I have always been a DIY vacationer…the idea of a “group tour” was my idea of a nightmare….having to wait on a bunch of people, and have a middle of the road experience because the tour director is trying to keep 50 people happy. However, I discovered the joys of small group tours, and Shannon does a FANTASTIC job of personalizing the experience for the folks in her group. A perfect mix of planned activities and “on your own” time, with the flexibility to make the trip what you want, made for a great vacation. As much as I have always enjoyed the planning for a trip almost as much as the trip, there was great freedom in having someone else worry about getting from point A to point B, and worrying about where to eat and which local tour guide to use, and which apartments really are nice (instead of just looking that way in the photos!). This trip to Croatia was never one I would have managed on my own, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to go on a Grapehops tour!
Anne O. — Elmer, Louisiana
My trip to Croatia was the first time I had taken an organized group tour. I was prepared to have a good trip, but I wasn’t prepared to be blown away. I enjoyed the trip so much it was hard to pick a single ‘favorite experience.’ The Croatian tour has it all: wine tastings in a variety of venues and locations, excellent food ranging from fish to roasted meats to pasta to vegetables to great desserts, walking tours in each of our five locations (including the not-to-be-missed Plitvice National Park), and free time. I can’t find the words to express what a great job Shannon did on putting the tour in Croatia together. Her careful advance planning and continuing work during the tour resulted in a very enjoyable time for all. Bravo, Shannon! I can’t wait to join you on another trip!!
Jan M. — Lutsen, MN
Going through the photos of our Croatia trip we can’t believe, what we saw, what we ate, and what we drank. It was truly amazing and of course it was all due to Shannon. All our GrapeHops Tours have been great with the latest one (our 4th) always seemingly even better than the last.
John & Moyra L. — Houston, Texas
Just when you think you know yourself, someone comes along to prove you wrong! We had always traveled solo, as a couple, until a friend steered us to Shannon’s GrapeHops tour of Croatia. Before the trip, internal doubts abounded: “Would we like the others in the group? Would we have enough free time? Would we enjoy the guides and activities and other choices made for us?” Not long into our glorious two-week adventure, each of our questions was answered with a resounding “YES!” Fellow travelers were interesting, low-key, and fun; guides were personable, entertaining, and informative, and Shannon’s choices of restaurants, vineyards, and off-the-beaten-track explorations afforded us the time and opportunity to do what we like most – to interact with the people, enjoy authentic meals, sample (many, many!) local wines, and become immersed in the culture of the country. On top of all this, there was Shannon – our navigator, cheerleader, problem-solver, drinking buddy, and, most importantly, delightful friend. We can’t wait to explore another country with her.
Gene and Jan S. — Arlington, Massachusetts
It’s hard to relay just how much fun Shannon’s Croatia tour was without gushing. Shannon does a superlative job of finding the best accommodations, restaurants, wines, guides, local color and not to be missed sights. The people she has befriended across Croatia go out of their way to provide unforgettable experiences. I was blown away by the beauty (especially Plitvice National Park) of the country, the friendliness of its people (who all seem to speak English) and how eager they are to please tourists and share their culture. The balance between seeing well known sights and unique, places you would never find on your own was perfect as was the amount of planned tours and free time. Simply an amazing trip, would love to do it all over again.
Colleen K. — Cambridge, Massachusetts
This was our third GrapeHops tour with Shannon Essa. We did not think that the GrapeHops experience could get any better, but Shannon really outdid herself this time! Croatia is a truly beautiful country and Shannon really showed us it’s magic, from the beautiful island ports of Rovinj and Hvar, to the walled city on the sea, Dubrovnik, and many notable stops in between. Plitvice National Park was a highlight – a magical land of waterfalls. The accommodations and local guides were excellent and the food was truly fantastic. We felt that we were able to see the “real Croatia” and interact with the lovely people who live there. Our third Grapehops tour, but it won’t be our last!
Margo & Leon S. — Laguna Beach, California
Croatia is an amazing and beautiful country; the people are wonderful; the food and wine are great; and Shannon planned and executed an almost perfect trip (and flexed when necessary.) We didn’t have to worry about anything. She took care of it all and we simply enjoyed every minute.
Lorri & Russ M. — Washington, D.C.
What an amazing introduction to Croatia! Some well known places, but other out-of-the-way places that you might never find on your own—towns, wineries, and restaurants that charmed and delighted. Accommodations perfect, guides excellent and knowledgeable, and of course a generous and excellent hostess. Couldn’t be better!
Bill R. — Berkeley, California
Fabulous trip, from start to finish! I’d enjoyed a “taste” of Croatia a few years ago — during 4 cruise port calls — and knew that I wanted to return and explore more of this beautiful country. When I stumbled across Shannon’s Grape Hops Tours, and saw her Croatia itinerary, I knew that this would be the perfect trip for me. Small group travel? – Check! No single supplement? – Check! Lodging in charming local apartments rather than chain hotels? Check! A gracious and attentive tour operator/hostess? Check! Interesting travel companions? Check! Off-the-beaten-path adventures? – Check! Authentic experiences and interactions with locals? Check! Fantastic food and wine? – Check!
This was my first trip with Shannon, but I am sure that it will not be my last.
Pam H. — Jacksonville, Florida
What makes the GrapeHops experience special? After being part of two fabulous tours (to Galicia and to Croatia), I think it is in large part Shannon’s ability to build warm relationships with locals, and her passionate desire to share unique experiences with us. We are never just on a tour – we are part of a circle of friends: vintners, local guides, restaurant and apartment owners, coach drivers and more, who are all committed to sharing what is special about their world and welcoming us into their lives for a while.
Judy R. — Berkeley, California