If it’s Spanish Colonial charm you’re after, you can’t do much better than Granada, Nicaragua. The place is steeped in it. It’s only natural… Granada was the first European city on mainland America, and historians have the official records of the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Castile to prove it. Thanks to its location on Lake Nicaragua and its access to the Atlantic via the San Juan River, it was essentially a Caribbean port for the Spanish, and much of the gold, silver, and other wealth the Spanish sent back to Spain during the conquest was sent from Granada.
Panama City is a modern metropolis with a skyline to rival that of Miami. The Panama Bay is the blue backdrop for towers that sparkle at night. They house ocean-view apartments and sleek executive offices filled with an international set. A jaunt along the Cinta Costera will show you the best the city has to offer. This network of roads, walkways, bicycle paths, and green areas is sandwiched between the bay and the artery known also as Balboa Avenue.
Rome is undeniably alluring with its historical monuments, jaw-dropping artwork, trendy restaurants, and cultural events. But living in the city is expensive and sometimes just not desirable for those who prefer the rhythm of small town life. Luckily, you can have the best of both worlds. There are some beautiful towns where you can enjoy a laidback lifestyle while still being able to reach the center of Italy's capital city Rome in just an hour.
I love bustling cities but also enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature. It is rare to find a place that has both these things within a short driving distance but found it I have. Penang, Malaysia has it all. Here I can enjoy the vibrancy of Georgetown, experience the true melting-pot culture that Malaysia is famous for, while in less than an hour I can be sitting with a book on a serene white-sand beach on the west coast of the island.
Cuenca, Ecuador. It wasn't that long ago that almost no one had ever heard of this colonial city nested in the Andes mountain range. Today Cuenca is one of the hottest expat destinations on the planet. It is amazing this hidden gem stayed under the radar for so long. A UNESCO World Heritage city with over a half million residents, Cuenca boasts beautifully preserved architecture and cobblestone streets along with a low cost of living, temperate climate, excellent medical facilities, and a kaleidoscope of cultural activities.
People come from all over to live in Thailand's mountain city of Chiang Mai. Besides its own sizeable local population—numbering more than 350,000—expats are increasingly coming here. They come from all over—the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Recent estimates put the number of Western expats living in Chiang Mai at around 40,000. But it's not just Westerners who are coming. Asian retirees, particularly from Japan, South Korea, and China are retiring to Chiang Mai's relaxing surroundings. And more are coming each year.
It's late afternoon on a warm, sunny Panama day and I'm strolling on one of the most mesmerizing stretches of sand I've ever seen. But it's not your typical powder-white sand beneath my toes…instead it's midnight black sand, with swirls of lighter tan mixed throughout. And it almost glistens, like it's covered in tiny twinkling stars.
The other day my wife Rita and I were sitting in a local restaurant enjoying a $3 almuerzo (lunch special, typically a soup, small salad, rice, and meat or fish with a juice) when I overheard a new arrival behind us say with obvious glee, “I got up today and had no idea what day of the week it was!” I had to turn around and tell him, “That’s nothing. Wait until you can’t remember what month it is!” Sounds odd, but it’s true. Living in Salinas on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, there are few changes to mark the passing of time. This close to the equator the days are always 12 hours long, and the high and low temperatures only change about 10 degrees between the height of summer and the depths of winter. It’s surprisingly easy to find yourself trying to remember if it’s March or October.
Development is coming to Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast, also known as the Southern Zone. But this region, known for its vast rain forests, jungle-covered mountains, and untamed beaches, remains unspoiled and full of natural beauty and wildlife. While a trip to the Southern Zone used to mean a long and cautious drive along a bone-jarring...
“Here’s your lunch,” my neighbor Eloisa proudly proclaimed as she thrust a squawking, flapping mass of feathers into my arms. “How do you like to kill your chickens?” “Ummm, I don’t,” I replied. “I don’t like to kill my chickens!” She gave me a perplexed look and no doubt wondered how I had managed to survive all these years without knowing how to transform a live bird into a feast for my family. But she graciously took the knife, did the dirty deed, and walked me through the steps of cleaning, plucking, and finally cooking the bird in her wood-fire oven.