Inside this Issue: Bargain Living in Spain’s Romantic South; The Slow Pace of Life on an English Narrowboat; The Intag Valley: Ecuador’s Hidden Eden; The Best-Value Beach Lots in the World; Explore Croatia’s Affordable Dalmatian Coast and much more…
Europe may be the second-smallest continent by land mass, but it’s extravagantly diverse in geography, climate, language, and culture. From the flamenco-dancing south of Spain to Rembrandt’s tulip-filled homeland, to the rugged cliffs of Italy’s Mediterranean coast, it’s equally rich with opportunity…for gracious travel…comfortable living…even for good-value investing.
Not the safest religious tradition we’ve ever heard of, but the Fire Wheel Festival in Sinca Noua, located near the city of Brasov, Romania, does sound like quite a sight. Celebrating the start of Orthodox Lent on March 3, the village asks its young men to roll hay wheels to the top of a local hill before each wheel is set alight. What follows is a true feast with music, drinking, and dancing.
Its parks are filled with roses, myrtle and the sound of nightingales. Water still splashes and trickles over marble fountains in the courtyards of its kings… “A pearl among emeralds” was how Moorish poets once described the royal palace of the Alhambra. It was from here that Spain’s last Muslim kingdom, Granada, was ruled and it’s just one of the gems you’ll find in Andalusia, Spain’s huge southern province.
Poland’s eastern border has long been wild and a little untamed. This is a region of magnificent primeval forests untrammelled by tourists and dotted with castles and medieval towns. A disputed land for centuries, today it is home to poles, Belorussians and Ukrainians, resulting in a rich mix of architectural styles and traditions. You’ll find Orthodox churches and colorful wooden houses throughout, and—in the town of Bialystok—palace Branicki, once known as the polish Versailles for its 18th-century, French-style design and landscaped gardens.
In the U.S., there’s a simple reason why our medical bills are high: Going to the doctor costs more. Perceptive, I know. But it’s the truth. If we dump the unions, the politics, Medicare, government and any other hot button from our discussion, we’re left with the simple yet disturbing fact that Americans pay more for services than patients elsewhere around the world—even in similar “first world” economies. Lots more.
Spring is here, and in the markets plump porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, and long, elegant brown pears are giving way to figs and basil and zucchini flowers. In the streets, young women glide along in five-inch heels, leather jackets, and American jeans, chic scarves draped carelessly at their necks. Along the river Arno, newlyweds stroll hand-in-hand in the warm sunshine.
We arrived at our rented villa just in time to see the sun slipping down toward the liquid-blue horizon. Perched on the terrace, we sipped rosé wine bought in a winery down the road and watched as nature splashed a rosy hue across the western sky. Fishermen returning with their catch left a silvery wake in the waning light. One hour in Cilento and we were smitten.
When Melissa Adams stepped out of the airport and into Amsterdam for the first time, it felt like coming home. “The minute my feet hit Damrak—the street leading from Central Station to Dam Square—I said ‘I’m moving here.’ Everything—from the city’s physical beauty to its tolerant vibe and rich history— entranced me.” But while Melissa’s experience of Amsterdam was love at first sight, she also wanted to be practical and make sure her passion had some staying power.
Twice a year, Lucy Fayette flies from her home in Switzerland to Hungary to visit family— for a round-trip fare of just €50 (about $65). That’s right, Lucy’s airfare, which takes her across 800 miles in less than two hours, costs the same amount as a nice dinner or a fancy bottle of wine…and all because of Europe’s budget airlines.