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.
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.
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.
THE THREE FERRIES
There are three ferry companies running the BA/Uruguay route as of 2019 – BuqueBus, SeaCat, and Colonia Express. In short, all depart from the BuqueBus terminals and often you will buy a ticket for one ferry, but get placed on another. However, this is more common to happen when you buy a SeaCat or Colonia Express ticket and get placed on the BuqueBus (rather than the other way around).
The BuqueBus is the largest of the ferries, carrying lots of people and cars. Since this is more of a ship than a boat, the ride is quite smooth, even on rough days, making it the best choice for those susceptible to seasickness. It actually reminded me of one of the large ferries that travels between the Greek Islands. Most BuqueBus ferries have at least two floors for people, with walk-in Duty Free shops and a cafe serving food and drinks. The seating is generally airplane style and spacious, and there is a lot of room to store personal belongings. In addition to the airplane style seating, there are usually a few tables near the cafe.
SeaCat is often cheaper than the BuqueBus and its own branded boats are much smaller. The SeaCat ferry does not carry vehicles and since its small, is bumpier than the large BuqueBus. Seating is airplane Economy style with minimal room for personal belongings. There is usually a small Duty Free shop on the SeaCat and a small concession stand.
The Colonia Express is the most modern of the three ferries, and its also the smallest and the fastest. Its actually more of a speed boat than a ferry. Since its small and fast, some people prefer it for the shorter journey. However, the Colonia Express is rumored to offer a bumpy ride (a problem if you get seasick) and if there is bad weather, it is often cancelled. I have never taken the Colonia Express, so I cannot vouch for the trip it provides. It does, however, look very sleek!
BUYING A TICKET
The first step in taking the ferry between BA and Uruguay, whichever the company, is to purchase a ticket. Tickets can be purchased same day at the BuqueBus Terminal; however, its quite easy to purchase a ticket online and recommended, as they can sellout. To purchase a ticket, visit the BuqueBus website (or one of the other companies websites, listed below), set the language to English if you do not speak Spanish, and enter the destination and return date; its very straightforward. The website will then prompt you to create an account, which is required to collect your tickets.
To complete the purchase, you must enter your passport information and pay via credit card. As with a lot of transportation, ticket prices generally increase the closer you are to departure. You should receive a link to your tickets via email within 24 hours. Print before departure and, voila! Note – when we last took the BuqueBus in November 2018, no one used their cell phone to pull up tickets; everyone printed them.
CHECKIN AND LUGGAGE
On the day of departure, arrive at the BuqueBus Terminal at least one hour before departure (BuqueBus recommends 2 hours) and present your printed ticket at checkin with your passport. And yes, a passport is required even for day trips between the countries.
Side note – all of the ferry terminals for BuqueBus, SeaCat and Colonia Express, are referred to as the BuqueBus terminal. The BuqueBus Terminal in BA is in Puerto Madero, the BuqueBus Terminal in Colonia is known by everyone in the area, and the BuqueBus Terminal in Montevideo is near the old town port (very close to the Mercado del Puerto).
On arrival, a ticket agent will replace your printed ticket with a page of blue tickets containing your name and information. If you have luggage to check, it will be tagged and checked here! And, its just like an airport – place your bag on the scales and the ticket agents tags your bag.
And on the luggage note, the BuqueBus website states that it allows 1 checked luggage of up to 20kg and 2 carry-on pieces of luggage. However, in practice, I did not see this being strictly enforced but, we were traveling on a large BuqueBus ferry. I would be more cautious on the smaller ferries. For reference, we each had full suitcases that we checked and each carried on a backpack. I also carried on a Longchamp purse. No one said anything about the quantity or weight of our luggage.
After checking in and getting those blue tickets, you will go through Customs, which consists of running all of your luggage through an X-ray machine. Its just up the stairs in the BA terminal. This was pretty quick and I did not see anyone getting stopped, but apparently they are particularly interested in stopping people with prohibited food goods – such as raw meat, etc. Check the most recent Customs information for prohibited foods.
Directly after Customs is Immigration. Line up like you would at the airport. First up, the country you are departing. Then, directly after, the country you are entering. Literally, they Argentinian and Uruguayan Immigration officers share a booth, so its super easy! I have moved between Argentina and Uruguay 3 times via the BuqueBus and I have never been asked any questions by either official. I would note that both countries stamp your passport. As such, ensure you have enough space in your passport. For example, if you are doing a day trip to Colonia from BA, you will need to have space for 5 passport stamps just for the day trip!
WAITING FOR DEPARTURE
After checking in and clearing Customs and Immigration, its time to wait for the ferry! In BA, there is a pretty nice waiting area with lots of seating, nice WCs, a small café, and a small gift shop. We did not board until the time we were scheduled to depart, but people started lining up to board about 20 minutes in advance. I guess they wanted those window seats! And, to be clear, it is usually necessary to line up if you want a window seat.
I have not been to the ferry port in Montevideo, but in Colonia it is similar to BA, just smaller. I would also note than in departing Colonia, the ferry port is significantly smaller than that in BA, and there are a lot of people in a tiny space. As such, I would closely adhere to whatever time frame Uruguayan officials suggest regarding catching the ferry to BA. The last ferry of the day is particularly chaotic as day trippers are leaving to go back to BA.
The ride between Argentina and Uruguay is pretty uneventful and there really is not that much to see. In both the BuqueBus and the SeaCat, seating is airline style with first come, first serve seating. If you want a window seat, get in line early.
In addition to seating, shorty after departure the duty free shop opens, which was two whole floors on my BuqueBus! There were also two snack shops on my BuqueBus, serving a limited selection of candies, chips, drinks (including wine and beer), and sandwiches and salads, with even a few hot food varieties. Credit card was accepted for even my small purchase of waters and a cookie.
DEPARTURE FROM THE FERRY
When the ferry reaches its destination, everyone de-boats and luggage is placed on a conveyor belt, just like at the airport except a bit quicker. Pick up your bag, send it through the Customs machine again, and you are on your way!
EXPLORING THE TOWN
In BA, the ferry terminal is in the heart of the city and there will be taxis waiting outside. Uber also works. As such, its pretty easy to get to your destination. You can also walk to most places in Colonia (just be careful of the traffic!).
In Colonia, the Old Town is about a 10 minute walk from the ferry terminal, and almost everyone will be making this walk; follow the crowd. If you are going further afield from Colonia, I recommend booking a car to collect you in advance or planning to rent a car. Colonia is rather remote and neither Uber nor taxis are plentiful.
THE FERRY FROM TIGRE TO CARMELO
I will also mention that there is another ferry – the Cacciola Ferry – to Uruguay from Tigre (a neighborhood about an hour outside of BA) to Carmelo, Uruguay, an hour West of Colonia. I have not used this ferry, but they have a website. While we did stay in Carmelo, we took the ferry to Colonia and a car to Carmelo (at a cost of $100 US), as this ferry was not running on Thursday mornings when we needed to travel.
STEAL OUR TRIP
BuqueBus: English website for purchasing tickets.
SeaCat: English website for purchasing tickets.
Colonia Express: English website for purchasing tickets.
Cacciola Ferry: Website for purchasing tickets. English option is iffy. If your purchase will not go through, it probably means the ferry is not running that certain date.
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.
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).
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!
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!
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!
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…
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!!
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!
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.
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!
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…!!
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!
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.
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 Ericeira is 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!
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… = )
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.
31 August 2017. Quinta de Sant’Ana, Gradil, Portugal. WEDDING DAY!! Sixth full day in Europe.
Wednesday, 30.08.17. Ericeira and Gradil, Portugal. 1 day until the wedding. Fourth full day in Europe.
Ahhh, wedding eve! If we weren’t already nervous, the nerves really kicked in today! Although, I have to say, day 5 started out pretty easy with some lounging, drinking, and eating European flavored potato chips by the pool! Most people were in town by this point and everyone was starting to hang out especially after Day 4’s big Welcome Cocktail Hour!
Tuesday, 29.08.17. Ericeira, Portugal. 2 days until the wedding. Third full day in Europe.
Ahhhh, our fourth day in Portugal and 2 days before the wedding. Shit was start to get very real, as we were leaving for Ericeira today, hosting our first official wedding event this evening, and saying goodbye to Lisbon (temporarily, I’ll be back)!
Monday, 28.08.17. Lisbon, Portugal. 3 days until the wedding. Second full day in Europe.
Ah, Monday. Three days before our wedding and our third day in Lisbon! It was really nice not to have to go to work on a Monday or check email (#weddingweek – this would never happen otherwise). Dan and I woke up relatively early and went to breakfast around 9, where we ran into a lot of our guests! I, of course, had another croissant with Nutella…
Sunday, 27.08.17. Lisbon, Portugal. 4 days until the wedding. First full day in Europe.
Day 2 was everyone’s first full day in Lisbon, and it was a packed one! I organized a self-guided tour of Bélem for our guests who had arrived in Lisbon and an evening sail on the Tagus river during sunset. We also had dinner plans with Craig, Michelle, and Andree and Hotel Avenida Palace thew us a surprise sparking wine party! Needless to say, we started early, with a bus picking everyone up (well, 13 of us) at 9:00 AM (after Nutella croissants, of course!). While I think a few people were skeptical of my Portuguese bus renting abilities, our driver arrived early in a nice bus/van with room for everyone. He even spoke a tiny bit of English! Pro tip – if you are traveling with a large group, a bus rental is a FABULOUS idea.
Saturday, 26.08.17. Lisbon, Portugal. 5 days until the wedding. Arrival in Europe.
After a good 2 hours in the Art & Lounge lounge at Newark International Airport, the 9 of us flying from Newark to Lisbon together (me, Dan, Michelle, Andree, Craig, Betty, Tony, Aunt Di, and Nonni!) enjoyed a smooth flight across the Atlantic and arrived in Lisbon bright and early at 5:00 a.m…. A prearranged van picked us up from the airport and drove us directly to the Hotel Avenida Palace, our home for the next 3 nights. Although our rooms were not ready when we arrived (expected), Hotel Avenida Palace was super welcoming and gave us all free breakfast, which was an excellent way to start wedding week… Hotel Avenida Palace also has the most awesome croissants that are terribly tasty when dipped in Nutella! #whatweddingdiet?
Dan and I spent a quick 48 hours in Kuala Lumpur on our honeymoon earlier this year. It was our first trip to Kuala Lumpur and we both LOVED the city! It was easy enough to navigate, it had a distinct culture to experience, and it was relatively inexpensive!
Before visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia (the town from which you visit Angkor Wat!), I researched the airport and was super excited to learn that the tiny Siem Reap “international airport” was home to a Priority Pass lounge! I was even more excited to learn that it was rumored to be really nice, recently re-done, and among the best in Southeast Asia. We got to the airport early to use it! Side note – this ended up being a waste as our check-in for Malaysian Airlines did not open until about 2 hours before our flight and checkin was extremely slow… In any case, we still got to use the lounge, just not as early as we had expected!
Singapore is known to be a foodie destination and one of its most well-known gastronomic experiences is a meal at a “hawker center.” See anytime Anthony Bourdain is in Singapore. And if you don’t follow everything Anthony Bourdain does, (1) you should, and (2) a “hawker center” is basically a food court (like a mall food court) where Singaporeans eat very high quality food for less than a small fortune.
Dan and I started and ended our honeymoon in Singapore earlier this year solely because we scored some really cheap flights on Japan Airlines into and out of Singapore. While I feel like every travel blogger has been to Singapore, and either loves it or hates it, I could not find a good summary of experience, itinerary, or anything of that nature. After visiting, and as expected, I am firmly in the LOVE Singapore crowd, and Dan is firmly in the don’t love Singapore crowd. In any case, for those planning a trip, here are my highlights of my trip to Singapore and how I think that you can make the most of your time!
Pahn Thai is a Thai restaurant on the premises of the Berjaya Langkawi and while its part of a private resort, Pahn-Thai is one of Langkawi Island’s most popular restaurants! Some may think its weird that a Thai restaurant is one of a Malaysian island’s most famous restaurants, but that’s totally normal because Langkawi is located just off the Malaysia/Thailand border. As such, even if you do not visit Pahn Thai, you try to have Thai food in Langkawi!
Dan & I flew into Singapore Changi Airport’s Terminal 2 on Scoot Air from Langkawi International Airport earlier this year. Since we were arriving and needed to collect our luggage, we were uncertain if we would be able to visit a lounge on our way in. However, given the cost and expense of Singapore, and the number of good lounges in Singapore, we decided to give it a try!
Dan and I stayed at the Berjaya Langkawi for 5 days during our honeymoon earlier this year. We choose the Berjaya Langkawi (and really Langkawi Island) based on the Berjaya Langkawi’s beautiful (and somewhat affordable) overwater bungalows! Before visiting the Berjaya Langkawi, I researched what to expect but, aside from a very few posts, I couldn’t find much information on the Berjaya Langkawi or Langkawi in general. So, here is my post on all things Berjaya Langkawi!
If you read my series of wedding posts, you may know that I had lunch at Restaurant Nortada on the Atlantic coast of Portugal on a day trip to Sintra and Cabo da Roca from Ericeira. What you may not know, are how many restaurants that I looked at before choosing Restaurant Nortada! In any case, Restaurant Nortada was amazing and it was definitely the best choice!!
Restaurant Nortada is an upscale, pricey, seafood restaurant set in a GORGEOUS location between Sintra and Cabo da Roca in Praia Grande. There is no question about any of those adjectives. Restaurant Nortada was recommended to me by a tour company, Tours by Jorge, and I was initially put off and thought this was “referral” scheme. But, it turns out it wasn’t and Nortada was truly an excellent experience that I recommend.
Dan & I went on our real honeymoon to Southeast Asia earlier this year, and we spent a large portion of it on Langkawi Island in Malaysia. Like some of other trips, not many of our American friends knew about Langkawi Island, and we got a lot of questions about it! This post is to answer all of your questions about Langkawi Island, and to help you plan a trip there (which you totally should do)!
Langkawi is a group of around 100 Malaysian islands located off of the northern part of Malaysia (north of Penang) in the Andaman Sea. Langkawi is very close to southern Thailand, and its geography is very similar to that you see in pictures of Thailand, particularly the green water and the lush, green mountains. Seriously, Langkawi is really beautiful.
Before visiting Singapore, I read and read about “Gardens by the Bay” but, even after I arrived in Singapore, I was still confused as to what exactly they are (it is?) and why I needed to visit. Well, this post is here to tell you…
As you probably know, Dan and I got married in Portugal last summer and spent a lot of time researching restaurants and activities for our guests. After reading about Mar Das Latas in Ericeira, Portugal, we booked dinner here for 7 people the night before our rehearsal dinner. We all liked it so much that Dan and I went back and so did his sister with her Portuguese boyfriend’s family!
Cambodia, and Asia in general, is home of some great and delicious street food, for which some people travel far and wide. Cambodian food, however, and particularly street food, doesn’t really have quite the following as that of Thailand, Vietnam or Hong Kong. Nevertheless, Dan, and to a lesser extent me, love street food and were definitely going to eat a lot of it when we visited Cambodia in February!
Ah, the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore. Yep, this is THE hotel in Singapore – the one that has that famous infinity pool overlooking the city. Yes, THIS infinity pool:
Thanks to Priority Pass (which we have through the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the American Express Platinum, the Citi Prestige, and the Hilton Honors American Express – yeah, we are really deep into the credit card game…), Dan and I have access to a lot of airport lounges throughout the world. Given the cost and the quality of airport food and drink, we always try to take advantage of these lounges, as the food and drink are typically free and usually at least the same quality (if not better)! We were very excited to visit Southeast Asia on our honeymoon, as Southeast Asia is rumored to have some of the best airport lounges on the planet!
The D’nana Lounge in Singapore Changi’s Terminal 1, was the first (and actually last) lounge that we visited on our trip, and its a good one! Lots of space, unlimited free booze, and a solid selection of food that should tied you over for even the longest of flights!
This D’nata Lounge is located in Changi’s Terminal 1, post-immigration, but not security (security is at each gate). And I note “this D’nata Lounge,” as the Changi airport is home to another D’nata Lounge in Terminal 3, which we did not visit on this trip. For those interested, D’nata is a Dubai company that supplies food and other products to airlines around the world, and we saw a lot of D’nata branded things at Changi.
In any case, to get to the D’nata Lounge in Changi’s Terminal 1, do not blindly follow the signs for “lounges.” Most of the lounges are located opposite the D’nata Lounge. Instead, upon completing immigration, take a right and proceed up the escalator to the second floor. When you reach the top of the escalator, turn around and and you will see the D’nata Lounge entrance!
For an international terminal, New York’s JFK Terminal 1 is a pretty crappy terminal. Its filled with a couple upscale stores and a lot of cheap shops, in additional to a handful of cheap food vendors. Its also home to the Air France Lounge, which is a surprisingly nice lounge with part-time Priority Pass access!
Honestly, before arriving in Cambodia, I was a bit weary of the food. I had previously read an article detailing how Cambodian food is much less flavorful than Thai or Vietnamese food, and I was really just not looking forward to it… But Cambodia food really surprised me, and I find myself missing it more than the other foods that I enjoyed in my trip!
As you can probably tell from the title of this post, one of the most surprising and most delicious meals that I had in Cambodia (and also in Singapore and Malaysia) was at the Hut, and this was a complete surprise to me.
I went to The Hut for lunch on my Happy Angkor Tour; our tour guide choose the restaurant, and I was not that excited about it (especially after our lunch the previous day…). The Hut is located off a back road, not too far from the entrance to the Floating Village. Again, not excited.
Siem Reap, Cambodia. Not exactly a textbook honeymoon destination for most couples… But, as you may know from reading my blog, Dan & I went to Cambodia as part of our honeymoon and we stayed in Siem Reap – the gateway to the world famous Angkor temples! We loved Siem Reap, and we would recommend it to other honeymooners (although maybe not those who are not adventurous).
First, happy St. Patrick’s Day!! My favorite holiday! Since I’m not in Ireland (too bad!), I will be spending St. Patrick’s Day at my favorite bar, Morgan’s, in Tappan, New York! With lots of inexpensive flights to and from Ireland these days, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to plan your next getaway to Ireland. Dan and I went most recently last Thanksgiving, and we had a lovely time!!
Kuala Lumpur has no shortage of lodging for visitors. In fact, Kuala Lumpur is packed with multi-story chain hotels (from the West and the East), small hotels, hostels, apartments, AirBnB, you name it! As such, Dan and I were somewhat at a loss when picking our hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
We ended up staying at the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur because we had points with SPG, and the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur did not see any better or worse than any other hotel in Kuala Lumpur. For our stay, we used 3,500 SPG points/night and accessed the the Club Lounge via this blog’s very own SPG card!
Yes, for all of you questioning the title, Dan and I spent our honeymoon in Singapore, Cambodia, and Malaysia! I get a lot of skeptical looks when I tell people this, but Dan and I like to explore destinations a bit “off the beaten path,” and, since we can rarely take full 2 week vacations, we really wanted to hit a bit Southeast Asia, an area that we had previously not visited!