Opportunity costs, the one term, besides supply and demand, that stuck with me the most from my economics classes. The gist; for everything gained, there is something lost. Opportunity costs exist everywhere, in everything we do. Take, traveling offseason. The perks: smaller crowds, cheaper accommodations. The downside: not everything is open.
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It’s not every day that you can train-hop between five villages in less than six hours. Such is the appeal of Cinque Terre, located along Italy’s northeastern coast. Each village has its own colorful charm, either tucked away high on cliffs or down near the beach. Our favorite was the middle one, the secluded and solitary Corniglia, accessible only by car or a long climb of stairs.

The much larger city of La Spezia acted as our base camp, which not only offered cheaper accommodations but was conveniently close to the train station, giving easy access to not only Cinque Terre but the Leaning Tower of Pisa, an hour away and another must-see attraction, especially when climbing to the top.

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Some cities are distinctly unique. One of a kind. Just not another like it in the world. Venice falls under that category. Perhaps, it’s the history. The architecture. The lack of cars. The enclosed spaces. The hundreds of bridges spanning the many interlacing canals. The labyrinth of alleyways where tourists can be seen doing the Venice shuffle (trying to match the GPS of their phone with the location of a hotel or restaurant). Or the Gondoliers (grossly overpriced at 80 euro for only twenty minutes but still a time-honored Venice tradition). Whatever it is, Venice us a city of movement, perfect for exploration and on a level all its own.

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The sight of white-capped mountains always brings about a sense of wonderment in me. As a species that looks up and beyond, there’s just something about staring off into nature’s vastness that puts our small lives into perspective. What are bills and everyday stresses compared to nature’s rugged towers or the pale thin line where sky meets sea? Standing in awe of nature is how our short lives can get a glimpse of the infinite. Read More

This trip through Europe has coincided with my age. I’m at a point in my life where I’ve given up the night for the morning. Just the thought of staying out past midnight in a loud, raucous bar makes me cringe. Seeing a group of noisy teens or twenty-somethings and my first instinct is to run the other way. Large crowds, no thanks, I prefer quiet solitude. There used to be a time when staying out to two or three in the morning was the norm. Those days are gone. I like being in bed, curled up with a book, by nine or ten the latest. I’ve had the night, it was fun. The young can keep it. Now I have the mornings. 5 or 6 am, that’s my happy place. With a hot cup of coffee and a laptop in front of me, I’m at my most productive and creative. And the best part, when I’m finished with my writing, I still have the whole day ahead of me.

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Have you ever not seen a friend for so long that when you finally reconnect in person it’s like meeting for the first time? That sensation disappears mere minutes after getting reacquainted. Then the conversation just flows as it always did and you fall back into your old selves. In my years of traveling, I’ve had lots of those reunions. The most recent, in Barcelona, where we were so caught up in catching up that we forgot to take a picture together to commemorate the moment. Sometimes the best reunions are those random ones that are gone in a blink, left to exist only in our memories, where if you want proof, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

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Look past the glitz, name-brand stores, million-dollar yachts, luxurious homes, and you’ll find something uniquely charming about the South of France. Perhaps it’s the salty Mediterranean air, the white-sand beaches, the southern tip of the Alps jutting in the background or the food, equal parts Italian and French cuisine. Read More

There are somethings that Europe just gets right. Things that couldn’t happen anywhere else. Take, Granada, Spain, for instance, where every drink comes with a complimentary tapa (small plate). You know you’re in a good place when both young and old sit side by side. When waiters dressed in suits slam drinks down and bring a chair for a child so they can stand at the bar with their parents. When tapas aren’t just meat on bread, but small meals where for about 2 euro (no gratuity either) you can get an iced vermouth with side of seafood stew. Happily buzzed, your day or night concludes with both heart and stomach full and the knowledge that you got more than your money’s worth. Read More

Deciding what to do and what to see can be daunting at times. There’s too much information. Too many opinions. The internet turns everyone into a critic. But who to believe? One person’s gold is another’s trash. A 5-star can feel more like a 3. But despite all the new technological advances, I still find the best way to discover something new remains the same; word of mouth by someone I know and trust. And if I hear it more than once from multiple sources, it’s almost a sure thing. That’s how I stumbled across the relaxed beaches of Nerja, along Spain’s Mediterranean Coast and the hidden gem of Ronda, a mountaintop city in Spain’s Malaga province. There are places you plan your visit around and then places that find you. Read More

My entire life, my relationship with my dad has been rocky at best. But during the last year or so we’ve reached a cordial balance. I’m learning to accept him for who he is and let go. He doesn’t always make it easy, but I can’t control how he is, only how I react. It’s better to laugh and shrug things off, try to find common ground instead of focusing on the miles between us. Read More