Have you ever done a vacation over again? That is, go back to the same countries and even cover some of the same routes but see different things next time?

That’s what my 2015 trip was: a “do over” – sort of. In September-October 2009, I visited Croatia for the first time, with brief stops in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. I saw many of the “highlights” in Croatia – Plitvice Lakes, Dubrovnik, Split, and Korcula – but never made it to Istria, Sarajevo, or Montenegro.

Somehow, my 2009 trip stuck with me more than most of my other trips, yet I was never quite satisfied with it. The Balkans are not a fairy tale land exactly – there are lots of beautiful spots but many rough edges. I found it all intriguing. In 2011 I came back to see more of Slovenia but never made it back to Croatia. I love going to Europe but usually push myself to see new places. I’ve since been to Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg. But I never forgot Croatia, and I wanted to see Montenegro and more of Bosnia. In April-May 2015, I finally came back.

This trip, I returned to a few favorite spots from 2009 but mostly stopped in new places. I spent a night in Kotor, Montenegro, a few nights in Istria in Croatia, and a few nights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I rented a car and drove for two weeks. In May, the region isn’t that busy with tourists yet, so I felt comfortable not committing to a firm itinerary. With a car and an internet device, I was able to decide how long to stay in any given place as I traveled and made new reservations to the next nights at the last minute. Sometimes I simply drove up to a hotel front desk with no reservation at all.

My biggest reservation was the weather and the possibility of rain in the spring. I sensed September would be a better time to visit (and the summer would be too crowded for me). I managed to move my trip forward by a week into May when new frequent flier seats opened on on the Delta flight. The beginning of May seems to be the unofficial start of the tourist season in Croatia: more things are open or open for longer hours.

A few notes on my travel style: I did this trip solo, and I am a photographer most interested in landscapes, architecture, and beautiful countryside. I love history but don’t care for museums. I’m a picky eater and rarely sample local cuisine (unless I’m near Italy). I don’t drink alcohol. Don’t look for too many restaurant recommendations in my trip report – I mostly ate take-away food, often pizzas and sandwiches. I mention the name of a restaurant only when it was notable. Occasionally I sat for a meal at an Italian restaurant, but usually I’m tired from a day of sight seeing and just want to eat, go back to the hotel, and sleep.

I’m also pretty frugal – I can’t do shared housing (hostels) anymore but still prefer cheap lodging in a central location, if possible.

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