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Rad Power
December 6, 2019

For many people, it is now possible to use an eBike for nearby errands and ride sharing services for everything else.

This can be a real money saver.

 

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International Living
December 4, 2019


By Jane Dempster-Smith

A smooth crossing. Perfect weather. Glorious blue skies throughout the day, orange-red sunsets at night, and when we woke early, pink sunrises...we were crossing the Atlantic in style.

My husband Duncan and I are advocates of slow travel on land. Back home, the daily grind had us existing, not living.

So when our adult sons left the nest, we took off overseas and never looked back. That was 2013. We are still traveling and live by our daily mantra 'chase time not money'.

We are working through our bucket list and dedicate ourselves to finding the best possible value.

Hence we were, for the first time, experiencing slow travel on the open seas. With repositioning cruises we had discovered yet another cheap way to travel the world and we are hooked. For as little as $42 a day we can travel the world in style, with no jet lag, and we arrive at the other end relaxed and raring to go.

This is our new way of traveling—if there is a repositioning cruise when and where we want to go, we will be on it.

A repositioning cruise is when cruise companies need to reposition their ships and crew for the start of a new season, e.g. Europe to the Caribbean, the Middle East to Canada, and Australia to the U.S. or Asia, and vice versa. Any maintenance that needs to be done is carried out during this time.

We noticed that one bar would close for renovation or a new coat of paint, but others would stay open so there would be little disruption for passengers. It's often a way to change the crew contracts from one region to another.

For less than the cost of an airline ticket we sailed for 15 nights from Spain to Panama, had all meals and alcohol included, visited the gym daily, and enjoyed nightly entertainment.

We traveled with Pullmantur, a Spanish Cruise Company, sailing from Bilbao, Spain to Colon in Panama, stopping off in Lisbon, Portugal, and the Caribbean Islands of St Maarten and Aruba on the way. The ships return via a different route back to Europe.

There tend to be fewer passengers on a repositioning cruise. Our ship, the M.V. Monarch, could carry 2,800 and in total we had 1,800 passengers and crew.

On average, airfares between Spain and Panama or Central America range between $700 to $900, depending on the carrier and the season.

Our total cost (for 15 nights) per person was $623 inclusive of tax, tips, all food, and drinks. Where else could you have transport, meals, alcohol, and entertainment for $42 per night?

To be honest, before setting off, we had low expectations; little or no entertainment, limited meal options and service, and a stormy Atlantic crossing. How wrong we were. Around the main pool you could take part in salsa and Zumba dance classes, competitions, and fitness classes. At night you could enjoy live music in the bars, try your luck in the casino, watch the nightly gala show, or dance away in the disco till the last person is standing, usually around 6 a.m.

Breakfast and lunch were buffets, with so much variety to choose from, including very good vegetarian options. The dinner menu had just been created by a Michelin-starred chef from Spain.

Plus, Pullmantur don't charge a single supplement on repositioning cruises, which makes it an ideal way for solos to travel affordably. We even heard of a couple who booked two cabins, one for their luggage and one for themselves.

Here are our top tips to help you make the most of your repositioning cruise:

  • There's a good reason why the medical centre on ships is located lower down—less movement in bad weather. Our tip is to reserve a cabin on this level at the front of the ship, so you will not be disturbed by late-night revellers.
  • You need to be prepared for delays or missing scheduled ports due to weather. Leave enough of your WiFi package in case you have to change flights or hotels at the last moment.
  • Once you've departed the last port before the major ocean crossing, speak to reception and ask for an upgrade. We were upgraded to the outside cabin on the same level at no extra cost.

 

For information on the “International Living” online course, click HERE 

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International Living
November 12, 2019

By Zelie Pollon


Paris is the city of romance and art, of the Eiffel Tower and the Musée du Louvre. Paris can also be an amazing place of fun and adventure, especially in the summertime. And activities in this great city don't have to break your pocketbook.

I am certainly a fan of exposing yourself to art, and there are few better sites than the Louvre, but if you have limited time and resources—or if you chafe at the thought of waiting for hours in line with a thousand other people under the hot sun—then there are some other options for you this summer in Paris.

There is one Paris summer phenomenon that I love most: Paris Plage. I was told it was a strategy by the French government to keep Parisians from fleeing the city on their long summer breaks and to provide summer activities for the thousands of visitors who descend on the city of lights. They haul in thousands of pounds of sand and transform the banks of the Seine into a beachside, boardwalk fantasy land, complete with plastic buckets and shovels for little kids (free!), misting stations, food stands, beach chairs, and beachside music and activities. It's an amazing feat, and runs roughly mid-July to mid-August.

If you want to treat yourselves to some fabulous art but don't want to face the crowds of the Louvre, consider my absolute favorite museum: The Musee D'Orsay. Built in an old Beaux Arts train station, it has the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world: Monet and Manet, Mary Cassat, Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh… Find it along the Left Bank of the Seine in the 7th arrondissment on Légion d'Honneur.

The Pablo Picasso Museum is also very manageable, with a walkway that takes you through the Spanish artist's different periods. Located in the Marais (3rd arrondissment) the area is always full of color and fun. Bordering the city's LGBT quarter, there are trendy shops and fun people. For food, be sure to go by Chez Marianne for one of the best falafels I've ever tasted.

For more adventurous types, a visit into the depths of the Parisian underground—the Catacombs—is certain to thrill. Holding the bones of nearly six million people, it was built as part of an effort to deal with Paris' overflowing cemeteries. Enter just near the Denfert-Rochereau metro stop.

A trip to the Sacré Coeur Basilica is a must. Overlooking all of Paris, this might be one of the most beautiful structures in the city. The walk up is as wonderful as the view at the top.

Some of my favorite Parisian activities for those budding Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers among us, are the nightly dancing events at the Jardin Tino Rossi on the banks of Port Saint-Bernard in front of the Institut du Monde Arabe. Far from the smoky rooms of Paris nightclubs, these open-air (and free) sessions draw dancers from many genres: tango, salsa, rock…even country and western on the nights I visited. Every night from June through August, dancers gather in the small, semicircular seating areas (designed like amphitheatres) each offering a differently-themed dance style and music. Be forewarned that those who attend are serious dancers, and some knowledge of the art form is expected. No pressure.

Finally, I always tell people that Paris doesn't have to be a place of expensive activities. This city is one of the few where simply walking through the city streets is one of the most enjoyable activities of all. Each arrondisment is slightly different and all provide a feast for the eyes and senses. Whether during the day or at night, the streets of Paris are always lively. A few of my favorite areas include the Carrefour de Buci (carrefour means intersection) in the 6th arrondisment where the streets are filled with outdoor cafés and the nights are always hopping; the plaza in front of Notre Dame Cathedral which fills each evening with daring street performers on roller skates, with juggling balls or fistfuls of fire; and the Centre Pompidou in the Beaubourg area (4th arrondisment) which is similarly entertaining, day or night.

I've noted some of my favorite free activities, but for those who might want to hit every possible museum and monument Paris offers both a museum pass which costs $56 for an adult for two days, $72 for four days. The Paris Pass includes admission to all museums and unlimited travel on public transport. That ranges from $130 for two days and up to $280 for six days.

Editor's note: Zelie knows the tricks and shortcuts to experience romantic Paris without the price tag you might imagine. All sorts of amazing shortcuts exist that can allow you to travel better than you do now but spend way, way less than you assume you have to. And we've gathered them all in our special report How to Retire on Permanent Vacation: Shortcuts for a Jet-Set Retirement on a Modest Budget. This is high-end travel without the high-end price tag. You don't have to be wealthy and well-connected to enjoy life as if you were. You don't need to have a massive nest egg saved up to live a fun, adventure-filled, international retirement. You simply need to know the shortcuts contained in this special report…which you can get your hands on for free. Claim your free copy here and prepare for the retirement of your dreams.

For information on the “International Living” online course, click HERE 

For more International Living content, click HERE

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International Living
November 11, 2019

Enjoying a European Lifestyle in Beautiful Barcelona

By Eric Sweigert

"There's not enough time in the world to tell you all the stories of this city," I told my former pupil as we sipped at café con leche in one of the many hip coffee shops of the Gracia neighborhood in Barcelona.


Last year we shared a classroom together, he as a hardworking upperclassman, and I his dedicated American History teacher. We were now swapping our favorite travel stories in this exhilarating city in the northeast corner of Spain. Drawn toward the heady call of adventure, I left my job teaching history in Napa to continue my studies in Europe, and enjoy life outside the frenzied pace of California.


Spain occupied a place in my mind based more on myth than fact. It was the land of dodging bulls in Pamplona, reclining in the shadows of 2,000-year-old Roman ruins, and enjoying the smooth rhythms of a flamenco master. Barcelona hugs the Mediterranean coast and is the capital of the region of Catalonia.

The city center is clustered around the old quarter, where remnants of the original Roman town still peek through the cozy apartment buildings and around narrow alley corners. My apartment lies about two miles outside the city center in the hilly district of El Carmel. From my balcony I am able to observe the colorful parrots that compete with the pigeons' air control.


With the exception of a few key expenses, Barcelona prices are comparable to those of many American cities. A nice dinner can be had for between $12 and $38 per person depending on where you are in the city, and a cup of coffee or espresso should run under $1.20. However, Starbucks aficionados beware, you will find that a grande carmel cocoa cluster Frappuccino is about as easy to spot as Bigfoot, with locals opting instead for the modestly sized café con leche or café cortado.

Compared to the housing insanity of California, I was pleasantly surprised by costs of between $630 and $1,250 per month to rent a one-bedroom apartment. The major factor being distance to the city center, with closer properties being more expensive.
There are nuanced differences in Barcelona that I never encountered during domestic travel within the U.S. In Barcelona, a premium is placed on showing respect, and it took me a few times to understand the public-transit expectation that you invite the ire of onlookers if you forget to offer your seat to the grandmother standing. Barcelona also has an astonishing number of city-parks. You only need to walk a few blocks before encountering a space devoted to elderly men enjoying cigars while children chase around them, shouting jubilantly in Catalan.

For information on the “International Living” online course, click HERE 

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International Living
November 9, 2019

By Sean Keenan

Clean, friendly cities where gentlemen still tip their hats and service comes with an emphatic, genuine smile. You'll find an Old World charm to life in the country that topped the climate category of International Living's 2019 Annual Global Retirement Index that expats from North America invariably comment on. It is, they often say, a little like the best parts of the 1950s.

That's not to suggest that the country is backward or undeveloped. The cities display a rich cultural heritage alongside efficient, modern infrastructure that would shame many locations elsewhere in the so-called "developed" world. The information age hasn't passed this country by, but nevertheless, there is something attractively old-fashioned about it that we've lost, for the worse, farther north.

Then, of course, there's the excellent climate. It's blessed with hot sun and cloudless skies year-round. But the true beauty of this country's climate is how varied it is.

From snow-capped volcanoes to dense Amazon jungle…sun-drenched Pacific beaches to remote islands, you'll be able to find an environment that suits you. With altitude, the temperature drops and, thanks to the varied topography, finding the right climate for you is as simple as choosing how high to go.

For example, the capital city sits in the mountains at an altitude of 9,250 feet and boasts a spring-like climate year-round: 50 F at night and 69 F during the day. The sun makes the difference. You can comfortably stroll out on a glorious afternoon in shorts and a t-shirt, but you'll need to take along your wool sweater in case the clouds roll in. The sun is intense, but when it's obscured by clouds you realize how high in the mountains you really are. In fact, cold-weather gear is needed for high-altitude hiking and mountain climbing.

The beaches and rainforests, on the other hand, enjoy the tropical temperatures that you would expect from this part of the world, with highs ranging between 80 F and 90 F. Among the high mountains, coastal plains, and the jungle, you can find just about any type of weather.

What's more, this perfect-weather paradise treats its seniors well. You'll get discounts on public transport, pay half-price on cultural and sporting events (including movies), and get a massive 50% discount on international round-trip airfares with select carriers. That's a huge advantage to any expat visiting family in North America.

Healthcare, whether you choose to use the low-cost national system or pay for private care, is affordable: "My husband got his hand sewn up by a surgeon for only $60," says one of our in-country correspondents.

Emergencies aside, you may end up needing the doctor less often anyway. Most find that, without making any conscious changes, they lose 20 pounds over the first few months, solely from the healthier lifestyle and more natural foods.

Lakes, mountains, beaches, cities, affordable healthcare, small-town charm, and vibrant expat communities. That's just scratching the surface of what our top climate pick for 2019 has got to offer.

For information on the “International Living” online course, click HERE 

For more International Living content, click HERE

Website:  http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-7045810-13641743

WealthCare Connect may receive a referral fee from International Living for purchases make through these links.