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.
I don’t know about you but our toddler is extremely active. So active that he doesn’t realize he’s hungry until he’s well into the hangry stage. There are few things worse than a hangry toddler stuffed in a small space with hundreds of strangers. In order to prevent the typical meltdown, we packed what I thought was a ridiculous amount of snacks.
I packed healthy snacks. I packed naughty snacks. I packed old favorites and brand new treats. I even ordered Holden a pizza and a cheeseburger for both of his meals on Korean Air. My bag overfloweth and yet, we were running on literal crumbs by the time we landed.
You know the old traveler’s adage, “Pack your suitcase and then remove half of your items.” Well, when it comes to packing snacks for your toddler, do the opposite. And as always, make sure both you and your kiddo are drinking lots and lots of liquids.
Thirteen hours is a long time to be flying with a toddler. These tiny people have tiny attention spans and can only fixate on one thing for so long. While most international airlines now come equipped with personal TVs, it might be beneficial to pack a tablet uploaded with your child’s favorite shows, movies, and games. While we try to steer clear of screen time at home, travel days are the exception. If it makes them happy, keeps them quiet, and lets mama get a little shuteye, we’re all about it.
Even then, our toddler can only be riveted by the iPad for so long. Since he was very into construction vehicles at the time (he’s now moved on to planes- go figure), I bought a few small construction set toys and stored them in my carryon until we were at max boredom. Holden’s face would light up every time I revealed a new surprise and he would be entertained for another hour.
I also packed a handful of activity books that, to be honest, weren’t really a hit with our guy. That being said, if your child is into reading and coloring, I believe activity books would be a worthy investment.
One thing we always bring with us on our travels is blue painter’s tape. We use it to baby proof outlets and restrict blind cords in hotel rooms as well as to keep coloring papers in place on plane tray tables. It does its job and is easily removable. Bonus: it doesn’t take up a ton of space.
Since your toddler is now flying in their own airline seat (yay for a free lap), they can also reap the benefits allotted to most travelers i.e. a free carry-on and in-flight meals. I found it best to pack everything you need for your toddler in one bag that you can store underneath the seat in front of them. That way, you’re not frantically ruffling through three different bags to find diapers, wipes, favorite blankies, and Wet Ones wipes (a serious plane necessity).
For our 13-hour flight to South Korea I packed Holden’s bag with:
On our trip to Korea I packed all of this in my Nena and Co CDB (convertible day bag) but when we’ve traveled internationally before (to Germany, Czech Republic, Scotland, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria), I used our Kånken Fjällräven backpack. Both do the trick.
Ok, this kind of sounds doomsday-y but if you prepare yourself for all of the worst case scenarios, you usually find yourself pleasantly surprise that not all of them happened. Our flight to Korea actually went really well until the last two hours. Our sweet son has a serious case of FOMO (“fear of missing out”) and although his eyes were bloodshot and he could barely keep his head up, he refused to go to sleep. This resulted in an extremely grumpy child. A child that was so tired he would only exhibit his discomfort by half-awake wailing. Nothing was good enough for him- no treats, no bulldozers, no Blippi. And of course, he passed out half an hour before landing thus leading to what might have been the angriest child through customs.
But you know what? We made it. No one was scarred and I had to really dig through my brain catalog to even remember that Holden had a rough time at the end of our flight. While traveling with a toddler certainly isn’t the easiest way to explore the world, I truly believe that everyone is better for it. Plus, look at all the fun he had in Korea!
What did I miss? Are there tried and true methods that you use for traveling with your toddler? Let me know in the comment section below or reach out to us on Instagram (@captainandclark).
What did I forget?]]>
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.
I think we might be the last of our friends to make it to Costa Rica, which only makes our hunger for the location that much greater. Costa Rica’s main international airport, Juan Santamaria, is centrally located and would be the perfect place to launch our exploration of the area. One thing that has changed with our travel lifestyle since having a kiddo is that we are much more likely to set up a base camp. In the past we would traditionally throw our backpacks on hit as many locations as we could. These days we like to rent a home somewhere and then plan our day trips our from there. As any of you with children know, you now travel with a ton more stuff once you have one. It is so much nicer to have a single location that you can drop all of your equipment and then rent a car or just walk through the city.
The most difficult decision for us is figuring out which location to set up shop for a week or two. There seems to be no end to local operations offering canopy tours, zip-lining, or waterfall rappeling. However locations like Northern Costa Rica, near Arenal Volcano, offer more exciting hikes, hot springs, and stunning views. It’s a tough call. An added perk to the Arenal Volcano area too is the close proximity to Venado caves, which offer a unique spelunking adventure in Costa Rica. Currently our sights are set on that region.
I’d be lying though if I didn’t say that one of the major draws to Costa Rica is the chance to hang out with sloths. Yeah, Tawny is a huge sloth fanatic and there are a lot of reputable outlets that allow you to get up close and personal with these little guys while helping the sloth population. The Aviarios del Caribe sloth sanctuary is one of our Costa Rican bucket list destinations. This facility was established to rehabilitate three-toed sloths. The local population of three-toed sloths has been under a great deal of pressure from outside factors that have led to its decline. The Aviarios del Caribe center tends to injured or rescued sloths with the intent of releasing them back into the wild while also educating the public. For those sloths who are too injured to return to the wild, they become permanent guest of the center and guest can meet these gentle denizens of the Costa Rican rainforest.
Considering my predisposition towards snowy mountains and Tawny’s history as an islander you might think that she would be the beach lover of us. However Tawny’s love of the ocean stops with the sand. For the most part she prefers more mountainous destinations and I am the one pushing us towards the sea. One of the reasons we’ve still never been to a beach in Thailand, despite our many trips. This factors into our decision too. Do we aim for a forest resort rental with a pool and a local hot spring or do we navigate our trip closer to the shore and hope for more snorkel/scuba adventures? Our travel friends are pretty much split down the middle on that one so it will most likely come down to a roll of the dice on that one.
There are a lot of reasons to consider Costa Rica. Not the least of which is the Rio Celeste. Winding through Tenorio Volcano National Park, this river is an electric blue ribbon that maintains its unique color with a combination of volcanic hot springs and rich sulfur deposits in the water. The series of hot pools and waterfalls along the length of the river as it cleaves its way through the emerald fabric of the local rainforest makes this one of the most beautiful locations we’ve seen pictures of in Costa Rica.
For those of you who know us, it’s no secret that we tend to lean towards more Pacific Island destinations when it comes time to book our annual “get the hell away from winter” trip. However, Costa Rica has been looming on the horizon of our minds for sometime now and I think it might finally be time to pull the trigger of this life-changing trip. Stay tuned, we will keep you posted on what we end up doing. If you’re planning your own trip to Costa Rica or just returned, we would love to hear your thoughts on where we should go!
Let us know in the comments below!
Some content in this post was sponsored but all our opinions, as always, are our own.]]>
It was the perfect ending to our time in the Finger Lakes and a true reflection of the warmth that we encountered during our stay. From enjoying homemade wine-aritas at the home of Steven Fulkerson (General Manager at Fulkerson Winery) to arriving at the Gathering Hill Farm vacation rental to a welcome basket stuffed with local delicacies, we truly felt welcomed at every stop.
Having only experienced NYC and Tarrytown in previous visits to New York state, we didn’t really know what to expect in the Finger Lakes. Our ignorance was soon replaced with introductions to quaint towns, authentic Americana, and an abundance of wine. And speaking of wine, the Finger Lakes has a lot of it. In fact, the area is home to three distinct wine trails and more than 100 wineries.
One might think that the over saturation of wineries leads to fierce industry competition but Fulkerson Winery GM, Steven Fulkerson, disagrees. As we sat on his front porch and sipped on his innovative libation (a mixture of his Sparklin’ Diamond white wine, tequila, and cherry juice), he spoke of how he thinks of the surrounding wineries as neighbors, not competitors. They’re more likely to lend each other cups of sugar than to keep a baseball that’s made it over the fence.
That feeling of community translates throughout the entire region.It seemed as if everyone we met was happily intertwined. If locals aren’t getting down to a cover band at a nearby brewery, you might find them catching up at the town’s diner or sourcing ingredients for supper at the farmers’ market. The village of Watkins Glen was undeniably Americana. Not the kitschy Americana that we’re often inundated with on our domestic travels. This was the real deal–where bakeries sell homemade pies and diner patrons refer to their waitress by name. And while there’s a lingering “small town feel” to the Finger Lakes, the wide array of available activities rivals that of the bigger surrounding cities.
Watkins Glen State Park might be walking distance from the center of town but once you’re inside, you could have been anywhere. The lush gorge with overflowing waterfalls (19 in all) had us feeling like we were back at Krka National park in Croatia or trekking through Middle Earth. We made the decision to go super early in the morning and we were so glad we did. Minus a hiker or two, we had the park to ourselves. Holden was particularly enamored with a giant stick that was gifted to him by Carol’s son, Liam. He thought he was the coolest kid as he dragged it behind us on our walk. Our trip to Watkins Glen State Park was hands down one of my favorite experiences on our trip and I can’t wait to go back.
But enough about wine and hikes. Let’s talk about beer. Not to be outdone by “tannins” and “legs”, craft breweries in the area have been hard at work bringing beer enthusiasts some of the best booze in the biz. Arguably the less pretentious libation of choice, the beer we sampled in the Finger Lakes was straight forward and delicious.
Our favorites came from Grist Iron Brewing and Wagner Valley Brewing Company at Wagner Vineyards (that’s right, Wagner does both wine and beer). If you visit the former, be sure to grab a growler (or seven) of the Headless Hessian Pumpkin Ale. Pour it into a cold glass with a cinnamon-lined rim and enjoy. You’re welcome. If you stop into Wagner Valley Brewing, do yourself a favor and order the Hop Tropic IPA. It tastes like Hawaii in a glass.
Our trip to the Finger Lakes wasn’t all fun and booze. There was work to be done as well. The stars aligned with our time in the area and we happened to be there as the finishing touches were made on a big decision regarding TBEX. We partnered with the Finger Lakes Wine Country to produce this video to announce that the Finger Lakes will be the host destination of TBEX North America Conference 2018! We’re thrilled that more travelers will be able to experience the beauty and wonder of the Finger Lakes for themselves.
Finger Lakes Wine Country (Full Version) from Brave World Media on Vimeo.
We’re not done raving about the Finger Lakes. Stay tuned for more in depth information on outdoor adventures, our incredible stay at Gathering Hill Farms, and our visit to the Corning Museum of Glass. And Nancy Spaulding, if you’re reading this, the next time we’re in the Finger Lakes you owe us another dance.]]>
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).
Now that I’m older, more established, and have a baby, I tend to search for hotels based on comfort and quality. If the property comes with chic decor and caters to my inner interior designer, even better. I don’t know what rabbit hole I fell down when I came across Marriott’s Autograph Collection’s newest hotel, The Laylow. I was scrolling through Instagram late one night and was instantly enamored with the bright palm wallpaper of the hotel’s bedrooms. A quick internet search yielded photos of stunning mid-century modern decor (my favorite!), in-room ukuleles, a retro coffee shop, and a vibrant tiki bar. I was instantly sold.
As you know, we’ll take any excuse to visit Hawaii. Our latest trip took us to Oahu to film a secret project (details coming!) that we’re so excited to share with you. Once the project wrapped, we had a week on the island and decided that it was the perfect time to stay in one of Waikiki’s newest and hottest hotels.
We only had one night available to spend in Waikiki and knew that it had to be at The Laylow. Check-in was a breeze and we definitely felt the aloha with the vintage hula dancers greeting us at the counter. I think I need a wall like this in our home.
Chris wasn’t exactly thrilled at spending only one night at a hotel. I told him to trust me and that it would be worth it. Boy, did I show him. He was instantly enamored with the cool vibe of our room and the special touches that made it feel like a home away from home. The bookshelves actually had books on them (which shouldn’t be an anomaly when you think about it) and the ice bucket was accompanied by a stylish golden pineapple (which are so in right now). Our room also came with a working ukulele. I was able to knock out the three songs I can play and Holden obliged us with a little dancing. Thanks for the confidence boost, kiddo.
All in all, if we were to ever be fortunate enough to live in Hawaii, I’d want to decorate our home with the same aesthetic of The Laylow.
While we were perfectly situated near the beaches and nightlife of Waikiki, we only left the hotel to eat dinner. Other than that, we literally hid out at the aptly named hotel bar, The Hideout, and spent time in the pool. It was exactly the break that we needed from our busy filming schedule the week before. And bonus: Holden actually voluntarily got in the pool. He saw Chris swimming and I could barely throw his swim diapers on him before he practically tossed himself in. You guys, we finally have a water baby!
And our stay at The Laylow wouldn’t be complete without trying coffee from The Hideout. We should have known it was going to be delicious as soon as we heard that the beans come from Stumptown Roasters. My latte was perfect. So perfect that I put it on my list of top five coffees I’ve ever had. That’s high praise coming from someone who hunts down java around the world and lives and breathes the stuff.
The Laylow is definitely a hotel that we’ll stay in again. We really enjoyed the retro laid back vibe and how you truly feel that you’re escaping the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. Even with the mid-century modern touches and stand-out decor, we found our room to be incredibly child friendly. There was very little that Holden could get into. In fact, we simply pushed the drink tray back from its perch on the tv stand, and we were good to go.
The Laylow is win-win for those that want to be near all of the fun and sun of Waikiki, yet have the option of a calm and relaxing escape. We stuck with the latter and have no regrets. With a room as cute and comfortable as ours, why would you want to leave?
What do you look for when it comes to a hotel? Do you value price or comfort more? Let us know in the comment section below.
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.]]>