no travel required

the-romantic-the-winoHappy Halloween, travelers!The wino was supposed to work an event tonight but was let free (woo hoo!) so we’re going out and about on the Upper East Side as Batman, Robin, & a Pan Am Stewardess. Woo hoo!

We just assume that any deserted highway out west is a place to avoid at night. 6 Places To Have A Paranormal Experience

I genuinely can’t tell if I’ve seen this before, or just feel like I have because it’s pretty much my life The beat of New York

THIS IS HORRIFYING. A Capuchin Crypt Full Of Well-Preserved Old Friars

Can you imagine a time when the speed limit was 4 miles per hour? Antique Cars on Display, and on the Road, in London

We love her mini travel guides and this one on Japan is no exception. Mini Travel Guide: Japan

And, in the spirit of Halloween, we’ll close with this slightly horrifying picture from the catacombs in Paris:

Destinations -> The strangest tourist attractions in the world -> The Catacombs of Paris


the romantic & the wino

two days in bruges

theromanticBruges was everything we pictured it to be. Quaint, adorable, and completely relaxing, we pretty much just strolled around the town for two days straight. Usually when we plan our bigger trips, we try and do half the time in a city, and half the time in a beach town somewhere. Because we wanted to start in Amsterdam and end in London, there wasn’t really time to get down to a (warm) coast, so Bruges was meant to be the calm of our trip, and it totally was.



Arrival – We arrived in Bruges Sunday afternoon after our morning at the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. We hopped on a local train, pain au chocolat in hand, and two hours later we were in Belgium. We opted for a cab from the train station to our hotel (easier with all our stuff), but there is a bus option if you want to save a few euro.

Afternoon – After checking into Hotel ter Duinen, we spent the afternoon falling in love with the tiny town and stopping for our first official Belgian beers at a few of the bars around the main square. We also started our hunt for dinner. If rule #1  for choosing a restaurant while traveling is that it must be full during meal time and unofficial rule #2 is that it should be full with locals, then rule #3: even in the tiniest of towns, avoid eating anywhere near the “Times Square” of wherever you are. We sat outside at some of the cafes right on the main square, but ventured out to the sidestreets to find more “traditional” Belgian food.

Evening – We luckily scored a later reservation at De Vlaamsche Pot, and capped off our day at this cozy and adorable little restaurant with the most amazing stew we’ve ever had.

Day 2 — MONDAY

Morning – My favorite part about independently-owned hotels in Europe: the breakfasts. The breakfast room at Hotel ter Duinen was amazing, and it was the perfect way to start our day.

From there, we walked back into town and started our touristy day in Bruges: we climbed the tower at Markt Square, took a boat ride around the canals (MUCH better than our Amsterdam experience), and had our first experience with Belgian frites (yum oh yum).

Afternoon – In the afternoon, we went on a brewery tour of De Halve Maan brewery, which I’ll detail in another post, but I definitely recommend. (a6packofstories, did you recommend this to me? I can’t remember who did!)

After our brewery tour, we stopped for lunch and more Belgian beer (bad blogger, I don’t remember the name… but it wasn’t that exciting). We unfortunately but unsurprisingly then had to spend the afternoon on a little shopping spree for warmer clothes. I was disappointed to find how commercial Bruges felt on some of the streets, but not gonna lie, H&M came in handy.

Evening – Having had no problem getting a reservation on Sunday night, we decided we were safe to wander around and find somewhere last minute Monday night. BAHA poor life decision. We wandered for about two hours and were literally turned away from places… I don’t know if, like the Dutch, Belgians are also known for their abruptness, but I’ve never walked into a restaurant before to have someone say “no, we are full” and point back at the door. It happened to us THREE TIMES. Until L’Accident de Comptoir came to our rescue and saved us… and the awkwardness of that meal will have to be detailed in my hits and misses post.

DAY 3 — Tuesday

Morning – Bruges really is a lot like Venice in that, after a day of exploring, you’ve pretty much seen everything you need to see. It’s beautiful and worth visiting, but we felt like we had maxed out our time there around mid-day on Monday. So, we decided to head to Brussels a little earlier than expected (after breakfast at the hotel, of COURSE).

We hopped back on the train Tuesday morning and departed for Brussels… and if we thought we had seen Bruges in a day, we had no idea what was coming in Brussels.


the romantic

amsterdam: hits & misses

theromanticAs accidental as our poor planning for this trip was, hubs and I had psyched ourselves up for a laid back 10 days of city exploration… but somehow, still ended up being pretty busy during our two days in Amsterdam. Despite this and the rain/wind/hail situation happening when we arrived, we fell in love with the city almost immediately, and came away with more things that we’d recommend you plan to do than avoid while in Amsterdam.



The Hotel Pulitzer

Situated right along a canal and next to the Nine Streets, the surrounding neighborhood is everything you picture Amsterdam to be (you know, as long as you’re not picturing drugged up prostitutes everywhere, WHICH as it turns out, is more people’s impression of Amsterdam than you’d think).  Even better than the location was the decor itself. Exposed brick, classic Dutch-style wooden beams, and the comfiest bed in the world? I’m actually surprised the hubs was able to convince me to go out and see the city.

The Van Gogh Museum
We’re not your traditional museum visitors… the hubs is famous for walking into each gallery, spinning in a circle, nodding, and moving onto the next. Not to say that he was much different here, but on a Friday night, they had a DJ, everyone seemed to be under 30, and there was a bar on the first floor with overly attractive people lounging around sipping wine. Oh, and one very stoned tour group that thought every piece was amazing. Even if you’re not there on a Friday, the museum does a great job of telling Van Gogh’s story through both captions on the wall and his paintings, as well as intermixing paintings from other artists that inspired him (including his inspiration for “The Potato Eaters,” which was interesting to see side by side).


Unless a restaurant is recommended to us, I have an important (and apparently annoying) rule about choosing a restaurant while walking around: if it’s during a traditional meal-eating time, there should be a fair amount of people inside. Lucky for hubs, we stumbled across Pancakes and it was packed–with locals! (That’s rule #2 for choosing a restaurant but I’m less strict about that one). It was tiny and adorable, and I’ll let the picture speak for what the food was like.

The Heineken Experience

This was an obvious requirement on our trip, and it ended up being a lot more fun than I expected. Of course it was touristy, but sometimes I forget that that’s not always a bad thing. After the tour and tasting, you walk through a lot of interactive displays that we thought were hilarious, and end up at a bar where you exchange two little tokens for two free pints of Heineken. Worth it.

Other recommendations:
Balthazar’s Keuken – Holy Crap. It’s not even worth putting into words. They have a 3 course menu that changes weekly, and all they ask when you sit down is “meat or fish.” Amaze.
Anne Frank Museum – Seriously make time for this. It’s really depressing and easy to convince yourself to skip it, but it’s so incredibly moving and well-done.
Lust – Cute restaurant in the Nine Streets where we stopped for a late lunch and a beer. Both yum and with a nice, laid back atmosphere
Cafe de Prins – This was the only traditional bruin/brown cafe that we went to, but it was perfect. Low, wood-beamed ceilings, large oak bar, and pro-day drinking.
The Bulldog Company – If you’re like us and this isn’t your regular thing, this was the perfect place to go.


This was super disappointing because the Rijksmuseum was actually something we had researched and were excited about. Unfortunately, it’s under serious renovation and the character of the museum was definitely compromised because of this. So I guess it’s not a MISS, but while it’s under renovation, I would plan to skip it for something else if you’re tight on time.

Blue Boat Company

I don’t know if this is true for all of the canal tours, but JESUS CHRIST was I bored. Like, fell-asleep-with-my-sunglasses-on bored. Ok, that’s not saying much because I can fall asleep anywhere (fell asleep in a kayak once, true story), but it really was boring. Seriously, the most exciting part of the tour was when we got stuck in the middle of Grachtenrace, as pictured below. I actually think we may have thrown the race for one team, so… apologies for that.

If you have time…

Cheese tasting at Reypenaer

We were on the fence about the class. We did come out knowing more about cheese than we had at the beginning. I mean, that’s not really saying much… prior knowledge was basically just “yum, I like this!” and “eww this tastes like a band-aid.” And actually, if you enlarge the picture above, you’ll see my rating system did not progress with one class. However, my issue was that the teacher we had was not the best. She knew her cheese, but she wasn’t particularly captivating. (Though she was a little more entertaining by the end thanks to the wine they paired with each cheese). Still, I’d be willing to blame any negative impressions on jet lag, because we literally went here four hours after we got off our plane in Amsterdam.

This was a cozy and intimate little find, and had surprisingly authentic (Northern) Italian food. Recommended if you’re in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t go out of my way. It’s around the corner from Hotel Pulitzer and was the perfect place for us on Friday night.


All in all, while 2 days in Amsterdam was enough for our first taste, I am definitely excited to go back one day.


the romantic

– all photos are my own

no travel required

the-romantic-the-winoOne too many attempts in college to substitute wine and liquor in activities that normally call for beer means we can safely declare this a recipe for blackout. A is for Absinthe, B is for Boozing on the New Orleans Cocktail Tour

If we haven’t already checked them off, most of these cities are on our travel short list. The World’s Most Fascinating City Neighbourhoods to Explore

I realized while we were navigating our way through the Atomium that I’m kind of scared of UFOs? It kind of felt like we were in one and I started to feel a little bit of anxiety if I thought about it taking off. That’s weird, right? Anyway. No thanks to this: Stay in a UFO in Sweden

This might be why we’re bad at packing. This list is SERIOUS. Essential packing list for the Catalonian Pyrenees

Our photo of the day is the exact opposite of what it feels like outside in New York:

Guide to Atacama Desert


the romantic & the wino

no travel required

the-romantic-the-winoWe approve that they chose Saks over Macy’s. DOWN WITH MACY’S HERALD SQUARE. No but seriously, that store gives me anxiety. World’s Best Shopping: Stores That Are Quintessentially Part Of A City

As two people who have never been on a cruise and couldn’t really pinpoint why, we like Rick Steves’s take on his first experience. So, Is Cruising Really Travel?

The Cotswolds keep popping up on things annnnd it’s making it really impossible to function because we just want to be there SPEAKIN’ AWL BRI-TISH-like. Where to go in November


The Four Seasons, Thailand

I realize there has been a lot of yelling in today’s NTR, but it’s just that sort of day. BIRTHDAY BIRTHDAY BIRTHDAY WINO WINO WINO!


the romantic & the wino