Gliding Over Mountains and Glaciers in Chamonix

The New England mountains I grew up with, gentle, rounded peaks covered in trees and boulders, bear no resemblance to the ubiquitous pointy cartoon version. The only real contender is Mount Washington in New Hampshire. At 6,288 feet (1,917 meters), its rocky heights are cloaked in snow for much of the year, but even its silhouette is…

Parlez-you Franglais?

One of the coolest things about living abroad in a country where they don’t speak your native language is what starts to happen to your brain. It used to feel like I might never lose the intermediary mental translation, that time-consuming stopover to convert all French input into English and English output into French. But…

Best Coffee Shops in Lyon

There’s a big difference between what we think of as a “coffee shop” in the United States and the traditional French café, which is more of a multi-purpose refreshment center. The French café has sidewalk tables and a dim interior, serves meals at certain hours and beer, wine, and absolutely terrible coffee the rest of the time,…

How to Travel Alone

A friend of mine once all but recoiled when I told her that, when she came to visit me, she should feel free to explore on her own while I was at work. She was annoyed that I’d even suggested it, and told me there wasn’t anything she felt comfortable doing by herself. Another friend recently insisted…

Pros and Cons of Traveling Alone

PROS YOU decide…everything. Want to stay an extra three days somewhere because you really like the effing delicious pastry you had at that café and want to eat it at least five more times? Done. Want to stay in a hostel that requires hauling your bag up a mountain because it sounds kind of rugged and…

Day Trip: Annecy

There’s nothing like the serenity and breathtaking beauty of the Annecy lakeside. Beyond its tranquil, bright-blue water and craggy green hills stand heart-pounding mountains, regal and chilly in the not-so-distance. Coots dot the lake, their dark plumage like ink stains on glass; up close, the water is so clear that you can see their gray feet…

Day Hike: Trayas to Théoule-sur-Mer

The Côte d’Azur conjures images of starlets, Lost Generation writers, designer-clad convertible-owners, and tanned beach babes, all strutting and partying their pretty selves alongside the sparkly blue sea. In reality, it’s also chock full of assholes, overpriced meals, elitist shades of the ridiculous, and tourists with pretensions. But oh, the sea! It’s just as sparkly and blue as…

Mix-and-Match Lyon

As I said in my last post, Lyon is my favorite French city by far, and seriously underrated. A few years ago, an important world leader was visiting the city, and I remember hearing people express their delight and surprise at the honor. I wasn’t surprised at all, but I was impressed by the Lyonnais pride without arrogance. If you get…

Why Lyon is the Best French City

Paris can kiss my ass. There, I said it. Go ahead and report me to the French Culture Police (actually there probably is some kind of culture regulation office in France, but by the time you file the paperwork complaining about me, I’ll be long gone…ha!) The iconic romance of “The City of Lights” persists, and it’s not undeserved. If…

Budget Beds: Greatest Hits

When you travel a lot, all the beds you’ve slept in start to blend together; even some of the best and worst accommodation experiences become a blur of white sheets. But every once in a while, a place stands out– for its unbelievable location, gorgeous decor, interesting ambiance, or fun extras. Traveling on a limited budget like mine might…