I will start off by disclosing that this is a companion piece to my recent post My Day in St. Émilion Without A Tour Company! You will see some of the same pictures and read some of the same facts, but this post is meant to provide a more detailed guide to exploring and planning St. Émilion without a tour guide! As I have mentioned before, St. Émilion is an absolutely stunning medieval French town located 40 minutes outside of Bordeaux. St. Émilion is known for two things: its robust red wines and its well preserved, medieval old town. As you can imagine, both of those draw big crowds and St. Émilion is hugely popular with tourists, especially the upscale crowd! Think lots of swanky hotels, numerous Michelin starred restaurants, and some of the best red wines that can be found…
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)!
Yes, I know the title is ridiculous. I just couldn’t resist.
Gouda (pronounced “how-da”), Netherlands is a small, canal town in South Holland, a little less than an hour’s train ride from Amsterdam. Gouda is most famous for its namesake cheese and its famous Thursday market celebrating said cheese – the Kaasstad! In addition, Gouda has a well-preserved 15th century town hall (the Stadhuys), beautiful canals running throughout the city and a compact center. I visited Gouda as a day trip from Amsterdam and highly recommend it! Here are some pictures of the charming town:
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.
As discussed in my post about the delicious Stockholm’s Gastabud, Dan and I were constantly on the hunt for reasonably priced, high quality meals when we went to Stockholm! In my research, a restaurant called Meatballs For the People kept coming up! We decided to give it a try and made reservations online for dinner one evening! Let me just say, this place was DELICIOUS!!! If in Stockholm, you must go here. Period. They also have pretty cool slogans.
Finally, a post about my favorite continent, Europe!
Dan and I wanted to get away for a long weekend in January. Somewhere new, somewhere not too expensive (this one didn’t exactly pan out) and somewhere that we felt we could experience over a long weekend. I did some online research and, surprise, Stockholm, Sweden came out as our destination! Crazy you probably think! Actually, Stockholm made for a great long weekend and I plan to do something similar next year!
Here are some pictures of the old town, Gamla Stan! So cute, and very Old Europe!