from newlywed to retiree: on places, and what it means to love them

It's interesting what we block out when we dream of or anticipate a place. We must ignore the great unspooled ribbon of mind-numbing highway. The ugly big-box stores. The cloud cover that renders a day as colorless as a lump of pizza dough. Sometimes I think we reserve those kinds of stringent observations for home: to criticize what we are used to and tired of.

travel notebook: alone in italia, day two

Cinque Terre teems with tourists. Scattered about the rocks like camera-happy penguins, people are: sinking into squats for the photo angle showing their 'best side' crunching on fried things served in cones dripping gelato (and offering bites to their dogs) brandishing walking sticks like weapons, the hallmark of the serious hiker carrying hot cardboard boxes …

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low-key glamour: monaco in an afternoon

Monaco is home of the eponymous Grand Prix, the belle-époque Monte Carlo casino, scores of luxury yachts, and–let's not forget– actual royalty. Despite the evident glamour, I've always found a visit to the second-smallest country in the world surprisingly low-key. It's the natural beauty that catches my eye: the hardy Mediterranean flowers and cacti clinging …

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no shortcuts: on making friends in France

One thing that makes the experience of short-term teaching in France complicated is the simple fact that it's short-term. And the French are not. As an American, I'm accustomed to a sense of easy, immediate friendship. When I look back at my college years, sometimes I ache for the simplicity. How easy it was, the …

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group date on the DL: adventures in digital friendship, pt ii

When making a questionable decision, it is always reassuring to have an innocent friend to drag along with you. After several days of glumly searching On Va Sortir (a French website for platonic meet-ups), I decided it was time to act. Over dinner one evening, I showed the website to my friend Rémi. Like me, he …

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the land of oz: adventures in digital friendship, pt i

On Va Sortir. When I moved to Cannes, the website was recommended to me several times. You're new in town. Just try OVS! This site de rencontre, the title of which means let's go out!, apparently had a lively presence in town. Cannes is flanked by mountains and the sea, so I pictured the city's …

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sixteen-mile walk: marseille in a day

It's always a bit wild for me to confront the glaring misbeliefs I have carried around, innocent and ignorant and unsuspecting. Why did nobody tell me? I wonder. How was I getting along in this world? I'm particularly prone to misunderstandings in the areas of pronunciation and geography. I read like a fiend, which means that …

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