Croatia “Surf and Turf” Adventure Update Blog Topics today: All About Money
( I ) Currency exchange.In Europe, the euro has simplified traveling from country to country. We used to have to deal with marks, markka, krona, francs, drachmas, rubles, karkas, and on and on. First stop after crossing the border was always to the Cambio or money exchange. We had pockets full of different country’s coins that we couldn’t exchange! On this tour, Croatia is the only country with its own currency but it has multiple names – the HRK or HrKuna or Kuna. HRK is the abbreviation for the country Hrvatska, the name of Croatia in Croatian. Confused? Don’t worry. More people speak English in Croatia than in Alabama. All you need to know is if you see HRK, it means kuna…the money. And they call it kuna as well. About 7 kuna to the dollar. In the rest of the countries the Euro is used. About 1.05 euros to the dollar. ( II ) Simplifying money handling Simplifying money handling is important because of:
the hassles of handling various types of cash
your needs to exchange money,
planning your cash for various meals that are not included
needing to know how to easily know which meals are NOT included
being comfortable with tipping.
With all that, let’s consider simplicity as our guide and goal. Just know the road to simplicity begins with some switchback hairpin turns of complexity, so please bear with me. A. Points to consider on meals:
On our yacht, Lupus Mare, all three meals are included.
From the start, lunches were on your own. It’s too fun to try different cafes and easy places to grab a bite so we can each have some free time to explore. Plus some people prefer light snacks; others want more.
In Kotor, Split, Sibenik and Pula, having a single large reatuarant rarely exists in their old towns. They are more geared for individual and smaller groups of 10.
Restaurants with a set price for a group charge far more and they have all required a very limited menu.
Breakfasts are all included.
Beyond the ship days, we had planned dinners thusly:
1 dinner in Athens or 1 in Zagreb upon arrival,
2 dinners in Kotor,
3 dinners in Sibenik
A total of 6 dinners are being provided. A nice meal with an excellent variety, such as the one shown in the picture, is easily found for less than $20 per person per meal. So 6 meals totals $120. B. Points to consider on tipping:
Guides, bus drivers, ship’s crew, hotel maids, porters, park guides, etc. expect tips.
It’s a hassle for you figuring out if you have the right dollars or euros or kunas and in the right amounts.
Tips can easily reach the following amounts PER PERSON:
Guides: $3 a day x 7= $21
Bus drivers: $2 a day x 8= $16
Park guides: $3 per visit x 3= $9
Hotel staff: $3 per day x 8= $24
Porters: $3 x 1 bag x 5 uses= $15
Ship crew (10 of them) $25 per day x 7 days= $175
Total $260 per person in tips C. Simplifying what you pay and what we pay. We’ve come to the conclusion that we ought to do the following: You would pay:
All non-ship dinners. That’s 6 meals x $20= $120. You can plan the cash in advance or, perhaps use credit cards where they are accepted. Credit cards get the best exchange rates – far better than ATMs. If you need cash, ATMs are plentiful.
A lower ship tip of just $50 for crew instead of $175. A $50 bill is fine. You’ll pay that at the end of the cruise to the whomever they designate as the receiver.
Porterage of about $15, but chances are you’re wanting to wheel your own roller boards to your room.
That’s a grand total for you of $120+$50+$15= $185 per person You were scheduled to pay more than $260 in tips. So that saves you $$ and hassle. We will pay:
Ship tips of $125 per person.
$70 or more in tips to the guides, drivers, extra porterage (off the bus to the ship).
That’s a grand total for us of $195+
( III ). Your Cash Needs for Additional Tours and Lunches Summary: Here’s the cash you’ll need (and credit cards can be used for some things – or used to get cash out of ATMs):
Tips and Dinners – $185 per person
Extra tours – about $100 per person
Lunches – about $80 per person
Total extra cash needed – about $400 per person.
Details: Besides the tours we provide, you’ll have one free day in Kotor with some options to choose from. A half day tour is usually around $65. We have invited several suppliers to give us prices on one hour, half day and full day optional tours. Whatever they quote us needs to be competitive so we’ve had to turn some down. They’ve come back with reasonable tours. We do NOT add any markup to any tour. We have the free day in Kotor which we had to add to the schedule because daily flights are no longer available between Athens and Montenegro. ONLY on Wednesdays and Sundays. Beyond that, we’ve got plenty to do in Kotor and Montenegro on Aug. 17, 18 and 20. During the cruising portion, we stop at the best places on each island. Our guide is the owner of the yacht and he’s a font of information on the islands. We have a short tour in each town and thereafter give you time to explore the portion of the island you want. Mini-vans are in most ports of the large islands of Korcula, Hvar and Brac. No large buses. The vans hold 7 passengers and cost about $10 per person. In Split on Aug 27, we have a full day of events in Split, and Solin. Evening you are free to wander a block away from our hotel to the Stari Grad – old town – to dine, explore or enjoy the esplanade. On Sunday, Aug 28, we’re awaiting final word on what we can do church-wise and if they’ll hold the 50th Anniversary of Elder Kresimir Cosic helping establish the church here. We have a bus reserved to take us to Zadar where he was born. On Monday, Aug 29, we chartered a nice ship to sail up the coast to the Sibenik river and into Karka Falls National Park. It’s from about 9:30 AM to about 4 PM. Lunch is included. We return to Sibenik and there are some extras to see, like the three fortresses/ cathedrals on the hills above. I’d grab a taxi but I know Rod Fife will be happy to walk up there with you. They are closed sometimes so we’ll let you know that morning if for sure they’ll be open. On Tuesday, Aug 30, the cruise/tour ends. For those heading home, we provide the bus for a ride of less than 4 hours through beautiful mountain countryside. It’s a highlight. In Zagreb, you’ll have a half day to explore the city. We have arranged rooms at your option at the Sheraton Hotel or the Hotel Royal for those going to Zagreb for a return home flight – the Sheraton is in the city center and the Hotel Royal is next to the airport. We have a guide standing by to help you or to organize any tours you’d like to take. Aug. 31. You’ll take a taxi the next morning whenever your flight requires you to be there.
MONEY FOR LUNCHES Food prices in Croatia are about the same as here and vary on how much you’d like. Sandwiches, small meals, soups, or whatever. I’d budget less than $10 per lunch. BUT… look out for lots more gelato and ice cream everywhere! About $1-$2 for a large cone.
We will personally take $400 in cash for the two of us and we’ll get cash from the ATMs as we need it. We do NOT RECOMMEND getting Euros or Kunas in the USA. The better exchange rate is usually in the ATMs. They dispense either Euros or Kunas.
Cash needed for the extensions: Sept. 1: Venice. We’ll offer several suggestions. About $50 to $75. Sept. 3-4: Lake Como. We’ll have a coach take us from Venice to Lake Como.One day we will take a lake cruise. Lake cruise runs about $20 for many hours of cruising. You get off at various towns, wander around, have lunch, and hop back on the ferry. Or rent your own speed boat and go to the furthest reaches of Lake Como. ALL lunches and dinners are on your own on all extensions. More places take credit cards here. Very cosmopolitan place. Sept. 5: Milan. In Milan, our coach takes us to the magnificent cathedral, the opera house La Scala, and the abbey where the Last Supper mural is. There’s a “Hop On–Hop Off bus tour you can add. The coach takes us to our hotel at the airport. We provide that hotel.
Croatia “Surf and Turf” Adventure Update Blog With our departure day to the two Balkan entry points (Zagreb or Athens) less than two months away, it’s time to start posting weekly updates on your Croatia adventure. We will add a new update blog each week with suggestions on preparation.
Let’s begin with health and Covid updates. As of today – and with health updates that’s a good way to begin – the following apply:
Airline(s) health requirements. No masks required. No vaccination certificates asked for. No negative tests required.
Country health requirements. Greece, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy do not require masks, vaccinations or negative Covid tests. The USA CDC wrote: “As of 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight.”
Visas. None of the countries we travel to require visas.
Entry forms. Croatia does require an entry form that we’ll send to you to fill out and bring with you. We’ll send it a week before your departure.
Packing and Suitcases. Do plan to travel light. We recommend either one roller board (aka “roll aboard”) per person that is of the size that you can put in an overhead bin (or can check if you like) or one medium size roller board shared by two people and a smaller roller board each to carry on. Airlines allow an additional person item like a purse or briefcase or backpack (Mark’s favorite). The typical airline allowance for a carry-on roller board is 22"H x 14"W x 9"D for a total linear inches of 45".
We recently spent 10 days in Croatia and each had one such roller board and we had clothing we didn’t use. In that we have no formal nights, and the weather will be hot during the day, light clothing is best, plus a sweater and pants for nights on the ship. It can get wonderfully cool at night. Perhaps we need a special prize for the lightest suitcase! Today’s roller board suitcases have expansion capacity and can fit 2-3 weeks of clothing. Of course you can’t take an expanded roller board on the plane, but you can check it. More details and suggestions later, but we will have limited laundry on the ship, Lupus Mare, which we’ll be aboard August 21-27, about a week into the vacation. Best to bring a mesh bag for undergarments so a number of bags can be washed at a time. Be sure to write your identification on your bag. We’ll bring the laundry soap. There is also a laundromat around the corner from our hotel in Sibenik – where we go after we get off the ship. And there’s a laundromat near the hotel in Lake Como. Of course the hotels can also do your laundry. Elizabeth is bringing a laundry line for drying undies at night when needed. These luggage ideas are NOT requirements but suggestions for making your trip less encumbered by lots of luggage. 6. Things to Read and View in Preparation: The internet is filled with hundreds of useful articles about what to see in all of these countries. They usually are headlined as “The Best 10 Things to Do in Kotor,” (or wherever). We’ve gone through many many to make sure we’re really seeing the best places. Wikipedia is great for articles on the history of these lands. It is an area filled with conquests, rebellions, architecture creation and intrigues. For those going to Lake Como, be sure to read Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan. Well written historical novel based upon real characters during WW2 in Milan, one of which is a young man who agrees to help a priest in the mountains above Lake Como smuggle Italian Jews away from the Nazi’s into Switzerland. We’re having lunch in the village nearby. Also, in that this is the 50th anniversary of Kresimir Cosic helping establish the Church in Croatia, and we hope to be able to attend the anniversary event in Zadar (more on this later), you may want to read Beverly Campbell’s Kresimir Cosic: One Man’s Spiritual Journey. A note on Cosic: He was a 6'11" star college player at BYU, led the Yugoslavia Olympic team to gold, and is a hero in Croatia. He was still serving as the Croatian ambassador to the USA when he died of cancer in Baltimore at age 46. Wherever we go in Croatia we ask people if they’ve heard of him. That’s like asking Americans if they’ve heard of Washington. “Of course!” Mark wears BYU gear a bunch and they know BYU. More recommendations next time. 7. Tipping: With touring, tips or gratuities are ubiquitous. To help you so you’re not being hit up with “voluntary” extra service pay, we are taking care of the mandatory gratuities (there’s an oxymoron) for the following: Tips we are covering for you: Guides, and Bus Drivers Hotel staff at breakfast and normal maid service Event entrance and service staff at historical sites. Tips you’ll need to cover: Restaurants: About 10-15% Crew on the ship: About $22 per day per pax x 7 days = $154 per pax
8. Do fill out Liz’s form telling when you’re arriving in either Zagreb or Athens so we can meet you at the airport. Spencers only arrive in Dubrovnik. That’s enough for this week’s blog. But if you have questions, email me and I’ll include answers in next week’s Update Blog.