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.