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…

Time Travel: May, 2014 – Slowing Down in Split

I was very unpopular in beautiful Croatia. Despite my best efforts to abide by all spoken and unspoken rules and to be apologetic for my ignorance as I navigated the country’s unpredictable off-season transportation and accommodation logistics, the people I came across were impatient and bitchy with me. I was almost tossed off of long-distance…

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…

Bicycling and Broiling in Burgundy

One of the best things about living an unsettled existence is that you end up with friends who live all over the world and are often similarly unsettled. This means… lots of mutual travel mooching! You crash with them, they crash with you, and everybody has a travel party. A friend I met through TAPIF has returned to…

Time Travel: Plitvice Lakes, Croatia, May 2014 – Perfectly Imperfect Travel

Going to Plitvice Lakes was one of those travel decisions I made based on the advice of a stranger or, in this case, strangers: a group of tipsy Brazilian dudes I met in the common room of a hostel in Zagreb, Croatia. The Plitvice Lakes consistently make the pages of glossy 100-Places-to-Visit-in-Your-Lifetime magazine issues, with photos of bright turquoise water…

Worst-Kept Secret

The Cinque Terre secret is REALLY out. Not that Cinque Terre doesn’t deserve it – the collection of five tiny towns, clinging to the vertiginous Ligurian coast like pastel-colored barnacles and connected by scenic paths that wind through olive and lemon groves high above the sparkling Mediterranean, is enchanting. But the towns’ charming small size also means…

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…

Lyon and Shopping… for Those Who Hate Shopping

In general, I find shopping to be about as fun as going to the dentist. It’s boring, tedious, uncomfortable, and expensive. That’s why it took me a while to discover that I actually liked shopping in Lyon, that the city is full of lovely little shops run by talented designers and artists hoping to sell…

Day Trip: Chambery

Chambery. The name begs to be mispronounced by the Anglophone tongue in three or four different and equally disastrous ways. Fellow Anglophones, it’s sort of like this: “shom – beh – hree” – soft and grand.  A little city embedded in the pre-Alpine, glacial lake-filled edge of eastern France, Chambery is the capital of Savoie,…

Secret Passageways

Hundreds of covered alleyways called traboules burrow through Lyon’s older neighborhoods and harbor relics from across the centuries: among them, metalwork, fountains, and sculpture from the Roman Empire onward. Silk workers used them to transport silk in the 19th century, resistance fighters used them to evade Nazis during World War II, and tourists use them to annoy…