You really don't know how valuable having a well organized travel company is until you're in a foreign place and you can see with your eyes what not having one looks like. Split, Croatia is like a mini San Francisco in many ways. The hills are steep and the traffic is extreme and when you see traveler after traveler struggling as they lug all their luggage along with them as they walk to their destinations in the streets makes you feel truly blessed to have a private driver that transported you and all your luggage directly to your hotel. The same goes for touring historical sites and cities. It takes only one glance at the the tour group of 30 people getting off a bus with headphones guidebooks and a tour guide that looks more like a sheep herder than a guide to realize how much of a benefit it is to have a private tour guide. The drivers and guides that our travel company booked for us were perfectly on time per the itinerary we were provided in every instance and there wasn't one that wasn't friendly and open to teach us both about the site or city or land we were in but also about the people and the culture and the government and what it is like to live in Croatia. Our drivers were often as interesting to listen to as our guides.
I chose this company because I wanted to give my parents an experience where we didn't have to worry about choosing a good place to stay each night or coordinating our own logistics. Not only did this travel company exceed our expectations in these simple regards, they found people in each place we visited to provide us with such a pleasantly unique and surprising personal experience that we left Croatia with more cultural knowledge and happy memories than we ever could have imagined.
I think it was the drivers and guides by far. I chose Croatia because I wanted to visit the famous national parks and the BIBICh Winery and to see the places that I had been hearing glowing reviews about from friends I know that traveled there recently. I hadn't even considered what I didn't know about the history with the Romans and Greeks and Venetians and Turks and French and the presence they all had during occupations in this area. I had know idea that Croatian women were so beautiful. I had know idea that Croatia would feel like such a safe place to explore on our own, at night or any other time. It was the things I didn't even know I was going to learn or experience that our private drivers and guides provided for us that are going to stay in my mind forever. Other unique experience include the private tour of Hvar we got from our guide. We were fresh into town, had relaxed at the pool and beach for a few hours before check in at the hotel. Then we saw we had a half day tour scheduled. Maybe we were a little tired, maybe we were thinking it would have been nice just to find a nice meal near the hotel and enjoy the sunset. If we didn't take this tour, we would have never known about the charming little city Stari Grad. We would have never known anything about what Lavender and Olives and Wine and the loss of each at one point in history or another and what that would mean to the livelihoods of the people living there. And we would have never experienced a private wine tasting in a hidden little winery stowed away in a random town in the countryside and we never would have experienced a personally prepared dinner in a restaurant located in an abandoned village after dark. We got all of this within a 4 hour period and we were in Croatia for 8 days.
I would schedule more time for sure. 8 days is not enough. We only had one day on Hvar. That island deserves at least 2 to 3. And we only got to experience Dalmatia County via our time in Split, one island, and Dubrovnik. Croatia is overflowing with valuable experienced to be had. Next time I visit, I will try for at least 2 weeks.
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