Eat & Drink like you are on Vacation!

Eat & Drink like you are on Vacation!

 EAT & DRINK 

LIKE YOU ARE ON VACATION

 

Are you needing some new recipes to try?

We are here for you and have our FAVORITES listed below!

Disney Churro Bites

Ingredients
  • 1 cup of water 
  • 8 tablespoons butter 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided 
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable or canola oil 
  • ½ cup sugar 
Instructions
  1. Combine water, butter, salt, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in 1 ½-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring pot to rolling boil. 
  1. Reduce heat to low. 
  1. Add flour and stir vigorously until mix forms a ball. Remove from heat and let rest for 5-7 min. 
  1. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir until combined. Set aside. 
  1. Heat oil in medium skillet or 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat or until temperature reaches 350˚. 
  1. Spoon dough into piping bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe 1-inch strip of dough over saucepan, cut with knife, and drop into hot oil. Repeat until churro bites fill saucepan with room to fry.  
  1. Fry churro bites until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon or mesh spider strainer. 
  1. Drain churro bites on paper towel. 
  1. Mix sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl. Toss in churro bites until coated. Place on serving plate and serve with favorite dipping sauce. 

DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies

*Info from HILTON.COM

Ingredients
  • ½ pound butter, softened (2 sticks) 
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar 
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract 
  • ¼ tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 2 ¼ cups flour 
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • Pinch of cinnamon 
  • 2 2/3 cups Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1 ¾ cups walnuts, chopped 
Instructions
  1. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a stand mixer bowl on medium speed for about two minutes. 2.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice, blending with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for about two minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl. 
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, blending for about 45 seconds. Don’t overmix. 
  4. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. 
  5. Portion dough with a scoop (about three tablespoons) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about two inches apart. 
  6. Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is still soft. 
  7. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about one hour. 

Cook’s note: You can freeze the unbaked cookies, and there’s no need to thaw. Preheat oven to 300°F and place frozen cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet, about two inches apart. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is still soft. 

Caribe Hilton’s Original Piña Colada

Invented at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico back in 1954.

*Info from CARIBEHILTON.COM

Ingredients
  • 2 oz. rum 
  • 1 oz. coconut cream (signature recipe uses Coco Lopez brand) 
  • 1 oz. heavy cream 
  • 6 oz. pineapple juice 
  • ½ cup crushed ice 
Instructions

Mix rum, cream of coconut, heavy cream, and pineapple juice in a blender. Add ice and mix for 15 seconds. Serve in a 12-oz. glass and garnish with fresh pineapple and a cherry. 

Dollywood Cinnamon Bread

Ingredients

For the Dough: 

  • 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit) 
  • 3/4 tsp. active dry yeast 
  • 1 tbsp. plus a pinch of granulated sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 2 tbsps. unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
  • Cooking spray 

For the Topping: 

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar 
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 6 tbsps. unsalted butter, melted 
  • 2 tbsps. light corn syrup 

For the Glaze: 

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 2 tbsps. unsalted butter, melted 
  • 3 to 5 tbsps. milk 
Instructions

Make the dough: Combine the warm water, yeast, and a pinch of granulated sugar in a small bowl and let sit until foamy, five to eight minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the bread flour, remaining one tablespoon of granulated sugar, and salt in a stand mixer. 

Add the yeast mixture and melted butter to the flour mixture. Knead with the dough hook on medium speed until it is smooth and elastic, about eight minutes. Transfer to a bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one and a half hours. 

Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Punch down the dough and transfer to a work surface; knead a few times. Cut in half and gently shape into two three-by-six-inch loaves (do not overwork the dough). Place the loaves three inches apart on the prepared pan. Lightly spray the loaves with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until puffy, 30 minutes to one hour. 

Make the topping: Whisk the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small baking dish. Whisk the melted butter and corn syrup in another small baking dish. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two nine-by-five-inch loaf pans with parchment paper, leaving a two-inch overhang on all sides. Cut four deep slashes across the top of each loaf (the loaves will look deflated). Dip each loaf in the butter-corn syrup mixture, turning to cover, then coat with the cinnamon sugar, making sure to get the sugar in the crevices. Place the loaves in the prepared pans. Drizzle with any remaining butter mixture and sprinkle with any remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake until light brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Lift the bread out of the loaf pans using the parchment overhang and transfer to a rack. Let cool in the paper, about 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, salt, melted butter, and three tablespoons of milk in a bowl until smooth. Whisk in up to two more tablespoons of milk as needed to loosen. Drizzle on the warm loaves or serve on the side for dipping. 

Los Lobos Guacamole

*Info from ncl.com

Ingredients
  • 5 avocados, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup of tomato, cored and diced
  • 3 tbsp of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp serrano, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • Salt to taste
Instructions

Cut the avocados in half, take the seeds out with the knife. Remove the pulp from the skin using a serving spoon. In a mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients using the pestle. Serve as per video.

Share your creations with us on social and tag #NorwegianStaycation #CruiseNorwegian. Cheers!

Lemon Chicken

*Info from uniworld.com

Ingredients
  • 500ml fresh lemon juice 
  • 250ml olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
Instructions

Pre-heat the oven grill for 15 minutes before using it. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then grill, turning once, for 20-30 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and the juices run clear when the bird is pierced with a fork. Remove from the grill and, using a very sharp knife, cut each half into 4 pieces.  

Make the sauce by whisking together the lemon juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, 
oregano and seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken and leave to marinate for 1 hour. 

Place the chicken on a grill pan and return to the grill for 5 minutes or until very brown. Turn each piece, basting with the liquid, and grill for a further minute. You may need to add a little more oil and lemon to taste. 
Remove from the grill and place chicken onto a warm serving dish. This is also delicious served cold at room temperature.  

Lava Flow

Ingredients
  • 1.5 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. Kraken rum
  • 2 oz. coconut cream
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana
Instructions

Suggested music while preparing

  • Boat Drinks by Jimmy Buffet

Lava flow Instructions

  1. Mix strawberries and rum in blender and blend until well mixed.
  2. Place contents at bottom of a tall glass.
  3. Mix rest of the unused ingredients with crushed ice in a blender until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into glass. The strawberry and rum mixture will creep up the sides of the glass, giving the drink its name.
  5. Serve with straw.

Aperol Spritz

*Info from contiki.com

Ingredients
  • Aperol
  • Prosecco 
  • Soda
  • Orange Peel
Instructions

Some people opt for the 3:2:1 method with Aperol, prosecco and soda.

I disagree – it’s all about 50, 50 baby! 
 
• Fill tall balloon or wine glasses generously with cubed ice 
• Combine Prosecco followed by Aperol in equal parts 
• Add a splash of soda (optional) 
• Garnish with a slice of orange 
 
Easy! 

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My Week with Contiki

              A year ago today, I was traveling overseas in Hungary and Croatia with not a care in the world. As it hits that year mark, I want to reflect on the amazing time I had.

              I was on a weeklong travel advisor educational trip with the tour company Contiki, and I must tell you, this trip was incredible. First, let me talk about Contiki as a company and then outline the reasons why I think twenty-somethings should travel on a guided tour with Contiki. Then I will write about the highlights of the trip and my day-by-day so everyone can get a sense of what a trip with Contiki looks like.

            Contiki is a tour company exclusively for 18-35-year-olds with a mission of connecting “young travelers to the time of their lives”. Contiki is a guided or escorted tour company, but I promise you, don’t get hung up on the whole “escorted” or “guided” thing. To Contiki, guided means making “travel easier and more social by organizing accommodation, food, experiences, and transport”. And that is exactly what I experienced on my trip with them.

The group on day 1 in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest, Hungary

            Traveling with Contiki was very easy. Mostly everything from A to Z was planned for us with some free time and meal options in there as well. Other than getting from the airport to the hotel upon initial arrival in Budapest, close to everything else was organized for us. Normally I am the planner and researcher of all trips, but for a change, this trip was plan-free, research-free, and most importantly, headache-free. We received an itinerary prior to departure detailing where we would be each day and what was included as far as activities and meals. So for the most part we knew where we would be each day. While in destination, the most important part was the clear communication between us and our trip manager. Each day there was a hand-written itinerary posted up in the hotel and in the Facebook group, so we always knew what was happening that day, start times, meeting points, important reminders and in turn, how to dress. I honestly think that deciding what to wear each day was the most stressful part of the trip.

Traveling with Contiki was very easy. Mostly everything from A to Z was planned for us with some free time and meal options in there as well. Other than getting from the airport to the hotel upon initial arrival in Budapest, close to everything else was organized for us. Normally I am the planner and researcher of all trips, but for a change, this trip was plan-free, research-free, and most importantly, headache-free. We received an itinerary prior to departure detailing where we would be each day and what was included as far as activities and meals. So for the most part we knew where we would be each day. While in destination, the most important part was the clear communication between us and our trip manager. Each day there was a hand-written itinerary posted up in the hotel and in the Facebook group, so we always knew what was happening that day, start times, meeting points, important reminders and in turn, how to dress. I honestly think that deciding what to wear each day was the most stressful part of the trip.

VARIETY 

– With Contiki’s extensive list of itineraries, you have endless opportunities to travel. You can hit those far-off, not as easily accessible locations. In my experience, we were able to port at these small Croatian island towns that would have been difficult to get to on my own.

EASE PRIOR TO DEPARTURE 

– Trip planning and traveling is rewarding but can be a huge headache. With Contiki, accommodation, meals, experiences, tours, and transports are all planned for you.

– Contiki has over 300 itineraries to choose from. Choosing the itinerary may just be the hardest part of your trip!

– Contiki has financing options, so if it is not possible for you to put the full payment down, there are options so you can still manage to go on the trip of a lifetime! 

– Choosing accommodation in destination can be quite difficult. Similar to restaurants, I always find myself on the internet overwhelmed with all the options, what neighborhood should I stay in? Should I go cheaper or nicer? Is breakfast included? How do I get to and from the hotel? I always find myself picking apart each online review. With Contiki, your accommodation is set for you. While it might not be your luxurious 4 or 5-star hotel, all our accommodations worked great for what we needed them for and included breakfast, which is usually an accommodation must for me. 

– Another task of planning a trip is researching and choosing what activities to do in each destination. Contiki has “No Regret Inclusions” meaning their itineraries include many activities so you don’t have to research the best tour company or read reviews about which sites are worth visiting and which aren’t. If a tour or activity is not included in your cost and itinerary, Contiki has “Free Time Add-Ons”. These are activities that you can choose to do in your free time (often with a cost). Contiki will provide you with detailed information and direction about the activity or tour so you can experience it with ease.

EASE WHILE IN DESTINATION 

– While in destination, typically you must figure out how to get from point A to point B whether it is within a city or crossing country borders. With Contiki, the coach bus takes you to where you need to be each day, with the exception of some free time options to make your own way to and from somewhere if you choose.

– Choosing where to eat is hands down the most stressful thing on vacations. It typically makes people “hangry” and leads to family or friend arguments. Everyone wants to make sure to find that quintessential, non-touristy, non-price inflated, authentic restaurant, which can be difficult. With all our meals except a few included for us, there were no arguments or driving yourself crazy with googling “best restaurants in Budapest” and analyzing each review. For the meals, we were responsible for or if we just wanted some snacks in between, we were always given suggestions so even then we did not have to think too hard on where or what to eat. In each destination, our trip manager told us the name of local specialties or must-try foods and drinks. To me that knowledge is priceless.

– Similar to choosing restaurants and going out to eat, going out is an important factor for people traveling, especially 18-35-year-olds. Experiencing the nightlife in other countries often leaves you with the most memories and laughs. Partying is not required on a Contiki trip, but if that is what you want to do, they will point you in the right direction to have an amazing night (dancing until the sunrise!). Because Contiki repeats each itinerary multiple times, they are familiar with all the hot spots and the must visit bars and clubs on each trip. You don’t have to spend time researching and debating the best nightlife, so you can go out and enjoy yourselves.

– My trip included a coach tour and a walking tour with a local Hungarian tour guide and a trip manager that was a wealth of knowledge all throughout our vacation. Which tour company should I use? Which tour should I do? These are tough questions to answer because of the endless options for tours online. These questions are easily answered with Contiki because your tours are selected for you as either inclusions or add-ons.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION 

– Contiki trips are great for solo travelers. They say that solo travelers make up 55% of their travelers. By solo traveling with a group and knowledgeable guide, it ensures the safety and comfort you might not otherwise feel while exploring new destinations alone.

– Traveling with a group of people means you are meeting new people and making new friends… potentially friends for life. The awesome group I had the opportunity to travel with was easily the best part. It was so fun getting to know everyone and just being ourselves, no prior knowledge or judgements about each other. An incredible thing about travel is the different cultures and languages you immerse yourself in and the different people you meet. On Contiki trips there are people from all over the world. You are guaranteed to meet people who come from a different background than you with a different story than your own. You will snap pictures and make lifelong memories with your new friends.

– Safety. Safety is a big concern for many people (and our parents!). Traveling pushes you out of your comfort zone and can put you in situations where you may feel unsettled or unsafe. Traveling with a group minimizes the chance of something bad happening to you. With Contiki, not only are you usually traveling in a group, but you also have a trip manager and at times, a local tour guide and bus driver as well. I felt safe 100% of the time on my trip. You also have peace of mind knowing that you are staying in safe accommodations and you are traveling on safe and reliable transportation.

For those that are interested, here are little blurbs about each day-

Day 1: I flew from Minneapolis to Budapest through Amsterdam. Because of prior contact with Contiki, I knew that my flight was landing later than any others. The plan was to set out on a coach/walking tour at 5:30pm. My plane was set to land at 4:20pm. Like most times in my life, I am always last minute. As my transfer was pulling up to the hotel, the group was outside standing with the big “CONTIKI” coach bus. No confusion on my part as to whether or not this was my group. 

            One of the male Contiki sales reps grabbed my full-sized suitcase and told me he would bring it to my room quickly and then we would go. Having just traveled for over 14 hours and in my sweats, I told him I needed to change and freshen up. Now maybe because he is a male, or maybe because he wanted to keep our group on schedule, he asked me if I could do it in 1 to 2 minutes. Who can dig through a suitcase, change, brush their teeth, wash their face, and apply make-up in 2 minutes!? Well I did my best. After that, we were off on a short coach bus tour of Budapest with a local tour guide. Having a local tour guide join us for the night is a benefit of a guided Contiki trip because then I didn’t have to book my own separate walking tour, it was already included in the itinerary. We hopped off the bus and continued on a walking tour before arriving at the river to embark on our Danube River Dinner Cruise, where, as you guessed it, dinner was served for us. Included in this dinner were two bottles of wine per 4-person table, one red and one white, as well as a bottle of water and a few soft drinks. There was a bar on the ship if you wanted to purchase more drinks. Given that it was day 1 and people were tired after long days of travel, the coach bus took us back to the hotel, but you had the option to stay in the city center to go out and make your own way home… nobody took that option on the first night. 

Day 1 Itinerary

Whole group in front of Contiki coach bus

Day 2: This morning we had breakfast included at the hotel and had a meeting time for the coach bus to load us up and take us to the Szychenyi Baths. Built in 1918, these baths are a popular attraction in Budapest. If you have an Instagram, chances are you know exactly which baths I am talking about. Contiki had pre-booked our tickets, so upon arrival our trip manager was handing us wristbands and we were entering the bathhouses. While everyone got a wristband and went inside the complex, not everyone went into the baths themselves. That is the great thing about having options, is if you didn’t want to do it, you didn’t have to. Even if you don’t go in, the baths and the palace-like complex where they are located is worth seeing. After the baths was our free time. Our trip manager, Renae, explained how to get back to the city center from the baths via multiple ways of transportation and highlighted some museums, food options, and sightseeing activities to do in our free time… no need to google “what to do in Budapest” or “best restaurants in Budapest”. We were free to do as we wished for the next 7 hours or so. The coach was set to bring us back to the hotel at 4pm, if you wanted. If you wanted to keep shopping, eating, or sightseeing, you were free to make your way back to the hotel whenever you wanted as long as you were ready by 6:30pm to leave the hotel for dinner. For those of you who may feel like guided tours are restrictive this is a great example of how Contiki is not always. I really appreciated this free time and option to get myself back to the hotel. I ate at Central Market Hall with some others from the group, then I split up to shop by myself, went to Fisherman’s Bastian to snap some great selfies, and then took the metro back to the hotel. Easy. That night we had a Goulash cooking demonstration exclusive to our group which included a three-course meal and, of course, lots of bread. For me, dinner also involved beer, but that had to be purchased by me. While on vacation, choosing where to eat is typically the hardest part, and the only time me and my family members or friends get in arguments on said vacation. You want to make sure you are eating local cuisine, not eating at a tourist trap restaurant with sky-high prices, and that you are getting an authentic experience. With Contiki, all of our dinners but one were included in our tour. The best part? The dinners were all local, authentic dishes and experiences. Where else are you going to get a goulash demonstration by a cook who doesn’t speak English?  Or a dinner cruise on the Danube with buffet-style Hungarian dishes? Throughout the trip, I never felt like I was missing out on eating at a local or non-touristy restaurant because I was eating with Contiki. That night they took us to a cool, unique ruin bar where you had the option of staying or going. The rest of the night was your choice!

Danube dinner cruise

Goulash cooking demo

Day 3: This morning we had another included breakfast and then we headed out on the coach bus for our 5-6-hour drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia! We all settled into the brand new 2019 coach bus. Gone are the days of wondering when you will get to charge your phone or camera as each seatback had TWO USB ports. We had to cross the border from Hungary into Croatia which could take anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours. That amount of time is out of Contiki or our trip managers hands, but what they can control is their transparency. Renae was honest with us about the possible hassle and long wait at the border so there were no surprises. After crossing the border, we made a brief stop at a service station to stretch our legs, grab a snack, and use the restroom. Back on the bus, Renae had each of us introduce ourselves, where we are from, and what we were most excited about for the trip. On this trip specifically, we were all solo travelers. Save for a mom and her son, no one knew each other prior to the trip, so this was a nice way to hear everyone’s name, origin, and a little something about them to remember them by. In fact, 55% of all Contiki travelers are solo travelers (more on that later). We made it to the park and as we were unloading our things and getting off the bus, Renae was checking in for us so it was an easy process getting into our rooms.  Next, we had free time in the national park to take in the stunning views of lush greenery and flowing waterfalls. We just had to be ready for dinner by 7:45pm. Another 3-course meal and we were off to bed for the night.

Waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

 We had to stay on the boardwalks because the park had flooded, but i think it made the park even prettier

Day 4: We loaded up the bus early and set off for Split, Croatia, stopping in Zadar on the way. Just like the past couple days on the coach, Renae passed the drive time by giving us in-depth information about Croatia, telling stories, and giving us the details we needed to board the ship and have a successful next few days of sailing. The communication and transparency throughout the whole trip by our trip manager was fantastic. I was never confused about when or where I needed to be or what was coming next. Boarding the ship in Split was easy. We were assigned rooms, given keys, and then the very good-looking and strong crew did the hard part of lugging my 55 pound suitcase up to the above deck part of the ship where my cabin was. Once everyone was on board, we had a housekeeping meeting in the dining area. We officially met the crew, had a safety debriefing, and then a summary of what was happening the next three days on our new home.

           The next few days were relaxing and enjoyable, definitely the highlight of the trip. While sailing, the time was yours to do as you wished. In the morning, breakfast was available to come and go, and then you could sleep, suntan, read, drink, swim, and just hang out. We all met in the dining room for lunch served at one o’clock each day. After lunch we would have a swim stop and then make our way to a port where we would dock for the night. Once docked in each port, you were free to do as you wanted, making your way back to the ship for dinner and happy hour around 7:30 or 8:00pm. But before Renae set us all loose in Croatian seaside towns, everyone met on the pier so she could get us acquainted. Renae gave us brief information and history of each town and then suggested what activities to do, where to eat, what native souvenirs to purchase, and even an exact location to catch the most breathtaking sunset. Once Renae familiarized us, we were free to go about the town or back to the ship if you wished. This happened in each port and it was extremely helpful and informative as I didn’t even have to turn on my brain to try and figure out what to do or where to eat in this new destination… honestly it was so fantastic and easy that it is a major reason I would do a tour with Contiki again in a heartbeat if not for anything else but the ease and relaxation.

           Today we docked in Makarska, Croatia. An idyllic, seaside town with a stunning backdrop. We took some photos, collected a few souvenirs, bought a snack, and enjoyed ourselves. As the sun set across the sea it illuminated the buildings and bobbing boats in a fiery pink color. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful.

Sunset in Makarska

 Morning in Makarska

 The Labrador

Day 5: Now when I said that I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than a sunset in Makarska, this town definitely had some tricks up its sleeve for me. Waking up and stepping outside of my cabin into the bright morning sun shining and reflecting off the glistening blue waters of the Adriatic Sea was INCREDIBLE. I immediately grabbed my camera, book, blanket, and sat on the front of the boat to soak up the sun and beautiful views. One of the advisors on this trip is a yoga instructor so that morning we did yoga aboard the ship.

               Today we sailed to Hvar, the most well-known of the Croatian Dalmatian Islands, fit for the rich and famous. A lot more populated than our previous stop, we “hiked” up to the fort and looked down on Hvar and the port taking in beautiful views of the cobblestoned streets, orange-roofed buildings and U-shaped marina half-filled with bobbing boats and yachts. Tonight’s dinner was the only dinner throughout the whole trip that we were on our own. Following Renae’s suggestions that she told us in-person, as well as dropped the names of the restaurants in our Facebook group and even dropped pins to their locations, we easily found a great dinner stop. That night we had happy hour back on the ship playing drinking games, dancing to loud music, and getting to know each other better. Almost all of us went out on the town as a group that night. Because of Contiki’s status and the large number of us, the bar did a special happy hour exclusively for us all night long. This was common throughout our trip because Contiki and their trip managers build relationships with the people and businesses in the destinations they frequent. It was a nice little benefit of traveling with the tour group. Tonight, we might have missed the sunset, but a few of us stayed up long enough to catch the sunrise just before we set sail for Split.

Day 6: This morning was similar to the last few; wake up to the serenity of the sea, eat, lay out, swim, and eat again. When I say “eat”, some of you may be wondering what I am eating. Well I’m here to tell you that I am eating a lot of bread. Croatian’s love their bread and for each meal aboard the ship there was an endless supply of bread as the crew kept filling up the breadbaskets (against our will). As we were driving from Hungary to Croatia, Renae said verbatim “if bread is not your thing, it is now” and that really stuck with me. At one point I even told my new friend Patrick to “slap my hand if I reach for more bread”. Forgetting I said that, as I reached for bread, he slapped my hand. Not knowing the pact I had made with Patrick, the other girls at the table looked shocked with a “a guy does not slap bread out of a woman’s hand” expression. Besides bread, an important part of traveling and seeing the world is learning about each country and its history, so this morning on the boat we had an hour-long history lesson with our trip manager, if you wanted to participate. We docked in Split this afternoon and the rest of the day was ours until dinner. Tonight, was the last night all together and we had a Captain’s Dinner meaning the captain of the ship joined us for our final meal. This dinner was also pirate/sailor themed. Over the last few days each of us picked up some kind of a costume or prop for tonight’s themed dinner. Theme night is usually a fun little something that happens on each Contiki trip. After dinner most of us went to an open-air bar/club. Because we were a couple weeks before the season really starts, there wasn’t much going on. Upon arrival at the bar we all got a free shot (again, a plus of being with a well-known tour company), but after the shot we were all so tired we headed back to the ship for our final sleep of the vacation.

Captain’s Dinner theme night

Day 7: Waking up in Split knowing we had to get off the boat today was a sad feeling, yet you were surrounded by the glistening sea, a backdrop of mountains, and a historic old town in Croatia so you really had couldn’t feel that sad. We all disembarked the ship with the help of the crew for all our luggage, said our goodbyes, snapped a few last pictures, and all headed our separate ways. From there I flew back to Amsterdam and, at my dismay, eventually ended up in Minneapolis once again. I spent the hours waiting at airports and flying high above the clouds replaying the last week and going through all my photos. This was a trip I am never going to forget.

               Reflecting on my trip, I can’t help but smile. It truly was amazing with many new friends and new memories made. To sum it all up, after experiencing a guided tour with Contiki, I would not hesitate to book myself or anyone else on a trip with them.

Trip manager Renae and I

Some of the group in Hvar

Honoring Healthcare Heroes

Honoring Healthcare Heroes

HONOR A HEALTHCARE HERO

During these unprecedented times, with so many of us practicing social distancing and working from home, healthcare professionals are on the frontline. They are working around the clock to care for their patients, missing time with family and friends, and putting their own health at risk every day to care for their patients. They are true heroes and we want to celebrate them. 

We are proud to partner with Villas of Distinction to award four deserving healthcare professionals with a villa vacation for up to four guests. We want to hear from you about the healthcare heroes that have touched your life, so that we can give back to those that have given so much of themselves to help others. #HonorAHealthcareHero 

Each winner will enjoy a five-night stay, including roundtrip economy-class airfare, at one of these beautiful resorts:

  • Grand Prize: 4-Bedroom Villa 371 in Los Cabos, Mexico
  • Second Prize: 8-Bedroom Villa Estrella in Guanacaste Coast, Costa Rica
  • Third Prize: 4-Bedroom Silver Star Penthouse with Spa in Park City, Utah
  • Fourth Prize: 7-Bedroom Cypress at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida

4-Bedroom Villa 371 Los Cabos, Mexico

SECOND PRIZE

8-Bedroom Villa Estrella
Guanacaste Coast,
Costa Rica

THIRD PRIZE

4-Bedroom Silver Star
Penthouse w/ Spa
Park City, Utah

FOURTH PRIZE

7-Bedroom Cypress at
Reunion Resort
Orlando, Florida

Terms & Conditions:

Nominations will be accepted 5/7/2020-7/31/2020. Prize packages include all related villa rental fees and taxes, and roundtrip economy-class airfare from the U.S. Winners must be residents of the U.S.  Contest winners will be decided based on the nominator’s written essay describing the healthcare hero’s commitment to patient compassion and the support of colleagues regardless of the personal sacrifices that must be made to serve the greater good.  Selected winners will be announced August 2020. Travel will be planned and curated by a Signature Travel Network advisor and will be valid through 12/15/21. Restrictions and blackout dates apply. Complete contest rules, terms and conditions can be found here..

10 Reasons to Use A Travel Advisor

10 Reasons to Use A Travel Advisor

10 Reasons to Use A Travel Advisor…

… As Told By Travel Advisors Themselves

ONE

In this constantly changing world, travel advisors are on the ground experiencing, discovering and researching for their clients. Travel advisors add the human element—a human voice and an element of trust. Travel advisors are invested in client happiness and satisfaction.

TWO

So many people can buy that trip online, but only a Travel Advisor can understand why this trip matters so much. Whether you are going to a new destination or the same one we will be there for you 100% of the way making sure everything goes as planned as possible… a website can’t do that for you.

THREE

Travel advisors help with the details to make your trip as seamless and stress free as possible.

FOUR

We are your safety; we have knowledge from years of experience – on what works and what doesn’t work.

FIVE

i love to share my own personal experiences—good and bad—to make your trip the best. Now you know what to avoid or what might make your trip extraordinary and worry free.

SIX

You are not alone. A travel advisor has your best interest in mind when planning a trip for you. You have the full support of your travel advisor who genuinely cares about you and your trip.

SEVEN

They are the experts! Travel advisors know the small details that take your vacation expectations and turn them into reality.

EIGHT

Travel advisors are your detail professionals, your destination specialist, your onsite assistance, your after travel assistance, and your connection with vendors and suppliers. 

NINE

Their value. Travel advisors have knowledge that can save you time and money while in the booking process and while in the destination. 

TEN

It’s simple- “I’ve got your back!”

We minimize hassele, you maximize fun.

22 Travel Activities To Add To Your Bucket List

22 Travel Activities To Add To Your Bucket List

22 Travel Activities To Add To Your Bucket List

And yes, we’ve already checked them out for you!

1. Visit walled cities in Italy 

The tradition that is still upheld is unreal.

2. Ride in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey 

A truly magical, once in a lifetime experience. Breathtaking views, surrounded by hundreds of balloons as the sun rises.

3. See the Egyptian Pyramids and Tombs 

Egypt was amazing. This trip opened up my eyes to new and wonderful people and things I had never experienced before, like the pyramids.

4. Visit Arenal Volcano, Tabacion Hot Springs, and the Rainforest in Costa Rica

“Sitting in the hot pools you are surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna. The air is so refreshing and clean. The water is perfectly warm as this gentle cooling rain is falling. Very relaxing, ZEN like feeling. A very peaceful and rest full experience.

5. Go to a spa in another country

Go with friends in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. You will be guaranteed a good laugh.

6. Tour La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

I really enjoyed the tour of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It is the most amazing building I have ever seen.  The tour could have been another hour longer and we still wouldn’t have seen everything.

7. Go on an African Safari to see the Big 5 up close

A big check mark on the lifetime bucket list. I was able to see sights I had only dreamed of seeing on postcards.

8. Do a full day tour from Paris to the Loire Valley

You can visit three castles and have a lunch in a little French town.  It was one of my favorite days ever!

9. Tour the Vatican and see the Sistine Chapel

It took my breath away.

10. Sail on a catamaran and snorkel in the Greek Isles or the Caribbean

It’s always so much fun to explore the underwater worlds while snorkeling.

11. Do a walking tour in each new city

I love walking tours because they are a cheap easy way to get acquainted with a new city. Now you know what you want to explore further and what you can pass on, plus you have a new contact in the destination.

12. Hike from Fira to Oia, Santorini, Greece

Incredible views of almost all of Santorini; the Caldera, blue-domed churches, white picturesque villages, and the expansive blue of the Aegean Sea. Make sure to bring a water and some snacks... the hike takes at least 4 hours but is totally worth the sweat!

13. Skydive in New Zealand

This is at the top of the list for amazing travel memories!

14. Visit Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum in Xi’an, China

“It was incredible and massive. These enormous pits filled with row upon row of soldiers and horses in such detail and excellent conditions. It was a site to behold! Highly recommend if you ever take a trip to China. 

15. Do an Ocean Friendly Whale Watching Tour in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

“Seeing these beautiful animals right out of the water is something you don’t want to miss.

16. Climb to the top of a church bell tower in every city

“ I always add climbing a bell tower to my itinerary in new cities. You often get history, religion, architecture, exercise, and beautiful 360-degree views all in one!

17. Visit Xcaret Park in Cancun, Mexico

This park is great for a family and full of activities for all ages.

18. Take the Black Taxi Tour in Belfast, Northern Ireland

It was amazing learning the history of the city and conflict with the most interesting private driver guide.

19. White water raft down the Lütschine River in Interlaken, Switzerland

Rafting down a river in the middle of the Swiss Alps provides a gorgeous backdrop of snowcapped mountains and small Swiss towns. The river then opens up into the serene Lake Brienz where you can peacefully swim.

20. Do a Segway Tour in a new city

It is a fun alternative to a walking tour while still getting a lot of knowledge. I’ve done them in 8 cities and counting…

21. Go Cave Swimming in Fiji where they filmed a segment for the movie Blue Lagoon

Swimming in such serene waters amid towering limestone walls was magical. Plus I always love visiting a site where a movie was filmed!

22. Walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia

A long, narrow bridge that seemingly disappears into the trees. Spectacular views suspended above the Capilano River, be sure to take in all the nature surrounding you… but don’t look down!

16 Favorite Restaurants Around the World

16 Favorite Restaurants Around the World

16 Favorite Restaurants Around the World

 

AS TOLD BY TRAVEL ADVISORS

 

1. Stout Burgers & Beer 

Hollywood, California 

upscale gastropub 

Stoutburgersandbeers.com 

2. Victoria & Albert’s

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa,

Disney World, Florida 

fine dining, American cuisine   

Disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining

3. Pirilo

San Juan, Puerto Rico  

rustic pizzeria 

Pirilopizza.com 

4. Pineapples On The Beach

Ramon’s Village Resort, San Pedro,Belize 

wide variety of cuisine, open-air on the beach   

Ramons.com/pineapples-on-the-beach

5. Onlywood Pizzeria

Key West, Florida

Italian eatery   

Onlywoodkw.com

6. 12th Avenue Grill

Honolulu, Hawaii

new American cuisine and custom cocktails

12thavegrill.com

7. The Shed Restaurant

Santa Fe, Mexico

southwestern fare  

Sfshed.com

8. La Cantinaccia Del Popolo

Sorrento, Italy

local Italian cuisine

Facebook.com/La-Cantinaccia-Del-Popolo

9. Gallagher’s Boxty House

Dublin, Ireland

Irish cuisine

Boxtyhouse.ie

10. Grand Lux Café at The Palazzo

The Venetian Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada 

global cuisine

Venetian.com/restaurants/grand-lux-cafe

11. Emeril’s Delmonico

New Orleans, Louisiana

creole dishes

Emerilsrestaurants.com

12. Florios

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Italian-Argentinian

Facebook.com/FloriosCentroVallarta/

13. Abalonetti Bar & Grill

Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterrey, California 

fresh seafood

Abalonetti.com

14. Vittore Terrazzo Ristorante

Mazatlan, Mexico 

Italian

Vittoremazatlan.com

15. Boat House Tiki Bar & Grill

Ft. Myers |Cape Coral, Florida

variety of cuisines including seafood and cocktails  

Theboathouseusa.com

16. Ojalá

Madrid, Spain

brunch 

Grupolamusa.com/en/restaurante-ojala/