Ah, Egypt! Dan and I spent 10 days in Egypt in April 2019, and we had the best time! By way of background, we have been wanting to go to Egypt for a long time, since 2008 to be exact, and we almost went in 2010, but opted for Turkey instead. Big mistake. The Egyptian Revolution happened in early 2011, and we have viewed Egypt as a bit too unsafe for Western tourists (or at least us) since. Last year, though, we started reading travel and news articles indicating that Egypt was once again safe. Soooo, we decided to go for it and booked tickets!
Spoiler alert, we had a FABULOUS time and already want to go back (but will wait until the new museum opens in Giza!). The ancient Egyptian monuments are more amazing than imaginable, and we really enjoyed the culture, food, and hospitality! If you have been thinking of booking a trip to Egypt, now is a great time to go and here is information for your booking based on our time there!
If you follow me or Dan on Instagram, you know that we FINALLY made it to Egypt earlier this year, visiting Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, via a Nile River cruise between Luxor and Cairo. I will be posting about our trip and my tips and tricks shortly but, for now, here are some of my favorite pictures of this beautiful country (which you should ALL visit!)!
Hilton Resort & Spa Luxor, that’s the view from our room and the Nile River in the background.
Dan and my friend, Hugh, is in the wine industry, so when we were in Rome, he sent us over a few dinner/wine bar recommendations to try while we were in town! Usually I am a little picky about people’s restaurant or wine recommendations, but this guy knows his stuff and introduced us to Portuguese wine, which led to our wedding in Portugal! Enter L’Angolo Divino, a wine bar near Campo de’ Fiori, which was definitely our hang out spot when we studied in Rome…. We called and made a reservation same day (and probably did not need a reservation).
Despite it being late December in Rome, we walked to dinner (it was mid 50s F!) and were promptly seated at a cute table next to a window overlooking the street. The restaurant is quite small and when we visited, all of the patrons seemed to be tourists. This was a bit unsettling, but it turned out great.
Over Memorial Day, Dan and I drove to Montreal (from NYC, 6.5 hours) to spend a glorious weekend eating and drinking far too much. Montreal is the perfect place for that. On this trip, we stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton in the Complexe Desjardins, which was very recently converted from a Hyatt to a Double Tree in December. Fun fact – we stayed at that Hyatt back in 2012! This time around, we were very excited to check out the new Executive Lounge a/k/a Club Lounge at the Double Tree, having really enjoyed the one at theDouble Tree by Hilton in Santiago!
Entrance to the “Club Lounge” a/k/a Executive Lounge in Hilton speak.
On my 35th Birthday Trip in Rome, I lived out one of my greatest dreams – cruising around Rome in a vintage Fiat 500!!! Or a small metal death trap, as Dan called it… He hates danger. Our afternoon was absolutely fantastic and a unique way to explore the lovely city of Roma, Italia!
Roma Sparita is an absolutely delicious, well-known, yet casual, restaurant in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome that frequently tops “best place to eat in Rome” lists. It doesn’t hurt that Anthony Bourdain LOVED this restaurant, so much that he would never disclose its name (although it was pretty easy to uncover). And, as some of you may know, Dan and I lived in Trastevere for a summer in law school and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Bourdain! Obviously,when we were in Rome over the New Year, I just had to have a meal at Roma Sparita and made a dinner reservation our first night.
One of the best, if not the best (a close tie with Roma Sparita), meals that I had on my 35th birthday trip to Rome was at Restaurant Roscioli. Restaurant Roscioli is quite well known in Rome, as both a delicious restaurant and a popular tourist haunt. Despite its touristy popularity, we booked a table for dinner on our trip, and it was so, SO good!
If you are planning a trip to Rome, Roscioli will likely pop up on a lot of “best restaurant” lists and if you are just walking around looking for a place to eat, Roscioli’s charming atmosphere will certainly draw you in – think meats hanging from the ceiling, Italian products stocking the walls, and lots and lots of people. We made a reservation in advance before we left home (recommended) for the wine cellar. Yes, you pick where you sit, and there are four options: (1) the counter bar; (2) the restaurant hall; (3) the wine cellar; and (4) a table in front of the deli counter. Avoid the wine cellar if you can’t do steep stairs and the counter bar if you do not want to sit on a stool. Otherwise, the “options” are all in the same building and use the same menu and kitchen. We opted for the wine cellar because, well, we love wine! I would also note that each reservation is strictly timed and you are only allotted two hours for dinner, which I hate and is very un-Italian. Since we had a late dinner, we were the last sitting for our table and were able to stay as long as we wanted.
Happy Dan Dan!
On arrival, we were promptly shown to our table, which was down a steep set of stairs in, not surprisingly, the wine cellar. The tables were TIGHT, but that’s somewhat normal in Italy and we were sitting among some amazing and delicious bottles of wine. We kept spotting bottles that we would like to try. It was kind of a problem. The waitress gave us the menu and the huge wine list, and we set out to choose a bottle of wine! We also ordered a couple gin and tonics to start, and these were absolutely delicious. They were also served in the cutest glasses, and there are multiple fancy gins to choose from on their Gin and Tonic list!
Delicious G&T in the cutest glass.
After reviewing the wine list in great detail, we decided to ask for a recommendation on a Sagrintino. We ended up decanting a 2011 Montefalco Sagrantino at Dan’s choice. The wine was ridiculously good!
2011 Montefalco Sagrantino!
In the decanter!
On the food front, Roscioli has a really good menu, from pasta to meat, to fish, the list goes on. We ended up ordering two entrees (aka starters in Europe). First, fresh burrata! Burrata is a fresh, soft cheese, reminiscent of fresh mozzarella but better in my opinion! I was going to order this regardless but, super lucky for us, it was still white truffle season in Italy and there was a special white truffle menu, and the burrata was on it!! So, of course, I opted for the white truffle burrata! For those unfamiliar, white truffles are the most expensive of the truffle family, and they are incredibly, incredibly delicious. They are also only available for a short time period between about November and January. White truffles are priced by weight and the waiter will shave it fresh onto your dish. We went to a white truffle festival in San Miniato in 2016, and black truffles have just never been the same. We were also pretty familiar about how white truffles worked.
The white truffle menu!
Ready for the white truffle!
Burrata sans white truffles.
Burrata with white truffles!!
In addition to the burrata, we ordered something that was similar to a hotdog slider, basically a very tasty local sausage on a small bun with a pickle and a delicious sauce. These came two to an order and were quite delicious. No truffles on these bad boys.
Going to call these “mini hotdogs.”
For my main dish, I initially planned to order to Cacio e Pepe, but I wanted a dish from the white truffle menu, which narrowed it a bit. In the end, I ordered homemade tortellini from Bologna, which were stuffed with pork, and topped with more white truffles! Like the burrata, the white truffle was freshly shaved onto my pasta! This meal, again, was AMAZING!
White truffles and the scale.
The final dish!
Dan opted for my original Cacio e Pepe order, so at least I got to try that! As expected, his Cacio e Pepe was beautiful and tasted amazing. It was also a huge dish! I will absolutely order this next time (assuming its not white truffle season).
Dan’s Cacio e Pepe.
Even though we had enjoyed so much food at this point, we could not pass up dessert since the food was so tasty! We ended up ordered a fruit plate with chocolate sauce for dessert, accompanied with these famous dessert cookies. We also did a glass of dessert wine – a 2014 Muffato della Sala. The fruit was excellent and a great way to finish off our meal. However, I would probably not order it again, as it looks like every table receives a similar, smaller dessert for free.
Fruit + chocolate + wine biscuits.
All in, this meal was 1000%!!! I cannot go back to Rome without eating here, and I even joined their wine club! For those planning to visit, make a reservation in advance and review the menu (online) before you arrive to maximize your two hour dinner. There are a lot of options on the menu and it can be a little confusing. But don’t worry, the waitstaff is super nice and used to tourists. They will gladly assist if needed! In terms of price, this was our most expensive dinner in Rome, but that was due to my white truffles (about $50 US extra between the two courses – it was my birthday!) and an expensive bottle of wine. I would classify Roscioli as upscale but not breaking the bank.
STEAL OUR DINNER
Roscioli: Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Closed Sunday. Open Monday – Sunday, 12h30 – 16h, 19h – 00h. Reservations almost mandatory and can be made here. There are several options of “where to sit” in Roscioli. All areas serve the same menu prepared by the same kitchen.
Roma Sparita: Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 24, 00153 Roma RM, Italy. 12h30 – 14h30, 19h30 – 12h. Closed for 2 weeks every August. Recommended to reserve in advance here. or by calling +39 06 580 0757.
If you want to learn more about white truffles, and you should, read about my visit to the San Miniato white truffle festivalhere,here, andhere!
Dan and I made our triumphant return to Rome Italy between Christmas and New Year’s to celebrate my 35th birthday!! We originally visited Rome in 2008 as a law school summer study abroad and LOVED it but, unfortunately, had not been back – despite having been to Italymanytimes over the last decade… Since my birthday is in late December – the 26th to be precise – we visited Rome between Christmas and New Years. I was a bit concerned about the timing, the weather, what to do, etc., but we ended up having the perfect trip and now I really want to go back!
Dan and I at Circus Maximus. December 2018.
Dan and I in Campo di Fiore 11 years ago. July 2008.
Le Grand Colbert is an old-school Parisian haunt near the Louvre (and even closer to the Bourse (aka stock exchange)). Its also right around the corner from Ellsworth, an adorable restaurant that I recommend! Being old-school, Le Grand Colbert has been around for years – since 1900 (current owners since 1992) – and its everything that you would imagine in such a bistrot – gorgeous interior, fancy waiters dressed in full suits, and classic French fare. The building also has tons of history, originally dating to 1637. Be sure to check out the details in the small details, including the mosaic floor!
Le Grand Colbert.
Doesn’t le Grand Colbert seem like the perfect spot? Well, its also, and somewhat unfortunately, quite popular with the tourist crowds due to the fact that it was featured in the hit American move, Something’s Gotta Give (GREAT movie though!). So while its a classic, you will not likely be enjoying a meal at Le Grand Colbert with Parisians, but with other tourists. Even then, however, Le Grand Colbert is a pretty fabulous meal in Paris, especially for those on a first time (or once in a life time visit)!
Le group at le Grand Colbert.
As you can probably guess, I dined at Le Grand Colbert on my Ladies Trip to Paris earlier this year, but my mother and I visited Le Grand Colbert way back in 2004 when I studied abroad in Paris! We loved it then and it was just as good this time around. One of the best things about Le Grand Colbert is its classic, and lengthy, Parisian/South Burgundy menu. You want something classically French, its probably on this menu. Le Grand Colbert also boasts a great wine list! Every table at Le Grand Colbert starts with olives, potato chips (my favorite!), and crusty French bread. We paired this with a 2014 Bordeaux from Haut-Médoc from that excellent wine list.
Olives & crisps.
I started my meal with a bowl of French Onion Soup because well, I was in Paris. This one was particularly good and super cheesy! Highly recommended. My only complaint is that it was too much food for me, ha!
Real French Onion Soup.
I then ordered a classic Parisian dish and one of my favorites, steak au poivre. This is basically a deliciously rare steak in a pepper corn sauce. My steak was served with a slice of tomato with Parmesean crust, really good haricot vert (green beans), and pommes frites! Super Parisian, and super delicious! Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of other peoples food, but other popular choices were the very fresh scallops, and the huge pot of moules-frites (mussels and fries)!
Steak au poivre.
Pommes-frites and sauce for the steak (or the fries).
For dessert, because, Paris, I ordered a classic crème brûlée. It was served flaming, and it was absolutely delicious!
When in Paris?
Flaming crème brûlée!
STEAL OUR DINNER
Le Grand Colbert: 2 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France. Open daily 12h – 00h. Reservations recommended and can easily be made online. Not cheap, but not as expensive as you would think. Below are some pictures of the large menu (but not all of it) for price point comparison. While touristy, I do recommend this restaurant and would absolutely eat here again. Le Grand Colbert is also good about reserving tables for large groups without issue, a plus for groups or families!
Ah, the Eiffel Tower. The definitive bucket list site in Paris. Completed in 1889 for the World’s Fair in Paris, its still the tallest structure in Paris and very popular with visitors, who can ascend to the very top on most days (the top is occasionally closed for wind). I’ve visited the Eiffel Tower many times of the years, and visiting it has changed significantly in the last 20 years. Gone are the days of picnicing in the Champs de Mars and gone are the days of buying a ticket on the spot. Now, due to increased security measures, tourists should plan their visit in advance to save precious Paris vacation time and ensure their ticket to the top! Here is my guide on visiting and dining on the Eiffel Tower (skip to the bottom for information on dining on the Eiffel Tower only) in 2019!
Pryor and me visiting the Eiffel Tower in February 2019!
Ellsworth is an adorable little restaurant near the Louvre! With a little American flair and lots of Parisian flair, Ellsworth is fun stop not too far from a very touristy part of Paris. I have been to Ellsworth twice for lunch; once in the summer with Dan and once in the winter on my Paris Ladies Trip. I enjoyed both of my meals and will definitely return again!
Earlier this year with my mother, Dan’s mother, sister, and aunt, and our friend Pryor (frequently on this blog) and her mother went to Paris over Valentine’s Day. On this lovely Girls’ Trip, we took a food tour through Montmartre on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon – I’m talking sunny and 60 degrees! It was pretty great and a fun walk to explore a usually too touristy part of Paris!
Montmartre. You can still see a windmill in the background!
Le Centre Pompidou (or the Pompidou Center in English) is Paris’ modern art museum. Located in the Marais neighborhood of Paris, the museum itself is a stunning work of modern architecture and worth a walk-by, even if you are not a modern art lover. Earlier this year when I visited Paris on a Girls’ Trip, I lunched at le Centre Pompidou’s upscale restaurant, Georges, located on the roof of the museum, with stunning views of Paris. Georges ended up being everyone’s favorite meal of the trip, and eating there was a blast. Highly recommended for visitors searching for a delicious, somewhat upscale meal in an Instagrammable setting.
Earlier this year, actually over Valentine’s Day weekend (ha!), I took a ladies trip to Paris with my mother, Dan’s mother, sister, and aunt, our friend, Pryor, and her mother! It was a little reminiscent of our 2016 trip to Italy, but without Dan Dan (SAD!) Since some of the group had never been to Paris and others had not been for years, I took the lead in planning. So, for your reading, and hopefully planning, pleasure, here is our itinerary, which I think is perfect for first time visitors to Paris!
As some of you may know, Dan and I spent a fabulous summer in Rome wayyyy back in 2008 (so long ago!). We lived in the very residential part of the Trastevere neighborhood that summer, not too far from the adjacent Testaccio neighborhood. In fact, I have vivid memories of being in Testaccio (and Trastevere!) and thinking that Rome was not at all a touristy city. How wrong was I? Despite Rome being super touristy, certain areas, including parts of Trastevere and Testaccio, remain local and largely devoid of tourists. When we went back over the New Year this past year, I definitely wanted to explore more of these areas.
Me and Dan our first night in Rome, June 2008! I still drank white wine… #basic
Like its big sister, Buenos Aires, just across the Río del Plata, Montevideo is a meat lovers paradise. Beef is king, and often served grilled in a casual setting. Meat-eaters cannot leave Montevideo without enjoyed a grilled meat extravaganza at a paradilla. Like in Buenos Aires, You can find paradillas all over Uruguay, and touristy ones in the Mercado Del Puerto. We choose to go a bit off the tourist beaten path and visited Paradilla La Pulperia in the Punta Carretas neighborhood of Montevideo.
Paradilla La Pulperia, or La Pulperia for short, is an institution in Montevideo that is only open Tuesday – Saturday, 19h – 00h. The actual restaurant is not much more than a glorified bar surrounding the most amazing grill. You will find both locals and tourists at La Pulperia, and you should arrive right at 19h (when it opens) or prepare to wait a while for a table.
A “parrilla” is a casual restaurant serving all types of meat, are extremely popular in Argentina and other South American countries (hello, Uruguay!). Buenos Aires is home to several famous parrillas, and you really shouldn’t visit Buenos Aires without a proper meal at one. When Dan and I first visited Buenos Aires, we dined at a famous parrilla called La Brigada, and decided that this was the spot for our only dinner in Buenos Aires this trip!
If you are traveling between Buenos Aires and Uruguay, even for a day trip, chances are that you will at least look at taking the ferry across the Río de la Plata. Dan & I have done it a few times, and its much easier than one would think. Its also much quicker than flying between countries considering the time getting to the airport, security, etc.
Buenos Aires (BA), Argentina is quite close to Uruguay, only separated by the Río de la Plata. As such, a common and convenient way to get between BA and Uruguay is to take the ferry, generally referred to as the “BuqueBus,” between the two countries.
To sleepy Western Uruguay…
In fact, ferries depart several times a day between BA and Colonia, Uruguay and BA and Montevideo, Uruguay and back. The journey to Colonia takes a little over an hour, while the journey to Montevideo takes around 3 hours.
Dan and I found ourselves in Buenos Aries, Argentina for 24 hours in November en route to our wine-cation in Uruguay and Chile! Pro tip – its easier to get to Western Uruguay (Carmelo and Colonia) by flying into Buenos Aires and taking the ferry across the Río de la Plata than flying into Montevideo and driving (who knew?!). Since we had been to Buenos Aires on a previous visit and were short on time, we got right to down hitting our very favorite spots!
I enjoy a good tasting menu, especially ones not with NYC prices, and when I saw that a Santiago restaurant had been named as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World, I planned our first night in Santiago eat at that exact restaurant – Borago!!
When visiting Santiago, Chile last November, Dan and I took a day trip to Valparaiso, Chile’s uber colorful port city with a dicy reputation. We had originally planned to stay a night or two in Valparaiso, but the timing did not work out and I was satisfied with our day trip. In fact, since it was so easy to visit as a day trip from Santiago, I would recommend most visitors with limited time to visit Valparaiso via a day trip from Santiago.
Dan and I love a good lounge, whether its in an airport or a hotel, we love free food and drinks. We also really enjoy staying for free on hotel points. When we booked our trip to Chile last year, we immediately looked at all hotels where we could redeem points for our stay. The Double Tree by Hilton Santiago – Vitacura was a candidate and we ended up booking four nights here based on the point redemption and the hotel’s location. It didn’t hurt that Dan has Diamond Status at Hilton either.
Entrance to the Double Tree by Hilton Santiago – Vitacura.
Santiago is the capital of Chile, the long, skinny country on the Western side of South America. Chile is bordered to the right by the Andes mountains, to the left by the Pacific Ocean, to the North by the desert, and to the South by glaciers. Due to its isolated location, Chile is indeed unique and extremely proud of its country and local products. Side note – to protect this status, Chile is also very particular about what one can bring into the country (wine is allowed).
Wine map of Chile. The most appropriate kind of map.
Montevideo has a number of good restaurants, but I found Jacinto on on Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: Uruguay. Since Bourdain loved Jacinto, I just had to eat here. I made a reservation a couple weeks before we left, which, looking back, was probably unnecessary.
Dan and my wine-cation last Thanksgiving unexpectedly took us to Santiago, Chile after visiting Uruguay (mainly because of flight schedules to/from the US). Since we were in Chile, we absolutely had to engage in some Chilean wine touring, especially since we do not drink much Chilean wine. In fact, we really did not know much about Chilean wine at all.
I spent Valentine’s Day weekend in Paris, France this year, sadly without Dan (SORRY DAN)! It was a girl’s weekend, and we had the best time. I will be posting more about what we did, where we ate, how Paris is in February (spoiler alert, it was amazing and 60 degrees and sunny!), and how you can recreate our itinerary, but for now, here is a snippet of some of my favorite pictures!
First up, la tour Eiffel at sunset. Valentine’s color schemed.
Macarons at Laduree.
60 degrees at la tour Eiffel actually on Valentine’s Day.
Pretty rugs on a private tour at Versailles.
Truffle cheese, french bread, and wine.
The little hens on the trip. On top of Galleries Lafayette at the Ice Cube Bar.
O’Paris Pub in Versailles. A great post-Versailles break with outdoor seating.
The group at dinner at 58 Tour Eiffel.
Parisian fried chicken.
Les Jardins de Versailles.
Love an old French advert.
Cute restaurant that was there when I lived in the 11th!
Pretty Parisian buildings.
Another pretty restaurant.
Notre Dame de Paris.
View from the top of le Centre Pompidou.
Midnight at la tour Eiffel. Post dinner, drinks, and a visit to the top!
The Canelones wine region, Uruguay’s most popular wine region, is located just outside of Montevideo. Since its so close to Montevideo, its definitely feasible to explore some of its wineries on a day trip from Montevideo. As you may know, Dan and I are big fans of Uruguayan wine, and we decided to fit in a little wine touring when we were in Montevideo last Thanksgiving!
Canelones wine region.
A day trip to Canelones is very easy if you have a rental car; you can just drive from Montevideo and park on site. If you don’t have a car, some companies run tours from Montevideo or you could hire an Uber. We did not have a car, but we came across an offer from Bodega Bouza to participate in a 1/2 day tour with lunch and transportation to and from our hotel, and we signed up for it! The tour was very well run and I would absolutely do this tour again.
Dan and I spent Thanksgiving 2018 in Uruguay! We initially started in Western Uruguay and moved East after a few days. Particularly, after visiting excellent wineries in Carmelo, Uruguay (Western Uruguay) for as much Tannat as we could drink, we spent a few days in Montevideo before flying to Chile for more wine tasting!
Last November, Dan and I traveled to Western Uruguay to visit Dan’s favorite winery – Narbona! Prior to our trip, however, I really knew nothing about Western Uruguay, and not really not that much about Uruguayan wine. But, to our lovely surprise, Western Uruguay is home to a handful of vineyards and has even been referred to as the Tuscany of South America by the New York Times!
Western Uruguay is beautiful.
That being said, and while we had an absolutely wonderful time, I found it incredibly difficult to plan our winery visits in Carmelo. Aside from that old New York Times article, there is not much information online about Western Uruguayan vineyards, and even less in English. After doing tons of research on the area, lots of Google mapping, and Facebook messaging vineyards in broken Spanish, we successfully visiting five vineyards, and here is my guide to wine tasting in Carmelo, Uruguay!
Dan, my husband, and I first encountered Narbona wine several years ago at Salt Creek Grille in Princeton, New Jersey (a great restaurant – get the fries!). One of its managers, Hugh Preece, introduced us to Narbona’s 2011 Tannat, and we instantly fell in love with the wine. Side note – Hugh also introduced us to Portuguese wine, which eventually led us to getting married in Portugal…
Side note – getting married in Portugal…
Back to the wine, the 2011 Narbona Tannat was big, tannic and everything we love in wine. We proceeded to order numerous cases from various wine distributors in the US and, when they eventually sold out (possibly to us?), we decided that we needed to visit the Narbona vineyards in Uruguay. It didn’t hurt that I have been wanting to visit Uruguay for a while, and that Anthony Bourdain had recently visited Uruguay. In any case, we made reservations at the Narbona Wine Lodge over US Thanksgiving 2018!
Narbona – from our room!
On arrival, the Narbona Wine Lodge was everything we wanted and more! However, it was slow and definitely a place to get away from it all. And, it was difficult to find any reviews online so, here you are!
On our visit to Nuremberg last fall, Dan and I ate at the cutest, pink restaurant right in the old town called Trödelstuben. I found it in online reviews and luckily made an advance reservation before we left, as it was entirely booked when we visited!
When in Prague earlier this year, since I had visited Prague before, I really wanted to do a day trip to a new city. I settled on Ceský Krumlov, which is a beautiful small town about 2 hours south of Prague, near the Austrian border.
Ceský Krumlov is the red dot.
I choose Ceský Krumlov based on the wild reviews of Rick Steves (with whom I have a love/hate relationship) and in in the hopes of visiting Ceský Krumlov before it is totally overrun with tourists – too late for that one! In sum, Ceský Krumlov was an easy day trip from Prague, but it was super, super crowded with tourists!
Views from the castle in Cesky Krumlov.
The Town And Its Sites
Ceský Krumlov is truly totally cute and looks like a fairy take town. Ceský Krumlov is also quite compact, and wandering around Ceský Krumlov itself is its main attraction. I recommend allotting at least a 1/2 day for Ceský Krumlov and at least an hour to simply wander the town. That being said, I would probably not spend more than 24 hours in town.
Nuremberg, Germany is a super cute town (well, on the larger side for a “town”) in southern Germany, about an hour train ride from Munich. Dan and I, as well as our friends Tinh and LaKenya, visited Nuremberg for a fun Fall weekend before hitting Oktoberfest earlier this year. Nuremberg was pretty, interesting, and a convenient place to explore before diving into Oktoberfest!
Hello and happy 2019 to all my friends, followers, and readers! I have been a little MIA since Thanksgiving due to the holiday season and trips to Buenos Aires, Uruguay, Santiago, and, most recently to Rome to celebrate the New Year!
I’ll be posting a lot about my recent trips and general travel information, but for now, here are some of my favorite pictures from magical Rome!
Happy Thanksgiving!! This year, Dan and I are celebrating at Dan’s favorite winery – Narbona in Carmelo, Uruguay. But last year, we celebrated in one of our favorite countries – Ireland! Particularly, Dublin & Galway – you can read about it here. In any case, I thought I would give you all a little gluttonous throw back regarding our food tour last Thanksgiving in Ireland.
Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport is home to four Priority Pass lounges. When we visited in October, we spent a little over an hour in the MasterCard Lounge in Terminal 2. We had an enjoyable time and would definitely go back without question if in the Prague airport.
Prague is filled with delicious food – from high end Michelin starred restaurants to super casual and inexpensive ones. You will absolutely have a difficult time allocating your meals amongst the options. Despite my deep research on the best places to eat in Prague earlier this year, Dan and I stumbled on a fabulous restaurant while strolling along the Vltava River -Mánes Art Restaurant & Terrace.
As you may know, Dan & I love a food tour. We find them as a great way to experience a lot of local dishes without doing much of the legwork, and we do them on almost every trip (see our tours in Kuala Lumpar, London, Mexico, Paris, Siem Reap, Singapore, Venice, the list goes on… ). Yes, we really do love a good food tour.
A food tour in Venice in 2016.
When visiting Prague, we found Prague Food Tour via a Google search before we left home and took its evening Delicious Food Tour on our second night in Prague. Prague Food Tours is owned by couple George and Leona, both natives of Prague, and this particular tour took participants on a walking tour through central Prague, stopping at four locations over the course of four hours, and eating and drinking a lot! Since the tour is four hours and the owners/guides are Prague natives, we also received a lot of information about Prague and we were welcome to ask questions! We met in the early evening in central Prague and dove right in to the “food” portion of the tour!
Prague is fabulous. But its also super touristy. And super congested,, especially around its main tourist sites, such as the Old Town Square and Hradčany castle. While I loved Prague, there were definitely more than a few times when I just wanted to lose the tourist hoards and enjoy the city.
Crowds at Hradčany Castle at 8:45 AM…
Cue Nový Svet. Nový Svet is a charming neighborhood in Prague behind Hradčany Castle. For whatever reason, Nový Svet lacks the crazy crowds in most of Prague, yet retains loads of classic European charm. We ended up in Nový Svet somewhat on a whim – I had read about a “local” coffee shop there by the same name, and Nový Svet was recommended by our tour guide in Ceský Krumlov. We ended up fitting in a stop on our past day in Prague.
Prague has a popular dining concept, whereby, rather thank picking up meat from a butcher shop, diners order and eat at the butcher shop. Who would have thought?! Clearly, I (or rather, Dan) was super interesting in trying this out in Prague. I initially thought that waiting, ordering, and eating at a Prague butcher shop would be stressful and confusing, but it turned out to be super easy and ridiculously delicious! We went back for a second night!
Ah, Prague. For certain, one of the most beautiful cities in the World. Also, one of the most crowded with tourists. Seriously, SO MANY TOURISTS. In any case, Dan & I spent a really lovely long weekend in Prague in October 2018 with our friends Meghan and Tinh!
I first experienced Prague in 2004 (!!), when I was much younger studying abroad, much less traveled, and had barely even heard of Prague. I visited over Halloween weekend in 2004, and I remember it being the most exotic place that I had ever visited. Now all of that has changed, but Prague does still retain a certain Central/Eastern European charm that I really love. In my opinion and experience, Prague is a great destination for travelers who have been to a few “bucket list” places and are ready to brach off, at least seemingly, to a less visited destination.
As you probably gathered from my previous post about the American Express Centurion Lounge in Mexico City, Dan and I did a bit of lounge hopping when flying back from our trip to Mexico City earlier this year. We had a bit of time to kill in the airport (although not as much as I would have liked…), so we first hit the American Express Centurion Lounge and then jumped to The Ground Lounge Elite, a few minutes walk from the Centurion Lounge, via our Priority Pass.
Flying out of CDMX.
Like the American Express Centurion Lounge, the Grand Lounge Elite is airside not too far from the departure gates. The entrance is marked by a visible sign and entrance is complimentary to Priority Pass members. We checked in quite quickly despite the lounge being crowded.
American Express offers a series of airport lounges in the US, as well as a few outside of the US, which are complimentary for certain cardholders, including American Express Platinum cardholders. Since I have the American Express Platinum, I enjoy free access to these lounges. I first experienced a Centurion Lounge in Buenos Aries Ezeiza Airport (EZE), and have been a bit obsessed ever since. The Centurion Lounges in the US are rumored to be much nicer than the international lounges, but I, unfortunately, have not visited enough of these lounges to make a firm decision.
As I mentioned before, our Mexico City trip was alllllll about the food! For our second food tour of the trip, we signed up for an evening food tour through the Navarte neighborhood with Eat Mexico. Navarte is an old school neighborhood in Mexico City with a bit of hipster flair; it’s also where our tour guide grew up!
Cuidad de Mexico City (spoiler alert – this sign is not in Navarte!)
Ahhhhh, one of my favorite, if not my FAVORITE, restaurant that we ate at in Singapore on our honeymoon (sigh, take me back!) was Birds of a Feather! Birds of a Feather is a bit of a swanky sit down restaurant on Amoy Street in the Chinatown neighborhood of Singapore. We walked from the Intercontinental, and it took us close to 45 minutes.
Views of Marina Bay Sands on our walk to Birds of a Feather.
Dan and I visited Kampong Plouk, one of Cambodia’s Floating Villages, for a few hours one afternoon after doing some temple exploring in Angkor and the BEST lunch at The Hut! Unknown to us (although we did specifically request to visit the Floating Village), it was dry season and the experience on the Floating Village was certainly different than we imagined, in more ways than one…. In any case, it was quite interesting to visit the village. I can only imagine what it would look like not during the dry season!
Getting tickets for a boat ride through the Floating Village.
On our honeymoon earlier this year, Dan and I had hoped to have dinner at the famous Cuisine Damnak Wat; however, it was closed during our visit to Cambodia!! In looking for a comparable restaurant, I came across The Sugar Palm in Siem Reap. While I am not at all confident it is comparable to Cuisine Damnak Wat, The Sugar Palm was an excellent choice for dinner on our honeymoon!
The Sugar Palm is set in the Wat Damnak neighborhood of Siem Reap. We took a tuk tuk from our hotel, and we ran into a bit of difficulty finding the restaurant. Eventually we arrived, just in time for our dinner reservation.
Dan and I visited Angkor, including the famous, Angkor Wat, earlier this year on our honeymoon. The entire trip was totally fabulous, and you can read more about that here. But, this post is about what to wear!! I was sort of clueless when it came to deciding what to pack for Angkor. I certainly wanted to ensure that I was comfortable and fully able to explore all of the temples in Angkor without issue, but I also did not want to look like I just came from the gym…. I mean, pictures!!
We had to look cute for these ridiculous pictures, right?
Angkor, commonly referred to as “Angkor Wat,” is the humongous, impressive, UNESCO recognized temple complex in Northeast Cambodia. Dan & I had been wanting to visit Angkor for years, and we finally visited in February 2018 on our honeymoon! Of course, I had to write a post about our experience, so here you go! If you are thinking of going there on a honeymoon, I thought Angkor was a perfect mix of adventure, romance, and beauty!
One of my favorite pictures of Angkor Wat in the morning (before allllll of the visitors).
Merced Market is Mexico City’s (and North America’s) largest market and it sells anything and everything that one could possibly need. Located on the fringe of the Zocalo neighborhood, a visit to the Merced Market can be overwhelming, and possibly a bit scary, especially for non-Spanish speakers. As such, Dan and I booked a tour of the Merced Market with a local tour company – Eat Mexico – to eat some good food and explore the market.
While Milan is not a super touristy city, the area surrounding the Milan Duomo and the Galleria Vittorino Emanuale II will make anyone think otherwise. This area is Milan tourist central and a great place to get pick pocketed, scammed, or just overcharged for food and drink. Enter, Liuni Panzerotti, a tiny, local restaurant jammed into the center of touristy Milan (just a block away from the Duomo). You should definitely plan to grab a snack here.
Me, Dan, and Aunt Di at the Doumo – tourist central! But also my favorite cathedral ever!
As many of you may know, the Guinness Storehouse is an iconic stop in Dublin, and a visit to the Guinness Storehouse is a must for any visitor to Ireland! The Storehouse is located an easy 20/25 minute walk from central tourist-Dublin and its open every single day. I’ve been a couple of times and, most recently, went on the Guinness Connoisseur Experience tour last November. This post is meant to give visitors some more information on visiting the Guinness Storehouse and the Guinness Connoisseur Experience!
The perfect pint in the Connoissuer Experience!
To plan a visit to the Guinness Storehouse (or a pilgrimage if you are like me…), set aside a minimum of three hours to arrive and explore the entire Storehouse, longer if you plan to eat a sit down meal or take the Connoisseur’s Experience (highly recommended for true Guinness lovers!). In planning your visit, know that the Guinness Storehouse tour is not an actual brewery tour (there are no public Guinness brewery tours), but an experience to fully immerse visitors into the world of Guinness. And, its where I first discovered Guinness 10 years ago…!!
In honor of our 1 year wedding anniversary, I am sharing some of our favorite pictures from our wedding! All of these pictures were taken by our fabulous professional photographers, The Framers of Lisbon, Portugal!
Dan and I ate lunch at Ard Bia at Nimmo’s in Galway, Ireland a few years ago when we visited Ireland with our mothers. At that time, we had no reservation and showed up on a whim for lunch. We were probably lucky that they had a table, and all 4 of us loved Ard Bia at Nimmo’s and still talk about it to date! What was so great about it? I have a difficult time explaining, but Ard Bia was cosy, friendly, and kind of felt like we were in someone’s home.
The Petronas Twin Towers are one of Kuala Lumpur’s top tourist attractions, located right in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Built in 1993, the Petronas Twin Towers are 88 story twin skyscrapers connected by a skybridge on their 41st floors. The Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin towers in the world and, fun fact, were the tallest buildings in the word from 1998 – 2004.
Langkawi is a Malaysian island off the coast of Malaysia on the Malaysia-Thai border. As expected, Langkawi is very much a beach destination, but it does have a few tourist attractions, including the Langkawi Sky Cab and Cable Car!
So before you start reading, know that this was one of Dan and my favorite meals in Mexico City!, and we totally stumbled into having dinner here! I found Broka Bistrot on a travel website (I think Afar…) and I boked a table solely based on the beautiful pictures of Broka Bistrot’s dining roo.. It didn’t hurt that it got good reviews or that it was open on Sunday… In any case, it turned out to be amazing AND, its soft crab shell tacos were better than the ones at Pujol (yep, that was true!!).
If you read this post, you may have gathered that Dan and I planned a trip to Mexico City just to eat. Yes, that did, indeed, happen. Since our trip was all about food, we simply had to eat at Pujol, a Michelin starred restaurant run by famous chef Enrique Olvera that was recently ranked as the 13th best restaurant in the world! I made the reservation in January, before we even booked the plane tickets… Even as early as January, dinner was already full, so lunch it was for us! We booked the 13:30 time slot, the first one available, in an effort not to spoil any dinner…(spolier alert, that was not succesful!).
Just before lunch, we were in the Zocalo neighborhood, so we took a quick Uber ride to Pujol. We arried a bit early, so we walked around Polanco a bit before entering the restaurant right at 13:30. Polanco is quite swanky – lots of very high end shops, including the most beautiful Louis Vuitton!
As many of you may know, Mexico City is super popular on the travel market right now (and has been for a while), so Dan and I decided that we absolutely needed to go over Memorial Day weekend! Actually, I have been wanting to visit Mexico City for a long time, but safety was always a concern. In any case, we felt that it was safe enough to visit so we booked tickets for the long weekend! It was just enough time to see Mexico City’s highlights, and I would definitely return for more exploration! Mexico City was cool, cheap, and full of delicious, delicious food.
Dan and I spent a few nights in Singapore on our honeymoon earlier this year, and we stayed in 3 separate hotels due to our flight schedule – the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong, the Marina Bay Sands, and the Singapore Intercontinental. Of the 3, the Holiday Inn was by far the best value, the Marina Bay Sands was the best bucket list stay, and the Intercontinental was my favorite!
Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong
Marina Bay Sands
As you would think, I totally expected the Marina Bay Sands to be my favorite hotel in Singapore. However, the Singapore Intercontinental totally blew me away! That being said, I would stay at any of these properties again.
Beautiful decor at the Singapore Intercontinental.
Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia located a 5 hour drive north of Singapore, has a population comprised of several cultures – all with amazing food – including Indians, Chinese, and Malays. As a result of the varied population, the food in Kuala Lumpur is excellent and, for whatever reason, much of it is casual and really cheap, making for a great vacation destination in my opinion. Before visiting Kuala Lumpur on our honeymoon, we booked a food tour with TK from Withlocals and it was one of our favorite food tours on the trip (we took 3…).
Dan & I visited the touristy Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia earlier this year on our honeymoon. The Batu Caves were pretty cool and definitely worth a visit for passing through Kuala Lumpur. While the caves were quite interesting and certainly worth a visit, I had trouble finding details about visiting online, so here you go – my thoughts on visiting the Batu Caves. Happy traveling!
Dan and I hosted our “rehearsal dinner” the night before our wedding at Quinta do Arneiro in Gradil, Portugal last summer! I have “rehearsal dinner” in quotes, because we did not actually have a wedding rehearsal (we winged it!); this was just a dinner the night before our wedding with all of our guests who were in town! The evening was fabulously fun, and Quinta do Arneiro was the most amazing venue that anyone can visit for a meal! Highly recommended!!
Nope, that’s not a Gray Malin picture, that is a photograph of Ericeira, Portugal!! As you may know, Dan and I got married near the famous surfing destination of Ericeira, Portugal last summer! I was originally going to write a post about Ericeira in the Summer as a follow up to Ericeira in November, but Ericeirais really just a small Portuguese beach town that acts as a beach getaway for Lisboetas and serious surfers. Ericeira is also beautiful, so here are some of my favorite pictures from Ericeira!
The colorful flowers in Ericeira are unreal and everywhere!
If you read this blog, you know that I got married near Lisbon, Portugal nearly a year ago. Due to requests from a number of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, here are my top 10 tips for planning a destination wedding! Side note – these are probably most applicable for those traveling to Europe (and particularly Portugal) from outside of Europe (I’m from New York).
# 1 – Get Married In A Destination That You Are Somewhat Familiar With, i.e. You Have Visited Before Your Wedding.
To be clear, if you have never visited a destination, do not have your wedding there. Your wedding, which will take months to plan, cost a small fortune, and stress you out to no end, should not be held at some place that you *think* is magical, but to which you have never even visited in person. Save that for your honeymoon. For your wedding, you need a basic understanding as to what you are getting yourself into, the destination, and the culture. We had visited Portugal 3 times before our wedding.
02.09.17. Sintra, Cabo da Roca, and Ericeira, Portugal. 2 days married. Eighth full day in Europe.
Day 8. Wow, our final full day of our European wedding vacation! Since Day 7 was our day of rest (a la our Day at Sea circa 2010 – hello, Pryor!), I planned a full day excursion for everyone’s (everyone who was still in town, anyway) final day in Portugal! I used Tours by Jorge to plan a private day tour to Sintra, Portugal, with lunch and a stop at Cabo do Roca, all starting and ending at Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira! I was seriously the best bride… = )
The beautiful Portuguese countryside that we toured!
01.09.17. Ericeira, Portugal. 1 day married! Seventh full day in Europe.
Ah, the morning after the wedding… We clearly missed breakfast, but work up earlier and less hungover than I expected! When we finally got ourselves together and down to the pool, most of our wedding guests were arriving, too. Everyone seemed pretty tired and hungover, but to have had a grand time and our wedding. Dan and I enjoyed a pool-side lunch of fries and a Somerbsy cider. The classic post-wedding carb overload. It was delightful.
All of the carbs at the Hotel Vila Gale Ericeira pool bar.