Subject: Re: 1st time solo traveler in Croatia
My daughter(23) and I(46) returned on July 13th, 2001 from a trip to Germany, Croatia and Italy. We spent time with my wife's grandmother's family near Zagreb and relaxed a few days on the Island of Hvar in the Adriatic before traveling to Rome via Ancona,IT. Croatia is a safe, modern and friendly country. Heaps of money being spent on renovating roads and tourist related infrastructure. Zagreb is a big city waking up from its 45 year nap. Split is a Venice clone without the crowds, canals and expense. Beautiful marble plazas filled with proud Croatians when Goran returned from Wimbledon. Hvar and the surrounding Hell Islands are too gorgeous to describe. All is not so pretty near the Bosnian border around Knin. Still many vacant war damaged homes and buildings in the rural areas. Very difficult to see and not be sad.

Take home points from our trip:

Travel within Croatia: Take the bus! It's obscenely cheap (Zagreb to Split ~$17 US for a 6 hour trip!) and faster than the rail. Not at all like the bus system in the US. We used: for bus schedule info into/out of Zagreb. We also used: for general info and accomodations on Hvar.

Dress code: I wore short sleeve polos, plain Tshirts, khaki pants and comfortable walking shoes in Germany and around Zagreb. Teva sandals, shorts and tshirts in Split and Hvar.

Exchange info: Use the ATMs! All had english menu options and the best exchange rates. ~8.3 Kuna per $1US Don't plan on using charge cards at small resturants, small grocery stores, sidewalk cafes and ice cream shops. Cash only! Prices on resturant food and hotel rooms were about half to a little less than half of equal food/rooms in the US. Examples: Hotel Central in Bjelovar for 2 people sharing a room was $25/night for a nice double(2 twins)w/in-room shower/toilet and no AC. Six people out for ice cream for~$4. A .5 liter beer for ~$1.50. Daily rental for a 3 meter motorboat was $35 including fuel and maps. Rental of a 3 bedroom apartment in Hvar was $50/day in high season.

Language: Get a small phrasebook or at least use the phrase section out of the Lonely Planet guide. They were very tolerant of my feeble attempts at Croatian and much more accepting if I at least tried. Most young people speak English and/or German and/or Italian. Remember that Hvala means thanks and Pivo means beer!

Have a great trip and feel free to contact me with any last minute questions.

Mark in North Carolina