two week trip report of Croatia


May 16th, 2011, 10:09 AM
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two week trip report of Croatia

We loved Croatia and did side trips Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Montenegero. The people were extremely friends, which I am completely unsure why some people I've read that Croatians aren't the friendliest people.

Day 1 (zagreb/Samobor)
We landed in Zagreb airport and had a rental car we booked through economy car rental. R&M was the rental car company. We rented the vehicle for 5 days for 135 euros in total. We originally selected the dropoff location as the Split airport, but the company did not have an office in Split. So R&M gave me a phone number to call when we were ready to drop off the vehicle and somebody would come to any location, which we thought was really convienet.

We used our android phone's navigation software to take us to Samobor, which we stayed at the Hotel Lavica for one night. The hotel was nice for one night, which included a decent breakfast the next day (scrambled eggs, fresh bread, ham and cheeses for sandwiches). We had really bad jetlag, so as soon as we got to the hotel we took a nap during the middle of the day.

Across the street was a tabacoo stand that we were told we could buy a sim card for our smart phone. We purchased a sim card for 100 kunas that gave us 50 kunas worth of minutes/texting and data. All the instructions were in Croatian, but the lady at the tabacoo store helped us set everything up. I can't imagine not having a phone in Croatia, because all the sobe's want you to call them in advance, because a lot of them don't live on the property, so without a phone I would image things would be difficult.

The weather was a little cold for us when we landed. Samobor was a really cute town, which had the least expensive place we stayed on our entire trip and the food and drinks were also cheaper than any other place we went to while in Croatia. With the cold weather, not many people were out on the streets.

Day 2 (Rovinj)
We drove to Rovinj first thing in the morning after eating breakfast. What took us by suprise was the price of the tolls to get there. I didn't expect to pay about 15 euros just to go to Rovinj and another 10 to go to Plitvice.

We stayed at Sorriso apartment, which was recommend on the board and we were extremely impressed. The apartment & location couldn't have been better, especially for the price. It was 60 euros per night and included parking. This was actually one of the nicest places we stayed while in Croatia. The owner, Luiz, was also very friendly and helpful.

Rovinj was extremely enjoyable and you can see everything in the town in just one day, since it's such as small place. The city of Rovinj itself was actually one of our favorite places in Croatia too. It was one of the least touristy areas we went to while in Croatia, so it was really nice to have mostly locals on the streets. The best food we ate was in Rovinj and it wasn't as expensive as other areas.

Day 3 (Porec/Motovun)
We were considering visiting Piran, Slovenia or even Trieste, Italy during our third day in Croatia. Instead, we ended up visiting Porec and Motovun for the day. Porec has won awards for how clean of a city it is and it is a beatiful city, but we were a little shocked how many tourists were there in April.

After visiting Porec we drove to Motovun, which we heard was beatiful. To be completely honest, we were expecting more and were a little disapointed with Motovun.

Day 4 (Pula/Plitvice)
We left Rovinj early in the morning and went to Pula mostly to see the Arena, which was really impressive. After spending most of the day in Pula, we jumped into our rental car and drove to Plitvice using our GPS application. This was the biggest mistake we made during our trip.

Following the GPS to Plitvice took us down a dirt road that for an hour to an hour and a half we did not see a single car. It was a dirt road with a lot of pot holes and after going so far it was impossible to turn around, so we had no choice but to continue.
After driving down the road for 20 or 30 minutes and not seeing a single car or person we started to see signs of skulls and signs that indicated that it was dangerous because of the landmines. We were not completely sure if the signs indicated to not continue on the dirt road or if the signs meant do not go off the road. It was getting dark and driving through this road for an hour I kept making sure I saw tire tracks on the road, so I knew others have been through here at least recently. We must have seen at least 20 signs of warnings and we were a little afraid that if we got a flat tire we wouldn't even be able to tell somebody where we were. After about an hour and a half of not seeing a single car or person we finally made it to civilization.

When we got to our B&B and told the host, she said that this happens all the time for people who follow their GPS. We stayed at the Krizmanic Family B&B in Plitvice for 60 euros a night, which included breakfast. The B&B is off of Rastovaca road, which is really nice, because it's walking distance to the park, so you don't have to pay for parking at Plitvice National Park itself. I believe any place on Rastovaca road is nice though as we walked into the wrong guesthouse and it was really nice as well. Every place there at least from the outside looked nice. We were happy where we stayed, but I think everything on Rastovaca seemed pretty similar.

We loved Plitvice and spent most of the day there.

Day 5 (Split)
We drove from Plitive to Split in the rental car and our first impressions of Split was really bad. It was a gloomy day and as we drove through the city we saw more graffitti than I can remember ever seeing. We stayed at Guesthouse Vrlic for 55 euros a night for 4 nights, which is just outside of the diocletian palace and it included parking. So we parked our car, checked into the guesthouse and called the rental car company who came to pick up the rental car right outside our guesthouse's door.

The honest truth is our first impressions of Split were pretty bad. We were just 2 minutes walking distance to diocletian's palace and we didn't go by a single wall that wasn't covered in graffitti and most of the people we walked by looked drunk. When we got to the riva, the smell of the sulfur was pretty bad and there were a lot of drunks at the end of the riva.

Day 6(Split)
Our second day in Split was better as we enjoyed the diocletian's palace a lot as well as the view from bell tower. The riva is a lot nicer when the sun is out, but the smell was something that was hard to get used to. We did walk over to the closest beach and really enjoyed that area as well.

Day 7 (Hvar)
We took a ferry to Hvar for the day and were really impressed with how beatiful the island is. The water was the clearest we've ever seen and everything was really nice and relaxing. There wasn't a whole lot of things to do or see, so it was a relaxing day. The water was a little bit cold, so we barely got in the water. Prices of food and drinks were so far the most expensive we saw anywhere.

Day 8 (Trogir/Salona)
Trogir was a really beatiful city that we spent a few hours just seeing the sites and walking around. After half of a day we took a bus to Solin to see Salona and I really enjoyed it. My wife wasn't very impressed with it, but I really enjoyed going to such a historical place

Day 9 (Mostar- Bosnia and Herzegovina)
We took the bus early in the morning to Mostar and we were dropped at the Croat bus stop that just looked like a dump. It was literally a torn down building. We asked a few people for directions to our hotel and nobody seemed to speak English. So we called our hotel and they told us we were only 15 minutes away by foot, so we started to walk and ask for directions and follow signs.

We got to our hotel, which was Hotel-Resturant Kriva Cuprija at 55 euros a night and included breakfast. We were extremely disapointed with the hotel at their business practice. We read over a dozen reviews on avoiding eating at the hotel as they will charge an unbelievable rate to eat there. As soon as you arrive they will tell you that they give guests 10% off for eating there and still we never saw anyone eating there. After reading all the reports about the hotel being decent, but the restaurant a rip off, we thought we would be alright staying there.

The hotel was probably twice the price of other places we were looking at but what was really upsetting was the following; They did not accept credit cards and so we confirmed they would allow us to pay in Croatian Kunas. We asked when we made the reservation and confirmed again the day before we arrived. When we went to checkout they tried to overcharge us because they had 'their own' exchange rate. Their explanation was that since apparently the bank would charge them a fee to exchange the Kunas to KMarks they needed to charge us for the difference! A difference that turned out to approximately an extra 25 euros! Something they maybe should've told us when we made our reservation, or when we asked before we arrived, or maybe even when we checked-in! Thankfully we found an exchange office open early in the morning and so we ended up paying in their currency (KM).

Mostar was really nice to see something different. We read reports that people who have been to Turkey don't enjoy mostar as it can't even come close to anything in Turkey, but for us it was something new. After seeing so many cities in Croatia that appeared the same it was a nice change. There isn't much site seeing, so if I had to do it over again, I might not stay the night. Maybe just go as a day trip from Dubrovnik. We are glad we went there, but we didn't feel there was much to see or do.

Day 10 - 13 (Dubronvik)
We took a bus from Mostar to Dubrovnik, which left us at the main bus station. We called the owner of our guesthouse and told him we were on our way and he ended up picking us up and giving us a ride to the guesthouse. This guesthouse was in a perfect location, right in the center of old town a few steps away from the stradun (55 steps exactly, my wife counted). I can't think of a better location to stay in or a better place while we were there. We loved the guesthouse location, price and we liked Dubronvik. We stayed at the V&P Club Villa Ragusa for 50 euros a night. The guesthouse owner was so nice that he even gave us both a drink of his mother's grappa that she makes when we first arrived.

Dubronvik was a great place to end our honeymoon. Dubronvik and Rovinj were both our favorite places that we stayed. Dubronvik was one of the cleanest, safest and most romantic places we stayed. The only complain we could have was the amount of turists that were there, and we were there in April during the "off season." The most enjoyable time was really early in the morning and late at night when there were less tourists (this was because most of the tourists come in from cruise ships which arrive and leave in the middle of the day). I can't imagine being in Dubronvik during the summer. April was already crowded enough during the day when the cruise ships drop everybody off.

Day 14 (Kotor/Budva - Montenegro)
We called around a few places and ended up getting a tour into montenegro for about 35 euros a person. I personally thought the scenary of Montenegro's mountains and the way the water reflects like a mirror was gorgeous. I really enjoyed being in Kotor and Budva with hardly any tourists around with a high percentage of the people walking around where the locals. Montenegro had more sand beaches that were really nice and I wish I could have stayed here longer than a day.

Croatia is one of the most beatiful countries we've seen, the only complaint I would have is the food selection. The seafood is nothing compared to places in the Caribean, South America, USA and places I've been in Japan. I honestly think the seafood in Croatia lacks quality, quantanty and it's expensive compared to anything else. Their pizzas were amazing, but there is only so much pizza and pasta you can eat in two weeks. Their wine I think is under rated
jbotraveler is offline  
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May 17th, 2011, 03:06 AM
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Great trip report and congratulations on your marriage!
Elizabeth_S is offline  
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May 17th, 2011, 04:01 AM
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Glad you had such a great honeymoon trip. We are hoping to get to Istria this fall (or if not then, some other time) so are interested in your experiences there.
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May 17th, 2011, 04:20 AM
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Your honest impressions about the places you visited are refreshing. Wonderful trip report! We are going back to Croatia again, exploring the northern part this time, so I appreciate your input on Rovinj.
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May 20th, 2011, 11:38 AM
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Great post -- just the kind of information I was looking for! I appreciate such a detailed report very much. Just wondering: how "planned" was this trip -- did you have hotel/pension reservations or was it more unplanned? We're going in July and I don't know how concerned I should be about reserving rooms, especially in places like Dubrovnik. Thanks again!
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May 20th, 2011, 04:01 PM
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Thanks for your report. We are planning for next year and are now leaning towards staying in Trogir instead of Split, as I got the same impression as you. Also very helpful to read of good accommodation in Plitvice Lakes. Congratulations to you both.
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May 23rd, 2011, 06:26 AM
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We just returned from two week stay in Dubrovnik, Split, and Rovinj. Happy to send you my more detailed trip report if you are interested. Just e-mail me at [email protected] and I will forward same.

Rusty McKay
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May 24th, 2011, 07:22 AM
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@ AtHomeintheWorld
We planned everything in advance via emails, since there's records and there's no language barrier or misunderstandings. We planned probably 4 months in advance and one of the places we were going to originally stay in Split was already booked up. The guesthouse in Durbronvik (V&P Club Villa Ragusa) didn't have the top room we tried to book 3 months in advance. Of course this guesthouse is all over tripreport as well as a few guide books, which I can see why. It was one of the nicest places we stayed at.

Many people just show up and get sobes from airports, bus stations or walking aroud. At the bus station in Dubronvik, I saw a guy trying to get a person into a sobe, which they showed really nice pictures and the couple that were looking accepted the place.

When I was at split I ran into an Australian couple who didn't book anything at all and it seemed like they wasted a lot of time calling people and trying to find a place. I'm sure it works perfectly for some people and I would imagine you'll get a better deal. An empty room should always go for less I would imagine.
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