Some travel is less intimidating than others. For instance, if we travel to other states in the U.S., this is generally not intimidating because the currency stays the same, everyone speaks the same language, no visa or passport is required, and most of the hotels and airlines are well-known to us. Traveling outside of the U.S. can be more intimidating, but much of Europe feels manageable because of the single currency (Euro), the well-known landmarks (Eiffel Tower, Grand Canal in Venice, Colosseum in Rome, etc.), and the availability of literally hundreds of tour companies and guide books available to make any trip worry-free.
When we decided to go to Croatia at the end of 2016, though, the intimidation factor was pretty high despite the destination being a European country. Although they joined the EU in 2013, Croatia has yet to adopt the Euro as its currency; the Kuna is still its currency of record. Further, our familiarity with the local language is as close to zero as you can get, and their alphabet has a number of unique letters and characters that really threw us off. While there are an increasing number of tourists going to Croatia – drawn by their beautiful beaches, their affiliation with Game of Thrones, and the relatively economical cost of travel – travel resources are not as deep as they would be for Spain, France, Italy or other popular continental destinations.
When we planned our trip, we did so without any assistance beyond what we were able to find out using Google and reading travel blogs. So much of what we read turned out to be nonsense, including the dangers of traveling by car (crooked police pull over foreigners rampantly and give them tickets, while locals pretend to have car trouble and rob tourists who pull over to help). We were literally traveling blind, though, because we did not have much reliable information about the places we wanted to visit or stay. In the end, we managed to have a fantastic trip but we realized that we missed so many beautiful places because, well, we just didn’t know better.
We recently came across a travel company that we wish we had known about when we were planning our first-ever visit to Croatia: Adriatic Travel, started over 44 years ago by Niko Hazdovac, a native of Croatia who moved to the United States. After a career as a merchant marine officer, Niko started Adriatic Travel to provide those with Croatian ancestry a reliable way to visit their homeland or the homeland of their parents and grandparents. Today, Adriatic Travel is still a family run travel agency with deep roots in Croatia as well as surrounding countries.
Adriatic Travel has a wide range of services and experiences for travelers looking to soak in everything Croatia has to offer. For those that prefer to cruise, they offer trips on both sailing ships as well as motorized vessels. Examples of their cruises include:
- Venice to Dubrovnik (or vice-versa)
- Zadar to Dubrovnik (or vice-versa)
- Round-trip from Dubrovnik to Split
- Dubrovnik to Porec.
A full list of their Adriatic sea cruises can be found here: Sea Cruises.
For those desiring a bit more adventure on the seas, Adriatic Travel also offers charter cruises priced by the week for small groups of a dozen or so. Longer charter trips come with captain, sailing crew, chef, and waiters to provide a luxurious on-water experience. “Bareboat” charters – those with no crew – are available for those that are bold enough to commandeer their own vessel. Adriatic Travel can set up many different craft charters from catamaran, sail boats, speedboats, and more. More information on their charters can be found here: Charter Cruises.
Of course, not everyone wants to travel by boat when they visit Croatia, especially given the number of sights on land and inland. For travelers who would like to explore the cities in more depth, visit wineries, and tour some of Croatia‘s stunning national parks, Adriatic Travel offers escorted land tours. Some of the most intriguing for us are:
- Croatian Food and Wine Tour, which starts in Zagreb and ends in Dubrovnik. In between, travelers will visit several wineries and partake in the delicious local foods.
- Dubrovnik to Venice, with stops in beautiful Kotor, Montenegro; a day at the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia; a visit to Lubljana in Slovenia; ending in the magical city of Venice.
- Belgrade to Zagreb, with many exciting stops in between including Montenegro and Slovenia, along with several stunning stops in Croatia.
A complete list of planned excursions are here: Escorted Tours
When we traveled to Croatia we managed to visit Slovenia (for a few hours) and Bosnia & Herzegovina (for two days). Unfortunately, we missed Montenegro and Serbia; next visit we will make sure to visit both countries as we have heard amazing things about them.
In addition to the various tours and excursions we have mentioned, Adriatic Travel also offers assistance with air reservations, car reservations, and one-way transfers and private excursions with driver. We rented our own car but we have to say it would have been much more convenient (and safe!) to have taken advantage of an excursion to visit wine country.
If you are thinking of making a trip to Croatia or any of the Balkan countries (Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia), consider Adriatic Travel. You can contact Peter Hazdovac at firstname.lastname@example.org. Friends of Topochines Vino will receive $100.00 off per person when they book any tour or cruise with Adriatic Travel. Let us know if you are planning to travel to Croatia or if you already have we would love to hear about your experience.
John & Irene Ingersoll
April 3, 2018