“They are group of enthusiastic and passionate professionals.”
Written by the people who have explored this stunning region with us, the selection of testimonials below highlights the places, the people and the feelings you are bound to experience on your journey. Honest and unrevised, they give you a clear idea of the personal efforts and virtue which go into crafting each individual itinerary and have over time become the trademark of travelling with Secret Dalmatia.
I had a relative good flight home. The tour was enjoyed by everyone and I want to thank you for all you did. Here is some feedback.
Sarajevo: All about Sarajevo was perfect. The hotel could not have been better located and the hotel itself was very nice, very comfortable new rooms. The dinner at Dvery was very good with good local food. After an initial misunderstanding of just one d rink with dinner, the problem was quickly solved – they checked it and the wine was flowing freely..
The drive to Dubrovnik was very scenic and we had a good stop in Mostar with one of the most memorable lunches. The food was good but, the view over the mountains, the sunshine and great service made for a perfect lunch stop. Everyone was impressed with Dubrovnik and loved their stay at Pucic Palace, so convenient. Some of the rooms overlooked the square in front of the hotel and my room and the room for Kitchen and Wray looked out on their terrace restaurant. On the second night they had a party there and a live band which made going to sleep impossible until midnight when it ended. The next evening they had another party but it started earlier and was over by nine. It rained the morning we had the city tour, but I asked the restaurant if we could sit in the bar while Jasmina was telling us a bit a bit about the history of Dubrovnik. This actually worked out very well and we did it several other times. It is much more leisurely than standing in the street. The lunch at Maarojice Kaboge was very good, upscale cooking, but we had a set menu and were told it has to be the fish menu. No one minded, but the steamed cold cold tune (exceptionally good in my opinion) but some asked to have it put on the grill since they thought it was raw tune which of course is was not. We also had just one small glass of wine each and paid for additional. The restaurant was not very busy, in fact we were the only guests during the whole meal. But from the looks of it, I think this restaurant is more a dinner restaurant than a place were people go for lunch.
On the free day everyone went up to the everyone went up to the peak which was very much enjoyed and all had lunch there. This may be a good alternative to eating in town. While everyone went up to the peak I went to look at the Excelsior and its sister hotel the Argentina. When Pucic Palace has a great location in town, the view over the Dubrovnik from these hotels is spectacular. But I was most impressed with Villa Ursula, it’s a fantastic little hotel and I loved it. In fact I quite seriously considering staying there if I do this tour again.
Split: Everyone loved Split and those who stayed at Judita Palace loved the place. The Hotel Coronado was very good as well and definitely the best option for the man who could not walk well. Beside, it was very close to Judita Palace. Dinner at Restaurant Konoba Korta was great, very good food, very good service. It is a small restaurant and most of their tables are outside, but it was raining this had to eat inside. The owner was very congenial and suggested all his specialties and the wine flowed freely. Fun evening.
The city tour and the tour in Trogir was very enjoyable, as was the lunch there.
Losinj: Unfortunately as you know we could not take the boat. High winds, and the sea was very rough. When we arrived in Zadar they thought we may be able to take the boat after all. We went to a hotel where we had cocoa while the guide gave us some history of Zadar. but the weather did not improve and thus we took the bus with Kristijan. It was a long drive and we made the ferry to Losinj with two minutes to spare. Everyone was a little tired as we drove the hour from the ferry to the hotel. The Hotel Belvedare more than made up for the long drive. It is an amazing place. Five-star plus. The weather had improved a lot and we had two days of sunshine there. After we arrived, we met in the bar where we had something to drink and to eat. The half-board dinner is expensive, but I suggest that on the first night, dinner at the hotel should be included since there is nothing nearby to go out to eat. On the second night we went to Veli Losinj, a small fishing harbor a few km from the hotel. We had invited Kristijan to eat with us and had a great seafood dinner at the Marina Restaurant on the harbor. When you open the web site for Lonsinj Island, the picture that comes up is this little town. I would definitely include dinner there into a tour to Losinj.
Rovinj: The Hotel Monte Mulini is not far behind Belvedere. Very luxurious and the grounds are fabulous, the walk into town is very easy. Dinner at the Puntalina Restaurant was greatly enjoyed by all. I had gone there in the afternoon to check on the dinner and the table. They gave us great table looking out onto the sea. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the the evening. The tour to Pula was good, we decided to do in the morning which was a good decision. The Coliseum is fascinating, but there is not much else in Pula and we went back to the hotel instead of the walking tour. It was a hot day and everyone wanted to to spend the afternoon enjoying the fabulous grounds and swimming pools at the hotel.
Buzet: The drive from Rovinj to Buzet is scenic, but the drive up to the town is not easy for a bus the size we had. The drive was short and we should have left the hotel at noon, since the rooms were not ready when we arrived thus we spend an hour on the terrace of a hotel in the town below. It was very difficult to take the bus up since there are no places to turn it around. The hotel send a small car down to pick up the man who could not walk well. Kristijan took us as far as the town gate from where it was a short walk to the hotel. They transferred out luggage with the small hotel car. By the time we arrived at the hotel we had a thunderstorm that lasted a couple hours. Buzet is a very small town, there is nothing in town at all, no stores, there are two galleries but they had not yet opened. At one time we were going to have a bakery snack there, but the bakery does not open till June. The dinner was in a rather plain restaurant near the hotel since the hotel’s restaurant was not yet open. The truffle menu was nothing very special, cheese with dried truffles, noodles with dried turffles, chicken and vegetables, and ice cream with dried truffels. They also had an issue with the wine. Only one small glass was included. She di however, bring a small carafe of extra wine and said ist was a present. I bought another bottle of wine for everyone. I don’t know if I would include Buzet again, it very difficult to for the bus to get there. Kristijan had to back down a windy road quite a ways, when we first had driven up and were told the rooms are not ready. Buzet is a unique in its own quaint way though. I walked around the town outside the walls that enclose it, which was quite enjoyable and impressive, but people have to be good walkers since it is just a narrow foot path.
There is a supposedly very good restaurant 17 km before getting to Buzet, set at the foot of a hill with a castle. This could be a good place to have dinner if it would not be such a difficult drive up and down the hill from Buzet. A bigger bus than what we had could not get to Buzet at all.
Zagreb: I liked the Hotel Dubrovnik very much. The location is more than perfect. The hotel has a new wing with attractive rooms. But the original hotel facing the square is in my opinion the best. The rooms are big, although a little dated. New furniture, curtains and carpets would improve it greatly. All in all it is a very good hotel. Both dinners were great. Trilogija was fantastic, very good food and wine, and great service. I had a bit of hard time finding it. No one really knew where it was. Eventually though I found, but it is not in the walking zone. It is up the hill to the upper town alongside a road. Walking leisurely it is about 20 minutes from the hotel, but the road is fairly steep. Thus I suggested for everyone to take a taxi. Kathy Kitchen and I would have been the only ones who could have walked it in ten minutes.
The tour to Samobor was nice, although it was raining. There is not much in Samobor except the restaurants around the town square, which is quaint. There is a very interesting museum though with furnishings from the Austro/Hungarian Empire days. Among the artifacts are three absolute fabulous tiled stoves. I would definitely include it in another tour. Another interesting museum is the Croation Museum of Naïve Art in the upper town of Zagreb. It is half a block from the stop of the Funicular. It displays the paintings of five well known artists from the around the 1960s. Even people who don’t like museums, would be amused by it.
As to the guides, they were all very nice and very good. Dajana in Sarjevo was very kind and fun to have along.
The guide is Mostar was good but we had her such a short time that we did not really get to know her to much.
Jasmina in Dubrovnik was very intelligent and knew her history. She made her commentary very interesting and it was enjoyable to listen to her.
Maris in Split was great, we all liked her a lot. She took Mickey, the man who could not walk well, under her arm and he was more than impressed with her. Had a smile on his face the whole time. She was fun.
The guide in Zadar again was with us a very short time, but she gave us a good insight into Zadar and its long history while we sipped our hot chocolate at the hotel. We enjoyed having her along.
In Rovinj the guide did not dwell long on history, but told us much about the life in Rovinj and in the countryside around it, and the food and wines of the area which interested all of u.
The guide in Zagreb gave us a lot of insight in the city and had Kristijan take us through some of the interesting sections of Zagreb. Of course in Samobor wasn’t to much to talk about , but she told us some rather interesting things about the old section of Sambor and its legends and some true stories from the past.
No need to say much about Kristijan. We all loved him, he is a very good driver, to back down the narrow winding road from Buzet, truly showed his driving skills. I suggest you book him for any American groups. Below is a picture of Kristijan at the dinner in Vali Losingj with Kathy Kitchen and Bob Wray.
Mariana, you arranged an excellet tour for us, we enjoyed everything we did, the drivers and guides were excellent , the accomodations were great, I think the guests should know that the Hotel More is under construction and was a little noisy, but the hotel was expectacular and the view was incredible . We are so glad that you could arrange at the last minute to have lunch with Denis and taste the oysters it was an incredible experience. We were at chef Tatjana until 5:30 pm we did’nt want to leave, had a great time and the food was incredible , the abandoned village lunch was an experience, what a beautiful side, we loved everything we did, my husband used to say taht his favorite place to visit was Italy, well that changed, now is Croatia, will go back to see the rest of Croatia soon, all our friends know about your agency already.
Thanks again, Mirtha and Fausto from Miami/Cuba
Thank you so much for the excellent tour you arranged. We loved it!! It was a very memorable vacation. My favorite is the Roman Aqueduct tour. I've been on a lot of trips and done a lot of tours, but that one was by far my favorite tour I've ever done. Everything about the tour was great, the hotels, the tours, the guides, the drivers. All first class.
Dear Mariana,(please share with Alan)
I have finally found a minute since getting home to provide feedback on our trip. Overall, it was an incredible and exciting journey and we all had a great time. We were most impressed with the magnificent scenery, mountains, rivers, ocean, islands and villages. We generally do not move too much from hotel to hotel during our vacations but this was definitely the right thing to do and it allowed us to see a very large amount of Croatia. Every village and city was different and we had favorite things about all of them. The coordination and communication between our drivers was amazing! Everyone we met was polite and helpful. We especially appreciated your calls to us on the first few days of our arrival. It was reassuring to know that we were being looked after!
All of the hotels were magnificent and their breakfasts were great as well.
Day One: Debrovnik:
Our flight was a little late but our chauffeur was there and called to notify Maris that we would be a little late.
Our tour with Maris was excellent. She is very polite and intelligent and made the walking tour very interesting, despite how tired we were from traveling.
Day Two: Debrovnik:
In the morning we walked the wall and the fort and took lots of pictures! In the afternoon, we met Marko and Ante (?) on time at the hotel. Marko offered and took us to the hardware store as my youngest daughter needed a part for the GoPro! The biking trip and hike was very nice. Dinner was great. Niko (?) was a great host and taught us about his family's very old vineyard. We had a wonderful dinner that was preceded by wine tasting (which we enjoyed but didn't expect!). Niko, Marko and Ante were very polite and eager to make sure we were enjoying ourselves.
Day Three: Split:
The rental car was dropped off as promised and it suited our needs perfectly with plenty of room for all and our luggage. The GPS didn't seem to work in Debrovnik (it was about two minutes late) but after that worked fine. We had a beautiful ride to Split.
Upon our arrival, the GPS lead us to the wrong pick up spot but this was quickly identified when we were called by the Hotel. Our chauffeur for this hotel picked us up in the electric car and made us laugh all the way back to the hotel. He was our favorite chauffeur all week.
The Zip Line tour was incredible with breathtaking scenes and high adrenaline fun! We got lots of good video. This was probably the most exciting thing we did all week and definitely one of the highlights. We were very impressed about the coordination of our rides.
Day Four: Split:
Probably the biggest disappointment came when we got into the boat and were told that we could not go to the Blue Cave because the seas were too high. In fact, we didn't even make it to Hvar. The guides were very nice and friendly and we managed to see a little bit of an island and had lunch in a village (only one restaurant was open). They truly did the best that they could do but had we known before we got into the boat that we were not going to the Blue Cave or Hvar, we might have scrambled to do something else that day (as you may recall, we were going to do the ATV adventure that day but changed it to the Blue Cave/Hvar).
Day Five: Zadar:
We had an easy drive to Zadar. On our way, we were stopped on the highway, on top of an overpass and saw the Tour de Croatia pass right below us about 30 min later. We are cyclists so this was an unexpected treat. Next, we stopped at Krka Waterfalls and were amazed by the incredible beauty. We spend about four hours here. That evening we enjoyed the sea organs and solar cell light show both on our way to dinner and on our walk back to the hotel.
Day Six: Zadar:
Marijan met us right on time in the hotel for our Hiking tour and Modric Cave trip. Unfortunately, we were unable to do the hiking tour of the Zrmanja and Krupa rivers because of the strong winds and so this part was cancelled. Also, Ann only had sneakers and not real hiking shoes, something that may have prevented her from going on the hike if the weather had been better. The cave was so interesting and challenging. We really enjoyed it. This was an excellent experience and nothing like we have ever done before!!! Marijan was polite and informative throughout our tour and stopped the van on the way back to the hotel for us to take pictures. We really didn't know the extent to which we were going to be crawling and twisting in the cave but it was very fun (It would have been helpful for us to know that the hike required real hiking boots and the cave included a lot of crawling, twisting and going in tight places. If someone has claustrophobia, is very overweight (125kg or more) or not agile, it could be a problem, fortunately we don't have any of these problems. We should have done more homework on this as well).
Day Seven: Rovinj:
We departed Zadar and headed to Rovinj. On our way, we stopped at Plitvice Lakes NP. We spent most of the day there and we thought it was one of the most beautiful series of waterfalls and places we had ever seen! In fact, at one point, I told Ann that this what Eden must look like!
The drive to Rovinj was a bit long and the GPS took us through some very rural parts of Croatia but the landscape was beautiful and different than the coast line beauty we had been seeing.
We were excited to see Lone as my youngest had been looking at this hotel as her favorite for months and she/we were not disappointed. The hotel, grounds and amenities were wonderful. Because it was so late, we had dinner in the hotel and it was really, really good!!
Day Eight: Rovinj:
We started the day by going to Pula where we walked around the Roman amphitheater ruins and then the town. After a quick lunch, we headed back to Rovinj where we explored the town and the kids had a fish pedicure. We had an exciting climb on an 190 step, old wooden and vertical staircase to the top of the bell tower for a panoramic view of the city. Finally, we made it back to the hotel where we finished the afternoon with a swim in the indoor pool and the indoor hot tub. We went back into town for dinner that night. We really liked Rovinj and thought it was one of the prettiest villages that we had seen all week.
Day Nine: Slovania and Zagreb:
We checked out of the hotel and headed to Slovania where we took a tour of Skocjan cave. This cave was huge and majestic and a very different and more touristy adventure than what we had enjoyed with Marijan. It was definitely worth going there.
Finally, we arrived at Hotel Esplanade and once again, a very nice hotel with gracious staff to assist us. That night, we had an excellent dinner at Gallo's and enjoyed walking around the City Center, having our gelato (like we had done every night in Croatia), snapping a picture of Tesla's statue and taking in the culture.
Overall, it was one of the nicest vacations we have ever had! We are also sailors and may return one day to sail the beautiful coastline and maybe have another chance to get to the Blue Cave.
Natasa, thank you so much for putting together such a wonderful and coordinated trip. Our hotels were magnificent and both a combination of being in the middle of the action (Split and Zagreb) and out of the hustle and bustle (Debrovnik, Ravinj). Thank you for taking the time to get to know who we are as a family to coordinate this trip to fit our needs and interests.
We returned early morning on 2nd May to Mumbai-safe and sound. We would like to thank you for a wonderful holiday in your lovely country. Everything was perfect and the guides and drivers were very knowledgeable and extremely friendly. We really had a wonderful time and will definitely strongly recommend your agency and country to all our friends. Monica had left a small gift for you at Hotel Dubrovnik in Zagreb for Vanja to pick up and forward to you. I hope it will reach you soon.
Warm regards from a warm country (its 38 degrees C here)
Keshav & Monica
I must thank you for the wonderful arrangements.
Everything worked well.The guides and the drivers were courteous and professional.
I will recommend Secret Dalmatia to all my friends who wish to travel to Croatia.
Our travel group of 8 had done some bare boat sailing in the British Virgin Islands and loved the view from the sea and the intimacy with nature. Wanting to try some place different, we looked to Croatia with its huge coastline and its troubled history. Being located between western Europe and the communist block we knew there was a lesson to be learned by making it our choice. We decided to go in early September. We missed the 100 degree heat, the water was warm, the crowds were gone, but everything was still open and alive. We found Secret Dalmatia and Mirna. They are located in Croatia and she arranges tours for people like us who have no idea how best to put together a land and sailing trip to Croatia. Mirna spoke perfect english and was immediately responsive to our ever question. In no time she coordinated a 7 day land trip with small buses, drivers and guides. Everything was taken care of down to the smallest detail. As a bonus she met us for lunch just outside of Dubrovnik. We started in Zagreb and in 7 days made our way down to Dubrovnik and then back up to Split. Everything was great from the accommodation to the guides but the best was yet to come. Mirna hooked us up with Captain Vinko Buble and a catamaran, the Lagoon 45 . There is nothing like seeing Europe from a catamaran. All of civilization grew up near the sea. It was so intimate I think the people we met we can now call family. Vinko knew the sea and knew the people in the sea side villages. Croatia is a beautiful country with wonderfully friendly people, but without Vinko the jewels of this country would have been missed. Sailing can be tricky in Croatia the winds can be strong and seas a little rough but Vinko knew exactly were to be to avoid any discomfort. Vinko managed our time and our itinerary with lots of sailing, site seeing and intimate diners with the locals. Vinko is a very special guy. One minute he is a no nonsense captain aggressively taking on the challenges of the sea, barking orders, taking command of his crew. Then latter he is soft, caring, and engaging, almost like a girl friend. Some say he is like a big strong captain with a Pizda. That to me is the best kind of captain you can have. Croatia is a beautiful country, having Vinko and Mirna makes the place come alive. They are the best. I can not tell you what a kick in the pants this trip turned out to be. Our expectations were exceeded and I don't say that often. Call Mirna, have her hook you up with Vinko and know you will see the heart and soul of Croatia
The Menotti’s were also remiss in not speaking up sooner. We are in enthusiastic agreement with everything that Brent says in her email. We would add is that your tour showed us how much richer a travel experience can be when assisted by experienced guides. I think we would have missed a great deal if we had tried to do Split on our own, just to give one example. And it was a great relief to leave the driving chores to Christian, and not to have to worry about how to find our way around, much less about running out of fuel, etc. This group has done more than ten trips the old-fashioned way, with rental cars or vans we drove ourselves. While this lead to many unplanned adventures, the Croatia trip showed us that there is a better way. Thanks so much for everything.