Friday, November 17, 2006

vacation planning

ok everyone, time for requesting some traveling tips here ... as you might have noticed, this year we ended up not taking any summer vacation, due to the house move and all, so instead we're taking a few days off in the beginning of December for (hopefully) some travel vacation. We didn't want to travel far and we're not particular fans of beach only vacations - we only did that once, our honeymoon in the Seychelles, and it was unforgettably beautiful, but also quite expensive. We'd like to go back one day, who knows maybe in our 20th anniversary or something.

Which reminds me ...while we were there we met a really nice English couple, already retired, who were visiting for the first time also. It had been the husband's long time dream to visit the Seychelles but they never had the opportunity before. That year they had planned to take a vacation to some European city which I now forget (Rome ? or maybe Paris ?) but as a surprise to her husband, the wife booked a trip to the Seychelles instead, packed separate clothing bags (this was in late October so it was chilly in Europe) and he only found out when they were at the airport. Wasn't that a lovely surprise ? And they were such a nice couple too.

Anyway, we're the type that like seeing things, either nature wise, breathtaking landscapes, interesting places, culture and food experiences. And we love to take road trips, meaning getting into a car and just drive around to visit the smaller villages and off the beaten track corners. Our best experience of that kind was in Italy a couple of years ago. Everything was perfect: the scenery, the cities, the tiny villages, the people, the food, the monuments ... and best of all, the ice cream.

Earlier in the summer we had thought to go to Tunisia, but as it happens the available tours end in October so we had to search for a new destination. Several people I know have been to Croatia this year, and have recommended it, and since we've been curious to go there for a while now that's where we're headed. These days budget airlines make traveling a lot cheaper, so we are flying to Milan as our starting point, and driving to Slovenia and Croatia from there. X. has already given me a few tips, but I would appreciate any suggestions or advice if you have them. Our traveling schedule for now seems to include stops in Verona, Ljubljana, Bled, the Plitvice natural park, Zagreb, Zadar, Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik. And my colleague J. has recommended that we visit these caves, which look quite amazing indeed.

A decade ago I would probably buy a couple of travel guides (my favorites at the time being the let's go budget travel guides), but now it seems we can find everything online. I especially like checking the virtual tourist site, tripadvisor, frommers and forums like traveller's point. What about you ? What sites do you usually use when planning a trip ?

If I hadn't been curious to visit Croatia already, these Flickr photo sets would definitely convince me to go there


Anonymous said...

Your trip sounds wonderful. I went to Croatia a few years ago, flying into Dubrovnik and island-hopping until we reached Split, and then heading back to Dubrovnik to fly home.

Dubrovnik is one of the loveliest cities I've ever been to - it's really magical and romantic at night. Walking the city walls is not to be missed, and I remember a lovely little bakery tucked away in one of the tiny little city streets - I think it was called Tanti Gusti.

From Dubrovnik you can catch a boat over to an island called Lokrum - there's a lovely lake that you can swim in there (although not sure the temperature will be right for swimming in December!)

I can't make any practical recommendations on accommodation etc, as we stayed in a series of very low-budget rooms that people rent out in their houses...some of which were very strange places indeed :)

Have a great time!

Soie Belle said...

I can't advise you on Croatia as I have never been there but I heard it is very beautiful. I have been to Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic and really enjoyed it!
Like you I try to get opinions from travel forums (Tripadvisor). I also buy travel magazines like Traveller.

I'm sure you'll have a great time!

Bruno Martins said...

Never been to Croatia but I've also been told very nice things... Some friends lived there for 2 years (Erasmus).

However, in this time of the year, I would expect lots of rain and cold weather. I've been in Poland a couple of weeks ago and the weather was already getting nasty.

Have you considered staying in Italy? Or better yet, forget Italy and just take the car and drive from Lisbon to Granada? Not only it's nearby, it's also perfect for this time of the year. In the summer it just gets to hot.

I already could use some vacations again lol, but it will have to wait now :(

Anonymous said...

Don't if you've been, but Instanbul (and, in fact, all of Turkey) is amazingly beautiful, and the people are some the friendliest I've encountered.

Lembra-nos Lisboa, mas com minaretes. É deslumbrante :)

.. said...

I am with Bruno here. Northerneast Italy nevermind Slovenia and Croatia weather is pretty continental in December. Brrr. Plus just not nice driving, you might need snow chains and slippery roads ( but I will check with a friend if you want).

If you are flying over to Italy have you both considered exploring Southern Italy? Napoli, the Amalfi coast, Lecce, Bari, maybe Sicily... Plus, it´s you know Italy.. Italian food..

.. said...

oops, sorry, bad blogger, can you please delete the extra entries?

Anonymous said...

Croatia is beautiful country, must visit. But if you are planning to rent-a-car in Italy and return the car in Croatia, that is going to be very expensive. Double check with rent-a-car companies – they usually charge around $500 to return the car in another country. For airline tickets and more info about Croatia I will recommend to visit They have consolidator rates and very good fares to Europe and especially to Croatia. I will also recommend if you have time to visit Istria peninsula and small towns like Motovun, Rovinj, Hum – the smallest town in the world. And Opatija – the grand lady of Croatian tourism. If you subscribe to their newsletter as a gift you will receive Interactive CD-Rom Postcard with at least 2 hours of entertainment - a sort of digital travel guide. I hope this information will be useful to help you planning your trip to Croatia.

Anonymous said...

well, I have to agree with your travel philosophy of "seeing things".

Also, wish I was living in Europe - so many more countries around, close by and lots more to see and do. Since I am living on a big island here, most places are sea stuff or rocks like Uluru.

I wish you a great vacation :)

sophy said...

Olá Tania,

enviei-te um e-mail a pedir algumas informações.
Assim que puderes diz-me qualquer coisa.


Anonymous said...

verona é imperdível!

Anonymous said...

I know it's in the wrong direction if you're going to Croatia and Slovenia; but I just visited Turin and it's beautoful and very close to Milan. Lovely view of the Alps, are you going to have a look at them while you're in the area? Ten years ago I was in the Dolomiti (I stayed in Trento, which is very beautiful too) and they are gorgeous. I know people fall in love with Southern Italy but the North is so lovely...