Michael and Judy Mael, USA
Balkan Tour - Private itinerary
July 2016.

Dear Dubravka,

Thank you again for your help in creating a memorable trip for us to Croatia. Here are some thoughts that may be useful to you and future travelers.

First, we are grateful for your advice and care along the way. After the initial proposal, I think you had a sense as to what we were looking for and put together a program that fit us well. Moreover, I am guessing you have many guides that you use and you chose well with the ones you had for us.

In addition, should you ever have the occasion to need a reference for future clients, please feel free to use us. We are happy to tell them of our outstanding experience with you and Secret Dalmatia.

We were happy with the overall plan and the stops along the way. We had discussions about what we would have done if we had one day more or less and what we would have changed. In looking back, we would have liked to have one additional day in Split. Perhaps we could have done with one fewer in Dubrovnik though we enjoyed our last day there with no plans.

We tried to have a balance of days with activities and days without plans. For us, having no formal plans on Korcula and Hvar worked out best.

In terms of the tours, the only change we would have made was to skip the stop in Kastela – interesting but we would have rather had more time in Trogir and especially Split at the end of the day. I suspect if we had started in Split that morning we would have skipped it along the way. It would have been nice to stop in Pazin but, given the long day, we were happy to skip it.

Overall, we were quite happy with the hotels. I know you had proposed some different options, particularly in Dubrovnik and Korcula. But, we were happy not to stay in the hotels inside the old city, the Marmont being the exception.

Bellevue – was outstanding. For us, it was the perfect location – on the water and close enough to walk to the old city. Staff was terrific.

Liburna – not ideal but not as bad as it seemed. The location was perfect for us. Again, it was on the water and close enough to walk to the old city. Staff tried to be helpful and responsive. The facility was OK – the big issue was our room. While spacious, given the location of the room and lack of view (we really didn’t face anything and certainly not the sea), it was just too hot. Not the quality of the other places we stayed but adequate for our needs.

Appolon – outstanding in every way. You knew quickly that we were not Hvar Town people and we loved Star Grad. Can’t say enough good things about them.

Marmont – also outstanding. For us, the perfect location, very comfortable and wonderful staff. Very happy here.

Remisens – I somehow feel that if you go to Opatija you need to stay at the grand hotel in the center. Remisens certainly fits that bill. Room was very comfortable with a wonderful view and the hotel was well located. We liked being in the center of town given the relatively little time we were actually there. They play live music under the window until 11:00 pm but it wasn’t an issue.

For people going on to other places, we were also quite happy with the hotels in Trieste and Ljubljana. Both were large, classic hotels but both very comfortable and well located. We were quite happy with each.

Overall, all the drivers were excellent drivers.

Drujzan (spelling ?) sets the gold standard. He was a wonderful driver, excellent company and passionate about the country. We enjoyed our time with him, and he spoiled us.

We spent less time with Philip and the young man who took us to Plitvice, whose name I don’t recall. Both also were terrific. Lyjerka was our driver for two days and did a great job navigating the roads of Istria.

The two contract drivers for Slovenia were excellent drivers but really little more than cab drivers. Both had to be persuaded to help put our luggage in the car, for example. They got the job done but that’s about it.

Again, our guides were uniformly excellent and we feel like we got to know them with our time together. As they probably told you, we asked a lot of questions often making it a challenge for them to get through their program on time.

Vesna – a wonderful tour of Dubrovnik filled with her personal history of life there during the war. Happy that we had this introduction to the old city – much better than a guide book.

Katya – very good but for us, not of the caliber of the others. She gave us a wonderful introduction to the church of the Lady of the Rocks but our visit to Kotor seemed somewhat rushed and superficial. Perhaps we spent too much time in Perast and had less time to see Kotor but we felt like we really didn’t see much of it.

Nives – as said earlier, probably the best guide we’ve ever had anywhere. Can’t say enough wonderful things about her. She made the places come alive with a mixture of culture and stories. Incredible detail on our stops in Salona and Trogir in the Cathedral and especially in Split in the Palace. We left feeling we really knew the history and the place. Somehow, she also got us in for a brief visit to the Synagogue, something very meaningful for Judy.

Blanca – no better person for the lakes. At one point, she said that you could blindfold her and she could find her way around. We believe it. She gave us a detailed view of the park seeing things (flowers, frogs, snakes) somehow that we would have never thought to look for. Her love of the park comes through.

Ljerka – the perfect guide for us for two days in Istria with an incredible knowledge of the cities, the culture, the history and the backroads. She is certainly quirky and probably not for everyone but for us, she was just right. We enjoyed our time together learning about life in Istrian towns, seeing the ghost towns and getting her personal view. It was unforgettable.

I hope this is helpful to you and future clients.

Thank you again for all your help

Michael and Judy