Adventure in Fluency’s Calendars for 2018: Croatia, Greece, Thailand and new for 2018, The Caribbean

New for 2018 – Adventures in Fluency’s Caribbean Calendar

Just in time for 2018, we have added five calendars that are now available for purchase.  Just visit our Adventures in Fluency store to buy yours today.  These calendars feature beautiful photographs from our trips to Croatia, Greece, Thailand and the Caribbean.  Claudia Rodriguez, my daughter, and Frank Sandoval, my husband, are the talented photographers.  Where will your adventure in fluency be in 2018?  Let these calendars inspire you and my blog be your guide.

Life is an adventure, not a destination.

What Learning Vietnamese Can Teach You about San Francisco

My trip to Vietnam in December of 2017 is now booked, kicking into high gear my motivation to learn Vietnamese.  With just three short months left to learn this completely new language, I find the task to be a bit daunting.  Unlike Spanish or French or Greek, Vietnamese is completely unconnected to anything I know.   I dive in and try several different language programs and on-line applications.   However, I think my favorite part about learning a new language is what it teaches me about how it connects to San Francisco.  Learning Vietnamese has given me an opportunity to learn and connect more with the vibrant Vietnamese community living in my beautiful city by the Bay.

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Books, Ballet and Bajaderas in Zagreb

The interior of the theater glows golden like a giant bee hive as each honey comb fills up with patrons buzzing with excitement.  We are seated in plush red velvet chairs in our little partitioned box, just one honeycomb in the three rows of box seats that encircle and rise above the orchestra seating of the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb.  Known as HNK (Hrvatsko Narodno Kazalište), the interior of the theater is lavishly decorated in red and gold.  A golden chandelier dangles from the center like a delicate jewel on a queen’s necklace.  Claudia and I move our chairs to the edge to take in the old world beauty of the decor.

The theater was designed by Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Herman Helmer, the same architects that built the opera house in Vienna.   The theater first opened in Zagreb on  October 14, 1895.  Today, on the Fourth of July, Claudia and I wait to watch Petar Pan, a ballet by Giorgio Madia, that will be performed by the Ballet of the Croatian National Theater.   The ballet premiered at HNK just five days earlier.

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Lauren’s Lessons from Milan

Travel Inspiration

Recently, I spent two days in London solo.  I was surprised how much anxiety this leg of my trip caused me.  The thought of spending two entire days alone terrified me.  How would I dine by myself?  Who would I talk to?  What if I got lost?  I have no problem being the travel leader for my family or my daughter. However, the idea of being alone terrified me.

I learn that Lauren, a lovely young woman in my ballet class, had actually, voluntarily traveled and stayed in Milan all by herself for two whole week.  I decided to interview her to learn about her favs, her fears and her lesson from Milan.

Living Vicariously Through Travel Stories

To begin our interview, Lauren, Samantha and I pull up a couple of bar stools in the Myriad, an industrial market hall with indoor food stalls in San Francisco.  Samantha is a fellow ballerina and eager to hear Lauren’s travel tales.

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Crashing the Salsa Festival in Rovinj

Rovinj, the Emerald City

As we wind towards Istria from Plitviče, we enter the high speed toll road and race through a series of tunnels to emerge in Istria.  We enter a beautiful countryside of green hills and field lined with flowers.  Everything is so green.  The villages of stone houses topped with red  roofs dot the countryside along the road.  From Plitviče Lakes National Park to the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia is a easy and pleasant three hour drive.

Our destination for the sixth stop on our tour of Croatia is Rovinj, a town located on the Istrian Peninsula.  Istria is the Italian influenced area of Croatia.  We immediately notice that all of the signs in Rovinj are in Croatian and Italian.  Even the Croatian we hear spoken has an Italian lilt to it.  Rovinj is a short three hour ferry ride across the Adriatic from Venice.  Rovnj has an old town and a harbor just like all of the other towns in Croatia that we visited except Rovinj feels substantially greener.  Trees shade the street and flowers are blooming everywhere.

We check into Villa Kristina, a quaint bed and breakfast just a five minute walk from the old town.  After check in, we find the absolute best restaurant in the absolute best location in Rovinj.  The Restoran Stella di Mare is located on the edge of the sea just far enough around the bend of the port to provide a cool breeze and a spectacular view.   Our waiter, a large gregarious man, is very happy when we order in Croatian. When we explain that we are mother and daughter, he grabs a young man who is also waiting tables and introduces him as his son.  He gives us a Croatian lesson.  Meanwhile his son shows us photographs of Rovinj during last winter when it was covered with an unusual snowfall.  By the time we leave, we feel as if we have been embraced as part of the family.

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Romantic Honeymoon in Thailand

Visiting Thailand in June has its pros and cons.  Thailand has three seasons; hot, cool and rainy.  June is the beginning of the rainy season whereas November through February is the sublimely ideal cool season.  Because June is not the high season, you can enjoy cheaper prices and less crowds.  Do expect it to rain at least half the time.  However, when you are on a romantic adventure, spending time inside when it rains may be fun.  Also, when it rains, it is the perfect opportunity to enjoy my favorite indoor activity; the spa treatment.  Thailand is filled with a large diversity of cheap and enjoyable spa treatments.

We spent our Honeymoon in Thailand in June.  Since it was our honeymoon, we took our time to linger at each location rather than embark on a whirl wind tour.  We divided our time between Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui.   We spent three days in Bangkok, eight days in Phuket and eight days in Koh Samui.  We took small planes to each destination.

Here is our trip via Route Perfect. I will provide a quick overview of the highlights.  If you want to make our vacation your vacation, just click on the bright orange “View trip details” button and enter your departure date, number of people in your party to price your trip. If you like what you see, book it. It’s that easy.

  1. Bangkok

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Our Family’s Big, Fat, Greek Vacation

Our family vacation to Greek was a great mix of Greek history, laid-back island life, and family fun.  With a two-year-old, a fourteen-year-old and two adults, we took it nice and slow, savoring each stop.  This slow pace gave us plenty of time to enjoy the locals’ affection for children and for the all important nap-time.

I would highly suggest following our route if you have three weeks to spend traveling through Greece. We flew in and out of Athens.  After seeing the historical sites in Athens for three days, we headed to the islands.  We traveled from island to island just like the locals, via ferry.  From Piraeus, the port of Athens, we took a hydrofoil to Hydra.  After five days in Hydra, we had to return to Piraeus to catch another ferry for the islands on the remainder of our trip (Piraeus to Paros to Santorini to Piraeus).

Here is our trip via Route Perfect.  I will take you through the logistics and provide a quick overview of the highlights.  I have also provided links to the stories about each place on my blog if you would like more detailed information.  If you want to make our vacation your vacation, just click on the bright orange “View trip details” button and enter your departure date, number of people in your party to price your trip.  If you like what you see, book it.  It’s that easy.

1. Athens

We arrive in the Athens airport via Swiss Air and take a taxi to our accommodations, an apartment in the Panormou-Abelokipoi neighborhood.  It is hard to believe that we only spent three nights in Athens considering all of the things we did. The highlights include exploring Plaka, hiking to the top of the Acropolis to see the Parthenon and the Erecthion, visiting the zoo and the Children’s library in the National Garden, watching the changing of the guards outside the Presidential Mansion, drinking ouzo in a neighborhood pub in the Panormou-Abelokipoi neighborhood and riding the metro all around the town.

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