My name is Robin and I live in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley. I am not Italian or French, although most days I feel like I was in a former life.
I was not immersed in European culture as a child. I did not spend time cooking with my Grandmother in the kitchen, sharing recipes, traveling around the globe with my family or museum hopping. Instead, I grew up watching my very creative mother make 3-tiered decorated cakes, stained glass lamps, macrame plant hangers, decoupage and crocheted afghan. She tore up many a spot on our lawn to create new flower gardens every year.
Naturally, I was also creative. I always knew that. When I got older, we started tole painting and working together at craft fairs selling our wares.
I always liked fashion, and being that I was creative and had a good mind for business (this is the part I acquired from my father), I graduated with a degree in Fashion Merchandising, with a minor in Retail Business Management. I spent most of the next 15 years in sales and retail management fields, living in New York, Connecticut and Northern California. Eventually, I burned myself out of retail and settled back down in the Hudson Valley.
And then it happened. One day in October 2003, there was a shift in the foundation of life as I knew it. My boyfriend (now husband), Chris and I went to see “Under the Tuscan Sun”, and I fell in love with Italy. I walked out of that theater, knowing with every fiber of my being, I was going to Italy… soon.
And much to Chris’s surprise I was dead serious. Within two weeks, I had picked dates and was well into my research.
I’ve never been much for organized tours or group travel, I’m very much a fiercely independent person, who likes to plan my own trips and do my own thing – you know – do what I want, when I want. And organized tours tend to be very expensive – and since we weren’t made of money – we needed to go on a pretty tight budget.
So, I planned our two-week ‘trip of a lifetime’ myself and we conquered Venice, Florence, San Gimignano, Lucca, Chiantishire, Rome and Positano. I loved everything about Italy – the gregarious people, the food, the cafe culture, the wine, the coffee, the history… the lifestyle in general.
Upon return home, I missed it terribly! I was becoming obsessed, it was a sickness. The only possible cure was the obvious… another trip.
The next earth-shattering moment came in summer of 2004. I decided to go to Paris for 10 days… by myself. And because I went solo, I was able to observe and appreciate so many little details that I may have missed had I gone with someone else.
I felt equally passionate about Paris, especially the first time I came upon the Pont St. Michel on the Seine, with Notre Dame in the background. All of the Hausmann style architecture with beautiful flowers dripping over the iron balustrades was breathtaking… and of course, the iconic Eiffel Tower.
My passion for travel grew into a business when I realized there was a whole group of people just like me, that wanted to travel independently, have an affordable and authentic experience. And I could be helping others discover the same pleasures and enjoyment that I have found experiencing Italy and France. I wanted to help others travel without costly organized tours and at their own pace. So, Melange Travel was born. And yes, I do think I have the coolest job in the world!
I try to get back to France and Italy at least once a year to discover new areas, local tour guides, foodie gems all to recommend to my clients. I guess I owe my inspiration to Frances Mayes.
My hope is for you to visit Europe and be willing to let it change you life as it did mine.