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(E) 101 reasons to visit the Dalmatian Coast
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/4/2003 | Tourism | Unrated
(E) 101 reasons to visit the Dalmatian Coast


101 reasons to visit the Dalmatian Coast and other Croatian hot spots


Round-trip air, eight-nights hotel and more in the heart of central Europe from $1,299
By Adrien Glover


CROATIA, A CROOK-SHAPED country that gloats over its impressive expanse of coast along the Adriatic Sea, survived recent events with fewer scars than its neighbors. Its capital, Zagreb, may find it difficult to hide its war-torn past but many of its greatest monuments remain, whereas the capital of its blood-worn neighbor, Bosnia-Herzegovina, is barely distinguishable as the center of grandeur it once was.

With its growing population of one million, Zagreb is presently experiencing a radical rebirth, and with this new incarnation comes a vibrancy and energy not felt in years. It is an exciting time to visit and a golden opportunity to witness history in the making. For that very reason we’re thrilled to share two vacations with you, both of which are priced around $1,299 and offer round-trip airfare from the United States, eight nights accommodation, visits to more than one Croatian city, guided sightseeing tours and other extras. (Scroll down for all the details.)

Mar. 3 - Don't balk at the Balkans. As we all know, the 1990s brought wrenching trials and turmoil to the former Yugoslavia and as a result it is now a land divided. Croatia, however, soldiers on as a distinctly affordable and inviting vacation destination, luring curious travelers with its quilt of ethnicities,cool European sensibilities, Hapsburg architecture, Roman ruins, dense forests and turquoise waters - just to name a few of the country’s attractions.

One of the most famous sayings about the Dalmatian Coast’s most charming cities came from the mouth of George Bernard Shaw who uttered, "Those who seek Paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik." Situated on the tip of Croatia’s tail, the postcard-perfect 14th-century walled city of Dubrovnik was left 99 percent unscathed by war and remains a popular draw for its rusty-hued sunsets, exquisite Renaissance Franciscan monastery and heavenly waters. Dubrovnik’s attractions even extend to an olde-time pharmaceutical museum, a nude beach on nearby Lokrum Island and seafood specialties such as salted sardines. The city officially marks the southern end of the Dalmatian Coast, which lumps some 1,100 islands (66 of which have residents) into its territory.

Paul Laifer Tours is weighing in at the moment with a $1,299 vacation package to three of central Europe’s star cities - six nights split between Croatia’s Zagreb and Dubrovnik, plus four nights in Prague. The price, which is $100 less than last year, includes round-trip airfare from JFK on Czech Airlines, airport transfers, air transportation between the three cities, and hotel and buffet breakfast daily as follows: four nights in Prague, two nights in Zagreb, and four nights in Dubrovnik. The trip also tosses in half-day tours in each of the cities with English-speaking guides.

The 210-room Ibis City Hotel in Prague has a restaurant and bar and enjoys a central location. The 260-room first-class Dubrovnik Hotel in Zagreb (the name is confusing so pay attention) features a long list of amenities including Internet access and is close many major city monuments. And last but certainly not least, the Lero Hotel in Dubrovnik is also classified as a first-class hotel and is a short walk to the old town. Many of its 160 rooms have views of Miramar Bay.

As with all Paul Laifer Tours, it’s possible to extend one’s hotel stay in any town. In Prague this will cost $50 for doubles and $85 for singles per night additional, in Zagreb it’s $56 for doubles and $81 for singles per night additional, and in Dubrovnik it’s $60 for doubles and $85 for singles each additional night. For more hotel details, check out the Paul Laifer Tours Web site:

Singles can expect to pay $380 additional for the basic vacation price. The $1,299 price is valid from Apr 1 to May 31, 2003, at which time high season prices begin to kick in. Gateways other than New York are also available; travelers from other U.S. cities fly on Delta Airlines into JFK to connect with the the transatlantic Czech Airline flight. Example prices from other gateways include: from Seattle add $300, from Chicago add $140, and from Dallas add $210. For more information on the three-city tour or to reserve space, visit the Paul Laifer Tours Web site at or call 800-346-6314.

For just a few dollars less ($1,290), Travel Time is offering a romantic (and chic) vacation to Opatija, Croatia, followed by a short visit to Venice.

"It’s ironic," says Croatian-born Milena Damjanov, who grew up in the United States but spent summers on the Dalmatian coast. "For years and years I’ve been trying to get friends to visit the Croatian coast for their summer holidays. But, in the days of Yugoslavia it wasn’t considered very chic - the accommodations were always quite basic, but then who needs a luxury bed when you’re there for the breathtaking nature and scenery?" Ms. Damjanov counts Opatija as one of Croatia’s coastal gems.

Located much further north along the coast from Dubrovnik in Istria, Opatija is an Adriatic resort and spa town built by the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy. Fashionistas flocked to the "climatic health resort" in the late 19th century to seek the services of dozens of physicians or to check in to one of several sanatoriums dressed up in elegant villas. With years to reflect, many Croats suspect it was simply Opatija’s mild climate, spot at the foot of lush mountains and curative waters that attracted the well-heeled and health-conscious.

The price tag for this somewhat off-beat but irrefutably interesting vacation from Travel Time includes airfare from either New York or Boston into Zagreb, Croatia via Paris on Air France. The return trip is from Venice, Italy, located just a three-hour drive or direct train trip from Zagreb. Departures from the United States are mid-week, however travelers wanting to leave or return on a weekend will pay a $25 surcharge each way.

In addition, the vacation bundles eight nights at the Hotel Kristal in Opatija, a modern property featuring both and indoor pool AND a private beach) plus two nights at the three-star Hotel Belle Arti in Venice (10 nights in all!). Those wanting to spend more time in Opatija will pay $35 per night, and additional nights in Venice are significantly costlier (though not for pricey Venice) at $100. Just to ensure a little adventure, Travel Time leaves it to the travelers themselves to take care of their own transportation between points in Croatia and Venice, which runs an additional $20 to $25 for one-way bus or train fare.

The $1,290 price is per person based on double occupancy, and good for departures Apr 1 to Jun 12, 2003 and Sep 5 to Oct 30, 2003. (For dates in between during the high season, travelers should add $250.) The single supplement for the $1,290 price is an additional $235. For more information or to book this unusual vacation package, contact Travel Time at 800-354-8728 or visit its Web site at

{Editor’s Note: Ever been to Croatia, or traveled with Travel Time or Paul Laifer? Do you have an instructive anecdote, tip or horror story to share? We’d love to hear it and possibly reprint it in our letters to the editor column. Simply click here: to send a letter to our editors.}

Source MSNBC:

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