I’m sorry to be so tardy in getting back to you. Believe it or not, this is the first opportunity I’ve had since returning home to actually sit down and compose a letter of thanks. Since we came home we have adopted a 7 year old cat who has given us a run for our money (doing fine now). We also spent four days in Vermont with friends enjoying the fall foliage.
But I have had you on my mind a lot and I just want to tell you how much we loved Trieste, Croatia and Montenegro. What a beautiful part of the world! Our itinerary couldn’t have been better. Where to begin?! All of the hotels were wonderful, each in their own way. No cookie-cutter lodging at all.
The Hotel Duchi in Trieste was a venerable old place in a perfect location. Our window looked out over the piazza and we loved watching all the goings on down below in what was obviously the center of the old city. We loved Harry’s Bar where we ate our breakfast and had dinner on our first night in town. Our room was small, typical of European city hotels, but we managed. They could upgrade the electrical outlets and add a few more; my converter didn’t work there and there were very few places to plug things in anyway.
But that was a minor inconvenience which was resolved easily when we arrived at our second hotel, the Monte Mulini in Rovinj, a splendid place with every 21st century amenity. Our devices were quickly charged and back up and running. Our room was beautiful, overlooking the pool and the bay and the sea beyond. The staff was extremely helpful and pleasant. When our sea plane ride was cancelled and we needed to quickly shift gears and depart the hotel at 4:30 the next morning, they were most accommodating, even packing us a picnic “breakfast” to take with us on our ride to the airport. And they were so nice to ship the clothes we left behind in our room while packing in the early morning, half asleep.
The Hotel Vestibul in Split – what can we say about that?! Unique in all the world! Ancient stone walls coupled with contemporary furnishings! Such fun to sleep in a bona fide castle, even if for only one night.
The next day it was on to the island of Korcula and the Hotel Korcula de la Ville. It was such fun to pull up to the dock and walk across the street to our charming old hotel. We had a lovely room with a balcony overlooking the waterfront. We were told it was only one of three such rooms in the place. We learned that Jackie Kennedy Onasis had stayed there, one of many luminaries to have done so. We liked to think that perhaps she enjoyed the same room we did. We spent a lot of time sitting out on the wonderful veranda, reading and sipping afternoon tea, watching the people going by. We did find our bathroom there to be somewhat inadequate (to say the least). We’ve been in bigger facilities on a boat. It was very difficult to manage the narrow little shower in the tiny bathroom. Wall space was wasted on a towel heater, while there was nowhere to even put a toothbrush. But we managed and it was not a big deal. We realized that there weren’t a lot of other hotel options there and we wouldn’t have missed Korcula, or the hotel, for the world!
Hotel Villa Dubrovnik was over-the-top amazing! We had a beautiful room with a balcony overlooking the sea, the island of Lohrum, and a peak at the old city to our right. Fabulous! And of course up-to-the minute in all the amenities. We didn’t know what to expect when we drove up to the entrance and all we saw was a little building housing an elevator. But we were whisked on down to the lobby where we were greeted by the delightful staff, who did everything to make our stay memorable. Breakfasts on the terrace were incredible!
And finally, Zagreb. We found the city to be so interesting after having spent our entire stay previously on the Adriatic coast. An easy, short flight away and we were in Eastern Europe – it could have been Vienna or Budapest. And the Esplanade was the perfect hotel in which to reside while visiting such an old world city. After the super contemporary feel in Dubrovnik, it was a real change of pace to stay in an opulent old world hotel. Our room was lovely and spacious and elegantly decorated. We had no view except for an interior courtyard space, but that didn’t really matter. And one of our best meals of the trip was our lunch at Le Bistro!
Speaking of restaurants and meals, you sure know how to pick ‘em! We had some of the finest cuisine and amazing culinary experiences of our lifetime while on this trip. Invariably, when we would show up somewhere we would be taken to the best seat in the house. You must have lots of clout in Croatia! And that says a lot about you and your company. We enjoyed too many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to mention each one individually, but a few stand out as particularly memorable. My dinner in Trieste at Antica Ghiacceretta, a simple sea bass smothered in mushrooms, was melt in the mouth delicious. That fish was so fresh he must have been swimming in the sea hours before.
Restaurant Monte in Rovinj was totally amazing. It was a rainy night when we went there, one of the few less than perfect weather experiences we had on our whole trip. We had trouble finding it on those little narrow streets, but when we walked through the door it was the beginning of a sensory delight. The decor was amazing. And the food! The presentation, the combinations of textures and tastes – WOW! The chef must be a genius! We had the five course tasting menu with wine pairings and one course was more beautiful and delicious than the last. But the coup de grace was the little piece of dark chocolate sprinkled with fresh lavender at the conclusion of the meal! That did it for me. I can still remember and salivate over that little morsel! We talked about our experience all the way back to the hotel in the pouring rain as we walked along under our umbrellas.
The next night at Puntulina was also beautiful. We were escorted to a charming corner table on the porch hanging over the harbor as the full moon rose and the lights of the old town came on and sparkled in the water.
We had many beautiful lunches and dinners in Korcula, most in those cute little restaurants perched high above the sea. We can’t remember when we’ve had so much delicious fresh seafood, fresh vegetables, wonderful local cheeses, olives, truffles, and wine.
Dining in Dubrovnik was also very special. We loved our evening at Dubravka Restaurant outside the city walls, watching the sun set and the lights come on to illuminate the old walls, with the swifts flying about eating all the mosquitos and the boats coming in for the night. The next night at Restaurant 360 Degrees was another incredible experience watching, all the lights come on in the old harbor. What a romantic spot! And of course, each night we were escorted to the best seat in the house!
And then there was our magical lunch at Stari Mlini in Montenegro. What a place! I must have shot over 100 photos there alone. A true feast for the senses with the water cascading down from the mountains behind us into the sea in front of us, while we were nestled into a little grove under the trees to enjoy our lunch.
The only dining experience we really didn’t enjoy was our final night in Zagreb. Vinodol was a bit of a disappointment – large and noisy and not terribly attractive, and the food, being more Eastern European than Mediterranean, was heavy and not very tasty. But with all the wonderful culinary experiences we did enjoy along the way, we could hardly complain about one less than stella experience. We went back to the hotel bar and had a night cap and went to bed very happy. It was hard to get up the next morning and pack to leave Croatia.
Our drivers and guides were all wonderful. Everyone was a delight to be with. We had many interesting conversations with them about their culture and ours. All spoke perfect English – made us feel embarrassed that we only speak one language. The guides were all fonts of knowledge and we learned so much about Croatian history and culture. They are all keepers in our estimation! Everyone behind the scenes did their part seamlessly as well. Our one minor glitch, when the driver failed to show up to fetch us at the Zadar Airport to take us to Split, was handled very professionally by his employer. Because we were two hours away and it would have taken him a long time to get anyone to replace the errant driver, he wisely advised us to take a taxi whose driver would be met and paid by one of his people when we arrived at the Palace. Our taxi driver spoke virtually no English, but he was able to communicate with the driving company and we got the job done. Our two hour highway ride in the pouring rain in the tiny taxi was a bit unnerving, but all’s well that ends well. Too bad we couldn’t have had our sea plane ride, but those things can’t be helped.
Our skippers on our private boat trip to Korcula were great too. We left Split in brilliant sunshine and as we motored along, to our left we could see blue skies and sun dappled islands, but to our right were ominous black clouds approaching. The skippers were following the storm on radar and keeping us apprised of it’s progress. They told us we would probably have time for a stop in Hvar if we wanted to do that, but we deferred to their better judgement to press on for Korcula to keep ahead of the storm. We arrived at our destination just in time! They were delightful…and very professional.
The itinerary you had planned for us was marvelous. We know there is SO much more of Croatia to see and experience and we may very well want to return someday to visit again. But for a first trip, it was perfect. You had us busy with drivers and guides some of the time and we learned a lot from them. But you also, wisely, allowed us a lot of free time during which we carved out some interesting experiences of our own. In Trieste, we visited the Revoltella Museum where we saw some 19th & early 20th century Italian art that we had never seen before. In Istria, we loved being turned loose in the hill town of Motovun where we hiked beyond the tourist-oriented shops and restaurants and explored the back lanes where “real” people still live. Lunch on the terrace of an outdoor cafe is where we had or first experience of truffles. Yum! On our day of leisure in Rovinj we took a walk from our hotel all around the nature trail along the water with lovely views back to the city on a hill. It was a warm sunny Saturday and couples and families were out swimming and sunbathing on the rocks. Memorable!
One of the disappointing aspects of traveling anywhere in the world today, especially near water, is the prevalence of huge cruise ships and the thousands of people they disgorge into tiny little places of historic interest and beauty. We encountered the problem last year in Venice and the Cinque Terre, and we encountered it again in Croatia. When we arrived in Split for our brief stay there, the tourists were swarming through the narrow streets in droves. After short while, we escaped and walked along the waterfront, then hiked up the Marjan Hill. We enjoyed the beautiful vistas and had lunch overlooking the city at a cute little restaurant at the summit. By the time we returned to the hotel to meet our guide and venture out into the palace streets again, the crowds had thinned somewhat and the experience was much more pleasant.
After spending time with our guide in Korcula, we took a nice long walk along the coast, again escaping the crowds who managed to descend upon even that island. Another day we took a bus ride out of town to the small town of Lumbarda. We loved that. We walked around the little harbor and up the hill where we encountered laborers harvesting grapes in one of the vineyards. We strolled through the beautiful olive groves and enjoyed magnificent vistas of the sea below.
If we thought Split was overrun with tourists, Dubrovnik was even worse, if possible. How sad that these places of fragile beauty and historical importance are being destroyed by the magnitude of tourism that they are not only allowing, but actively encouraging. But there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s a 21st century reality. So we made the most of it, with our guide and while on our own. On Sunday, we did enjoy a quiet lunch at the Banje Beach Club, watching all the sunbathers and swimmers having fun. In the afternoon, we took the boat ride out to Lokrum Island and loved walking the trails out there – a wonderful place to escape the crowds and take in the beautiful views with the magnificent walled city in the distance.
After our tour in Zagreb, we took a nice walk through the botanical gardens near our hotel. And then it was time to depart. All in all, a fabulous experience from beginning to end.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Iva, without whom our wonderful trip would not have been possible. She was the glue who held everything together. And we know how much work she did behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly and to fix things quickly when they didn’t go as planned. She was always available when we needed to contact her for any reason. And she always had answers to any question, no matter how insignificant, and she always had solutions when big things happened, like the change in flight plans midway through our journey. Thanks for your invaluable support, Iva.
With that we must close this long missive. Again, we apologize for taking so long to get back to you both, but it was not because we weren’t thinking of you and appreciating all that you did. We have already recommended your services to people who have inquired about our Croatia trip.
Kathy and Bill
P.S. Thanks also to Leftheris for putting us in touch with you last spring.
Kathy and Bill Dixon – Duxbury, MA
October 20, 2016
My husband and I just spent 13 amazing days traveling through Croatia. Our travel consultant in NYC, Joanne Colombo with Frosch, connected us to Wanda Radetti of Tasteful Croatian Journeys. The four of us did a preliminary conference call so that Wanda could get a feeling for the type of trip we were looking for. A week later, Joanne presented us with an amazing itinerary tailored to our needs. Everything about this trip was top notch and perfectly orchestrated. TCJ provides a concierge in Croatia who was always available to answer questions, make reservations and to make any last minute changes for us.
I can’t recommend either of our travel consultants more highly.
Carrie Morgan – Easton, PA
October 11, 2016
We are back home and getting the clock adjusted for this side of the world. I wanted to take a moment and THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING! Our trip to Croatia and Montenegro was spectacular. I know it would not have been the same without the help of your amazing team. The itinerary you and Iva put together was flawless!
I’m cautious to use the word “team” because everyone from Tasteful Croatian Journeys (VisitCroatia.com) seemed more like speaking with friends and family. Having Iva on the ground as our local concierge was a great convenience. It seemed that everywhere we visited; the hotels, restaurants, guides, shops and drivers had received a call from you or Iva right before our arrival making sure they were ready to welcome us with warm, open arms. The service was first class all the way…everything we expected and more!
It has been years since I used a travel agent; the Internet seemed to make the task of booking travel easier than before. The Internet does have its limitations. The personal touch and care that you and your team brought to our vacation was so appreciated. Your insight, guidance and advice was flawless and invaluable!
I will be recommending your company to my friends, family and business associates.
My only regret is that you do not provide travel services for the rest of the world!
Henry Seidner – New York, NY
September 25, 2016
As I already indicated our trip was near perfect in every detail. None the less there are two things that were a matter of our personal preference that I would consider changing. We all felt the second day in Split would have been better spent as a second day in Korcula. For us, we loved the visit to the later and would like to have had another day there.
Second, we would have eliminated the visit to Montenegro. By the end of the trip we were all traveled out and an extra day at the hotel in Dubrovnik would have been nice. The rides to and from Montenegro took a long time in and out of slow traffic. The restaurant you sent us to was lovely and served an excellent lunch but was probably not worth spending so much time in the car to go all the way to Kotor..
I say all this not as a complaint but just as a note you might consider for future travelers who don’t want to spend all that time in the car when the end result is a city that is lovely and interesting but doesn’t take long to see.
Again thanks for your assistance and we will of course recommend your services should the opportunity arise.
Edward Halpern and family – Santa Monica, California
August 17, 2016
I don’t know quite where to begin. This was absolutely the best trip of our lifetime.
From the minute that we arrived until our departure, every detail of the trip was meticulously planned out. The country is magnificent, the people welcoming and charming, each guide was well-versed in the history of the country and I could sense them making adjustments to the tour as they learned more about us. They were very gracious in answering all of our questions, which were more about the current government, lifestyle, education and medical care in the country than the beautiful sites we were visiting. Each guide was charming in his or her own way and well-known in their areas, as were all of the drivers.
The hotels and rooms were extraordinary. We loved the variety, from modern waterfront hotels to ageless palaces. I must say our favorite room was the Arabian room in Korcula. It was like something out of a movie set.
All of the restaurants that Iva chose for us were delicious with beautiful atmosphere. Each one was spectacular that it is impossible to single one out. But, the setting of the restaurant that we ate in during our visit to Montenegro was breathtaking, the food so fresh and the staff so welcoming. The same holds true for the restaurant in the hotel that we stay at in Korcula. I told our waiter that he should be a guide. He was such a delight. And then the chef at the restaurant at the Esplanade in Zagreb came out to meet us twice, made us special dishes and gave us each pralines as a present.
We loved all of the Old Cities and learning about Croatian heritage. Everyone we met is so proud of their country. It was so refreshing and we just loved it.
Thanks you for everything. We will definitely return and have shared our experience with anyone who will listen.
Barbara and Phillip Horowitz – New York, NY
June 13, 2016
you did indeed succeed in giving our family a lovely experience in Croatia! As I’ve mentioned it was our first all family trip and both the Villa Lorena and Novigrad were perfect for our needs. The house was lovely, of course, spacious, right on the Adriatic so that with the sliding doors open we could always hear the water and feel the wonderful ocean breezes. We all appreciated being able to walk (and some of the group took long distance runs) through the town and along the water. We all loved Istria- not many tourists, so many hilltop towns, Roman ruins, opportunities for wine and olive oil tastings. As I told Iva, the two highlights were the places most unknown to us – our day in Slovenia and Plitvice National Park. Slovenia touched all our hearts and we would all like to make a return visit- and Plitvice was just the prettiest National Park we’ve ever seen!
The logistics of our group of eight worked well- car logistics were smooth, despite the initial very unsettling interactions with the folks who delivered the car. Iva was always available to us to make or tweak reservations and to help us deal with a problem that came up in the house (the broken washer).
And you were absolutely right about staying at the Esplanade Hotel- besides being a lovely hotel with an interesting past, it was in a great location with very helpful staff.
Our only suggestion would be that if you have others going to the incredible Damir and Ornella restaurant in Novigrad to warn them about the price. The food and experience were fabulous, but the price was a big surprise. It would just be nice to know ahead of time.
Thank you so much for all the back and forth correspondence as we worked out the details of the trip. We were able to give the whole family an adventure they will always remember!
All the best,
Christine Kasman – San Anselmo, California
June 14, 2016
Overall was a great journey filled with deep culture, lots of great history, incredible sites and excellent guidance. You truly listened what we wanted to experience and your handpicked guides quickly became our friends and connection to the local flavors.
Cedo was a gem and made us feel as if he always was looking out for our best interests from the time he picked us up from the airport until the time he returned us to Venice.
Sandra provided us with great energy and an unbelievable amount of history.
The Istria peninsula was beautiful and so diverse.
I would like to have spent a couple of days in Rovinj.
“Harry”, the guide in Zagreb, gave us a lot in two hours. We felt like we were spending time with a friend.
Mira made us feel like we went behind the scenes of Dubrovnik.
The day in Montenegro was excellent. The driver was excellent and very professional.
Guide in Spit was informative but in a rush to see his grandmother.
Villa Eugenia was excellent! The front desk could not have been nicer. In fact, I believe for the first three nights we were the only ones staying at the hotel.
Regent Esplanade – beautiful hotel, great location but front desk had a major attitude problem. Pucic Palace – great spot, small room but the stuff was very helpful and upbeat.
Hotel Ambasador – very helpful, too large, but served its purpose for last day in Croatia.
Hilton – beautiful property, fairly helpful, overpriced for what it is, but it was nice to stay out of Venice proper. The rooftop pool was a nice place to wind down after all the traveling.
Croatia has so much to offer…it would have been nice to spend more time wine tasting, maybe two nights on the Peljesac Peninsula.
Thank you again for planning our trip and providing us with such a personalized experience.
Richard Magid, President
Sound Board Consulting Group – Boonton Twp, NJ
July 13, 2008
We had a wonderful time on our trip and I’m happy to thank you.
Our accommodations were all great, the children enjoyed everything and it was a great combination of touring and relaxing at the end on the beautiful beach in Rovinj and exploring Istria at our own pace. It was a wonderful family experience.
My best memory is of my father and the children splashing each other in the Adriatic while I watched from my comfortable lounge chair on the beach.
The only thing that was missing from our trip was music. Zoe and I so enjoyed hearing traditional Croatian music being played at the restaurant of the hotel in Dubrovnik, but nowhere else did we hear much music. In Rovinj, all the music seemed to be American. I was surprised. But we did really enjoy the Moreska and folk singing show we saw in Korcula. That was wonderful!
Rene Babich and family – New York, NY
February 10, 2016
Thank you for putting together a wonderful trip for us.
The hotels were beautiful and the tour guides were knowledgeable, professional and very friendly. All this made for a true vacation. The house you found for us in Umag was perfect, in a great location and met all our needs. Samira was a pleasure to deal with.
The cooking day in Zagreb was one of the highlights of the trip. The girls had so much fun and the food turned out to be delicious.
Thanks so much for the attention you invested in the details of planning our Rome and Croatia Interlude for our family.
Anita Bacchia & Family – New York, NY
August 11, 2016
I finally have the opportunity to respond to your inquiry about our recent trip! I’ll try to be as brief and specific as possible….
Hotels – A+
Each hotel was better than the next! We experienced a level of service at all four of our hotels that we’ve rarely if ever experienced before. It’s very possible that, all factors considered, that The Villa Dubrovnik was the finest hotel we’ve ever stayed in, rivalled only perhaps by one or two hotels on the Amalfi Coast that we were only able to afford because we were there in April. Vestibul Palace in Split was not far behind, and our accommodations in Zagreb and Hvar Town were not far behind.
Restaurants – A
While we had unforgettably wonderful meals at Divino in Hvar Town (my personal favorite), Lungo Mare, Nautika, and Gallo in Zagreb, the best meals may have been the lunches at Stari Mlini outside Kotor and a completely nameless establishment seemingly in the middle of the Adriatic where our yacht skipper took us for lunch! The only meal that I would characterize as just okay rather than great was Bokeria in Split. It should be noted that we received extra attention and care at Lungo Mare and Bokeria specifically because we were clients of yours….a great touch!
Guides/Drivers – A+
I must start by saying that absolutely everyone everywhere was phenomenally prompt, professional, courteous, knowledgeable. Nancy and I particularly enjoyed our time with our guides in Zagreb (a young lady), Marina (I think) in Dubrovnik, as well as the extraordinary Sinisa in Hvar and the warm, friendly, knowledgeable Marko for our day in Kotor. The woman who “took care of us” on the yacht to Korcula….I believe that her name is Diana….may have been our favorite of them all! Perhaps one driver, Josip, who took us from Korcula to Dubrovnik, failed to pick up on our “social cues”, and talked non-stop for the entire drive….a minor annoyance, certainly not a significant issue.
Zagreb – B+
seemed like a very livable, “people-friendly” city…more interesting than I’d expected. We wished that we could have spent one full day there. Our guide represented the city quite well.
Split – B+
became our next destination due to weather issues. While we loved the Diocletian’s Palace and adjacent Riva area, the city itself impressed us as somewhat mundane. Nonetheless, it is a “must” on anyone’s itinerary just because of the Palace and it’s amazing 21st Century adaptation.
Plitvice Lakes National Park – C
Our one big mistake was going somewhere that we suggested, not you! We took a day trip from Split to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. What started out as a beautiful day descended into a dense fog once we passed the mountains near the Park, and abated only slightly throughout the day. There were still thousands of visitors there, and walking the narrow, broken and uneven boards through the Park forced us spend more time looking down at our feet than at the sights. If we wanted to stop to take a picture, the back-up our pause created was significant. I’d be hard-pressed to recommend the Park to anyone.
Hvar Town – A+
We absolutely loved everything about the island. The secluded beaches of the Pakleni Islands were a fun contrast to what we experience in the NYC area. The restaurants were excellent and the laid-back but energetic vibe of the town was great. I could have spent my entire vacation relaxing there.
Korcula – A
We were there only for the time it took to have a walking tour in the late afternoon. We wished we could have spent the night on this beautiful, mellow island.
Dubrovnik – A+
Nancy and I had been waiting our entire adult lives to visit Dubrovnik. All the pictures and descriptions in the world do not begin to do it justice. Absolutely wonderful in every conceivable respect. I can’t imagine many things in the world surpassing the majesty of a walk along the walls in early evening or strolling along the Stradun on a late summer night. The perspective offered by the cable car was unforgettably beautiful.
Kotor – A
A great day trip….far more interesting and beautiful (there’s that word again!) than I’d imagined it would be. A visit to Kotor should be an absolute “must” on every visitor’s itinerary. I’m glad that you “insisted” that we keep it on ours.
Finally, thank you!
Nine months worth of my endless questions all handled by you with patience and grace. You can be sure that Nancy and I will tell all of our traveling friends about Croatia and the extraordinary service that you and your staff afforded us.
Michael Krieg – ABC Television Network Account Executive – Plainview, NY
September 27, 2016