Archive for February, 2009

Stay in the Azure Alps of France

Not so far from Italy is Vence, France. I like Vence and its medieval offshoot St. Paul de Vence. Expensive, but this is where the beautiful people come. If you want some wine, you can duck into Italy to buy it. It’s much cheaper there.

Vence has literary and artistic roots. D. H. Lawrence died in Vence, unfortunately. Chagall did a mosaic on the outside wall of a chapel in Vence. Matisse did some stained glass at Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence. You should visit.

Yes, you should get a little place of your own and discover Vence. Spend a day in St. Paul de Vence. Hold on to your wallet. No, not because of the pickpockets. People make expensive things you probably want in St. Paul. Oh, the temptation of it!

St Jeannet - Vence Vacation Rental

St Jeannet - Vence Vacation Rental

Here’s where I’d stay. It’s called 152 Ch La Fontonne for some reason.
It’s just east of Vence. Doesn’t the picture on the left say “south of France” to you? Don’t you want to put a big bowl of olives on that table and one of those square bottles of water you use to pour over the ice and pastis to turn the whole deal all cloudy-white?

Then you rest. You maybe hear some cicadas in the summer, crying away.

Italy is just a hop, skip and a jump from here. The sea is not so far, either. You’ve always wanted to butter up your body on the Cote d’Azure, haven’t you? Well, now’s the time.

Here is what Provence Beyond says about St. Jeannet: “The village of St. Jeannet sits on a ledge beneath the towering Baou de St. Jeannet, with the Baou de la Gaude just to the right (east), and the Baou des Noirs and Baou des Blancs lined up to the west towards Vence. The village is beautiful, picturesque, authentic, and not overrun with tourists.”

That’s a lot of Baous. Don’t you want to be in the midst of them?

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Dutch Treat: A Rustic Apartment with a Horse

Friesland is a rural area in northern Holland. It has its own language.

Now that we have that out of the way, I want to introduce you to an interesting proposition. First, there’s this apartment I want you to look at. It’s in a (former) stable.

Before you poo-poo the idea of staying in a stable on your vacation, let me remind you that a stable housed one of the most revered women in all of Catholicdom for a bit. She didn’t complain.

Netherlands Vacation Rental

Netherlands Vacation Rental

Ok, so there it is, over to the left. It’s called by the owners: Appartement. Ok, not very imaginative, but take note of the side benefits: On the property: horse stable, arena, deer park and house of the owner. You can ride on 2 Fries horses and/or 2 pony’s of the owner.

Now, I don’t know how deers park. Parallel, I presume, but here’s the thing: The nearby attractions to visit are Dokkum, Leeuwarden, “or a day trip to Ameland.”

Take note of Leeuwarden. Just today it was announced that city hall had lost or somehow misplaced their pornography archive, according to the Associated Press.  They hope to find it.

Now, I figure there are quite a few of red blooded males who would like to help in this quest, most of them young enough to go scrounging around in musty cellars and attics and places where folks might hide such a stash.

So the deal is: rent the place, get on your horse, and help in the efforts to retrieve the porn, just like the lone ranger might have done. Wear a white outfit, a masculine one if you can find it.

For me, it would be enough to relax for a week in a place where the nearby city hall has an archive of smut related to the city. Priceless, even if you split the bill.

Santorini Slick

I like Islands. When I think about Greek islands, I think about renting a little shack just far enough away from the beach that I could have some solitude but close enough so the I could walk down and grab a couple of clams and an octopus and make a seafood stew.

I don’t think you can do that on Santorini.

Yes, Santorini had a thriving Greek (well, ok, Minoan)  population until the whole thing went up in smoke. You see, the volcano that was the island, ancient Thira, just blasted away in an enormous explosion. Somehow the Minoans escaped, or floated away or something, because archaeologists haven’t found their remains.

Today, Santorini is a hot vacation spot for reasonably well-to-do folks. Beach bums aren’t as welcome as they used to be. People gape at the archaeological sites, then head for the beach where they can butter up and worship some sun. They don’t want beach bums dragging octopii from the crystal clear waters. They especially don’t want to see them being pounded on a rock. Don’t worry, it tenderizes them, or so I’ve been told by a Greek with an attitude. He seemed to be having fun. His wife smiled at him strangely.

Santorini Vacation Rental

Santorini Vacation Rental

Anyway, there’s this incredible vacation home on Santorini. It’s exactly the opposite of a beach bum cabin. It’s the kind of place they film movies in when they want you to know that the people in the movie aren’t beach bums. The place is stark white, inside and out. Movie directors can play off this vestige of virginality by making a murder or something equally odious happen in a place like this. Ketchupblood shows up real good.

Sorry, I got carried away. La Ilios & Selene is  actually quite stunning. Stark even. The sea sets off the lack of color. It’s pure Greece. And it’s safe.

Here’s how they describe it:

“This smooth-edged architecturally restored “Canava” – cave house – has a stylish Mediterranean feel and is classified as a traditional Santorini ‘yposkafa’ dwelling. The villa affords two separate living areas and is perfect for a romantic get-away…”

Ah, traditional! Heck, it doesn’t look traditional to me, but I’m a curmudgeon who likes pounding an octupus on a rock.  On second thought, this place does offer a perfect romantic get away, you in a cave and your sweet honey in another part of a cave.  Of course, you could stay together, too, if you’re in that first, blissful stage of your romance and don’t want to unembrace each other. But then, you could do that in a Motel 6, couldn’t you?

Romance is odd, isn’t it? But Santorini is not.

La Stub – A Place in Alsace

Ok, I’ll admit it, La Stub isn’t a very romantic name, in English anyway. But what could be more romantic than staying in  17th century wine grower’s house in a small wine village in Alsace?

La Stub - Alsace Wine Route Vacation Rental

La Stub - Alsace Wine Route Vacation Rental

Lots of people drive through the Alsace Route du Vin, wishing they could quit their awful jobs carrying the large sacks of French Fries into McDonalds or replenishing the boxes of soy milk at Starbucks. But alas, they will merely pass through and return to their dismal lives.

But you, smart traveler, will have rented La Stub for a week or more, and will take your little walk in the morning to gauge the growth on the vines on the hill just out of town, then return for your real coffee at the neighborhood cafe, chirping a happy “bon jour!” to whoever’s behind the bar.

Of course, if you wish you could go zooming off in your Citroen for wine towns you can only hope to pronounce correctly:  Riquewihr, Hunawihr, Eguisheim.  But happy hosts will fill your glass with more wine, good wine, and the letters in those names will roll off your silver tongue like Scrabble tiles in a hurricane.

“Stub”, of course, refers to “win stub” where visitors can enjoy Alsatian dishes accompanied with Alsatian wines. Language is funny sometimes.

Switzerland Naked? Try the Appenzell Ausserrhoden

By now, the observant among you will have noticed that the teeny-weeny Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden has, in response to a bevy of body-loving German trekkers moving through the canton with unbridled nether bits, recently levied fines for naked hiking.

Boo to them. But what you may not know, or be able to pronounce, the adjacent and slightly larger canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden has, to my knowlege, not levied such fines.

Perhaps you are adverse to the human body being allowed unswathed into the stark woodiness of Switzerland. I’ve heard Puritanism is alive and well in some places. But we’re talking Switzerland here. These people are known for their high-quality pocket knives. Sure, I know, if you’re buck nekid there’s no pocket in which to place one, but that’s beside the point I was going to make. See, just about every knife the Swiss make has a corkscrew embedded between its red plastic handle. Ergo, the Swiss must be a fun loving people who enjoy a little wine-induced hedonism from time to time. No?

Haus Aeschlimann - Switzerland Vacation Rental

Haus Aeschlimann - Switzerland Vacation Rental

Well, naked or not, this little part of Switzerland is a veritable Eden. Mountains, lakes, virgin florests and the like provide the “ahhh” factor. Hey, weren’t folks naked in Eden?

So, maybe rent a house in Appenzell Ausserrhoden somewhere. How about renting the cute little place in the picture on the right? It’s called Haus Aeschlimann and it’s located in the village of Walzenhausen, which is also referred to as the “balcony above the Bodensee.” Nice.  It’s close to the town of St. Gallen, which is a great little town to visit (see the Abbey library, the world’s oldest, and notice all the ornate oriel windows).

And it’s on the edge of a vast woods. Go ahead. Shuck them clothes. You’re only on the balcony above the Bodensee after all. Who’s gonna see?


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