My wife and I are renting a car in Istria (1-week rental) this May, driving around that region for a few days (because food) and eventually down to Dubrovnik w/ stops in Zadar and Split. I've done a number of cross-country road trips in the U.S., so this is more exciting than daunting to me, but the horror stories surrounding car rentals are a little disconcerting.
I have a few questions:
1) If I reserve an "automatic" transmission vehicle online (some of the bigger corporate companies, e.g. Hertz, allow for this), how likely is it that my rental will actually BE automatic? Having rented before, I've found that what you ask for (and even "reserve") isn't always what you receive. Does anyone have direct experience with this in Croatia? Broadly speaking, can one expect to get the "features" s/he reserves online? Or should I not bank on this?
2) Are there any companies/agencies/consolidators you would completely avoid?
3) Any recommendations for lodgings (generally, we prefer affordable and clean to 5-star, but we occasionally splurge if the place is worth it) in Rovinj or Bale, Zadar, and/or Split for people with a vehicle? I know parking can be complicated and expensive.
Thanks in advance. Happy travels!