We all had a wonderful time visiting Croatia and cannot wait to share our experience with all of our friends.
I myself am a very organized person. I am the one who usually does all the planning, scheduling, arranging, reserving, confirming, researching...for everyone's vacations. When we decided to go to Croatia, I had so little knowledge and I thought the language might be a barrier. As well, from my research, it seemed no easy task to cover all the places we wanted to visit because trains are not a good option, planes direct from the U.S. are not available, and I didn't want to drive in an unfamiliar land with unfamiliar language. And I really didn't know where to begin, what to see, how much time to spend. So when I say, you did a better job planning and arranging this trip for us than I could have done myself, this is meant as a big compliment! You took care of every detail and anticipated every need!
We were extremely impressed with all of your drivers. They were friendly but professional. All were very responsible and safe drivers who made sure we were comfortable, with water, airconditioning, conversation, and every one of them was prompt. No need to call to confirm the night before. And no one (meaning me) got motion sick even on the very winding roads!
We also enjoyed each local guide. Each was very loyal to their home cities, and explained the complex history of your country well. Their English was great and their suggestions as to where to eat were really reliable.
Ida took us through the old part of Zagreb and, along the way, recommended Vinodol, and we enjoyed it for dinner. She also urged us to visit the green market, which we did, and the strawberries were delicious.
Davorin, our driver to Split, took us to a small place for lunch after Plitvice Lakes, which was amazing! Great roast pig and a kind of fluffy cheese, or as he described it, "chogurt", halfway between cheese and yogurt. And so reasonable in price!
Igor took us to a beautiful tavern overlooking vineyards in Varazdin, where he got us to try a blueberry aperitif. Wonderfully fruity and since we didn't have to drive, we all indulged. And of course we fell asleep on his drive back to Zagreb.
Tijiana, our guide to Plitvice, was incredibly thoughtful, bringing Emily a bouquet of flowers from her own garden, a bunch of balloons, AND a box of chocolates to congratulate her on her graduation from college. Completely unnecessary but so very kind. The day in Plitvice Lakes was just amazing. Really a must see on a visit to Croatia. Emily is still talking about it. Pictures don't do it justice.
Our driver to Dubrovnik, Dalibor, (but we heard it as Oliver, so please apologize for us), was so accommodating. What a small world that the small city he has lived in, in the United States, is my hometown! And how did he know that Bruce so wanted to see the aqueducts outside of Split that he drove by them on our way out? And he pulled over to a stand so we could try the regional candied orange peels and sugared almonds, (which we have already have been finished). He stopped for us at scenic points so we could take photos, and pointed out things for me to photograph for my Game of Thrones fan son, who could not come on this trip.
Ana was one of the most enthusiastic tour guides we have had. She really loves Split and conveyed her interest in archeology and history. She told us stories that really stayed with us, and it made it so much fun to return to Split on the following days and explore it again on our own.
Maris, our Dubrovnik guide was just fantastic. She managed to pull together the complex history of Croatia and distill it into a detailed talk without being boring or overwhelming. We all felt we learned a tremendous amount. We followed her recommendation for dinner at Kamenice and were rewarded with delicious food at reasonable prices.
At every stage of this tour, we felt no one tried to "up-sell" us. There was never any pressure to have to add on things to the tour. We were not pushed to expensive restaurants. But we felt that if we either needed more, or wanted more, we could ask.
Now, the hotels! Well, Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb was fabulous. The service was exemplary (they helped us a great deal when Emily's luggage did not arrive with us on our flight). The room layout worked well, with a separate bedroom for us and Emily on a sofabed in the living area. The bathroom was in the hallway, so easily accessible for her without having to disturb us. The hotel breakfast was elegant and diverse. We could not have chosen a better hotel, both for quality and the location.
Radisson Blu in Split had a spectacular view of the sea that was breathtaking. I had asked for a hotel where Emily could enjoy a sunbathing day so their pool gave us that option. It is a modern hotel but quite strange in its layout. The room/suite is very large but about half of it is taken up by an "open concept" bathroom, making it essentially wasted space. A big bathtub sits centrally with absolutely no privacy. The stall shower has three walls and water sprays all over because there is no curtain or barrier (or privacy). The lights go on by motion detection so you have to draw heavy shades to prevent lights going on when you don't want them. There is little place to put your clothes without risking them getting wet from the shower spray, there are no drawers close to the bed. And as we knew ahead of time, there is no separation between the rollaway bed in the living area and the king bed in the bedroom area, so if privacy is even a small issue for a client, this would be a big problem. Again, we knew this ahead of time, but it is a strangely laid out room. And things in the Radisson were not as well kept up as the Esplanade. (Carpet soiled, bathroom fixtures broken, all minor but noticeable).
Hotel Lapad is a beautifully renovated building with a lot of character. The suite worked very well for us. We had a big bedroom and balcony, with a large ensuite bathroom. Emily had a sofabed in the living area that could be separated from us with a sliding wood door, giving some privacy. As well, she had a separate toilet and sink which was very nice. Their pool is very pretty and a nice alternative to walking and touring. I think that because of the large cruise ships depositing so many people into Dubrovnik, entering the old city is discouraged between 8-4 pm. Taking a taxi or bus from the hotel can be very challenging at that time. It might have been nice if we stayed at a similarly nice hotel within walking distance of the old city, if there is one. That would allow us to go back and forth more easily during the day because there is so much to do that is centered in the old city area. But again, I don't know if there are many hotels that would fit.
The cable car to the top is worth the view though the museum at the top is not. That is the only museum where we found the English translations to be quite poor, and thus difficult to follow. The laundromat you recommended was very good. Very easy to find near the Ploce gate, and the owner himself was helpful and fun to talk to.
Every detail in this tour was taken care of. The tours were the right length, not too long or tiring. The hotel breakfasts were a great idea and fortified us for each day's activities. We appreciated starting each day at a reasonable time. I am so enthusiastic about your tour company, I have begun telling everyone. My friends are planning a trip next year and we are definitely going to steer them in your direction. We feel like we now have a connection to Croatia, a part of the world we knew little about before. It was a wonderful week. Thank you so much for putting it all together for us.