All posts by Elizabeth Hilton

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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Our Perfect Croatian Vacation Planned with the Help of RoutePerfect

It was about this time last year that I began the process of making my dream of a Croatian Vacation a reality. I had already spent several months listening to Pimsleur’s Croatian CD in my car. I was working with Branka, my brilliant Croatian tutor. Branka had provided me with many great ideas for my trip which you can read about on my blog under Branka the Brilliant Croatian Tutor’s Travel Advice.

It was now time to make the plans. I had so many places that I wanted to see in Croatia, from the beautiful walled city of Dubrovnik, to the Italian influenced Istrian Peninsula to the fairyland falls of Plivitcka Jezera.  I had a lot of ground to cover in just two weeks. I did not want to spend too much time in each place, but I also felt it would be difficult to book individual accommodations at so many stops.

Then I found RoutePerfect. In less than 30 minutes, I was able to book the entire vacation for less than $50 per person per day. Once I booked the vacation, RoutePerfect provided me with pre-paid vouchers that I simply presented at the hotels and inns that Claudia and I stayed at during our vacation. It was so easy.  You can now book your own trip using RoutePerfect‘s easy travel tools on my blog.  I plan on using to book my upcoming trip to Vietnam.

Our vacation to Croatia was a great mix of coast, culture, nature and fun. I would highly suggest following our route if you have two weeks to spend traveling through Croatia. We flew into Dubrovnik and flew out of Zagreb. We spent the early part of the trip traveling from island to island via ferry (Dubrovnik to Korčula to Hvar to Split).  In Split, we rented a car for the remainder of the journey (Split to Plitvička Jezera to Rovinj to Zagreb). 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 “View trip details” to enter your departure date, number of people in your party and price your trip.  If you like what you see, book it.  It’s that easy.

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The Road to Plitvička Jezera

Now That Is What I Call A Rest Stop

Driving a car in Croatia is fantastic.  We rent a small compact car at Last Minute Cars in Split.  The car comes complete with GPS and a pre-arranged pick up at our hotel in Zagreb.

Now we are driving on a well-maintained toll road listening to Claudia’s Croatia playlist at full blast.  Claudia is slumped down in the front seat, trying to sleep off her hangover.  Split with its discos and friendly natives is Croatia’s fun-land.  Claudia has a “Split”ting headache from too many Long Island Ice Teas from the night before.  She moans at me each time I ask her a question that I have to yell at the top of my lungs over the blasting music.  I am really having too much fun being the self-righteous mom of a twenty-something.  I love road trips.  We are on the road to Plitvička Jezera, Croatia’s enchanted fairyland.

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The Split Welcoming Committee – Making Friends Croatian Style

I have been abandoned in Split.  Claudia and I kidnapped a young Australian girl named Steph who we met on our walking tour of Diocletian’s Palace.  At the end of the tour, I am surprised when Claudia turns to Steph and asks “Would you like to join us for lunch?”  Claudia’s simple gesture of hospitality is one that we have seen repeated by Croatians and fellow tourists throughout our trip.

Croatians Unplug

It is ironic that although I learn the language of the country before I travel, we usually spend our international vacations talking to waiters and shopkeepers.  However, this trip to Croatia is different.  Croatians are warm, friendly people.  Their desire to connect with each other can be seen in their eyes and their smiles as they sit at outdoor tables sipping drinks and watching the crowd stroll by.

On our third day, as I sit sipping a glass of wine in an outdoor lounge, it finally dawns on me what is missing from Croatian coffee shops; electronics.  Croatians are not hunched over, doubled chinned, staring at their phones.  They do not look like androids with white wires connecting their ears to their laptop.  Their phones are not on the table standing sentry to their social interactions.  Their eyes do not nervously, continually glance at its screen in case some important Facebook, snapchat, Instagram, twitter, text notification might go unnoticed and unanswered for more than ten seconds.   The eyes of the Croatians in their gathering places are on each other, not on their hand held devices.   All you have to do is smile and say “Dobar Dan” or “Bok” and you will find an enthusiastic participant for an enjoyable conversation.

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Adventure in Fluency’s Calendars for 2017: Croatia, Greece and Thailand

Just in time for 2017, we have added three new 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 and Thailand.  Claudia Rodriguez, my daughter, and Frank Sandoval, my husband, are the talented photographers.  Where will your adventure in fluency be in 2017?  Let these calendars inspire you and my blog be your guide.

Life is an adventure, not a destination.