Jim and I like to have a car when we're traveling through a country, so we
can be spontaneous and loose about our schedule. In this case, we don't have
a set itinerary at all. We have an idea about where we'll be when, but specifics
sometimes change. We're finding our way by feeling it, armed with various guidebooks
and maps, trusting our instincts and vision. We drive into villages without reservations
(so far, every time but one) and follow well-marked signs to the centre ville,
the old town, which is always where we want to spend our time-wandering through
the narrow rues, sampling local restaurants, absorbing the essence of the place.
I like to get the lay of the land before I make a choice of lodging, so we look
over the hotels, walk in, and check the rates and rooms. Innkeepers here almost
always ask if you'd like to see a room. And if they don't, ask them. They expect
In winter, many hotels, restaurants, and shops are closed for the season-or
at least for a time. They're being spruced up for Spring or resting. It does
take some of the vibrancy out of the villages but also means there's no burdensome
traffic or crowds. Jim and I like being in places when no one is there, but the
timing of your trip is something to think about if you're not so inclined.