Hall Marny & Susan Kennedy, USA

Hi Mariana,

The Croatian trip was dazzling. Of course the country has an abundance of magical elements: gorgeous coast, superb cuisine, fascinating history and architecture. But Secret Dalmatia managed to translate all these delectable aspects of Croatian culture and landscape into immediate, palpable, first-hand experiences for us. Ironically enough, some of our pleasures sprang directly from Croatia's economic travails. Because of the shortage of jobs in non-tech fields, professionals (art historians, economists, linguists, etc. ), have no choice but to gravitate toward tourism. Luckily for us, Secret Dalmatia seems to have scooped up the most personable, savvy, and brilliant of these experts. As a result, our guides were a consistent delight. Usually fluent in several languages, they amused and amazed us. As we sauntered around exquisite old towns, they pointed out landmarks and architectural curiosities, told us fascinating tales about Neolithic settlements, Roman emperors, and Christian relics. Their stories were not limited to distant times. They also told us about their first hand experiences of the Croatian War of Independence. ( In the case of one guide, half Serbian and half Croatian, this story was extremely moving.) Our pleasures were not limited to historical/cultural explorations. Guides escorted us on wonderful hikes, took us to farmhouses where we met local families and sampled traditional cooking. (One guide even prepared a simple meal for us in middle of hinterlands' hike. It was superb--best food of entire trip.). Several other aspects of the trip planned by Secret Dalmatia. One was the pacing. Somehow, trip planners intuited when we might need a morning or afternoon to ourselves. We loved the time-outs as much as the we loved the guided tours. We got a chance to sleep in, sun bathe, to ramble, to ride bikes, to swim in the warm buoyant Aaahhh-driatic--a real treat!. Another contribution of Secret Dalmatia was the choice of hotels. They were well-located, comfortable, and unpretentious. Several had exquisite ocean views. Perhaps the most important contribution of Secret Dalmatia was Mariana's on-the-spot availability if we had any questions, requests, or concerns. she was always just a text or a call away. We felt so well cared for--as though Secret Dalmatia really had a stake in the quality of our vacation.

Next time: I have a Croatian wish list for the future. First on the list is a visit to the pirate town where the Cetina flows into the sea; the second is to sample more of Dom's cuisine; finally, one of our guides told us about a trip she had taken on a boat around the uninhabited Kornati islands. (The guide's fluency in Russian was required by a Kazakstan princess and her entourage). The Kornati experience sounded wonderful. Dare i --a American commoner--aspire to such a royal excursion? Knowing what Secret Dalmatia can provide, I dare....