Verona, Italy

There are several cities with ancient arenas that seem to be overlooked because of the popularity of the colosseum in Rome. Verona is a prime example of one of these cities. 

The amphitheater was built in 30AD in what is known today as the Piazza Bra. It is easy to pay an entrance fee and explore, however, the highlight is to catch a play or an opera. Verona is the setting for William Shakespeares' Romeo and Juliet, which is why it is nicknamed "The City of Love". 

You can visit Juliette's balcony at the Cappelletti house in the old city. Touching Juliette's right breast is supposed to bring luck. Bogi was an absolute gentleman and refrained!

Thousands of notes to Juliette line the portico which leads to the courtyard. If you prefer you can write a love letter to the Juliet Club where a team of volunteers, known as secretaries, select a few of the most beautiful letters written that year. The winners are chosen on Valentines Day, very apropos. 

The old town is f…

Giethoorn, Netherlands

Gietthoorn, Netherlands is an idyllic, charming canal community. It has become more popular over the years as a day trip from Amsterdam. It is really important to visit before 10 in the morning or after 4 in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.  

The canals wind throughout the village and boats are definitely the main mode of transport. You can rent your own boat, no license required or they have bigger boats with tour guides. The canals have rules and signage just like roads. On the right you can see the sign signalling that canal is one way only. 

There are no roads for cars, making it easy to understand how it has earned its nickname "Venice of the North". Even mail is delivered by boat! Since boating and walking are the only modes of transport, boat parking is a commodity. It was common to look down side canals and see many boats wedged in. 

We opted for a bigger boat with a tour guide so we could learn more about this fascinating village. This was our captain with his fi…

Guerande, France

This is the completely walled village of Guérande in southern Brittany. 

It is completely enclosed, with this being one of the impressive medieval gates leading into the old town.

Inside, the streets are lined with alluring artisanal snack shops. This is bonbon heaven!

Maison Georges Larnicol is famous for their la Kouignette, which with he won the prestigious MOF designation. This is a mini Kouign Amann, the smaller version of the delectable buttery and flaky pastry from Brittany. 

Georges Larnicol is also famous for his caramels. They taste better than your average caramel due to  Brittany's cows which are famous around for their special butter. 

More gooey goodness!! Another reason the caramel tastes so good is because it uses Guérande’s world renowned Fleur de Sel, which leads to the real reason we came to this part of Brittany. I have been using Guérande Fleur de Sel for quite some time and love its amazing enhancement to food without using additives. So much so, I had to vi…

Cancale, France

This is an oyster farm in Cancale which is situated in Mont Saint Michel bay on the Emerald Coast in Brittany. The most common oyster found here is the Creuse. The fast changing tides and fresh water supply create a perfect environment for oysters. They need brackish water for nutrients, oxygen, and the tides make them accessible for cultivation and harvest.

There is a little market of about 5 stalls selling fresh, very reasonably priced, oysters. After making your selection you can enjoy them on the seawall overlooking the farm or take them home with you. The seawall has hundreds of places to sit, but can fill up quickly, which is also true with the parking situation. So arrive early!
If you do decide to take oysters home with you, they can last up to two weeks. The key to their freshness is the strong muscle that locks the shell shut thereby trapping water inside. Ever see sellers tapping shells together? They are ensuring the oysters are holding water!

About every 30 minutes, a tr…

St. Malo, France

St. Malo is one those often talked about cities when you mention Brittany. Reasonably so, as it is essentially an island connected to the mainland by a harbor and some streets. The city is completely walled in with ramparts which are unique in that you can walk their entirety.  Upon arriving we immediately ascended them to walk the periphery. 

An inviting natural pool that is refreshed by the ever changing ocean tides. In the distance, yet another island accessible by foot rewarding you with more stunning views. 

It was a beautiful stroll on the ramparts, but my mind couldn't help but wander off to St. Malos' dark history. More than 80% of the city was destroyed in WWII by the Americans and British in a two week battle. 10,000 Germans were taken prisoner. It took 12 years to restore and rebuild this city.
Farther back in time, beneath the ramparts were kennels for over 20 Mastiffs guard dogs. They were purposely not fed during the day so they would "feast" at night.…

Dinan, France

Dinan is the most intriguing Medieval town we have visited to date living in Europe. The town is filled with old colorful half timber houses, historic cobblestone streets, an original gate to the city and ramparts overlooking the charming Chance river. 

From the ramparts and English gardens there were wonderful sweeping views of the port and its' several restaurants overlooking the water. 

You could walk the ramparts and descend onto a little trail leading to the port, or take the winding cobblestones through the old city leading you past many restaurants, shops and art galleries. 

These homes were built back in the late middle ages, 13th and 14th centuries using mainly wood. Wood was abundant and economical, and much easier to move before canals and railways were established. Another popular building material at the time was cob, a mixture of sand and straw.

The impressive gate leading up to the city or downward to the port. 

Wisteria was in full bloom, an enjoyable walk down an…