‘Living like a local’ on the road—and chatting about it on the air

October 8, 2012

Here I am this summer, taking a ferry like the locals do in the gorgeous and underrated northern Italian region of Brescia.

As an American journalist who makes a living (such as it is) as a freelance Travel, Food and Lifestyles reporter based in France, I love sharing my words with as many readers as I can. And when a major U.S. radio station—one with a 50,000-watt signal that not only reaches 38 U.S. states and Canada but also is streamed live worldwide—recently asked me to talk about one of my articles on the air, I was both flattered and thrilled.

Last week, CNN.com published my Travel feature on “7 Ways to Go Local When Traveling,” and soon after I got a call from a producer at WGN Radio, the perpetual No. 1 station in my Chicago home town. I was invited to chat with the station’s overnight host, Bill Leff, about how to live as the Romans do (and the Londoners and Parisians and Athenians) when on vacation—and about my expat adventures over here in France.

What was supposed to be a 20-minute interview turned into an hour-long chat about everything from renting a “holiday flat” to taxi-driver restaurant advice to the audacity of a Baptist church in Rome. And what fun it was, thanks to Bill—an engaging and quick-witted actor, writer and comedian who kept me on my toes. Besides, I’ve been seriously homesick the past several weeks, missing my family, my “dog sister,” my downtown Chicago church, White Castle burgers and Pepe’s Tacos. It was great, even for a short while, to be connected to Chi-town thanks to reliable, over-the-pond technology.

We reporters generally hate being interviewed (control freaks, WE like to be the ones posing the questions, thank you very much), but Bill’s thoughtful approach made me forget that rather than merely having a dialogue, he and I were actually speaking to thousands of listeners. Very humbling, indeed.

So here’s my shameless self-promotion pitch—when you’ve got a few spare minutes (or heck, nearly an hour), check out my WGN Radio interview. See if you pick up a travel tip or two about experiencing the world on its own terms, no matter where in the world you happen to go.

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4 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Scott  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Hi Maureen,

    Thank you so much for your really thoughtful and creative promotion of our Sunday evening Atelier Concert series at the American Church in Paris in your CNN piece entitled, “10 fabulous free finds in Paris.” You’ve connected quite a few new people to the concerts.

    When you’re in Paris, let me buy you a coffee and say thank you personally!


    Scott Herr
    Senior Pastor
    The American Church in Paris

  • 2. Lydia Scarlett  |  December 12, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Salut! I happened upon your site when googling black hair care shops in Nice! I wish I would’ve bumped into someone like you during my last 3 weeks here in south France. This country has worked its spell on me, as I have caught myself spending hours combing job posts and rental ads hoping to discover the magic key to the mystical door that would allow me to stay here! LOL. Needless to say, I envy your lifestyle and hope to be just like you some day. I am here for 1.5 more weeks and plan to gorge myself on your blog posts. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

  • 3. urbantravelgirl  |  December 24, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Dear Lydia,
    I am absolutely thrilled that my little story has inspired you to find a way to make a life here in France, even for awhile. That’s what it’s all about — to keep each other encouraged! Good luck … and I hope you’re still having a ball!

    Safe travels,

  • 4. urbantravelgirl  |  December 24, 2012 at 2:43 am

    Dear Rev. Dr. Herr,
    My apologies for not responding sooner … but I’m SO glad that people have discovered your beautiful church thanks to my CNN.com piece! Next time I’m in Paris on a Sunday, I’ll stop by the church and say hello. I’ve enjoyed visiting your worship services, and hope to do it again soon!

    Merry Christmas,

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