Interview with Ivana Grzetic – Former Miss Universe Croatia – Now Sea Kayaking Entrepreneur in Dubrovnik – Our Expert on Croatia

In one of my searches on the Internet about interesting travel websites I found a site on sea kayaking in the Adriatic. I contacted the webmaster to do a mutual link exchange and upon further investigation, I asked Ivana, one of the founders of the website, to actually do an interview with me. As you will see, she is an expert on Croatia and a pretty interesting individual herself.

Ivana Grzetic was born and raised in Dubrovnik in a “crazy about the sea” family of scuba divers and sea kayakers. She is a graduate of ACMT (American College of Management and Technology) in Dubrovnik.

As Miss Universe Croatia 1998 and a fashion model, Ivana traveled all over the world, including Hawaii, California, Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Europe. She now looks forward to sharing her knowledge and love of the Dubrovnik region and the sea with international visitors.

In 2003, Ivana Grzetic and Edi Brkic founded Adriatic Sea Kayaking. Their mission is to offer Dubrovnik visitors an opportunity to experience and explore the Dalmatian coast, Elafiti islands, the Mediterranean waters, and the region’s history and culture in a safe, healthy, active way. Adriatic Sea Kayaking offers top quality active excursions that celebrate the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage with minimal negative environmental impact.

1.Please tell us a bit about Croatia,its location,its landscapes,cities and history.

Croatia is situated in the middle of Europe,between Italy,Hungary,Slovenia and Bosnia.Although this country has only 4,7 million inhabitants,it has three completely different regions: costal,continental and mountain.Perhaps the most attractive one is costal,Mediterranean Croatia – the land of islands.Namely,in this part of Croatia there are 1185 islands!

The most attractive town in Croatia is Dubrovnik (50,000 inhabitants),situated at the southern part of Croatian coast.Surrounded with majestic almost 2km long City Walls,this town is a part of World Heritage.Among many attractions there are: Rector’s Palace-once a seat of Dubrovnik’s Government,Franciscan Monastery with 3rd oldest pharmacy in Europe and lovely Romanesque -Gothic cloister,baroque Cathedral,St.Blaze’s Church,2nd oldest Synagogue in Europe,Jesuit church with small version of ‘Spanish Steps’.

Dubrovnik has the most amazing history: for almost 5 centuries it was an independent republic (1358-1808),which had its own government and the Rector- who was the head of the Republic.During that period Dubrovnik was one of the richest towns and one of the most powerful commercial centers in Europe.

2.Please tell us about the transport connections to Croatia.How does one get to Croatia?

Croatia has 3 international airports: Zagreb,Split and Dubrovnik.Zagreb is well connected with most European countries year round.During the season (April – October) there are direct charter flights from UK,Ireland,Sweden,Norway,Italy,Germany,France,Spain and many other European countries to Dubrovnik and Split.

Dubrovnik has direct ferry lines with Bari and Ortona in Italy,while Split and Zadar are well connected with Ancona and Pescara (Italy).Highway construction between Zagreb-Dubrovnik is in process,and at the moment we have a highway from Zagreb to Sibenik (80 km north of Split).There is a local road from Sibenik to Split and Dubrovnik (Dubrovnik is 220km southern from Split)

3.Please comment on the accommodation options in Croatia (eg.hotels,motels,apartment rentals,bed and breakfasts,camping,etc.)

Croatia offers a variety of accommodation options: camps,private rooms,private apartments,hostels and hotels.There are many good campsites on the coast.However,wild camping is not allowed,especially on the islands.Private accommodation is gaining in popularity and can be booked over the Internet.Booking private accommodation,you usually book only overnight since most of private accommodation owners do not offer breakfast and other meals.Hotels have very good standards.Those mainly offer breakfast included,although you can find some that offer all-inclusive programs.

4.What are the major tourist areas in Croatia? What type of activities are there for travellers?

The main tourist area in Croatia is its costal part,which could be divided into 2 main regions: Istria-at the northern part,with towns: Rovinj,Umag,Porec and Dalmatia at the southern part of Croatian coast,with towns: Dubrovnik,Split,Sibenik,Zadar,Makarska and islands: Brac,Hvar,Korcula,Mljet,Pag.Two largest towns along the Croatian coast are Split and Rijeka.Both have a population under 300,000.The island of Pag is a great party place,ideal for young people.Istrian and Dalmatian towns offer a range of opportunities for tourists: from cultural sightseeing to fine dining,nightlife,and day activities: sea kayaking,diving,sailing.In Dubrovnik region,apart from sea kayaking,diving and sailing,there are very interesting horseback riding,jeep safari and wine tasting tours.

3.What is the weather like in Croatia? What times of year are best to go to Croatia?

Croatia is a country of three different climates: continental-on the north,mountain – in middle of Croatia and Mediterranean in its costal part.At the costal part of Croatia summers are long,dry and hot while winters are mild and humid,with lots of rain.The best period to come to Croatia is a period from early April to mid-October.If you are coming for the sea,June,July,August and September are best.However,during July and August Croatia gets very crowded.

4.You are located in the city of Dubrovnik.Dubrovnik was also affected by the Balkan wars in the early 1990s.Please comment on this difficult time and also give us a description of this city today.

During its history,Dubrovnik never had real war on its territory,until 1991.The major weapon of the Dubrovnik Republic was its skillful diplomacy.Namely,Dubrovnik was negotiating and very often buying its freedom.The cost was sometimes really high,but it was always worth of it.

When the war in Croatia started,nobody really believed that Dubrovnik–a city enlisted in World Heritage,would be really attacked.The period between 1991 and 1992 was the hardest time of Dubrovnik’s history.The city was bombarded from the air,from land and from sea.The main street in Dubrovnik – Stradun was burning.There was no water and electricity; the shelves in the supermarkets were completely empty.One could buy only bread at that time.It seemed like there was no way out…

Reconstruction took place immediately after the war.Today one could never imagine what was going on in Dubrovnik in early nineties.The city is full of tourists and this year Lonely Planet proclaimed it as one of the most popular destinations in the world.

5.Your company provides sea kayaking tours,from day-long outings to week-long tours.Please tell us more about what your company does and what makes your tours unique.

Adria Avanture is the only sea kayaking company from Dubrovnik.We offer a wide range of sea kayaking tours:

Half day tours: with daily departures from Dubrovnik to the islands of Lokrum and Kolocep.These tours do not require any previous paddling experience.
Multy Day Tours: Short Break Tour and One week Kayaking cater to ones who are looking for adventure and escape from every day stress.

We also offer some very interesting teambuilding programs.

At Adria Avanture we emphasize on very personal service.Our guides are here at home and they know every rock,every hidden bay on your route,local people and interesting stories of the places you visit.
We support the Croatian slogan: “Help us keep the Adriatic clean”.We leave the environment as it is.All we take with us are the photos and the memories.This is why local people are friendly to kayakers.

6.How did you come up with this business idea,how long have you been in business and where do your clients come from? What time of year do you offer these tours?

I was born in a ‘crazy about the sea’ family of scuba divers and kayakers.My parents transmited to me a love for nature and the sea.As a fashion model,I spent some time in Greece,where I saw organized sea kayaking tours.This inspired me and in 2003,together with my boyfriend I founded Adria Avanture.We organize sea kayaking excursions from May to October.Majority of our clients come from UK,Ireland,Sweden,Norway and USA.

Thank you,Ivana,for sharing your expert insight into the beautiful,up and coming region of Croatia with us.

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