Croatia, Bad Haircuts, honeymoon spots, hospitality and my Airbnb beef.

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rovinj, croatia

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May 19, 2016

Greetings from Rovinj, Croatia!

After an April spent in Italy, we are in Croatia for 3 months – to be only interrupted by 2 weeks where I’ll be visiting my mom in Mexico. Lissette is in heaven. If South Africa is my favorite country then Croatia is definitely hers. After a year’s break, she’s back to talking about that damn Goran Višnjić (she not-so-secretly loves him. As I pointed out, I’m sure he snores and farts too).

Goran_Visnjic_(15065848898)_(cropped)Above: photo of that damn Goran Višnjić. Seriously though, if anyone has a connection Lissette would love the chance to meet him!

What both South African and Croatia have in common though is that you really need a car to explore the country properly. Last year when we were in Croatia we travelled by bus, taking excursions down to Dubrovnik, inland to Mostar (in Bosnia & Herzegovina), and down to Kotor (Montenegro). The buses here are medieval. They take forever and have no bathrooms. We met a British family on the bus last year with young kids and they carried around plastic bottles in case the kids had to go pee. That’s pretty medieval. Anyway, this year we’re not doing that – in our few weeks here we’re rented cars, visiting some of Istria’s ancient hilltowns as well as old Roman ruins in the towns of Pula and Porec. I’ll have some posts coming up on that in the next little while.

car in hilltowns of istria

 

Bad Haircuts

When we were in Italy I bought a fancy razor to cut my hair. Over the last year I’ve gone to barbers and gotten all kinds of haircuts, some good, others awful. And it’s never cheap which always irritates me because I’ve got basically no hair, it should always be an easy 10 minute job. I’ve always thought barbers should charge according to volume. Then I’d get a volume discount.

Anyway, so first time around Lissette gave me a great trim with the new razor. This time I just gave it to her and told her “Shave”. I forgot something.

Below: Looks ok in the front

croatian haircut 1

Below: Oops.

croatian haircut 2

 

When I gave her the razor I had forgotten to add one of the little plastic things so when she went in for that first stroke she basically scalped me.

It just happened yesterday. I think I’ll be wearing a lot of hats and bandanas in the next little while. Lissette suggested I go all out and just shave the entire head like that Expert Vagabond. What do you think? I don’t know if my head can pull it off though, I’m afraid of looking like a traffic cone.

So my brilliant advice for today is to always put a plastic thingy on your razor when cutting your hair.

 

 

Favorite Honeymoon Spots (aka Romantic places)

We were recently asked by Holiday Lettings (part of Trip Advisor) to contribute to a post covering the most romantic places for a honeymoon. It was an easy choice for us. Have a look at the article here.

Below: Rovinj wasn’t our selection but it is for sure in the Top 5. Great place for a sunset.

la puntulina, rovinj

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Why we love Croatia

Somebody asked us recently why we love Croatia. There are a bunch of reasons, from the laid-back people to the wonderful geography (I wrote about the geography and hikes here and will have some hikes coming up in the near future). But it is the hospitality of the people that has really set them apart for us. Last year I wrote our favorite Airbnb apartments of the year and we named our host in Split as the best. He was fantastic. This time around we’ve again had the most incredible hosts, this time in Rovinj. I’m going to have a special post on that coming up.

Below: Omis (near Split), my favorite spot in Croatia. If anyone reading this needs a hiking buddy I’ll be in the area in June and July.

Omis, croatia

 

My beef with Airbnb

As readers know, we’re big fans of Airbnb and have been using it almost exclusively the last 2 years as we’ve travelled full-time. That hasn’t changed, we love the convenience of Airbnb for that. And we’ve promoted Airbnb and advertised the credit they give to new users of Airbnb. I would usually have a link on the bottom of this newsletter telling you that you get a $35 US credit off your first Airbnb stay. I’m not doing that anymore. A few months ago the amount was $25 US. Then just last month it was $35. I was surprised by the amount and wrote their sales department to confirm it. I changed my banner, telling you that you’ll get $35 off. Now today I find out it has suddenly gone down to $20. That’s a bait and switch in my books. I don’t think it’s honest. So while I’m going to continue highlighting some of the great Airbnb hosts we have I’m no longer going to promote that Airbnb referral credit because it makes me look like an asshole telling you that you’ll get $35 off and suddenly the amount is $20. Big business is at it again and honestly nothing gets on my nerves more. It sucks balls and I’ve told them as much.

In fact, what Airbnb should be doing is rewarding frequent users of the system (like us) instead of using (ever changing) promotions to lure in new customers.

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So instead, I’m going to promote a few of our older posts from Croatia and the surrounding Balkan countries. We’ve become big fans. With people starting to plan their summer vacations I think this is a fantastic region to explore and you’ll get much better value than in Western Europe.

1. Go to our Croatia page for lots on one of our favorite countries.

Below: shot of Split

lookout-on-Marjan-Hill-Split
2. For a touch of the Middle East here in the Balkans, have a look at our post on Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We’d like to go back one day.

twilight-views-Mostar
3. Kotor in Montenegro was a highlight for me last year, one of the most stunningly beautiful places I’ve been. Another place I’d like to go back to.

views-of-Kotor-Montenegro

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Comments

  1. Kotor was one of those places I only really came to know of after reading blogs and I must say, if the visuals are anything to go by, I’d love to visit as it looks so stunning! Ps I’m with your other half on the whole Goran front – I also have a bit of a not so secret crush on him!! 😀
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted…An Unexpected Night’s Sleep at Narita Airport, TokyoMy Profile

  2. I think you may well start a new trend with that haircut lol! Regarding Goran, what a fine specimen, he may snore and fart but I don’t think either would be an issue!!
    We have a week off work in July over my birthday, the last two years we have managed to get a cheap deal to Greece, but we are keeping an eye out for deals to Croatia/Montenegro as it certainly does look stunning!
    Carole.
    Paul and Carole recently posted…Cruising from Singapore to Penang, Langkawi and Phuket on the Mariner of the SeasMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hmm, I hope this is Carole writing and not Paul. Not that I would judge you or anything Paul 🙂
      Croatia/Montenegro doesn’t really make it on the cheap flights sheets, they’re very small markets. Even Split, which is the 2nd largest city in Croatia, is at best a regional airport anywhere else..But if there is one guy who’s helped us out a lot it’s our friend Gile at Tripelogia (info@tripelogia.com if you want to write him, he sometimes has Croatian flight deals). Otherwise, If you get a cheap flight into Venice it’s not far away. We actually got our Airbnb host here in Rovinj to come and pick us up in Trieste (about an hour or so by train from Venice).
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…May 19, 2016 Newsletter – Croatia, Bad Haircuts, honeymoon spots, hospitality and my Airbnb beefMy Profile

  3. Brian and I tried our first airbnb 2 weekends ago, we went to Devon. We found a charming, over 100 years old property set on a hill overlooking the sea. The hosts were very friendly. As for your hair cut, just shave it all off, it will look great. Your head is the right shape for it. Croatia is so beautiful, renting a car gives a lot more flexibility to see it at your own pace. I am looking forward to your post on the Croatia road trip.
    Gilda Baxter recently posted…Sensational SeychellesMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks for the hair advice Gilda. Hmmm, I’m not sure I’m ready to go there yet, what if it never grows back? 🙂

  4. Get one of those Croatian kićanka hats to cover your bad haircut – when in Rome… 😉
    Agnieszka (Wandering Owls) recently posted…Easter Wandering part 3 – The Applecross PeninsulaMy Profile

  5. Your pictures are beautiful. Always a pleasure to read you!!! See FB same message;-)

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you so much Ivana!! I don’t have the dedication Lissette has on FB, but always really, really appreciate when people comment on the blog 🙂 I hope you are well.

  6. Great photos Frank – and what looks like great honeymoon spots ( and no one is against another honeymoon …!)

    The following gripe of the day maybe better off your comments list… But here goes….
    Can understand your gripe about Airbnb – not at all par for the course, but as clients and ‘renters’ it is just a minor point in the overall highly mercantile structure that is Airbnb. And renters have a far better ride than Airbnb Hosts generally do (unlessthe hosts are addicted teckies willing to checkin several times or more a day and meet a slew of algorythme requirements that renters are not even aware of.

    For a great many, when you list your place as a Host, your listing disappears rapidly into a vast pool of invisible listings that most renters and users never see – after all there are literally millions of Host listings out there anyway. But to be seen, and easily found is nigh impossible for Hosts UNLESS they canand do meet Airbnb’s algorythem requirements continually – checking in a few times a day to your listing, changing prices and calendar/dates regularly – even if they don’t need to be changed or amended – listing on the maximum number of social media options and sites, (why should the Hots be forced ro subscrible and joing a dozen different social media sites when Airbnb can easily direct any enquiries or bookings to the Hosts preferred social media without having to join and adminsister many ? ) , never rejecting an enquiry or potential client etc – There are a slew of other ‘requirements’ in order to keep the listing “alive” , up front and centre – but perhaps worst of all, is the requirement to make sure that all your comments about your clients and renters are A-1 fantastic ! If they are not, the Host (and the renter…) loses standing , ‘desirablilty’ and status. I know several Airbnb hosts in various parts of the world, who hv had bad – and on occassion disasterous – experiences renting out their places, and I am pretty sure there are a lot of renters who have likewise had very bad and even disasterous experiences mwith certain Hosts, but reading the feedback and comments by both the Hosts and renters on each other – a real mutual admiration society to say the least – one would think and believe every thing is absolutely perfect In the Airbnb world. Everyone has to ‘feel good’ in this feelgood world, no matter hiw phoney the ‘feelgood’ maybe !

    To me it all sucks of contrived happiness and satisfaction all round . If someone – either renter or Host – has had a bad experience , they should be free to express it openly without negative comments affecting their visibility , ‘standing’ or future ratings as either renters or hosts ! Why have mutual feedback and comment requirements when noone knows if they are true, or can be trusted or not ? Surely fake and artificially positive feedback and comments – to keep one’s status for both renters and Hosts, defeats the whole object of having and making feedback and comments ? All in all not the most transparent or reliable system. All so much BS to ensure that we all live and appreciate this ‘feel good’ world !

    None of this detracts from Airbnb’s convenience, rapidity etc – its use to both sides is legendary – and noone can argue with their success, but for Hosts who do not want to live on their social media almost continually, (there shuld be no need to , as effectiveky nothing changes until a renter makes an enquiry,,or confirms a booking ) and who may wish to be a little more discerning as to whom they rent out, it is not necessarily the best or most reliable site out there ….at least for many Hosts…

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Interesting comment Tony. I didn’t know about Host social media requirements, in fact most of the hosts we’ve met with time are not tech savvy and don’t think they spend much time on their computers at all. And if they’re anything like our wonderful host in Rovinj they have a full-time life outside Airbnb. But I’m sure it depends on the market. In most places host apartments all show up according to the filters you’ve put up. Say you’re looking for a place on the Plateau for a month between $1500-$2000/mo with 2 bedrooms, well all the places that match that criteria will show up, showing the full profile, reviews etc. And in some markets there are a lot of places (and are really a renter’s market) while in others there’s a definite lack.
      As far as reviews you are definitely correct and unfortunately that seems to be the way of the world: just like Trip Advisor, Open Table, Booking.com, etc…everything is about the review. We have one case where we made a very negative review on a place and the host complained to Airbnb and managed to have my review taken off the site because, according to Airbnb, what I had written was “inaccurate”. We disputed it but I think in most cases Airbnb will side with the host. I also think that in some cases reviews are fake. You’re in Italy, you get some of your friends to rent out your place and leave glowing reviews. Maybe you pay them back in cash or whatever…but that goes on and I’m wary especially when a host’s reviews are in majority by people in the host’s country. Fuckery takes place by some people for sure (and as I wrote about a while back on Open table, sometimes by the company itself). But that’s to feed the machine, right? The world we live in today.

      I have a couple of other gripes about Airbnb: 1) They act like a bank in that you pay up front when you do your booking but the host doesn’t get paid until you check in, so they can be sitting on money for a couple of months and you as the renter are out of pocket. 2) I used to think it was the renter that paid the Airbnb fee (about 10%) but I was recently told (by a host – who you know well but I don’t want to divulge her name) that the host also pays about 15%. I was a little surprised by how much of the rental fee goes in Airbnb’s pocket. 3) Trying to get help from Airbnb is difficult, they don’t have an emergency hotline and I had to look very hard to get an email address for their “help” desk. We’ve never had a major issue but god forbid you do because you’ll suddenly find you can’t find a telephone # or email…

      Having said all the above, 95% of our experience has been great and Airbnb really suits our lifestyle. If there is anything I wish is that there would be more competition in that field. It would keep Airbnb in check, bring down prices, and – as you’ve previously mentioned – stopped the gentrification of certain neighborhoods where everyone suddenly wants to be an Airbnb host.

  7. Soumi Halder says:

    enjoyed your post as always…good to know about the transport concerns ..,,
    so eager to plan croatia , along with Kotor , mostar ..hospitality is surely a factor that adds to the overall experience ..have a great stay and keep posting !

  8. I was very interested in the Airbnb conversation. I am a great proponent of Airbnb with a link to the discount on my site and I frequently recommend them. I didn’t even know the discount had changed – don’t know how I missed that one. Did you get an email about it? I didn’t know that the host had to pay a booking fee as well. Previous to this my only gripe is that sometimes it is required that we put a copy of our passport or drivers licence on line (they say it is safe to do so) and in those cases I book elsewhere. I don’t mind showing the host my passport but don’t want to put it on line. PS. I’ve done exactly the same thing to Marty’s hair. Fortunately it was at the back so he didn’t really know about it lol. Never mind, it grows back quickly. The views from the hills behind Omis are amazing aren’t they!
    budget jan recently posted…Montenegrin Beach Holiday Budva StyleMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Jan,
      Even the help desk didn’t know about the new amount. My response when I asked “Regarding your inquiry about referrals given to friends and acquaintances; the correct amount is the one that appears on your Travel Credit page at the time of sending referrals. For the moment they stand at $25 but they fluctuate due to several factors and might well go up in the future“.
      It’s definitely $20 at the moment after having been briefly at $35 and then most of the time before that at $25.
      I guess my issue is that they’re counting on us users to basically market Airbnb for them. In actual fact, how many referral credits do people get? I can could ours on one hand. It doesn’t pay and now they’re fooling around with the number? I don’t think it’s even worth it. As I said to them yesterday: “In fact, Airbnb should be rewarding good customers like us (who’ve spent over 300/days a year in Airbnb apartments over the last 2 years) rather than counting on our word of mouth to get new customers. I don’t think it’s good marketing strategy”.

      Your mention of putting ID online is something I have not experienced or heard of. Yes, I would not do that either. In the end it’s about trust and that’s why reviews are good, both for the host and renter. We’ve worked hard at being good renters and now have 30+ reviews that are all glowing. I would hope – we always leave a place cleaner than when we arrived.

      ——-

      Oh, you’re mean Jan!! What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him right? 🙂

      • Re the Airbnb copy of ID on line. It has only been requested of me in Australia. I think if the owner has done it, then you have to do it. We have a lot of excellent references and no bad ones. I talked to the owner about it but she was adamant and so was I so we booked a motel. This was prior to our 10 weeks overseas in 2015 and I was extremely worried that the European owners might want the same, but not one of them required it. Phew!
        budget jan recently posted…Montenegrin Beach Holiday Budva StyleMy Profile

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Interesting. Yes, we’ve been travelling (about half of it through Europe) for 2 years now and have never had anything like that. At most we’ll be asked for our passports when we check in.

  9. I had a similar hair cut experience when first arriving in Colombia 10 years ago. Just decided to grow my hair longer and wear it in a ponytail. My wife loves it.
    Michael recently posted…Eating Ants in Colombia – Hormigas Culonas a Big Ass Delicacy or GrossMy Profile

  10. Escaped mental patient? Haha

  11. Another wonderful article that I thoroughly enjoyed! Don’t shave your head. Wear hats for awhile, and lesson learned about that plastic thing. Airbnb has been in the news daily in Chicago, where are greedy corrupt politicians want to get even more taxes from these rentals, driving up prices in this already expensive city. If I ever travel I will use it, I really hope one day I can visit with you two in Split Croatia.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      If you ever make it Dee it would be a pleasure to show you around 🙂
      I think it’s the new society, people are looking for value and feel gauged by hotels and taxis…hence Airbnb and Uber. Most people have seen their real income after inflation go down over the last 10 years so there’a a market. I understand governments want more money, but in my opinion should be limited to hosts paying income taxes on earnings.
      Thank you about the hair! That’s what I’ve been doing and already starting to grow back in.

  12. I’m glad it’s one of your favourite places:)) You can find Mr VIšnjić in Šibenik when he visits his family:))
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted…Wandering around London in 72 hours (part I)My Profile

  13. Uber is illegal and largely uninsured on a commercial basis which means you might save $5 but have a crash and insurance wont pay.

    Being a cripple for life with no insurance? Really not worth it.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hey “Trouble Tom” (that’s Spanky’s nickname for you 🙂 )

      Actually you are not correct. First off Uber is only illegal in a handful of countries (and only because authorities trying to find ways to get as much money as possible from the new economy, while also supporting the taxi companies). Secondly, Uber does have insurance ($1 million limit when driving a passenger) plus I don’t see any clause in my private insurance coverage telling me I won’t be covered if I get injured in an Uber accident (how about if I was hitchhiking? Or in the car of my Croatian friend?).

      Actually South Africa is on one of the countries where it is “banned” (but not illegal, so what does that mean?) but funny enough it is the most popular way of getting around. EVERYONE uses Uber in South Africa, it’s the first thing a local will tell you. It’s where we started using it. As usual governments are two steps behind, both in legislation and figuring out how to extricate as much money as they can from Uber (currently worth about $40 Billion).

      Tom, two years of full-time travelling and we’ve been scammed in so many ways by F*ing taxi drivers, as far as we’re concerned they’re the traveller’s worst nightmare. With Uber you never have to pull out you wallet – sorry, but it’s the way of the future.

  14. Good luck making an insurance claim with Uber. It will be invalid if the business is illegal. Uber drivers have killed people and it’s barely regulated.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      It’s a legal company based in San Francisco, it’s only “illegal” in several places because they’ve been outlawed. And obviously if they’re illegal they’re not doing business in those few places so you won’t be getting “killed”.

  15. Uber will crash and burn. The model is flawed. Governments will either ban it or regulate it so it becomes expensive it fades away. Individual drivers are getting fined thousands of dollars for operating without a commercial licence and if they have to start paying $3k to $4k for road registration of a commercial vehicle plus service the vehicle every 3 months and check road checks its a totally non viable business. The founders got rich quick but the drivers will get rorted.

  16. You really crack me up with your haircut pic and tale of Lissette admiring Goran. I’m yet to visit Croatia so looking forward to reading about your travels. Love your humourous writing style
    Suze – Luxury Columnist recently posted…First Ever S. Pellegrino Taste Experience at the Cannes Film FestivalMy Profile

  17. Ha ha, that hair! Are you sure you hadn’t just pissed Lissette off that day? Hubbie never lets me near his hair (and he is challenged in the ‘volume’ department too!). Never considered that of course long term travellers won’t have the luxury of their regular hair dresser, have you ever had a proper Turkish shave? Now that would be cool! I can see why you love Croatia so much, really must get there some day, although thanks for the bus warning, not sure I could cope with pissing in plastic bottles like a truck driver!
    Heather Cole recently posted…Dreamliner Business Class review with KLMMy Profile

  18. the world it seems is full of these issues when it comes to discounts for first time buyer/users. They want to entice you in but then do very little to keep you. They had a new platinum visa card going at my usual bank with 50,000 qantas frequent flyer points if you joined up. So i went in to get the card and they said that as I already had a credit card with them i couldnt receive the bonus points. Hmpf! Many banks were offering the same or similar deal so I went to another bank and in fact got 60,000. Never mind that with my original bank I have banked with them since the 1980s! Loyalty gets you nowhere. Anyways, Mostar was definitely my favourite spot in the area, not far in front of Montenegro! 🙂
    Andrew recently posted…Wadi Rum – Desert of DreamsMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Good for you going to another bank. You’re right, loyalty doesn’t count for anything anymore!

  19. OMG! I’m so laughing about your haircut. Have you heard of the television show,”Big Bang Theory?” It’s probably my most favorite comedy show. There is an older episode when one character (Penny) gives the other character (Sheldon) a hair cut and Sheldon giggles which sends the electric razor askew and it is hilarious. Your haircut immediately reminded me of the show. Anyway… you two make me smile and by the way I love and appreciate that you make sure to spend time with your mother. 🙂
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