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B&B Amateur Hour

Nice view but nobody is home

So far this year we’ve slept in sixty-three different beds. That’s a lot of sleeping around. Naturally, not all of those places were winners even though most were perfectly adequate for our needs and some were even stellar. We don’t really ask for that much. Give us a clean room at a decent price in a good location and we’re pretty much set.

Lately, though, we’ve hit a string of pretty annoying bed-and-breakfasts that have made us wonder whether they’re really the right kind of accommodation for our current style of travel. It wasn’t always that way. We used to prioritize quaint, family run B&B’s over soullessly homogenized hotels. Now we’re not so sure.

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Getting the Shot

Death Valley Photographer Silhouette at Night

We take a lot of photographs. And by a lot, I mean somewhere around 10,000 each year. Of all those photos I’d say that Shannon and I appear in only a couple of dozen (a good portion of which happen to be of Shannon’s backside for some reason).

We’ve just never been huge fans of photographing ourselves standing in front of things. We almost always find the world around us to be far more interesting and beautiful without us blocking the view. So we tend to focus our attention and our cameras away from ourselves.

At the same time, we are present in each and every one of those situations; oftentimes lying in the dirt or scrambling on top of something to get a better angle. That’s not something you normally get to see. So we decided put together a compilation of before and after photos to help tell the story of what goes into the thousands of shots we take each year.

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The Best Camera for Travel, an Update

Lumix ZS40 Sample Image

Shot with my new pocket camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40

Thanks to everyone who commented on our original post What is the Best Camera for Travel. Because of all the great suggestions we received, I ended up buying a different camera than any of the ones I highlighted in that article. Strangely, I also went with something different from anything mentioned in comments.

In thinking through the various trade-offs of all the different camera options I eventually realized that having a small, easy-to-pack camera was among my highest priorities. The best camera, as they say, is the one you have on hand. There really is little value in owning a pro-quality system with an array of huge lenses if it sits at home because it is too heavy to carry. The Sony Nex I previously owned was already straining the limits of my carrying capacity. So I wanted to go even smaller.

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Impressions of Provence

Avignon France

Tucked into southeastern France along the Mediterranean Sea, Provence is every bit as dreamy as paintings and postcard images suggest with sun-dappled vineyards, olive groves, and pastel-hued architecture.

The “problem” with Provence is that there is more to see and do in the region than we could possibly tackle in the week we had allotted. For our first trip to the area, we decided to go classic. We based in Saint-Rémy, a town in western Provence in the shadow of the Apilles mountain range. Along with meandering drives through the countryside, including an impromptu stop at a hilltop village, we whiled away the languid days visiting the well-known cities of Arles, Aix-en-Provence, and Avignon.

Every one of these places deserves at least a couple of days, or maybe even a week or more, all on their own. But there are only so many hours in a day and only so many days in a year, even for perpetual travelers like us. So we ended up seeing them in a series of hit and run day trips. And while we can’t say we did any of these places justice, we saw enough of each to know that we need to return again to finish what we started.

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Home for a Week: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Saint Remy Provence Kitty

A resident greets us in Saint-Rémy, Provence

After forty fast-paced days touring Spain, we arrived in Provence looking forward to a relaxing, week-long stay in an apartment in Saint-Rémy. We rolled into town in a rental car, dutifully turning when the GPS instructed. On the right hand side of the street we quickly spotted the building where we would be staying. Then, on the left, we looked for the plentiful parking spaces we were told were there—except that the five spots were entirely full, as they would be every day while we were there.

We had no choice but to keep going forward along the one-way street, directly into the town’s tiny, twisting medieval section. With memories of harrowing drives in Spanish hill towns still front of mind, Brian deftly dodged pedestrians and navigated tight turns. I was clutching the passenger side door, hoping to make it back to a main street without mishap, which we eventually did. After that nerve-racking introduction to Saint-Rémy, we promptly parked the car and used it only for day trips around the area. 

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