Most of you know by now that the “captain” in Captain and Clark is more than just a sweet nickname. I actually hold a license to pilot a sailing vessel in blue water conditions and spent quite a bit of my youth learning the ropes at sea. Perhaps less well known on our blog though is that Croatia is one of the finest places to sail in the world. Tawny and I are always daydreaming about going off to charter a yacht with GlobeSailor and spending some time at sea. I used to peruse the want ads to look at all the opening for captains in Croatia. There are a surprising amount of tourists looking for people to come captain their charter boats and an endless supply of sleek and seaworthy vessels waiting for you to come try your hand at navigating the Mediterranean. A large part of this is that it is a great place to learn how to sail. The waters are calm, the weather is mild, and every island you stop at is laden with the most insane food you can conjure. For anyone who hasn’t been yet, you can think of Croatian food as a fusion of German and Italian with a zealous commitment to the local grower. It’s one of the things that makes sailing the Croatian isles so desirable, each port has a specialty that they are anxious to load up in your galley for the journey to the next coastal oasis.
The islands have wild names like Hvar, Vis, Rab, and maybe our favorite… Pag. Pag was famous for the salt production pools the Romans built there and remained dear to the Croatian people because of the sheep cheese that is produced there. The locals tells us the flavor comes from the sparse coastal grass and amount of salt the sheep eat as they wander the hills above the sea. When Tawny and I first tried it we couldn’t believe how good it was. Pag also produces some of the world’s best lace.
There is no end to the list of reasons why we choose to keep coming back to Croatia. Among the top five though are that it is STUNNING, affordable, the food is phenomenal, the people are both gorgeous and in possession of a well refined sense of humor, and the coast is a smooth line of sapphire that drapes across the shoulders of Croatia. One of our favorite towns is Opatija, a coastal gem that was most famous as a resort town in the 1800s. Tawny and I honeymooned there and spent our every waking moment down on the sea.
For me, I just keep thinking about getting on a flight back to a yacht town like Cavtat and spending a month following the wind wherever it may blow us.]]>
If you like to add a few memorable photographs to your Instagram account you need to head to Spain. This country is home to some incredible locations that are ideal for those who like to take special photographs. From man-made to natural structures that are all worth visiting, Spain certainly seems to have it all.
The Tibidabo Ferris Wheel
We all know how Ferris wheels can give us the chance to see the surrounding area from a whole new perspective. When you jump on the Tibidabo Ferris wheel you will have the chance to snap some amazing views. If you choose to ride the wheel during the night you will see many of Barcelona’s lights from above, the sight is quite something. If you choose to ride the wheel during the daytime you will be able to see much of Barcelona laid out beneath you with the Mediterranean sea in the background, incredible.
Catedrales Beach, Lugo, Galicia
Located in Ribadeo and on the Cantabric coast, Catedrales Beach is an absolutely stunning place to visit and take a few photographs for your Instagram account. With natural arches and enigmatic caves, the beach is well worth visiting. Ideal when the tide is low or high, the arches are made from slate and metamorphic rock. Take a few photographs overlooking the beach or from in between the rocky walls. You can safely swim in the waters or rent a boat in Spain if you would prefer not to get wet.
The Nervion Waterfall, Basque Country and Castile and Leon
If you have the opportunity to spend a bit of time at the Nervion waterfall you’ll be in for a real treat. You can get some amazing photographs of the waterfall and from a number of different angles too. The highest waterfall located on the Iberian peninsula, the waterfall is 270 metres high and is nothing short of stunning.
If you can, visit the waterfall when it’s thawing out in the winter time or when it’s raining as there tends to be a lot more water around. Get snap happy whenever you visit, the photographs you take will look incredible.
Visiting Riotinto is a little like visiting Mars. The landscape is red, yellow, brown and different shades of green. The ochre and the limestone rock are just incredible and have to be seen to be believed. Located in a mining park in Huelva, this is the ideal place to visit if you want to add some photographs to your Instagram account that are a little bit different.
Just so you know, you can travel around the mining park on a steam train, allowing you to take even more unique photographs.
The above four locations are some of Spain’s most intriguing and incredible places to visit. Instagram lovers will no doubt be able to snap some very special photographs making their account even more special. So, get your camera at the ready and prepare to take some very special photographs that will make all of your followers very jealous.
Our friends Jackie and Paul had to learn that the hard way when they invited us to crash their Scotland honeymoon. It started as a joke while playing nerdy board games one night. “You guys should come with us. It would be awesome. Our condo even has two bedrooms.” And while it might have seemed like an off handed invite to them, I was definitely looking up airfare later that night. What started innocently enough soon turned into an all-out honeymoon crash. With the blessings from the newlyweds, we (Holden too!) planned on meeting them a week after they landed in Scotland.
None of us had been to Scotland before and we were thrilled at the opportunity to explore together. Chris and I booked our airfare using miles (thank you, Alaska Air!) and flew from Seattle to New York (where we stayed with Holden’s godparents for a night) and onward to Aberdeen, Scotland.
Chris, Holden, and I had one night in Aberdeen before we were to meet up with Jackie and Paul. We arrived in the morning and it was our goal to stay awake as long as possible so that we’d adjust to the time change. That’s easier said than done when you have a one year old. Luckily, Holden was a champ and slept better than he had in months.
Heads up: Scotland is pretty expensive in the summer and it can be hard to find affordable accommodation. We ended up booking our night at Mercure Aberdeen Caledonian Hotel and LOVED it. It was in an amazing location, had beautiful light-filled rooms, and only set us back about $60USD a night. This isn’t by any means sponsored. We just really enjoyed this hotel.
I really wish we had spent more time in Aberdeen. I enjoyed the laid back vibe of the city. There was festive bunting strung over high street and everyone seemed so friendly- especially towards Holden. Chris and I agreed to have a traditional Scottish dinner for our first meal in the country but we were so famished that we ended up ducking into the first place that looked decent. It turned out to be a vegetarian restaurant (Foodstory Cafe, for you veggies out there) but the atmosphere was inviting and the food smelled incredible. I had the vegan chili while Chris devoured the vegan taco bowl. We left feeling both incredibly satisfied and full.
We strolled around the town until we couldn’t fight the fatigue any longer. I’m pretty sure the three of us fell into bed around 5PM (so much for staying up) but thankfully everyone slept in until around 7 the next morning.
After rendezvousing with the newlyweds the following day, we piled into our rental car (well, rental SUV) and headed straight to our first sightseeing destination. Dunnottar Castle looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale. Attacked by the Vikings, taken capture by William Wallace, visited by Mary Queen of Scots, and eventually saved from ruin, the castle’s colorful history is one for the books. The castle grounds are perched upon sweeping Scottish cliffs and appears as if it rose from the surrounding waves.
Castle tickets will set you back £7/ adult and £3/ child although family passes (admission for two children and two adults) are only £17. Guests are allowed to roam for as long as they want until closing.
After climbing the stairs to the castle entrance (and be warned, there are a lot of stairs), we paid our admission and began exploring the grounds. I particularly enjoyed the “free range” experience. Unlike most historical sites, we were able to wander at will. Holden particularly enjoyed running around on the grass and exploring the various rooms and tunnels. It would honestly be an incredible place to hold our next archery tournament. Who’s down for our first international tournament?
While we could have stayed at Dunnottar all day, our grumbling tummies has us yearning for lunch. The next time we visit, we’ll definitely pack a lunch so that we can take in as much of the castle as possible.
While Chris and I were teaching in South Korea, we had the pleasure of making friends with a feisty red-head named Claire who hailed from Scotland. Her go-to noraebang (karaoke) song was “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond.” Or maybe it wasn’t. It might have been the copious amounts of soju, but we’d find often find ourselves in an inebriated stupor sining (or butchering) the song at the top of our lungs. If one actually listens to the lyrics, they’ll learn it’s actually a somber and heartbreaking tune, but to us, it will always be associated with Scottish Claire. So when we learned that the condo, Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel and Spa, is near Loch Lomond, we knew it was going to be awesome.
The two-bedroom timeshare that Jackie and Paul had for their honeymoon turned out to be a one-bedroom suite. Chris, Holden and I ended up claiming the fold-out couch in the living room so that the newlyweds could have their own little love nest. It ended up working out perfectly since Holden is an early riser. We would get up and start breakfast without disturbing the lovebirds.
Located in the Trossachs, the property itself was gorgeous. Though we were only a short drive from the town of Aberfoyle, we felt truly secluded from the outside world. On the mornings that we weren’t out exploring, we’d walk a kilometer alongside Lake Ard to a tiny breakfast haunt (I can’t remember the name of the place to save my life) for some freshly baked goods and posh porridge. We’d also spend lazy afternoons challenging each other on the giant chessboard. Holden particularly enjoyed frolicking around in his ridiculously adorable kilt.
We also had the privilege of meeting up with two of our good friends who we met in while living in South Korea. Corey and Paul currently live in Liverpool and made the journey to spend a few days with us in Scotland. One of the days we were together, all seven of us piled into our cars and made way for Loch Lomond.
The drive up to Loch Lomond was breathtaking. We stopped along the way to take photos of the scenery and the most adorable shaggy Highland cows. Loch Lomond itself was just as beautiful as we imagined it to be. We even stumbled upon a few waterfalls that made the perfect backdrop for family photos.
In typical Scottish fashion, the weather was overcast and chilly but if it had been a nicer day, I’m sure we would have spent it actually on the lake itself. If we visit Scotland again, we’re hoping to stay at one of the many hotels on the lake.
Due to the location of our condo being an hour drive to both Glasgow and Edinburgh, we had the opportunity to visit both cities twice. Honestly, I found Edinburgh to be the most charming of the two but we ended up spending more time exploring Glasgow.
My favorite part of Edinburgh was the Scottish National Gallery. Not only was it free, but we could have easily spent hours looking at all the stunning art. The Scottish National Gallery features fine Scottish art from the early Renaissance to the end of the nineteenth century. I was so proud of Holden who did well walking around the different galleries. While he might not have been as impressed with the art itself, he thoroughly enjoyed chatting and flirting with anyone who would give him the time of day. Other than exploring the Scottish National Gallery, we spent most of our time in Edinburgh walking around and shopping. I think we’ll have to go back to truly get to know the city.
Truth be told, we had more time to spend in Glasgow and thus, were able to see much more. Most of our time was spent on foot, getting lost as we searched for food. Isn’t that how we spend most of our trips?
Without a map or a plan, we wandered the streets, ducking into various shops until we stumbled upon the Glasgow Cathedral. Built in 1136, we were immediately entranced by the stunning gothic architecture and how the cathedral seemed to loom over the city. The cathedral was destroyed by a fire in the 12th century but was soon rebuilt with towers and updates evolving throughout the years. Walking around the interior of the cathedral, you’ll see the striking nave, ornate organ, the stunning Millennium stained glass window, and the tomb of Saint Mungo, an apostle of the Scottish Kingdom of Strathclyde and founder and patron saint of the city of Glasgow.
With all of our exploring, we worked up quite the appetite. Two of our favorite meals in Glasgow came from The Smokin’ Fox (6-8 Waterloo Street) and The Admiral Bar (72A Waterloo Street). The former, a sexy restaurant with a cocktail menu to match the swanky decor. And the latter, a laid back pub with an assortment of mac and cheese dishes. You really can’t go wrong with either.
We have so much more of our trip to share with you. In particular, our day trip though the Highlands, flying falcons, and our ambitious (and successful) hunt for Chris’ families’ ancestral home. Stay tuned as we roll out more from our trip to Scotland.
How is it already September? It still feels as if summer just arrived and now we can already feel fall nipping at our heels. I can’t believe the season of BBQing, slip and slides, and road tripping is nearly over. That being said, I feel as if we’ve taken full advantage of the summer months. Let’s do a little recap.
If you haven’t noticed, we have been racking *Fuel Rewards® savings to use at participating Shell stations. You can still earn Instant Gold Status if you sign up for the Fuel Rewards program and immediately start saving 5¢ per gallon (up to 20 gallons per visit). I can’t tell you how much we’ve saved by simply keying in our rewards number at the pump. Our Fuel Rewards savings have allowed us to take our summer travels even farther.
As you can see, our summer was both hectic and glorious. We’ve had our fair share of adventures both at home and abroad. And if there’s one aspect that has been consistent with each month, it was the sheer amount of miles we’ve invested on the road. We’re still enjoying watching our savings stack up with Shell and the Fuel Rewards program. Our only wish was that there were Shell stations for us to use on our European adventures. Imagine the savings!
Start saving and sign up for the Fuel Rewards program here. It’s free and took me about 60 seconds to complete. You can even link a card to earn more savings on your everyday purchases. Plus, once you’re signed up, you can send your referral link to friends and family so that they can join the Fuel Rewards program. The first time a friend uses the program by earning a reward or using their card at a participating Shell station, you’ll instantly earn 25¢/gallon. Watch your Fuel Rewards savings add up. There’s no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn. And stay tuned to see how far our Fuel Rewards savings take us this fall.
Thanks for coming along on our summer travels. We’re excited to spend some time at home and truly embrace the autumn season. Our house already smells of cinnamon and joy.
Since that first trip, I’ve inundated myself with all the mouth watering meals that are iconic with Italy.
When in Venice, you have to indulge in the local cicchetti culture. We were first introduced to cicchetti (the Italian equivalent to Spanish tapas) on a Venice Walks of Italy tour. Not only are cicchetti delicious, but also relatively cheap (€1 to €3). You can find cicchetti at local pubs called Bàcari. We’ve found that Bàcari are typically crowded with locals and are often standing room only. Don’t let that deter you. The food alone is enough reason to stay.
My favorite Bàcari in Venice is Al Merca. I always get at least two prosciutto, truffle oil, and rabiola cheese mini-sandwiches– life changing, trust me— and gulp them down with a glass (or two) of wine. Chris’ favorite Bàcari is Do Mori, known as one of the oldest in town as it dates back to 1462. Chris isn’t the only one with an affinity for Do Mori. It’s rumored to have been a frequent haunt of Casanova himself.
Let me tell you a little story. The first time we visited Rome, we found a little gelateria near our apartment called Captain Cone. We would frequent the shop as we came and went and it soon became a staple for our days in the city. We had friends visiting us one day (hi, Corey and Paul!) and I asked Chris to go fetch a little bowl of gelato for us. He came back with with a THREE GALLON BUCKET stuffed with gelato. I couldn’t believe he thought that we would eat that entire bucket. And then miraculously, the next day, it was gone.
Needless to say, multiple gelato stops are to be expected every time we visit Italy. It doesn’t matter if it’s freezing outside, I won’t consider it a true visit to the country until I’ve had at least one scoop of Stracciatella.
I can’t possibly talk about Italian food without a nod to pizza. What I love about enjoying a pizza in Italy is that traditionally you get an entire pie to yourself. And no one blinks an eye when you finish the entire thing! My favorite thing to order when in Italy is a good margherita pizza. Chris, on the other hand, will enjoy his pizza with almost anything on it.
The Amalfi Coast is home to stunning vistas, gorgeous beaches, and lemons that are literally the size of your head. The first time I laid eyes on an Amalfi lemon I mistakenly thought it was a cantaloupe. And while these lemons are more peel than flesh, they smell amazing and are mighty tasty. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy these lemons are to drink them- either in a granita (basically an Italian shave ice) or a limoncello.
I would be doing a severe disservice if I didn’t talk about Italians and their coffee. Being from Seattle and having slung coffee as a barista for many years, I feel pretty confident in my knowledge of all things java. That being said, Italians enjoy their coffee in the purest of forms. For example, it’s considered a faux pas to enjoy a cappuccino–or any other milky form of coffee– after about 10am. Italians believe that the abundance of milk associated with said coffee drinks will mess with digestion. And good luck finding a fancy frappucino in Italy. The closest you’ll come is an affogato- a scoop of gelato with a shot poured over the top. I actually prefer an affogato to any blended concoction you might find at home.
Pro Tip: Italy tends to serve its coffee with a glass of water on the side. The water is meant to be imbibed before the coffee in order to cleanse the palate.
Your safest bet is to simply order a caffè (aka a shot of espresso) served in a tiny porcelain cup. You can top it off with some sugar if you like but coffee in Italy is so perfect it rarely needs any additions.
We’ve experienced Italy both on our own and through catered tours. I love exploring a new destination sans guidebook or plan, but I’ve really enjoyed the tours that we’ve experienced while in Italy. Luckily for you, Bookmundi offers a variety of tours in Italy that offer a little something for everyone (including a bread tasting tour). I’m already looking forward to our next trip to Italy and can’t wait to show baby Holden everything that we enjoy about the country (and its food).
We actually spent a few weeks in Germany last fall. We were invited to The Video Summit Leipzig where we met up with some of our fellow travel videographers. It was also Holden’s first trip. Wanting to make the most of those two weeks, we spent five days in Leipzig, made a quick stop in Dresden, and then headed onward to Prague. After Prague, we hightailed it back to Berlin where we spent a full day exploring before we had to catch our flight home. And while we loved the parts of Germany that we experienced on that trip, we were left with wanting more.
With our big Europe trip approaching, I’ve started to research a few of the places we want to visit in Germany. And while there are a ton of places we want to explore, Frankfurt seemed like a good hub to start our journey. So naturally, I’ve had to find the best things to do in Frankfurt.
One of our favorite ways to explore a new destination is by renting a car. It seems like it would be best to hire a car from Frankfurt airport and then take off from there. Before we head off to explore Bavaria (because that has to happen this time), we’ve decided to spend a few days enjoying all that Frankfurt has to offer.
From my research, Frankfurt is a major European finance and business hub. But don’t let Frankfurt’s high economic standing fool you into thinking it doesn’t have the romance and history of other European cities. Frankfurt’s Old Town (Altstadt) is home to the Römerberg, an adorable, irregularly shaped square that surrounds the Justice Fountain. This looks like the place to take photos and even do a bit of shopping.
And as always, I’m on the lookout for the best places to eat and grab a decent cup of coffee. It’s been said that Bitter Zart is the place to satisfy any chocolate cravings. Truffles, chocolate covered marshmallows, and chocolate cake all await us at this sinful shop. There’s also a tea salon next door (don’t worry, they also sell coffee and champagne!) to go with any treats you might purchase.
As far as hotels go, I recently stumbled across 25hours Hotels and I am smitten. I honestly have no idea how I found this hotel chain but it is arguably the hippest set of hotels I’ve ever seen. Think the Ace Hotels of Europe. There are two properties in Frankfurt and while I could easily stay at either, I am partial to the Levi’s hotel (yes, like the jeans). I’m obsessed with the room decor and love that cribs are provided upon request.
I can’t wait to go back and discover more of Germany. We would love to hear any tips that you have. We barely scratched the surface and are leaving our itinerary relatively open so that we have the freedom to explore at will. As your probably already know, we’re especially keen towards food and coffee recommendations.
The article has been sponsored by AVIS. As always, all opinions are our own.]]>
Chris and I knew very little about the country before we boarded our Iceland-bound flight out of Seattle. I had seen stunning photos of The Blue Lagoon before, but went into our trip with little expectations. A friend recommended that The Blue Lagoon be our first stop as it is a great way to combat jet lag. We were more than happy to take their advice.
As soon as we landed, we loaded up our rental car and headed towards The Blue Lagoon. Of all the offered packages, we decided on the premium package which includes entrance to the lagoon, towels, slippers, a bath robe, an algae mask, a silica mask, and a beverage of our choice. After a long international flight, a relaxing soak in the lagoon is just what we needed. I’m horrible when it comes to jet lag and probably would have fallen asleep as soon as we touched down. Our stop at The Blue Lagoon prevented me from falling into that same trap. After three hours in the lagoon, we felt relaxed and rejuvenated and it was time to head into Reykjavik.
Pro Tip: The Blue Lagoon is arguably Iceland’s most popular spot. To ensure entrance, be sure to book your Blue Lagoon tickets in advance!
Reykjavik was our jumping off point for our road trip through Iceland. We allotted ourselves one night in the Reykjavik Marina Icelandair Hotel to fully recuperate and prepare for the road ahead. We awoke the next morning, enjoyed an amazing breakfast (why are hotel breakfasts so much better abroad?), and then hit the open road.
Captain and I are huge fans of road trips and Iceland did not disappoint. It took us much longer to get anywhere because we were constantly stopping to take photos of the breathtaking scenery that surrounded us. Between the multiple stops to pet Icelandic horses (with that old school Bieber hair) and snap the other worldly landscape, it’s a wonder we made it anywhere at all.
We had less than a week to explore Iceland and decided that driving from Reykjavik to Egilsstaðir would yield the most sights for our time. We wanted to hit Skógafoss waterfall, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Vik’s black sand beaches (and trolls), and the Sólheimasandur plane crash site. Honestly, it was the perfect amount of time to travel up to Egilsstaðir and back. We even had an extra day to spend in Reykjavik when all was said and done.
Iceland road trip highlights
One of the highlights from our trip was finding the elusive Gljúfrabúi waterfall. Following a tip from Tiny Iceland, we managed to shuffle behind large boulders and traverse a small creek to reveal the hidden waterfall. As you wouldn’t know of its existence unless you were tipped off, we found ourselves with Gljúfrabúi all to ourselves. There’s something magical about being the only one to enjoy a place as stunning as Gljúfrabúi. Had it been warmer, it would have been the perfect place to enjoy a little picnic.
My favorite stop on our trip was at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Giant blocks of ice melt away from Vatnajökull glacier and slowly make way for the lagoon. Eventually, the large pieces of ice melt and end up drifting out to sea. It was pretty incredible to walk along a black sand beach dotted with huge chunks of cerulean blue ice.
While I was smitten with the glacier lagoon, Chris was enamored with the Sólheimasandur plane crash site. On November 24, 1973, a U.S. Navy Douglas Super DC-3 was forced into an emergency landing on the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur. Fortunately, everyone onboard survived the crash but the plane itself was left abandoned.
Finding the crash site was an adventure of its own. We were only given GPS coordinates (63.459523,-19.364618, for those intrigued) to the site and were told that it would be located a short drive from Skógafoss waterfall. Shoddy directions coupled with a snow storm left us blindly driving around on the black sand for over an hour. Eventually, we haphazardly stumbled upon the plane’s remains. Even though it was a tense sixty minutes, it was well worth it to finally see the plane in person.
If there’s one regret that I have from our road trip in Iceland it’s that we never saw The Northern Lights. Not really, at least. Despite our best attempts, time and time again the Northern Lights eluded us. One night in Höfn, we stayed up until 3AM attempting to catch sight of the lights. Our cameras caught a few photos of green lights snaking through the sky but we couldn’t see anything with our bare eyes. We even booked a boat tour in Reykjavik to hopefully spot the lights, but once again, nada. We’re just taking it as a sign that we need to return to Iceland. Who wouldn’t want to take a Northern Lights holiday in Iceland?
It could easily take a lifetime to fully discover all that Iceland has to offer. We can’t wait to return to explore more of this beautiful country. What did we miss? What should we see next time? Please let us know in the comment section below.]]>
We chose wisely. The drive was fast and easy and it ended up being more affordable than buying train tickets. Plus, we got to stop in adorable little German towns on our way to and from Prague.
Holden was only four months old while in Prague and at that age there’s only so much that will hold your little one’s attention. Luckily, he is soothed by loud noises and movement so he ended up sleeping through most of our outings. We found that walking around Prague was relatively easy. Our travel system handled the ubiquitous cobblestone like a champ and we bundled our boy in our puffy UNIQLO jackets to keep him warm.
Side note: Our UNIQLO travel jackets are amazing. They can squish down super small, are incredibly light, and very warm. We would highly recommend them and we’re not even getting paid to do so.
Exploring a destination with a local is our favorite way to discover a new place. Luckily, our friend Charlie (from our JayWay Travel Baltics trip) has lived in Prague for years and offered to take us on a culinary tour of the city. Spoiler alert: we were not disappointed.
We ate and drank our way around the city starting with soup at the regal Café Imperial, coffees (duh) at EMA espresso bar, followed by beer at Plzeňská restaurace (located in the basement of the Municipal House), a meal of epic proportions at Lokál Dlouhááá, and even more beer (and kofola, a traditional soda) at Pivovar Národní brewery. We completed our tour with a traditional venecky pastry at Myšák cafe.
My favorite stop on our Prague food tour was Lokál. This place is known for its fresh meat and it did not disappoint. I’m not really a fan of any raw animal but the steak tartare was to die for. It was incredibly flavorful and the bread and garlic that accompanied the tartare was perfection. Be warned, the longer we stayed, the smokier the restaurant got. Ask to be seated in a non-smoking section. We ended up leaving rather suddenly to avoid putting Holden in secondhand smoke.
Writing those last few paragraphs made me realize that I need to dedicate an entire post to our food tour of Prague. It was too good not to share.
We were determined to thoroughly explore as much of the city as we could during our brief three day stay. We walked off the majority of our food tour calories the following day. Chris’ birthday just happened to fall on one of the days we were in Prague. He spent the morning planning everything he wanted to do for his special day. He was excited to visit the Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague, search out David Černý statues, locate the baroque church of St. James (with its reported dangling 400 year old mummified arm), and visit the city’s Sex Machines Museum. We managed to find the infamous peeing Černý statues outside the Kafka Museum, but aside from that, literally everything else was closed. I felt awful.
The Černý statues were pretty incredible. The bottom half of each statue rotates along with each, uhh, “member”. We were told that you can text a certain number with any word or phrase that you want written out in pee. Technology, I tell ya. Also, after checking out a few of Černý’s other statues, I would love to take a peek in his mind.
Chris did end up finding himself a nice little birthday present in the form of a drinking horn. We stumbled upon a blacksmith in the town square and quietly watched him work. I really like markets and there was a little one next to the blacksmith. There were stalls that were hawking roasted meats, trdelnik (that sugarcoated cone of delicious you’ve seen around the interwebs), and various handmade Christmas trinkets. Oh, and there was a busker that was making giant bubbles in the square. GIANT BUBBLES, people.
We ended up walking over the famous Charles bridge a few times. I’m a sucker for a good view and we found the western side to be slightly quieter. We also wandered into a nice restaurant for a comforting bread bowl of goulash and a stein of beer. As you can see, Holden was pretty impressed.
Our very last stop in Prague was at Henry’s Tower (officially called Jindřišská Tower). A little bit gothic, a little bit whimsical, the tower boasts something for everyone. In Chris’ case, it is the Whiskeria bar with a wide assortment of delicious whiskeys. I was more interested in the restaurant. We didn’t have time to stop in for a bite of traditional Czech fare but it sure smelled amazing. Baby Holden seemed to enjoy the floating cotton clouds hanging from the rafters of the bell tower itself.
Visitors to the bell tower can take an elevator to the top. Or at least near the top. You’ll have to hike your little one up one flight of stairs to reach the quaint observation deck but it’s an easy climb. We carried Holden in his car seat and left the stroller base on the floor below. We ended up arriving near the end of the day and we had the entire bell tower to ourselves. It was both awesome and creepy.
The oldest of the bells dates back to 1518 although the tower itself was constructed in the 1470s. The tower’s bells can ring in over 1,000 different melodies. We foolishly decided to pay a few cents to have the clocks ring. Holden was not amused.
Pro tip: Though it may be tempting, you might want to avoid slipping a coin into the device that will play the bells for you. The bells are right above you, extremely loud, and the song goes on for what seems like an eternity- especially if you have a startled, wailing baby.
Overall, I thought our three days spent in Prague were perfect. There are a ton of things to do in Prague and I think we hit all the big ones. Well, aside from everything Chris wanted to do on his birthday. A huge thanks to Charlie for showing us around. We might have left the city a few pounds heavier.
Do you have any questions for us? As we forge ahead into this new land of millennial family travel, we’re happy to answer any questions that arise.
While we might classify ourselves of Italiaphiles (did I just make that up?) we had really only explored the cities of Rome and Venice. Thankfully, our pals at Eurail decided to change that and provided us with the opportunity to travel through more of the country by train.
We started in Milan. Our Airbnb was a cute loft attached to the apartment and studio of a local artist. The space was beautifully decorated on our host was more than gracious. It was our first time every booking an Airbnb and we were very impressed. Our apartment was located slightly out of city centre but extremely close the a metro line.
I was initially unimpressed with the city. It lacked the historic character of Rome and the stunning sights of Venice. But what the city lacks in ambiance, it makes up for in art. Milan’s Duomo is unlike any structure I have ever seen. It’s massive and so incredibly intricate that it would take an entire lifetime to notice every small detail.
We also crossed off a major bucket list item in Milan and were able to see The Last Supper in person. Spoiler alert: it’s GINORMOUS. Forget how it was portrayed in our school textbooks. This is not something you frame and hang in your dining room, it’s more like a billboard. I enjoyed seeing it up close and taking in the tiny details (like Peter with the knife. Or is it?) a la The Davinci Code.
There was no way we could visit Milan and not stop by the newly opened Wes Anderson themed cafe, Bar Luce. What was initially supposed to be just a coffee break soon turned into an hour of indulging to their delicious cocktails and cake. Whoopsies. Sorry, not sorry.
From Milan we caught a fast train to Venice. It was great to be back and we immediately dropped our bags off at our Airbnb and took to the streets. Unlike our first visit in the winter, Venice was crawling with thousands of tourists. It was hot, sticky, and crowded so we decided to spend the day doing what we love: exploring and getting lost. We wandered through the winding alleyways, stopped for multiple espressos and stumbled upon our new favorite bookstore, Acqua Alta. This shop has books stacked high and around every corner. I have two favorite section of the store, the first being the staircase made of books located on the patio in the back of the store. The second is the quiet little corner where one can sit and read as gondolas gently sail by. It’s magical.
Speaking of gondolas, we went on our very first gondola ride this trip. It was fun to see Venice from the water, even if it was a short ride. And as always, we had to partake in cicchettis. These little sandwiches are the best way to get your hands on tasty sustenance when exploring Venice. We went back to our favorite spot, Al Merca (first introduced to us on a Walks of Italy Tour) and spent a whopping six euro for two truffle and parma ham sandwiches as well as two glasses of prosecco. I call that a win.
From Venice, we hopped on a train and made way for Florence (or Firenze as the locals call it). I didn’t know what to expect from the city but ended up falling for Firenze. First, the city’s Duomo looks like it came from a children’s book. It’s incredibly colorful and detailed and is a great beacon for finding your way around the city.
The highlight of Florence would have to be seeing the statue of David. Like The Last Supper, David was even larger than I could have ever imagined. It made me really appreciate the sheer skill of Michelangelo to carve something so magnificent out of stone. You could clearly see the muscles and even the strained veins in David’s arms and legs.
A day trip from Florence had us discovering Tuscany. Our Walks of Italy tour couldn’t have been more perfect as we were chauffeured from Siena to San Gimignano and enjoyed not one, but TWO food stops. The highlight for me was our first meal at a local organic farm. We were given a tour of the property (complete with introductions to three tamed wild boars and a couple of bee hives) before we were treated to a wine tasting. Just when I thought our stop couldn’t get any better, we sat down for one of the best meals of the trip (an entire post dedicated to that meal is in the works–promise).
Rome was our last stop on the itinerary and served as a hub for our day trip to Pompeii and Positano. I feel like Chris and I have covered a good amount of Rome on our two previous trips and was ready to get out and see more of the countryside. Positano has been on my list ever since the movie Nine came out and I was excited to see what this seaside town had to offer.
Lemons the size of your head. That was the first thing I noticed as we approached Positano. There were giant, cantaloupe-sized lemons. And while the majority of them are composed of skin, they were still delicious. We even stopped for some frozen lemon ice that hit the spot.
As for Pompeii, it was incredible. The rain came in just as we arrived and created a light mist that drifted throughout the remains. Our guide was incredibly informative and took the time to answer any and all questions we had about the poisonous gas that claimed so many lives. Due to the weather, there were times that it seemed like we had the area to ourselves.
That’s what I love to much about Italy. The history and culture that has been preserved and revered for centuries. It’s one of the reasons why we love the country so much. There’s always more to see, learn, and taste.
The best part of this trip was the ease of traveling by train. Eurail is the perfect way to explore Italy and one that we would recommend a thousand times over. Our Eurail Italy pass allowed us the flexibility to move at our own pace and see as much as possible.
Stay tuned for more in depth posts about our time in each city. We have so much more to share!
Or Catalunya, depending on if you speak English or Catalan. Regardless of its spelling, the region of Catalonia is quickly growing to the top of our “best places in the world” list. Home to the best restaurant in the world (literally– El Celler de Can Roca claimed the 2015 title), the latest filming for Game of Thrones, and some of the best cava (the Catalan equivalent of champagne), there’s really no reason not to love the area.
This was our third trip to Barcelona but our first time actually being able to explore the city. Our first visit was spent traveling around the gorgeous and diverse Costa Brava region, while our second time was just as a brief layover before we headed to Estonia. To showcase the variety of exciting activities that are offered online, Expedia sent us to Barcelona to sniff out a few of the more adventurous and culturally minded excursions. Here are some of our favorite ways to experience Barcelona:
What better way to get in touch with local flavor than a gourmet tapas tour and Flamenco show. Our small group met just before dinner and followed our knowledgeable guide to two different tapas restaurants, one unique cava bar, and finished with a Flamenco show. I over indulged on pa amb tomàquet (toasted bread topped with tomatoes, olive oil and salt) and delicious cheeses and ham. Also, the olives in this region are simply magical. Our canned black cocktail olives have nothing on Spain.
The highlight of our night was the stop we made for cava. We were greeted by two beautiful men in drag, their figures being hugged by tight kimonos. The lead us to our table in one of the most unique restaurants we’ve been to. Chairs were hanging from the ceiling, chandeliers (with real burning candles) hung precariously over our heads, and the walls were adorned with colorful pop art.
Our night ended with a stop at a local Flamenco bar where we watched two dancers stomp and stare in elaborate outfits. The band was great and the audience seemed to really feel it. Flamenco actually comes from the Andalusia region but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it when you’re in Barcelona. It was the perfect ending to our night.
There are so many ways to explore Barcelona, but perhaps the most stylish is to tour the city by way of motorcycle and sidecar. You heard that right. Our second tour of the city involved Chris and I being picked up by a petite Spanish woman who propped me in the adorable sidecar while Chris road behind her on the motorcycle.
Even though we had been to Barcelona two times prior, we saw gems and iconic ares that we had never noticed before. The best part about being on the motorcycle was that we were treated to a 360 degree view of the city. There’s nothing like the wind blowing through your hair as you cruise through the streets of Barcelona. Plus, we looked oh-so stylish while doing it.
We would highly recommend this tour for anyone that’s headed to Barcelona. Not only do you have your own personal tour guide and chauffeur, but riding in the sidecar is an experience all its own.
We’re no strangers to heights and one of our favorite ways to see a destination is by air. Luckily for us, we were treated to an incredible aerial view of Costa Brava (located just outside of Barcelona) by way of hot air balloon.
We’ve soared in hot air balloons before but this particular trip was unlike any other. For starters, we went higher than we have ever gone. We were above the clouds for most of our journey and it.was.awesome. Our pilot was very friendly and incredibly skilled. He literally stuck the landing and the pick-up crew had already found us by that point. Previous balloon rides had us bouncing through dry fields and rocky (to put it lightly) landings and long waits while the pick-up vans attempted to locate us.
Once our feet were firmly on the ground, we celebrated our successful flight with champagne and grilled cheese sandwiches (toasted over the basket’s torches). This was one hot air balloon ride that we’d be happy to do over and over again.
The last tour on our whirlwind trip to Barcelona was with LivingIt Tours. It was an entire day dedicated to cava, wine, and culture. In other words, it was heaven.
Our guide for the day, Barbara picked us up at our hotel and escorted us to the Penedès region. Wine and cava flow throughout the area and is home to our favorite cava producer of all time, Freixenet. While it isn’t an official stop on the tour, Barbara let us do a quick drive-by to snap a few photos as proof. If you haven’t tried this cava yet, add it to your list. We toast Freixenet to celebrate almost every occasion.
We continued on to the Parés Baltà winery where we experienced a tour of the vineyards and cellars before being treated to an insane amount of wine. Our tasting featured three different types of cava and four varieties of wine. This family-owned winery produces high quality organic wines and cava that rival even the fanciest of champagnes.
Once we were good and tipsy, Barbara loaded us back in the car and headed back for Barcelona. Waiting for us was an epic cultural event that wasn’t to be missed.
We drove through the winding streets and alleyways of Barcelona until we reached an unassuming building. I noticed the few people hanging around outside were sporting what appeared to be sumo-like belts around their torsos. We descended the stairs to find a large, open room with at least fifty people gathered inside. Everyone was wearing the same belt and their wrists were wrapped in red bands. Before I knew what was happening, everyone gathered and began to build a human tower. Literally.
Castells are a source of pride in Catalonia. This tradition dates back to the 18th century and is a sport that requires a little core strength, some guts, and a lot of trust. I was amazed to see tiny children scurry their way to the top of the tower, sometimes well over six stories (humans?) high. This particular group of Castellers was incredibly welcoming and happy to explain this prized tradition.
I stood in awe as I witnessed the puzzle-like formation of each person and the important roll that they play in the building of the Castell. Those that stand at the base support the person in front of them, always keeping their heads down for safety. Traditionally, rhythmic music is played at different tempos to alert the Castellers of the progress being made.
We were attending a practice session, but when performing, the group would normally wear matching outfits. This particular group wears white pants, blue shirts, and the black fabric that is wrapped tightly around their waists for support. The best part of the evening? When they asked us to join, of course.
There’s so much to say about Castells that we’re going to write a post dedicated to this unique tradition. It was definitely an experience that will stay with us. Hopefully we’ll be able to lend a hand (or body) on our next trip to Barcelona.
We find something new and exciting with each trip to Catalonia. We don’t know when we’ll return, but can’t wait to see what we discover next time.
Have you been to Barcelona? What activities would you recommend? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comment section below.]]>