Every time I told someone where we were going on holiday they had either been themselves, knew someone that had gone, read about it or seen a program about it. All had the same response – “I hear it’s really lovely”. Having now been to visit Croatia I can confirm it’s all true.
We booked a late deal through Thomson – 7 days half board for under £600 in a place called Rovinj in Istria. We chose Rovinj after a quick look through some of the forums on Tripadvisor. I don’t take everything said there as gospel but it certainly helps to hear the views of people that have experience of the place you are going to guide your choices. The advice said Rovinj was a good base of operations and it certainly was. Our hotel was the Hotel Eden. Maybe not the newest (a very swish new place had only just been opened right next door) but the rooms were large and clean, the balcony big enough for sitting with a bottle of wine in the evening and the food was of a good quality. It has lovely grounds with lots of trees for shade, a nice outdoor saltwater pool and is about 3 minutes walk from a beach (although beach is a little generous as the whole coastline is very rocky and what beach there was was man made – still nice though). The evening entertainment was not really up to much if I’m honest but there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself.
Whilst possibly not the cheapest you could get, the Thomson rep offered a number of excursions with discounts for booking either two or three which helped bring the cost in line with external choices. We booked three in the hope that they would use tried and tested companies. First up a day tour of “the best of Istria”. Basically a guided tour to Pula, a trip to the hill town of Grožnjan and a local meal in a village whose name I forget. Not bad although quite a long day and the wine with the meal was not up to much at all. Our tour guide Elvis was quite a character though and I spent the first hour thinking he was calling us his “mighty guests” every minute – turns out he was saying “my dear guests”.
Next trip was a boat trip up the Lim Valley (or canal or fjord), on to the town of Vrsar and then a stop for a swim from the boat near to one of the many islands around that area. The trip itself was great although the captain and crew didn’t really speak English so we had no idea of the itinerary most of the time. We all looked a bit surprised when the boat stopped on the way back, they simply asked “Swim?” and then started handing out shots of Grappa. The rocking of the boat also left us feeling a little light headed by the time we got back but at least one family had decided to take the bus back from Vrsar so we were spared the little boy crying out “We’re all going to die” every 2 minutes for the return trip. The number of nudist beaches you pass is also quite high…
Last trip was a day in Poreč. Just the bus there and back – no tour – but it’s easy to find all the sites to see as it’s a small town and well worth the effort. We could have gone one several other trip including to Venice and Slovenia but we wanted to get the right mix of excursions and relaxation, which was why the rest of the holiday was spend lazing by the pool reading, walking around the coast and wandering around Rovinj.
To sum everything up:
1. Lovely countryside (very very green) and beautiful coastline.
2. Good weather.
3. Friendly people who seem to drink a lot of wine and have an obsession with Abba
4. Lots to see and do (or not if you prefer to relax)
5. If you want holiday money, there are plenty of local exchange offices that all offer much better than UK rates with no commission.
6. Good food with a strong Italian influence.
7. Good package holiday by Thomson – would use them again
If you are considering going to Croatia, it’s well worth a look.