Sunday, October 6, 2013

Just Call Me Tasha

One of the boys I au pair for, Alban, is a couple months shy of 2 years old. Meaning he hasn't quite mastered the art of language.

In other words, he can only mutter and mispronounce certain words as opposed to his brother Loan, who is 4 years old and speaks extremely well for his age (and often corrects my French).

For the first month or so that I was in Moliets, Alban didn't really refer to me as anything. However, when others said "Sarah" he knew exactly who they were talking about. I didn't feel bad though because he couldn't say Loan's name either, he just called him 'Alban.' I think he thought all kids were named Alban. However, he has since progressed and now calls his brother 'Alon.' Close enough, although I worry he's going to be dyslexic. 

Emily, one of my friends from Dax, came to visit in mid-July and I was jealous at how quickly Alban caught onto saying her name (all of 5 minutes). As for me, still nothing.

A couple weeks later Natasha, another friend from Dax, came to visit. Yet again, Alban caught on extremely quickly to saying her name. Again, I was jealous. Sarah is much easier to say than Natasha. Even 'Sawah' would suffice.

However, for some reason when Natasha left, Alban decided he was going to start calling me 'Tasha.' I don't know if he just gave up completely on my name, or started doing it to bug me. At first it did annoy me, which I made clear and I think is part of why he latched on to calling me that. I thought that after a week or two he would forget and go back to not calling me anything or trying to make some attempts at pronouncing my name. Nope. 

Here were are two months later and he still calls me Tasha. 

Everyone just accepts it now. Me, Loan, the parents and even the grandparents.

So feel free to just call me Tasha.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Le Bisous

"The kiss"

This is something I lived my year in constant fear dread of.

I've had people ask me if it's true that people kiss on the cheek to greet each other. And yes, yes it is. Everyone. Old. Young. Friends. Strangers. Everyone.

This isn't something I had an issue with my first time around in Montpellier, mostly because I was jet setting every weekend and didn't really make any French friends.

However, this year definitely made up for the lack of bisous before.

Where I live thankfully it's custom to only give two bisous: one for each cheek. There are regions where you give 3, even 4. Imagine meeting a group of 6 people for example; having to bisous each person 4 times, you'd spend a solid 5 minutes just greeting everyone. And you don't bisous only the people you know. Like I said, you bisous everyone

This map below shows how many kisses you give upon greeting someone in the different regions of France:


Okay, maybe not complete strangers on the street. But if you're an acquaintance, or even just happen to be with someone who is an acquaintance of someone that walks up, you are going to bisous them like it or not.  

To the French, bisous-ing is totally normal and much less intimate than our hug. Which I do and don't agree with. I can see how they think pressing your bodies into each other as a greeting could be construed as an invasion of personal space. But how is putting your lips that close to someone else's not just as cosy? Especially when, like I said, you bisous everyone. However, hugging in the US is usually reserved for close friends.

I never know which side to start on. I generally go in for the right side which I think seems to be the general rule of thumb. Although not everyone seems to follow that and I have had some close calls where I've practically brushed lips with the person I'm bisous-ing. Doesn't hurt if you are bisous-ing a beau Frenchman. Just kidding!.... 

To make it even more complicated, if you are meeting someone for the first time, you have to throw your name in there somewhere. Typically you go in for the first kiss, one person says their name, you switch sides and then the second person says theirs. And even though you are just "air kissing" and brushing cheek-to-cheek, I find I still pucker my lips and make a slight kissy noise.

Although every now and then you get the occasional bisous-er who plants a full wet one straight on your cheek. 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Where Am I Now?

Well I've just been absolutely terrible at keeping this blog updated, haven't I?

Mostly because every time I go to write a post more time has passed and the task just becomes more and more daunting. 

I'm just going to keep this one short and simple. 

I finished my year as a teaching assistant at the end of April, did some traveling in May, went back home in June and at the end of the month flew back to France to be an au pair in a small beach town called Moliets et Maa. 

I will *hopefully* be retroactively posting a couple blogs about the rest of my time in Dax and get up to date on my activities now. In the meantime, here is a picture of Moliets:

Friday, April 12, 2013

French kids on America & Supermarkets

Today was a standard day of teaching by any means.

And when I say a standard day, I mean each day I walk into the classroom I have no idea what kind of strange questions are going to be thrown my way or what kind of mood the kids are going to be in; obedient but non-engaging, off-the-walls-crazy (90% of the time), or ideally, in a LEARNING MOOD (which is actually oft combined with the off-the-wall-crazy bit: they might be driving me nuts but they are still excited to learn English)!

On the short walk from their regular classroom to the spare classroom at the end of the hall, I encounter a range questions or comments, sometimes pertaining to English or nothing at all really:
- "I wasn't in school Monday because my brother hit me on the back and I didn't feel well."
- "I heard the word 'cowboy' on the TV and I knew it was English."
- "I got new glasses since I could barely see anything before, but now I'll actually know what's going on in class." (And I was not aware of this until last week...?)
- "Do you have Easter where you live?"
- "What does "insert random English phrase" mean?"
- "Is that a TATTOO??" (um, what? No, never......)

Today was no exception. 

When I pulled out my keys to unlock the door to the classroom, the two students in the front of the line exclaimed "Oh wow!!" at my keychain and proceed to inspect it, as if they had never seen one of these foreign objects before. Not sure why today, with only 3 weeks left, they decide to comment on my keychain when we have done this same routine the entire year.

They examine my keychain which has numerous fobs, none of which are new. Not quite sure what to say, I point to my fidelity cards from the local supermarkets.

The keychain in question

"Is that the Intermarché in Dax?"
"You go to the one here in Dax?"
"Yes I do my grocery shopping there."
"That's not for the one back in England?"
"For the millionth time, I am not from England." (The other assistants and I have come to realize the kids mush the U.S./Canada/England into one dreamlike, but closely-located country.)*
"Oh. Where you live then, that's not for the Intermarché back home?"
"No Intermarché doesn't exist in the U.S."
... 30 seconds of wondrous silence...
"But then where do you go to do groceries??!"
"We have supermarkets but they just have other names."

The idea that Intermarché, LeClerc or Carrefour (the local grocery stores) don't exist in Americanadengland is absolutely ridiculous to them, which seems ridiculous to me.

But then I need to remind myself what I knew at age 9 and I don't feel so dismal about these kids' futures.

*My friend Natasha who is from England was recently recounting how her kids think she returns to England every night after school. They ask her if she's going home and how she's getting there. When she replies she is getting home by bike, they think she is actually riding her bike back home to England. They don't seem to grasp the fact that, much like themselves, she is currently living in Dax. She just happens to come from England. I've gathered they think Paris is probably only 30 minutes away and England (apparently including the U.S. and Canada) are only another 30 minutes from there.

I don't have InDesign or any of that fancy Adobe software, so instead of a cute little meme, here is my hand-drawn rendition of how French kids view Americanadengland aka that place where they speak English:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2012 Wrap Up

After my vacation with my parents came to an end, I resumed my normal routine of working 12 hours a week, scampering around Dax on the weekends, French Coffee Friotellas on Wednesdays, attending the home rugby games and burrowing indoors on Sundays since nothing is open and the weather was usually discouraging anyway.

At the end of November we held our own Thanksgiving, which I not-so-cleverly dubbed Frenchgiving. Although only 2 of us are actually American (Emily and I), Emma lived in the US when she was younger and used to celebrate the holiday, and the others were eager to try it out. We missed out on many of my favorite traditions, including watching the Macy's Day Parade, the football game and watching the loads of Christmas movies on TV. I was sad to not be home, but it was still a lot of fun to celebrate here. We had some of your typical foods, such as sweet potatoes with marshmellows, stuffing, gravy, butternut squash and a green bean casserole. We also had some non-traditional foods, such as french onion soup (I made this last year too) and pigs in a blanket. Instead of turkey since it's hard to acquire one and we don't have the capacity to cook one anyway, we went to the market that morning and got two farm-fresh chickens. Not a bad substitute! And of course we had plenty of wine to go around.

We celebrated a lot of birthdays towards the end of the year as well: Emma's was in mid November, Rosalyn's and Sherry's at the beginning of December and Emily and Natasha's right before Christmas. We had the standard cake and ice cream for each. If we were feeling fancy we went to eat at a nice restaurant. We also celebrated our friend Emilie's birthday by going bowling and eating tapas at this place called Tex Mex which was fun. I somehow beat everyone (~20 - 25 people) during the first game since I kept getting lucky with strikes and spares. When we played a second round though, I came in second to last :(
At Tex Mex

I made a couple little day trips, one to St. Jean de Luz/just across the border in Spain with Keidy and a teacher from school, one to Bayonne with Sherry and Elena and another to Bordeaux with Emma and Rosalyn (we met up with Natasha who was staying with her friend for the weekend). The best parts were the Christmas markets - best invention ever. Good food, hot wine and tons of cool gifts. The Christmas market in Bordeaux had a tiny little animal petting farm which was sahweet. There was a silly billy goat that kept staring at my drink. In Bayonne we went to a chocolate museum which was mucho mucho better than the one I went to in Biarritz. In Bordeaux we also ice skated on the outdoor rink. 
In St. Jean de Luz


At the chocolate museum in Bayonne with Elena 

In Bordeaux with some hooligans

One Sunday morning Emily, Emma, Sherry and I went on a wine tasting tour with a very eclectic teacher from the high school. She took us to Jurançon, south of Pau for "La journée des portes ouvertes" (day of open doors). Numerous wineries in the region host free wine tastings for the occasion. Each also had really good food typical of the region. By the 3rd one we were a bit white wined-out and all passed out on the ride home.

In Jurançon

In mid-December, I traveled to Montpellier to meet up with Andrea, my friend from my host family when I studied abroad in 2010. She lives in Colombia so we don't have many chances to see each other. We stayed with our host family so it was fun to see them as well. It was weird to be back though without the familiar faces I was accustomed to seeing in that city. Also I forgot how sketchy it could be with the homeless/gypsy/traveler population. Note to self: don't listen to your friends when they tell you you don't need to buy a tram ticket; you will get fined. It was fun to go back to the places we used to go out and I went to my favorite restaurant: this hole-in-the-wall asian fusion place (where I incidentally almost choked on their stir fry). All in all it was a good weekend, full of reminiscing. Miss you, la petite folle!

The week before break, we decided to hold a Secret Santa gift exchange. We held it in my room since I'm an xmas freak and had the most decorations. We each brought a dish to share (I made spinach artichoke dip mhmm) and Emma played Santa's Helper handing out gifts. Emily turned out to be Santa thanks to a Santa hat she got, given by yours truly.

Secret Santa

Out of nowhere it was already Christmas and we were each on our way home, to visit family, or to travel across Europe with friends for the holidays. I had a minor freak-out on the way back since I had forgotten to print one leg of my train journey and then forgot to make sure my flight was confirmed (oops!) but both turned out fine. My flight was delayed and then customs in DC was a complete mess. However, it wasn't nearly as stressful as the time I flew home after study abroad in 2010 with the big snowstorm (I had a break down at Charles de Gaulle thinking that I wasn't going to make it home for Christmas at all- people had been sleeping on yoga mats in the airport for days).

When I left the US back in September I didn't have the intentions of coming home at Christmas, but I'm really glad I did. I couldn't imagine Christmas without my family (& Cami, my cat). It was also really great to see a bunch of my friends. I made the requisite Tyson's trip, went skiing, went to a day spa and had a lot of lazy mornings. And I got to ring in the New Year with these two goofballs:

Bonne Année!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vacances de Toussaint: Roma

I can't believe how long I've been putting off writing this post. So here it goes:

The last stop on my trip with my parents in November was Rome.

We arrived late at night, so I didn't have a grand first impression of the city. We got to our hotel, which was located a block or two from the main train station, Termini. There were a lot of weird people hanging around, so we got out of there as quickly as we could.

We went to a restaurant down the block from our hotel that was in our Frommer's guide book. It looked like a typical Italian restaurant, except none of the waiters were actually Italian. The owner was young and couldn't have been more than 28 years old (in my notes I had described him as, "unfairly beautiful"). We engaged in a brief conversation with him in which he grumbled about globalization and cross-culturization and how the Chinese are producing everything for everyone now. He then proceeded to introduce us to his Mexican/American girlfriend in his restaurant full of Bangladeshis (that term sounds weird, but I look that up and it's right). Talk about crossing cultures.

On the way back there was a server standing outside a different restaurant trying to lure in customers and for some reason mistook me as German and kept saying "Guten nachten" or "Guten tag" and other German salutations depending on the time of day. I saw him almost every time we left the hotel and never bothered to correct him.

I don't know why, but I wasn't as enthralled with the 'Eternal City' as I thought I was going to be. It was my first time in Italy and I had really been looking forward to it but I think I built it up in my head so much that when we got there I was under thrilled.

Don't get me wrong, it's a really cool city and amazing to see the ancient ruins that predate Jesus by hundreds of years and art history landmarks that I had studied in class like the 

Pieta, Sistine Chapel, Arch of Constantine and (of course) the Colosseum. 

What amazes me is that all the ruins are just plain in the middle of the city. The Forum is next to one of Rome's busiest roads and local citizens just go about their business passing by these thousand-year-old ruins.

We were in Rome the night of the election, so my mom got up about every hour or so in the wee hours of the morning to see who won. And then when our waiter at breakfast the next day commented on Obama's win, my mom told him that Obama was my dad's boss. Which technically is accurate, but with many hierarchial layers in between.

One aspect I felt let down on was the food. In general it wasn't nearly as good as the famed, authentic Italian food I had heard of. We found a couple of really good restaurants, but there are so many tourist trap restaurants we had to be careful.

For some reason there's a large number of Bangladeshi immigrants in Rome. They work in the restaurants, they own bakery or convenience shops and they're the annoying guys ruining the major attractions by flinging the glowing toys up in the air or shoving key chains in your face.

A haunting old friend joined us from the last time I traveled around Europe with my parents: Rick Steves. He was the bain of our Spain trip. We had to do everything the way Rick Steves said. Man that guy is pretentious. Although he does have some pretty good tips and self-guided walks and museum tours.

I'm really glad we were there during off-peak tourist season because I can't even imagine what's it's like in the summer. We were harassed incessantly when we were within a mile radius of the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica by people trying to sell us "advanced" or "exclusive" tickets to skip lines. People tried telling us we would wait 2 hours to get into the museum. Not true. I think we waited 10 minutes and we didn't even reserve tickets in advance. We ignored everyone pretending we didn't speak English, but one guy saw the book and shouted, "I know you're American, you've got Rick Steves!"

Here are some highlights of the trip:

Our first day we wandered around the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. The Forum was the heart of ancient Rome, where many important government buildings still stand (in ruins) and where the hustle and bustle of everyday life took place. There's a temple now dedicated to Caesar in front of which he was betrayed (I think..). The Colosseum is just enormous and it blows my mind that what stands today is only 1/3 of the original structure. Much of the layering is still present, so you can see where they used to hold the exotic animals or gladiators before they were led up to fight.

Immense justice building at the Forum

Arch of Titus

San Giovanni in Laterano
Randomly wandered in here and it was huge on the inside and richly decorated

Pope giving a speech at St. Peter's

Sistine... hehe
School of Athens

Back at St. Peter's

inside St. Peter's

view from dome of St. Peter's

Michelangelo's Pieta

Inside St. Maria Maggiore

trying not to get pooped on by all the starlings (below)

the Pantheon

Villa Borghese
gold mine of Bernini's statues..unfortunately couldn't take pictures
this we DID need to get advanced tickets for

Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain

Victor Emmanuel

Villa di Livia replication
the exhibit's lights would change every couple minutes to show what it would look like at different times of day

Ciao Bella

Monday, January 14, 2013

Vacances de Toussaint: Dubrovnik

I've had a handful of people ask me how I'm able to do so much traveling. It does seems like I took one vacation to Prague, a whole second vacation to Dubrovnik and and a third separate vacation to Rome. In reality I visited these 3 destinations in the same vacation, I'm just lazy and uploaded the pictures on Facebook in chunks about a month apart.

Croatian coastline

After visiting Prague, we flew to Dubrovnik on Croatia's Dalmatian Coast. It was absolutely stunning. Even the drive from the airport into town on our first day was awesome since it was nice and sunny and offered amazing views of the Adriatic. I was happy to shed the winter coat I had worn in snowy Prague and throw on my sunglasses and enjoy the warmth.

The bus dropped us off right outside one of the gates to the Old City and the square was teeming with life. We were immediately bombarded by old women demanding if we needed accommodations and offering rooms in their houses. We already had a hotel in the Old City itself so we headed through the gates and down the marble streets to find it.

Although it was certainly not high tourist season at the end of October, the city's main esplanade was packed with travelers. Each day, cruise ships that were docked in the new part outside of town would bus in loads of tourists to explore the city for the day. It was so much more breathable once they left to dock up again around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. We got caught in a square during the bus load up and there were easily a thousand people in windy winding lines that waited probably an hour to get on a bus and head to their ship. Can you tell I'm not a fan?

My mom kept exclaiming the entire time we were in Dubrovnik, "Okay well we may not be celebrating Halloween, but how exciting is it that we're in the country of Dracula!" And even though my dad and I told her several times that Croatia is NOT old Transylvania, she kept repeating it throughout the trip, even after I googled it and showed her Transylvania is in Romania...

History time out: This main street is known as the Stradun, which was a name actually given by the Venetians. The term, meaning "Big Street," was given in pejorative nature by the Venetians to try to play down its beauty. The Venetians attacked Dubrovnik many times in the early centuries to try to bring it under control since Dubrovnik posed a threat as a major maritime trade center. However, most attacks by the Venetians on the city failed.

The Stradun
It is actually probably 3x the length it looks in this picture. The entire Old City is made out of the white marble material you see, with orange shingled roofs and turquoise window shutters.
The Old City in Dubrovnik is composed of numerous narrow alleyways leading down from the hill across the main plaza and off towards the other side of the fortifications. Dubrovnik is a little walled city situated right on the Adriatic and the salty air and light breeze of the sea is always present. Our hotel was located down one of these picturesque alleyways and had an old charm to it. The building was easily 400 years old. There were only 8 rooms and a splendid terrace where you could watch the sunset on the red-orange shingles of the rooftops. We were of course on the top floor with no elevator (the city imposes restrictions on renovating the buildings in the Old City since it's actually a UNESCO Heritage site), but it gave us a nice little workout each time.

There was an English family staying in the hotel the same time we were. It was a mum, dad and their teenage daughter. They had about the same routine every morning:
-Parents would go down to breakfast and ask the daughter what she wants, so it'd be ready once she came down
- 30 minutes would have passed and the daughter is still in bed.
- *try to imagine it in a British accent* "Honey, you're egg and bacon sandwich is getting cold come down"
- 10 minutes and no movement
- BANG BANG BANG "Sweetie come down. We ordered you the sandwich and we're not going to let it go to waste."
-10 more minutes
-BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. "Open this door RIGHT now! Get up and come downstairs. You are eating this sandwich." BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG "OPEN THE DOOR!"
Mind you this was all going on while we were still in bed. So while I was annoyed that this girl couldn't get out of bed to eat her GD bacon and egg sandwich, I was still lying in bed trying to drown the noise out with my pillow.

Effects of the war are still visible throughout the city, when Croatia declared itself independent from Yugoslavia in the 90s and thus came under siege for a period of about seven months. Along the Stradun, you could see marble had been blasted away in parts of the street and buildings lining it. Remarkably, most of the buildings seem to have been completely restored, although one of the girls at the front desk of our hotel said that its just appearance and that many buildings are empty and still in ruins on the inside (in the Old City). The girl also told us that Croatia's, especially Dubrovnik's, population dropped off quite severely during the war with many emigrating to other European countries, or if they could, to the United States. Families have just recently began moving back to the area.

The long, narrow alleyways that make up the Old City

Dubrovnik sunset (photo courtesy of Diane Kilbourne!)

Dubrovnik definitely had the best food out of the three places we visited. The cuisine is dominantly Mediterranean, meaning lots of seafood. Although, since the city has historic ties to Italy, pizza and risotto and other Italian staples are served in many restaurants. The food I had in Dubrovnik is easily the best seafood I've ever had. I had a lot of cream soup with either prawns or crab, shrimp scampi and calamari fritti. I remember the food so distinctly I'm salivating right now. Or maybe I just need to eat dinner. We also had a lot of really nice wines in Dubrovnik. Before the trip I wasn't aware that there is a pretty rich wine production industry in Croatia. We had a lot of really nice dry whites to accompany our sea food. I think only one of the restaurants we went to came from our guide book; for the most part we were happy to rely on the recommendations coming from the people working at the front desk of our hotel. And they never failed to lead us to a great restaurant!

A photo summary of our journey:

another of Dubrovnik's narrow alleyways

A longer view of the Stradun's marble pathway

View of Dubrovnik looking towards the sea

Dubrovnik's old port

 View of the Adriatic

From the fortifications of the Old City. The fortifications surround the city on all four sides and you can walk around the entire thing. You get really cool views of the inside of the city as well as out towards the sea. We heard one couple exclaim, "I can't believe that almost took us 45 minutes!" as we were finally climbing down the steps after four hours.

Red/orange shingled roofs of the Old City

There was this little marble stone that jutted out about half a foot where you tried to stand on it and make your body parallel to the wall. 

Not quite

Easy, pffft.

Croatians dressed in traditional celebratory garb for the Nov 1 holiday.

View of the Old City from above

One day my dad and I decided to head over to cliffs to the right of the city. We just climbed around the rocks and got amazing views of the Adriatic. The sky looked really dramatic because it was about to rain.
We went to this awesome Bosnian restaurant one night called Taj Mahal. One of my favorite dinners ever. My mom ordered Chevaps which I loved so much I went got a special order take out of them for dinner one of the nights. They are a type of kebab in this awesome doughy flatbread stuffed with minced meat sausages, onions, sour cream and cheese. Sooo good.

Another awesome view of the Croatian coastline. We rented a car for two days and headed up along the coast into Bosnia the first day to see Mostar. The guy we rented our car through is actually the cousin of family friends from back home. Such a small world! The cousin had lived in Falls Church for a period of time (I think they moved during the war) and he just recently moved back to Dubrovnik.

They were on their phones more than I was!

On the Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, a 16th century town named after the bridge it's famous for. The Ottomans ruled over Mostar, evidenced by multiple Turkish mosques throughout the city (one is visible behind me in the above picture). 

Mostar. The actual tourist area was very tiny and consisted of a couple streets veering off Stari Most in a couple directions. We walked only about 10 minutes outside of the direct center and found ourselves in the 'real' part of Mostar, which also had visible effects of the war written on it. Many of the buildings and shops were dilapidated and clearly hadn't been touched since the war.

One of Mostar's other main attractions: the Turkish house. This house has been preserved from the 1600s and you could see how the people of the time lived. The wooden floor was creaky and felt like it was going to cave in at any moment but it was cool to see the different rooms and decorations. This picture is from the outside of the men's room, which had long stone supporting legs (typical of houses at the time) whereas the women's room was more like a bay window jutting out from the frame of the house.

Stari Most again. Looks like something out of a fairytale.

Day 2 with the rental car we headed south down the coast towards Montenegro.

We visited the Bay of Kotor in southwest Montenegro. The bay is HUGE. At its widest point it's almost 4.5 miles across.

Every time we thought we had reached the point at the bay where it starts to curve into its half-moon shape, we would turn the corner and a whole other part of the bay would expose itself. It got more beautiful.

We had lunch on the northern side of the bay near the town of Kotor at a restaurant that was recommended to us called Stari Mlini. It was set in a little cove off the bay over a stream that flowed into the bay. Mlini means mill since the restaurant is now in the place of where an old mill used to be.

More great white wine and I had this awesome rosemary-skewered steak with fries. The rosemary stem actually served as the skewer. What an awesome idea.

More bay views

After lunch we continued around the bay to the actual town of Kotor and climbed the fortifications rose up over the town. The architecture seemed pretty similar to Dubrovnik in terms of shapes and the orange shingled roofs, but I don't think it was made out of the pretty white marble that Dubrovnik's buildings are.

At the edge of the town on the water is a little harbor for yachts to dock up. In the summer apparently the bar is packed with fancy, million-dollar yachts enjoying lazy voyages around the bay and down the Adriatic coast. One of the boats in the harbor was actually from Delaware! 

Kitties! They were everywhere in Dubrovnik

A guy near one of the main entrance gates had a bunch of parrots. A bunch of little kids were holding them and I wanted into. I don't think I've ever had a parrot on my shoulder and it was a bit disconcerting because I couldn't see what it was doing.

Pretty view from our plane on our way to Roma! Ciao Bella

I have to say, I think Croatia is the most beautiful country I've visited, although Thailand is certainly a close second.

I definitely plan on returning. I heard from multiple people that Croatia in the summertime is a must and that you haven't really seen the country until you sail around the islands. Consider it added to my bucket list.