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Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 119
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2005

January 24, 2014

Three optional trips are mentioned for this trip, and I wondered what those who have taken the optionals thought about them.  They are 1) a bus trip above Kotor Bay, visiting the village of Njegusi and the town of Cetinje with the Palace of King Nikola, 2) a trip to the River Citina and Omis, with a boat ride, and 3) a trip to the Baroque City of Varazdin.  If you have taken any of these, would you tell me if you thought they were special days or not, worthwhile, interesting, etc? it will be our first time in this part of the world.

Author: rblume8351

Joined: 10/27/2013
Posts: 18
Trips Taken: 3
Traveler Since: 2007

January 25, 2014

 Cetinje and Varazdin were in my opinion worth the time and money.  The trip over the mountain to Cetinje was quite scenic the road out of Kotar with 27(?) switchbacks was really an impressive display of the bus driver's skills.  The museum was interesting, but not spectacular.  And the town itself was enjoyable.

Varazdin was also worth while with some really interesting things in the castle/palace museum.  The town itself is also interesting . . . We were there on a rainy market day and used all of our free time.

sadly, we were weathered out of the River Omis optional so I can't comment on that.

We decided to do all the optionals as we were unlikely to return . . . most of our group had the same viewpoint.  We thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip and recommend it highly.

Author: candmj

Joined: 9/30/2011
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 1997

January 25, 2014
We took the Hidden Gems trip in the summer of 2010 and thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip. The Bay of Kotor is one of the highlights of the trip. Kotor itself is a small town and one can explore most everything in town that first afternoon -- including hiking up the mountainside to the overlook. Almost everyone on our trip took the optional excursion to Cetinje the following morning. The excursion provided a good look at the mountainous interior of Montenegro. Almost no one on our trip took the optional tour of Omis and River Cetina. We all used the free afternoon to explore more of Split. Since it was July, a number of us also went to a nearby beach and took a swim. About half of our group took the optional excursion to Varazdin. Varazdin is an hour's drive north of Zagreb near the border of both Austria and Hungary. It has a beautiful (and very photogenic) old town built in the Austrian style. After exploring the town, we were taken to a hillside vineyard just outside of town for a wonderful lunch. We loved this optional trip. The people who remained in Zagreb for the day did so because they wanted to see some of the museums in Zagreb.

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 119
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2005

January 27, 2014

Thanks, candmj and rblume!  You have been very helpful. If you took the post-trip to Bled, did you also take the optional to the caves, and if you did, what was that like?

Author: candmj

Joined: 9/30/2011
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 1997

January 27, 2014
We did not take the GC post trip to Lake Bled. Instead, we did our own post-trip to Slovenia using the Rick Steves guide book for Croatia and Slovenia as a reference. We took the train from Zagreb to Ljubljana, picked up a rental car, and spent four full days exploring Slovenia. While exploring Ljubljana and Lake Bled, we kept running into our friends who were taking the post-trip extension. Grand Circle offers the optional visit to Postojna Caves. We did not visit these caves; so we can not comment on them. We did go to Scocjan Caves, which is in the general area. Scocjan Caves were very similar to Mammoth Cave NP here in the USA. Our reason for picking Scocjan was because we could combine those caves with a visit to the nearby Lipica Stud Farm. The Lipica Stud Farm is where the Lipizanner horses are raised and trained. The two places made a good day trip. Our tour leaders for the main trip were Sinisa and Jana -- both were excellent. Here's a tip: If you need to do laundry sometime during the trip, there is an excellent place in Split called the Modrulj Laundrette. They provide full service for just a little more than self-service. The place is about a ten-minute walk from the ship. We dropped off a load of dirty clothes late in the afternoon and picked up our clean clothes the next morning after the walking tour of Split.

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 119
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2005

January 27, 2014

Wow!  You just mentioned something my horse-loving husband would really enjoy seeing....It would be a great surprise for him.  How far is the Lipica Farm from Lake Bled or from Ljubljana?  We could stay a few days at one or the other after the post trip and do this, if it's in the same general area.  Was it easy to drive in this region? What about navigating? 

Author: candmj

Joined: 9/30/2011
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 1997

January 28, 2014
Lipica is an hour's drive southwest from Ljubljana via expressway. It is very close to Trieste and the coast. From Lake Bled it would be a 1 hour 45 minute drive via Ljubljana. Driving in Slovenia was easy. The roads are good and well-marked; and traffic is relatively light. Even driving into, around, and out of Ljubljana was easy. We stayed at a B&B in Ljubljana and took day trips to the various regions of the country. Language was never a problem. A good road map is a valuable tool. We used a Michelin map. Rental car rates in Slovenia were quite reasonable. We always use AutoEurope for our car rentals. The Lipica Stud Farm has a website (www.lipica.org). Slovenia is a beautiful country. Another beautiful area we enjoyed was Logarska Dolina, northeast of Ljubljana.

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 119
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2005

March 29, 2014

CandMJ, you inspired us.....We have arranged to stay in Slovenia an extra few days after the Lake Bled extension, before flying home from Ljubljana. Not sure yet whether we will try to rent a car or use public transportation and/or guides. Lipica Stud Farm is a main draw here, for my horse-loving husband.  If you see this, could you please comment on the B & B you stayed in, in Ljubljana? And do you recall what other fun things there are to see in this apparently lovely little city, and the region around it? Is Lake Bled itself worth staying one more day, before traveling to Lipica and to Ljubljana? Did anyone want extra time there after the extension? Thanks so much to everyone for their help!

Author: retirement

Joined: 7/30/2012
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 7
Traveler Since: 2006

March 29, 2014

We aren't doing too well with answering your original question, but here's a bit more advise on Ljubljana optional tours.   We did the Adriatic Cruise in December, our pre-trip of 4 nights in Ljubljana itself was worth it simply to take advantage of the optional tours to Pastojna Caves/Pastojna Castle, and Lake Bled.  I strongly advise you to  go to the Pastojna Caves, you may think you have seen caves before, but I guarantee you have never been in caves like this.  If  you  are a bit claustrophobic, an open air train takes you through passages to the main caves. Once inside you are never in “closed in” areas. All in all we loved the trip.  Again, if it is at all possible I strongly advise you to opt for the pre-trip to Ljubljana and do all the optional tours offered.  It was well worth the additional cost.  We also had Jana as our Trip Leader, she’s the best.  You will love the small ship experience.  It may help you by reading the reviews for "the Hidden Gems" & " Cruising the Adriatic".

Author: candmj

Joined: 9/30/2011
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 1997

March 29, 2014

In Ljubljana we stayed at the Slamic B&B, located about halfway between the train station and the historic old center -- a ten-minute walk to either.  The Slamic (pronounced slamish) has a friendly and helpful front desk, very clean rooms (nothing fancy or luxurious), a very good breakfast, and free parking in an inside courtyard.  Their website is www.slamic.si and they are reviewed on TripAdvisor.

 

If you have an extra day at Lake Bled and a car, you could do a day trip to the Soca Valley.  Ljubljana is an enjoyable small city.  You can walk to everything you might want to see.  There are many outdoor eating establishments all along the river.  The Lipica Stud Farm is very close to the coastal town of Piran.  We enjoyed a day trip north from Ljubljana into the mountains to the Logarska Dolina area.  The Panorama Road there was a beautiful drive.  See Rick Steves' guidebook for Croatia and Slovenia for information on seeing these places.

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