MEET OUR GUIDES: CROATIA – SPLIT
This week, we interviewed a few of our amazing local tour guides in Split, Croatia. They shared with us a little more about themselves and what they love to show guests in their special country. In this period where we aren’t traveling internationally just yet. But we have taken advantage of the “down” time and asked our colleagues to share what makes this country worth a visit. We know our guides and local experts personally. In many cases they are more than colleagues. We’ve taken their tours and personally explored with them. We know that they are the best!
Croatia is a destination that is truly a dream, and our guides share with us this week some expert tips and advice for your future trip!
1. What do you love about being a guide/why did you decide to become a tour guide in Split?
Ana: I just love being a tour guide in Split for many reasons. I truly enjoy seeing the admiration on people’s faces when they get to see some of the extraordinary details in the towns I take them on a tour. The moment when they see laundry hanging on the windows of ancient gothic mansions or local people sitting relaxed and having their coffee on a working day in the middle of the Roman palace surrounded by ancient Roman columns and temples is just precious.
Also, I like meeting different people and the interaction with them and exchange of thoughts and culture. I get to see and notice some new details on the tour thanks to people who come from another country. I see my surroundings and towns from an entirely different perspective. Only after I became a tour guide I realized how unusual some of our everyday habits, traditions, and architecture features are to people who come from far away.
I think I always wanted to be a tour guide in Split. And if I was born again I would definitely be a tour guide again. I grew up in a UNESCO listed charming town of Trogir and while playing on those cobblestone paved medieval streets I was always trying to imagine what was going on there centuries ago. How did my town look like. Just being born and raised in the 2300-year-old town where the time stopped centuries ago determined my career.
Petar (above): I wouldn’t trade my job for any other in the world. Being a driver and tour guide in Split is special. The fact that we show people how amazing Croatia is and that there is more to it than it meets the eye, is very fulfilling. When the clients are happy with their excursion, we are doing the job that we love right. I know some of the people think: How do you not get tired of seeing all the same places all the time? My answer is, it’s not the same. When you have different kinds of people visiting they will have different opinions and comments. And that is the main reason I love my job so much because I get to see every day that beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Petar: I don’t want to sound biased since I’m from Split, but my favorite place to take clients is Krka Waterfalls National Park. Very close to Split, these magnificent waterfalls usually takes everyone’s breath away. On this day-tour, we usually add a bit of gastro experience. We take the clients to the rural restaurant also known as the ˝house of prosciutto˝ (which is my favorite restaurant). We also take them to a local winery. From my experience so far, this mixture of untouched nature, good wine and food is always a winning combination for the guests.
Another location worth visiting that is not in Croatia but it’s close if you are staying in Zagreb or Istria is Slovenia. Ljubljana, Lake Bled and Postojna Cave Park are magical places. I love to visit our neighbors, either with our guests or on my own.
Ana (above left, with our Megan): It is really hard to pick one destination because despite vicinity every town or area in my country has a unique history, fascinating stories, or just mesmerizing nature. I’m not exaggerating at all! My favorite tours are the walking tour of unique Roman palace incorporated in the historic core of Split. I also love the tour of Šolta island which is actually still the best-kept secret in Croatia. If anywhere one can meet the authentic Dalmatian traditional lifestyle that is still preserved it is on that island. But the guests usually consider the combination of the Split or Trogir city tour. This tour includes an extraordinary wine and food pairing with our celebrity chef and one of the best oenologists in Croatia in the middle of the vineyard the highlight of their trip in Croatia.
One unforgettable tour for me was when I met a family with an autistic 11-year-old boy. He cried in the Krka National Park because he was frustrated by the crowds and standing in line. All the rangers were informed, and so they let us go first. I started talking to him trying to make him think about something else. I mentioned the specific food I like just to realize that his favorite show was 24 kitchen. Turns out he is a genius in baking his own cakes! At the end of the tour, he hugged me and asked for my email to send me some of his recipes.
One of the craziest experiences I had was a visit of a 90-year-old man of Croatian descendent from Chicago. He was visiting Croatia for the first time. He was talking in Croatian with the ladies at the farmers market, Then I took his family to a local jazz bar. After a glass of wine, he asked a young woman for a dance! It was a lovely morning tour of Split.:)
I remember two women from NY. After we did a Jewish heritage tour of Split, we went together for a zip line within the Cetina River canyon. I usually wait until the guests finish the zip line adventure but I went this time and it was unforgettable. We spent the whole day laughing.
Ana: The best time to visit Croatia is late May, beginning of June and late September and October. It’s less crowded, the temperatures are not too high and it’s warm enough for swimming in the Adriatic.
Petar: For me, it is September and October. The weather can be a bit unpredictable in October, but it’s nothing drastic. I believe that in October you get to experience our country in a much more calm way.
Ana: Croatia has been on the crossroads of the main trade routes between West and Orient. Because of that, it has a fascinating and turbulent history. It is the part of the world where East meets West in every sense. It is a very safe country with a very low crime rate. Within one hour of driving distance, I can go hiking in the mountains, swimming in the sea, rafting on the river. People are very friendly and generous and they have that typical Mediterranean spite. It’s a small country of about 4 million people with a variety of landscapes, climates, cuisine, dialects and mentalities and 21 UNESCO listed sites and traditions of unique beauty and value for the mankind.
Everything is unique and inspiring in Croatia!
Petar: I have to say that in the past few years, my hometown Split has had a huge improvement as a tourist destination. I feel that Split is very rich in culture, history, and other contents both in summer and winter. Croatia as a destination has a lot to offer if you enjoy beautiful sea, great gastronomy, cultural heritage, and history.
Ante: I love Split because is really close to Dubrovnik, We very often do a day trip. They always have a lot of content and since we are so close to each other the people are very similar. I have a lot of friends there so I always love to visit Split.
Ana: One of my favorite places to visit is a quirky little town called Komiža on the southern part of the island of Vis . A beautiful small settlement where recently Mamma Mia was filmed. Its never packed with tourists and one can truly relax on that Island.
Ana: If it was in the past I wish I met Leonardo da Vinci or Abraham Lincoln and at present, I’d like to give a tour to Mary Beard or Tom Hanks.
Petar: I would love to give a tour to Britney Spears. My friends have always been teasing me how big of a fan I am. So, I would love to take her on a tour so I can show them that he who laughs last, laughs best.
Petar: I have to say Roca Household, near Šibenik. If you are a meat and prosciutto lover, this is a place for you. The property is enormous, the interior is reminiscent of old Dalmatian houses and the kindness and warmth of the staff make your day. Therefore, this is a must-visit if you are in Split or Šibenik (even Zadar).
Ana: My favorite restaurants are Konoba Nikola, Bokeria in Split, and Pellegrini in the town of Šibenik.