A short trip through Croatia in September, 2013.

We're enjoying some foreign travel each fall. The past two years were to Turkey and Spain. This year it was to the “must see” attractions and regions of Croatia.

Rather than describe the trip chronologically in detail, this time let's talk about what we did enjoy – and what might  have been somewhat less than pleasant.

Hotels:

We had 3-5 star rated ones, and in all honesty, found the Weston in Zagreb (five star) probably the nicest and had the best dining buffets. The Amfora in Hvar was the most fun, but had a pool that was unusable due to its brutally cold temperature (and pool attendants who were functionally worthless). Happily the nearby Adriatic Sea was tolerable for swimming.

The President in Split was an interesting older facility with a decent room but a terrible breakfast buffet. A forced transfer downgrade to the (3 star) Tirena in Dubrovnik didn't feel bad at all since the housekeeping was superb and so were both the morning and evening buffets – (albeit with really lousy coffee).

Restaurants:

Some memorable, some less so. In Zagreb we really enjoyed Carpaccio – a Northern Italian themed cafe in the heart of the city. Ditto in Zagreb at the Vincek desert shop – the oldest bakery in town. Wonderful cakes and ice cream.

Didn't find anything of note in Split. In Hvar we enjoyed a superb Chateaubriand at Gariful, which though advertising itself as a fish restaurant produced an unusual tenderloin strip (not a sirloin) that was grilled and carved perfectly and was outstanding. Coupled the meal with a marvelous Plavac Mali red wine that seemed a fine pinot noir clone but had a slightly peppery finish. Wish I had the bottle in front of me right now!

Another delightful spot was Dalmantino, highly regarded with branches both in Hvar and Dubrovnik. They really try hard. We ordered nothing more than a fried calamari appetizer and were rewarded with four different amuse bouche through the course of the small meal.

On a different note in Hvar at a place the locals hang out, try the “For” bistro. Bargain prices for full fixed course lunch or delicious salads and other standard fare.

Dubrovnik found us at Mea Culpa for a superior quatro formmagio pizza at lunch in the walled city. A decent buffet followed that night at our Tirena Hotel. The last two dinners of our stay in town were taken at the little restaurant on Copa Cabana beach. Nothing special here – except for the pleasure of eating along the water with decent local wines, calamari, and salads. Our final lunch in the country was taken at the “Lean and Light” restaurant in the Dubrovnik Palace Resort Hotel. Sue enjoyed her Russian Nicoise, and I felt the same about my wok chicken dish.

Other:

Wines. We really enjoyed many of the locally made vinos. Most Croatian grapes are whites, and that's the primary color of our choice due to our eating habits.

Except for the isolated tourist traps, costs are reasonable compared to elsewhere in Europe for most of the things you might need or want on a trip like this. The local Kuna currency is weak against the dollar so prices, not only for libations, but almost everything else in the country are something of a bargain.

Here's a quick video of the first two thirds of the trip:

 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly about our vacation.

Pluses:

Prices for most things are excellent compared to anywhere else in Europe.

Accommodations were fine regardless of star ratings.

Food was fun and different for the most part.

Wines were interesting and a nice change from home.

The scenery along the Dalmatian coast was out of this world.

Plitvice National Park was worth the price of admission.

The Adriatic is decent swimming though the stony beaches are hard on the feet.

Tap water was safe everywhere – what a relief.

Drank liters of the local Karlovačko beer

 

Indifferent:

Signage is not good for finding restaurants – except in Dubrovnik.

Roads are very narrow and dangerous.

Tourist crowds are large everywhere – which is to be expected.

Museums on the whole are not the quality of what they are in other countries.

Ditto for the churches.

Our guide was a mixed bag of good and not so good.

It takes too long to travel between the fun stuff.

Dubrovnik might be overrated as a destination.

 

Minuses:

Coffee in the Tirena Hotel.

Walking around in Dubrovnik outside the walled old city – really dangerous.

Housekeeping at the Westin in Zagreb.

Breakfast at the President Hotel in Split.

Group travel. Just too much on & off the bus and togetherness. Too inflexible.

The pool towel setup and the towel boys at the Amfora Resort – both completely useless.

The “locals” in Bosnia and Montenegro. Bad attitudes.

Any of our resort swimming pools – all too cold to be usable for the designed purpose.

Our last three days were taken in Dubrovnik - video below: 

 

So where do we end up next year?? Who knows.



Some photos of the country.


The massive Zagreb cemetery

Arts and Crafts Museum - Zagreb

Dinner at Carpaccio - Zagreb

The harbor at Hvar

Farmer's market

Tall ship - Dubrovnik

Calamari - Dubrovnik

Statue - old city Dubrovnik

Pool area Amfora Resort - Hvar

Breakfast - Westin Hotel

River delta - Bosnia

Panna cotta at Carpaccio

Ties invented in Croatia (cravats)

Old City of Dubrovnik

Ducks and fish - Plitvice National Park