Pope Family, USA

 

Thanks so much, Diana. First, we couldn’t have asked for a more amazing skipper than Borko; he really made all the difference and was instrumental in making our journey by sea from Split to Dubrovnik among our most memorable trips ever.

While the entire sailboat journey was fantastic, highlights definitely included our time in the bay at Polace (Mljet was perhaps our favorite island of all), and the best octopus dinner we’ve ever had at Roki’s, among the vineyards in the hills above Komiza.

We encountered only one rough night on the water (in Komiza) and one stormy morning (from Komiza to Hvar), but otherwise it was beautiful weather and smooth sailing. We also discovered a new favorite wine, Dingac. I wish more of it was exported to the US, but I’m sure we’ll find a bottle here and there.

Speaking of Hvar/Pakleni Islands, while it was very nice, I felt it was a bit overrated compared to other islands such as Vis, Mljet and Korcula, but perhaps that’s because of the rather obnoxious “yacht week” crowd (most of whom seemed to be American, embarrassingly enough) who seemed more intent on getting as drunk as possible than enjoying the wonderful natural beauty of Palmizana.

The hotels you selected for us were all very nice; Hotel Peristil in Split was a favorite, not only due to the very convenient location, but also the wonderful team working there – Vladimir in particular. We ended up feeling as though Split was our “home in Croatia,” and returning to Hotel Peristi before leaving was like a homecoming of sorts.

Hotel Lero in Dubrovnik was a nice change of pace; our girls loved the pool there and the walk to the old walled city was long but fine. We actually liked the vibe of Korcula (aka “Little Dubrovnik”) better than Dubrovnik, and for walled city experiences, both Korcula and Kotor were at least as interesting and enjoyable as Dubrovnik, where, on the second day, a deluge of tourists from big cruise ships made things far too crowded.

Parking for the hotel in Budva was a bit of a nightmare, but the helpful staff guided us to a rather dodgy spot near a construction site on a busy street; I was afraid the car might be sideswiped or otherwise damaged during our stay (given the difficulty of finding a parking place, we left it there for our entire time in Budva). Fortunately, the car was unscathed and all was well, though driving in Montenegro in general was a bit of a challenge; the GPS didn’t work very well there for some reason.

One area I think you could help provide greater insight and preparation for your clients would be advice on local currency and local driving conditions. Given that everything was quoted in euros, we were under the impression we could use euros in Croatia and converted all of our dollars (with associated commissions) into euros, but then found out we needed kunas for almost everything, so we lost out again on commissions from euros to kunas. Euros worked fine in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, of course.

I also would have benefited from a better understanding, before the trip, of how marina fees vs. buoy fees vs. just anchoring, etc., works and the approximate costs associated with each, etc. For example, just knowing that the national park entry fee also included anchorage in the bay at Polace, and what that fee is, per person, and that the fee needs to be paid in kuna, would have helped us plan ahead a bit better.

As for driving, we did not anticipate a nearly 3-hour border crossing into Montenegro; I’d assumed crossings between countries (especially former Yugoslavian countries) would be as hassle-free as crossings between most other European countries, but that’s definitely not the case. Every car, every passport was scrutinized at the borders. We even took a “back road” on the way out of Kotor to Mostar to try to minimize the issue. By the way, thanks for recommending Mostar – it was very interesting and different; the girls even found the best mall we’d seen anywhere (and did a bit of shopping at Pull & Bear).

And we do regret not being able to meet you or Alan during our time in Croatia, but if we ever return, hopefully we can. Likewise, if you’re ever in Southern California, you’re always welcome to visit us.

Best,

Stu