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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sweet serendipity in the eagle’s nest of the côte d’azur

My quietly spontaneous trip to Èze would morph into a fun, frenzied journey to three different cities (one of them a country, if we're being specific). We would be climbing up a hill to a pink mansion, running to catch trains, eating gelato in Monaco, and falling asleep over a late dinner of pizza. I wouldn't get home until after midnight. But of course, I didn't know any of that yet.

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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attention abeilles: hiking the massif de l’esterel

The best thing about waking up in the morning–or returning to my petit chez moi at any time of day–is the view from my balcony: the brilliant bay outlined by mountains. I come from the part of Missouri that's just barely not-Kansas. Deprived of elevation for so long, any hint of it makes me giddy. Mountains comfort …

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