Plitvice Lakes National Park and Dubrovnik have become world renowned and were the magnets. When hiking in the Dolomites we tried but could not fit in Triglave NP and Bled so this was the beginning of this trip.
My wife and I are 64 year old activity travelers and have checked off our last 2 bucket list locations with the help of Evaneos.
(Portugal with Anna and now)
Croatia / Slovenia with Jelena, our local agent. As busy as Jelena has been with small independents such as us or leading bus loaded tours, she always found time for us. Beginning the trip's process with variable dates and length of travel, she remained calm and organized. Jelena quickly found out we were doers and not leisure lizards. She offered various itineraries and guided or independent treks including a variety of accomodations and sites. From there, she and Lauri grew the trip to cover both history, culture, people interaction, beauty and action. They explored their options on the internet and came up with a slighty more extended plan with additional highlights.
We started in Zagreb to find out how little, we Americans know of the region. That simply added to the mystery of the history and evolution of this Balkan region. Lauri and I kept reading as we explored the region from city-state-and now the national Countries of the area from Illyrian, Greek, Roman, Venetian, Nappleonic, Habsburg, Austro-Hungarian, Yugoslavian cultures and now the newly re-soverign nations with Ottoman and Islamic influences. This simply super-enhanced the architecture, flavors, people, wars of appreciation by Jelena's recommendations.
We toasted with the locals in Vrhnika, ate in stone cities, mountains, lakes and hilltops with wild or farm to table local foods. We chose Slovenian truffles with Croatian wines and ate the best steaks ever.
Jelena was soon to find out that Lauri and I are over-achievers; we added a hiking guide for 2 days in Triglav National Park and indulged in Lake Bled and Bovec / Soca activities. We added Skocjan Caves and Predjana Castle Cave, Piran and Motovun on our way to Opatija where we walked the lungomare and had an extensive breakfast buffet under covered tables on the Grand Palace's gorgeous deck overlooking the Adriatic sea.
Each accommodation was increasingly thought out for our enjoyment and interest by Jelena and if we got lost getting there even with GPS in the tiny car-challenged streets, Jelena helped us through. She even met us at our up-scaled BandB to meet and talk in Plitvice.
Understanding Croatia and site recommendations are definitely Jelena's strength! Zadar (harmonic steps), Trogir (effervescent energy), and seaside towns to Split along the coast road and not the super highway further enlightened the history and development of Jelena's country.
Oh my, what an understatement Split is for it's more heavily tourists 'sister' Dubrovnik! We stayed in a re-gentrified home/UNESCO turned BandB at Heritage Palace Varos with original in-floor olive mill 2 blocks from Split old city and Diocletians Palace.
Split has accommodated Croatia's attraction well. By adding a half day private tour to our schedule, Jelena only enhanced it's unique history, cobbled with a young, energetic esplanade and great restaurants, bars and squares, street music within the Palaces courtyard and a wonderful Marjan Park with great views highlighted the coastal towns. The Jewish immigration and current presence over the centuries was most interesting to us.
We added options like walking Ston's walls and eating oysters and appreciating the still functioning Roman salt pans before we got to Dubrovnik.
As Dubrovnik was a City Nation-State, we stayed just outside this living double walled millenial fortress at the gorgeous Blue Hotel resort. We continued our activity with an extended prearranged tour and fine foods of pastas and seafood, took a short 'fish-eye' view of this historic town from the sea and a 'bird's-eye' view from the top of the gondola. We better understood the development of this wonderful country following the third Balkan War and left grateful for Jelena's masterful arrangements including car pick-ups and deliveries to and from the airports.
Jelena deserves 5 star kudos for a most wonderful trip. We look forward to using the services of Evaneos once again in the near future!
Everything because Jelena made it happen!
Too much to do and not enough time. Other things including: rafting and rappelling down the Soca river, 2 day hike to Triglav peak, more time in Bled, a side trip to Trieste, a night in Ljubljana, a side trip to Krka National Park, side trip to Mostar and gosh, so much more.