My Muddy Valentine

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Candle-lit dinner? Chocolates? Roses? Hurriedly arranging to leave the city so you wouldn’t be lying when you told someone you’d been on a few dates with that you already had plans?  Ahem.  The “Night Riviera” train leaves London Paddington at 11:45pm several times a week and travels the…

Hotels and Hostels in Airbnb Times

Airbnb is great in theory: stay in someone’s luxurious home for a price half that of the local low-end hotel. I was grateful for it when I needed somewhere to stay while I was looking for an apartment and didn’t want to impose on friends for too long, and I admit the potential for some affordably awesome experiential travel through the…

Art Pilgrimage: Cave of Niaux

By the sound of it, the woman behind me was somehow managing to fall in every single puddle as we hurried after our guide, a physically nimble but socially awkward guy in his late twenties who’d warned us that if we didn’t rush we’d risk an abridged tour. The CO2 in our breath threatened the existence of the very thing…

Two-Day Wander: Toulouse, Niaux Caves, and Carcassonne

As the calendar flips by and I get used to the probability that my geographical future lies outside France, I start to feel a sort of constant, creeping urgency. It’s forced me to focus on more fully exploring France. Ironically, this effort to pull away without regrets makes it harder to pull away at all.  My latest jaunt took me to the southwest, to the…

Day Hike: Lacs de la Pra

I’m so fresh off this hike that the soreness hasn’t fully hit me yet (“it will,” hiss my vindictive knees and hips in menacing whispers, “it will”), but I wanted to get this post up before the cold really settles into the mountains. The Lacs de la Pra are a smattering of tiny lakes in the Belledonne mountain…

11 TAPIF Must-Dos

If you’ve decided to embark on the Teaching Assistant Program in France, chances are you already have the travel bug and an interest in deeply discovering a foreign place instead of skimming its surface like the average tourist. There are lots of ways to take advantage of your resident expatriate status while living abroad and to do…

Six-Day Wander: London, Again!

Every time I go to London, I love it more. The city is a business hub, but has an enduring reverence for literature, art, and intellectual curiosity. A place of royals, tourists, immigrants, foreign investors, politicians, workers of all kinds, students, and ceremonial cavalry horses “who may bite or kick” (according to actual warning signs), it swarms but accommodates….

Four-Day Wander: Barcelona

Barcelona is a covergirl with a troubled past, a high-maintenance celebrity who stumbles into her town car after a night of dancing and heavy drinking several times a week, but still somehow manages to arrive fresh-faced on set every morning. She’s gorgeous, reliable, and expensive to cast. Make-up hides her scars– when uncovered, some add to her beauty while others mar it. Her…

Time Travel: Lisbon, February 2014 – To Fado and Living in the Moment

Tasca do Chico, a well-known fado bar in Lisbon (Rua do Diário de Notícias) is a small place crammed with wooden tables, benches and, on fado nights, people. Fado, a type of Portuguese folk music that traditionally features mournful singing by a single vocalist with various guitar accompaniment, is still popular today in concert venues and some…

Time Travel: Avignon, May 2014 – Tater Tot Hot Dish

Hampus, my new Swedish hostel-friend, suppressed a smirk as he looked around the table at the horrified faces of his audience. He’d just finished telling us about a Swedish culinary tradition that involves eating a fish so rotten that the can it comes in bulges with putrid gases (how you know it’s ripe, apparently), a bit of trivia he revealed while he ate…