Every day in my travel research I come across the terms "hidden gem," "off the beaten path," "unspoiled, authentic, undiscovered..." The Dordogne region of France is the only place I have been to date where it is actually true. Castles sit like crown jewels along the river banks. My family and I often found ourselves beating our own path through the oak forests toward the river bank.
Some Italian walled cities can feel a bit eerie. It’s as if centuries of trying to ward people off finally worked and there is no one left clamoring to get in. Other walled cities, like Orvieto, are bustling with tourism but feel a bit staged for the benefit of day trippers.
Since leaving our all-American life in 2013, with three kids in tow, my husband, Ron, and I have spent time in 28 countries and counting. More than half of our time wandering the globe has been rent free, which saves us an average of $2,500 a month…approximately what our home in Seattle, with utilities, cost monthly.
Since leaving our all-American life in 2013, with three kids in tow, my husband and I have spent time in 23 countries and counting. As housesitters, more than half of our time wandering the globe has been rent free, which saves us an average of $2,500 a month...
Portugal’s Atlantic coast is often overlooked in favor of its neighbor’s more famous stretches of coastline. But one town in particular along Portugal’s coast charmed my family and I when we spent some time there.
Often referred to as the Hamptons of Italy, Forte dei Marmi sits on northern Tuscany’s Versilia Coast. Just as New Yorkers head to the seaside when summer debuts, wealthy Italians from Florence, Milan, and Genoa descend on Forte dei Marmi for balmy summer air. The population of 7,700 triples in July and August when the town becomes a people-watching mecca.
Ever since I’ve known my husband, he has declared 72 F to be the perfect temperature. When we arrived on the Costa del Sol on Spain’s southern coast, we knew we had found 72 F at its finest. The Costa del Sol averages 320 days of sunshine per year and there are plenty of long, powdery, white-sand beaches on which to enjoy that warm weather. We had come to Southern Spain to explore what was on for offer for a long-term stay…and what we discovered was an abundance of sunshine and bargains. We decided to base ourselves in the popular coastal town of Benalmadena Costa due to its proximity to Malaga (it’s just a 30-minute drive on the highway) and access to the glittering Mediterranean Sea.
Exploring the villages of Le Luberon, France, and beyond, it’s hard to ignore the overwhelming sense that the French have it all figured out. Here is my evidence: In Bonnieux a visit to the Musée de la Boulangerie (Bread Museum), followed by a flawlessly executed warm baguette snack perched on a wall overlooking the valley floor, was the perfect way to start the day.
I have never felt spring emerge the way I have in Aix-en-Provence. In April's infancy, the plane trees were ghostly bare and the shoppers at the outdoor markets were still bowing to the wind, heads down and tucked into their beautiful French scarves.
Back when my husband and I started to have children, a dear friend began giving us beautiful Christmas village houses every year to collect and someday pass on to our children. Every year, as we unpacked the village, one building at a time, we would imagine what it would be like in a place like it. We would place the china characters carefully, connect the cobblestone paths, and talk about what the crunch of the snow sounded like on Christmas Eve. When it was set up perfectly, we would turn out the lights and the amber glow would pour from the windows and lanterns casting an ethereal radiance befitting the holiday season.