Diverse and varied Europe may well be, but it’s still a relatively small and well-connected continent, which makes exploration easy. You don’t have to spend a fortune doing it, either—there are travel and accommodation options at every price point...
About Glynna Prentice
Recently, when a friend and I were travelling by train in Spain, she got a hefty discount off the ticket price. She’s not Spanish; she’s a tourist, but it turns out that Renfe, Spain’s national train company, offers a senior discount card, called a tarjeta dorada, for train travel to anyone aged 60 and over...
Spain has long been one of the lowest-cost countries in Western Europe, which was just one of the reasons it was my destination of choice when I decided to spend a month overseas. I had the pleasure of living in the sherry-capital of Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain, where $2,000 covered all my living expenses—including rent...
In Porto, a mild climate complements a history-rich heart and a sparkling café scene making this—Portugal’s second city—one of my new favourite destinations. I was there along Portugal’s northern coast this past spring and was wowed by the mellow weather and the city’s beautiful historic centre, rich with grand, domed, granite structures.
It’s evening on the waterfront quay. The lights from the many cafes cast a golden glow into the night. Lights gleam golden, too, across the broad expanse of the bridge spanning the river, whose waters shine black in the darkness.
I’m starting to daydream again about living in Valencia. It’s one of my favourite cities in Spain…and whenever I daydream about living in Spain, Valencia is the first place I dream of.
One of my favourite Spanish cities, a place I’ve been visiting for more than 25 years, is in Spain’s interior. For the past six years I’ve lived there part-time, spending several months every spring or summer. (For Aussies, part-time living in Europe is easy: You can spend 90-day stints on a simple tourist visa.)
When Tom and Laine Berning first decided to give overseas living a try, they knew exactly what they wanted: “Good public transport, a lot of culture, walking neighbourhoods and excellent-quality food.” says Laine. They did their research and checked out several destinations but Europe had always been on their radar. Then, when Tom retired a year ago, their planning turned to action.
First, this is Europe. That means walkable cities (leave the car behind), with culture and history all around you. Want to stay in a restored castle or live in a centuries-old (but renovated) apartment? You can. Like museums? Science, art and history museums are all over, and many have hours when they’re free of charge. (Madrid’s Prado Museum, with its free evening hours, is a personal favourite. And you can admire Bilbao’s new Guggenheim Museum from the outside; the building itself, and its surrounding park, are the big draw in my book.) Like concerts? You’ll find everything from rock and jazz to opera and zarzuela (Spanish operetta). I’ve gotten concert tickets in Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city and a great centre for music, for €15 ($23).
I’ve walked to Sant Jaume along the narrow streets of the ciutat vella, the old city. At practically every corner, it seems, is a plaza, a medieval building, or a row of elegant, neo-classical facades. This is one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved historic centres; it can take days to explore it all. And after you’ve done that, there are still the many modern neighbourhoods to see, with their shops, museums, concert halls, parks and chic apartment buildings.