Americans may not know it, but Croatians are old hands at welcoming visitors. They seem to regard American travelers as a happy surprise. Asking about the war is not considered offensive. However, if you find yourself posing the obvious question-- "What really is the difference between a Serb and a Croat?"-- prepare to spend the rest of your day hearing the answer.
Visiting Croatia can be a bit complicated because so few people speak English. The easiest way to arrange a trip from the States is through a tour company. Try Atlas Travel (800/738-4537 or 202/483-8919; fax 202/462-7160), which has offices throughout Croatia, or Blue Heart Tours (800/882-0025).
Villa Dubrovnik 6 Vlaha Bukovca, Dubrovnik; 385-20/422-933, fax 385-20/423-465; doubles from $174, including breakfast. Bright, elegant, newly renovated. The restaurant is very good, though not as much fun as the one down the road at Villa Orsula.
Villa Orsula 14 Frana Supila, Dubrovnik; 385-20/440-555, fax 385-20/432-524; doubles from $210, including breakfast. An old family villa with 125 rooms. For magnificent views get the corner terrace suite, No. 914.
Hotel Odisej Pomena, Mljet; 385-20/744-022, fax 385-20/744-042; doubles from $110. Be sure to ask for a room overlooking the harbor.
Pension Plenkovic Sveta Nedjelja; 385-21/741-670, fax 385-21/741-422; doubles from $80, including breakfast, a Rabelaisian dinner, and unlimited wine.
Palace Hotel Hvar; 385-21/741-966, fax 385-21/742-420; doubles from $116, including breakfast. A grand old hotel with 73 smallish, adequate rooms; excellent location. The terrace is nice for drinks.
Atlas Club Nautika 3 Brsalje, Dubrovnik; 385-20/442-526; dinner for two $25. Fabulous seafood risotto at tables in a seaside garden.
Rozarij 4 Zladarska, Dubrovnik; 385-20/423-791; lunch for two $20. Up an alleyway off the Stradun, close to the main square.
Mali Raj Babine Kuce, Mljet; 385-20/744-067; lunch for two $15. The best restaurant on Mljet, located in a minuscule lakeside village.
Leporini Hvar; 385-21/741-382; dinner for two $27. Great olives.
Prices do not include drinks, tax, or tip.
Croatia: A Nation Forged in War by Marcus Tanner (Yale University Press )-- This one-volume history tells the country's story up through the recent conflict.
Conversations with Stalin by Milovan Djilas (Harcourt Brace )-- A witty, haunting glimpse of the tragicomedy of Communist Yugoslavia.
On the Web
The Republic of Croatia's Dubrovnik site -- straight info site featuring a streaming video travelog with a soundtrack worthy of a softcore porn movie.