Our review of the East London Hotel, Brick Lane Market and more.Read More
See this insider’s guide to our favorite Barolo wine picks from Piedmont, Italy. We love this region so much, we just keep coming back!Read More
Chelsea’s recipe for the Piedmont specialty, Bagna Cauda.Read More
See our 4 day itinerary in Barolo, our favorite wine region in Italy!Read More
Read our favorite picks for restaurants and wine in the Barolo region.Read More
A Reflection on the Burning of Notre Dame Cathedral
Fire. It is so devastating. I remember learning in high school about the vast wealth of knowledge that was lost when the Great Library of Alexandria burned over 2000 years ago. I recall the first time I traveled to Europe. We started in London and that was the first time I heard about the 1666 fire that completely changed the direction of that city while killing the rats that carried the fleas that caused the black plague. We just left Lisbon where there was an earthquake, and subsequent tsunami and devastating fire in 1755 which altered the course of design of buildings constructed after the quake. And recently, we watched in disbelief as the tower on Notre Dame Cathedral fell into the flames.
I never thought that an iconic monument to Christianity such as Notre Dame could be damaged by fire in today’s day and age. I guess I’m naïve to think that, but it survived over 8 centuries – I thought it would always be there, in the same state or better, than the 3 times I had the good fortune to visit. I am so grateful that we entered those doors, heard the organ, climbed the towers with our kids and pondered each gargoyle’s unique face. I am thankful beyond description that I have experienced the cathedral’s grandeur. Now, I trust that I will live to witness the strength of faith in God that it will take to rebuild this glorious church. Thankfully, the damage is not as bad as it might have been. But the future of this church will certainly be altered because of this significant marker in its history.
Why do we travel? Sometimes I do miss having a home, a place to call my own, and a regular routine. I enjoyed working in a rewarding career, attending church, exercising consistently, making dinners and participating in a community. We definitely miss seeing our friends. But we travel to experience the world and all it has to offer. We travel to hopefully make a difference in some way -- to learn, to grow, to participate in the global community and meet the people on this remarkable planet. We want to understand and appreciate the different cultures of the world. We are doing this now because, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. If not now, when?
When you plant a tree, there is no guarantee you will live long enough to enjoy the shade it will provide one day. Most of the people who helped to build Notre Dame did not ever get to see its completion. In fact, the work of that church and others is not complete. It is a work in progress. We as people are also a work in progress. What we do know is that time marches on and we must make the most of it. We must plant seeds that will grow in ourselves and in others. We will see some of them sprout and flourish, but others may take more time than we have available. That doesn’t mean they won’t grow. But we must plant those seeds and water them well, and give them nourishment.
If you visited Notre Dame before the fire, you know how lucky you are. If you didn’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t still see this monument to faith – if you go to Paris, you will simply see a different phase of the life of this church than the one that came before it. I have seen churches all over Europe that were repaired after WWI and WWII. The fact that they were built in the first place is remarkable. The sadness over their destruction is palpable; but to be a witness to their reconstruction is inspiring. I imagine the rebuilding of Notre Dame will be similar. We may not live to see it return to its physical glory, but we can witness it move forward in its service to God. That seems like a good Easter message for us all.
So, I encourage you to travel now if you are able. It does cost money, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. It is an investment in life experience and one that profoundly transforms perspectives in a way that we can share. The more I travel, the more I find that the people of the world are really more alike than we are different. We love our families, we care for our communities, we have faith in our spiritual center and we want to make a positive difference. Travel is a privilege. We move within the world in order to share our experiences with others – those who travel and those who stay at home.
Are you planning a trip somewhere in Europe? We can help with that! Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Europe. We also still have spots available on our small group trip to Piedmont in October 2019! Would you like to join us? You can always reach Betsy at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!
Hiking in the Tuscan hills is a dream for many. But the reality is not quite so easy. Read on to find two of our favorite hikes in the Val d’Orcia that give you a real sense of the beauty of Tuscany.Read More
Easy and delicious! Our take on a Tuscan classic soup, ribollita. The recipe is easy to follow and the results will transport you to Italy.Read More
Our recommended 3 day itinerary in Tuscany for wine lovers. Travel through the beautiful Val d’Orcia, discover Brunello and Vino Nobile wines, pecorino cheese, and pici pasta in Montalcino, Pienza, Monticchiello, and Montepulciano.Read More
The Val' d’Orcia is home to two of Italy’s most important wines - Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Find out what these incredible wines have in common and makes this area so special.Read More
Three days in Wales! Here is our whirlwind tour of this beautiful, rustic region of the UK. Read on to find out about some great hikes, restaurants, and hotels.Read More
We are offering our popular Small Group Tour of Tuscany again this May, 2019. We hope you can join us for a week of amazing Italian food, wine and culture.Read More
Our second installment on our recent food and wine tour of Sicily. Join us as we discover the best pistachio gelato, pastries, arancini, and cannoli.Read More
The Euro Travel Coach team recently traveled to Sicily to research a future tour. We climbed Etna, walked beaches and sampled amazing food and wine.Read More
The second year of traveling across Europe. From the winery in Dogliani in Piedmont, to Sicily, Calabria, England and Ireland, see whatErot Travel Coach is up to.Read More
Travel clothes, gear, and gadgets. Find out what we added to our suitcases this year to make traveling easier and more comfortable.Read More
Returning to a place you’ve visited before has surprising rewards. In this post we talk about our return to the Barolo region in Piedmont and why you should consider visiting a favorite spot more than once.Read More
Volunteering to be bumped from a flight is a good way to earn travel vouchers for future travel. But sometimes there are consequences. Read more here.Read More
Euro Travel Coach specializes in travel coaching, custom itineraries, and small group trips. We just celebrated our two year anniversary. See what we’ve learned so far.Read More
We lived in Stephenville, TX for over twenty years before beginning our extended travels. Every year we looked forward to the time when our local paper, The Empire-Tribune, published the "Best of Erath". This special edition highlighted local businesses that the readers voted on as being the top in the area. Well, the ETC Team has voted and here’s our list for our trip this past year. Many of these we have written about before and where that is the case there are links directly to those posts. Hope you enjoy revisiting the highlights of our year of travel!
One of the most unique aspects of our trip was participating in work exchange programs. In addition to it being an affordable way to stay in an area for longer periods ,it also gave us an opportunity to live more like locals. Here are some of our favorites.
Best WWOOF Experience
Le Roche – Dogliani, Italy
Sue was a wonderful host. We even got to lead a wine tasting with some of her friends on this little island on the Thames. Read more.
We worked with a great group of 20-somethings and learned to make a proper G&T at the Gin Bar. Read more.
Best House Sits
We just couldn’t get over how nice the people in this area were. Read more.
Villa Antea – Florence, Italy
Big spacious rooms, outstanding breakfasts, super nice hosts, a lovely quiet neighborhood and free parking at a great rate. That’s what you get when you stay a kilometer or so from all the tourist areas of Florence. The walk in was about 20 minutes through real neighborhoods. We loved it.
La Marmu – Vernetti, Italy
This is the spot we stayed at tucked into the Maira Valley in the Italian Alps. Beautiful views, wonderful rooms, nice people and a great meal awaited us after a long day of hiking!
Hisa Franko – Kobarid, Slovenia
After seeing this restaurant on an episode of Chef’s Table, we found our way to the remote village of Kobarid, Slovenia at the end of October. The food exceeded our expectations but the wine pairing was transformative. All Slovenian, natural wines that were delicious and perfectly paired with our food. The region is also gorgeous and we had two wonderful days of hiking in addition to the amazing food. Read more.
Noma Pop Up Under the Bridge – Copenhagen, Denmark
A stunning meal created by the team who’s restaurant has been voted Best in the World multiple times. Read more.
La Ciau del Tornavento – Treiso, Italy
You should expect a great meal at a restaurant with a Michelin Star and this gem in the heart of Italy’s Piemonte region did not disappoint. The company made it even more memorable. We were joined by Chelsea and Sam and our friends from the lake, Lisa and Pierre. Each couple ordered both of the tasting menu options and we shared 5 bottles of wine. At the end of the meal we were treated to a tour of their cellar featuring aver 7000 bottles! We have included La Ciau del Tornavento in our plans for our upcoming Small Group Trip to Piedmont during truffle season in the fall of 2019. Be watching for the itinerary and let us know if you’d like to join us!
We are blessed with many good friends. Two of them surprised us by inviting us on a shake-down cruise on the Viking Sun in the Adriatic. With stops in Italy, Kotor, Montenegro, Croatia, and Slovenia, we had a wonderful week sailing in perfect weather. We don't think of ourselves as cruise people, but we were very impressed with everything about Viking Ocean Cruises. We can’t say enough about our experience and highly recommend them if you are looking for a cruise company. Read more.
Before we picked grapes in Italy, we spent some time with Chelsea and Sam in Copenhagen. From there we took a weekend trip to the Danish island of Bornholm. It was absolutely spectacular. We stayed in a little cabin and tried to see as much of the island as we could in two days. Smoked fish, gorgeous seaside views, quaint villages, and beautiful countryside drives made it an unexpected pleasure.
We got to see Chelsea this past year more than any time since she graduated from high school. We felt fortunate to be invited with her and Sam and a few of their friends to a weekend in Riga, Latvia. We never knew we wanted to go to Latvia! We enjoyed a symphony concert, great food, interesting architecture, challenging history and too much beer! Read more.
Favorite Winery Visits
Rivetto – Serralunga, Italy
This is one of our favorite Barolo producers in Piedmont. Enrico Rivetto is a third generation grower who is absolutely passionate about taking his winery in a new, biodynamic path. This will be a stop on our upcoming Piedmont Small Group Tour.
Silvio Nardi – Montalcino, Italy
Bruno Porro – Dogliani, Italy
Our host at the winery where we picked grapes last year, and will be again this year, brought us to meet his friend and fellow producer Fabrizio Porro. We made no appointment. We just showed up and spent the next few hours talking and tasting wine as members of his family bustled about.
Best Wine Shops
La Vite Turchese – Barolo, Italy
One of our happy places! Stefano and Elisabetta take such good care of you. We are very happy to include this shop on our Piedmont Small Group Tour.
D. Byrne & Co. – Clitheroe, England
An amazing shop in a small town in a corner of England that we had never considered visiting. This shop was one of many things that made our house sit most enjoyable.
Hedonism Wines – London, England
As the name suggests, it is over the top. If you are into wine, add this to your What to Do In London list.
Borough Market – London, England
Leave it to Chelsea to find a great foodie spot. You can read more about her London picks here.
Dogliani Market – Dogliani, Italy
During our time on the winery we were sent here to buy food for some of our meals. It is the perfect example of a small town, Italian market. We watched the locals to see how it was done and used our limited Italiano to get what we needed.
Great Market Hall – Budapest, Hungary
This is just one of the reasons to visit this amazing city. Read more.
Szimpla Ruin Pub – Budapest, Hungary
A unique, crazy, mix of bar, performance art, and local entrepreneurship. Another of our Top Ten Things to do in Budapest.
Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs – Riga, Latvia
We spent too much time and drank too many beers here. We danced to live folk music and tried to keep up with the 20-somethings. We loved every second of it.
The Swan with Two Necks – Pendleton, England
The quintessential English Pub frequented by the nicest people on the planet.
Academy of St. Martin in the Field – Bristol, England
What a treat to hear one of our favorite groups which is now led by the incredible Joshua Bell. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and more.
Budapest Festival Orchestra – Budapest, Hungary
MUPA in an amazing performance space in this vibrant city. Another Top Ten.
Filharmonia Koszalinska – Koszalin, Poland
One of the many regional orchestras in Poland this group put on an ambitious concert, but the highlight for me was the Chopin Nocturne the piano soloist played as an encore. Read more about our time in Poland here.
Favorite Theater Experiences
Hamilton – London, England
Bought tickets the day of the show for less than $75. Much easier than NYC. Amazing! And it was so cool to watch it with a British audience….it gives the show a whole new perspective.
Glengarry Glen Ross – London, England
With Christian Slater. Again, found cheap seats the day of the show and again amazing performance.
Long Day's Journey Into Night – London, England
With Jeremy Irons. See comments above.
The York Realist – London, England
With our friend Lesley Nichol (Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey), who we met on the Viking Cruise. Wonderful of course.
This was a wonderful day during our time at the winery. Seeing old friends and making new ones. Read more.
Marmora, Maira Valley
Our last weekend on the winery our host arranged for us to hike in the Italian Alps. Stunning! Read more.
Lake District, England
We were knocked out by the beauty of the Lake District in England. And best of all we could start right from our hosts’ home. Read more.
Tate Modern – London, England
We love that the museums in London are free. The British Museum, National Gallery, Victoria and Albert, etc., all free! This year we added the Tate Modern to our list and we were not disappointed.
Berggruen Museum – Berlin, Germany
Berlin is a city full of amazing museums and memorials. We hit the Pergamon, German History, Alte and several others. Thanks to the Museum Pass we could skip the ticket lines and just pop in for a short bit if that’s all time we had. We could also visit some lesser known spots and that’s how we found this gem. Not crowded, relaxing, and filled with Picasso, Matisse, Klee, and more.
Solidarity Museum – Gdansk, Poland
During our time in Berlin, Poland, and Budapest we spent well over a month in locations that had been behind the iron curtain. It was humbling to discover how little we knew about events that happened mostly in our life time. This museum in the beautiful town of Gdansk on the Baltic Sea was extrordinary.
Highlight of the Whole Trip
At the end of our nine months in Europe we had a couple days of relaxation in Verona, Italy. Upon reflecting on our travels we came up with many highlights, mostly mentioned above. But we both agreed that the most fun we had was sharing our love for travel with our small group tours in Tuscany. What a great two weeks we had with two awesome groups of people.
Are you planning a trip somewhere in Europe? We can help with that! Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Italy, France, Ireland, England and all of Europe. We also still have spots available on our small group trip to Tuscany and our small group trip to Piedmont! We'd love for you to join us! You can always reach Betsy at email@example.com. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!