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I thought I would share some observations from this trip. It has been excellent. Bruges - great hotel and we had a great room (4* Dei Tuleereen). It overlooked the canal (beautiful view). some clients may prefer a room not on the street because you can hear the horse carriage rides going by all day long - but for us the room, view and sounds were exactly what I wanted and I knew the carriages would be heard in the room since I stayed in the same hotel last year. They had 2 rooms reserved for us for some reason but we just took the one we needed. Husband enjoyed Bruges as much as I have enjoyed it both years. CROATIA Flight to Zadar - perfect. (Private flight from Bruges to Zadar) Personable pilot who took good care of us through the airports and our flight was so enjoyable. The car rental was great and the rental staff both in Zadar and Split were very helpful and friendly. The hotel was wonderful. (4* Hotel Bastion in Zadar,) We had a great view and the entire 5th floor (penthouse). The food and staff were great. Thanks for the delicious fruit plate Sophia! Husband enjoyed driving to and from Plitvice Lakes National Park. We spent about 5 hours walking around the lakes and over and through the gorgeous waterfalls. It was a bit complicated figuring out how to squeeze it into our itinerary but it worked out perfectly. So glad we went to Zadar (very cute and vibrant town) and the national Park. I think I already told you how much we liked the woman in Split who met us and took us to the fast ferry. Korcula is beautiful. The fast ferry between Split and Korcula is very comfortable. The island of Hvar looks really nice but much busier tourist-wise than Korcula so we are very happy we went to Korcula. The hotel is a gem. (5* Lesic Dmitri Palace in Korcula ) Even without a balcony we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. Breakfast and dinner along the sea wall gave me lots of time to enjoy the waterfront and good food. Service was very good. I tried the spa and had wonderful services. Frankly the massage was the best I have ever experienced. The therapist fixed the pain I had in my back. The walking tour is not necessary. The town is so small it takes just 10 minutes to explore but Tony stretched it into a couple of hours in museums etc. I do not enjoy museums.... The one night we decided to try a different restaurant along the sea wall (about 3 restaurants down from the hotel) was frankly the worst meal I have ever had in a restaurant. For example, I ordered a grilled vegetable plate. The veggies must have been cheap frozen veggies. They were soggy and tasted like they were fried in rancid fat. We took a couple bites then went back to our hotel restaurant! We tried local specialties there and thoroughly enjoyed them. Oops, I forgot some clothes in the hotel. Yeeeesh! First time I did that. The drive to Dubrovnik is beautiful. The issue with the room we had the first night turned out to be a huge blessing. (Hotel Dubrovnik Palace 5* notes – clients booked seaview suite but on arrival got a superior room with view of cruise ship direct!! We contacted hotel at 11pm and next morning hotel’s manager gave them a presidential suite ) For the last 4 days we had a fantastic room (I think it was the best in the hotel) with a huge balcony and great view of the old town. We slept with the windows open listening to the sound of waves crashing on the rocks and enjoyed dinners on the balcony. We only went into Dubrovnik for 2.5 hours over the 5 days. We tried to time it to avoid crowds and were pretty fortunate for about 90 minutes then the cruise ship crowds took over. Regardless, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Dubrovnik.
The day trip to Montenegro was a pleasure, due in large part to the wonderful driver who spent the day with us. He was fun to be with and very helpful. The scenery is also beautiful there. Zagreb - we loved it. I remembered most everything from my tour there last year so husband got a personal tour and we did more exploring as well. The hotel was great last year and somehow was even more wonderful this year. They have so many special touches, I really think they thought of everything to make a stay truly special. Food was great. Spa services were good but noisy because you can hear everyone working out in the gym when you are in the spa rooms. The porter service was fantastic. The gentleman took our bags right on to the train for us. Ron wants to return to Zagreb and spend more time there. (Hotel Regent Zagreb 5* ) The overnight train to Munich was much more comfortable than I had anticipated. Husband is 6'2" and actually fit in the bed! BOSNIA Well, as you know I love Bosnia. Husband on the other hand had a bit of a tough time there since he is a real softie. Seeing so many bombed out buildings, gun shot and big mortar holes in buildings really upset him. But he agrees the people in Mostar and Sarajevo are so nice. The lady in Villa Fortuna (B&B http://www.villafortuna.ba/ ) is a wonderful hostess, making us feel so welcome. We were missing our dogs so she let us play with her puppy. Breakfast is tasty. She heard we liked trying foods from the region so she went to her own kitchen and brought Ron some cheese special to the region. So nice! And the room is very comfortable. Mostar old town is small but I really love it. I’ve been in Mostar twice and enjoyed it. It has spiritual feeling that finally people reconciled and “rebuilt that bridge”. Glad you enjoyed second time Fortuna. The drive from Dubrovnik to Mostar was good. Jahorina was a pretty funny experience. I have wanted to go there since the Sarajevo Olympics. Well, I was there but the fog was so thick the entire time we saw... FOG... and nothing else, LOL. I took a picture of the hotel and you can barely make out the outline of it. The guy at the front desk was helpful. Everyone else not friendly at all. (Hotel Termag http://www.termaghotel.com/ ). So different from the rest of the people we met in Bosnia. Despite the very few guests in the hotel, the entire hotel is full of cigarette smoke. No place to get away from it except in our room with the window wide open. The food in the restaurant was pretty good but the portion sizes are ridiculously huge. The next time I am in Sarajevo I will just do a day trip to Jahorina. It is less than an hour out of town. Jahorina is not Bosnia but Republic of Srpska. Different culture. Views are nice though sorry you had fog. Now I think it probably would be good to go for day trip but with weather you never know. I enjoyed views and food. It is good alternative if someone wants to go skiing –though – vs other more expensive countries in Alps. Our driver from Jahorina to Sarajevo was excellent. Very friendly and fun to talk to. He must be a guide as well since he gave us so much information. Great guy. The drive from Sarajevo to Zagreb is beautiful but long, almost 6 hours, on narrow and windy 2 lane roads, often with farm equipment taking up part of a lane. Passing is quite scary! Once you get into Croatia it is an easy drive on excellent highways. Sarajevo is still one of my favorites. The room was great and had the exact view I wanted. Thank you!!! (Historic 5* Hotel Europe http://www.hoteleurope.ba ) We ate out 3 times in 2 days at a great little Burek (Bosnian meat pie) restaurant. It is one of my favorite foods since last year. The guide I had last year showed me the restaurant with the best Burek. So they saw a lot of us. Thank goodness Husband likes it too. We ate out 3 times for less than $12, including non alcoholic drinks, TOTAL! Tasty and inexpensive and filling. MUNICH to FTAN: (private guide/driver from Munich train station to Hotel Paradies in Switzerland, Engadine Valley http://www.paradieshotel.ch/ ) It was a pleasure to see Dieter again. He met us right at the train and made the drive very enjoyable, stopping at a gorgeous Bavarian small town for a walk and breakfast. The drive was scenic the entire way to the hotel in Ftan. FTAN: (www.paradieshotel.ch) What a great hotel! I am so glad you suggested we go there this year. The room and view and food and service was fantastic.(It was “my room” in December) We enjoyed walking in the meadows, town and hills. We went to the fine dining restaurant one night. Not sure if you did that Sophia, when you were in the hotel in December. We had such a great time and thoroughly enjoyed meeting the chef du cuisine, kitchen tour, delicious and creative foods. An experience not to be missed. In comparison to Bosnia, we ate for a little over $250 per day LOL. But we felt it was well worth it. They were extremely good about gluten free foods for me. I usually avoid gluten free bread because it is always terrible, but the kitchen actually made a delicious gluten free bread that even Ron liked. I also avoid dairy but decided to try the super fresh water buffalo milk and yogurt. Yes, WATER BUFFALO. I cannot eat beef but can eat Bison so thought I would give it a try. Delicious! And no bad side effects for me. Yay! The driver took our bags right on to the train for us. 9 items of laundry cost about $100 and a manicure cost about the same. We were the only english speaking guests. I think everyone else was German. So refreshing to be totally out of the tourist areas so we could enjoy our time without crowds of obnoxious tourists. We hope to return there again and spend one or two weeks. Maybe even with or dogs if we can fly them over... You stayed in Paradies in “my suite” #43 , it was upgrade . Gorgeous. And I loved buffalo milk and their cow milk . You know it is unpasteurized?” HAMBURG The 3 train rides to get from Ftan to Hamburg were great. The gentleman at the front desk in Ftan called the hotel here to ensure they knew the exact arrival time of our train so we had no delay in finding the driver. (Hotel-restaurant Louis C. Jacob 4*) The hotel is beautiful and service has been great. It is more stuffy than the one in Ftan, and notes personalized. In Ftan I never had to remind anyone about dietary restrictions and the staff must communicate well between themselves because they very quickly pick up on preferences so you only have to ask one person once - then you have it all the time. We wont be in Hamburg long enough to see if the same level of service exists. We are in a gorgeous neighborhood and have a perfect view of all the traffic on the river. With the little I have seen of the city I think another trip here will be great. Lots of places to walk, lots of greenspace and the lake is pretty. Unfortunately weather is very windy and rainy so we may not get to see much this trip. Anyway, very long email - hopefully helps. The entire trip has been flawless with perfect hotels, rooms, views, food etc. We've been totally spoiled! Thanks so much for planning a great itinerary and making sure everything was stress free for us!
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