Between all the rain this weekend and these photos and recently watching Leap Year (what? don’t judge, that guy is cute), this is making us—especially the wino—extremely nostalgic. Around Counties Galway and Mayo
Probs shouldn’t play this game at your desk because you’ll definitely annoy the crap out of your co-workers. Much like the people that take calls exclusively on speaker. What is with that? Can You Match the Popular Restaurant to Its Telephone Hold Music?
Things like this make us excited for autumn in New York when we’ll be here a little more often. The Street Aesthetic of New York City
the romantic & the wino
Today’s jetsetters are B&K–fellow New Yorkers (neighbors, in fact!), and the romantic & hubs’s general partners in crime. Though we were all on lockdown for the hurricane-that-wasn’t this weekend and perfectly content to sit inside and gorge ourselves for two days, they, like us, much prefer wining & dining. And by wining & dining, we mean gin & tonics and vodka martinis, extra dirty please.
Favorite place you’ve been:
More importantly, favorite meal:
K: A hot dog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavík, Iceland. Icelandic hot dogs are made mostly with lamb and pork, and if you order “the works”, it will be topped with sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion, ketchup and remolaði, a type of sweet mayonnaise. There’s nothing quite like it!
B: I have no idea what the name was, but we were starving on our first or second night in Paris and stopped for dinner at a brasserie. We don’t speak French and beyond cheese and eggs, can’t read it either. Needless to say, what arrived at our tables was always a surprise. This night, I got confit de canard and it was beyond description. Every bite I took was better than the last. I dream of that duck.
The moment you caught the travel bug:
K: After several full days of sightseeing in Barcelona on our first trip to Europe together, we took a break at a small outdoor tapas café on the Carrer del Consolat de Mar – a street that was narrower than most alleys I’ve seen. We somehow inadvertently escaped all the noise and tourists to find a tiny gem where the food was divine, the architecture was amazing, and local kids were playing soccer in the street. It was perfect.
B: I was in our college choir and we went ‘on tour’ every spring. I really think I got hooked on experiencing new things and being out of my immediate comfort zone because of this. Now I can’t wait to ‘see how the locals live’ wherever we go!
First experience traveling alone:
K: I used to fly from West Texas to Houston once a summer to visit my grandparents. My first time on a plane was at the age of 8, and I was completely alone. It was exhilarating! I wore a name tag, and got to sit in the front row. The flight must have only lasted about 45 minutes, but it was the most luxurious experience of my life. The only time my face came unglued from the window was when I tasted my first ginger ale – I’ll never forget it.
B: To be honest, I don’t remember, but think it might have been in college? I have a Romanticized memory of getting home after my last final exam Freshman year for Christmas. I caught my train up to New Hampshire and arrived hours later. The station there is uncovered and it was snowing and my whole family was waiting for me. It was like a Currier and Ives painting.
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling?
K: Before our trip to Barcelona, I must have heard about 25 stories of people being robbed and pick-pocketed in the streets. We arrived in the city with our homemade money belts tucked into our underwear, just waiting for the moment when we would be left broken and bleeding in an alley. That moment never came, and after a few days in Barcelona, I grew weary of unbuckling my pants every time I ordered a drink. Bye bye money belt.
B: Ditto. Or the night we got hopelessly lost in Paris and we had no idea what parts we should be avoiding. Or the train from Charles de Gaulle to Montmartre, why is that so gross?!
Favorite way to travel:
K: The Funicular to Montserrat in Spain, though horrifying, is really the only way to travel.
B: I really love trains. It is fun to see the countryside roll by. Boats are fun too, and planes. Really, I only dislike busses, you can never see anything properly and they make me ill.
Worst hotel/hostel experience:
K: None! Let’s keep it that way.
B: It wasn’t bad, by any means, but thinking of our room our first night in Paris makes me laugh. We had two tiny twin beds in a miniscule room and one very dim lightbulb hanging from a cord that swayed between the beds. It was exactly at K’s head height so every time he moved he knocked into the lightbulb. It was like a Hollywood portrayal of a run down Parisian hotel. Still makes me laugh to think about it.
Best hotel/hostel experience:
K: Conscious Hotel Museum Park in Amsterdam – Clean and comfortable. Very friendly manager who gave us restaurant recommendations and tons of free maps and guides. When he found out we’d never been to Amsterdam, he even upgraded us to his favorite room!
B: Ditto! And it was a green hotel, which is relatively important to me, so it was nice to know we were being environmentally conscious. Plus the room had a cool nature/ woodsy theme which was a nice break from being in the middle of Amsterdam.
Favorite family vacation:
K: We didn’t take many vacations when I was young, but I do remember going to Carlsbad Caverns with my dad when I was about 11 or 12 – I thought that was pretty cool.
B: My first trip to Europe! We went to Ireland for 10 days when I was 19. That solidified my desire to go back to Europe some day. We did a loop starting in Dublin down the coast and then up and back around. My grandfather came with us too and it was nice to spend all the time together.
Must-have packing item:
K: A Nalgene water bottle or something similar that you can refill when needed – drinking water is a must when you’re running around all day, and nothing is a bigger waste of money and resources than constantly buying bottled water.
B: Cute, comfortable clothes. How vain. But! We walk everywhere on vacation, and there is nothing worse than going to dinner or a nice theatre and feeling underdressed. I like to be versatile so I can walk around all day comfortably and then still feel alright to go straight to the ballet without a stop at the hotel first to change.
Most ridiculous travel experience:
B: We (foolishly?) went out to dinner our last night in Barcelona and one bottle of wine led to another. We stumbled home and passed out. The next morning, we leisurely opened our eyes and discovered we had slept through our alarm. I think I literally propelled myself straight into the air and began to run around just throwing things into our bags. We had something like 45 minutes to get to the airport and train ride there was 30 minutes. We sprinted out of the hostel, caught a train, ran through the airport and made it with SECONDS to spare. Come to find out our flight was cancelled due to a snow storm in NYC. Cue the hysterical laughter. Had we gotten up on time we would have checked our flight status in the internet lounge at the hostel. Oh well. At least we got an extra day there!
Favorite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment:
K: Standing in Anne Frank’s bedroom was an overwhelming, dreamlike, experience.
B: Looking at Paris from the top of Notre Dame. It was surreal to see the Seine, le tour Eiffel, etc while standing next to gargoyles in Quasimodo’s bell tower. The history and drama of the city was really overwhelming there.
Favorite tourist attraction:
K: Notre Dame
B: Ditto. It helps that we were there in Ash Wednesday and I lit a candle while staring at the beautiful stained glass windows as a choir sang. Like, you can’t script that any better!
Favorite “I’m trying not to look like a tourist” attraction:
K: No matter how many years I live in New York, I still find it hard to be on the same block as the Empire State Building without cocking my head back and looking straight up – it still amazes me.
Place you can’t wait to return to:
K: I would love to revisit San Francisco. I was only able to go for one day while I was in college, and would welcome a chance to return for a longer trip.
B: Iceland, in the summer next time… It was so natural, beautiful and clean! I would like to be there when it isn’t sleeting sideways and 25 degrees.
Place you can’t be paid to return to:
K: Even if a travel experience is terrible, if you have to someone to laugh with, it’s fun. And if it still isn’t fun after laughing…drink.
B: If I had my choice? Port Authority Bus Terminal. When I think that many people’s first impression of New York is that smelly, poorly lit, maze of horror I realize why New York may seem overwhelming to some people. What a terrible first impression!
Any exciting trips coming up?:
K: Nothing definitive, but we’ve been flirting with the idea of going to South America and staying in a lodge in the Amazon!
B: That, or a ski trip to the Alps! We’ll see. We are going to Cape Cod for Labor Day though, so that’s short term!
K: Versailles – via time machine
B: South Africa. I want to go on a Safari A LOT.
Sure, the Great Wall of China in the snow looks pretty, but is it practical? Photo Gallery: World Heritage Sites
The romantic & hubs will be moving into 625 Madison Avenue shortly. Maison Laduree brings macarons to UES
Helloooo, Examiner, we’ve been saying this for years. Alcohol ‘important to tourism’
Love this–great way to help you shop with a purpose while on vacation and create a space at home that always reminds you of your favorite places. Style as a Souvenir: Parisian Bedroom in Amsterdam
the romantic & the wino
I love perfect days on vacation. I’ve had many. Blissful, sunny days strolling along the Seine. Days spent wandering through Italian streets, stuffing myself with pasta and gelato. Days driving through the Irish countryside with picture-perfect rolling hills scattered with sheep and castle ruins on the horizon.
But what about the non-perfect days? What about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days? Like the day you’re in Barcelona and your purse is stolen and you’re out of cash? Or the day you’re totally lost and you get a ticket from a German police officer for breaking laws you didn’t know exist? Or the day your flight is cancelled and you lost your luggage and your brother throws up on you and you just want to cry? I’ve had a few of those days. And oddly enough, those are the stories that end up being told over and over again.
When the going gets rough and you feel close to tears because your dream vacation is going south, I recommend looking within yourself to employ one of the personality traits below:
Flexibility. When your perfectly planned day isn’t going as expected, you have to be flexible. On a blisteringly cold day in Lyons, France, my much anticipated tour of the stone-floored cathedrals turned into a nightmare. In an effort to warm our numbed toes, my friends and I took refuge in a small bistro. A few carafes of wine later, we realized being together in a (warm) French restaurant gave us a better taste of the local culture than any tour could have.
Perspective. You’re really going to spend your time arguing with the hotel concierge because your room doesn’t have the oceanfront view you imagined? Come on, you’re on vacation. As my Irish Catholic family loves to tell me – count your blessings.
Resourcefulness. You missed your flight from Milan to Rome?! What a tragedy! If you spent any time paging through that Rick Steves guideback your grandmother gave you before your trip, you’d realize you could take a train there instead. Or a bus. Or rent a car! And guess what? You’ll see Tuscany along the way instead of fight for arm space with the annoying woman next to you on your tiny airplane.
Spontaneity. In my experience, spontaneous decisions have often lead to my most memorable days. Take a chance, that’s what traveling is all about!
Humor. When the German police officer handed my friend and I a ticket for unknowingly sitting in first class on the train, all we could do was laugh. We had just trudged through snowy Salzburg, pulled together pennies to buy a beer in Innsbruck, and wandered lost through the streets of Zurich. That trip was riddled with bad luck and yet remains as one of my favorite vacations I’ve ever been on.
We love to hear your travel stories, whether they’re perfect or hilariously terrible.
love and luck,
WELL hello, little travelers. We’re still trying to get back into the swing of things after our weekend on hurricane lockdown. And by “swing of things,” we mean socializing, sunlight, fresh air, and not continuously shoving our face with cheese, wine, and Fairway baguette. We shouldn’t complain, but the biggest damage Irene did was definitely to our waistlines.
Lucky for us, these are exactly the photos we want to look at after a rainy weekend with our frenemy Irene (we’re really not THAT mad that she gave us the excuse to eat and eat and eat). La Paz, Mexico: A Photo Essay
Isn’t this everything they were screaming at us not to do this weekend? Surfing Hurricane Irene
It’s not a mistake that France is on here three times. Best European Views
The romantic & hubs can vouch for the SPG Amex—the cash & points option is especially amazing if you can afford a hotel stay at a serious discount but don’t have enough points to cash in for 100% free. 5 credit cards every traveler should consider
the romantic & the wino
Every trip has one: the day that, when you think back later about your entire trip, was the BEST day. It’s the day that becomes the quintessential summary of your experience. Sometimes it’s a jumble of all your favorite things from a span of days that you combine into a completely inaccurate representation of exactly what you did that day, and other times it’s the only day you can perfectly remember from start to finish.
I’ve noticed that for me, these days usually involve three things: a complete surprise, something iconic, and a cute outfit. That last one sounds lame, but I find that I best remember the days when I really liked what I was wearing. Absurd? Totally. True? Can’t help it.
Anyway, my favorite day in Greece was obviously the one when hubs proposed. But I’m not even just saying that because I’m supposed to. I’m saying that because this particular day in Santorini involved all of the things that a perfect day requires.
The complete surprise - This day came with another surprise aside from the proposal: we were supposed to go on a boat tour around the island & caldera, including a hike up the volcano and dip in the hot springs. The tour was canceled due to high winds, and we were left with an empty day ahead of us. Because we were switching hotels from Thira to Oia that day, we decided to head straight over to Oia, check in, and figure things out once we were there.
Lesson learned? If your plans do change, don’t automatically freak out and plan something new: stroll around until something strikes your fancy. After hubs proposed on our balcony, we walked around Oia, taking in the views and relaxing (the winds weren’t THAT high by the way, you Grecian wimps). It was an unexpectedly perfect way to experience island life.
The iconic experience – After hubs proposed, we couldn’t wait to call home and tell everyone, but the time difference meant it was 3 am back home. We figured people wouldn’t be that appreciative if we woke them up screaming in their ears, so we made our way down to the water, and put our toes in the Aegean.
The cute outfit – When our concierge called us that morning to tell us that our tour was canceled, we were super disappointed. But we didn’t want it to ruin our day, so after we figured out plan b, I got changed. Since our original day had involved hiking, I changed out of my sneakers and into a cute dress. It made me feel much better, and I found out later was hubs’s cue to propose–he had waited until the first time I put a dress on during our trip because he knows me that well.
We eventually made it to the boat tour a few days later, and while it’s definitely recommended, it didn’t hold a candle to the day we spent walking around Oia, eating amazing food at restaurants with incredible views, and riding donkeys up to our hotel so we could call our friends and families and tell them our good news.
Other recommendations in Santorini:
And of course, don’t forget to see the sunset:
- all photos are my own
Luckily, the Romantic and I live on the Upper East Side (or as the Hubs likes to say, “The Highlands of Manhattan”), so our neighborhood is out of the danger zone for flooding and storm surges. This means our apartments are quickly turning into hurricane shelters for all our less-fortunate downtown friends.
So, travelers, I’m keeping this short today, but a few quick tips to survive this little storm:
Shop til you drop. Make sure you get to the grocery store tonight, no matter how long the lines. You will thank me when you don’t have to eat canned tuna for three days. I will thank myself when I have a delicious Fairway baguette.
Stock the bar. Perhaps more important than the above.
Set the scene. We’ve got candles. We’ve got flashlights. We’ve got books , board games, and a stack of cards. The power is going to go out, just deal with that now.
Party Hardy. We’re taking this opportunity to round up our Upper East Side friends (and downtown refugees) and throw the party of the century. If you’re going to be in a shitty situation, you might as well be surrounded by people you love.
So, until next time, we will keep you posted on the state of our beloved NYC via Twitter as much as we can, and to everyone in Irene’s path, please stay safe (especially my Ocean City family members!!!)
Earthquakes and Hurricanes,
Apologies for another lacking NTR post! Between an out of office meeting taking up our morning and being too distracted by the fact that there was already an earthquake this week and now we have to deal with a hurricane, it’s been a little busy.
So for today, if you’re in and around Manhattan, please take heed of this map for the weekend and make sure you’re in a safe zone:
We’re a little too close to some Zone C territory for our comfort, but really: we’re just praying that Fairway is ok at the end of all this.
the romantic & the wino
I’ve come to accept the fact that on a near-daily basis, I will think to myself “I need a vacation.” And most of the time, it’s based in nostalgia–I need to go back to Paris, I need to go back to Italy, I need to quit my job and buy a hotel in Santorini. But other times, it’s real and genuine and I really feel like I’m not going to last another second if I don’t have a vacation planned in the very near future that I can look forward to.
Hubs can attest to this: if a month goes by where we don’t have something–ANYTHING–on the books, I launch into crankpants mode and try to figure out something to plan. This is how, after a winter of being locked indoors with nothing but a brief (albeit perfect) weekend ski getaway to New Hampshire, we called up family and friends in far off places, scraped together our credit card points (gracias Starwood Preferred Guest Amex), and went to San Diego, DC, and Puerto Rico all within a month of each other.
But last night, as I walked home from the subway after work at 8:45 pm and I thought to myself “uugghh, I need a vacation,” I realized there are times when you really do NEEEED a vacation.
1. When your schedule sucks. The first year or so that hubs and I lived together, he was working 80+ hours a week and I was interning, going to school, and working at J. Crew. In Rockafeller Center. At Christmastime. I know. It’s safe to say that any time we took off during this year was very much warranted–for our sanity if nothing else.
2. When your best friend moves to Ireland to get her master’s degree. Or your hubs’s best friend gets an offer to live on a two bedroom sailboat in St. Thomas for 6 months. Or that same guy moves to Las Vegas a year later. This all goes back to the wino’s advice to rub elbows with people who can offer up the goods: they’ll give you the best experiences. These are the trips you have to take because when else in your life will you go on a 7 day St. Paddy’s bender or live on a sailboat or spend New Year’s Eve at Nelly’s party? Never.
3. When you’re stuck. Your job is great, you love your friends and your dog and your whole house is great, you can do ANYTHING GOOD. But you’re BORED and listless and tired everyday after work. This is when it is time to start saving, book the cheapest ticket, and let the countdown begin.
4. When it’s busy season at work. Seriously, if I didn’t have our trip in October to look forward to, this next month of long, long days would look a whole lot more overwhelming.
5. Because you want to, and you can. All of the trips we’ve taken have been because we genuinely wanted to figure out a way to make it happen. Of course we can’t afford to jet off somewhere exotic and inspiring every month. But every weekend we’ve spent out of Manhattan this summer has felt lifesaving, and we make it a priority to take one week-long vacation every year.
The first time I took a vacation at a big girl job in the “real world” it got back to me that my boss made a comment about me taking off too much time for only having been there a year (I was missing 6 days of work in a row). And without getting too serious, I think this is a genuine problem that a lot of people have–their bosses make them feel like it’s not ok to unplug, unwind, and refresh. And you know what? Screeeeew them.
You need a vacation.
Man, Oregon is really climbing its way up our US list, and these pics are gorgeous. Visiting Oregon Wine Country: Photo Essay
We’re loving this entire site, and their Cape Town vineyards guides (this is part 6) are making it difficult to figure out when we’ll fit a safari into our dream South African vacation. A Taste of Cape Winelands: A Vineyard Guide–Part VI
And if anyone would like to fund our future wine Wednesdays, we will gladly accept any of the wines shown here (or really any wine at all if you’re funding, let’s be honest): Gilt Taste: Wine
Yum yum yum. 10 of the best bistros in Paris
Who’s in for Le Lieu Perdu, France? World’s Coolest Rental Homes
the romantic & the wino