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What I learned about Croatia & Slovenia

Old Oct 26th, 2006, 03:40 PM
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What I learned about Croatia & Slovenia

I stole this title from another poster writing about Spain, but its just what I'm looking for. I have read numerous posts about restaurants, hotel, apartments, etc.. and ofcourse the amazing beauty of the countries. I guess I would like some real practical advice. Syl and Olyman have given me some great leads on another thread, but with so many posters here who have been there, you must have all sorts of "insiders tips" on getting there, renting cars, when to visit certain places. You know, stuff that only people who have actually visited Croatia and Slovenia could know. Thanks in advance.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 05:56 AM
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 06:57 AM
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Hi zwho!

I was in Slovenia and Croatia the last half of September and felt it was a great time to visit. There was some rain, but for the most part, the weather cooperated...which is always nice when on vacation!

We left Bled (this was the only place we saw in Slovenia...it's picture postcard perfect!) via train and went to Zagreb where we rented a car and drove to Split to catch a catamaran to Hvar. The car rental (Avis) transaction was easy, the pick up and subsequent drop off (in Split) was no trouble. There was no problems with driving, on the main highways it was smooth sailing. On the smaller, curving roads at times a bit nerve-racking, but the views canceled the fear out!

The Dalmatian Coast is jaw-dropping gorgeous and I will say if you have the opportunity to go to Croatia do not pass it up!

I spent 4 very unhurried days in Hvar and just soaking up the Old Town atmosphere.

I opted to take the 7 hour ferry from Hvar to Dubrovnik and not sorry that I did that, I enjoyed it. Others on this board perfer to go back to Split and drive to Dubrovnik, it's just a personal preference.

I rented a studio apartment in Hvar and a Sobe (or Room) while in Dubrovnik. Both places were located in the Old Town of each city. Again, some people prefer not to stay in the Old Towns because it can be noisy, but I liked being in these locations because everything I wanted to see and do was easily accessible.

I did alot of research prior to my trip, especially on this message board! And the wealth of knowledge really paid off for me and my travel partner.

Dubrovnik was by far the "icing on the cake" of the trip and I'm glad we saved it as the final destination of the trip. Do not miss out on walking the walls...the views are stunning, I ended up doing it twice. I recommed doing the walls in the morning when it is cooler and fewer people. The second time I went in the afternoon and though not any less beatiful, certainly more people where there.

I spent 5 days in Dubrovnik the last week of September and what I liked the most about being there at that time, was that even though there were 2 days when cruise ships were in port, there was (at least) only 1 ship per day. I heard nightmare stories of between 12 and 15 cruise ships acsending upon Old Town per day in July and August. I thought it was bad enough with just the amount of people off of one ship! I can only imagine the hordes there in the summer months!

Arranging for the return home was a bit tricky. I ended up buying a cheap one way ticket to London and spending a night at the Gatwick Hilton before connecting to my final flight home. It wasn't too bad, once I figured out how it could be done.

Hope this helps you a bit.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 07:13 AM
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zwho, click on my name to find my trip report from March 2005. Look for the "Important Information" section. I think that is what you are looking for...

It isn't comprehensive, but it will be a start

Kevin
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 05:17 PM
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Thank you LowCountrySider and Alyssamma, and especially TXgalinGA for bringing up my post. We actually were in Dubrovnik last June for a day, as part of a cruise. We didn't (or ever will ) do the shore excursion, but whenever we would see a large group of cruisers in tour groups, it made us nervous too! Thats why I want to go back so badly. The beauty of Dubrovnik and the coastline of Croatia blew us away. I do have a question about Sobes. I know they are rooms in peoples homes, but are you suppose to be, like a member of the family? Or is it more like a small family owned inn? And most important, to me anyway, is, do you get your own bathroom? We like small non chain hotels when we travel, so this sounds great, but I will have to know more about them. I bought Fodors Croatia & Slovenia, but have yet to open it. Searching on here is just more fun. Thanks again!
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 05:40 PM
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Zwho, when we stayed there we were "part of the family"...but not pressured to be if that makes sense.

We had our own bedroom w/ensuite bathroom (although this varies from place to place).

One night, the woman of the house cooked dinner for us and served us homemade wine. The man we hired to take us around Croatia and into Montenegro.

They had children and we enjoyed using broken Croatian phrases on them. They seemed amazed we could speak at all

More details, if you are interested, in my trip report.

Kevin
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 06:33 PM
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zwho...

In Hvar the studio apartment I rented was on the top floor of a 3 floor home (had balcony with great view!), but the owner did not live in the house. All the rooms/apartments were rentals. We had our own bathroom and small kitchen area.

The Sobe in Dubrovnik, had 5 rooms. 3 doubles (€60 each night) and 2 singles (€30 each night). The doubles all had their own bathroom the 2 singles shared a bath. The owner did not live at the Sobe, but he did pick us up at the ferry port upon our arrival and took us to the airport for our departure.

If you want to check out the sobe I stayed at in Dubrovnik the website is http://villaragusa.netfirms.com the owner, Petar Carevic is great!

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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 08:16 PM
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zwho:

Check out my web page on our trip to croatia 3 years ago. Here's the URL:
http://www.travel.stv77.com/croatia/croatia.htm

More recently, we just got back from 2 weeks in Slovenia and Croatia and I'm working on the web page for that trip.

We enjoyed this last trip just like the first. We visited Bled, Postojna, Ljubljana (in Slovenia), and northern croatia from Istria to Zadar. We were impressed by the towns in istria as well as Plitvice, and we were very surprised by Zadar. We stayed there for 3 days and it's very central to many interesting places.

If you have any specific questions, I'll be glad to try to help. When do you plan on going?
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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 07:17 AM
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Wow, now I'm getting some great 411! Kevin, I looked at your trip report and found it to be a treasure trove of good information. I will be taking notes all winter. We aren't going until May. Here's the thing. We were going to Slovenia and Istria for a week before a 7 day cruise that starts in Venice. One of the stops on the cruise is Split. The other stops are 3 Greek Islands. My husband (who works very hard) really likes that idea. The more I read about Istria, Slovenia and upper Croatia, the more I want to chuck the cruise and make this a driving vacation. We know in a week, what we can see is very limited, but with 2 weeks we can move down the coast. SSSteve, how many hours drivig is Zadar from Plitvice Lakes? We were going to squeeze that in with the original week long itinerary. Now, I have read so many great things about Zadar, I want to go there also. And LowCountryIslander, did you rent from Avis or go thru a broker like AutoEurope? I absolutely plan on taking my time going thru all your trip reports and web sites and collecting any and all tips that sound like they will apply to our trip. You guys are great. Thanks.
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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 07:24 AM
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zwho...

I rented directly from Avis since they gave me the best rate, but I also did alot of searching prior to the trip. So I definitely recommend searching around. Mine was a unique situation because I only needed the rental for one day and Avis allowed that whereas AutoEurope had a 3 day minimum.

My other recommendation is DO NOT MISS going to Plitvice...I was there on a slightly rainy/cloudy day and it was still gorgeous!

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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 07:33 AM
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Zwho,

Isn't Fodor's great?

hehe...you seem to have a dilema that many would envy. Two weeks in Slovenia/Croatia or 1 week + a cruise! And not just any cruise, but one that starts in (arguably) the best city in the world and goes to Greek islands!

Let me make a few suggestions...

1) Driving in Croatia is difficult. This is for 3 reasons: a) many roads curve along the coast, b) drivers are a little agressive, and most importantly, c) it is so pretty you'll want to be looking out the window instead of driving!

Luckily, it is easy to navigate the country w/o driving. You could rent a car for the day to go to Plitvice. Otherwise, busses and ferries would be my recommendation.

2) Croatia is small but long. It sometimes takes longer to get from point A to point B than you would expect. Also, with ferry schedules, it might be difficult to combine the coast with something inland.

3) There is a *lot* of coastline and if you will see it all, it will take more than 2 weeks.

Ultimately we decided against going to Plitvice and Istria. We heard/read that Istria was a lot like Italy, so, since we had been there, decided to skip it. And as pretty as Plitvice is, we have seen pretty parks before.

What we had not seen, were islands like Hvar and Korcula. And never a city like Dubrovnik.

Regardless, whatever you end up doing you'll have fun!

Kevin

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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 08:57 AM
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zwho - thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed my pages.

As for Zadar->Plitvice, it's only about 1.5 hours driving from one to the other. Aslo Zadar is centrally located for several other parks as well.

About driving in Croatia (allysama), it is difficult, but only south of Split. From Zagreb, there is a brand new toll road which goes south to Istria and then turns southeast toward Zadar and then Split. It's so new, it doesn't appear on many maps. They are still working on portions of it, but it makes driving in northern croatia a breeze.

My page on this latest trip will take me another 2-3 weeks to complete and then you can check it out long before May.
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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 09:56 AM
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Sssteve, didn't know about the new road (obviously ).

That will make half of the country easy to get around in

Kevin
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