|Subject: Croatia: was 1st time solo traveler in Europe desperate for advice|
It appears you've gotten some great advise so far.
I can add a little bit regarding your concerns about Croatia. My wife and I passed through Zagreb four years ago. And although our experience was limited to three days in the city we found it to be a safe, charming and vibrant small capital of an intriguing European country.
The city has some wonderful architecture as a result of its being part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The cuisine is interesting with the slightest bit of influence from lands more to the east. Just enough to give it an exotic nature. The language is Slavic, which we didn't speak (although one of the first words learned was pivo for beer) and was never a problem. we found the Croatians to be friendly and accommodating.
Of course, when we were there they had just completed their war with Yugoslavia (Serbia) and tensions were still high. There was a strong military presence in the city but we never felt ill at ease and daily life seemed to be operating normally. The war devastated their tourism industry and we heard from the few travelers who had been out to the coasts that they were deserted. Personally, I'd love to go back and spend some time seeing this nation.
And as a side note we used ATM machines in Zagreb during our stay with no problems. Although make sure that your PIN is only four characters long and should be numerical. I've been told that the alphabetical layout on the keyboards in Europe can be different than here in the US.
John Rule San Diego, CA