I don’t remember when I decided that the countries of the former Yugoslavia were at the top of my bucket list. Some people I knew went to Croatia and raved about it, so at some point I became determined to see it for myself.
I also don’t remember when I decided to use a travel agency to make the arrangements for me, but I found JayWay Travel and started working with them to create the perfect itinerary. JayWay specializes in independent eastern European travel, so it wasn’t like going on a tour. They customized the itinerary with me and took care of all the booking (flights, lodging, rental car, and other transportation). It worked out brilliantly. They selected superb lodging (guesthouses for the most part), and the itinerary was as close to ideal as possible for a three‐week trip. When my sister decided to join me for part of the trip, they made all her arrangements as well.
We flew into Zagreb, arriving about an hour apart, and picked up our rental car. JayWay also supplied us with a local cellphone so we could reach them if we had any problems. We drove about two hours into Slovenia and our first stop, Ljubljana. There we spent three nights, including a day trip to Bohinj and Bled.
After Ljubljana, our next stop was Kobarid, in the Soca Valley. En route we stopped in Radvoljica to visit the Museum of Apiculture, and we drove over Vršič Pass. In Kobarid we did a great hike and visited the outstanding museum dedicated to the history of World War I.
Our next destination was Rovinj, on Croatia’s Istrian peninsula. Along the way we stopped at Tolmin Gorge, Škocjan Caves, and the seaside resort town of Piran.
We spent three nights in Rovinj, including a day trip to some of the hill towns of northern Istria. I also enjoyed a bike ride, and we had some great food in Rovinj.
After Rovinj we headed to Plitvice Lakes National Park. We spent four or five hours wandering the trails, and we spent the night at a lovely B&B nearby before heading out the next morning into Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was a long but lovely drive to Sarajevo. We stopped in Bihac and in Jajce, where it started to get drizzly. By the time we reached Sarajevo, we’d driven through severe downpours, which presaged the next three days of non‐stop rain. Although the Miljacka River, typically a quiet meandering stream, was raging through the city, there was no flooding in Sarajevo. Just a lot of wet.
In spite of the rain, Sarajevo was a highlight of the trip for me, largely thanks to my walk with Amir Telebecirovic, the private guide I hired. He really brought a genuine first‐hand perspective to the experiencing of living through the longest siege in the history of modern warfare.
My sister departed for home after the first night in Sarajevo. I stayed three nights and then headed south to Mostar, where I spent one night. From there I drove back into Croatia, first stopping in Počitelj. I drove along the Adriatic coast to Trogir, and I spent one night there. The next morning I drove to Split and dropped off the rental car. I spent most of the day in Split before catching a ferry to Hvar. I had two nights there followed by two nights in Korčula.
My final stop was Dubrovnik, where I spent three nights. I took a disappointing day trip to the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, and spent an afternoon kayaking in the Adriatic before catching my flight home.
As usual, I took far too many pictures, and I blogged daily.
Ljubljana (114 photos)
Bohinj and Bled (81 photos)
Western Slovenia (209 photos)
Istria (162 photos)
Plitvice Lakes (128 photos)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (204 photos)
Trogir, Split, Hvar, and Korčula (228 photos)
Dubrovnik (214 photos)
Next spring? Really? (9/2/2013)- With less than two weeks until I leave for my Oregon road trip, I find that I’m already on the verge of putting down a deposit on my next vacation. I was thinking the Balkans in the fall, but now… more… Itinerary Tweaking (9/4/2013)- I love planning my vacation nearly as much as going on it. (Nothing unusual about that, I think.) So once I start narrowing down the plan, I am constantly tweaking it until I’ve locked everything down. So here’s my revised… more… More Balkan dreaming (9/19/2013)- Two days until I leave on my Oregon road trip. I’m planning to blog daily while I’m gone, posting experiences and photos. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to think ahead to next May and my trip to the Balkans. I requested a private… more… Second guessing myself (10/23/2013)- In preparation for my upcoming trip, I bought the Kindle edition of Rick Steves’ Croatia & Slovenia guide book today. 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