VBT Group Tour Manager Laura T. recently returned home from her bicycling trip to Croatia. She was kind enough to share a great story with us about a Croatian fisherman named Tomo, a friend of VBT’s for years, whom she met on the last day of the trip.
This was my first visit to Croatia, and I felt like I belonged—everyone was extremely warm and friendly. Everywhere we went, we were welcomed and made to feel at home. While biking through the countryside we encountered farmers who would wave us over to tell us about their farms, what they raised, and how proud they were of their homes. That was my overwhelming impression of Croatia—the friendly atmosphere.
I have been the Group Tour Manager at VBT for three years, and I really enjoy helping people who have chosen to travel with groups of family members and friends. It’s a fun way to travel. The shared encounters really help the group members bond in a special way. I was experiencing our Croatia: The Dalmatian Islands bicycling vacation as someone who works at VBT. We are sent out periodically to get a better understanding of trip operations, but mainly to get feedback from our travelers so we can make adjustments and improvements. We take feedback very seriously at VBT.
I was traveling with my Dad—this was his first trip to Europe—so it was a very special time for me. He loved Croatian maritime culture, the incredibly fresh seafood and local wines, and the Croatian people. We all did. All of the hotels we stayed at were on the water, and we got a real understanding of the people’s relationship with the sea.
On the last full day of our Croatian discoveries, in the beautiful little village of Jelsa on the island of Hvar, our Trip Leaders Vanja and Matej had a wonderful surprise for our group. We went to visit a man named Tomo, a repairer of fishing nets, who has been welcoming VBT travelers into his workshop and home for many years. He doesn’t speak English, so Vanja and Matej translated for us as our group gave Tomo the gift of a VBT bicycle, all tuned up and ready to go. We had all noticed the extra bike with the support van but we had no idea this was going to happen. It was a wonderful surprise!
Tomo was really touched and he even teared up. He was so grateful! It really was a highlight of the trip for me. I think it just reflects so well on VBT and what our mission for travel is—to make global relationships possible and to provide moments that enrich our lives.
Watching Tomo work was extraordinary, as he repaired the local fishermen’s nets with nothing but twine, a shuttle, and his skilled hands. To know that we made a difference in his life with the gift of a new bike made all us feel wonderful, and I’m so happy that I could be a part of it.