The room is small and kind of depressing. The walls are almost bare. The TV works fine. The bathroom was the worst part. The shower was completely dysfunctional.
Even my engineer DH, tried to adjust it, but water just sprayed relentlessly in every direction. I've been in enough European batherooms to knwo that plumbing is not always optimimum, but this was just ridiculous. Water did not just spill over, but sprayed in every direction.

And the tub which you stand in to take your shower is so narrow and uncomfortable. As slim as we are, there is no way you cold ever get your body down into the tub; I've never seen a tub so narrow.

The worst were the towels.You could have stood up the towels on end and they would have stood up; they were so hard, like sandpaper, it was so uncomfortable, yucky!

The room has no AC just a fan and it was hot. I know alot of inexpensive hotels can turn out to really charming and excellent values. I know because Dh and I have stayed in charming and inexpensive really charming places throughout France, where everything works fine, and the places are really charming.

But the Hotel Croatia really was charmless to us and had no great appeal.

The room terrace is small and there is a view of the sea, but not a completely breathtaking one. The staff are nice enough, but not particularly friendly. We had no problems with the staff or encountered any rudeness, they were just kind of there.

The breakfast was the worse. There are very few choices and what was there was of poor quality. Another poster warned me of this when they stayed there ( I think that was apricllacs or issy, I can't remember). It was so awful I ended up just eating two pieces of bread.

So this hotel is not jiving at all with what Hvar is offering to us and our perception of what we wanted out of Hvar..

We are avid exercisers, so the walk is not a bother, but the harbourfront can't be beat and its really where you want to stay unless you are really into quiet day and night. The walk from the Hotel Croatia to the center is about 15 minutes. At night though, the walkways are not lit, so a little scary, but not unsafe.

So, we out to dinner on the second night and we meet these two women from Norway who are meeting planners, planning a meeting for a group for the fall. We got to talking with them and they tell us about their hotel, The Hotel Riva, right on the waterfront. They show us pictures on their digital and I am dying!!!!

They go on further to explain, that yes, they could see why it was difficult to find what we are accustomed to , because all 8-9 hotels in this hotel group that the Amphora, Palace, etc, belong to are all going to be renovated in hip, modern and luxurious ways, but will not be ready until starting with the Adriatic in Dec.

However, the Riva is finished and is ready. It was only opened for 3 weeks when we arrived , so of course naturally none of us knew about it. The Hotel Croatia is not part of this hotel group.

So after we had dinner we practically run over to the Riva, located right on the harbourfront, next to the Carpe Diem club. It's smack in the center of the harbour in front of all the yachts and we passed it many times on the previous days but did not realize it was a hotel.

Anyway, in we go and this extraordinarily nice front desk staff member, Christina, is glad to show us some of the rooms. The place is too cool and hip and we are excited. The rooms are decorated in red tones and the headboards of some of the beds are photos of movie stars heads all silk screened on to the headboard. The room we ended up in had Audrey Hepburn.

The bathrooms are all ultra modern with great showers and sinks. We ended up booking a Jr Suite, but did see both standard city and sea view rooms and they were great too. Our eventual room had a living room and bedroom with a sea view out the window. We leave the Hotel Croatia at 7am on Tuesday July 18th. A cart goes from the Hotel Riva to the Hotel Croatia and retrieves our luggage for us and we check in and enjoy our delicious terrace yacht view breakfast.

We have airconditioning!!!!
and 2 flat screen TV's

The breakfast spread is fabulous with all the things I love! All kinds of cereals, breads, seafood, tons of fruit and fruit juices, cooked to order eggs anyway you like and all of excellent quality.

Now, most I know some of you are thinking its crazy to move for the last night of the trip into a hotel that cost us more money for just one night.

Honestly, we could not wait to get out of the Hotel Croatia; we just did not feel good about staying there. Some people will argue why spend on the money on a hotel when you are out all day. But Hvar for us was about staying close to the hotel. We sunned ourselves in front of the Amphora because they had great lounge chairs there,( its just around the bend from the harbour, not too far) but then enjoyed our cool and hip room and enjoyed the passing parade on the hotels terrace out front. Hvar to us was the kind of place that warranted the whole chic thing( again, at least for us).

When we visited Dubrovnik,Split and Trogir and those places, no, I would say rustic and charming fit in perfectly.

But for Hvar our experience was that Hvar Town was going to explode with a chic hipness. The meeting planneers we met did a tour of the whole island and we saw them later and they told us that the rest of the island, Jelsa, Stari Grad is not like this at all and I know others prefer a more rural feel.

The Amphora is also half done and the rooms are supposed to be lovely. But the hotel is huge and the Riva is intimate. The Palace will convert to 30 luxurious apts and the Adriatic will one the finest lodgings in the Adriatic with a full service spa. The artists drawings of the renovations we got from the new brochures, looked great. All the other hotels will come up to standard, some will retain a family oriented style and some will be less expensive.

Currently some of them still look like they were designed from the one architect from the Communist Days!

So there you have it.
Judge me if you will, but our experience in Hvar was much better for us once we changed hotels.

I'll be back later to describe Hvar and all of our activities there......

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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 08:20 AM
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So let me goes a little backwards now , and start out on Sunday July 16th again, after arrival in Hvar.

Checking in and trying to content ourselves with the Hotel Croatia, ( not knowing any better at thispoint), we make our way into the harbourfront, about a 15 minute walk. Lots of people are in the sea and its about 6pm. Lots and lots of action.

We get to the close to the harbour and immediately enjoy all the little boats bobbing up and down , the squeels of children laughing and splashing around and cool music emanating at the various bars along the walk.

We round the corner and there is the harbourfront with yachts galore and the action in front of the Palace has us excited. We walk around a bit trying to figure out where all the restaurants are as at this point all we see are the cafes.

We stop at a travel agency who explains where all the restaurants. You go up behind the main sqaure and on about two levels are the restaurants, alot of you have posted about.

We make our way to the Golden Shell and reserve a table the evening at 8:30pm.

Rather than return to the hotel and go out again, we just stay at the harbour, sitting at one of the cafes and soak in all the flavor.

We were somewhat surprised that the Golden Shell never did fill up, there were about 4 tables only occupied the entire night. A shame really, because the food is excellent.

We both chose fish ( surprise, no calamari) , mine in a pesto sauce and DH's in a lemon sauce. Both a truly scrumtious. DH has a tiramisu and the waiter said he could not bear me not ordering anything for dessert, he brings over a complimentary fruit bowl.. how nice!

We are also given two shots of pear brandy, which DH has both; it was way too strong for me( the only pure alcohols I seem to like are limoncello and raki)

A delightful evening at Golden Shell, I highly recommend it. We sat in the garden and it really is comfy cosy.

We basically hung out in the harbour area, but we were a bit tired ( and Dh is tipsy at this point too) so we go back.

I have to tell you the walk back was a bit scary, as the lights on the pathway were not great and at some points were completely dark.

If anyone is lodging out near the Hotel Croatia, know that there are better lit walking paths as we discovered later on. But if you choose to walk right next to the sea, the road is dark.

The room is hot, the fan does it's best...
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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 11:42 AM
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I'm not surprised you didn't like the Hotel Croatia since, as you say, you are looking for hotels that are special and luxurious.

In my trip report in early June I tried to convey the basic nature of the hotel--that it was "a good value but not luxurious in any way." (And I warned you about the towels and the breakfast!) As you note, it has all the necessary elements (extensive grounds, seaview balcony, dining terrace, etc.) but they are simple and straightforward, offered at a very reasonable price. You were looking for a 4-5-star hotel, and the Croatia is more the 2-3-star variety. We liked it, but I understand why you didn't.

The Riva was still under reconstruction while I was in Hvar, but even so I picked it out as the place that I would want to stay next time, if we could afford it. Sounds like you had a great experience! Would you care to share with us the price of the rooms?

I think your experience at the Croatia is a good reminder that no matter how much one reads about places in advance, and how many opinions one gathers, there's nothing like going there yourself, and experiencing things for yourself. The joy of travel!
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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 04:46 PM
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I love Ivo's pear brandy at the Golden Shell. I haven't had a bad meal yet at the Golden Shell. The frenetic mood at Macondo is fine once in awhile but the quiet easy going vibe at the Golden Shell keeps bringing me back .

"..the carpet, if you call it that, is completely flat with no texture and feels like sandpaper..." Brings back memories at the Palace Hotel five years ago. I'm somewhat conflicted about hearing how quickly Hvar Town is changing.
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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 05:25 PM
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aprillilacs,

And thank god you did stay at the Hotel croatia, as I was prepared from your trip report ( but sucking it up) . I knew I would not care for it and so there you go.

But am ever grateful to you for going there first, I would have been even more dissapointed had I not had some inkling that it was not going to fit for us.

Again, many thanks!

C_P: Yes, I think alot of people are conflicted by the changes. As someone who has first visited Hvar without any prior experiences, I of course welcome the changes, as for Hvar they seem to fit my experience of it.

I love/loathe change depending onthe location and I know for those who have visited Croatia in the past might be shocked how fast it is changing.

Still, I found it a very special place and unlike alot of places I have visited in Europe and that was special.

I wanted to also thank you for everything; your posts really helped alot. You are very knowledgeable about Croatia and it is evident your passion for the country shines through.

Many thanks!!!

I'll be back tomorrow with more about Hvar and thenonto Trogir and finish with Paris.

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