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  • Writer's pictureDiann Schindler, Ph.D.

Sixty-Three Days Left of Winter: Let's Get Outta Town!

Where can we escape? Fast, reasonably priced, and warm!

These are FOUR of my top choices.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. San Miguel de Allende, a

colonial-era city in Mexico’s central highlands, is known for its baroque Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene and cultural festivals. In the city’s historic, cobblestoned center lies the neo-Gothic church Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, whose dramatic pink towers rise above the main plaza, El Jardín. The Templo de San Francisco church nearby has an 18th-century churrigueresque facade. This desert mountain community is a great escape. Yes, it's rather cool weather in the winter, but daily bright sun. It's safe and inexpensive. (I've visited 5 times, 3 weeks each time...took an art class and played tennis on red clay!)

Algarve Region in Portugal. The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, is known for its Mediterranean beaches and golf resorts. Whitewashed fishing villages on low cliffs overlooking sandy coves were transformed in the 1960s, and now its central coast between Lagos and Faro is lined with villas, hotels, bars and restaurants. Portugal's most southerly region offers historical attractions in former Moorish capital Silves and fascinating Tavira, great golf, fabulous beaches. (I flew into Faro, rented a car and drove along the coast. I finally landed in Lagos for a couple of weeks and played challenging tennis 4 times a week on hardcourts with a great group of expats from the UK, Germany, Norway, and Brazil.)

Málaga, Spain. Málaga is a port city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, known for its high-rise hotels and resorts jutting up from yellow-sand beaches. Looming over that modern skyline are the city’s 2 massive hilltop citadels, the Alcazaba and ruined Gibralfaro, remnants of Moorish rule. Loaded with history and brimming with a youthful vigour that proudly acknowledges its multi-layered past, the city that gave the world Picasso has transformed itself in spectacular fashion in the last decade, with half a dozen new art galleries, a radically rethought port area and a nascent art district called Soho. Note: February is the coolest month...average 55 degrees and cooler at night. Yet, it's worth a visit...perhaps as you escape USA harsh winter to the Andalusia region with glorious sunshine most of the year; bullfighting, tapas and flamenco at every turn. If you choose just one region to visit in Spain, make this it! Then, spend a day in Malago. (I spent a day touring this lovely city, Malaga, when I was on my way to Morocco.)

Fez, Morocco. In this delightful patchwork metropolis you will find a gust of creative modernity, with new hotels, shops and cafes complementing the city’s ancient allure. And there is something intangibly raw about a place where 70,000 people still choose to live in the maelstrom of a medina ...with

over 9300 streets! dark, dense and dilapidated that it remains the world's largest car-free urban area. Donkeys cart goods down the warren of alleyways as they have done since medieval times, and ruinous pockets loom around every corner. I LOVED Fez. Do it! Catch a ferry from Spain to Tangier, located on Morocco's northern coast, the city of Tangier. It's a natural entry point for visitors from Europe, especially Spain. Explore more of of the country by train, starting from Tangier, the best option for frequent rail connections to major destinations like Fez, Casablanca and Marrakesh. Out of the 30 countries I have visited, Morocco is among my top favorites. I'm eager to return!

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