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!
Just in time for Dan and my third Oktoberfest, here is my take on the greatest beerfest in all of the world! We will be there the second week and are also attending the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart! Prost!
As you may know from reading my Wine Cruising to Sauternes post, there are, to many tourists surprise, no vineyards or wine châteaux in the city of Bordeaux! All of the châteaux that make the famous “Bordeaux wine” are located in designated areas around Bordeaux. St. Émilion is one of those areas and in my opinion, is the easiest and best Bordeaux wine region to visit on your own (i.e. without joining a tour) from Bordeaux!
St. Émilion is world renowned for its full-bodied red wines. But St. Émilion is also an extremely well preserved medieval town that is complete with a unique system underground passageways, wine cellars and even an underground church! As you can imagine, St. Émilion is a very popular day trip from Bordeaux and all of the tour companies offer day trips to St. Émilion from Bordeaux, starting €80,00/person and going up from there. However, St. Émilion is easily accessible from Bordeaux by train on your own, so that is what we did. St. Émilion was my favorite day trip out of Bordeaux and a “must do” for anyone in the area!
La Rochelle is a beautiful French seaside town located on the mid-Atlantic coast in the Charente-Maritime province of France, and I just got back from spending a long weekend there! La Rochelle is known to be popular with French vacationers, particularly Parisians. However, it is not very well-known in the US, and I probably would never have visited La Rochelle except my college (yay University of Richmond!) had a study abroad program there (I opted for Paris) – and I have a “map of France” t-shirt from Anthropologie that features La Rochelle… In addition to being featured on an Anthropologie shirt, La Rochelle is quite historical, as it has been around since antiquity, and is the port from which French settlers left for the new world (i.e. Quebec!).
Malpensa Airpot is a huge airport about an hour outside of Milan. Malpensa handles a lot of international flights, while Milan’s other airport, Linate, handles domestic and regional flights. If you are flying into or out of Italy, there is a good change that you will go thorough Malpensa. Here are some pictures of Milan, which as a side note, warrants at least day to see the sites (Milan is home to my favorite duomo)!
Amsterdam has a number of excellent, world-class museums, on par with those of London, Paris and New York, and I recommend a visit to at least one of these museums on any visit to Amsterdam! I went to two – the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. Both were great ways to spend a few hours! Most of Amsterdam’s museums are located in the Museum District, about a 30 minute walk from Dam Square. The Museum District includes the Museumplein, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum (modern art), Concertgebouw (concert hall), House of Bols (cocktail and genever experience), Diamond Museum and a convenient Albert Heijn under the Stedelijk museum – a good place to find a snack or bottle of wine for the park.
Dan and I took a last minute trip (read: we bought the tickets exactly one week before we left) to Amsterdam in August due to new jobs!! Since it was so last minute, we did not plan much and ended up just relaxing around the city. That was not a problem, as Amsterdam is one of the most gorgeous cities in Europe, and I think it often gets short shifted for some of its more shady ongoings. To dispel that notion, I am treating you to some of my favorite pictures of Amsterdam!
As you may have gathered, Dan and I are big craft beer fans, and I was super excited to read that Stockholm was quite the hot spot for craft beer. However, the reading I did before visiting did not portray the full extent of its popularity, including the popularity of American craft beer. Seriously, we found Brooklyn Brewery and Lagunita’s on tap almost everywhere. Brooklyn Brewery even opened a satellite brewery in Stockholm, Nya Carnegiebryggeriet.
It was pretty cool to see craft beer to popular in an unexpected place, and I think Stockholm deserves to be recognized as one of Europe’s big beer cities!
Here a few of my favorite craft beer spots in Stockholm! Not to be missed if you are craft beer fan!
Akkurat is an awesome craft beer bar located in the Södermalm neighborhood, not too far of a walk from Gamla Stan. Akkurat serves drinks and meals, and also frequently has live music (and then it is crowded!). We went here one evening for a few drinks. The beer list is crazy! There are several tap lines and a seemingly endless bottle list, including a number of aged American craft beers…at a hefty price! See the price of the Dogfish 2009 World Wide Stout and yes, I’m talking to you, Mr. DeFlece.
I am a huge fan of food tours and try to convince Dan to take them wherever we go!
Now, when planning Sweden, I did not expect a culinary destination, but I was happily surprised! Luckily, I came across Food Tours Stockholm when doing research and signed us up! This tour was informative, both in the historical and culinary sense, delicious and pleasantly provided some insight into modern Swedish culture. I also found this tour to be an excellent way to spend a day in the winter, as there was minimal outdoor walking!
The tour started at the famous Östermalms Saluhall! This famous food hall is clean, swanky and probably the nicest food hall I have ever been in! I recommend visiting here even if you do not take the tour!
In Östermalms, we started the tour with a sampling of Swedish cheese. Who knew the Swedes make such delicious cheese? They do. Believe me. This stand also sold some delicious jams from things I didn’t even know were real. Think cloudberries. Yep, thats are a real, tasty berry.
I LOVE tasting menus. I love the idea of multiple course dinners. I love to try dishes that I wouldn’t normally order. And I love when the restaurant pairs the menu with drinks! Not surprisingly, Stockholm has a lot of restaurants offering tasting menus, some costing as much as $1,000 US a person (!).
I decided to find one more reasonable for my trip (and have Dan take me there for my birthday dinner! ). Doing some research, I came across the winner – Pubologi! Pubologi is a hip gastropub right in Gamla Stan. Pubologi offers 5 or 7 course tasting menus of “modern nordic food” (plus complementary amuse bouche and tasting treats post dinner) and it pairs the food with either beer or wine. Sold! We made reservations online before we left (recommended). The cost of the 5 course tasting menu was 550 Swedish Crown and the beer pairing (beers from the Pang Pang Brewery) was an additional 355 Swedish Crown when we were there.
For our meals, we both went with the 5 course tasting menu. That was a good choice. The portions were LARGE for a tasting menu. There is no way that I could have finished the 7. For my drink pairing, I opted for the beer pairing! Dan went with the wine. Both were good and a substantial amount of alcohol.