Okay, so just got back the other day, no time to post yet, still trying to catch up on all the responsibilies I let slide while i was travelling (bills, work, house, etc). I'm definitely going to do a few hostel reviews as well.
As far as Riomaggiore (part of the Cinque Terre) and Dubrovnik, Croatia, we just showed up with no accomodations and general budget and guidelines in mind. In Riomaggiore the third place we looked at met our criteria and we booked it. It was through an agency called "La Dolce Vita" and had an office on the main drag in town just up past the Bar Centrale. By the way, the two places we rejected, we didn't feel any pressure or anything. Just told the brokers/renters that it wasn't what we were interested in and said thanks and ciao.