As regular readers of this blog know, I have a soft spot for off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Yes, I love Paris and Venice and London, but I also like to explore the lesser-known out-of-the-wsy places that many travelers never reach.
Once years ago, I set off by train from Paris to visit Mont-Saint-Michel, a medieval abbey off the coast of Normandy that I had read about in college in the Henry Adams’ book, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.
The trip took two full days because the train connections were awful, but I made it, and didn’t regret it. It’s a dramatically situated Gothic masterpiece, rising atop a rocky island with a maze of narrow streets surrounding it.
Traditionally, Mont-Saint-Michel has only been reachable by land when the tides are out, via squishy mud flats. When the tides come in,… Continue reading
In the brief aftermath of the stunning British vote to depart the European Union, UK google searches have surged on — among other topics — “getting an Irish passport” and “move to Gibraltar.”
Getting an Irish passport makes a certain amount of sense, since Ireland is part of the EU and if you want to stay in it, you could move to Ireland.
Moving to Gibraltar — the famous Rock and one of the original “Pillars of Hercules” that guards the entrance to the Mediterranean like a sentinel — is a little puzzling, though, since it’s a British Overseas Territory and will presumably have to exit the EU as well.
Still, 96 percent of the voting population among Gibraltar’s 30,000 residents marked their ballots for “Remain” (in the EU), so those moving to Gibraltar would presumably find lots of sympathetic ears.… Continue reading
With Season 6 of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones almost here, it’s time to reacquaint yourself with Westeros, Winterfell, Essos, King’s Landing, The Seven Kingdoms, the Iron Throne, Tyrion, Cersei, the rest of the Lannisters, Daenerys and the Targaryens, the Baratheons, the Starks, Lord Baelish, the Greyjoys, the Wildlings, the White Walkers…and dozens of other characters, places, families, armies, kings and would-be kings, sadists, liars, spies, schemers, charlatans, lovers, knights, dragons and dungeons we don’t have room to mention.
You can be forgiven if occasionally you get confused about who’s who and what’s what. But GoT is just about the most popular TV show in the world right now, seen in 193 countries (we’re guessing North Korea is the outlier), and we’re big fans, too.
What better way to get ready for Season 6 than visiting some or… Continue reading
Part II of a two-part series. Our story so far:
In my previous post, I confessed to spending three months in Europe shortly after finishing college determined to view every painting on the Continent by the 15th-century Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch.
My quest took me the length and breadth of Western Europe on a tight budget, in rumpled clothing, and with an almost fanatical zeal to complete my Bosch life list. In the process, I befuddled just about everyone I knew. I was no trained art historian, just an amateur Bosch aficionado equipped with a rail pass and an oddly compelling travel obsession.
As a baby boomer, most of my pop cultural touchstones date back to the 1950s through the 1970s.
Bob Dylan will always speak more to me than Jay Z; the Kardashians are only names to me. What is it they do, exactly? I have no idea.
My all-time favorite actors and actresses are long since deceased; some of my favorite movies were filmed in black and white. But many of them — along with popular songs, books, and TV shows — have played crucial roles in developing my love of travel, and continue to do so to this day.
The first movie I can remember seeing on the big screen — around 1952 — was The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn; it was playing at my local theater as part of a double feature with another classic, High Noon.
The African Queen… Continue reading
Last of a 3-part series.
In our first post in this series, we began our quick guide to the 12 most popular European cruising rivers, starting with the Danube, Rhine, Seine, and the Volga and other Russian waterways — probably the best known of the top cruising rivers in Europe.
In our second post, we’ took a look at four more rivers (actually five rivers and one canal) ranging from France to Portugal, Germany and the Czech Republic to Sweden.
In this third post, we’ll complete the top 12 list with cruising rivers in Spain, Germany-Luxembourg, Italy, and, once again, France.
A Guadalquivir cruise offers one of the most pleasant ways to explore Andalusia – Spain’s southernmost province and site of some of the country’s most fabled cities. The river itself, though one of… Continue reading
I just returned last night from a week in Europe (more about that in subsequent posts) and found my euros going much further than on my previous trips there.
And I don’t mean going further out of my pocket, but into my pocket. Spain, which I left yesterday morning, was dirt cheap. My wallet was still stuffed with euro notes when I flew out.
A year ago, one U.S. dollar would get you about .73 euros to spend when traveling in Europe. Looked at another way, Americans would have to ante up 1.364 U.S. dollars to get one euro in exchange.
So for every admission or food item or souvenir costing 3 euros, Americans would have to pay the equivalent of $4.
Now, as of this writing, one U.S. dollar… Continue reading