So Much History!

Despite all our global traveling, we realized that there is so much of our home country that we have yet to explore. To that end, we have set off in a trek across America. Our route will take us up the east coast, across the northern part of the United States, on an Alaskan cruise, down the West Coast and then, once more, across the southern part of the country. (FYI – This will be our second trip from east to west and our third cross country since August 2023 😮).

Our low budget travels are made possible, by:

      1. Thousands of miles driven in a Toyota Rav4 that was generously loaned to us by George’s brother, Frank.
      2. Many family members and friends who have or will host us along the way.
      3. Extensive use of the Trusted House Sitters program.

At present we find ourselves house sitting for Dimitri, an extremely vocal but very lovable, yellow cat. Dimitri and his people live in Franklin Massachusetts, which is about an hour outside of Boston. We know this because earlier this week we traveled into Boston to see our dear friend Fred run the Boston Marathon.

As school children we learned of much of the history of Boston, the “tea party”, “one if by land and two if by sea” and all of that. We had no idea, however, about the amazing history of the small town of Franklin.

The town of Franklin was established in 1860. It was originally planned to be called Exeter, but as was the custom at the time at the last minute they changed the name of honor one of the heroes of the American Revolution. In this case, it was the statesman Benjamin Franklin. This was the first town that had been named after him.

By reading plaques and exhibits around town we learned some of the fascinating details about the town’s history. It seems that a local pastor suggested, that since the town was named after him and all, it might be appropriate for Ben Franklin to contribute a bell for the steeple of the local public meeting house. Meeting houses in those days were often Protestant churches, and or facilities for paying subscribers.

Franklin wrote back and advised that he was honored to be the namesake of the town, but that he did not wish to contribute a bell, which would only mean that the townspeople would have to pay to erect a steeple. Instead, he suggested that he provide an endowment of a specific set of (116) books that he and his family had chosen. His logic here was that: “sense is more important than sound”. While there were those who wished to keep the collection private, the townspeople voted to make it public. Thus, the very first public book lending library was established in the USA.

The library now is nothing short of breathtaking and very actively used by the proud citizens of Franklin. Among the early users of that library was local lad by the name of Horace Mann. Despite very little formal education in his early years, Mann made extensive use of the library. This enabled his acceptance to Brown University at age 20. He got his law degree and later became the Secretary of the newly formed Massachusetts Board of Education. Mann’s work there led him to become widely known as the father of the American public education program.

No doubt we will continue to learn interesting tidbits during our walks around Franklin over the few days.

From here we’re off to see Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, Deadwood city and so much more of America…



No Better Time Than Now, For Mexico!

It was great seeing so many friends and family members on our drive across America; especially since we had been overseas so long. Our extended stay in the United States was made possible in part because we were finally able to get signed up for insurance via the Affordable Care Act. Now we have coverage both inside the USA and when we are on the road internationally.

We came across an amazing opportunity to house sit in Mexico, and it was just too good to pass up. So after after a house sit in San Diego and some days with wonderful friends, we hopped a flight to Playa Del Carmen. This smaller tourist community in roughly centered between Cancun and Tulum with (Cozumel directly to the east) on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Our first location included three very lovable dogs, Mouse, Coco and Brownie. We had a great time playing with them and exploring the neighborhood during daily walks. From there we moved to a lovely but affordable rental apartment for a few days. Since we were not actually house sitting at this location we were able to invites guests to come visit. In this case, our visitors were Bonnie’s niece Isabella and her friend Erik, from Seattle Washington.

Having visitors come is always a good excuse to go do touristy things, and we did! Our first big outing was to wander the “Zona Touristica” where wandered down the long pedestrian street, drank margaritas and had an amazing dinner.

The next day we took a road trip of about two and a half hours to a complex of Mayan ruins called Chichen Itza. Around about 700AD this area was a bustling city with thousands of inhabitants. The tourist area here contains many many ruins and smaller structures, but the largest and most impressive is the pyramid called El Castillo. Wandering around the ruins is made even more entertaining by a horde of salespeople, each hawking souvenirs ranging from jaguar calls to tee shirts and wooden carvings. Everything is “on sale today” and “so cheap it’s almost free”.

A word of caution if you drive yourself to Chichen Itza: many less than reputable groups with try to flag you down on the small road that leads you to the complex. They will tell you, sometimes very convincingly, that they are the official sales people for tickets into the complex, and if you buy later it will cost much more and you can skip the line. In fact, they will try and charge you double and you have to wait in a longer line if you buy from them. Politely decline their offers and wait to buy your tickets at the gate; the line was not bad at all when we were there.

The next day was our fun-in-the-sun day. We started at one of the local fresh water swimming holes. These swimming areas occur naturally when underground limestone caves collapse and fill with ground water. Many have caves that you can explore. There are thirteen of these Cenotes (pronounced see-NO-tay) around Playa Del Carmen. We chose one called Cristalino which, we were advised, is a bit less packed with tourist. The water was in fact crystal clear and blue and not as cold as I expected. We had a great time swimming around and checking out the caves. I’d you sit and dangle your feet in the water, little fish swim up and nibble at the dead skin on your feet. Assuming you are not too ticklish, it is a natural pedicure for free.

After the Cenote, we drove to a nearby beach, where for a very reasonable price we rented beach chairs under shady umbrellas and enjoyed cocktails by the ocean. The weather was delightful, the ocean clear and cool and the service amazing. It is easy to see why this area is the topic of so many songs about escaping for a beach holiday.

Tomorrow we are headed back for a second sit at the same house we visited when we first arrived. In just a few days we will enjoy an extended celebration. October 30th is Bonnie’s birthday and October 31st kicks off a three day holiday in Mexico called Dia de Los Muertes or Day Of The Dead. A whimsical, yet quite serious holiday, in which the Mexican people remember their loved ones who have passed on. More about that later….

New Caledonia

Going out for French Food

About 750 miles east of Australia lies a group of beautiful islands. This South Pacific Island chain, of a dozen or so Islands, is a French territory called New Caledonia. The largest of these islands is Grande Terre, where there is an international airport near a popular tourist town called Noumea.

We are in Australia on a one year visa but we are restricted to stays not to exceed 90 days. We had already completed three house sits in Meadowie, Morpeth and Sydney. We knew we would have to leave the country to reset our visas before our next sit, 9 weeks in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales started, so we began looking for somewhere close that we could go for a quick turnaround, (unfortunately, a round trip cruise with stops in New Zealand did not meet the legal requirements).

When Tom & Yawen, our great friends from San Diego who now live in Sydney, suggested New Caledonia it sounded like a good idea.  When they told us that they could join us on the trip, it became a no brainer. George and Tom worked together closely at Nextivity, and we have been fast friends ever since.

We wrapped up our house sit in Sydney and headed for the airport. After a 3-hour flight, we arrived at the airport, where we took a shuttle bus for another 45 minutes to Noumea. It was late evening when we finally arrived. Tom and Ya met us with a much-appreciated club sandwich and a cold beer.

Over the next few days, we explored the town of Noumea, took long walks along the coast and browsed the local tourist shops. Typically, we would have stolen Tom away for some scuba diving, but due to recent bull shark attacks in the local waters there was no ocean swimming allowed.

Our evenings started with sunset cocktails and amazing views, followed by some of the most extraordinary French food (and wine) we have ever had. We enjoyed one unforgettable restaurant after another.

All too soon it was time for our last hotel breakfast buffet and a ride back to the airport. What would otherwise have been a boring ride was made amazing by the limo driver that Tom & Ya organized. This gentleman has been driving for years and regaled us with stories of the “who’s who” of passengers he had driven around the south of France before moving to Noumea. On top of that he was a singer and played us his studio recorded version of “My Way”. It would have made Frank Sinatra jealous!

Driving down the ocean road after yet another amazing adventure, this time in the South Pacific, the words to the song really rang true:

I’ve lived a life that’s full,

I’ve traveled each and every highway.

And more, much more:

I did it my way.


Hanging out with Arthur in Morpeth

Well, it is quite a change from Vietnam, but we now find ourselves in the little village of Morpeth, New South Wales. Morpeth is located a couple of hours north of Sydney, and at 200 years, is quite an old town by Australian standards. The town has a population of just over 1,500 people, so we are quickly coming to know the locals.

Nadine owns a coffee shop called “Common Grounds” where George played and sang (busking it is called here) for a couple of hours on Sunday. Nathan works at the local butcher where Bonnie bought nice leg of lamb, direct from the family farm this morning. Brook is our favorite bar tender at the local pub.

But the most important individual we have met is Arthur, 12-year-old chocolate lab, who lives with his person, Alison, in a delightful old home here in town. We are looking after the house and hanging out with Arthur for a few weeks while Alison is in Europe on holiday.

Arthur is a big boy, as one local commented this morning he has been “feedin’ in a healthy paddock”. This is just one of many colorful turns of phrases we have heard. One chap outside of the small grocery store commented about the wind, which was “strong enough to blow a dog off his chain”.  Another person commented that she did not remember how many it was, but she was “still on her hands”; which we later learned means that it was less than 10, as she could still count them on her fingers.

We were lucky enough to experience the ANZAC day parade and remembrance in town. ANZAC stands for Australian, New Zealand, Army Corps. It was quite a big event for the little town of Morpeth. Arthur had a great time resting on the sidewalk out in front of the pub, where many folks in colorful attire and a chest full of ribbons stopped to give a head scratch or belly rub.

One more important note about Morpeth; it is home to the original bake house owned by the Arnott family. Arnott’s is now the biggest name in cookies (or biscuits as they call them here) in Australia. Most importantly, they are the makers of “Tim Tams”, George’s favorite cookie in the world!


Cooking School in Vietnam

Since we (Bonnie & George) live on the road full time, we tend to merge our daily routine with the peculiarities of the country we are in. We both love to walk and cover 3 or 4 miles each day.  During our first couple of months in Da Nang, we really got to know the area that we live in and the surrounding neighborhoods quite well; but not much of anything else in the region.

In short what I am saying is that we are terrible tourists. So, when out friends Matt and Stephanie came from the USA to visit us in Vietnam, it was great excuse to check out some of the local “touristy” things to do. Both Matt and Bonnie share a love of cooking (luckily Stephanie and I love to eat); thus, a cooking school seemed like the logical choice.

I searched online and found a school with locations in both De Nang and the neighboring town of Hoi Ann. After reading review of Jolie Cooking Class. We decided to give it a go. We reached out to Jolie and arranged a date and time.

The day started early with a car to pick us up at our apartment in De Nang at 7:30am. The cost of the car for the four of us was included in the cooking class. We elected to take the class in Hoi Ann to see a bit more of the surrounding area. 40 minutes, and some beautiful scenery later, we arrived at one of the local markets. Jolie met us and guided us through the markets, explaining how to pick the various fruits, vegetables, herbs and meats that we would use in out cooking class later. Once loaded up with our raw materials we left the markets and stopped for a coffee before we started cooking. This was great, as it allowed us some time to meet the other folks that were in taking the class. In total there were only 6 of us in the class that day, a perfect sized group.

After a delicious, iced coffee, we took the short walk to Jolie’s compound with a combination of here home, a traveler’s hostel and the cooking school. Were greeted by three young ladies, each more delightful than the last. These three under, Jolie’s careful tutelage served us delicious orange tea and then helped us prepare three amazing local dishes. Despite the fact that Matt & Bonnie are the real cooks in the group, we all were encouraged to get involved in the food prep. Of course, there was a lot of laughter, fun and singing (the girls have beautiful voices) throughout the perpetration.

With the aid of some flash cards, the girls taught how to properly pronounce the names of each one of the dishes. The also taught us how to make very clever garnishes including rosed made from tomato skins and flowers made from red hot chilis.

The food was amazing and we had so much fun, before we knew it, it was afternoon, our bellies were full of amazing food and ours sides ached from laughing so much.

In fact we had such a great time, when our friends Rachael, Derick and Laura came to visit us: we went back again. Because we were in four our second visit, the team in Hoi Ann went out of their way to make sure it was again a unique experience.

What was different:

      • our guide this time was named Rosie
      • the food we prepared were different dishes and so the sections of the market we went to were different to gather different ingredients
      • the games we played and activities we did were all different

What was the same:

      • we went back to the cooking school at Jolie’s compound in Hoi Ann
      • the food was amazing
      • the girls at the school were just as fun and charming as before
      • the value for money (around $40 per person) was great

So, if you find yourself in De Nang or Hoi Ann and are looking for a fun, educational and just thoroughly enjoyable diversion, check out Jolie Cooking Class.


Good Moooorning Vietnam!

It’s been a little over two months since we arrived in Vietnam. We are settling in and really enjoy it. When we first arrived in Da Nang, we stayed at the Sofiana Hotel. We can’t say enough good thing about this hotel, it was bright, it was well maintained, the room were large, and the staff was amazing!  Our room, with a king size bed and private en-suite bathroom was about USD $25 per night and this included breakfast. If you are traveling to De Nang, we highly suggest this hotel.

We stayed at the Sofiana long enough to get to know the area a bit and to find a comfortable apartment to rent for the 6 months we will be here. We did find a nice two bedroom, two bath apartment in the neighborhood of An Thoung, which is an area very popular with ex pats. Our apartment is in a fairly new building, on the sixth floor. Our balcony looks down onto a rather busy tourist street that is crowded with bars and restaurants. At times it does feel a bit like we are living above Bourbon Street in New Orleans, but most evening it is relatively quiet. (FYI, our monthly rent for the furnished apartment is $390, an extra $100 or so per month covers power, water and internet.)

Da Nang is located on the coast in central Vietnam, to get here we flew into Ho Chi Mihn City (formerly Saigon), wandered around the big city for a couple of days, and then took the overnight train (about 14 hours) to Da Nang.

Da Nang is mainly a tourist town, especially the part of town on the beach side of the Han River. The beaches themselves are some of the most beautiful in the world, with white sugar sand and warm clean water. Unfortunately, when Covid hit it pulled the financial rug out from under many businesses in this town. This is especially true since such a huge portion of the tourist dollars came in from nearby China (which is still under travel lockdown). As a result, the hotels and restaurants that remained open are desperate for business. Prices on rentals have dropped, in many places, to a third of what they were previously.

Alas, this also means that many of the functions of the city that were previously driven by a robust tax structure, such as street cleaning and sidewalk maintenance have fallen a bit behind. But even in the two short months that we have been here, we can see the signs of the end of the harsh “winter of covid”, new shops, restaurants and shops are beginning to open. A few more tourist are in the streets and in the hotels, and clean-up projects are more frequently seen.

What has not dimmed or dropped off is the amazing spirit of the people that live here. They are among the kindest, happiest, and most hospitable people we have encountered anywhere in the world. People you pass on the street, always seem to have a big smile and a big Xin Chao (shin chow) which means hello. With few exceptions, they are not trying to sell you something or ask for money, they are just genuinely friendly folks!

George’s sister Morgan was here for Thanksgiving, which we celebrated with a house full of friends. We are really looking forward to showing off Da Nang to more friends who are coming to visits in the coming months.

We will post more about life and adventures in Vietnam over the coming weeks…


Winter is Coming…

October has brought cooler temperatures to Germany, a sure sign that it is time to move along to an area with warmer weather. (If we do this just right, we will never have to experience another cold winter again.) Luckily we are nearing the end of our stay in Dusseldorf.

Bonnie and I have settled into an easy pace of life in this largely corporate and college town. George’s morning here typically starts around 7:15, if he is not up and about, Digger (one of the two cats we are looking after) stands beside the bed and makes chirping sounds until he relents and get up. If somehow, he manages to sleep through the morning concert, Cato (the second of the pair) jumps on the bedside table and head-butts him in the face until he is awake and up. Thus, they have us trained to get up and feed them promptly in the morning.

After morning yoga, some breakfast, and the New York Times crossword, we typically head out to explore the city and shop for the day’s provisions.

We enjoy walking, and this is just the town to do it in. In the last month and a half, we have explored quite a bit. Most of the good shopping areas are a bit far away; so we jump on the subway/tram that stops on the street just in front of the apartment.  The tram (or Stadbahn, as it is called), gets us to the start of our walks, by delivering us to either the old town (Alstadt) or the a great walking street called Kings Avenue (Konigsvalle) which is lined on both sides with shops and galleries.

In order to ‘get our steps’ that make up the 2 miles or so we like to walk,  we love cruising through the Carlsplatz Market. A collection of specialty stalls including bread shops, cheese mongers, butchers and flower shops. Once we decide on an evening meal, we are off foraging.

It would not be fair to mention Altstadt without talking about the touristy area lined with bars, breweries, and restaurants. There is one street that is so closely packed with bars, built side by side, that it is commonly referred to as the worlds longest continuous bar. Like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, this area has a quiet peaceful personality during the day and a completely different frenetic energy at night.

Speaking or beer and breweries; it is October, and we are in Germany BUT, we quickly learned that Oktoberfest if limited to a specific part of Germany (around Munich). We did, however, go on a tour of several of the local breweries. The tour involved walking around old town, stopping at several different breweries, and trying their beers, while learning more about beer in Germany. We learned that each region makes it’s own stlye of beer and that there are very strict regulations about what ingredients can be added to beer made here. This is limited to malted grain, hops, yeast, and water. No other ingredients and additives are allowed. We also learned about a special style of beer which is fermented with yeast that works from the bottom of the vessel up (as opposed to most which consume the sugar from the top down). These bottom fermented beers are called Altbier (“alt” beer) and have a distinctive taste.

After having visited, the butcher, bread shop and whatever other markets we need to, we jump back on the tram and head back to the apartment, usually around 2:00 or 3:00pm. Evenings are consumed by preparing whatever fresh ingredients we have found and enjoying the meals in the very comfortable apartment that we are house sitting in.

On Sunday, we will once again pack out bags and jump on a plane. This time we are off to Vietnam. No more long pants and sweatshirts for us!

See you again Dusseldorf, it has been fun…..


English in La Alberca Spain

This is not the first time that we have volunteered for English immersion camp. But believe us, the experience we had in Germany was very different than the experience we had in Spain. Both were wonderful but showcased very different cultures.

The program was created by a group called Pueblo Ingles. They bring together 20-25 paying students, and an equal number of native English-speaking volunteers. The goal is total immersion in English, in a comfortable and fun environment.

In the first paragraph, we called this a camp; what we did not specify was whether is was a summer camp or a boot camp, as it has elements of both. You do meet amazing people, and make friends like summer camp; but the program is structured and the days are long. The week is exhausting but so worth doing!

We first met the other volunteers and the students as we boarded luxury tour a bus for the four plus hour ride from sweltering Madrid to the much more temperate climate of the mountains in La Alberca.  The program coordinator Cristina, an American transplant who now lives in Spain, guided us onto the bus and let us know what to expect for the day.

Each volunteer (or anglo, as they call us) was encouraged to sit next to a student. This concept was carried out throughout the week. In halting, but passable English, the nervous students introduced themselves and we initiated what was to be the first of many hours of English conversation.

Each day started around 9:00am with a buffet breakfast where tables sat four (always had two Anglos and two students). Immediately after breakfast there we activities aimed at boosting the student’s vocabulary and general comfort with English.



Daily activities were led by our master of ceremonies Sam (from Wales) and included:

    • One-on-one sessions where a student was matched with an Anglo and encourage to spend an hour talking about whatever came to mind.
    • Telephone and video calls.
    • Group discussions from a suggested list of topics
    • Theater presentations, where a small group of students could create and present humorous skits
    • Presentations from both students and anglos. George did a demonstration about how to make the perfect margarita, it was very popular with the group.
    • Dancing, sign along sessions and other creative activities.

Lunch and dinner were three course meals, the food was good and plentiful, and served by English speaking waiters. Lunch at 3:00pm followed by free time (a nap) until 5:00pm then back from more activities until dinner at 9:00pm. The days typically ended with us dragging back to our cabins (private rooms with an ensuite bathroom and shared common areas) around midnight and falling quickly asleep.

By the end of the week, we were all tired, but happy. The students had all made significant progress with English. There were a lot of folks asleep on the bus ride back to Madrid. The goodbyes were emotional and heartfelt, I know we made friends that we will keep for life!

If you are a native English speaker, regardless of your accent, and you are looking for a unique travel opportunity, this is it! There are programs for teens, young adults (18-23) and adults (30-80). To learn more about this amazing program, visit Pueblo Ingles at this link.

and there’s always ham….


A Visit to Madrid

We had a couple of days between the end of our house sit in New York and the start of the English immersion program, so we decided to take advantage of it and visit Madrid. The first thing we had to do was find housing. Lately we have found air B&B to be too expensive for short stays (by the time you add in the cleaning fee, a hotel is often cheaper), but since we were going to be there for several days it worked out OK. We found a small studio in the Atocha area that was central to just about everything we wanted to walk to.

We knew nothing about Madrid, but lucky for us, an old friend Jose Daza lives there and he was happy to show us around. Madrid in the summertime is very hot, and for this reason we met a little later in the evening for our walking tour of the city with Jose. What a tour it was, we started at 7:00pm, walked for more than 5 miles and ended up at home around midnight, lucky for us the tour included tapas and cocktails!

Here are some interesting tidbits we picked up during our tour:

    • The Spanish take their sports very seriously. There are many football (we Americans call it soccer) teams in Madrid. The most famous of course is Real Madrid. There are also many beautiful fountains around the city. Each of the major teams has a particular fountain where they gather to celebrate wins. As you can imagine this involves a lot of music, dancing, drinking and a more than occasional dip in the fountain.
    • There are many, many museums in Madrid, but the largest three are in an area called the Golden Triangle of Art. These include The Prodo, Reina Sofia and the Thryssen-Bornemisza. For a reasonable price, one can purchase a single ticket to visit all three.
    • There is still a King in Spain, although, these days he is more of a figurehead. There is a royal palace, but it is more of a museum, the King lives in a private residence in suburb of Madrid.
    • Cathedral de la AlmudenaThe original official cathedral, still stands, but has been replaced with a larger, much grander structure. “I guess God needed more room”, our friend told us.

Dinner was light, the Spanish eat their big meal in theIbercaHamandEggs middle of the day, which is good since they eat the evening meal so late. We did not sit down to eat until 10:00, for Spain this is quite normal. It also makes sense since lunch is typically served at 3:00pm, after which is a “mid-day” siesta. This worked out well for us since it was really hot in Madrid while we were there, with temps in the 90’s (that’s the high 30’s for those of you keeping up in Celsius)

The day after our big tour, we slept late and then headed out to do some more exploring. We stopped in a small café for some morning tapas and a glass of Sangria. The last time we enjoyed Sangria was in Portugal with our friends Leslie and Becky.

Later, after our nap, we headed out to sample a Spanish specialty that Jose talked about during our tour. Locally made vermouth, or Vermut. Presentation was impressive, a chilled martini glass with garnish was delivered to the table. The large ice cubes in the glass were then misted with Gin, a generous serving of red (sweet) vermouth was added and finally topped off with two small dashes of Compari.  The drink was as delicious as it was beautiful, we were very impressed.

On our final night in Madrid, Jose invited us to his house for a very special meal, home made Paella. Jose’s home is in the suburbs not far from the King’s residence. We grabbed an UBER (which we found works quite well in Madrid) to get there. The Daza home was lovely, and we quickly made friends with the family dog & cat. Jose explained that his wife and son had already headed out to their holiday home on the coast for the long weekend. Jose had to work, so he was packed to drive out to meet them the next day.


We snacked on cheese and local ham (Aaaaamazing ham was everywhere in Madrid) while Jose prepared dinner. He explained that “real” Paella was made with meat, not shellfish. His had rabbit, chicken, and a bit of beef. He started with a broth he had cooked in a pressure cooker and them moved the ingredients over to his Paella pan to prepare the rest of the dish. Needless to say, it was delicious!

With a fond farewell to Jose, we headed back to get some sleep before we had to meet the bus the next morning for the English program; the original reason we came to Spain in the first place.


A City In The Clouds

After New York we hopped a Delta flight to Madrid Spain, where we will be doing another language school, more about that later. As we had a few days before the start of the school we organized a house sit across the border in Southern France.

With a rental car organized in Madrid, we drove 8.5 hours northwast to Cordes Su Ciel, France. The drive was a lovely mix of mountains (the Pyrenees), fields and tunnels. Huge fields of sun flowers were everywhere. We also noticed an amazing amount of hay being grown and harvested; but a surprising lack of farm animals to consume it.  If anyone has clues to this mystery, please let us know.

Nico, proprietor
On our first night in Cordes (as the locals call it) we met with the family were we sitting for and then proceeded to beautiful guest house called La Maison au Puits. Despite out late arrival, the owner Nico organized a glass of wine and some amazing local ham and fruits for us to enjoy while we visited until well past midnight. Later in the week Bonnie and I returned to the hotel when Nico and his wifeLa Maison au Puits outdoor Christiane prepared a three-course dinner for us that would impress any gourmet chef.

About an hour from Toulouse, the village of Cordes-su-ciel is a bastide. To say that the village is charming would be an understatement. Around every corner of the hilly cobble stone paved streets was another surprise. We shopped in the local Saturday market. We dined on fresh bread, fois gras and local wine (they specialize in rosé). We lingered over coffee at the café in town square.

CordesWe found we had much in common with Eve and Tom, the couple we sat for. Like us, they sold their home and possessions in California and set off for international adventure. In their case, this meant purchasing and renovating a delightful home set into the hillside of Cordes with an amazing view. Together with their dog and cat (Mocha and Ella), these two really seem to be enjoying their retirement in France.

Mocha  Ella

The week flew by and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye to France and our new friends and head back to Madrid. More adventures await us there!

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