How to Spend a Perfect Holiday in Rhodes

I love Greece. It is one of my most favorite countries in Europe, and exotic Rhodes, located on the southern Aegean just off the western coast of Turkey is my favorite Greek island. Two summers ago, we went to Rhodes for the last part of our six week European vacation, and it was the perfect end to the trip.  Dazzling Rhodes Town enchants with its medieval Old Town, beautiful beaches, romantic tavernas, and welcoming Greek charm.

To Do:

Rent a scooter: This is by far the best way to get around Rhodes Town, and the most fun.  We rented a scooter in town, at Thomas Rentals and had a wonderful time driving along the coast to beaches. Note: it can be very warm in August. but I will say I got one of the best tans of my life 😊

Explore the Old Town: Stroll around the gorgeous medieval Old Town and lose yourself in the labyrinthine cobblestone streets. Explore the Street of the Knights, and the castle ruins. Choose one of the many, wildly romantic restaurants for your meals. We spent many leisurely meals sitting at outside cafes, enjoying the sultry evening weather, sipping Greek wines, and sampling  garlic prawns, spanikopita, Greek salads with salty blocks of feta and luscious, rich baklava.

Rhodes Cat
Well hello!

Visit Mandraki Harbour

The harbor at twilight was absolutely magical. Strolling around the Rhodes Old Town harbour, felt like I was in another time, another world. The castles ruins have almost a middle eastern feel. Old Town Rhodes is known to be one of the best preserved, most extensive medieval towns in all of Europe. Wander the maze of alleyways and allow yourself to be transported to medieval Greece.

Brie Sunset Rhodes HarbourRhodes Town Harbor Twilight

Brie Old Town Rhodes Castle Sunset
Pretending to be a courtier in Medieval Rhodes.

Kalithea Springs

We hopped on our scooter and headed to this gorgeous thermal springs early one morning for a bite and a refreshing swim. Advice: Get there early and reserve a sunbed with shade. Though this was a beautiful, peaceful place we didn’t arrive early enough to snag a chair, so we headed to the main beach for the rest of the day.

Kalithea Springs RhodesBrie and Brad Kalithea Springs

Kalithea Springs
Kalithea Springs

Kalithea Springs

Beach time:

Our fav beach was Tsambiki – an epic swathe of white sand, dotted by umbrellas, surrounded by beautiful beach tavernas. We spent several languorous afternoons swimming in the sea, reading, lounging in our sun chairs, gobbling Greek salads and sipping mojitos. There’s also a huge diving board that Brad had a great time leaping off. 

Rustic beach taverna, Tsambiki Beach
Rustic beach taverna
Tsambiki Beach, Rhodes
Where Brad could be found most of the day!

Of course, we headed to the Rhodes Old Town beach to catch the sunset over the water, but as you can note from the pictures  it was insanely windy! I almost didn’t make it. My advice would be to stroll the harbor at sunset for some breathing taking pictures, the light just glows. And then head to Lindos for the most exquisite sunsets. 

Rhodes Town Beach Sunset

Unbelievable Sunset Rhodes Town Beach
Rhodes Town sunset ❤

Where to eat:

Mama Sofias: Our friend Evren suggested this place emphatically. We had the shrimp saganaki (shrimp in tomato, onion, & garlic sauce), moussaka, Greek salad and baklava. Sipped a crisp Greek white. This place has a lovely view of the old town clocktower. Was fun and immensely romantic. 

Hermes: Relaxed place, with a local vibe. This place served huge portions and was very budget friendly. We had chicken pita wraps, served with all the fixings – tomatoes, onions, lettuce, fries and tzakiki, plus Greek white wines and baklava, of course 😊 Enjoyed it so much we went twice! 

After dinner we went for hookah and cocktails at Senses. The setting was incredibly picturesque with a view of the old ruins, and we loved the balmy weather.

Rooftop View Old Town Rhodes
View from our pension

Where to Stay: We stayed at Minos Pension. Great location in the old town about a five minute walk to shops, restaurants and sights. Our favorite part was the pretty rooftop bar. Had our breakfasts there every morning –  frothy cappuccinos and a goblet full of creamy, Greek yogurt topped with toasted pecans, drizzled with Greek honey infused with vanilla and sprinkled with cinnamon. We ate this each morning on our rooftop terrace overlooking the Old Town. Typically I rather hate Greek yogurt and force myself to eat it for the probiotics and protein. However, this was delicious and I could not stop thinking about it. Note: Bar staff does not speak English, but we managed to get along fine. Stepping off the airplane at the Rhodes airport, we saw one of the most fabulous sunsets, setting over the Aegean. I think Rhodes was giving us a welcome show! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Spend a Wonderful Four Days in Lindos Greece

(Spoiler: It’s not difficult!)

Two summers ago, we went to Rhodes, Greece for the last part of our six week European vacation, and it was the perfect end to the trip. Lindos, Greece is a glorious, Greek fairytale of a village. Dominated by a view of the Acropolis set on a cyprus covered hill, the old town is filled with roof top restaurants glittering with twinkly lights, and white washed homes covered in cascading magenta bougainvillea leading to the aquamarine sea. This place is, quite simply, a dream.

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Beautiful Lindos

When I think about our time in Lindos, I think of crystal clear turquoise water, balmy afternoons spent at St. Paul’s Bay or Palace Beach, heart stopping sunsets and leisurely afternoons spent lounging at beachside tavernas feasting on Greek delicacies.

To Do/Our Favorites:

The beaches! The beaches in Lindos are heart stoppingly beautiful and the water is both crystalline and wait for it, bathtub temperature.

St. Paul’s Bay: We spent our days alternating between lounging in the beach chairs, swimming in the sparkling turquoise bay and eating at Dimitries, a beachside taverna on the water serving fresh Greek food with unbelievable views.

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Our first glimpse of St. Paul’s Bay stopped our hearts

Out menu each day: warm pita dusted with oregano and spread with olive oil, homemade creamy tzatziki and hummus, fresh Greek salads topped with salty blocks of feta and chilled Greek white wine 😍 We also ate as much baklava as we could get our hands on! I could eat Greek food all day, everyday.

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Possibly, one of my most favorite lunchtime views!

Brie St. Paul's Bay

We took the scooter around sunset for spectacular panoramic views over St. Paul’s Bay. Bring a bottle of wine because believe me, you will want to cheers your partner, or even the night, in honor of such a magical place. 

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Stopped for sunset views before dinner in town 😀

Palace Beach: Gorgeous beach with Acropolis views.  Sun chairs – 10 euros for two. Several beach bars and tavernas dotting the shore. Paddle boarding was gorgeous here as well. For lunch, choose whichever beach taverna suits your fancy. We picked the ones with the best views. I liked that Palace Beach was relatively uncrowded and therefore had a more relaxed vibe.

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Loved lazing on my sun lounger and gazing at the Acropolis

We typically stayed on the beach until quite late, returned home for a little rest and relaxation, then headed out around 8pm for a leisurely rooftop dinner and a couple glasses of white wine. OR, we went down to Palace Beach to stroll along the sand during sunset. Virtually no one else was around, and we had the beach to ourselves. We walked though the glass like, crystal clear, warm water, as the sun set pink and violet and turquoise around us. 

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How is that indigo sunset?!

Note: On the scooter ride to Palace beach, keep an eye out for the adorable, floppy eared donkeys, just waiting to come over and say hello.

Donkey Lindos

Explore the Old Town: Lindo’s ancient cobblestoned old town is an absolute dream. We loved the bright pink bougainvillea, white washed homes and magical rooftop restaurants.

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The village of Lindos

Where to eat: Pick from one of the many, gorgeous rooftop restaurants for an almost impossibly romantic evening meal. Our favorites were: Kalypso, Mythos and Dionysos.

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At one point during the meal, Brad and I just sat in silence, sipping our wine and gazing at the Acropolis lit up at night.  “How did you find this place?” Brad breathed in wonder.

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How to get around: Scooter is by far the most fun way to get around Lindos. Plus you’re rewarded with stunning vistas and donkeys at every turn! We rented a scooter in town for a pretty minimal price and loved riding it to the beaches.

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We love scooters AND donkeys!

Where to stay: We stayed at Lambis Studios, a resort with sweeping views just up the hill from the Old Town.

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Our studio 😀
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View from our deck

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Brie Lambis Studios Lindos

Brad loves a good sunrise, and so hopped on the scooter one morning for the sun rising over St. Paul’s Bay. I was happy as a clam in my bed, but the pictures were fantastic, so if you can rouse your ass out of bed, I would recommend this.

GETTING THERE

We spent the first part of our week in Rhodes Town, and then took a bus to Lindos. The bus is a quick hour ride south of Rhodes Town.

Lindos, Rhodes is one of my most favorite places in Europe. It is, quite simply enchanting.  For the ultimate relaxing, peaceful, romantic as all get out vacation full of ancient history and a joyous culture you can’t go wrong with Greece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Long Weekend Getaway to Bavaria

A Roadtrip to Allgäu – the Most Beautiful Part of Germany

Last June, when my mom came to visit us in Germany, we took her on a weekend getaway to my most favorite part of Germany – Bavaria. I cannot recommend this place enough. We are talking sprawling green hills so lush they don’t look real, alpine roses cascading from flower boxes, little lakeside restaurants overlooking crystalline water with waitresses wearing dirndls, fairy tale castles and more beer gardens then you can count.

Beautiful Oberstdorf
Well, hello Bavaria!

We decided to visit Allgäu, because good friends of ours had visited and loved the region.  It was a perfect road trip from our town in southern Germany, Esslingen. The easy drive took us about two hours and the area is so gorgeous and full of old fashioned Bavarian charm. Basically, we spent the entire trip gasping at the views, leaping out of the car for photo ops, taking strolls and spending languorous afternoons at cafes in the sunshine.

Beautiful Obersdorf
Seriously, so many ops for gorgeous pictures!

Day 1: We drove to the picaresque town of Oberstdorf, and stopped at the ridiculously beautiful alpine Schwand Hotel for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains covered in pines, a drink and ice cream!

View Alpine Roses
How can this even be real?!
Alpine Hotel
100% pretending I’m in a scene from the children’s classic Heidi!
The Schwand Hotel, Oberstdorf
The Schwand Hotel
We've got a sundae!
Sundae Bavarian Styles! Yeah, I’m also biting Brad’s face.

From there, we hiked to the Freibergsee Lake about a mile away, and had to stop again when we came upon the alpine lakeside restaurant, for a bite and to take in the idyllic views. The waitresses wear drndyls and the place is full of German merrymakers making the most of their summer holidays. I couldn’t get over how lovely and pristine this place was.

Prost! Alpine Lake Styles
Prost Bavarian styles!
Alpine Lakeside Restaurant - Allgau
I mean….look at this view!

We ordered the most delicious salad (I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before, but southern Germany is NOT known for its tasty salads or veggie meals of any kind really. Honestly, they are non existent, so this was a real win).

Salad at the Freebergsee
OMG this salad – grilled chicken, sauteed mushrooms “fried potato pouches” and a creamy garlic dressing

Day 2: Visit Cinderella’s Castle: AKA Neuschwanstein Castle

Built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1886, this castle is said to be the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and is a total fairy tale come to life. We got our tickets, took a shuttle bus and then walked about ten minutes up to the castle. You can tour the inside if you like, but I think the exterior is the most exciting and the best views are from the hanging bridge, over the valley. The castle, the town, the sweeping views – it is all a Bavarian dream.

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Oh, just Sleeping Beauty’s Perfect Fairytale Castle Nestled in the Bavarian Alps!
Brie & Brad Neuschwanstein
Pretty Romantic Day!
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The View on the Walk to the Castle

After visiting the Castle, we  strolled around Lake Alpsee, and marveled at the clear azure waters and wildflowers. We also enjoyed a beer and sausage in one of the several cafes in the sunshine 🙂 Well, Brad and mom did. I had a Prosecco, per the usual. I just can’t get on board with beer, guys.

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Mom & Brad strolling along the Alpsee

Brie Lake Alpsee

Where to stay: We stayed at an adorable AirBnB cottage in the town of Sonthofen, complete with flower boxes, views of the village and a Cuckoo Clock! It actually scared us all to death in the middle of the night, as it was totally LOUD. The room was spacious, comfy and exactly what we were looking for. We even saw a gentleman in town driving his tractor in lederhosen! Siiigh, I love Bavaria 🙂

Our cottage in Sonthafen
Our AirBnB

Where to eat: We found a very yummy little Greek restaurant in town that we really enjoyed. Staff was super friendly. We also liked cafe Bene Kaffee & Laden for frühstück – German breakfast comprised of various cheeses, breads and spreads – butter, jams, etc.

More photos of the fam in Bavaria 😀

Final thoughts: Bavaria is my most favorite part of Germany, and I think the next time we return to Germany, we will visit again coupled with a hiking trip in Switzerland. I first became intrigued with the area, when a friend visited for a wedding and sent me photos. It looked like she had taken photos in front of a green screen – the rolling hills were so impossibly lush and picturesque. She drank hugos, ate Bavarian goodies and I knew I had to visit immediately. It absolutely did not disappoint!

Exploring the Berlin Xmas Fair

What to expect: A glorious, glittering historical backdrop, live Christmas shows and music, adorable woodland inspired ornaments and all of the gluwein.

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When I Brad and I first stepped into this market we made an audible..oooh!

There are many Christmas Markets to choose from in Berlin, spread out around the city. We chose to stroll the most famous option – the Gendarmenmark in the Mitte district, set in one of Berlin’s most beautiful squares.

20171231_162347This market is smaller and more intimate then the ones that I am used to, and the  backdrop is an absolute showstopper. Also, this market lasts until New Year’s Eve, which is a very fun and festive way to the spend the evening. We stopped by the market before our NYE’s party.

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C’mon….I need this little guy!

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Insert actual angels singing on high

Merry Christmas everyone!

Next up on the blog: A weekend getaway to St. Orres in Gualala – a Russian themed Inn and rustic cabins on the northern California coast.

How to Spend a Winter Holiday in Budapest

Highlights:

Here are some of the most wonderful experiences in Budapest:

  • Luxuriating in the Széchenyi Thermal Bath
  • Losing yourself in the labyrinthine Ruin Pubs
  • Dinner at Mazel Tov
  • Exploring the Jewish District
  • Views from the Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Strolling the Christmas marketsIMG_1039

Thermal Baths: Széchenyi is the largest thermal bath in Europe. I love a good thermal bath, and if a country boasts beautiful thermal baths I bolt right for them. This is among my favorites. Surrounded by what looks like a gorgeous yellow cathedral and cascading with steam, Szechnyi is a true treat for the senses. I love the wave whirlpool. Grab a glass of bubbles, luxuriate in the steaming hot baths and take in the general splendor. We were quite lucky with our weather and it wasn’t too chilly but I imagine lounging in the heated pools as the snow falls would be a beautiful experience as well.

Ruin Pubs: A few years ago these pubs began gaining popularity in Budapest’s Jewish district, and I have never experienced anything quite like them. Lose yourself in the fever dream artwork and labyrinthine, seemingly never endless corners of these pubs. Filled with an assortment of bizarre and whimsical odds and ends – I’m talking a room full of giant green kangaroos and multi colored lamps at Instant, and increasingly insane animal inspired art at Szimpla Kert (one wall is covered by a painting of a massive gerbil devouring a knight) the Ruin Pubs provide endless entertainment. We preferred Szimpla’s relaxed atmosphere during the day and Instant at night.

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Hello! The Szimpla Kert green kangaroo never fails to make me smile

Szimpla:  Huge pub with old mismatched items such as plants, the aforementioned green kangaroo & a room full of antique lamps with music, food & a garden. Offers several wine bars, and a restaurant serving pub eats in addition to countless other hidey-hole bars.

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Brie Szimpla
Szimpla Courtyard

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Instant: Twenty six rooms in a former apartment building. Head upstairs to find the smaller, calmer areas or join the revelers below in the “enchanted forest”, surrounded by artwork depicting woodland musicians, winged hippos and a wharthog-shaped glittering disco ball.

A sampling of the artwork:

 

Eats: Mazel Tov: I had my birthday dinner at this gorgeous Israeli restaurant in the Jewish District. So delicious and atmospheric we went several times. Filled with streams of twinkling lights hanging down from the ceiling and covered in lush green cascading plants. Mazel Tov has live Israeli music, delicious Middle Eastern fair and fun cocktails. My favorite was the warm hummus bowl with falafel and Israeli salad.

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Warm hummus bowl with falafel & chicken shwarma plus Israeli salad ❤
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Entrance to Mazel Tov

Wine Bar:

Doblo: This chic, romantic wine bar feels like you are sipping vino in the inside of a cave. Very atmospheric. We had a great time chatting with the bartender and learning about Hungarian wines.

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Who knew Hungarian wines were so delish?

Tuning Burger: Yummy place for burgers and chicken sandwiches. Great fries

Tuning Burger

Bakeries: Mlinar. Delicious bakery with flaky pastries, both sweet and savory. Very budget friendly. We ran straight for this little place when we found one in Croatia as well.

The Castle & Fisherman’s Bastille: Walk across the iconic Lion Bridge and up to the castle for the most gorgeous views over Budapest. The Fisherman’s Bastille is Gothic and gorgeous and straight from a fairytale. Tip: We went around twilight which has the most amazing violet views over the Danube to the city.

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Fisherman's Bastion.jpg

 

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The Christmas Market/Parliament: Take some time to visit the festive markets – the food is the real standout here. Mulled wine thick with floating apples, langos (fried hungarian flatbread) with exotic toppings, steaming chimney cakes and more. Then head to Parliament building for the gorgeous lion sculptures and glittering Xmas tree for a festive treat.

Buda Xmas

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Lion Parliament Buda

Grand Cafes: These look like a cross between an Opera House and a baroque cathedral and are total showstoppers. They are wonderful for sipping coffee, sampling the Hungarian pastries, and letting your imagination run wild about the Hungarian creatives – writers, artists and poets, who frequented the cafes in the 20s. We went to Centrál Kávéház. I ordered the decadent Dobos Torte (a chocolate sponge cake topped with a caramel glaze) and did not regret it. Cafe Gerbeaud at Vosmorty Square and the New York Cafe are also beautiful.

Where to Stay: We stayed at an AirBnB in the Jewish district and loved it. Everything is very walkable  – about two minutes to fabulous restaurants, cafes, wine bars, ruin pubs and boutique shops. Also, and I kid you not, our Airbnb was about thirty bucks for a beautiful, spacious, airy apartment.

Budapest is a gorgeous, gothic, vibrant city. Full of rich history and a welcoming culture, we had so much fun, we went twice in 18 months! It was particularly gorgeous in winter. We absolutely love Eastern Europe and cannot wait to explore this part of the world more.

More Budapest Pics:

 

 

 

Exploring the Stuttgart Christmas Fair

What to expect: blocks & blocks filled with whimsical Christmas stalls, German Xmas music, international foods, frosty temps and so much gluwein 😀

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Located in the middle of the city center, and easily accessible by train, the Stuttgart Christmas Fair has a festive, rollicking vibe. This market is sprawling, filled with beautiful stalls selling every Xmas related decoration you could imagine. The food includes the typical German fare – sausages, fries, maultaschen (german dumplings), damfnudle (yeasty sweet roll that is not my favorite) as well as international foods –  langos; Hungarian fried bread covered in your choice of sour cream, cheese and garlic butter (which as mentioned in previous blogs is my fav) pulled pork fries, soups, etc.

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The angels! The glitz! 
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I need this in my home
Stuttgart Xmas Market
Pink Santas!? Come on :D:D

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This year, the market is being on November 27th and ends December 23rd.

Prost!

 

Next up on the blog – general merriment at the Berlin Christmas fair.

How to Spend Five Days in Riga

Riga in April AKA: Our Winter Holiday in Latvia

Last April, we found ourselves with a surprise five days off, and I wanted to visit someplace new and unexpected, someplace we would most likely never have a chance to visit if we weren’t based in Germany, so I planned a trip to Riga, Latvia. Here are some highlights:

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Sveiki from Riga!

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Oh, just a Latvian armadillo…

Riga is part of the Baltics and an absolute gem. We weren’t sure what to expect from this Baltic city but we had a fabulous time exploring the medieval Old Town, lounging in the underground pubs, listening to live folk music, chatting to the friendly locals and indulging in some great meals. Riga is very budget friendly, so this is a place to splurge.

You should note –  this place is COLD. We visited in April and it snowed the entire time. I think this added to the medieval ambiance.

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“All of a sudden, I felt very cold…as if I would never be happy again.”
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Of course, OF COURSE, we found the  Dementors
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Brad, just fitting in EVERYWHERE

Eats: Prices are very reasonable in Riga so go ahead and splurge! We had a fabulous meal at Balzambar – great artisanal cocktails and tasty, beautifully plated food. We sat at the bar and had a fun time chatting with  one of the owners who happened to be the bartending champion of Riga!

Folkklubs Ala PagrabsUnderground pub with large potions of  filling Baltic fare, traditional live music, and a rollicking vibe. Felt like we were in a festival scene from Robin Hood 😀 You can easily spend an entire evening here. 

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Priekā!

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Sights around Riga:

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This is the stuff Xmas dreams are made of

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Nightlife and Pubs:

The Armory Bar – Brad has fond memories of being on the shooting team at his school, so I was stoked when I found this armory bar for him, stocked full of weaponry from communist rule that patrons can strip down and reassemble over drinks. The bar men was very friendly and willing to help. Think: bayonets, hand grenades from across the ages, Ak47s and a rocket launcher. Interesting place. You’ll need to find plenty of cafes and bakeries and pubs in Riga if you go between Nov and April because you’ll want to pop into them every 20 minutes or so for a warm drink and some heat. 

Black Magic Bar – Beautiful, atmospheric, underground bar. Felt like stepping foot in medieval Riga. Try the desserts and Black Balsam – liquour made in Riga. Not for the faint of heart. 

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This is Black Basalm – NOT for the faint of heart

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Funny Fox – Fun, relaxed bar in Old Town Riga. Latvians are a very welcoming and friendly people. We had great fun chatting with them in restaurants and pubs and bakeries and learning about life in Riga.

Skyline Bar at the Raddison Blu – For sweeping views over the city and fancy cocktails

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Oh, hello Riga! View from the Latvia Raddison -Brad loves a good rooftop bar!

Where to Stay: We stayed at an Airbnb for about 30 bucks. It was fine, but very minimal. I would recommend staying in the city center, as once you are there everything is very walkable.

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Transport: We walked, took Uber and shuttles. Riga has very good public transport – including heated shuttles that drive around the city, basically much more luxurious busses. They are small, deliciously warm, cheap and delightful.

I loved Riga. This gothic city stole my heart. I can’t wait to visit another Baltic city – I think Tallinn, Estonia looks gorgeous, particularly during the winter. During the summer I tend to long for tropical beach vacations and wildlife, but I love the feel of Eastern Europe or northern Europe in winter.

More Riga Photos: As you can see, no fun to be had here…

 

Our Winter Trip to Krakow

Highlights:

  • Exploring the Kasmierz and its nightlife
  • Traditional, cheap, Polish food! Huge bowls of borsht, perogies and shnitzel with garlic butter sauce
  • Strolling around the beautiful Old Town
  • Vodka tasting in an alcove just off the main square
  • Wawel Castle/Fire Breathing Dragon Statue
  • Eating Polish cookies, sipping coffee  & watching snow flurries from our Kasmierz apartment
  • Splurging with a luxurious dinner and carriage ride in the Old Town
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Krakow’s magical main square
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This is my Seyit & Sura picture. If you have not seen this show go check it out NOW.

Krakow is enchanting. Our first introduction to eastern Europe, Brad and I instantly felt a connection to this beautiful, bohemian city. Krakow’s history hits you like a thunderbolt to the chest. Its past is evident everywhere – in the street art of the Jewish Quarter, in the candle lit pubs of the Kasmierz, in the rubble of the apartment blocks, still rebuilding after Communist reign. Krakow is a survivor. Its strength and resilience is intoxicating. It’s a transporting place, one that often occupies my thoughts and dreams.

We visited in October which I think added to heighten the Gothic ambiance. I loved Krakow in winter. Though I will say, the surprise snow in October was quite the shock to our tropical loving hearts!

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Surprise it snowed. In October! So, that was cool. 

I’m going to begin this post with nightlife, because the nightlife in Krakow is so unique and unlike anyplace else I’ve visited. Strolling through the Kasmierz, stepping into bars like Eszeweria and Alchemia feelt like stepping foot into the 1950s. You are instantly transported to another time, another place. We spent hours in these pubs, sipping bubbles or vodka, watching the snow fall and soaking in the ambiance of the Kasmierz.

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Eszeweria

Nightlife

The Kazmierz: our favorite part of Krakow. The bohemian Kazmierz is the former Jewish District of Krakow and the place for boutique shops, traditional Polish restaurants, and otherworldly bars and cafes.  We have found that in many Eastern European cities, the Jewish Quarter is the place to base yourself. It has heart and culture in spades. It also has a great local vibe, plenty of young people and is budget friendly. 

Eszeweria – Atmospheric to the max, filled with flickering candles, antique decorations and candelabras, serving mulled wine and other spirits. This place is 100% for the bohemian at heart.

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Woddka Bar – wiew from our alcove

Wodkka Bar – This little bar is right off the Old Town square. I have never truly understood the appeal of Vodka until visiting Poland. We chose six vodkas to sample (and then another six because we liked them so much), with rich flavors like pineapple, cherry, pomegranate and pear and took them to our private little alcove filled with bright, jewel colored plushy pillows. We sipped (and I may have grimaced a tad at first), as the snow fell silently outside. 

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Hi! I’d like try one of your cherry and chocolate and blackberry and grapefruit and and…!

 

Where to eat:

We loved the food in Poland, particularly Kuchnia u Doroty and Polakowsi: – cozy, rustic restaurants with delicious homemade Polish food – creamy borsht with a huge scoop of mash potatoes, shnitzel the size of your plate covered in garlic butter, potato and onion perogies. Order at the counter at the former. 

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We retained two Polish phrases from the trip – Smaznego (Bon Appetit!) and Twoje zdrowie (Cheers!)

Trattoria Zyklop: well priced Italian food

Loza: Splurge at this 1950s diner in the main square, designed to look like a luxury cruise. Everything is delicious. I ordered the pesto tortellini with sun dried tomatoes. 

What to See:

Explore the Kazmierz (are you seeing a trend here?) 

Try the restaurants, browse the shops, check out the street art and cafes. Stop at the Judah Square food truck park if you’re brave enough! It was snowing as we frantically ate our steaming chimney cakes. We saw an entire family feasting in the outdoor courtyard The New Square one Saturday evening around 11pm. They shared snacks and toasted Vodka as the snow fell. The Polish are some hearty people. Twoje zdrowie!

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Alright, I’m saying it – how dishy is King Kaszmierz?

Stroll the Cobblestone Lanes and Explore the Beautiful Old Town 

Krakow is very walkable. We walked from the Kazmierz, to the Old Town, to the Castle, albeit with frequent pop ins to cafes and bakeries for frothy coffees and flaky Polish treats because we needed to warm up as the weather was freezing!

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The walk from the Kazmierz to the Old Town

Check Out Wawel Castle and the Fire Breathing Dragon Statue

So, as we headed up to the Castle Grounds, the weather was definitely brisk, but skies were blue, and the sun was shining. We popped into the castle to use the restrooms and came out to snow!

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I will always find the dragon

 

Schindler’s Museum

When visiting Krakow, touring either Auschwitz or Schindler’s Museum is a must. Schindler’s Museum is incredibly well done – transporting the viewer to 1939 Krakow instantly, and taking them on a journey through five years under Nazi rule. It brought me to my knees.

 

 

Where to Stay

We stayed at in AirBnB in the Kasmierz, and absolutely loved it. We stayed in a top floor walk up. It felt very authentic, and gave us a true taste of what it might feel like to live in the bustling Jewish Quarter. Bonus – it cost less than $40 an night.

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Brad has the coffee & cookies!
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View from our apartment

Final Thoughts

Krakow captivated us instantly, and began our love affair with Eastern Europe. I find my thoughts frequently flitting to this beautiful city, and cannot wait to return.

More Krakow Photos

 

 

 

Next up for Eastern Europe/The Baltics blog posts: Winter in Beautiful Budapest and Five days Exploring Riga. 

 

A Grand English Vacation: How to Spend a Perfect Week in Cornwall

Wild, rugged, windswept, and heart achingly beautiful, the Cornish coast located on England’s south western tip is a magical place.

Highlights of our time in Cornwall:

  • Taking in the sweeping panoramic vistas, and pretending to be characters from Poldark gazing wistfully and passionately at the sea (Brad was such a sport)
  • Hiking the coastal paths and countryside lanes
  • Cream teas! Freshly made warm scones served with jam and Cornish clotted cream
  • Exploring the beaches, coves and tiny thatched roof villages of the Lizard Coast
  • Strolling the enchanting St. Ives town and and visiting 13th century pubs
  • Eating fish & chips with gravy and pies while dangling our feet over the harbor
  • Delicious breakfast at our B&B, drinking tea and eating shortbread while listening to the waves crash outside our room
Porthgwarra Meadow
Dreamy Porthgwarra cove (Also known as the place where Demelza spies Poldark skinny dipping :D)
As I mentioned in a previous post, Cornwall is my heart song. As a huge fan of Masterpiece Theatre’s Poldark, the Cornish Coast has been a destination I have been dreaming about for years, the haunting landscapes and English countryside calling to me to explore. This summer we were lucky enough to visit for an entire week, as part of our  6 week travels and I cannot stop day dreaming about this glorious place. If you have not been, and are a fan of the UK, put this on yo’ bucket list. It is one of my favorite places in the world.
St Ives Harbour
St. Ives harbor
Coastal Hike To Zennor
The coastal path to the village of Zennor – sweeping views about 10 minutes into the walk!

The Itinerary

As a huge Poldark fan, there were several must sees for me:

Kynance Cove: where they shot Poldark’s beloved ancestral home Nampara

The Lizard Coast and Land’s End: breathtaking panoramic views where the lands meets the sea. Boasts Polpeor a fantastic clifftop cafe

Porthgwarra: a dreamy, golden cove

Porthcurno: a gorgeous beach with sparkling azure waters in Penzance

Cadgwith: a tiny fishing village along the Lizard Coast

Gazing out to sea Poldark Styles
Porthgwarra Cove – gazing out to sea, Demelza styles
Nampara, Lands End Cornwall
Of course we had to brave the weather to hike to Nampara! Felt like we were at the end of the world.
Porthgwarra Poldark Territory
Porthgwarra Cove – Straight up Poldark country. This is the cove where Demelza spies Ross going for a swim, and also the pilchard scene where all the townspeople rush into the sea!
The hikes in Cornwall are outstanding and varied – filled with sweeping cliff top vistas, crashing waves, rolling mist, turquoise waters, flower filled meadows and winding country paths.
Cornish Country Lane at Land's Inn
Cornish country lane at Land’s End
Nampara, Cornwall
Yes, the Lizard Coast was every bit as windswept and rugged as it looks. 
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Porthcurno Beach – Look at the color of that water!
Cadgwith: We hiked a windy little path to get to this tiny fishing village with its thatched roof cottages and cascading wildflowers. Cadgwith felt like every British novel I have ever loved come to life. We stopped at the local pub, The Cadgwith Cove Inn, and sat by the fireplace for a hearty lunch.
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Am…am I in a Dicken’s novel?!
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Idyllic Cadgwith. I mean….look at this place! My Jane Austin, Elizabeth Gaskell, Agatha Christie and Dickens loving soul is in heaven.
The holiday seaside town of St. Ives, filled with pirate lore and full to bursting with English charm was the perfect home base. We took a train from London to St. Ives, and the view was outstanding. The trip lasted about 5 hours. We then rented a car for two days so we could explore a few must see sights in Cornwall. I suggest booking online for the best offers.
Well, Hello St. Ives!
Hello St. Ives – I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you!
Brad and I had a fabulous time eating seafood take away on the harbor, playing in the kitschy arcade (I am weirdly good at guitar hero, Brad is excellent at skeeball), watching the gulls, nibbling scones and tea and sipping Prosecco at beach cafes while watching the sun emerge from behind the clouds to light the Atlantic glittering turquoise.

Where to Eat

Olives for Cream Tea: An absolute MUST when visiting Cornwall, Olive’s Cream tea is comprised of freshly baked blueberry scones served with jam and Cornish clotted cream. Also served with a steaming pot of Early Grey tea.  Note: You are encouraged to pile your jam and cream as high as possible. I feel like I really nailed this tradition. 
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Cream tea – a must have while in Cornwall! I dream about these daily.
Sloop Inn: Built in the 1300s, this is a straight up pirate bar and I absolutely adored it. I just KNOW pirates smuggled items here. They also have live music.
Where to eat: There is no end to fabulous places to eat in St. Ives. Our favorites were The Balancing Eel for takeaway fish and chips, gravy and pies. We visited this place at least twice and had a wonderful time dangling our feet over the harbor, eating fish & chips and listening to the gulls hoot and shuffle shiftily around us. 

We also really enjoyed The Rum Shack, Porthminster Beach Cafe for drinks and churros,  and Hub for excellent fried chicken sandwiches perfect for splitting.

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Hiking the coastal path to Zennor – Glorious views about 10 minutes into the walk!
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The coastal path to the ancient town of Zennor. *Note: we made it about 1/3 of the way there, before turning back for a cream tea break.* But, if you hike the full route you end up at The Tinner’s Arms. We just drove there.
We stayed at Tregony Guesthouse, and this B&B was a dream come true. Before visiting Cornwall I knew exactly the type of place I wanted to stay at – scrumptious breakfasts and huge picture windows with sweeping views of the ocean.  An adorable British couple ran the B&B, and made the most delicious made to order breakfasts. When visiting Cornwall, I suggest staying at a B&B if at all possible to heighten the English seaside experience.

 

I plan to return to Cornwall again and again. Something about this part of the world speaks to me, calls to me from across the oceans to come visit, come explore.
Porthgwarra Phone Booth
Yeah, we found the phone booth at Porthgwarra. Shenanigans Cornish coast styles

 

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St. Ives harbor panorama

Upcoming blog post – 1 week in Australia!

 

The Great Scottish Roadtrip: Inverness to Edinburgh

Reindeer Cairngorms Scotland

Highlights of our Highlands Road Trip

Here are some of the most wonderful experiences in the area surrounding Inverness

  • Feeding reindeer in the Cairngorms
  • The Highland Games in Balleter  (so many bagpipers!)
  • Sweeping, take your breath away views at every turn

Day 8-9

For the next journey on our trip, we drove from Inverness to the Cairngorms, a gorgeous mountain range and national park in the Scottish Highlands for a reindeer feeding.

Feeding reindeer in the Cairngorms was one of the most magical experiences of my life.  We were brought to a vast meadow, and walked along a wooden path to reach the pasture. All of a sudden, we heard the clip clopping of hooves behind us and found that a herd of reindeer had joined our walk and were prancing directly behind us. As we fed them, they gently nudged us with their velvety, soft noses.

Reindeer Feeding in the Cairngorms Scotland

Brad Just One of the Reindeer Herd
Brad, Just One of the Reindeer Herd
Feeding Reindeer Scotland
This may be my new happy place

Feeding reindeer in the Cairngorms Scotland - Windswept but happy

Brie feeding Reindeer In The Cairngorms Scottish Highlands
Pure joy
Caringorms reindeer meadow
Windswept but so happy!

Reindeer Herd In the Cairngorms Scottish Highlands

Some background info about the herd: A Scandinavian adventurer fell in love with an American woman and moved to Scotland but missed the native animals from his own country. He imported the herd of reindeer from Sweden to the Cairngorms in 1952.  There are currently 150 free ranging members of this beautiful reindeer herd.

The Magical Highlands

On the drive from the Cairngorms to the highland Games in Balleter, we were rewarded by this spectacular view. We were so gobsmacked, we pulled over, leapt out of the car and just stood there eyes wide and sighing. This is the Scotland of your dreams.

Magical Scotland Cairngorms
Scotland – you show off!

Off to the Highland Games!

The HIghland Games in Balleter was everything I was hoping for and more. I was so thrilled we were able to see this. As luck would have it, there was one Highland games held in our area while we were visiting Scotland and it was on the last day of our trip. I wanted it to be a surprise for Brad, and I was literally bouncing around in my seat on the way to the games. Situated between two towering, pine covered mountains, the location could not be beat. These games featured highland dancers, log tosses (think giant highlanders wearing kilts and rock band t shirts), competitions for best clan costumes (and let me tell you they were decked out and magnificent), fresh donuts, and so many bagpipes. At one point, the bands entered the field and there were around 50 bagpipes marching in union, kilted up.

Highland Games Balleter!
Bag pipers and fresh donuts in the highlands – does it get any better?!

We ended our fabulous Scotland road trip in Edinburgh. We met friends for dinner at a Mediterranean place. At this point we had been travelling for five weeks and I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was tasty, wonderful to catch up with old friends and a great cap to the most wonderful trip. We headed home for three days where we recouped  (and spent most of the time lounging on the couch watching Poldark yelling during every scene – “We’ve been there!”) Then we left for a week in gorgeous Rhodes.

Upcoming blog post – One week in Spain!