For many people, when you think of Barcelona, images of Gaudí’s Park Güell come to mind. You might not know its name, but you’re probably familiar with photos taken from its famous viewing terrace. The colorful tiles of the iconic serpentine bench and the fantastical gatehouses in the foreground with Barcelona’s rooftops and the sea beyond. It’s synonymous with Barcelona and it’s no surprise it’s one of the top five tourist attractions in the city.
As we walk down the Rue de la République toward the Avignon Central Train station, the air is cool and crisp. We snuggle into our winter coats to keep warm. Christmas lights are strung over the road and as we pass several bakeries the smell is intoxicating. The early morning sky is lit with red and orange as we stand on the platform where we will catch the shuttle train to the TGV station on the outskirts of town, where our rental car waits. The ride from the central station to the TGV is quick – 10 minutes at most. Outside the front of the shining post-modern train station are several rental car companies. We’ve arranged a car with Europcar today – a cute little Renault Twingo. We’re excited to visit 4 of the most beautiful villages in Provence.
Avignon is one of the major cities of Provence, in Southern France. It is the main city in the very popular Vaucluse region and is set on banks of the Rhône river. The city is steeped in history, painted with brilliant light, and crowned with gorgeous, Provençal blue skies. Avignon is simply lovely.
No visit to Avignon is complete without a walk on the Pont Saint-Bénézet, also known as the Pont d’Avignon. So, on a beautifully warm and sunny December day we made our visit. It was interesting to stand on this iconic landmark and the subject of the famous French song and nursery rhyme, Sur le pont d’Avignon. One can’t help but sing the words that date from the 16th century when you look out over the Rhône River. Like so many times during this trip, it felt like we were making a connection to history, however small and however brief those moments might be.
Standing in the courtyard in front of the Palace of the Popes in Avignon (Palais des Papes), it’s not hard to sense the power and influence that this building was meant to symbolize for the Catholic church. Its grand and imposing architecture spans 15,000 square meters and stands 50 meters high. Soaring into the blue Avignon sky, one wonders if its meant to give the impression that it’s reaching for heaven.
Medieval Carcassonne has been considered a strategic location since Neolithic times. Its first settlement dates to about 3500 BC. This ancient rocky hilltop is steeped in history and lore. The Romans were the first to build ramparts around the cité (walled town) in the 1st Century BC. The prime hilltop location made it easy to defend, and its strategic position between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean sea, as well as between the Massif Central and the Pyrénées made it an important trading place as early as the 6th century BC.
Our experiences in 2014 have been rewarding beyond our dreams. Taking the time to look back over all of our blog posts, Facebook posts, and photos has made it all seem even more unbelievable. It’s been a Year of Nomadic Family Travel and it’s hard to believe all that we’ve done and the amazing places that we’ve visited. We are truly grateful to have spent the year exploring and learning together, living abroad, and making friends.
There was so much to cover in our year-end review, that we felt that our recollections needed to be broken up into two parts for easier reading. If you haven’t read Part 1, which covers January – June, then you can find it here. Otherwise, read on as we cover our adventures from July – December.
When most people think of a tropical beach vacation in Southeast Asia, they generally think Thailand. More specifically, they think Phuket or its neighbor Krabi. To be sure, they are both drop-dead gorgeous, but they are also incredibly popular… and crowded. In fact, over 5.3 million tourists flock to Phuket each year. If you are looking to people-watch, party, or shop, then Phuket is a great choice. If you’re dreaming of a peaceful island getaway, then you may want to choose another destination. Why not consider Langkawi, Malaysia?
George Town is the capital of the island and state of Penang, on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. One of the most charming features of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is its well-preserved colonial core that boasts many restored shophouses dating from as early as the 19th century.
These lovely, often colorful, old buildings line most streets, creating a wonderful Old World character to the city. You will definitely find a mix of old and new, refurbished and diamonds in the rough. Here are a few of our favorites.
Founded in 1542, the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage site within Mexico’s hilly central highlands, about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City. Known for the beauty of its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant art scene, cobblestoned streets, and eternal spring-like weather, it’s hard not to fall in love with this charming and picturesque city. Many do. In their November 2013 issue, Condé Nast Traveler named San Miguel #1 in their Reader’s Choice Awards for Top 25 Cities in the World.
The city of Guanajuato (gwah-nah-HWAH-toh) is a cobblestoned colonial gem in the mountains of central Mexico. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a charming and picturesque city with a distinctive European flavor.