Friday, November 16, 2018

Hitting the highlights of European cities is a delight off-season

Here in late November, Paris streets are not jam-packed as in the summer.  Here, the boulevard by Notre Dame Cathedral is sparsely occupied with plenty of breathing room. Farther south in
Malaga, Lisbon and other cities in Spain, Portugal and France, weather is a bit warmer.  


Boulevards are less crowded off-season, as this pretty street
in Toulon, France, attests.  Air is crisp, you can set your pace.

Planning an off-season trip
is a great idea and can be
a time and money-saver.
TUNE IN, TURN on to off-season travel.
If you don't mind wearing a sweater and preparing for the occasional chill, you'll find better prices and far fewer tourists to contend with if you travel off season.
Restaurants are less crowded,
and your calamari arrives hot!
The cache and glamour of famous cities is still there, but particularly in southern Europe, you'll still enjoy sun and pleasant temperatures.
SOUTHERN EUROPE in particular has much to offer off-season-- and we're hitting some of our favorite spots off-season this year, including Malaga, Madrid, Rome, Venice and Barcelona.
Now's the time we love southern Europe -- when the crowds are gone and the natives are reclaiming their sunny, leisurely autumn.
In travel-industry jargon, the year is divided into three seasons: peak season (roughly mid-June through August), shoulder season (April through mid-June and September through October), and off-season (November through March).
Cookie and Keller have made
a 10-year tradition of late-
autumn travel in Europe. 
Tuscany off-season can be warm and lovely.
Malaga is famously sunny off-season, too. 
Much of Europe's southern cities have history dating before  1,000 BC when the Romans were exploring and building their famous aqueducts and theaters.  Archeological research reveals evidence of human life in the Neolithic and the Iron age.  So there's plenty to see -- and having the leisure and space that off-season provides is a bonus.
We've also had wonderful trips to Iceland and Scandinavia in autumn -- with only a jacket necessary, not heavy boots and snow gear.
Lisbon is sunny much of the year, here in early
December with a rainbow.
Vineyards and
 meadows bask
in sunshine,
here October

Keller and Cookie have made a decade-long tradition of
traveling to southern Europe in late autumn, here Tarragona.

time touring Cannes, perhaps the loveliest and most pricy city on the French Riviera. But we love southern Spain as much -- Malaga is a delight. Portugal is pretty off season.  It's friendly, less expensive and equally beautiful. Many cities offer hotels for as much as half-less than in high season.
And you'll have better options for air and cruises. We always recommend a half-day city tour to orient yourself, and those are lovely in autumn and early spring, when the bus lines aren't long and the vehicles aren't jam-packed.
No lines for souvenirs and artwork
if you travel off season.
This Roman theatre in southern Spain, near
Barcelona, is open and uncrowded in November. 
The lovely streets and winding alleys are all yours off season.  We visited a 12th Century village on our way to Figueres in Spain, to see the Dali Museum, and had it virtually to ourselves.  We thought the restaurant was closed -- but there was just no one there, so the proprietor greeted us warmly.
YOU'LL STILL find sandy beaches, upmarket boutiques and palatial hotels off season.  You'll also find quiet little B&Bs and flea markets where you can stretch your dollar.
And there's nothing like visiting a Roman amphitheater with only a half-dozen others!
More information: Each city has a tourist bureau. Google the city and "tourism" and you'll get a raft of references and websites.

Dr. Catherine Frenette, left, chief hepatologist at Scripps Green Hospital,
with her "poster boy" patient, Bruce Keller, looking at one of his scans.

UP NEXT: As Thanksgiving approaches, we celebrate 18 months post-transplant
for Bruce William Keller.
  His remarkable recovery from a May 14, 2017,  liver transplant at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., has set
records at this internationally known medical center. The miracle has thrilled Cookie and cheered Keller's many other loved ones all over the world.  Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live
and catch us Fridays for a novel look at travel, the arts, nature, family, fitness, fun.


  1. Fun ideas and colorful writing great photos!

  2. Enjoying Portugal right now. At the Belem with beautiful harbor view, per your earlier recommendation. Obrigado.