A warm, clear blue-green sea lapping long, sandy beaches... Families eating and laughing together over slow, relaxed dinners with lashings of good food and even better wine... If you've ever watched a movie set in the Mediterranean, you might believe the region is solely a playground for the rich—the romping ground of Hollywood starlets like Brigitte Bardot. Scratch the surface and you'll discover that is definitely not the case—an adventure in the Mediterranean could be yours for less than you might think.
The North Island of New Zealand holds a treasure missed by hikers who limit themselves to the south Island. It’s the Tongariro Alpine crossing, a day hike among volcanoes—some dead, some smoldering, and all with an otherworldly feel that recalls the moon. The crossing sits atop Tongariro National Park, in the middle of the North Island. The night before my wife and I did the crossing, we stayed in the park at the Skotel,
Towering sand dunes, an expansive, golden-sand beach that goes on for miles, kite-surfers battling the strong, but warm, Atlantic wind…although Spain’s tourist hub of Marbella is just 63 miles to the east, here at Punta Paloma it feels a world away. It’s a sunny Saturday in early September as I stroll along this beautiful beach, looking for a spot to lay down my beach towel. But I’m not pushing my way through thronging crowds of sun worshippers to claim my little piece of sand.
Thai handicrafts, jewelry, handmade paper, ceramics, a plethora of textiles and handbags galore…you can find it all and more at Bangkok’s Weekend Market, known as Chatuchak or “JJ” for short. No trip to the Thai capital is complete without a visit to this massive 35-acre market located north of the city, where you can get your shopping fix as well as a big dose of Thai culture. Just don’t forget to bargain!
Poland’s eastern border has long been wild and a little untamed. This is a region of magnificent primeval forests untrammelled by tourists and dotted with castles and medieval towns. A disputed land for centuries, today it is home to poles, Belorussians and Ukrainians, resulting in a rich mix of architectural styles and traditions. You’ll find Orthodox churches and colorful wooden houses throughout, and—in the town of Bialystok—palace Branicki, once known as the polish Versailles for its 18th-century, French-style design and landscaped gardens.
Living in Paris is wonderful, but it’s not the cheapest place on earth. This came home to me recently when, after having a simple cup of coffee in a café, I got socked with a €6 bill. Almost 7 dollars, for a not-so-big cup of coffee. Argh. Not all of Paris is so exorbitant, of course.
The famous white powdery sands that stretch around the islands of Phuket and Kho Phi Phi in southern Thailand have attracted international tourists for decades. But on the Gulf coast, just four hours from Bangkok is where you’ll find my favorite Thai beach town…Hua Hin.
A recent trip to Brazil’s Northeast coast was where I fell in love with this country. Culture…food…music…art…dance…beautiful weather, and beautiful people—it has it all. And I discovered two of my favorite Brazilian towns—Pôrto De Galinhas and Olinda. The towns are a 90-minute drive from one another, with the city of Recife (the capital of the state of Pernambuco) nestled between the two.
The Italian city of Monza isn’t usually on any tourist or expat must-see list…but it should be. It has all the charm of Italy, beautiful architecture, and great food. When I moved to Italy from the Midwest of the United States, I wanted a place that was charming, but that also had the amenities I’d need and wouldn’t put a strain on my finances. Luckily for me, Monza ticked all the boxes.
Stockholm has a well-developed café culture, and there’s no shortage of great eateries to choose from. After checking out the museums, I stopped off at Ersta Terrass on Fjällgatan, a cliff-top street from which you get great views of the city. Seated at my balcony table as the sun set on the shimmering waterfront, I marveled at one of the finest views of Stockholm. I had my fill of homemade bread, herrings, and capers, washed down with a generous glass or two (well, let’s call it three) of excellent wine.