God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Slow Europe

Not so long ago--2001--I would use the AOL travel boards to find advice from fellow travelers as we planned trips abroad--Europe, Africa, China, and the Americas. But, in 2001 a new player appeared on the internet and soon became the preeminent voice for traveling in Italy--eventually this voice branched out to other parts of Europe and the world, but, Italy continued to be the engine.

The force behind this venture which was called Slow Travel was Pauline Kenny. She advanced the concept that traveling slow, savoring a locality, settling in and "getting the feel" of people and life was far better than rushing through a country or countries, always remaining a stranger to any understanding of the places passed through in the quest to "see it all."

When Pauline started Slow Travel it was a very basic site--somewhat amateurish and simple; however, in the years that followed its inception, it transitioned into a highly polished, sophisticated resource for unbiased information provided by everyday people who traveled and wanted to share their learnings. Advice ranged from the best place to drop off a car in Rome to wonderful places to rent for a week and, most importantly, the best gelateria in just about any village in Italy. In this process, great virtual friendships have been established that often end up with real life meetings.

Ken, Casey and I have met many of these Slow Travel friends over the years. The year we lived in Italy many visited us in Greve--always a highlight experience for us. Usually it was just to share lunch or dinner at a local trattoria or an excursion into Florence for a meal and some shared museum trekking. Being good friends, although only virtual until the meeting, they often brought with them important items--Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch for Casey, maple syrup from Canada, brown sugar, skittles and other hard to find things in Italian stores. Without exception our time with these people who went out of their way to share with us was wonderful--good, kind, fun people. They came from Australia, Canada, England and around the United States. Now, they are all our friends with whom we communicate and sometimes see again at gatherings here at home. When we were in D.C. for the inauguration in January, we had dinner with 16 of us--at a restaurant owned by a fellow Slow Traveler.

We have traveled to places just to meet new friends. Ann and Paul in Hawaii have become close and dear to us. A friend in D.C. who goes by Chiocciola (snail in English) has developed a close relationship with Casey. She entertained him for an evening while we were there so that Ken and I could have dinner alone. Chiaro in Canada adores Casey and encourages him in his reading and school achievements. It is not unusual for people who are passing through San Diego to contact us and make dinner dates. I could fill pages with such vignettes. Life has been enriched by my friend Pauline's vision and creation.

Almost two years ago Pauline sold Slow Travel. It is not unusual when someone has a vision for something new and brings that vision to fruition to then move on to the next thing. Challenges dissipate and grow old sometimes and so to keep alive, new challenges are created.

All of this leads up to giving accolades to Pauline's new venture and inviting you to sample it--Slow Europe promises to be as rewarding as her first.

Although this has similarities to Slow Travel it is different. At this point, it does not have a message board and I don't think that Pauline plans on one--but, since all evolves, who knows what will happen in the future. Currently the focus is on vacation rentals, tips for traveling in Europe, traveler reviews, and more. There will be greater focus on Great Britain along with the continent. I have no doubt that its future is as bright as its older sister. Check it out and sign up as a member.


Judith in Umbria said...

I am watching this too. I didn't even see the previous site until 2001, but this one I not only am watching, but I will be writing for it immediately. I weather to be reasonable.

Jane said...

Judith, what are you writing for SE? Food? Fashion?

Pauline Kenny said...

Thanks for this Jane! I too made many good friends through SlowTrav over the years.

I really think my "success" was timing and "if you build it, they will come". There were lots of Slow Travelers out there and just needed a place to meet.

I still have lots of work to do on Slow Europe, but at least the main part of it is ready now. We are adding more European countries to our vacation rentals database and writing more travel articles.

We are staying in vacation rentals in Paris, the Cotswolds and Switzerland this summer - so will have fresh new info for the site.

Send me your vacation rental reviews! (SlowTrav first, then come on over to Slow Europe :) ).

I think Judith plans to write about her corner of Umbria!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,
I'm just catching up on your blog. I will go over to Casey's to comment too.
I've been following Pauline's Slow Europe and Cotswolder as I plan this summer's trip to the UK. There is some very useful information on there about the small villages we will visit. We've used some of her recommendations for places to stay, as well as, a driver to pick us up at Southampton and take us to Bath.
It is a great resource.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add to the above comment that some of us are on the Slow Travel Twitter...kind of like a message board...you can follow others such as Pauline, Kim, Mindy, Obama etc.
And block those that you don't want posting or following your comments.
Come join us on twitter.


Jane said...

Chiaro--you are in perpetual planning mode. How fun and exciting. I think we may take Casey to England next year if we can tear him from Italy.

I'll look for the ST Twitter but I really can't have another reason to be on the computer--Ken will find someone new.

MarĂ­a I. said...

I’ve been over Pauline’s new venture a few times, reading articles and dreaming of visiting the Cotswold in the future. I love the familiarity aspect of the site, being so easy to navigate and search for information. My best to Pauline in this new endeavor.

Chiocciola said...

Great post Jane! It was so nice to meet you guys here in DC and maybe next time we can meet in ITALIA!!

Happy Easter (a little early)!

Jane said...

Maria, it's nice to know that Pauline already has an audience. Think we will take Casey to England soon and will make good use of her insights. Chiocciola, yep--meeting you was one of our highlights there. And...wouldn't an Italy GTG be wonderfully fun? I'm following your prep.

Ann said...

Jane, what a great entry - all the best to Pauline and Steve. I hope it goes without saying that you and yours have also become close and dear to Paul and me -- and one day soon we WILL make it to San Diego, I promise!

Jane said...

Ann--now the world has heard your promise--well, a couple people, at least.