I'm typing this as the snow falls around my house in Eastern France, a beautiful whiteout that recently closed roads and stranded travelers throughout the region. Those celebrating Valentine's Day tonight won't be going very far if they live near here.
Rather than submit to the cold and snow, this month I take a look at fun things to do in winter - other than skiing, that is.
But first, I'd like your help with something.
I'm looking for an Intern - an unpaid intern - to work on this ezine with me. To keep up the quantity and quality of this monthly publication, I need help and since I can't afford to pay cash for it, I'm willing to pay in other ways. The Intern will be able to build up her (or his) portfolio by getting a byline on this ezine and by writing articles for Women on the Road. As a professional journalist and editor I'll work with my Intern to provide personal tutoring. If you know an aspiring writer or journalism student who loves to travel and needs a little push in the right direction, the details are here.
Now, back to winter, fun, and white stuff falling from the sky...
Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #60
- Fun Things to Do in Winter
- Connecting with Women on the Road
- Women on the Road Recommends
- Travel News from Across the Web
- Cause of the Month: Solo Travel - Serai Sierra's Murder in Istanbul
Don't ski - apres-ski!
Meeting friends around a fire or pot of fondue or raclette is a joy. I don't ski (what I do doesn't count as skiing) but I love going to the mountains and see no reason to deprive myself of what I consider the fun part of a snowy day: the apres-ski.
Go to the market
There are Christmas markets just for Christmas but plenty of regular markets continue throughout winter, with sellers hawking winter produce while they stomp up and down to keep their blood circulating.
Go to Carnival
I don't mean the Carnival in Rio but the winter carnivals scattered throughout Europe - Venice, of course, but a growing number of towns are hosting their own. I was in Switzerland last weekend and ran into two such carnivals. In one town, Champey, all ski lifts were free if you showed up in costume. It was fun watching cows, witches and a huge duck ski down the slopes!
Visit an ice festival
Whether Quebec City or Harbin in China, ice festivals are becoming so sophisticated entire buildings and menageries are sculpted by experts, to last only a few weeks until the sun comes out.
Head North, Young Woman!
This is the season for Northern Lights and people are heading North, especially to Scandinavia and Northern Canada. You can combine a visit with a stay in an igloo or an ice hotel to double the icy fun. I've seen the lights in Labrador in Canada but I'm still waiting to test my first igloo.
Go winter swimming
Some people actually think this is fun! Taking most of their clothes off and running into the ice cold surf... it's a tradition during Hogmanay in Scotland, on New Year's in Britain and in northern China. There's even a winter swimming championship in Lapland. Are you tempted yet? If you are, then maybe you're an even better candidate for ice diving!
Grab some art
It's cold outside, so go inside. Winter is a great time to visit a museum or art exhibit. While everyone is tramping through the slush and freezing outside, you'll be getting a dose of culture in warm, welcoming surroundings. No art? Then try a play or concert.
Head for the spa
I love the feeling of leaving the cold behind and entering the hot, steamy world of pampering. In summer I find it too hot, and in spring and autumn I'd rather be outside. Winter is the best time to get rid of all those extra holiday pounds too.
Antique shops, auctions and flea markets are in full swing in winter, especially the professional outlets (summer is often more for tourists). Many European antique markets have small bars or restaurants in which you can warm up and listen to professionals as they discuss their trade.
Sample seasonal produce
A lot of products mature in winter - truffles, the first olive oil... winter is a great time to go sample them right where they're produced. Ask around your part of the world - unless it's covered with snow, of course.
Volunteer in a soup kitchen
Winter is difficult for the homeless and the poor so if you've wanted to volunteer and simply haven't found time to, why not now?
And if nothing else works...
Head away from the cold! That's right: run for the sun.
This month has taken me to three distinct destinations, all within a few hours' drive from my home in Seyssel (in case you missed my New Year's post, here's what Seyssel looked like at the end of the year!)
- If you love olives, make sure you catch up with Olives, Olive Oils and the Brotherhood of the Olive Tree, where I go olive oil tasting in southeastern France's Drome region (I'll have more on this region later this month).
- Also this month I spent A Day at the Races: Dogsledding Megeve Style, and I've rarely had as much fun.
- On a completely different subject, do you think children should learn more than one language? I did as a child, and I share why growing up bilingual - and more - has been such a blessing.
- My main piece in the Huffington Post this month certainly created a stir - I asked the following question: Can you be too old to travel?
- And a result of my trip to the Alps I wrote about The Wonderful World of Alpine Cheese Dishes for the lovely ladies at WaveJourney.
- I interviewed Susan MacKay, a woman I've known since my teens and who leads the most amazing life on a boat, off Vancouver Island, whalewatching in BC.
- From readers of Women on the Road, a great story on container travel by Bex in Athens, Greece.
- Many of you are joining me on Facebook and Twitter - more than 2000 on each network so far - so if you haven't clicked LIKE yet wander over to facebook.com/womenontheroad or Twitter at
How to Become a Housesitter and See the World - by Pete and Dalene Heck
Fellow bloggers Pete and Dalene have put together the ultimate housesitting resource. They've been paying their way by housesitting for years and now they're sharing everything they know with you! So if you've ever wondered how you can travel and live in the lap of luxury while you do it, you'll have to read this.
Video 101: Tips and Tricks for Awesome Visual Storytelling - by Lisa Lubin
My perennial favorite by triple Emmy award winner Lisa Lubin - practical, hands on and effective, no fluff at all, just the facts: figure out your story, make it human, plan your video ahead of time, use interviews, write for pictures and edit it all together... it's all in the book. So are some priceless checklists to make sure you don't forget a thing. Best of all Lisa traveled around the world on her own for several years and she knows what it's like to share brilliant videos with friends and family back home.
And then of course there's my book for baby boomer women - I'm thrilled to say it's been well reviewed several times online by other blogs so I hope you'll hop over and buy if you haven't done that yet. I'm told I shouldn't say it's for baby boomer women because the advice applies to all women. If you have read it and found it useful, I would love it if you could leave a review over on Amazon - it will help a lot!
Travel News from across the Web
The Intriguing Passports of 20 Famous Artists and Writers
What Not To Do in Travel
7 Spectacular Bus Routes Through Latin America
Top 10 Alternative Ski Resorts in Europe
How to Turn High-Cost Japan into a Cheap Place to Visit
23 Laws From Other Countries the US Should Adopt
...and lovers of other arts
15 Myths About Luxemburg
The Incredible Ancient City of Myanmar
Plan Your Own DYI Vacation to Colombia
Sophie in North Korea
King Ludwig II and the Herrenchiemsee Castle
What Animal Attraction to Skip on Your Visit to Chiang Mai
Spanish Enclaves in Morocco: Melilla and Ceuta
If You're Visual
Telltale Scribes of Timbuktu
A Phenomenal Death Valley Dreamlapse
Northern Thailand by Instagram
The Passage North: Stories of Central American Migrants
From Souks to Camels: A Photographic Journey Through Marrakesh
Capture the Colour
Coverage of Sarai Sierra’s Death: What Is It Really About?
As a woman who is part Turkish and who has spent the better part of 40 years traveling solo, I find the story of Sarai’s murder particularly disturbing. It is devastating for her family, but I have been astounded at the reaction to her murder.
People have been calling for women to stop traveling solo or stop traveling to Muslim countries. Some comments suggested women should stay at home, where they belong. What is this if not ignorance, bias and sexism?
Statistics confirm that the risk of violence at home is actually greater than when you travel but you wouldn't know it from the emotional outbursts that have captivated the airwaves or filled the comment sections online. Rather than focus on travel, commenters had best laser in on the real issue here, violence against women.
The counter-reaction has been swift and strong as women - and men - loudly dismissed reactionary comments and encouraged women to continue their solo travels. I'm with them! Please don't insult us by insinuating there's something wrong with our independence or self-reliance or desire to travel and see the world.
Living Like a Local
© Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road™ News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.