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French Lessons Included

La Maréchalerie

A side of French lessons came with the morning meal at La Maréchalerie, a bed-and-breakfast in the Loire Valley.

We don’t often talk about lodging places here on EverywhereOnce because so often they’re just not that memorable. We generally choose basic places to sleep and shower and to use as a base to explore an area. But staying at La Maréchalerie was almost as much of an experience as touring the surrounding Loire Valley.

Our stay began with a warm welcome from our host, Danny, who immediately offered us coffee, tea or a glass of locally produced wine. One glass of wine turned into several as Danny engaged us for over an hour, taking a genuine interest in our travels as well as sharing his near encyclopedic knowledge about the region and its history. Slightly inebriated we eventually headed to our room, clutching a specially-created binder burgeoning with maps and other information for crafting an itinerary in the Loire.

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The Vagabond Tax

"Actual" stoplight camera footage.

“Actual” stoplight camera footage.

Nobody ever said that bucking convention would be easy or necessarily cost free. We always knew that travelers typically pay more for all kinds of things. But when you travel full-time like we do, those extra charges become something akin to a lifestyle tax.

Some of the penalties travelers pay are in-your-face obvious, like the two-tiered pricing systems used in many places around the world. There’s one price for local residents and a different, higher price for visitors. Other penalties are less obvious, like the way it is more expensive to rent a car at an airport than in town or the way hotel rooms are taxed more highly than just about anything else you buy.

Travelers are even sometimes targeted by law enforcement for special treatment like we were in Fort Collins, CO.

Plenty of other penalties aren’t even deliberate. They arise from the fact that our square-peg lifestyle doesn’t always fit neatly into the round hole designed for everyone else. And that’s certainly the case with one particularly annoying trap that caught us most recently. Ironically it’s something that is designed to make life easier. And for everyone else it almost certainly does. But to us it is the most hateful innovation of all time: the automated traffic toll.

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Feeling Homesick, but Not How You Think

It was a little strange seeing an “American” aisle in the international section of the grocery store yesterday. It’s one of those small things that happen from time to time and reminded me that I’m the foreigner here.

We don’t often see ourselves that way, though, even when traveling. We immediately notice other people’s accents but rarely stop and think about how funny or incomprehensible we probably sound to everyone else. I guess we feel so at home in our own skins that it’s hard to appreciate how foreign we may seem to others.

Maybe sometimes that is a good thing because the world’s perceptions of us aren’t always the most flattering. I have to say that I was both a little sad and a lot embarrassed to see Old Glory flying above these shelves.

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Photo of the Day: Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.

The Château-Going Begins

Chateau de la Roche Courbon, France

We couldn’t resist.

We had resolved that our château-going wouldn’t begin until we reached the Loire Valley, where we planned to unleash our energy, enthusiasm, and admission dollars. In that enchanted land of lavish castles, we had old favorites to return to and a lengthy list of new places to seek out.

And yet there we were, heading through the countryside in France’s Poitou-Charentes region a few hours south of the Loire Valley. All it took was a recommendation from an area resident and a glance at a glossy brochure flaunting a large, exquisite-looking castle accented with round, turreted towers and a sprawling formal garden at its feet. We were in the car faster than you can say magnifique.

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