“Home Sweet Anywhere”

unnamedIn 2011, Lynne and Tim Martin sold their central California home, divested themselves of most of their possessions and embarked on their dream retirement. They began selecting areas according to the seasons and living there as the locals do for a few months at a time.

At first family and friends were shocked but now their grandchildren find (us) infinitely more interesting than when (we) lived down the street.” And this summer, friends from several countries and family are coming to stay in Paris while the couple is there.

Admitting that though the details involved in this transformation were copious, Lynne and Tim are so happy with their decision that she wrote an article about it for The Wall Street Journal. The piece generated such a response from readers and publishers alike that a book was born, Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw The World

Asked about the innovative path which they chose, Lynne responded that many retirees today are active, fit, and hungry for new experiences. We have retired from making a living every day, but certainly not from LIVING every day.”  One of my late husband’s dreams was to sell our home, store our most treasured belongings, board the horses and cats, buy a big boat and take the dogs with us on a yearlong sailing adventure. Walking my little dog now by the houseboats near me, I often think of Marc and his dream. This couple has achieved theirs and perhaps will inspire many more young retirees to go out and enjoy the world … together.


Scandinavian Christmas Markets in London






This week is Christmas Fairs week in London. Nordic ex-pats look forward to these cordial get togethers with delicacies such as squeaky cheese and rye pastries with egg, cinnamon buns and Glogg mulled wine plus lots of hand knit gifts and Christmas decorations.

See dates and venues here:


Enchanting Iceland


ATT00008Upon my recent return from Iceland, I found this article in “The New York Times Travel Section.” 

“THE sky above Reykjavik was as dark as black ice, save for a handful of diamond stars. As a cutting wind whipped off the frigid sea and blew down the narrow streets lined with brightly painted storefronts, shivering pedestrians tightened their scarves and scurried into cozy bars and restaurants to find warmth.” Though it was only 4:30 PM, writes Liz Alderman, the Nordic light had already appeared and Reykjavik’s sophisticated appeal captured her.

She and a friend had come to admire Iceland’s natural beauty: “thundering geysers, powerful waterfalls and the therapeutic waters of the Blue Lagoon, a vast thermal lake half an hour south of Reykjavik with a turquoise hue so impossibly bright that it looks Photoshopped. We wanted to spot the glowing green ribbons of the aurora borealis, which were reported to be especially luminescent this year because of sunspots casting a wide spectral aura over the North Pole. But it wasn’t just Iceland’s natural splendors that lured us: we also wanted to get a taste of the rollicking midnight club scene that Reykjavik has been known for since Bjork put it on the map.” But they were immediately captivated by the bars and restaurants full of Icelanders conversing well into the night.

Icelanders are friendly and open, quick to assist with directions, and equally so to discuss their nation’s troubled economic history and recent rally. One of my friends mentioned that the country is now an offshore banking haven. Prices are high in the trendy boutiques as well as in the craft shops. In the 1990’s free market reforms led to an economic upswing until 2006 when inflation and banking deficits, followed by the global financial recession in 2008 devastated their gains. Today the country’s economy is slowly rising; tourism, aluminum smelting, software production and fishing are major sources of income.

The architecture dates back only to the 18th century when wooden structures replaced mud houses. We saw one of the mud huts on our trip to the Blue Lagoon. Handsome structures abound now in and around Reykjavik.

Our guide told us that Icelandic was the base for all Scandinavian languages but, upon researching this myself, I found that it is the westernmost of the Indo-European languages of the West Nordic branch, also including Faroese, Norn, and Norwegian. Though difficult to pronounce, many words could be understood phonetically.

I tremendously enjoyed this country of dramatic contrasts and look forward to returning to admire the midnight sun. “Eventually, someone will whisper that the island’s snowcapped mountains are protected by trolls and elves, mystical creatures that, it turns out, many Icelanders still firmly believe exist today. One loquacious guide on a tour outside the city told us of a fairway on the outskirts of Reykjavik that was diverted around a pair of large boulders believed to be the homestead of a troll who did not want his habitat disturbed by modernity.”


Photos by Zvi Binor.


Romance in Reykjavik

22REYKJAVIK-slide-A754-articleLargeIngrid K. Williams shares exhilarating news in The New York Times about Iceland’s recent upsurge. The article describes Reykjavik as being “where this year the capital’s impressive new concert hall won the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award, the European Union’s top prize for contemporary architecture. In other parts of town, new restaurants are embracing fresh local fare, and the bacchanalian night life is thumping with a crop of new bars and clubs.” 

Mapping the city with 36 hours of fun, Williams recommends taking “the elevator to the top of the austere Hallgrimskirkja, an imposing pale gray church whose distinctive stepped-slope facade frames a tower (admission, 700 kronur, or about $6 at 118 kronur to the dollar) from which a bird’s-eye view of the city’s colorful rooftops and compact downtown awaits. Then return to sea level to marvel at the city’s newest architectural landmark: the Harpa concert hall, unveiled in May 2011, is a dazzling geometric structure that sits like a jewel on the waterfront.” 

Next would be Tonar for live performances by musicians from Iceland’s experimental music scene on Fridays, followed by a stroll to Bio Paradis, an independent film house. Then taste Icelandic tapas at Forrettabarinn near the harbor and craft beers at the Microbar, a pub in the City Center Hotel.

Start your Saturday by meandering along the waterfront walk into residential Seltjarnarnes area and toward the lighthouse on Grotta Island, then dip your feet into a geothermal footpath which is “Kvika,” a sculpture by Olof Nordal. You will be ready for Mokka-Kaffi, a coffee shop specializing in homemade waffles with jam and fresh cream (850 kronur) before heading over to the Kiosk, a co-op featuring the creations of eight young designers. In a dizzying tour, Williams takes you on to venues for lobster mini burgers, dill aquavit and Birkir snaps where you may revel all night.

Wake up to white hot dogs with fried onions, raw onions, ketchup, rémoulade, sweet Icelandic mustard (380 kronur). Then take the ferry from Skarfabakki pier to the uninhabited island of Videya for a leisurely walk along meadows, beaches and past American artist Richard Serra’s installation of basalt columns.

22-hours-food-articleInlineSource: http://travel.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/travel/36-hours-in-reykjavik.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&emc=eta1

Romance European Style

21WALK13-articleLargeWhat could be more romantic than wandering through a beautiful city or the countryside in Europe? Last Sunday’s New York Times Travel section’s lead article recommended 9 areas to explore on foot. From Berlin’s Landwehrkanal to Istanbul‘s Golden Horn to Paris’s Promenade, the choices are dizzying. Pick one and take someone special for a memorable trip.


Try SELJALANDSFOSS, Iceland For A Romantic Getaway

waterfall_545x306Photography by Getty Images

Escape to a miraculous vista. “See the world through a wall of water. Located about 75 miles east of Reykjavik, Seljalandfoss Waterfall is not only a thundering beauty to behold – it’s also touted as the only waterfall in Iceland that you can actually stand behind without getting soaked. Walk the damp, rocky footpath through lush greenery and there you are — the world turns a blurry white, and the only thing your can hear is water pounding down on water. Now that’s a change of perspective.”