9/19/2022

Dispatch from Avignon | Cruising the Rhône and Saône Rivers

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Welcome aboard the S.S. Catherine where we will sail the Rhône and Saône rivers through Burgundy and Provence. 

Dispatch from Avignon

This eight-day holiday begins by embarking on the Catherine, a Uniworld European river ship, on the Rhône River in Avignon. Where we will travel approximately 400 km from Avignon to Lyon, France. The S. S. Catherine is 443’ long, and lean, 37'.5 to navigate the narrow lock and dam operations in Europe. The locks are no more than 39'.3 wide, where great skill is key to navigating the locks on the sometimes-unpredictable rivers. Most European River ships have an astonishingly low draft and can sail with only two meters (6'.6) of water.

9/07/2022

Luberon | Alpilles | Provençal Road trip

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Provence is one of the most beautiful regions of France, stretching from the lower Rhône River in the west, to the Italian border in the east, all bound by the azure Mediterranean Sea in the south, known as the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.   


This solo trip is dedicated to a look back at hilltop villages that I visited many years ago and making new discoveries in the Luberon, department of the Vaucluse. Some villages are classified as the Plus Beaux Villages de France and others are notable for historical efforts, artists, and markets. Many of the villages are close together and never far from my home base in Avignon.  Provence is famous around the world for its postcard-worthy villages and breathtaking vistas. Where each village has its unique personality and a special allure; it’s love at first sight.  

Canal de l'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Today my driver is Veronica from ProVans she is very knowledgeable of the area and speaks, Italian, French, English, German and Russian. She is very skilled for all her international clients. 


We drive east of Avignon approximately 25km to the edge of the Luberon region where we stop at L’lsle Sur la Sorgue. It’s a beautiful drive into the countryside with Mont Ventoux  high and proud in the distance. It's a quaint village where it's surrounded with canals fed by the Sorgue river.  This picturesque town is a discovery for me.  

8/23/2022

Traveling Solo | Burgundy & Provence | Avignon to Lyon

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Travel is like many other things in life – we get what we put into it. So much of the pleasure of travel is the dreamy anticipation: plotting the route, learning the history and culture, imagining the sights, and stumbling upon new discoveries. But what about travel life after a global pandemic?

Our world was shut down for 2.5 years, when a mysterious global coronavirus altered our lives in ways we never imagined. Our personal and travel lives abruptly retooled, realigned, and were put on hold indefinitely. For months we could only connect with friends and business associates over Zoom, WhatsApp, and Facetime; and certainly, travel was restricted, and international borders were closed.  Our life was reimagined into something we didn’t choose. There was plenty of angst; the who, what, when, and where with the pandemic crisis looming for months and thought years to come.

The countdown app on my iPhone reads 883 days since my last international travel adventure.  Today in 2022, things are looking brighter and hopeful, and the anticipation of travel has returned to this solo traveler, and she is off to revisit the south of France. Where I will travel by plane, train, or foot, and eventually join a European River Cruise on the Rhône River.

As borders reopen and the method we exchange travel documents, check-in at airports, and border control has been changed forever; packing one’s patience is essential. Forging ahead into this journey is exciting once again. Travel lifestyles are changing, and we will adapt.

My travel adventure begins by arriving in Lyon, France, where I board the TGV inOui going south to Avignon. It has been thirteen years since I’ve been in the South of France, so renewing my memories and solo travel is top of mind. The train makes three station stops en route; Valence considered the gateway to the South of France and the capital of Drome in the Rhone valley, and Montélimar, where Chateau des Adhemar reigns over the city, and the third station stop at Orange, where it is famous for its Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines.

It's a pleasant ride with all the amenities one would need for a 90-minute train ride, a first-class assigned seat, free Wi-Fi, charging plugs, electrical outlets at each seat, and a window view into the French countryside.                Read More Below

Opéra Théâtre d'Avignon     
This image and many others are my portfolio tab.

4/11/2022

Traveling Untethered | Bordeaux, France

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Our last international trip was more than 750 days ago before the global pandemic shutdown the world.  Join us as we recap the essence of European river cruising from sophisticated cities to quaint villages.

We began at the southern tip of Dubrovnik, Croatia, and ended in Venice, Italy. Driving overland 1400-miles, zigzagging through six great nations in central and southeast Europe. All the while navigating the most magnificent stretch of coastline in the world, the Dalmatian Coast. 
Miroir d'eau - Bordeaux, France
Water Mirror
Dubrovnik, Croatia

We completed this passage with a smooth transition into Venice, Italy, the Queen of the Adriatic; notably the most beautiful and unique city in the world – a jewel of European Culture.  After nearly a month on the road, we are weary, and ready to embrace our restful and well-appointed European river cruise ship waiting in Bordeaux, France.  Uniworld's River Royale is our home for the next week and is a welcome sight (this ship has since transitioned to S.S. Bon Voyage river ship).

Over the years, we had the pleasure of many bespoke European river cruises. Sailing through Europe’s picturesque riverscapes is simply dazzling. Traveling the waterways offers an enchanting way to see Europe’s charming villages and sophisticated cities, while effortlessly integrating from country to country. Water travel offers guests the unique ability to step off into the soul of these great historic destinations, with ease, grace, and anticipation. 

10/29/2021

Venice, Italy | Floating in her Beautiful Shabbiness

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Venice, Italy, the Queen of the Adriatic; notably the most beautiful and unique city in the world- a jewel of European culture.

We arrived in Venice where it connects to the mainland by the road causeway, Ponte Della Liberta, Bridge of Freedom; traveling from Croatia, Slovenia, and the Gulf of Trieste, Italy.  It’s good to be back in Venice after a few years away. What better way to end this month of travel than spending our birthdays and wedding anniversary in this romantic city?

This extraordinary city floats in her beautiful shabbiness and embraces you with her incredible beauty; beckoning you forward to discover its hidden nuances, curlicue alleyways, and winding canals.  It’s a magical atmosphere and a perfect postcard treasure that will linger in your memory forever.

Rialto bridge was built to provide access to the Rialto market and connect the San Marco and San Polo sestieri (districts), the Rialto is the oldest bridge across the Grand Canal  image@pixabay

It was a pleasure to reorient ourselves with the most famous and touristy St. Marco Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, and the ornate Rialto Bridge, the most photographed spot in the world. We took a quiet break to explore a few other neighborhoods in Venice. Where each sestieri has its distinct personality and allure; taking a slow walk to catch our breath and relax.  We strolled the behind-the-scenes areas to enjoy the authentic beauty of Venice, exploring the labyrinth of back streets, rambling passageways, on foot, far away from the charming chaos. Yes, there are romantic gondolas rides and vaporettos to take you around this treasured city; but exploring the off-the-beaten-path, laid-back, lived-in, neighborhoods on foot for an up-close and personal experience of everyday life in Venice is memorable.

10/13/2021

Trieste, Italy | A City by the Sea

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We are enjoying our slow travel through Central Europe, where we are weaving back-and-forth, crisscrossing the final borders in Slovenia, Croatia, and Italy; and we hope you are too.  On this trek, we have discovered a melting pot of cultures, dialects, and Art Nouveau elegance, and all in one stop, as we arrive at the heart-shaped Istria peninsula at the Gulf of Trieste, Italy. (tree-estItalian tree-es-te)

Today the largest part of the Istrian territory belongs to Croatia, small slivers belong to Slovenia, and minuscule parts to Italy. It blends the cultures of Austria and Italy with the culture and heritage of Croatia seamlessly. Most people are bilingual, so road signs and places are shown in Italian and Croatian. Istria is a premier holiday destination in Croatia.

Istria is Croatia’s largest peninsula and has hundreds of kilometers of stunning coastline, allowing us to cross into the Gulf of Trieste, Italy easily.  Some say Trieste is Italy’s most cosmopolitan city where it reminisces of the glory days of the Habsburg influence dubbing it “the little Vienna on the Sea”.  That’s the perfect portrayal, since Trieste belonged to the Habsburg Monarchy for 400 years, and became one of the greatest powers of Europe with its international seaport in the Mediterranean. 

Trieste, Italy  @google image
Trieste is often overlooked by tourists who are making their way to more well-known Italian cities like Venice, sitting a meager 100 miles to the west.  But Trieste is a bustling city with cultural attractions, museums, and refined Viennese-style coffee houses. Most famously, Trieste is headquarters to the Italian coffee brand illy, created by Francisco Illy in 1933. The city is intimately aligned as the world center of coffee, and nowadays with the Università del Caffè, offering an International Master’s degree in Coffee Science and Economics. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world.

10/04/2021

Bled, Slovenia | Magical Legends, Fables and Folklore

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From along the breathtaking Dalmatian Coast and traveling through war-torn countries in Central Europe, we have experienced the incredible natural beauty, glittering azure water, majestic beaches, and soaring mountains as we reach storied Lake Bled.

We arrive at magical Lake Bled and its fairy tale world in Slovenia. Lake Bled is ranked one of the most beautiful places in Slovenia and the most photogenic lake on the planet.  Bled is Slovenia’s most popular alpine resort, luring honeymooners, backpackers, hikers, mountaineers, and outdoorsmen, during all four seasons.

The amazing alpine town of Bled is nestled between the soaring Julian Alps and the Karawanks mountain ranges near the border of Austria; about 50 km northwest of the nation’s capital city of Ljubljana. Where the sky-high mountain ranges ascend upward 9,400’above Lake Bled, the highest peak in Slovenia.

Slovenia has some 500 fairy tale castles sprinkled through the country; that’s one castle per 25 kilometers, all enhancing the backdrop of the folklore of this stunning and intriguing country.

In the distance, the iconic Bled Castle / Blejski Grad the oldest in Slovenia gracefully dangles over a 130m high rocky limestone cliff, overlooking the mirrored turquoise waters of Lake Bled.  This postcard-perfect place is a treasure-trove of tales, myths, and magical legends waiting to be explored.

Just one of the many fables in ancient times is there was no water at the now Lake Bled, it was once a valley of lush green grass and only a single rock.  By day the shepherds grazed their sheep in the valley, and by night the fairies danced. Until one day, when the fairies asked the shepherds to fence in around their dance area, so the grass would remain soft.  The shepherds ignored their plea and soon the youngest and most beautiful fairy broke her leg while dancing. 

9/08/2021

Slovenia | Fairy-Tale Places

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Where is this pint-sized, fairy-tale country of Slovenia with love in its name? Slovenia is situated in Central and Southeast Europe where one could touch the Julian Alps or tickle the Mediterranean Sea. Slovenia is bound by Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Italy, being nearly landlocked; with only 50 km of Adriatic Sea between Italy and Croatia. Here we visit the capital city of Ljubljana, (loo·blee·aa·nuh) a hidden European gem.

This journey began along the shimmering Dalmatian coastline, crisscrossing the Homeland War countries of Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Adriatic Sea provides glorious views at every turn, playing hide-n’-seek with the sea on one side, and the soaring Balkan Mountains in the distance.