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Much more than a guide, Julija is Croatia's finest ambassador part 1 of 2

This was my second visit to Croatia but after seeing it through Julija Antunovic’s eyes, it won’t be my last.

Using Dubrovnik as our base, my friend and I had the pleasure of spending 8 fabulous days (3 of which we spent with Julija,) in January, 2024. YES, January! My previous trip was in September and while it was much warmer, winter was stunning. Traveling to Croatia at this time of year proved to be a gift in many ways. The crowds are gone, prices are lower, the cooler weather encouraged us to experience some of the lesser known venues which prove to be delightful and best of all people seemed genuinely happy to see us, so service was great.

Over the years we have hired numerous guides in many countries but we can honestly say none have exceeded Julija in terms of knowledge, flexibility, generosity or resourcefulness. What a gem!

Having read Ms. Antunovic’s glowing reviews on Trip Advisor, Get Your Guide and Rick Steves we booked three day excursions (each of which she graciously customized.) Beyond being an outstanding guide, Julija’s English (and Italian) are flawless; between that and her beautiful website, communication was quite easy.

Each morning Julija punctually greeted us in an immaculate new Mercedes, wearing a smile and ready to introduce us to the day’s treasures.

On our first day together, we travelled to Montenegro, stopping at a gorgeous waterfront restaurant for breakfast and a spectacular view.

As we drove, Julija explained the history, politics and conflicts that lead to the creation of Montenegro. As a native of Dubrovnik she also shared many personal stories of the her country, its membership the Schengen area and the surrounding regions.

Continuing on our journey, we explored charming Perast, UNESCO’s exquisite Kotor Bay, (and with a local guide,) it’s old city. Though I’d visited some of the area before, it was a delight to learn more about the history of this fledgling country and enjoy a more in-depth experience.

If you have a chance to take this tour and love Christmas, don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the local shops that feature intricate hand painted (one of a kind wooden) Santas. A true Montenegrin treasure!

Our second trip with Julija was to Bosnia-Herzegovina. As we drove up the gorgeous Balkan coast, Julija shared the ancient and modern history of the area, (which definitely added to us more fully appreciating it.)

Along the way to Mostar we stopped at an oyster farm. We watched them harvest then sampled some of the finest (and absolutely the freshest) oysters I’ve ever had! It was an unexpected delight.

Once we arrived in Mostar we were joined by yet another local guide (which is mandated by the country.) Teeming with Turkish and Islamic influences, our hosts walked us through the fascinating old quarter. We visited various historic points including the ancient Mosque, the proposed site of a Synagogue and the famous UNESCO Stari Most (the 16th century Ottoman Mostar bridge, which was rebuilt after the last war.)

We spent the afternoon wandering the ethic artisan shops where Julija aided in negotiating our purchases. We completed the afternoon with a delicious Bosnian lunch overlooking the stunning turquoise Neretva River.

Although it wasn’t part of the excursion, before returning to Dubrovnik Julija included a stop to Kravica Waterfall and lesser-known yet enthralling cascades at Ceveljusa and Kocusa. Which were fantastic.

On our last day together we visited a family farm which was by far and away the highlight of our trip. We were treated not merely to a fabulous farm-to-table 6 course lunch, (including liquor, bread, freshly cured olives, and a wide selection of fresh smoked meats, all made on the farm.) Another special treat was a visit to the farm’s smoke house… which was a visual and olfactory delight!

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