Off to France, Italy and Croatia

Le Petit Hôpital near Avignon, France, one of my (delightful) European destinations


Bon voyage — to me!

I’m off to Europe for a month, and to say I’m excited would be a hilarious understatement.

This trip will take me to France for two weeks, Italy for eight days and Croatia for nine days.

This is the longest trip I’ve taken since about 1985 — and here’s how it’ll all play out:

Traveling companion: Christine Cantera of WhyGo France & MissExpatria

Through the magic of Twitter and websites, Christine and I discovered a couple years back that we went to New York University at the same time; despite knowing some of the same people, though, we’d never actually met. When we finally did meet, 20 some-odd years after college, it was on the campus of NYU: it’s where the 2010 Travel Bloggers’ Exchange (TBEX) conference was held. Although we now write to and call each other often, we haven’t seen each other since then. Originally from New Jersey, Christine lived in Rome for several years and now lives in Montpellier, France.

Our itinerary:

Three nights at a Roomorama rental flat on the Champs-Elysses in Paris
We’ll then pick up our Hertz rental car at Paris’ main airport (CDG)
Two nights at the Hotel D’Europe in Provençal town of Avignon
Explore some of the volcanic/mountainous Massif Central
Two nights floating in a Peniche-Oz barge along the Canal du Midi
Two nights at the Salamander, a holiday gite in the Languedoc village of Usclas Du Bosc
Four nights in an eight-bedroom Demeure villa near Avignon 
Two nights at an AirBnB apartment in Nice with Christine’s friends Mary and Jeremy
Half-day on the Cote d’Azur with Kensington Tours, including the perfume museum in Grasse

MAY 12: I’ll leave Nice with Christine, Mary and Jeremy, bid adieu to them in Ventimiglia at the France/Italy border, and then head on to Genoa. My journey will involve two trains and about three hours.

The Villa Spalletti Trivelli in Rome, one my destinations in Italy

ITALY: MAY 12 – 20
Traveling companion: Alyssa Schwartz, freelance travel writer

Alyssa hails from Toronto, and we met on a press trip for Quebec Winter Fair in early 2011. It was clear after only a few days that we’d be friends forever after, and she came to visit me in Los Angeles in May 2011; I’ve missed her ever since and can hardly wait to see her.

Our itinerary:

Meet in Genoa for hugs, laughter and rental-car retrieval
One night in Genoa, at the Best Western City Hotel 
Two nights in Santa Margherita Ligure at the Hotel Metropole
Two nights in Viareggio at the Principe de Piemonte
Three nights in Rome at the Villa Spalletti Trivelli

In Rome, we’ll be joined by my husband Adam, who is being unexpectedly sent to Prague to art direct a photo shoot for a movie poster; he’ll also be attending the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival before he meets up with us.

MAY 20th: Adam and I will bid arrivederci to Alyssa (who will stay on in Rome for three more glorious days) and then fly from Rome (FCO) to Dubrovnik.

The Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik, one of my destinations in Croatia

CROATIA: May 20-29
Traveling companion: My husband, Adam

Our itinerary:

At the Dubrovnik airport (DBV), we’ll pick up our Auto Europe rental car 
Three nights in the luxurious Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik, right on the water
Two nights at the Hotel Bastion in Zadar, the midpoint of the Dalmatian Coast
Two nights at the Plitvice Lakes, an Avatar-esque UNESCO World Heritage site
Two nights at the Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital

MAY 29: Around noon, Adam and I will say goodbye at the Zagreb airport (ZAG); he’ll fly back to Dubrovnik for a night, and I’ll head back to Paris. (I booked with miles long before we figured out where we’d meet, and I couldn’t change my departure.)

The good news? My friend and fellow travel writer from back in L.A., Eric Rosen, will be in Paris that same day and night! He and I will spend that evening at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand, paint the town rouge, and then have breakfast.

MAY 30: My flight leaves Paris at about 11:30am, and Adam will fly home the same morning from Dubrovnik; we’ll meet at LAX within two hours of each other, and head home together.

In the meantime, I’ll be blogging in short bursts throughout my journey, bringing you photos and tips and recommendations for cool places my friends and I discover, as well as sharing moments from the trip on Facebook and Twitter.


Please come follow along on My Great Big European Adventure!




  1. I can’t believe this is really happening.

  2. Wow, what a trip! And I might just be in Croatia around the same time, though only for a short visit. I would love to meet up with you two for an espresso somewhere.

  3. This sounds amazing! Can’t wait to read all about it.

  4. What a super trip! If you are at all flexible in Croatia, I really recommend that you go up the coast toward Dalmatia and Istria. Not as well known as Dubrovnik or Zagreb (to Americans at least), but so, so, so beautiful and well worth the time. The food in this area tends toward Italian with a heavy dose of seafood because most of it was part of the city-state of Venice for hundreds of years. Friendly people just add to the charm. Have a wonderful trip- can’t wait to read all about it and see the pics.

  5. Fabulous! I’m so excited for you. I’ll be following along to see and hear all about your adventures. Especially excited to hear all about Croatia, as I have never been there, but it looks really beautiful! Happy and Safe travels 🙂

  6. Woo-hoo! Sounds like fun, fun, fun!

  7. I am a little jealous right now. I love Croatia! It’s been a while since I’ve been there but I can’t wait to go back. If you’ve never been to Plitvice, you will LOVE it! Trust me – I’ve got the photos to prove it but you can see for yourself 🙂

  8. Claude Henri says:

    As a native frenchman and a private guides in Paris I’m happy that you like my country so much!


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