Travel Opportunities for Teachers


As a public school teacher with a lot of bills to pay – including some hefty student loans – it’s safe to say that I’m hardly rolling in dough. People often ask how I’m able to travel as a single woman on a teacher’s salary, and I have to admit that their tones are colored with a little bit of judgment. The simple answer is that I prioritize travel and that money I save (beyond having a solid emergency fund) is dedicated toward new experiences and not necessarily new “things.” That being said, there’s no denying that traveling can be an expensive endeavor, but there are some ways that teachers specifically can lighten the financial load and still see the world.

Lead a Tour: If you’re feeling brave, why not check out one of the many organizations dedicated toward student travel and sign up to lead a tour abroad for yourself and your students? There are so many amazing options – EF Tours, ACIS, Passports, just to name a few – that cater exclusively toward getting students and teachers into the best possible classroom: the one with no walls and life-changing real-world experiences! I led a tour last summer and it was the highlight of my professional career. All of these student travel companies offer incentives to teachers, specifically that for every X amount of students sign up (typically 5-6) then the teacher and his/her chaperones travel for free. Group leaders can even accrue reward points for each new tour they lead that can be applied toward future solo travel.

Apply for a Grant or Scholarship: If you don’t mind combining work and pleasure, you might consider applying for a teacher travel grant or scholarship. Many organizations offer these – NEA, Fund for Teachers, Fulbright, Erasmus, just to name a few – and all it takes is a quick Google search to find the one that’s right for you. These grants will often cover the tuition for any classes you wish to take as well as provide assistance (or pay for completely) costs associated with airline travel, train tickets, and housing. You may have to design an educational “plan of action” or attend a few classes, but it’s still an amazing way to see the world and be an immersed in another culture without breaking the bank.

Teach Abroad: If you’re fortunate enough to work in a district that allows you to take a leave of absence to pursue teaching opportunities abroad – DO IT! You’ll be paid to live and work in the country of your choosing and will be free to travel as you wish during school breaks and weekends. Some sponsors such as Fulbright may even provide a travel stipend to award recipients, greatly reducing your own financial commitment.

If you do your research, you’ll find that traveling on a teacher’s salary is definitely a feasible experience! All it takes is a little time and research to find the right resources. The world truly is your oyster and I firmly believe that international travel and exposure to other cultures makes us wiser and more mindful educators in the process.

7 Things to Do in Angers, France

Paris is lovely, it truly is. I adore Paris and try to visit as often as possible; I usually make it to France every other year. But France is so much more than just Paris and unfortunately, many tourists tend to overlook the so-called “provincial” areas, opting to stay in the city instead or maybe taking a trip down to the Riviera to soak in the sun and the sea. Well, I can tell you there’s a lot of awesome stuff happening in between Paris and the Riviera so the next time you’re in France, try to take a trip outside of the city and experience some of what makes this country so wonderful!

I spent a semester living in Angers and I have to say – I would move back in a heartbeat. It’s the perfect mix of city and provincial. The location in the heart of the lush Loire Valley is to die for. It’s close to Paris (90 minutes by train) yet far enough away to have its own identity and personality. It’s quaint yet lively, historic yet modern, and so very French.

So let’s explore Angers, shall we?

1. Le Château d’Angers


Angers is most easily identified by the enormous château fort that towers over the river Maine. It was originally built in the 9th century but underwent further construction during the 1200s. It was a residency, an armory and a prison, but today is a major tourist site in the city of Angers. In addition to being an amazing work of architecture, the chateau also houses the Tapestries of the Apocalypse, that date from the 14th century. There is a nominal entrance fee, but it’s worth every centime!

2. Le Musée des Beaux-Arts

Angers is also home to a lovely fine arts museum in the heart of their downtown area. They have works from the 14th-21st centuries and a special exhibit that focuses on the history of Angers. After you visit the Museum, you can enjoy a nice stroll downtown and grab a bite to eat at one of the numerous cafés/pâtisseries or take in some shopping!

3. La Cathédrale de Saint-Maurice


Simply known as just la Cathédrale to Angevins, the cathedral is only a few steps away from the Chateau and is one of the first examples of Anjou-style Gothic architecture. It was built in the 12th century and is still standing strong today. I had the privilege of singing with the Cathédrale’s choir and even was able to sing a Sunday mass in this gorgeous church. It’s definitely a must-see!

4. La Loire à Vélo

For those of you who are a little more adventurous, Angers is one of the stops on the Loire à Vélo bike tours! They have several different itineraries, including one that stops at some of the area’s vineyards. The Loire Valley is certainly well-renowned for its wines, so that’s one you definitely wouldn’t want to miss!

5. Saturday markets at the Jardin du Mail


One of my favorite, favorite things to do when I’m in France is to hit up the local weekend markets. There is really nothing better than the hustle and bustle of the open-air farmer’s markets – in France, it’s definitely a social experience. So get out there, banter and sample, then grab some fruits, cheese, and saucisson and head over to the Jardin des Plantes for an afternoon picnic. You won’t regret it, I promise.

6. Le Carré Cointreau


Of COURSE, no visit to Angers would be complete without a visit to the Cointreau distillery! It’s located just outside of Angers proper in Saint-Barthelemy-d’Anjou but is easily accessible by city bus. You have to be sure to make a reservation, but when you get to the Carré, you are treated to a comprehensive tour of the facility and the history of Cointreau. Be advised: the tour is in French. It’s really well done though, so even if your language skills aren’t quite up to snuff, I think it is definitely still worth the trip. The best part, of course, is the tasting at the end. The bartender first provides everyone with a sample of plain Cointreau, and then mixes up their current signatures cocktail, the Cointreau Fizz. They also provided several garnishes so we could customize our cocktail to our liking – I chose the strawberry/mint combination and it was delicious. You can also order additional beverages after the tasting, should you so desire.

7. Eat a crêpe


Angers is just close enough to the region of Brittany to benefit from mostly all of its culinary offerings. This includes crêpes – the much thinner, flatter, and tastier relative of the American pancake that usually comes stuffed with a variety of sweet treats like Nutella and your choice of fruit, caramel, or my favorite – butter, sugar, and a dash of lemon juice. Some places in France (Paris in particular) offer savory crêpes, which is usually just a normal crêpe stuffed with ham and cheese but to you, dear reader, I say non. The true savory crêpe, the one that all others wish they were, is the galette de sarrasin – a crêpe, yes, but made from buckwheat flour. It is thinner, crispier, and saltier than the regular crêpe and is traditionally served with ham, cheese, and topped with a fried egg.

There are so many more things that Angers has to offer, but these 7 are my absolute favorite. Next time you’re in France, take a day or two to get out of Paris – maybe you’ll wind up in Angers!



You Probably Shouldn’t Study Abroad

Yes, you read that right. You really should NOT spend that semester in France, dear reader.

I mean, after all, a semester (or even a year!) away from home is a long time! Think about all the things you’d be missing – you know, those Friday night parties at your best friend’s apartment that you and your group of friends go to every week and, well, do the same things you always do together? You definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on those just to gallivant about Europe or Asia, would you?

And speaking of friends, think of how much you’re going to have to put yourself out there to meet new ones while you’re abroad. School-sponsored weekend excursions, weekly conversation hours at the bar, classes every day with strangers? Strangers who also probably won’t know anyone else and may be just as homesick and nervous as you are? Is that a can of worms you even want to open?

Not to mention that those new friends will probably come from totally different cultures and all walks of life. They may even challenge everything you thought you knew about a particular cultural group, or even your own culture and perspective – could you imagine?

And forget about the language issue – what if French is the only language you have to communicate with all these new people? An entire semester or year of only French, with minimal (or even no) English at all. What’s even the point?

Don’t even get me started on the food.

And when it’s all said and done, think of the heartache you’ll experience when you have to leave this brand new home you created for yourself, the family you chose, to return to a place that feels almost as foreign to you as your destination did six months ago. How could you possibly withstand those pangs of nostalgia when you stumble across a photo from that night on the banks of La Maine, that longing deep in your gut when you remember how it felt to wander the cobbled streets and drink wine on the terrace at night and that last bise goodbye before you got on the plane, not sure if you’d ever see this place or these people again?

No, no. You should probably never study abroad.

Five Years Since France


Five years ago today, I stepped on a plane and my life changed forever. I had just gone through a major transition in my life and wasn’t sure what would be waiting for me when the plane landed in Paris. I was excited, terrified, sad, nervous – everything, as I faced the prospect of spending five months living and studying in a foreign country, away from my friends and my family and my familiar.

It wasn’t easy at first. Landing at the CDG airport was a shock – we (I was with two other girls from my same university) were greeted by a clearly homeless and mentally ill man with no pants or underwear on who was lighting magazine pages on fire inside the airport. The first time I ever spoke French to a real, live French person was to buy train tickets (I planned out everything I was going to say, word-for-word, before I got in line). The bathrooms were filthy and cost money to use. It was freezing cold in the train station, and the only area with heat was a closed-in waiting area that smelled so strongly of urine I could practically taste it. The jetlag caught up with me once I sat in my seat on the train, and though I was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open, I was terrified of falling asleep and missing my stop.


And then we arrived in Angers, met our host families and went to our new homes where it really started to sink in – this is it. I won’t see my home or my family again until June. I cried the first night as I Skyped with my mom.

But slowly, Angers started to feel comfortable. My French exploded, and I felt more confident in my second language that my first, wanting to avoid betraying myself as an outsider. I made friends with my host mom’s daughter, fell in love with a little café and their amazing lattés, and even reconnected with some friends that I had originally met during my time in New York, who I thought I would probably never see again after they announced they were moving to Paris (life is so funny sometimes). I got to know people from all around the world. And then when June rolled around, I didn’t want to leave.

I’ve been back to France many, many times since then. I even revisited Angers in 2013 and had lunch with my host mom in that big, old house. It felt like slipping back into a favorite old sweater. Five years – it seems like so long ago but just yesterday at the same time. Even so, I can’t help thinking that I’m not quite done with Angers yet.


2016 Travel

I was pretty lucky to do some extensive travel in Italy and France during summer 2015 so I am looking to keep it more local this year and see what sort of trouble I can get into closer to home. That being said, I do still have some international travel plans to look forward to!

1. Mexico


Generally speaking, I really enjoy living in Michigan. I do like having four seasons but the winters are usually long, hard, and super cold. By the time March rolls around it’s STILL snowing and freezing most of the time, I start to get a little antsy. Luckily my district offers us a week-long spring break in early April and this year I am super excited to be spending it in…Mexico!

I’ve never been to Mexico before (or anywhere in Central and South America) so I am SUPER pumped to add a new destination and culture to my list – not to mention the margaritas😉. One of the things I’ve tried to do in the last year as I’ve entered into my late twenties is to be more adventurous, so I’m looking forward to trying some new things in Mexico, like stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, snorkeling (my first attempt was a disaster) and possibly taking a day trip to Chichen Itza. Can’t wait!

2. Alberta, Canada

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

For living a literal stone’s throw away from the Canadian border, I have seen shockingly little of Canada. It’s embarrassing, really! Two visits to Niagara Falls and a high school ski trip to Blue Mountain sum up my experience with the country which is really disappointing! I would love to make it up to Quebec one day, and perhaps even all the way over to Vancouver, but this summer I’ll have the opportunity to see a little bit of Alberta! A college friend is getting married in Edmonton at the end of July, so I’ll be using that as an excuse to see what else Alberta has to offer. I’ve been obsessed with watching Young Adventuress’ instagram feed as she’s been posting some beautiful photos from the province. Right now our plan is to spend some time in Banff National Park and perhaps Calgary, after the wedding.

I’m happy to have the opportunity to put my passport to work again AND go on some brand new adventures! Where will you be going this year?

Best Craft Beer Bars in Metro Detroit

Happy Friday!

Like many of you, travel is far from my only passion in life. It’s certainly one of my biggest ones but my interests actually do extend beyond my (sometimes insatiable) need to travel. For example, as a French teacher I feel strongly about foreign language education and hope learn several more languages myself throughout my life (side note: I’ve finally found a local school that offers evening Polish language classes for adults! Huzzah!). I love coffee, obviously – and Starbucks doesn’t count. I love my crazy, flawed, wonderful Detroit city.

And I’m nuts about craft beer.

It’s kind of funny that I consider myself such a beer enthusiast; after all, when I started college I could hardly choke down a can of Bud Light – a stout or a porter? Forget about it! Now, though, a good beer list is a sure-fire bet to get and keep my business. And luckily, my state was named the fourth best state in the US for craft beer lovers. Founder’s, Bell’s, Short’s, Perrin, Atwater, Dragonmead – you can’t go wrong with any of them!

So, where in the metro Detroit area can you sample the best Michigan brews? Here is a list of my favorite places to imbibe! Please note: These are places that feature a wide variety of rotating local taps, NOT necessarily places that brew their own beer.


5. Hopcat – 4265 Woodward Ave, Detroit

HopCat has its roots in Michigan – it’s first location was opened in Grand Rapids (craft beer mecca) in 2008. The Detroit location is relatively new, but no less excellent for craft beer lovers and foodies alike. There are at least50 beers on tap at any given time, many of which are local brews, and they have a respectable food menu as well. The crack fries are what people rave about the most often and they are good, but my favorite menu item is the meat head pizza rolls – pepperoni, cheese and tomato sauce wrapped in a wonton. Um, yes please!

4. Rochester Tap Room – 6870 N Rochester Rd, Rochester

Rochester is sort of the northern edge of what most would consider metro Detroit, but it’s a fun, safe suburban location with a nice Downtown area for shopping and eating. The Tap Room has 60 taps of primarily Michigan beer, but also other offerings from around the United States and from countries like Belgium and Germany. The food menu is smaller than HopCat and is comprised of interesting takes on traditional bar fare, with attention paid to creativity and quality as in addition to being a taproom they also consider themselves a gastropub.

3. Ale Mary’s Beer Hall – 316 S Main St, Royal Oak

Ale Mary’s is only just about to celebrate its second birthday but it has already made quite the impression on the Downtown Royal Oak bar scene. The tap list is smaller than either HopCat or the Rochester Tap Room but changes with more frequency; additionally, they also have an extensive collection of bottled beer. Ale Mary’s is one of my go-to options if I have the taste for something that can be harder to find in other bars. They also participate in tap takeovers and regularly host themed brunches and dinners and pair each course with a beer that nicely complements the food. The regular food menu is small but what they lack in variety they make up for in quality.

2. One Eyed Betty’s – 175 W Troy St, Ferndale

One Eyed Betty’s of Ferndale is the real deal, folks. This bar lacks nothing in terms of quality or variety and its only downside is that every knows how awesome it is. Expect to wait at least an hour for dinner on any given night of the week, but also expect that wait to be totally worth it. With 47 beers on tap and over 100 bottles, there is literally something for everyone and the food is absolutely impeccable. Get the poutine to share as an appetizer (I’m drooling right now as I write this) and the Betty Burger for yourself. You will not regret it, I promise.

1. Michigan Beer Growler Company – 31221 Southfield Rd, Beverly Hills

Let me be honest, a visitor to the Detroit area has only one reason to ever set foot in Beverly Hills, and that’s the Michigan Beer Growler Company. It’s inconspicuously located in a strip mall, next to a pet store and a Papa Romano’s, in a neighborhood that boasts no particular tourist attraction. It’s purely a neighborhood joint and my absolute favorite place to just sit and have a beer or to swing in and fill up a growler (their intended purpose). They have no food, though you can bring your own, but feature 32 rotating taps of Michigan beer, cider, and craft soda. My favorite thing is to order a sampler of whatever’s on tap – the sample sizes are generous (4 ounces each) and priced based on the quality of the beer. It’s locally owned and operated by a woman named Janae and her family, which I can’t help but love. A woman operating a very successful craft beer business? Sign me up!



Fun & Games in Detroit

It’s certainly no secret that Detroit gets a massively bad rap, especially from people who have never visited. The reputation is not totally undeserved – you do need to watch your back – but there are a LOT of really awesome things happening in the city, too! In addition to the normal tourist sites such as the Heidelberg Project, the DIA, the Henry Ford museum and the Auto Show (just to name a few) there are many places you can go to just have fun.


Feather Bowling at Cadieux Café (4300 Cadieux Rd, Detroit, MI)

Feather Bowling is a a sort of bowling-bocce ball hybrid originating from Flanders, Belgium and the only place you can play it in the United States is right here in Michigan. It involves rolling a wooden cheese-wheel shaped ball down a dirt lane toward a feather, attempting to get your team’s wheels as close to the feather as possible. Cadieux Café is probably the most well-known feather bowling spot in the state. It’s a family run bar that was once a speakeasy during Prohibition and in addition to their feather bowling lanes they’re well known for their selection of Belgian beers and delicious mussels. Cadieux also regularly features live music, for those moments when you need to take a breather from the bowling.

Food, Drink and Games at Punch Bowl Social (331 Broadway St, Detroit, MI)

Punch Bowl Social combines all of my favorite things: they have good, high quality food. They have craft beer, cocktails and punch (if your whole group is thirsty for the same thing). And best of all, they have games! At PBS you can choose from any of the following “old-school” entertainment options: bowling, ping pong, shuffleboard, darts, marbles and board games, all while enjoying your dinner and a beverage. Though it’s a relatively new establishment in downtown Detroit, I imagine it’ll be around for a long time to come.

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The Fowling Warehouse (3901 Christopher St, Detroit, MI)

I know what you’re thinking – what’s up with this lady and bowling? – but the Fowling Warehouse is seriously SO awesome. It’s equal parts football and bowling; teams as large as 10 people can stand at either end of two large boards (think cornhole, or elevated horseshoes) that hold ten bowling pins in a traditional formation  and toss a foam football in an attempt to knock as many pins over as possible. The kicker is that several groups can play at any given time, and if someone else’s football flies toward your pins and knocks them over, that still counts. There’s a $10 playing fee, but it’s all-you-can-fowl and the Warehouse has several large televisions and a full bar, including a Mystery Beer vending machine. There’s no food, but you can bring your own.

If ever you’re in the city of Detroit, check out one (or all!) of these places for some unique fun and games!

Tips for Traveling During Tourist Season

Rome, Paris, Cinque Terre, London, Dublin – all are beautiful places, no doubt, but if there’s one flaw in any of them it’s that so many people want to see these beautiful cities. All at once. Usually during the summer months. I get it – as a teacher I am basically limited to traveling during the summer as a week in April and 10 days (or sometimes 2 weeks) in December isn’t really enough time for me to justify hopping on a plane to Europe. Particularly at a time when I’m fall-down exhausted and really just want to spend time with my family and vegetate on the couch for a while. And when you have kids (which I don’t), it’s even more difficult to justify pulling them out of school to travel so maximizing summer break is really the best solution.


So how do you manage to have the best experience possible without becoming overwhelmed by throngs of people? While I am by no means an expert, here are a couple of things that have worked well for me as a summertime traveler.

1. AirBnB or Couchsurfing

I love hotels. I really do. Going to professional conferences during the school year fills me with such excitement because it means that for two or three days, I get to sleep in a ginormous, fluffy bed all by myself. That being said, when I travel internationally I almost never stay in a hotel. AirBnB and Couchsurfing have been my go-to sources for travel lodging since I did my study abroad five years ago. Both offer something that you can’t really get when you’re staying in a hotel: real interactions with people who know the city well. And not just the tourist sites, but the off-the-beaten-path gems, too. And the kicker? When it comes to AirBnB (and even the right Couchsurfing host), you generally get more space for far less money. Another perk to staying in someone’s home as opposed to in a hotel is that you can be as close to or as far away from the major tourist attractions as you want. Personally, I tend to choose quieter neighborhoods that are a bit farther away from the main sites so as to have a more authentic experience but the choice is completely up to you!

My experiences with both AirBnB and Couchsurfing have never been anything but totally fabulous and I’ve met some amazing people in both scenarios. So go ahead and skip the hotel!

2. Forget the touristy stuff

“But Megan!” I can hear you wailing right now, “Why would I skip doing that awesome thing that everyone says I should do when I’m in ________?”

Well, you’ve basically answered that question yourself – because everyone  will be doing it and you’ll probably not have a great experience and be mad that you wasted time that could have been spent doing something else.

I’m a French teacher. I’ve been to Paris probably close to 10 times. I studied abroad only an hour and a half away from the City of Lights and I’ve never been to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Not once. The lines are absolutely outrageous, you’re crushed by thousands of people, and frankly, if I’m going to the top of ANY building to get a great view of Paris, I want the Eiffel Tower to actually be in it. Montmartre, la Tour Montparnasse, l’Arc de Triomphe, and the top of Notre Dame offer similar beautiful views, much less of a wait, and you’ll actually get to see the Eiffel Tower as well. Same for the Louvre – forget about the Mona Lisa (she’s tiny, behind glass, and you’ll never get through the insane crowd of people) and go see the other side of the museum instead. Or better yet, forget the Louvre entirely and go to the Musée d’Orsay to see works by artists whose names you actually know: Monet, Renoir, Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, Van Gogh…the list goes on. But if you find you really MUST do something “touristy”, buy your tickets well in advance and skip the line.

3. Book a tour

This seems like the antithesis of what this post is about. Book a tour? But tours are for tourists! I know, I know. But you know the great thing about a tour? The details are taken care of by someone other than you. Imagine you’re staying in Dublin but want to take a day trip to Giant’s Causeway – how are you going to get there? Are you comfortable driving a stick shift from the passenger seat (if you’re an American) and on the “wrong” side of the road? Crossing the border into Northern Ireland, an entirely different country? Where are you going to buy tickets? What if it’s all sold out for the day, or the weather is bad and you can’t go? All of these details are handled by the tour company – you just buy your ticket and show up. Many tour companies also limit the size of each group; so you’re not being herded around like cattle and can experience the best sights with a relatively intimate group. You also get the benefit of the historical and cultural commentary of your guide, as well.

4. Take a nap

Summertime in many European countries can be sweltering. Italy, Spain, and even France (it was 100 degrees when I was in Paris this summer!) can be oppressively hot in the late afternoon. The daytime hours are also almost always the time when the crowds are at their worst. I don’t know about you, but when it’s that hot the last thing I want is to be pressed against someone else’s sweaty body, attempting to see something that I’m never going to get a good view of with that many people around (short girl problems) or waiting in a long line in the hot sun.

When my traveling Partner in Crime and I were in Rome this summer, we made it a habit to take a nap during the hottest part of the day, usually between the hours of about 4 and 6. We got to escape the crowds, get some rest, shower off the grime and gear up for a great evening of sightseeing. The city was totally different in the post-American-dinnertime hours: far less crowded, much cooler temperature-wise, and the evening was really when the locals started to come out as well. We were able to get GREAT views of the Colosseum and Pantheon at night and experienced amazing dinners at local restaurants during the times when most tourists were back at their hotels. There were some evenings when we didn’t eat dinner until about 11 o’clock at night – and the restaurants were still packed with Roman families and young people enjoying their time together.

So there you have it – it’s hardly revolutionary, but these are the things that have helped me survive traveling during the high tourist season and enjoy myself too. What would you add to this list? Feel free to share your best tips in the comments!

The Middle Village: Corniglia

On our trip to Cinque Terre, our “home base” was the middle of the five villages, Corniglia. We actually came by our lodging a bit by accident; originally, we had hoped to stay in Vernazza or Riomaggiore. In fact, we had found an AirBnB that the both of us adored and in the time it took us to come to a consensus, the room had been snapped up! And so it goes with such popular destinations, I suppose.


Well, we couldn’t agree on anyplace else in either Riomaggiore or Vernazza that also happened to be within our price range and so we clicked on the next listing we found which was a room in a B & B in the very heart of Corniglia (not that it’s that big of a town but really, it was the dead center of the village). Once we saw the pictures of the roofdeck, we knew – this was it!

When it came down to it, we could not have been happier with our choice. Our hostess, Lidia, was utterly charming and kind; she provided us with maps, directions, suggestions on where to eat, and checked in on us each day during our stay. It was clean, centrally located, had an amazing view and oh, yeah – was literally just steps away from the best gelato I have ever eaten in my life! I mean, we’re talking about a village that counts about 250 year-round residents, but still. If you’re ever in Corniglia, do yourself the favor of getting a scoop or two at Alberto’s – the basil/lemon combo (made with fresh basil from the garden!) was the stuff of which dreams are made.


Corniglia is distinctively different from the other four villages in the Cinque Terre in a couple of ways. First, it’s the only village that doesn’t touch the water. There are two ways to get into the village:

  1. By hiking in from either Vernazza or Manarola.
  2. Arriving by train and walking up 245 stairs.

To be fair, there is a semi-reliable shuttle that runs from the train station to “downtown” Corniglia, but you do have to buy a ticket to use it and it only runs until about 5:00 PM each day.

Once you get into the town itself, though, it’s markedly different from the others. Quieter. Far fewer tourists. There’s no beach – just a man-made swim spot at the bottom of a steep, rocky staircase. More laid-back restaurants. None of the chintzy souvenir shops that make up the bulk of the businesses in the other villages. Corniglia just seems much more untouched – perhaps it’s the hassle involved in actually getting there, but something about its realness made me love it so much more. While we visited the other villages during the day, we returned each afternoon to Corniglia to enjoy our daily aperitivo and to eat dinner. We also couldn’t bear to miss the sunset from the roof of our B & B! I miss just sitting in the warm evening breeze, listening to the sounds of life down below – the cathedral bells, the rumble of a car rolling past, silverware clinking on plates, laughter. If you find yourself in the Cinque Terre, do yourself a favor and spend at least one night in Corniglia. I promise, you will not regret it!


Charming Cinque

I’ve got a thing for villages.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cities, too – I’ll never pass up an opportunity to go to New York or Paris. But there’s just something about tiny streets, quaint cafés and locals who all seem to know one another. The quiet and solitude. The realness of it all. I love villages!

The first time I saw Cinque Terre was in a photograph at a local art fair. It was Vernazza, I think, at dusk. Its colorful buildings and harbor with little canoes was lit up against a midnight sky and I turned to my Partner in Crime and said, “We have got to go there.”

The view from our rooftop terrace in Corniglia.

At the time I saw the photo I didn’t think I’d have my feet in Cinque within a year but it just so happened that it worked out that way. We knew we were flying into Rome, and had to make the trip up to Lyon, France and Cinque turned out to be an easy stop between the two. We were there for about four days, which was just enough time to see each of the five villages. Each one was just as beautiful as I imagined it; I don’t think that I could ever, ever get sick of staring at the Mediterranean. I’ve never seen a more beautiful blue – it was just impossible for us to capture on camera. Sitting on the rooftop terrace of our AirBnB, with a glass of wine, staring out over the sea and watching the sun set beyond the horizon while the cathedral bells of Corniglia chimed from across town…it’s a memory I will always cherish.