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Hello, and welcome to Travel To Little Known Places. My reason for starting this blog is just to share our crazy travel stories and misadventures, many compiled from letters home to family and friends while travelling.    Our choice of places is almost always a bit off-the-beaten-path. So if that tickles your curiosity, sign up for email notifications of new posts below or to the right. No junk mail.    Our style of travel is a little different from most, and after so many people have asked us how we can afford to travel so much, I thought I might … More…

Gingerbread Medieval Lane, Kufstein, Austria

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  About ten years ago, we were driving through the rich rolling hills of Austria, licking lush Gelato ice cream cones, and I swear the hills were so beautiful that they were alive with the Sound of Music…    But this time we were on the train heading through a different part of Austria – the impressive Austrian Alps…   Nestled in the Austrian Alps is a small mountain town called Kufstein…   We stayed at the Hotel Kufsteinerhof at 204E (317C) right in the centre of town…   With a great view of the Kufstein Fortress of 1205… (upper left corner) … More…

Our Favourite Place In Europe

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  What a surprise! This country’s lush green countryside was as beautiful as Southern France!   It was very clean and tidy, with beautiful highways and modern conveniences everywhere. Very warm helpful people too, with a great sense of humour.   This country is relaxing, easy, friendly, and has fewer tourists than France, with the same gorgeous scenery.   Where are we? Croatia!   Our destination that day, after getting lost and ending up in the wrong country… http://travellittleknownplaces.com/oops-wrong-country/,  was Plitvice, Croatia, home of the exquisite layered waterfalls.   It was pouring rain…    The mist hung over the forested hills…    But when the … More…

Oops – We’re In The Wrong Country!

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  Trieste, Italy, was a very elegant city, combining Italian, German, Latin, Austrian, Hungarian and Slavic cultures, but it was time to move on to Slovenia and Croatia.   We could not find an automatic car to rent in downtown Trieste and found automatic transmission vehicles were only available at the airport. We paid an astonishing $120 for a taxi from Trieste to Trieste Airport, which is 50 km away from Trieste, in Montflanquin, and then we just barely found a vehicle at a reasonable rate.   As if it wasn’t bad enough paying $120 to the airport, we had to pay … More…

Trieste: Full of Surprises

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  The trip from Venice to Trieste by train follows the curved coast of Italy and has some spectacular views of the towns dotting the hilly green coast and the Adriatic Sea.   We met the sweetest couple on the train. A Chinese couple that helped us with our luggage, offered the most delicious Chinese nougat candies, and shared rushing to the windows to get that perfect photography shot. They were very concerned about our comfort and very kind people. How silly that we didn’t get their contact information. (You know who you are, so perhaps if you read this you … More…

The Little Known Islands Of The Venetian Lagoon

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  Everyone knows Venice, but who knew that there were over 100 other islands all around Venice?   These little-known islands of the Venetian Lagoon are fabulously interesting, and kind of kept a secret by the locals.   Some of the islands are uninhabited, some have only a few dozen people.   Sant’ Erasmo Island is known for its Orto wine and garden vegetables, Torcello is known for its peaceful greenery, San Michele is the cemetery island, Lido is known for its villas and vacation homes, Pellestrina has beaches, nature reserves and the local fishermen live in colourful cottages, Chioggia is a … More…

Venice: The Grand Seduction

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  The approach to Venice by train is seductive in itself…    Just seeing a city floating on water is astonishing. How did they do that? Why did they do that?   Apparently it wasn’t intentional. It happened sometime around the fall of the Roman Empire when the mainland was invaded and the residents escaped to the protected lagoon of Venice.    Venice is a maze of tiny cobbled streets and narrow alleys, ribbon-like canals, singing gondoliers, graceful little arched bridges, and thousands of masquarade-like art shops.    There is nothing more memorable than the golden sound of the gondolier’s song lilting through the … More…

Pay To Pee

  God Forbid if you have to go to the bathroom in Italy train stations.   First of all, they are scarce and hard to find. There is usually only one bathroom, and these train stations are huge! Train stations are the size of malls, with many shops and restaurants, a ticket office, and 10-20 train tracks and platforms.   The only bathroom is usually 3/4 way down the length of the station where the dozen or so train platforms are. You never know which side of tracks the bathroom is on.   Finding the bathroom is difficult enough when … More…

Kicked Off The Train in Milan

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  Managing the trains in Europe is not so easy as one might expect. Nice to Venice through Milan was $120C, changing trains three times with only 10-12 minutes each time to change trains.   Now when you have to find a new train, on a new platform, usually requiring you to drag all your suitcases up and down steep flights of stairs, look at the boards to find the number and platform of your new train (sometimes only posted minutes before departure), then walk half a kilometer or so to the new platform, confirm the new train number, and find … More…

A Little Gem On The Cote D’Azur

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  The Cote d’Azur is beautiful, but touristy and we were not so interested in these things, so when we discovered a little-known gem along the Cote D’Azur, we were delighted to spend a little time there.  While it is still a bit touristy, it was small enough to have just a few families on the beach, enjoying the sunny day on the Mediterranean. This is Bandol, just past Cassis, France. Shhhh… don’t tell anyone.   Really a lovely relaxing place, quieter than many of the towns on the Cote d’Azur…   Dreamhost Rebate

Cote D’Azur, The French Riviera and Provence

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  So what is the difference between the Cote d’Azur, the French Riviera and Provence? It was confusing, but eventually we sorted it out. The Cote d’Azur in English is The French Riviera. Provence is the short form of the entire region, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. There are still all kinds of regions, districts, departments and sub-divisions, all of which seem to overlap.   At any rate, the Cote d’Azur is that area between Cassis and the Italian border (see map below), literally translated as ‘the blue coast’ of the Mediterranean Sea.   The history of the Cote d’Azur goes back forever, and there is extensive … More…

A People Study in Aix (or Classic French Style)

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  Aix is an elegant city with extremely well-dressed people, cobblestone streets, book stores, parks, gardens, and it has the beautiful Fountain la Rotunde at the end of the Cours Mirabeau, often compared to the Champs-Elysees street in Paris. There is a cultural air in Aix, and a hint of snobbishness.   So we sat at a restaurant at the Fountain la Rotunde, sipped cool drinks, and people-watched. Here’s what we saw:     I love the way French women dress. It is always a casual yet polished look. The most obvious difference was that they often wore long scarves wrapped loosely around the … More…

French Villages, French Art, Forests & Farms

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  Provence is full of quaint French villages and towns, and gorgeous landscapes. If you’re wandering around Southern France, do just that – wander.   Wander… meander…. stray… stroll… sit on a bench…. stop for lunch… have a coffee… get lost… this is the best part of travelling in France.   Allow enough time to spend half a day in a town or village that you find especially charming, and don’t be in a rush to get to the next town. This was our biggest mistake, and we know better. Our excuse was that we had a house sit in France … More…

Wild White Horses & Black Bulls

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  From Carcassonne, we continued to drive to the coast of Southern France, stopping in Aigues-Mortes, another Bastille town with a large rampart around the old town, then on to Park Camargue, a half-hour south of Arles where semi-wild black bulls and white horses roam freely…   There are 2500 “Gardians” that live in traditional windowless huts with bull horns over the door that keep a watch over the horses and bulls, and farm the land… (hut on far right)   The gardians are considered to be very noble protectors of the natural reserve, and traditionally wear black hats, moleskin pants and carry … More…

La Citee Medievale de Carcassonne

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The drive to Carcassonne was beautiful…   We loved the little towns perched on hilltops…     Then, as you come around a corner of the highway, you might think you are seeing a mirage, an illusion, but there in the distance on a hill, is an astonishingly huge citadel!   This is the fairy tale walled city of Carcassonne…     This citadel is a real FORTRESS… huge, tough, impenetrable…   Complete with moat…   Inside was a bit touristy, but some very interesting shops…   An imposing, striking, and dramatic fortress….   Carcassonne is a small city of 50,000 … More…

House Sitting: It’s The Little Things

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  House sitting sounds easy enough – who can’t look after 3 dogs and 4 chickens on a gorgeous country property?   The problem lies in the constant tension created when you are not sure of things. Why is the dog biting himself? Why is that chicken not moving? What if that had just caught on fire? What if one of the dogs gets run over? Where is this? Where is that? Driving up and down trying to find the recycle bins, or looking for a can opener for an hour. Breaking something, however small, even a glass… What if it … More…

Superb Food In Southern France?

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  One day, from our House Sit, we went out to a 4 star Michelin Chef restaurant that had raving reviews on Trip Adviser, and was also highly recommended by a neighbor.   The host/owner offered impeccable service and the menu looked absolutely scrumptious:   We liked the soup a lot – a thick mushroom soup, in a tiny bowl.   I was truly excited about this meal…   The asparagus/scallop appetizer was what I looked forward to the most because I love scallops. We could not see or taste a scallop, and the dish was a cold mouse/gel aspic, with … More…

La Dune Du Pilat

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  We decided to take a day trip out to the Cote D’Argent on the West coast of France, to a place I had read few people know about – Arcachon Bay, known for it’s sand dunes, and huge waves.   The Bordeaux area we drove through was full of huge wineries, with broad expanses of grape fields and winery mansions in the distance. Later we entered a thick forest that went right to the water’s edge.   It was an easy drive once we got on the main highway with a speed limit 130 Km per hour, but it … More…

House Sit: Cleaning The Chicken Coop

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Today we cleaned out the chicken coop at our house sit in Clairac, France. Yup! Easy Peasy.  Only problem was that fat Old Momma Chicken would not move. She’s nesting again! So we had to work around “Ms. Precious”.   The other 3 chickens had already been let out in the early morning…   Pitchfork, rake, and wheelbarrow in hand we cleaned out the straw (covered in chicken crap) into the wheelbarrow, and tossed in some fresh straw, spreading it nicely around.   T is raking; I’m holding the wheelbarrow.   For city folk, I think we did a pretty … More…

Our Favourite Bastille Town in S. France

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  Our third visit to a Bastille town was to Sarlat-la-Caneda, a Bastille village dating back to the 9th Century, North of Toulouse, in the Dordogne region.   With Romanesque and Renaissance architectural buildings looming high overhead, it is a maze of narrow lanes, picturesque alleys and shady squares… The streets were so narrow we had to be careful not to scrape the rear-view mirrors of the car on the sides of the buildings….   The region is famous for Foie Gras, Truffles and Chocolate.    We wanted to try Foie Gras, but when we saw the prices of even a … More…

Bastille Towns of Southern France

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We’ve had no Internet access for the past week, not to mention that we’ve both had a cold/flu for nearly a week as well, so I’m a bit behind in our updates from Europe, but I’ll be posting more often now.   Before she left, our House-Sit Hostess drove us to a neighboring town to pick up an automatic transmission car. It is almost impossible to get an automatic transmission vehicle in Europe. You must beg and plead, and still they make no promises until you get there. With roundabouts every few kilometers in France, and plenty of hills, slowing … More…