I Heart Hrvatska: Food & Language & Transportation
The Good Stuff, Food and Drink:
To start with most local restaurants will offer you...rakija, which is basically a fruit brandy. Made out of grapes it is grappa, out of plums it is slivovitz. Some is delicious and smooth, some will, as my grandpa used to say, put hair on your chest. But it is all fun to try. Try and find some of the herbally yummy stuff or a homemade option if you can.
Rakija (pronnounced rack-ee-ya).
Beer is Pivo (Peee-vo), wine is vino (easy), and water is vada.
Korlavachko and Ojusko seem to be the two I saw everywhere. I like the Korlavachko Cerno, a dark beer.
Korlat Cabernet: a reasonable wine that we really liked there, if you can find 2010 it is even better.
Trifun Merlot 2015: Our favorite find from the last trip.
Food to be on the lookout for:
Lamb on a spit
Lamb OR Seafood cooked Peka style, under the iron bell.
Strukli (In Zagreb and Northern part of the country)
Sarma (more of a winter time dish, we actually haven't found it at a restaurant)
All the seafood!
Spoiler, it is not an easy language. I find that knowing how to say "hello" and "thank you" will get you pretty far in most places in the world. That and being unafraid to make a slight ass out of yourself. I once got directions to a site near the train station in Rome from two lovely grandmothers making a choo-choo noise and miming. I'm pretty sure that they let me continue for longer than I needed to make my point, but still, communication.
To say hello in Croatia you generally will hear Dobar Dan, this means "good day".
Thank you is Hvala, the H is almost silent, so you can just kind of slur it and say fv-ala (think fa-lalalala and you're on the right track).
And MOST important, cheers is said zivjeli, said jeeve- ya- lee.
It makes sense to rent a car here if you are are going to more than one place. The roads are all new and easy to navigate, other than the road to Dubrovnik which is still a 2 lane hwy along the sea cliffs and is beautiful, but also busy.
We stay mostly in Air BNBs, there were some great ones in old stone houses and we enjoy interacting with the family if possible. We are usually there in shoulder season May/June or September/October, and most hosts have more time then and seem to want to sit down and have a beer or if you're really lucky some homemade Rakija, get to know their guests and share about their life.