Feedspot Names Southern Girl Gone Global a Top 25 Baby Boomer Travel Blogs and Websites to Follow in 2021

*Updated July 2021 when SGGG moved from the Top 35 to the Top 25 (where we were  January 2021) Baby Boomer Travel Blogs

Thank you, Feedspot, for naming Southern Girl Gone Global on  your Top 25 Baby Boomer Travel Blogs and Websites to Follow in 2021.  

Feedspot is a content reader that simplifies life by combining websites and blogs you follow into one space. They also match brands with 100k influential Bloggers in over 1500 niche categories for marketing.

I’m honored and humbled to be listed with bloggers I admire for their adventurous spirits, humor, and commitment to inspiring and equipping those planning to travel or live abroad.  Just a few mentions from the list…

Are you dreaming of living in Portugal or Scotland? Of visiting there for a month?  Check out the recent posts of Life Part 2 where a retired couple living in Porto, Portugal gives us the costs. I LOVED Porto (and not just because J.K. Rowling juggled teaching, having a child, and writing the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Lello Bookstore, inspiration for Hogwarts.)  Also see their posts on Sicily (where a lot of us were meeting for the Travel Writers Exchange last March until Covid shut it down 🙁 . One day…

Also see stunning shots of Utah and the Free Boomer Walking Tour of Prague, a city I also love, on  My Itchy Travel Feet

Been streaming or rereading the Lord of the Rings trilogy and ready to head to New Zealand?  Albom Adventures has the scoop.

Barbara Weibel of Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel is a lady I’d like to hang out with for awhile. See all she has done since 2007 when she followed her passions and found true joy.

I love the idea of traveling with my brunette sister. Check out how that’s working out for these two on Blonde Brunette Travel sisters. 

And this lady–Suzanne Fluhr–of Boomeresque has entertained, informed, and inspired readers for years. She has built a community of female boomer bloggers and I’m happy to call her my friend.

Reasons for a Road Trip (or Move) to Denver

Disclosure: SouthernGirlGoneGlobal has an affiliate relationship with Amazon. If you make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links in this post, I will receive a small commission which does not affect your cost. 

Been holed up too long? Need a fall road trip?   Want to celebrate the holidays with a  family  experience to remember rather than  gifts no one needs and will soon forget?

Plan a  trip to Denver, the only US city named by Lonely Planet as one of the “Top Ten Cities in the World to Visit in 2020.” Situated between Boulder and Colorado Springs, the area offers a positive, laid back, vibe; natural beauty and outdoor attractions; and a creative and culinary scene. Or if you need an escape from the current climate,  channel Steinbeck and go all Travels with Charley in Search of America because Denver also made  Lonely Planet’s Top 10 List of Cities to Visit with your Dog.

If  the pandemic has moved you to make a bigger move… U.S. News & World Report ranked Denver the #2 best place to live in the country based on affordability, job prospects and quality of life. Read on and when you’re sold and ready to make the move, check out Hello Landing for Denver apartment options and enjoy your new location with their pro advice: 6 Fun Things to Do in Denver for New Residents.  

Prior to 2020, my only experience in Colorado was chaperoning a school trip at Purgatory Resort in Durango. The resort lived up to its name when  my first attempt at skiing was a bust (I may be the only person who has ridden a ski lift down the slope after thinking I’d broken my tailbone when I jumped from the chair). I wrote off Colorado thinking it’s all about skiing—one of those things, like eating with chopsticks, I’m just too uncoordinated to do. Until… one weekend last year when my son, Cole, visited Denver and Colorado Springs and decided he’d make the area his new home.

It was a fit for his IT career and healthy lifestyle. And he loved Denver (as he did Marrakesh, Morocco where I’d lived and he’d visited) for its arid climate; majestic, snow-capped mountain range; and sunny skies about 300 days per year. Bonus are flight schools so he can work on a pilot’s license—another goal. So he flew back to Tennessee on a mission.  By June 2020 he was hired by a large company in Broomfield, “The Silicon Valley of the Rockies,” and found an apartment there. Last July he packed his belongings into a moving truck and set out on a 1400- mile road trip from his home in Knoxville with his car (and me–a stowaway!) in tow. Seriously, I’m so thankful he allowed me to tag along to document the adventure. Doesn’t every mom want to see her adult child’s dream coming true? 

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Broomfield is 10 minutes from Boulder, 30 minutes from Denver, and #3 for raising a family in Colorado with great schools and low crime. Like many who have moved to new cities during Covid, he hasn’t met his coworkers in person since everyone works from home. But he likes that getting a driver’s license in his new state meant automatic voter registration and a mail-in ballot; that his electricity is powered by windmills nearby on clean, open spaces; that there are more vegan options than in Knoxville; that his company has a basketball goal and outdoor grilling area, that he has pro hockey, baseball, football, basketball and soccer teams. 

Reasons to Plan a Trip (Or Move) to Denver

Disclaimer: This list is not as comprehensive as other guides I’ve written on destinations in the US and abroad. Partly because Covid changes everything daily from what is closed, what is open, the whens and wheres.  But mostly my guide is a work in progress because I need to do more research on multiple visits.  🙂

Topping my list of why I love the Denver area so far are all the outdoor areas to explore–  hiking and biking trails, lakes and streams…street art and live music… and a multitude of restaurant and brewery patios. Hand sanitizer is as ubiquitous as masks, allowing everyone to chill for awhile and breathe. 

Boulder

Top of my must-do list on my first trip  was an electric bike tour of Boulder.

I’m a big believer in starting with a guided tour of any city to get the “lay of the land.” I hoped this one would be as fun and informative as the food tour I did in Madrid or the electric bike tour I did through Costa Brava hill towns.  Cole was a good sport to go with me (and the two other ladies my age we met on the tour) –especially on a record-high hot July day. He said later that coasting down hills made him feel like a kid again and I loved feeling that way, too. We learned a lot from our guide about these…

MUST-SEES:

Boulder Creek Path–Watch locals tubing down the stream.

The University of Colorado Boulder–The flagship of the UC system established in 1876.

Historic Hotel Boulderado

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse— A gift from Dushanbe to Boulder, their Sister City, built by more than 40 artisans in several cities of Tajikistan. The hand-carved ceiling and woodwork is stunning.

The Flatirons–Amazing Photo Opp

Chautauqua–I couldn’t wait to see this given my love for the Chautauqua movement that started in the1890s and continues at Monteagle, Tennessee where I began solo travel trips in the 2000s and still love writing retreats in the Assembly today.

Bonus was a stop at The Sink, where  Robert Redford was a janitor in 1955 and famous guests include President Obama and Anthony Bourdain.

 

Note: This July bike tour was my first experience using the  GoPro Hero 8 and Performance Chest Mount. Because some shots were blocked when I also used my camera phone,  I plan to use the Head Mount for moving shots in the future.

And add to the list Pearl Street to hang out in a coffee shop or book store, dance to live music, skate, skateboard, shop, eat, or drink.

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Zeal’s Conscious Kale Salad and a Mojito–Loved Zeal on my first trip which was then located outside Denver. Though that location has closed, you can get their fresh fare in Boulder.

Colorado Springs

Last weekend Cole took me to the the place he liked most on his visit last year to Colorado. In 1859 after the “Pike’s Peak or Bust”  gold rush, men began looking for a site for a town at the mountain’s base. Two Kansas builders of what would become Colorado Springs happened upon red rock formations in the middle of the wilderness surrounded by nothing but trails the American Indians used.  One of them, Melancthon Beach, thought it would be an ideal place for a beer garden one day, while his partner, Rufus Cable, disagreed: 

          “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble, and we will call it the Garden of the Gods.”

Postcards from Garden of the Gods

I hope to explore more off-the-beaten-path areas like the one above near Garden of the Gods –especially the hot springs.

Denver

This is a foodie town and we’re just getting started…

Brunch on the North Side

On the way to Colorado Springs, we stopped north of Denver in Sunnyside, a  neighborhood that has been revived over the last ten years with a strong sense of community. It  reminded me of East Nashville before the Music City boom. I’d read that Bacon had a huge patio and great food, but because the wait was so long, we went to El Jeffe next door and were glad we did.  I didn’t order the  Breakfast Burrito, a Denver delicacy, because the Pescado Tacos and Huevos Con Chorizo Tacos were too tempting.  We couldn’t do the Bottomless Brunch (you can mix and match Blood Marys, Mimosa, and Sangrias), but we did have a sangria before taking off and I’d love to return and try more good stuff on their dinner menu.

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Dinner Downtown

I didn’t realize that many consider Denver the #1 US City for Beer. I was there during Denver Beer Week, so when in Rome…

On the way back from Colorado Springs, we had some great pizza and brews– Pikes Peak Little London and Blue Mesa Tropical– outdoors at 16th Street Mall. 

RiNo Art District and Denver Central Market

Since covering a Street Art Exhibit in Marrakesh, I’ve loved seeing artists’ works in other cities. RiNo is a place to enjoy sunshine, takeout from Central Market, and the skyline.

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Cole’s grandfather/my dad was an outdoorsman who loved Colorado. He would have loved visiting Cole, too.

Next time I want to find the best Rocky Mountain Oysters and Green Chile in Denver–any suggestions?  I want to  buy a University of Colorado sweatshirt and learn to fly fish (know a guide)?   I love a mix of exploring new territory and enjoying family traditions, too–like last weekend when we watched Iron Man and SNL while eating takeout from  Tsing Tao and  Azitra.

Whether you travel or stay home for the holidays, stay safe and celebrate the good times that have happened despite a very difficult year. No matter what 2021 holds… remember…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paradis Plage Perfect for Solo Travel on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast

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Photo by Paradis Plage

The third stop on my November beach hop along the Moroccan Atlantic Coast was Paradis Plage Surf and Spa Resort.  Owners take pride in being the first  hotel in Morocco to combine yoga and surfing—a dynamic duo since yoga  prepares and repairs the body after surfing.  The property invites guests to ride waves, climb camels, or salute the sun as it rises and sets. Here couples, families, friends, and solo travelers enjoy over 100 suites with terraces or balconies opening to pool or sea.  Recreation varies from four area golf courses and an outdoor cinema.  Located 30 minutes from Agadir and 50 minutes from an international airport connecting to European capitals via 3-hour flights, the resort is where westerners love to play.

Started by Kabbage Abbes, one of first investors in Agadir hotels,  who teamed with Francois Payot, head of Rip Curl Europe, the resort is a work of art  run by  Abbes’ daughter, Naima, and her husband, Vincent. Furnishings were created by locals and  the gorgeous green spaces and gardens are by  Spanish landscaper, Sergio Castaneda Beltran.

 

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Photo by Paradis Plage

Excited to learn more about surfing and to practice yoga, I was shown to a gorgeous oceanfront suite. At the Surf House beach bar while sipping my Flag (local beer) and waiting for a Mexican burger (rare in this region), I saw horses and camels waiting patiently on the sand while cats lounged in the sun. Later, everyone returned for the golden orange sunset.  See highlights of my stay below.

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Simo, instructor here and in video above, is from Rabat.  He has taught in Hawaii and on the US East Coast.  He guarantees by the end of the first lesson every student will be up on their boards.

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In partnership with Rip Curl, legendary Australian brand, Tarik Wahbi, surf pro from Tétouan, is ranked one of Morocco’s Top Ten surfers.  Manager of the  surf program, he leads a team of gregarious guys who hook up guests with equipment, instruction and guides to the best waves.

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Photo by Pardis Plage

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Photo by Paradis Plage

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Paradis Plage nurtures total wellness that fits the unique needs of each guest.  Surf and Yoga packages are available for two or five days.    Surf School Packages are available for 5 days—2 sessions per day.

Yoga and Spa packages range from two days (daily yoga course, a sensory hammam, and a massage) to five days (yoga course, two hammams, one body scrub, and two massages).

The resort shares with clients the secrets of Moroccan women’s beauty.  All cosmetics are 100% natural Taroudant Argan oil, essential oils from Marrakech gardens, pebbles from Imi Ouaddar’s beach, facial treatments using Sous Massa prickly pip, Taliouine saffron or roses of Dades Valley.

Traditional Hammams consist of a black soap scrub, Atlas ghassoul wrap, Atlantic Coast seaweed wrap, Imouzzer honey, and spice scrub.  Sensory Hammams fuse fragrances of in orange blossom and eucalyptus to relax and rejuvenate.  Managing massages and other spa services is Marie France Riera.

Important Tip:  Schedule spa services, especially massages, and yoga classes before you arrive or at check in because appointments and classes fill fast.

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Photo by Paradis Plage
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Photo by Paradis Plage

Yoga group classes, the highlight of my getaway, are offered three times daily:

8-9:15 Sunrise Yoga (for all levels)—breathing, flexibility, strength, muscle toning, body opening

11-12:15 Easy Yoga (all levels but especially great for beginners) Asanas postures and poses; precision of body alignment, rhythm, balance

5:30-7 Sunset  Yoga (all levels)–  detoxification, relaxing based on Vinyasa flow systems

Also available are classes in Yin Yoga Therapy (gentle practice using blocks, pillows, restorative and relaxing to relieve tension in muscles and joints, relax spine and pelvis), Aerial Yoga (hammock used for suspension), Prenatal, Power Flow (ultimate workout for athletes), and 108 Greetings.  Custom sessions can be arranged by Karim Fadali.

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Photo by Paradis Plage

Classes are typically held in the Yoga Shala which consists of two beach studios connected by a lotus pond and facing the sea.  Groups may rent the space for private retreats as they did during my stay so guests met in an open air space (see below).  Sara, our excellent German instructor, lives in Cairo.  Like the best teachers, she is creative, kind, soulful, and a learner herself.  She was excited about taking her first surf lesson after our yoga class.  My classmates were European as well– some there with partners and others solo. We “sent love to the flies”–pests in the  Taghazout region at times– but packing insect repellent might also be a good idea.  The small community made it possible to meet other guests in classes and connect with them at the poolside buffets or bars later.

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Photo by Paradis Plage

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I left feeling refreshed and restored by the beauty of nature and yoga.  I loved seeing smiles on surfers’ faces when they did what we all must do to navigate and enjoy life– conquer fear, be flexible and strong, and stand tall as we ride the waves.

Thanks to Paradis Plage for a restful retreat.  As always, the opinions are my own.

 

 

Sofitel Agadir Offers Solo Travelers Beauty and Bliss

 

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Recently  I stayed at 5-star Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa,  just named continental winner of  “Luxury Wedding Destination in Africa” by the 2015 Luxury Hotel Awards.  My time there was perfection.  Though I endorse travel for all, I especially encourage single women waiting for a prince to live happily-after-after to find your bliss now at places that will make your dreams come true.  At the premier hotel on beautiful Agadir Bay you don’t have to be on a honeymoon to be pampered like a new bride.  In fact, any lady here will be given princess treatment.

When I moved to Marrakech to write, teach English, and travel,  I began asking students where their families stay when vacationing.  The answer was always the same.

In Paris? Sofitel. London? Sofitel. Rome? Sofitel. Morocco? Sofitel.

Such big brand loyalty (120 hotels on five continents in 40 countries) in the age of hip default to indie companies got my attention.  But then again, I’ve always appreciated timeless, classic quality.

The French company committed to total well-being first opened its doors in Strasbourg in 1964.  Dedicated to superior service infused with the celebration of art de vivre, each hotel provides  cultural experiences from not only France but also each host country in which it is located.   Showcasing  the best artwork, literature, music, fashion, architecture, gardens, fitness, wines and foods, the hotel beckons guests to experience the sweet life layer by delicious layer. Like bees burrowing gently into the rose— velvet petal by velvet petal—drinking nectar that will become honey in the hive, guests enter space after space of palpable beauty in interactions that feed the soul. Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa stimulates every sense—from plush decor to soothing sounds of fountains and sea to a signature scent, Jatamansi, found only in the Himalayas.  Jatamansi, also known as “nard” smells of citrus, ylang ylang and mountains and has so many medicinal powers it is considered sacred in some countries. I left filled, relaxed, energized, healed.

But beyond all these offerings, what makes the Sofitel the Sofitel is the people who work here.   From the moment I walked through the doors everyone–from doorman to gardener to manager — greeted me by name.  I arrived feeling ill–a situation that could have been a nightmare when traveling alone–but I quickly learned I couldn’t have been in better hands.  The staff  offered to get me medicine and kindly brought me treats to feel better–Chamomile tea, sweets and fruit, two dozen roses.  I am forever grateful for their professional, superior service.  Rightfully called, the So Staff is the best in the  business.

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The new Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa  greets guests with a 100 meter long Andalusian pond and 2,000 rose bushes.

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Maison Arabe (Lobby) - Sofitel Agadir Thalassa sea & spa (5)

Photo by Sofitel

I was welcomed at the door of  La Maison Arabe, the reception area in a traditional riad with contemporary black and white design,  and served mint tea and Moroccan cookies while the staff checked me in.

 

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Photo by Sofitel

 

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Designer Didier Rey said of the collaboration of building this modern classic, “We had some great interaction with Moroccan artisans.  Here I find the pleasure of working in simplicity as it was 20 years ago in France.”

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In the gallery on display were thirty works by Younes Fizazi in a collection called “Moroccans Landscapes, Richness and Diversity.” Shots of the Atlas Mountains and  Merzouga  desert allowed me to relive great trips taken last  fall and spring, but having just arrived from the surf town of Taghazout , I especially loved this photograph.

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I was excited to see the pool and beach areas next.  So Gorgeous.

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The spacious suite was sumptuous, and I was especially thrilled with my three favorite elements — the terrace, bed, and bathtub (something I miss most in my Marrakech apartment).  This one offered the best of both worlds–a soak with a view–so first on my agenda was a bubble bath followed by a massage.

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Prestige Suite Photo by Sofitel

 

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View of pool and ocean from outdoor lounge

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Photo by Sofitel

 

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My only complaint was the Sofitel MyBed which abducted me –a custom made mattress, featherbed, down duvet, and sleek, soft sheets.   After my massage, I took a nap and slept for hours. 🙂

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Hind has magic hands. I swear.
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“Evasion et beaute Berbere” (Berber Escape and Beauty) treats the skin to Argan, prickly pear cactus, orange blossom water, rose water and honey.  After treatments one can lounge overlooking Agadir Bay and sip herb or fruit drinks. Photo by Sofitel

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Les Palais du Jardin, the gourmet restaurant where Chef Fatima cooks  Moroccan cuisine fusing traditional and modern flavors. Photo by Sofitel
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At L’Amane Bar fresh fruit smoothies, classic cocktails, and a jazz duo can be enjoyed every night from 7:30 PM.

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Day 2 I rose early feeling great and ready for breakfast on the terrace of L’Atlantique.

 

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IMG_9392After breakfast I went to play in the next door neighbor’s backyard–Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay, recipient of “Luxury Beach Resort in Morocco” by the 2015 Luxury Hotel Awards.  Of its many distinctions, Sofitel Morocco was selected to  host the first Kids’ Villa offering educational programs, pastry classes, belly dance, gardening workshops, swimming, aerobics, and a library for children.  The honor was bestowed because The Little Prince was born in the imagination of  Antoine de Saint Exupery in Morocco.

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Opened in 2004, the Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay Resort was the first hotel brand in Agadir.  A contemporary Kasbah, its colors are warm copper, wood, and orange, the emblem of the Souss Valley symbolic of fire representing Berber hospitality.

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Six duplex villas with infinity pools overlook the ocean.

 

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The So Lounge is the center of nightlife in Agadir and a great place for the Birthday Girl.

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A winter holiday destination that offers sun- by- day and fire- by- night, Sofitel invites reflecting on the past year and dreaming of the one to come.  Photo by Sofitel

Agadir, “Pearl of the South,”  is a three-hour flight from major European cities.  It’s where Europe migrates in winter to enjoy 300 days of sunshine each year and the Sofitel experience– timeless as Coco Chanel, delicious as Crème brûlée, and exotic as only Morocco.

Special thanks to Sofitel and Soukaina Ghallab for an unforgettable experience.  As always, the opinions are my own.

Girona Gem for Solo Travel, Romantic Getaway, or Group Retreat

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View from Balcony of Hotel Santa Marta, Lloret de Mar

When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused. —Rainer Maria Rilke

When drowned by stress, I go to one of my Happy Places which is often the ocean. 

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In my 2015 travels one of my happiest solo travel stays was at Hotel Santa Marta  –a beauty break amidst botanical gardens winding down, down, down to the shore. Sheer. Bliss.

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The near 15-acre (6-hectare) estate is located on its own private bay, Santa Cristina, and was chosen for the opening night party of this year’s European Travel Bloggers Exchange. I had already booked a stay there for a restful retreat after the networking/workshops of the conference ended, but by the time the ship reached sand I was in love with a wonderland lit by sunset.

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Costa Brava

The Spanish Mediterranean coast is as beautiful as beaches in Southern Italy and France.  I was there in spring when, like late fall/winter low season, a single sea view room can be as low as 115 Euro per night. I love boutique hotels for their privacy, but plan ahead because this paradise stays booked, particularly by Europeans who vacation along Costa Brava in high season.

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.— Kate Chopin

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The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea. –Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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I loved swimming in the pool and sea, writing on the balcony,  and sleeping to the sound of waves in the ultimate room with a view.  It’s the perfect solo, group, or romantic retreat in Lloret de Mar.

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I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.-Anna Quindlen

For more on the beauty of Girona and the Costa Brava Coast, see my 5-Part Series (links below) and go here for more information.

Discovering Costa Brava: Spain’s Medieval Coast, Part I

Discovering Costa Brava’s Medes Islands, Part II

Discovering Costa Brava’s Bounty, Part III

Cycling Through Costa Brava’s Medieval Villages, Part IV

Discovering Costa Brava, Part V