We – Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker – are classical musicians who perform in a symphony orchestra and in ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, and can be found on many recordings, both classical and popular. Our schedules are extremely busy and our days are long; when we travel we are looking for ways to leave our stress-filled stage lives behind and slow down the pace. We like to explore out of the way, ‘undiscovered’ towns and sights.
We travel to Europe four or five times a year, focusing most of our time on Italy and Ireland, with some excursions into England, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We are frequently asked how we afford to travel, and how we find the places we visit.
The answer is: Travel for us is an integral part of our lives. We make choices that may be difficult for some, but are easier for us, like only eating out a couple of times a year, skipping fancy haircuts, we drive an old used car, only drive about 20 miles a week, buy inexpensive clothing and wear it for a long time, drink coffee at home… you get the idea. We also conserve energy (gas, electric) and grow a lot of our own food. Funneling that money into our ‘trip fund’ helps us travel. We take full advantage of credit card points and frequent flyer club miles and get one or two free tickets each year.
We find places to visit based on intense scrutiny of detailed maps, exhaustive research, and experience of stumbling on these places ourselves, which itself is made possible by our style of travel. We decided to put together this website to share the immense knowledge we have of very small towns that can’t be found in other literature or websites. We also wanted to share some travel and packing tips, driving tips, and trip planning ideas based on our last few years of trial and error, plus tips on how to get in and out of some of the major tourist sites (e.g. Cliffs of Moher, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Florence) with a minimum of stress and tourist hordes.
Wherever we go, our goal is to fit in with the locals in the town; to experience life there beyond the surface one might find as a random tourist; to slow down, and take time to actually see and experience what is around us; to learn about the food, culture and history of the area; and to avoid other tourists at all costs.
Let us help you plan your trip, and save yourself dozens of hours of research. We’ve already done it! We know when great restaurants are open – and when they’re closed for a day, or for months; the last thing you want to do is travel so far just to find that a sought-after place is closed. We have spent hours finding information about hundreds of places, often from websites that are only in Italian. We know where to eat and where to stay, and where you can do both – so you can eat and drink to your heart’s content and then just walk a few steps to bed!
We can put together an immersive, memorable, interesting, relaxing plan for you that will be the trip of a lifetime.