“Indulge your senses. We plan your Dream Vacations” is the claim of Clarisse and her team in Dream Vacations, a travel agency specializing in travels to the Balkans. From beautiful sceneries of national parks to delicious traditional food, they will make you fall in love with every inch of this region.
If you’re wondering where in Balkans we’re gonna travel in this week’s #ExperienceOfTheWeek series, try to guess! So?… If you guessed Croatia, you’re right. If you guessed Slovenia, you right, as well. Today, we chat with Clarisse from Dream Vacations travel agency, which provides day trips, tours, and other experiences in the most marvelous regions of Slovenia and Croatia. So indulge in your senses and learn the ways ho you can enjoy the local beaches, splendid nature, delicious food, and so much more. Let’s dive in.
Q1: Hi Clarisse, how are you doing?
I am glad that I am still alive. That’s pretty much what everyone says to each other nowadays. After all, besides COVID-19, Zagreb has been experiencing earthquakes, a major one in March right during the COVID-19 outbreak, and even just a few hours ago, another earthquake of 3.1 magnitudes just struck again. Financially-wise, it’s hard to say I am doing anywhere near being fine but I am definitely glad to be alive, despite all these circumstances.
Q2: Tell us more about Dream Vacations. How does it feel to offer tours & day trips in the ultimate vacation destinations like Croatia and Slovenia?
Dream Vacations is a one-stop travel agency, providing private multi-day tours, day trips, and transfers. Our clientele is made up of mostly private groups, they travel with their friends, families, relatives, company incentive trips, etc. Hence, our first step is always to understand the travelers and what they are looking for.
Croatia and Slovenia offer a wide variety of activities other than just “tours”. Nature lovers can enjoy the lakes, mountains, caves and we can arrange for activities like kayaking, river rafting, ziplining, etc. For a couple on honeymoon, we are able to arrange stays in luxurious hotels or boutique hotels with dedicated services, dining in Michelin-starred restaurants, and relaxing in a salt spa. The sky is the limit and we always believe that understanding our customers is always the first step to working out their dream vacations for them.
Q3: Balkan region is an amazing destination and I bet there are dozens of things to show to fellow travelers. How many guides do you have in your team? Are you all locals?
Currently, we have 2 full-time guides. Our guides speak different languages such as English, Croatian, German, and Mandarin. The bulk of our customers are English-speaking. I am one of the guides as well.
Currently, I am staying in Zagreb but I am originally from Singapore. Although I am not a local, I have been coming to Croatia with tour groups for 5 years. I cannot say I know everything about Croatia, but I am sure I know the relevant things – where to find the best food, where to find cheap eats, etc.
Q4: Do you have any personal favorites among all the locations where you offer Dream Vacations tours?
I love the Istrian route – both Croatia and Slovenia Istrian coastline. This relates to our 7D6N Refreshing Istria program which covers Zagreb, Opatija, Pula, Rovinj, Poreč, Motovun, Hum, Piran, Portorož, Koper, Ljubljana and Lake Bled. The beaches here are less crowded than those down in south Croatia, and prices are also more friendly than in the south.
I cannot decide which one to pick as my favorite destination in Istria. If I can choose one city in each country, I will pick Rovinj in Croatia and Piran in Slovenia. These cities have amazing beaches, scenery, heritage, and most importantly, good food. Croatian Istria is well known for truffles and it’s not hard to find a good truffle meal in the region.
Q5: Apart from day trips and transfers, you also offer customized private tours, some of which last for even 2 weeks. What are the most popular tours among travelers who come to you?
I will say it really depends on the season. In summer, the tours going to the coastal side of Croatia are the most popular. That’s the time when people are enjoying the beaches and our tours provide them with a free day so they can enjoy it at the beach.
In winter, the continental parts of Croatia are more popular. Many people choose to visit Croatia and Slovenia, maybe because of the Christmas markets and sales. On the Istria region, it’s always popular, throughout the year.
Q6: Today many people travel and plan their itineraries on their own. Why would you recommend booking one of your experiences to our travelers?
Our itineraries may have captions that do not sound different from what you can find on the internet. We offer day trips to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Krka National Park – everything which is easily bookable online. Public transportation also provides transport to such places at fixed timings. However, traveling with us means of course convenience and flexibility.
Also, you will travel with our experienced team members. For example, a visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park does not mean just visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site. We bring you to the surroundings as well, there is a scenic village called Rastoke nearby, known by the locals as “mini Plitvice” by its waterfalls and wonderful scenery. When travelers get hungry, we are here to provide them suggestions. In short, we provide insider tips to our travelers to enhance their experience.
Q7: Travel industry is in uncharted waters right now but we all hope travel will rebound soon. What does the situation in Croatia look like right now? Are you expecting tourists to come back soon?
Croatia has opened its borders to 10 EU countries since 29 May 2020. As of 15 June 2020, its borders are also opened for tourism for EU citizens. From 18 June 2020 onwards, Flixbus is resuming its international bus lines to and from Croatia and we expect tourists to be arriving since taking a bus is a more budget-friendly way to travel. Air travel has resumed, with international flights already landing in Croatia – Zagreb, Rijeka, Dubrovnik, and Split.
At the current moment, the statistics revealed there are as many as 100,000 tourists in Croatia now. However, the majority of them are spending the summer at sea. In the continental part of Croatia, we are expecting tourists to come back in September or October, hopefully.
Q8: Last but not least, what is your favorite spot in your region that you’d take your friends to see or experience? Tips from a true local are always worth it 🙂
I am based in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Over here, we have artificial lakes Jarun and Bundek so locals can enjoy their summer as well. Bundek has the looks of a pebbled beach, so it is normal to see locals sunbathing here in summer and just enjoying themselves the park.
Another interesting spot in Zagreb is the Mirogoj cemetery, which is become increasingly popular with tourists due to its unique architecture. This place makes a great backdrop for photos, especially in autumn with its yellow and red leaf foliage.
Book some of the most popular tours by Dream Vacations here: