Dan and I have spent a couple nights at the newish Virginian Hotel in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia while visiting my mother and her adorable beagle, Dublin! This is my review of our stays in Fall 2023. In sum highly recommend for a hotel in Lynchburg, VA.
Early Fall in downtown Lynchburg, VA from The Virginian’s rooftop restaurant, The Skyline.
For those not from Lynchburg, Virginia, The Virginian Hotel is a longtime fixture of Lynchburg, having first opened in 1913. The Virginian Hotel was known for years as an upscale, elegant hotel hosting the most esteemed guests in Lynchburg, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Ronald Regan (who knew these types of people visited Lynchburg!). One of The Virginia’s most famous attributes is its famous “Virginian” light up sign that remains iconic downtown.
The classic Virginian sign on the hotel.
When Dan and I were recently in Bolzano, we obviously took a food tour (because we do that everywhere we go!). This food tour was slightly different, in that it mixed history, of which Bolzano has a lot, sightseeing and, of course, food! We enjoyed this, as we had really not had a proper chance to explore Bolzano prior to the tour.
Dan and I kicked off our 2023 Oktoberfest Eurotrip with a four day stay in Bolzano, Italy. Bolzano, or “Bozen” in German, is the capital of the Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige and the third largest city in the Alps. I had been wanting to visit this area forever, and its only a four hour train ride from Munich, so we made it our first stop on the trip! This article details what we did with our limited time in Bolzano.
A lovely welcome to Bolzano – our hotel was right next to this little tunnel.
In preparation for our trip to Cappadocia, Turkey in July 2023, I scoured online reviews for the best restaurants, and I kept hitting dead ends. Everything seemed touristy, and nothing jumped out as fantastic. In any case, despite loathing the English name, I ended up making a reservation two weeks before our trip at Topdeck Cave Restaurant via Instagram messenger based on many great reviews and the fact that it was located in Göreme (one of Cappadocia’s 3 main areas), a 5 minute walk from our hotel. I showed up not expecting much, but Topdeck Cave Restaurant ended up being family run and fantastic. It was so good that we made a second dinner reservation as soon as we finished our meal!
Topdeck Cave Restaurant. Side note, there is no “top deck.”
Topdeck Cave Restaurant
Topdeck Cave Restaurant is a tiny restaurant located on the ground floor of one of Göreme’s cave “houses.” In fact, the restaurant is even rumored to be located on the ground floor of its owner’s home! In any case, again, the space is small with a few traditional “floor level” tables and a few Western tables. The floor level seating is fantastic for photographs, but we preferred the Western tables for comfort. Despite our preference, the floor level tables seemed much more popular. As you can see from the pictures below, most of the traditional tables have a “REZERVE” sign, showing how popular the restaurant was in July. Book in advance for one of the traditional tables – they did seem lovely for photographs!
Traditional floor seating – this was very popular, particularly with the IG crowd
We began our Turkish summer vacation in Izmir, spending four nights and day tripping to the coast and Ephesus. We opted for Izmir over the more popular Bodrum area due to flight schedule and cost (Izmir was much less expensive) after going back and forth regarding whether to stay in Izmir city, Alacati (an hour away on the coast) or further south (around Bodrum). We ended up thrilled with our decision and really enjoyed Izmir. We have already decided that we need to come back and spend a few weeks in Izmir during early retirement!
The flowers in Izmir are beautiful.
THE TURKISH CITY OF IZMIR
Contrary to what we thought prior to this trip, Izmir is a large historic city (the third largest in Turkey!) in Western Turkey on the Aegean cost. Izmir is about an hour flight from Istanbul or a few hours’ drive, which drive seemed quite popular with locals. Izmir is also only one hour from the beach and one hour from historical Ephesus (both on modern highways).
Sunset in Izmir.
Aside from having a good location, Izmir is not super touristy and feels very much like a real Turkish city. Locals abound and you will be hard pressed to find too many foreign tourists out and about on a normal evening. The locals were also nice and seemed to really be enjoying their life on the sea. In fact, we met more than one person who left their busy life in Istanbul and moved to Izmir for a better quality of life. And I think that’s part of what we liked about Izmir, it was chill, there was no pressure to do anything, Izmir is safe and not expensive, and we felt like we were really in Turkey (not dropped into a foreign country with 100s of other Americans).