During our explorations of Cape Cod, we visited the town of Brewster ( on the Cape Cod Bay side, just above the "elbow"). First settled in 1656 as the northeastern parish of the town of Harwich, it was named after Elder William Brewster, the first religious leader of Plymouth Colony. By 1693, Brewster had separated from Harwich, but did not officially incorporate until 1803. The first water-powered grist and woolen mill in the U.S., Stony Brook, was constructed here in the late 17th century, resulting in a phenomenal population growth (many of whom were rich sea captains). Because of the wealth coming into the town, many beautiful mansions were built here ( some of which have now been turned into Inns). One of the most beautiful mansions was constructed in 1888 by Albert Crosby (who had made his money in distilled alcohol, much of which was sold to the military). This 35 room home, named "Tawasentha" (from Longfellow's poem, "The Song of Hiawatha") housed one of the finest art galleries on Cape Cod. The Duke of Wales, Helen Keller, and Samuel Clemens all stayed in the Crosby Mansion. Other notables that have summered in Brewster include singer Minnie Ripton and her producer/husband Dick Rudolph, and Samuel M. Nickerson, President of the First National Bank of Chicago. Brewster is such a lovely town that we could have stayed here forever. However, we could barely afford a parking space here, let alone some of its gorgeous houses.
Welcome to the town of Brewster.
The Old Town Hall now houses the Council on Aging.
Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, spent several summers in the late 1800's in Brewster, often staying at the Crosby Mansion.
The 35 room Crosby Mansion, built in 1888 by Albert Crosby, was often visited by such notables as the Duke of Wales and 'Mark Twain' (Samuel Clemens). It is home to one of the finest collections of art on Cape Cod.
Another beautiful summer home is this one built by Samuel M. Nickerson, President of the First National Bank of Chicago.
The Stony Brook grist and woolen mill was the first water-powered mill built in the U.S.and resulted in an explosion of growth for the town.
Explorer Samuel de Champlain first visited the southeastern tip of Cape Cod (also known as the "elbow") in 1606 and named it "Port Fortune".The Nauset Native Americans, who were living here, had called the area "Manomoit". However, the area that would become known as the "Town of Chatham" was not settled until 1664 and then incorporated in 1712. Like most coastal towns, fishing, whaling, and shipping were its main industries during those early years. In 1808, President Thomas Jefferson had the Chatham Lighthouse established in order to,protect ships circling Cape Cod (it now houses a Coast Guard Lifesaving Station patrolling the Atlantic and Nantucket Sound waters). The very first reforesting project in the U.S. happened here in 1821 on Great Hill, when pine trees and beach grass were planted to prevent erosion of the coast line. By the end of the 1800's, seaside summer resorts had become highly popular and Chatham' s economy expanded greatly under this tourism boom. Many prominent Americans chose to make their summer homes in Chatham; including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, singer/actor Harry Connick Jr., figure skater Todd Eldridge, and actress Shirley Booth. The Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League make their home base here also. Many Major League Baseball players had their start in the Cape Cod League during their college years, and the MLB now provides financial support to keep this collegiate summer baseball program functioning. We found it fascinating driving around town admiring the many "million dollar plus" homes located on this bit of the lower Cape.
The seaside town at the "elbow" of Cape Cod was once home to the Nauset Native Americans who knew the area as "Manomoit."
Picturesque view of Chatham's Main Street.
Its popular summer resort status was partly helped by the large amount of 18th century architecture throughout the town.
The famous Chatham lighthouse was built under the direction of President Thomas Jefferson in 1808...
...and today, part of the building houses the Coast Guard Lifesaving Station which helps to protect the waters of Nanticket Sound and part of the Atlantic Ocean.
Relics of the first commercial railroad in the U.S. are housed here in the 129 year old Chatham Railroad museum. This was the main rail stop in Chatham between 1887 and 1937.
Chatham is popular summer resort location as evidenced by the number of Inns located within the town.
View across the harbor towards the Chatham Fish Pier and the Old Harbor Inn.
Built in 1797 by Bejamin Godfrey, this windmill was used to grind corn. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic places.
The many "million dollar plus" homes around town are absolutely stunning.
But so is this local watering hole that is sooooo familiar to New Englanders (we even found a number of them in Madrid Spain! Go figure!).
Dennis was first settled in 1639, originally as part of the town of Yarmouth, by John Crowe, Anthony Thacher, and Thomas Howes. By 1793, it had separated from Yarmouth and became incorporated as the town of Dennis. Like many other Cape Cod towns, Dennis encompasses five distinct small villages; Dennis Village, Dennis Port, East Dennis, South Dennis, and West Dennis. As a coastal town that spans the width of Cape Cod, seafaring became its major industry, centered around the Shiverick Shipyard, until tourism replaced it. The "Cape Playhouse" in Dennis is one of the oldest summer theaters in the U.S. (actress Bette Davis was "discovered" there while working as an usher for the playhouse). Several other prominent personalities were known to have inhabited Dennis; including author Mary Higgens Clark, actress Gertrude Lawrence, and Richard Valle, founder of Valle's Steak House. While not as notable as those mentioned above, I also have a connection with this town. Back in the summer of 1965, while Lori and I were dating, my boss at the time, asked me to help him "sail" his 23 foot inboard/outboard boat out of Dennis harbor and up to Winthrop (part of East Boston). This supposedly simple four hour trip turned into a nine hour adventure when, unbeknownst to us, we lost the ground plate to our ship-to-shore radio and began to slowly take on water. It wasn't until we finally arrived safely at our distination that we discovered how close we had come to disaster, as we pumped out the 100 gallons of water that had seeped into the boat. To this day, I can't visit Dennis without "remembering" that event.
Welcoming sign as you enter Dennis.
Map showing Dennis spanning the width of Cape Cod
Part of Dennis Port harbor (from which my nine hour "sailing" adventure commenced in 1965).
Dennis Port village center is typical of small town America.
Cape Cod is dotted with many lighthouses to protect shipping from coastal dangers. This one is the West Dennis lighthouse.
interestingly enough, there is another lighthouse perched atop the West Dennis Inn.
This thirty foot cobblestone tower, known as the Scargo Tower, was originally built of wood in 1874 by the Tobey family as a memorial to the family (the first wooden tower was destroyed by a gale in 1876)..
Actress Bette Davis was "discovered" working as an usher here at the Cape Playhouse (the oldest summer theatre in the U.S.).
With the celebration of the American Thanksgiving being held this week, we felt that this would be a good time to do a posting on Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Once each year, during our travels, we need to return to the U.S. to visit doctors for our annual check ups. This year, we found an apartment in Plymouth, "America's Hometown." Prior to the arrival of the Europeons, this was a village of 2000 Wampanoag Native Americans, officially known as the Patuxat. European explorers had actually visited this area twice before the Pilgrims established their colony here; first in 1605 when Samuel de Champlain sailed into the harbor (calling it "Port St. Louis"); and later, between 1614 and 1617, when British and French fishermen arrived. These early visitors dessimated the Wampanoag natives with diseases that killed nearly 90% of them, leaving them in no condition to resist the later Pilgrim settlers. With the establishment of the colony by the Pilgrims, Plymouth became the oldest municipality in New England and one of the oldest in the United States. Their first year in the new settlement was very harsh and the Pilgrims nearly starved. Two Patuxat Wampanoags, Samoset and Tisquantum (aka Squanto) taught the Pilgrims how to catch fish in the harbor and as well as to farm corn. In the Fall of 1621, the Pilgrims gathered with Samoset, Squanto, their chief, Massasoit, and 90 other Native Americans to celebrate their first successful harvest. This became known as the "First Thanksgiving" and is still celebrated to this day with a reenactment and a parade. There are many Wampanoags who feel that this is "a day of mourning" and hold a counter-parade on Thanksgiving day. During the early part of the 1800's , the town became a regional center of fishing and shipbuilding. The world's largest manufacturer of rope, the Plymouth Cordage,Company, was founded here in 1824. With the development of synthetic-fiber ropes in the mid-1960's, the Cordage company was forced out of business. Plymouth now is a major tourist center on the South Shore of Massachusetts.
Each year on the week-end following Thanksgiving, the Whitman Amateur Radio Club sets up several radio stations at the recreated Plimouth Plantation to provide visitors the opportunity to send radio-gram messages to relatives around the country, as well as to demonstrate some of the capabilities of this hobby to those not familiar with its utility. I've had the very great pleasure of participating in this event a number of times during my volunteer career as an amateur radio operator. It is always a wonderful time.
Plymouth is the oldest municipality in New England, yet, despite its growing population, still maintains its status as a town. This is its town hall.
The Plymouth Rock memorial ...
...surrounds the rock upon which ,tradition states, the Pilgrims landed. However, there is no hard and fast evidence to prove this claim
Standing by the Mayflower II (replica of the original). Shortly after having this picture taken, a tug came to tow the ship to Mystic Connecticut where it will undergo two years of total refurbishment prior to the 400th anniversary (in 2020) of the Pilgrims landing.
On a small hill overlooking Plymouth Rock is this memorial statue of Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoags who befriended the Pilgrims.
A short distance from Massasoit's statue is this plaque indicating many Native Americans' feeling that Thanksgiving really commemorates a "National Day of Mourning " for the loss of their culture.
The recreated Plymouth Plantation depicts life for the Pilgrims during their early days here. it is one of the top attractions in the town.
Each year, during the week-end following Thanksgiving, members of the Whitman Amateur Radio club set up several radio stations at Plymouth Plantation so that visitors can send radio-gram greetings to relatives around the country.
Officially known as the "Town of Barnstable", this is the largest community, in both land mass size, and population, on Cape Cod. Seven small villages comprise the whole town; Barnstable Village, Cotuit, Centerville, Hyannis, Marston Mills, Osterville, and West Barnstable. First explored by Bartholomew Grosnold in 1602 (18 years before the arrival of the Pilgrims, which sort of surprised us) it was finally settled in 1638 under the leadership of Reverand Joseph Hull. Harvesting its salt marshes became a major industry, along with fishing and agriculture. By the late 19th century, Barnstable had become a major tourist destination. While the Kennedys are the most famous family to summer here, other notables have also spent time in Barnstable; including actress Judy Garland, American patriot James Otis, Google co-founder Larry Page, and author Kurt Vonnegut. The Sturgis library in Barnstable Village is the oldest library building in the U.S.
The Town Hall for Barnstable is actually located in the village of Hyannis.
Barnstable County Courthouse
The oldest library building in the U.S. Is the Sturgis Library in Barnstable Village...
...and its Hooper reading room
One of the oldest jails on Cape Cod is in Barnstable County
The 1699 Ashley Manor.
Built in 1653 by Roger Goodspeed, this is the oldest house in the Marston Mills area of Barnstable
Originally built in 1855 as the Customs House, the Coast Guard Museum is dedicated to the men and women of the U.S. coast Guard who riske their lives to save those in peril on the sea.
Undoubtably the most famous family to summer in Barnstable was the Kennedys.
Prior to their arrival in Plymouth, and after having first stopped in Provincetown, the Pilgrims sent a hunting party from the Mayflower to what is now Eastham, to look for food. Located on the arm of lower Cape Cod, Eastham is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay. There, on "First Encounter Beach", the Pilgrims met people from the local Nauset tribe. It was not until 24 years later (1644) that the Europeans began to settle here, on lands that would would eventually include the towns of Truro, Wellfleet, Orleans, part of Chatham, and, of course, Eastham. The town was officially incorporated in 1651.. In those early days, fishing and farming were the main industries. Born in Eastham in 1820, Freeman Hatch would set a world record, in 1853, for a single-hull wooden sailing vessel from San Francisco, around Cape Horn, and on up to Boston, in his clipper ship "Northern Light." Just a short 7 miles from Eastham is the site of Gugliamo Marconi's wireless radio station from which he made the first radio transmission between the U.S. and Europe. I had the fantastic opportunity to participate in the 100th anniversary of this event at the Coast Guard Beach National Seashore Center in Eastham during January of 2003. This special event resulted in over 13,000 radio contacts around the world, which also included talking with the International Space Station. As an Amateur Radio Operator, this was one of the highlights of my volunteer career, which was topped by meeting Marconi's daughter, Princess Elettra. Eastham is a delightful place to visit, especially since a little over ten percent of the town includes part of the National Seashore.
Eastham, Massachusetts is on the arm of lower Cape Cod (just beyond what has been described as the "elbow" ).
Eastham Town Hall.
One of the many lighthouses on Cape Cod is this Nauset Light (named after the Native American tribe that had lived here for centuries).
Another set of lighthouses, these in North Eastham, are known as the "Three Sisters."
Old postcard of First Encounter Beach, depicting the monument commemorating the Pilgrims first encounter with the Nauset Native Americans in Eastham.
Somewhat surprisingly, we've came across several windmills on Cape Cod. This one in Eastham is said to be the oldest on the Cape (circa 1680).
In January of 2003, Amateur Radio Operators ("Hams") gathered at the Coast Guard Beach Center in Eastham to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Marconi's first wireless radio transmission between the U.S. And Europe.
Some of the operating radio crew for this special event (that same vest has traveled around the world with me).
Here I am working one of the many radio stations set up for this event. At one point, I stayed up for 48 straight hours during this event ("Sleep is overrated!).
One of the highlights of this event was meeting Marconi's daughter, Princess Elettra . She is standing with the event coordinator, Bob Doherty.
Continuing our exploration of Cape Cod, we came upon the town of Yarmouth. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, this area was inhabited by the Wampanoag Native Americans, who called the area "Mattacheese"(old lands by the border). John Crowe (later Crowell), Thomas Hawes, and Anthony Hatcher founded the town (as part of Plymouth Colony) on September 3, 1639. Like many of the towns on Cape Cod, Yarmouth is actually comprised of a number of small villages; Yarmouth Port, South Yarmouth, and West Yarmouth. It originally included what is now the town of Dennis (which was incorporated in 1793). Yarmouth was named after the town of Great Yarmouth in the county of Norfolk on the east coast of England. While its early economy was based on farming, being a coastal community, it quickly converted to maritime industries (e.g. whaling, merchant trading, etc.). During the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Yarmouth's maritime economy suffered from British blockades. In 1854, the Yarmouth packet ship "Red Jacket" set a trans-Atlantic commercial sailing ship speed record between New York and Liverpool (13 days, 1 hour, 25 minutes) that remains unbroken. By the end of the 19th century, its economy shifted to a summer resort area. This quaint old New England town was a delight to visit.
Seal of the town of Yarmouth.
Yarmouth Town Hall.
1910 painting of The Three Corners, South Yarmouth.
The first "traffic rotary" in the United States is in Yarmouth (certainly not anything like today's rotaries).
"Summer Cottages" along Yarmouth Port
There are several windmills throughout Cape Cod. This is the Judah Baker windmill in South Yarmouth.
As with most coastal towns throughout the world, Yarmouth Port has a lighthouse to protect maritime interests...
...as well as the Point Gammon lighthouse.
We love books! So when we came across the Parnassus Book Service in this 19th century, three story building in Yarmouthport, we had to stop and visit. In the early 1800's, this building housed the Knowles General Store and, thus, is full of history.
What first attracted us to the building was this display of books on the outside of the building.
Across the street from the book store is the Old Yarmouth Inn. Since it was time for lunch, we decided to try this restaurant. Established in 1696, this is the oldest inn on Cape Cod
The interior certainly reflects the ambiance of this late 17th century inn...
While parts of the inn have been updated and modernized, the overall atmosphere takes you back three hundred years.
Amongst all of the great attractions that spur visitors to spend time here, the one icon that seems to be THE image of Cape Cod is the "Canal." Constructed between 1909 and 1914, it became the widest ( at 480 feet) and longest ( at 7 miles - and not at 17 miles as I erroneously reported in a previous posting) sea-level canal, without locks, in the world. The first idea of a canal was posited by Miles Standish in 1623. In 1697, the Massachusetts General Court considered the first "formal" proposal, but took no action. Between 1776 and 1860, there were at least six more plans to build a canal submitted. Finally, in 1909, engineers began construction of a canal by connecting and widening the Manomet and Scusset Rivers. Once completed, "The Canal" allowed ships to save 162 miles of travel going around the Cape.. Today, over 14,000 users traverse it annually.
A 1914 photograph of the Cape Cod Canal construction process...
...and of the breaking of the dam allowing waters from Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay to merge.
At the northern end of the Canal, is the Sagamore bridge, connecting metropolitan Boston with Cape Cod.
Approximately mid-way through the canal is the Bourne bridge, deemed to be "The Most Beautiful Steel Bridge" by the American Institute of Steel Construction in 1934. In the background, you can make out the Buzzards Bay railroad bridge.
This vertical lift railroad bridge has the second longest span in the U.S. (That is the Mayflower II being towed under it).
During our recent trip to Massachusetts, we had the opportunity to watch the Mayflower II being through the canal down to Mystic Connecticut where it will undergo a two year total refurbishment.
What a magnificent sight! It's hard to believe that the Pilgrims endured months of travel on such cramped quarters before landing in Plymouth.
The vertical lift Buzzards Bay railroad bridge in the "down" position so that the Cape Vod Central Railroad train can pass over it.
Many of our blog followers have never visited the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts (where we are currently staying). Both of us have grown up in Massachusetts, and are quite familiar with Cape Cod, especially Lori, whose family owned property here. Therefore, we've decided to offer a series of posts about some of the oldest parts of the Cape.
Following the establishment of the Plymouth colony in 1620, sixty families, under the leadership of Edmund Freeman, in 1637, settled the first, and now the oldest, town on Cape Cod - Sandwich. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, this area had been home to the Native American tribe , known as the Wampanoags, for centuries. Freeman and his cohorts named their settlement after the town of Sandwich in Kent, England. Soon after their arrival, the settlers built the Dexter Grist mill in order to grind corn meal for its inhabitants (The mill still exists next to town hall). By 1658, Christopher Holden led the first group of Quakers to settle in this area. They established the oldest continuous Quaker Meeting House in the U.S. Dennis James founded the famous Boston and Sandwich Glass Company here in 1825. Fifty-nine years later (1884) , the western part of the town separated from Sandwich and became the town of Bourne. Following several previously unsuccessful planning attempts, construction of the Cape Cod Canal through the town began in 1909. Finally completed in 1914, the Canal opened as the longest sea-level canal in the world (17 miles). Thornton Burgess, author of "Peter Rabbit ", and descendant of Thomas Burgess - one of the first settlers of Sandwich - was born here in 1874. Burgess was an ardent conservationist and spent a significant portion of his life in Sandwich, writing about what he experienced. The house of his aunt, Anabella Burgess, now serves as the Burgess Society Museum. This is a lovely, quaint old town, which we've visited and enjoyed many times. When I was working, I attended a number of conferences at the centerpiece of Sandwich, the Daniel Webster Inn ( which has been here for three hundred years).
Welcome to Sandwich, Massachusetts, the oldest town on Cape Cod.
Sandwich Town Hall is located next to the Dexter Grist Mill and across the street from the Sandwich Glass Museum.
Needing corn meal to survive, Sandwich residents built the Dexter Grist mill soon after establishing the town.
Nearby is this memorial to Benjamin Nye and Katherine Tupper, two of the original homesteaders.
Originally known as the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, founded by Dennis James in 1825, it still produces some of the finest glassware in the U.S. Master glass blowers put on daily exhibitions of how it is done.
Constructed in 1675, the Hoxie House is the oldest residence on Cape Cod.
Its kitchen is a model for what life was like in the 1th century on Cape Cod.
The oldest continuous-use Quaker Meeting House in the U.S.
Sandwich's Daniel Webster Inn has been played host to travelers for three hundred years.
The picturesque interior makes visitors feel right at home....
...while the stocks outside remind you that "outlandish behaviors" would not be tolerated.
On October 7, 2016, my amazing wife, the daredevil, took the Edgewalk around the roof of the CN Tower in Toronto (the third tallest tower in the world, with the Edgewalk being at the 1168 foot above the ground level). This is her story of that adventure.
"It took me two days to make the decision regarding the Edgewalk on the CN Tower. I wanted to do it! I really wanted to take the walk. But, the daredevil experience cost $225 Canadian dollars per person. That's a lot of money. I knew that Carl wouldn't walk it - he's not a big fan of heights. So I would be the only one - but $225! By the second day, I had convinced myself to do it. I had a 2:00 pm appointment, but had to arrive at least five minutes before the scheduled time. It was now time to put on the the red walk suit. There were five other walkers in the 2:00 pm group; a Scottish couple, a single guy from France, and two Irish Colleens. The Edgewalk workers are very careful to ensure our safety. We all had to sign liability waivers. Let's see, nope, not pregnant; no surgery in the past six months; no seizures nor heart attacks; never experienced vertigo, dizziness, nor loss of balance. And the list went on and on. We even had to take a breathalyzer and be screened for drug use, as well as explosives. Both wrists and ankles were checked for any items that might cause security issues. No jewelry of any kind is allowed - no watch, necklace, rings, earrings,- nothing. If your shoes are at all loose, you'll be given a special, tighter pair. Your harness is adjusted for a personal fit - really tight. My eyeglasses and sunglasses were zip tied together and attached by a lanyard to the back of the jumpsuit. All of the clasps were zip tied , locked, checked, and double checked three times by three different people in the changing room. They don't fool around when it comes to safety.
Next was an elevator ride to the Prep room. There, we were lined up single file and hooked to an overhead steel track. Two more safety checks (for a total of five) by the Walk Master. We were then escorted out to the walkway at the edge of the CN Tower, 1168 feet above the ground.
At first, it seemed surreal that you are up so high on the outside of the structure, tethered to a steel track. Am I really out there? What was I thinking? Then the nerves settled and you feel quite comfortable. Besides walking, we are taught how to hang off the structure. First exercise is to walk to the edge, turn around so that your back is facing outwards, sit in your harness, and then lean backwards over the edge. I was third in line. When the first two were told to stop, their heels were barely over the edge. I wanted my sneakers to be further over the edge, so I took an extra half-step. It worked! Some had an easier time than others, but it all boiled down to courage, confidence, and trust. That tether will not break and you will stay on the structure.
Each of us leaned back off the edge successfully. We then walked a little further around the tower. Now, time for the forward lean - Superman ready to take off, staring at the steep fall to the ground. This takes a great deal of courage. Harder for the less confident, yet still successful for all. We walk some more to the third quadrant for a group hang , all six of us over the edge together. More walking and then the individual backward hang, posing with several hand positions. Then, just like that, your 45 minutes of cheating death are over and you follow the leader back inside to the Prep room to unhook from the steel tracking and remove the lanyards. We ride the elevator down to the change room to remove our harnesses and jumpsuits, and back into our street clothes. Now you are one of the few who have stared death in the face and defied gravity. You are an Edgewalker on the third highest tower in the world!"
"I've paid my money,so....I guess I'm really doing this."
Getting into the jumpsuit in preparation for the walk.
All harnessed up. Is she just waving to me....or saying her last goodbyes?
"Brave" Carl safely watching Lori learning how to trust her tether, on a monitor in the Observation Deck.
The group takes a backwards lean and applauds each other...for not falling off!
The death-defying forward lean.
Lori's official portrait taken by the walk leader
All together now..."Cheese!"
Looks like she is having fun.
It's official...she made it!
One of the most frequent questions we get from our followers revolves around how we choose where to go. Believe it or not, that is both a simple and a complex question to answer. The simple part is to say..."We go wherever our interests lay" ... sort of. The complex part is with the logistics. Because we have minimal clothing to bring (i.e. no winter stuff), we try to follow the sun. With that being said, there are some complications affecting those plans.
If somewhere in Europe is our goal, we have to remain aware of a "little thing" known as the Shengen Treaty. In 1987, thirty countries of the European Union signed a treaty (The Shengen) creating just one border for travelers and one currency-the Euro. The problem for us, being non-citizens of any of the Shengen countries, is that we are limited to staying a maximum of 90 days, out of any 180 days, in any part of the Shengen zone [You can Google "The Shengen" for a list of included countries]. Then you have to leave for 90 days, or face a fine and/or being banned from visiting again. Since we like to spend a month in each destination in order to thoroughly get to know it well, this limits us to just three locations within this 90 day time period, before we have to leave for three months. Therefore, we have to plan our travels carefully so that we can easily move out of the Shengen. While this has proved somewhat of a hassle for us, it has also provided us with the opportunity to visit some countries we did not consider in the beginning (e.g. Turkey, Thailand, and Croatia - although Croatia is now part of the Shengen).
Part of our logistical planning involves trying to minimize travel between destinations in order to keep costs down. We tend to consider larger cities that have easy airport access. That is not a hard and fast rule, if more expedient train systems between smaller locations is a better option (e.g. Between Bath, England and Stratford-Upon-Avon). Because there are so many places we want to explore, our goal is to not repeat any city we've already visited. The exception to this is if we feel that a city has so much to offer, one month is not enough - e.g. Rome. We don't mind repeating a country if there are enough interesting areas to explore.
Once we've identified a destination we feel might be worth visiting, we'll look to see if there are enough interesting attractions there for us to spend a month. If that passes our litmus test, we then begin looking for furnished apartments. Vacation Rentals By Owners (VRBO), Homeaway, and/or Airbnb are our usual sites. Our criteria for choosing an apartment include a number of hard and fast "requirements". They MUST have Wifi, so we can stay in touch with family. They MUST have a clothes washer (and preferably a dryer as well) because we have so few clothes, we need to keep washing and wearing. And, they need to be sufficiently close to attractions and grocery stores, so that we can walk to them (or, at least be on a reliable public transportation line so we can get around easily). Sometimes these are studio apartments and other times they are one bedroom apartments.
Our personal goal is to have at least two months of planning locked up ahead of our current location. While most of the time that is easy to do, occasionally it has proven to be a challenge (during one point last year, we were looking at five different countries at once, trying to find apartments that were available). The final requirement is that the rental has to fit within our budget. We set a goal to live just within our pensions, and not go into our savings at all. In the two plus years we've been traveling, we've only gone over our monthly budget once - thT was Cuba. We knew that visiting this Caribbean island would be expensive because, as Americans, we could only go there on an educational tour (although that is now just beginning to change). Every other month, we have been able to stay below our pension levels and have even saved money.
The bottom line of all of this is that, with some planning, anyone can do what we're doing. It is neither expensive, nor difficult. You just have to make the decision to do it. We hope that this answers your questions.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.