Here I go, talking to myself again. No, I’m not schizophrenic, I am learning a new language. This time, it is Vietnamese, my first Asian language. Sadly, although San Francisco is home to over 13,000 people of Vietnamese descent, the 11th highest number in the United States, I was unable to find a single Vietnamese language school. The only school I could find was the Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center which offers Vietnamese language classes for kids between the ages of 5 and 12. I don’t think being a kid at heart would qualify me. Sigh.
Without a class or a tutor, I am learning Vietnamese exclusively through on-line or pre-recorded language programs. I am using Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, Duolingo and Mondly. I will give you a summary of each program along with what I think are the pros and cons of each.
Continue reading Can You Teach Yourself Vietnamese?
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.
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.
Continue reading What Learning Vietnamese Can Teach You about San Francisco
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.
Continue reading Books, Ballet and Bajaderas in Zagreb
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.
Continue reading Crashing the Salsa Festival in Rovinj
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 RoutePerfect 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.
Continue reading Our Perfect Croatian Vacation Planned with the Help of RoutePerfect
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.
Continue reading The Road to Plitvička Jezera