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Itinerary help please

We'll be catching a lovely cruise on the new Mama Marija next August for 8 days along the Croatian islands including Mljet, Korcula, Vis, Bol, Hvar, Trogir and Split! (.http://www.adventure-life.com/croatia/cruises/12331/dubrovnik-to-split)

Question 1: Anyone have experience with the fleet that's actually operated by a Croatia-based company called Ambassador Travel?
(The Mama Marija, Captain Bota, Splendid, Apolon, and Equator.)

Question 2: Before the cruise, we're thinking of the following for a week. We love natural beauty, both lakes and mountains. Do I have the right mix of timing/lodging?

Fly into Zagreb. Overnight Zagreb. Rent car.

Drive to Ljubljana. Overnight there.

Drive to Lake Bled. Two nights, allowing for Julian Alps loop.

Drive to Rovinj for overnight.

Drive to Plitvice Lakes for overnight.

Drive to Split for overnight.

Board ship!

Also, after disembarking in Dubrovnik, we're thinking 3 nights to do Bay of Kotor, Sarajevo and Mostar (via rental car). Is that enough time for a good sense of those sites?

Much thanks!

Posted by Lane
Seattle, WA, USA
855 posts

I think your itinerary has far too many one-night stays, with not nearly enough time to actually see the places where you will be staying.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Pick up your car when you arrive at Zagreb airport and drive directly to Ljubljana. Skip the night in Zagreb.
  2. Stay in Ljubljana 4 nights. Do Lake Bled as one day trip and do the Julian Alps loop as another day trip.
  3. Skip Rovinj. Go directly from Ljubljana to Plitvice.

Then, after your cruise, 3 nights is not enough to to Kotor, Sarajevo, and Mostar. Sarajevo alone deserves three nights. If you go there, you can stop in Mostar on the way. Otherwise, you could do a day trip from Dubrovnik to Mostar and one to Kotor, but don't try to get to Sarajevo as well. You also don't need a car to do those day trips. It's easy to hire guides or go on a tour.

Posted by meemskirk OP
11 posts

Lane,
Thanks for your feedback! (I lived in Seattle for 12 years.)

Implications:
--Zagreb not worth much
--Sarajevo: worth a lot.
Can you elaborate on Sarajevo please? Thanks!

Posted by claudecyr65
Laval, Québec, Canada
181 posts

I wouldn't miss Zagreb, it's a lovely city that deserves at least a day.
When i went to Slovenia i decided to stay in Bled for everything which i didn't regret at all. So i did Ljublijana, bohinj from Bled.
Because you're doing multiple similar places, i could consider missing rovinj, eventhough it's a lovely little town. This is only if you don't want to do the overnight
Relooking at the map, i think i would take the car and skip Zagreg at the beginning, stay around bled for the whole slovenia part, then go back to zagreg and visit it and use it as a stop to go to Plitvice after a night. You have to pass by Zagreb or almost to go from ljubljana to plitvice.
Zagreb-plitvice is 2 hours
As for your last question, i only did Kotor for one day. Liked it a lot.

Posted by Lane
Seattle, WA, USA
855 posts

I didn't mean to imply that Zagreb isn't worth seeing. In fact, I didn't get to see Zagreb when I was in Croatia. I've seen people speak with great affection about Zagreb in this forum, but I've also heard people say it's maybe worth a quick stop and no more. If you want to see it, claudecyr65's suggestion to stop there on the way to Plitvice is a good one. You'll want to arrive in Plitvice late and stay overnight so you can arrive at the park early the next morning before the tour buses arrive. You can visit the park in the morning and then get to Split by late afternoon/early evening.

I think Ljubljana is a stunning small capital city. Great architecture and lovely to just wander around. However, there's nothing wrong with basing in Bled instead.

In general, I think Slovenia is one of the most beautiful countries I've been to in Europe (maybe second only to Norway). So I would spend as much time as you can afford there.

Sarajevo is so rich in history that I think it deserves several days. You will have the chance to meet people who lived through the siege in the 1990s. You can visit the tunnel museum. You can visit synagogues and mosques and churches in a city where all religions have lived together peacefully for hundreds of years, and when you have spent enough time there, you will understand the great tragedy that the Bosnian War was. I've never been anywhere where what I saw made me feel so connected to the sad history. Even visiting concentration camps or Anne Frank's house, while deeply moving experiences, didn't have the emotional impact for me that three days in Sarajevo gave me. It is not a museum. People still live in houses scarred by shrapnel. You can walk through intersections where just 25 years ago people had to run for their lives to avoid sniper fire. You can visit cemeteries where every tombstone dates from the same three-year period in the 1990s, and these are located in the middle of neighborhoods because it was the only place where the dead could be buried safely while the city was under siege. Just 8 years earlier this city hosted the Winter Olympics. And Sarajevo also has a charming historic district and market. And not many tourists.

Posted by Jennifer
Tunbridge Wells
1642 posts

Sorry, but it's a stupid idea to suggest that you jump off a long flight and hire a car and drive miles!

I think that you are trying to cover too much ground in your time, so you will have to make some decisions. You either need to focus on Slovenia (check your car insurance covers you for this) and drop Rovinj or you need to focus on Croatia and drop Slovenia. Your current plan involves too many one night stays in peak season, which will be difficult and too much driving. You could easily spend your whole week just based in Rovinj by exploring the gorgeous hill towns and coast.

It is a good idea to stay the night before Plitvice in this area so that you can get into the park early. Trogir near Split is worth at least half a day.

I haven't been to Sarajevo, so I can't comment in detail, but having researched going there, you can't cover all three places in 3 days including travel time. Taking a hire car out of the EU will probably cost you more.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
7012 posts

I'm one of the forum's Zagreb proponents. But you can't go everywhere on one trip. It may need to hit the cutting-room floor. Since you're doing the coast and a bunch of islands, I might also skip Istria (which I also love, but which really needs more than one night if you want to see much of anything.) To go there for just a few hours in Rovinj isn't a good plan, in my view. As it is, you'll have very, very little time there and will compromise your trip to Plitvice by not spending the night prior to your visit very near the park so you can get an early start the next morning.

Check with the car-rental company about extra fees for driving through Bosnia-Hercegovina and Montenegro.

Posted by meemskirk OP
11 posts

Thanks to all for your insights!

Our time/capabilities are very flexible at this point. So it's just deciding what is most amazing for one trip. Although coming in from Florida to Zagreb will mean Zagreb for the first night just to recuperate.

I did this rather than Venice because I couldn't figure out how to get around easily with a rental car starting in Venice. Any ideas there as Venice would be a lot easier??

claudecyr65, did you have a Lake Bled accommodation you'd recommend?

Main differences between Lake Bled and Plitvice Lakes?

Posted by Dejan
Slovenia
351 posts

Main differences between Lake Bled and Plitvice Lakes?

One is a developed lakeside resort town with plenty of other sights and activities in the area, the other is a national park far from other points of interest, but it's a UNESCO site and absolutely worth the trip. Very, very different places.

Posted by Lane
Seattle, WA, USA
855 posts

Sorry, but it's a stupid idea to suggest that you jump off a long flight and hire a car and drive miles!

Everyone is different. I got off a flight in Zagreb from the USA and jumped in a car and drove to Ljubljana. It took about 2 hours. It was not a problem for me at all.

Jennifer, it's fine to have a different opinion, but not sporting to call my idea stupid just because you don't agree with it.

Meemskirk, I assume you can judge what's best for you and decide accordingly.

Posted by claudecyr65
Laval, Québec, Canada
181 posts

@Jennifer,
I agree with Lane and did the same thing by taking my car from Zagreg to Lake Bled. No regrets at all
Let's respect everyone's opinions and ideas please

Posted by Dejan
Slovenia
351 posts

I did this rather than Venice because I couldn't figure out how to get around easily with a rental car starting in Venice. Any ideas there as Venice would be a lot easier??

You could book a shuttle with a company such as GoOpti from Venice to Ljubljana and rent a car there. If the one-way drop off fee between Ljubljana and Split is too cost-prohibitive still, you could also book a shuttle from Venice to Rovinj, rent a car there and do the itinerary you posted in the Slovenia forum in reverse. Rovinj - Bovec - Bled - Ljubljana - (Zagreb?) - Plitvice - Split.

Posted by Jennifer
Tunbridge Wells
1642 posts

Sorry I wasn't "sporting" for calling someone stupid for getting off a transatlantic flight and driving several hours. Just read the recent post on Sixt rentals on this Croatia forum for an example of someone doing this very same thing, admitting he arrived in Croatia having had 3 hours sleep in as many days. I rest my case.