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To be back in Spain again is a delight. To be back in Competa is a double delight. Even with the heat of summer, we find ourselves basking in the old world charm of this darling whitewashed village. It is delicious to feel the hum of village life in Competa, Spain. I am at home here among a multitude of friends and daily rituals. That can only come about through having been able to live where time has stopped for months on end. If I had been a mere tourist passing through the village on my way to whatever is next on the journey, I would never have developed such a strong bond. Yet, here I am, again, and it does suit me. We arrived in Malaga from our long flight exhausted and very happy to see Martin, our Scottish driver, waiting with his car to take us on the last leg of our trip. Often, we have taken the bus from Malaga to Torre Del Mar where we changed buses to climb the mountain road to Competa. This time, however, Sandra, sent Martin to collect us. Sandra has a lovely Spanish home in the village center that we will be caring for while she is in Switzerland and France visiting friends. Like all traditional Spanish homes, this house has multiple floors and terraces. With its thick walls, we just manage to stay comfortable during the long, hot afternoons. Our schedule is in keeping with Spanish wisdom, honoring the siesta almost entirely because of the afternoon heat. So, we are outside in the early morning until about 1PM and then return to our house for a nap, lunch and...Read More
I will take my readers on one last visit to Lisbon with this blog post. I am sure that Lisbon will be mentioned from time to time in the future though. It has a way of grabbing your heart and not quite letting go. Lisbon is an easy city to love. Besides the fact that it is one of the cheapest European capital cities to visit, it quickly captures your heart with its good food, friendly people, and gorgeous breakthrough vistas that never cease to take your breath away with each unexpected appearance. At the end of ten glorious days climbing the steep streets of Lisbon, we simply were not ready to leave. Prepare to be pleasantly tired at the end of the day from the constant uphill or downhill walking. This is a city built on hills. That’s why the views that greet you around every corner are so stunning, but it may take a few days to build up those unused leg muscles. Don’t despair, taxis abound and are modestly priced, getting you almost anywhere that you want to go in the city for about five to seven euros. A public bus system or the famous trams are also good options. There is plenty to see in Lisbon. The St. George Castle which sits proudly on the highest point in the city requires a fantastic hike up the tiny, twisting, narrow streets of the Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. If you make it to the top by foot, it provides a wonderful view of the city and the river Tejo. Once again, walking is not for the faint of heart. Hail a taxi, instead, if you...Read More
I discovered the spectacular city of Prague by taking a short detour on my way to Malta from Ireland. I am so glad that I convinced myself to spend three weeks in that amazing city. It was one of those times where I just decided to be totally spontaneous and fly by the seat of my pants. It left me with no regrets afterwards. I started by browsing online for apartments and ended up finding a neat little place in the Vysehrad quarter of town. This was not a prime tourist spot. That is why it was a perfect location for me. Tucked away in a downstairs apartment with a small kitchen and plenty of hot water and heat, we had all the comforts of home at a bargain price. Just around the corner from where we were staying, we could pick up one of the many trams that easily carried us into the city centre. We had a few restaurants close at hand, but not typical tourist spots, rather the working man’s meal was served. A daily intake of knedliky, like a dumpling, and roast pork is a hearty choice and left our bellies full for the day ahead of walking and exploring. A great Czech beer in a local beer house during the afternoon was something to look forward to as well. Czechs are proud of their beer and the best way to enjoy it is on draught. The historical section of Prague is situated on both sides of the famous Vltava River and is made up of six parts. Stare Mesto (Old Town), Josefov (the preserved Jewish Town). Nove Mesto (New Town), Mala Strana (Lesser Town),...Read More
Malta! What do you know about Malta? I didn’t really know a lot about it until I lived there for 90 days. Now I can safely recommend it to anyone who likes living on an island where they can easily explore everything by bus and where the people speak English. The people of Malta do speak English. They also speak Maltese, which sounds a bit like Italian and bit like Arabic. No matter the language spoken, we found the Maltese to be friendly people. Malta felt like one of the safest places in the world. They have a very low crime rate. We felt comfortable on the streets at any hour. It is perhaps one of the staunchest Catholic countries in the world. There are 313 churches, cathedrals and chapels on the island. All of the bells are still rung by hand, too. They say that at all times there is someone on their knees praying in Malta. Maybe that is part of what makes this island feel so blessed. Often described as the crossroads of the world, the little island of Malta is only about 122 square miles. It is located about 50 miles off the coast of Sicily. Malta is very much a rock quarry at sea. So much so that the vast majority of the houses and buildings on the island have been built from the golden rock of the island, giving the towns a very special appearance. It is a heavily populated island, but easy to get around in with public buses only costing about the equivalent of 75 cents regardless of where you want to go. There is plenty to do and see on...Read More
I am easily attracted to mountains and islands. Finding the isle of Saba, part of the former Dutch Antilles, fulfilled all of my travel fantasies. Taking care of an estate on the island for ninety days gave me plenty of time to explore its natural wonders. This island paradise is exquisitely different from the neighboring islands. Formed from a volcano, it is roughly five square miles in size. Saba is the perfect combination, a little mountain at sea. Saba has one road which is called, The Road. It has four little towns. The population of Saba is roughly 1400 people. There is a small medical school located on this little island where mostly American and Canadian students reside. Dutch is the official language of the island. English is more commonly spoken although with a unique accent. I am an international house sitter. I have taken care of lots of properties all over the world, but the Saba house will go down in history as one of my more unusual assignments. Saba was such a treat! It also didn’t hurt that I lived on a 1700-ft cliff. When swimming in the pool, I could view all of the neighboring islands. I was living in the clouds, but panoramic views are as numerous on this little island as the many sharp turns and switchbacks that you will find while traveling The Road. Wild goats, giant iguanas, exotic orchids, tropical rainstorms, hummingbirds, lush gardens and always the ocean and the sky with equal splendor entertained me. It sounds almost too good to be true. I know! When I look back on it, I can barely believe that I was fortunate enough...Read More
I have been fortunate to have lived in lots of countries all over the world for various lengths of time. I am an international house sitter. And although I do not consider myself to be a tourist, I feel very qualified to make recommendations to tourists. Why do I recommend Ireland? In many ways Ireland is one of those countries that seems to have it all. For most Americans who travel outside of their own country, Ireland tends to feel like home, I think. First of all, the Irish are very welcoming. I quickly discovered that the Irish enjoy sharing the beauties of their environment with travelers. Many of the Irish people have strong connections with the United States through relatives who live in the United States. To me, there seems to be a bond between the peoples of both countries. But that’s not all! The Irish landscape is second to none. When I decide to spend time outside of the US, I always seek an area of outstanding natural beauty. Ireland fits that requirement to the tee! Whether passing the time in one of the picture-perfect villages or driving the lonely passes on an Irish peninsula, I am guaranteed a visual feast. Did you know that Irish villages actually compete for tidiest town award of the year? That’s right! There is great pride taken in how a village presents to the public eye. What a delicious treat. I’ve spent most of my time in Ireland in County Kerry. There are three peninsulas that I have had easy access to during my time there. The Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula, and the Beara Peninsula are all worth seeing....Read More
and how you can too!
Some people only dream of leaving behind everything that is familiar to them in order to travel the world. Teresa actually did it! For the past eight years, she has been leading a very unconventional life.
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