Chartres, France

The city of Chartres flies under the radar and I am not quite sure why. It is located 50 miles southwest of Paris and is the capital of the Eure-et-Loir Department. It is a small city with a historic cathedral, charming cobblestone streets with the Eure River winding through.  

Chartres has beautiful old buildings and nice walking paths making it easy to explore and wander. 

I felt as though we had stepped back in time.

Along the river, the city has a small animal park and an elaborate garden with over 65 different varieties of roses. Bogi had no trouble making friends!

Another interesting attraction is the Maison Picassiette. In 1938, Raymond Isadore collected and starting decorating his house with broken shards of glass and china.

It took Isadore 25 years to cover the floors, ceilings, walls, furniture, fences... essentially everything!

In the 1980's, the city took over the property and for €6 you can wander the whimsical home and garden.

We had a wonderful evening at Le Montes…

Corvara in Badia, Italy

We have always wanted to visit the Dolmites in the Italian Alps, but for some reason kept putting it on the back burner. I'm glad we finally went because it was one of the most beautiful places we have ever been!! The region is divided into three valleys, all beautiful. You could spend a month here and not come close to seeing everything. I recommend picking a valley that most interests you and then explore from there. If you have more time, switch accommodations into another valley, otherwise you will be overwhelmed trying to see everything and end up spending too much time in the car. The roads are mostly two lane which wind through mountain passes, nothing fast moving about it. With that said, the views while driving will knock your socks off and give you a kink in your neck. 

 In northern Italy, there are three languages spoken, German, Italian, and Ladin. It is a unique microcosm in that you have both the influences of the Italians and Germans, making it a nice blend of cultu…

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…