Christmas Eve is like a mixed tape in our family.

Candlelight flickered and cast a warm glow inside the old log house. Dinner was long finished and the remnants tucked away for another day. The children were scrubbed clean, cozy in their pyjamas and eagerly awaiting the arrival of St. Nick. A candle burnt too low, stuttered and went out. “Maman, you have to find another candle.” The mother, prepared for this eventuality, placed a fresh candle to join the flickering lights of the others on the Christmas tree.A pine tree. With needles drying by the second. A. TREE. Adorned with open flames....more

Travel Europe Without Breaking the Bank

I just returned from the most amazing vacation (or "holiday" as they say in Europe) and it was the vacation of a life time. We took three weeks and cruised the Mediterranean - what a great way to travel!  We booked a trip out of Barcelona Spain, spending four days in Barcelona and then on to Toulon, France, Italy (Florence, Pisa, Italy, Rome, Naples) and Greece (Athens and Mykonos) and then Turkey, stopping in both Izmir and Istanbul. We finished this amazing trip with four days in Venice. It was like a dream! ...more
that would be very helpful! my husband and i spent 4 days in venice earlier this year and boy oh ...more

The Greece I Saw, June 2012

 Of course I could just write about postcard Greece: the pebbly beaches, the sky stretching out clear, dotted with clouds at sunset....more

British Food: So Much Potential, So Much Disappointment

I tend to not put much stock in stereotypes about countries.  I would rather show up without any assumptions, and see what is actually going on....more

Belgium for the Senses

Belgium, a land where dairy rules and dessert is afforded a higher status than in other co...more

I'm a right proper naughty geezer, my son!

When thinking of Cockney, think Andy Capp and Eliza Doolittle, with a cocky edge. I've enjoyed studying Cockney rhyming slang and accents to such a degree that my family is getting annoyed with me.Try it, it's addictive!A translation of the most commonly used modern Cockney phrases:...more

The Sandoval's First Cruise

Hubby got a seminar flyer the other week for an invitation to an orthodonic seminar.  Aboard a cruiseliner.  We are going and I can hardly believe it!  The ship is going to take us on a Mediterranean Sea cruise.  We leave from Venice, and stop in Dubrovnik Croatia, Corfu Greece, Santorini Greece, Catania Sicily, Rome Florence and Pisa Italy, and finally ending in Barcelona, Spain.  ...more
Babble on Sister! I'm listening. @KarenLynnnmore

Travel to Paris on a Budget? Oui, bien sur! (Yes, of course)

 Image Credit: Lili RahmatiWhen it comes to international travel, Paris is consistently mentioned as the top desination (or amongst the top) favored amongst global travelers. Paris means different things to different people as each visitor extracts meaning and value from their own unique experiences in this great city.Paris is a source of constant artistic inspiration for me given that I've found my creative passion through the pursuit of black & white fine art film photography.  When I need to recharge and renew given the demands of running my core business, my vacation plans always include a stop in this amazing city. Each visit to Paris reveals something to me artistically which had gone unnoticed the time before. Having spent many days and weeks at a time exploring its splendor on foot hoping to capture those special moments on film, I've established an intimate relationship with the city so much so that I feel increasingly at home during each of my visits.As I have learned first-hand through my own experiences traveling to Paris (and across Europe), despite the strength of the Euro compared with the dollar, it is absolutely possible to enjoy Paris without breaking the bank. One need not stay at Hotel de Crillon nor dine at Le Cinq to experience the magic and charm that Paris has to offer. As long as you do a bit of planning, keep an open attitude and maintain a sense of adventure, you can enjoy every moment of your time in Paris while traveling on a budget. GETTING THERE: Many travelers flock to Europe during the summer as a result of their children's summer break from school. If you don't have these constrants and can be flexible with your travel schedule, try to travel either in the Spring or the Fall. Not only is the weather much better, the cities aren't nearly as crowded, and the airfares are much more reasonable as both of these seasons are considered to be "low season" as far as travel to Paris is concerned. Also, when booking international airfare, do your research via the aggregator sites (Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, others) as well as with the airlines directly. Often you'll find very attractive deals offered exclusively by the airlines long before that flight inventory is released to the aggregator sites so it can pay to be patient and to shop around. Yapta is a great tool to use since it enables you to monitor price fluctuations in your desired itinerary via instant email notifications once prices have fallen to your desired price level. The site also has deals in place with specific airlines which have agreed to refund customers if the price of the flight falls below what they've already paid. You can usually get the best discounts on international travel if you book at least 21 to 60 days in advance - the early bird definitely gets the airline discount worm.STAYING THERE:Hotels and B&B's are an obvious choice but if you're more of a self-sufficient and adventurous traveler seeking to have a more authentic experience in Paris, apartment rental is the way to go. The best deals are to be had with at least a week's stay, which when compared with the nightly rate at the most moderate level hotel, usually come out way ahead. The best web resources are those inside France though they're published exclusively in French so if you aren't able to read, speak, or write French fluenty, this might not be the best option for you. No need to fear as there are numerous English-language options. VRBO is probably the most popular and most reputable of the English-language sites and the best part about using it is that you deal directly with the owner of the vacation home with respect to availability, price, security deposit, amenities, etc. Each Parisian vacation rental property will be managed differently but usually the rate will include WiFi, free international calling, bedding, bath & kitchen supplies as well as a cleaning (at least 1 time during the week but more depending on the specific conract/property). Imagine walking down to the local boulangerie & fromagerie and coming back to your own apartment each morning to enjoy your breakfast or cook in your own kitchen just as a local Parisian would do. You'll never be able to replicate that experience when you stay in a hotel, no matter how luxurious it might be....more
Just go to Paris, not until you have enough Budget.!more

Lyckeby river and The Crown Mill in Sweden

Even though I live in quite a small suburb called Lyckeby in Sweden, there are a lot of things to see around here. Like Lyckeby river and The Crown Mill. The Crown Mill in Lyckeby is actually on the World Heritage list!Full post with photos and video at: Lyckeby river and The Crown Mill in Sweden...more