Ok, so we’re a little animal-heavy around here these days, but seriously? Girlfriend is feeding a tiger cub. Eight days of excitement in Koh Samui, Thailand
Norway is on the up and up lately! The more we see, the more we like. Scenic Norway
Great piece from one of our favorites on Matador! The weightlessness I craved when I quit my job
We hear soo many differing opinions on India, but Udaipur pretty consistently gets rave reviews. We can see why. Romantic Udaipur
We want to live in, like, all of these. 15 of the best historic cafes in Europe
the romantic & the wino
It’s still hard to believe that less than one month ago, the wino and I were frolicking through the snowy streets of Switzerland, trying to pinpoint our next
meal drink. Unsurprisingly, we’ve spent the better part of the past month regaling our friends with stories from the good ol’ days and telling anyone who complains about the New York cold that “it’s nothing compared to Switzerland.” Yeah, we’ve been really popular ever since we returned.
As with any good getaway, when I think back to our weeklong adventure, it all feels like a big blur of snow and cheese and wine and French accents… but there are a few key things that stick out as the major highlights.
The views from the Swiss Rail.
There’s just something about train travel, no? It lacks the same appeal in the states (I blame Penn Station, for one), but in Europe, I feel completely at ease riding through the countryside from city to city. We’ve mentioned our Swiss Passes more than a few times around here, so I’m sure you get the gist of how much we loved them, but it wasn’t just the ease of getting from one place to another that made them such a necessity–it was also the scenery. There were tiny towns that we never would have stopped to visit, but seeing them hustling and bustling from the train gave us a little taste of life in the Swiss countryside.
It is a grave injustice that there is a country on this planet where it is not only possible, but ENCOURAGED, to sit around a table with friends and dip things in melty cheese late into the night and I was not born in that country. There was actually a day on the trip where I said the words, “I am cheese-ed out.” I have met my match, Switzerland. Challenge accepted and we will re-cheese again someday.
When we originally settled on Geneva, we had one thing in mind: a snowy, wintery, bundled-up escape from New York to get us ready for the holidays. Though we agreed that Verbier would have logistically worked better as the finale to our time in Switzerland, kicking off our trip in this ski town definitely set the tone for the rest of the week.
Château de Chillon
I’m not entirely sure if Chillon would have had the same impact if we hadn’t arrived on the snowiest, grayest day of our trip… but our self-guided tour was perfection thanks to the dreary overtones. There was literally no better way we could have spent that afternoon–and how many times can you say you’ve felt grateful for less than stellar weather on vacation? Standing in the snow, looking past the stone castle across Lake Geneva, I felt completely transported back in time (you know, aside from the Canon DSLR and iPhone I was juggling). I’m now making it my life’s work to attend a wedding here. Honestly, I don’t even know if they DO weddings, but it needs to happen. I’m actually afraid to research this because if it’s not possible, I might be crushed. SIGH, it’s clearly just the romantic in me.
The view of Skerries from Ardgillan Castle
We were more than a little excited to escape from Dublin on our first day in Ireland and get out to the countryside. I think we both had visions of a mini-escapade akin to our cross-country drive to Dingle circa 2009… and it just wasn’t the same. It wasn’t as green, we only saw, like, two sheep, we were hungover from the night before and couldn’t fathom a pint at our lunchtime pub stop. But then, we got to Ardgillan and saw the view out ahead and I fell in love with the Emerald Isle all over again.
Stay tuned for the wino’s highlights. I’m going to go sit and stare at my photo album while I drink a bottle of wine and maybe cry a little. CURSE YOU, WANDERLUST.
Sigh. These photos. Photo Focus: Streets of Montmartre
We’re pretty sure September and October are the best months to visit Europe. The Colors of Italy
Yum yum yummm. Except for the warm beer thing. That’s not really our style. How to drink beer like a Brit
Ugh, Spirit Airlines. Budget Justice: How To Survive On Spirit Airlines
Ok fine, our Christmas market obsession may be spinning out of control. A Quirky Christmas Market in Paris
the romantic & the wino
HEY! We’ve been on a bit of a jetsetter hiatus but we’re back with one of our faves, so we’re pretty pumped about this comeback. Say hello to Diana of D Travels Round. As all good stories do, Diana’s starts with quitting her job two years ago to go on a solo backpacking adventure. Except unlike some of our other favorite RTW-ers, she came back to the states, picked her career back up, and then quit AGAIN for more traveling. Now living in Chiang Mai, you can keep up with D via twitter, or her contributions to Viator, OneTravel.com, and CheapOair
Favorite Place: My favorite place is probably Spain … I know, it is an entire country, but there is something about that area of the world that just feels like home. And now that I live in Chiang Mai as an expat, I really love it here, too.
More importantly, favorite meal: Hands down, my favorite meal I have ever had while traveling was in Alicante at Monastrell. Chef Maria Jose San Ramon, a renowned international chef, whipped up the best food I have ever had.
The moment you caught the travel bug: I’ve caught it quite a few times in my life. But, the most important time I caught the travel bug was when I was celebrating my 30th birthday in Croatia. Laying on the beach in Split with the Adriatic Sea lapping at my feet, I had a moment of instantaneous enlightenment when I realized I didn’t like the life I was living and had the power to change it … and travel the world.
First experience traveling alone: The first time I ever traveled alone was when I got out of college and took a month to go backpacking through Europe.
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling?: Yes! One time, I fell off a cliff when I went paragliding (or as I like to call it, “para-falling“) in Turkey. And, in the same country, I had some scary run ins with a hotel owner.
Worst hotel/hostel experience: As for the worst? It would have to be the hotel I stayed at in Kusadasi, Otel Panorama. The owner was seedy and tried to molest me a few times, which ruined any good that could have possibly been there. (But, there was little good in the first place.)
Best hotel/hostel experience: I have had the fortune of staying in quite a few amazing places, so picking one for the “best” is really hard. I’d have to say some of the best experiences I have had include Hospes Amerigo in Alicante, Sha Wellness Clinic in the Land of Valencia, a gorgeous five-star resort in the heart of a tea planation in Rwanda, tucked into Red Mountain Resort in Utah and the floating Salt & Sill in Sweden. There are more, but those are the ones that stand out the most. Their staff was extremely attentive, the rooms were beautiful and the surroundings/location could not be beat.
Favorite family vacation: It’s been so long since I went on a family vacation. The best one we went on was one summer when I was in high school. We flew west and trained it around California, Oregon, Washington and drove up to Canada. It was two weeks I will never forget!
Must-have packing item: I bring my black cotton scarf everywhere with me. It serves as a little pillow, a blindfold and even a modest blanket when traveling.
Most unbelievable travel experience: A few years ago, I was heading from Zadar down to Split, Croatia. I wasn’t paying attention and instead of getting on the bus to Split, I ended up on a bus to a little town on the side of a mountain. I didn’t speak Croatian, the driver didn’t speak English, and I was nowhere near Zadar any longer. We communicated with gestures and he ended up taking me to his house for dinner before he drove me back to Zadar and escorted me to the right bus. Talk about the kindness of strangers!
Favorite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment: There have been a few of those! Trekking with gorillas was incredibly beautiful and amazing; spending time up-close with an elephant herd at Elephant Nature Park was surreal; even attempting to stand-up paddle board while wearing a wet suit in the Baltic Sea was unbelievable.
Place you can’t wait to return to: Spain.
Place you can’t be paid to return to: Probably Kusadasi, Turkey. I had such a hard time there and in Morocco, I probably would never go back to either solo. With a companion, different story.
Any exciting trips coming up?: I am planning on exploring the entire SE Asia region in the coming year! Very excited to visit and see the different countries around Thailand.
Dream vacation: You know, I’ve never thought about it! I don’t really take the normal definition of “vacations.” I think my dream vacation is one I already took — volunteering at Elephant Nature Park for a week and living with the elephants. Pretty life-changing and awesome! Although, I would love to get up to Arctic Circle and spend some time up there!
Favorite tourist attraction: I tend to skip over the big tourist attractions, they normally are too crowded for my taste and generally over-hyped. That being said, I loved exploring Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. Gorgeous!! And, there were plenty of locals there, too.
Favorite “I’m trying not to look like a tourist” attraction: Eating tapas at El Tigre in Madrid. It’s a great place to mingle with locals and enjoy heaping plates of tapas! Also, Mostar in Bosnia and Hercegovina has the shell of a bank that was used for sniper attacks during the war. You can walk through it and immediately get a sense for what it must have been like when the snipers took over the building — files still are scattered on the floor; and get a sense of what it must have been like during the war with bullet shells on the floor and shards of broken glass from windows crunching under foot.
Favorite travel photo: Hmmm. Probably one I shot of elephants when I was in the midst of them:
Monday schmonday. Wah wah wah. Here’s some travel therapy:
The romantic & the hubs can attest to the serious sham that is Mannekin Pis. For real, for real. Nine Most Disappointing Attractions in Europe
Food for thought! Don’t worry, you’ll get the double meaning once you click. I Can Barely Afford To Eat At Panera
We could pretty much look at all of these for hours. Photography: Paris in 50 Pictures
Well, Hell Bay Hotel sounds like something straight out of a horror film, but otherwise: looks great! FOODIE HOLIDAY FROM HELL
Though we finally revealed our gorgeous mugs to you, we’ve noticed our trend of taking pictures from behind may be harder to break than we though. Proof?
Dockside with the wino
the romantic & the wino
Today’s jetsetter is the one and only Leah of Leah Travels! The romantic & hubs were lucky enough to meet both Leah and her partner in all travel-related shenanigans, Lola, at TBEX this year, and it’s safe to say that our jetsetters series is basically turning into a showcase of all of our most favorite travel bloggers. Once you’re caught up on the life & times of Leah, pop over to twitter and follow along on her upcoming adventures!
Favorite Place: Dang! You’re killing me with this question. I love so many places for such different reasons. So, I have to pick one? OK…New Zealand. One glimpse at New Zealand and you’ll be spoiled for any place else. She’s like your one true love. No other country will ever compare. It’s actually kind of sad, because now I’m ruined for the rest of the world. It certainly won’t stop me from traveling. Yes, I’m asking for your pity here.
More importantly, favorite meal: There’s a churrascaria in Rio de Janeiro called Marius that just sends me over the moon. It’s a meat orgy, I tell ya’! Located across from Copacabana Beach, it has some sort of crazy pirate theme. At first you think Captain Jack Sparrow is going to serve you steak, which wouldn’t be too bad, mind you, but don’t let the kitsch throw you off. The food is amazing. Make sure to upgrade with the lobster and Kobe beef, because it’s worth the money. Add some Malbec wine, too. Also, prepare to spend part of your life’s savings.
The moment you caught the travel bug: I got to travel quite a bit domestically as a kid, but I’m not sure I truly appreciated travel until I was about to graduate from college. I studied Spanish in Costa Rica and feel that gave me the first symptoms of wanderlust. I went to Costa Rica long before was such a tourist destination. It was there I realized that not everyone is like me or like the USA. It was an eye-opening experience.
First experience traveling alone: The very first time I traveled alone I was about four years old. My mom stuck me on a Southwest flight from Dallas bound for Lubbock. I remember it was really smoky and the flight attendants gave me countless Cokes. But since that was only about an hour flight, I don’t count it.
With a couple of bags packed, my parents put me on a plane to Costa Rica when I was 21. I barely knew the language, and I certainly didn’t know the family I was staying with. The grandmother, who didn’t speak a word of English, picked me up from the airport. The part of family who spoke English was on vacation and wouldn’t be back for a few days. We communicated through hand signals for the weekend.
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling?: I thought my husband was going to kill me when I “surprised” him with a photo shoot in Queenstown, New Zealand. Then there was the time he almost killed me in Rome. Apparently, I was dragging him around by his nose. You sensing a pattern here?
Worst hotel/hostel experience: When I was in graduate school, I traveled to Lovington, New Mexico to watch my husband ride in a rodeo. Things didn’t go as planned, and he was thrown off the horse and landed on his head. We’d planned on driving back to Texas that night, but there’s no way that was possible with his injury. We found this no-tell motel, you know, the kind that you drive up to the door? The kind that may or may not have prostitutes working out of it? It was the only place in town with availability, so it had to do. At first we thought it wasn’t so bad; it had a kitchenette and everything. As the north, spring winds started blowing across the southern plains, we began to freeze. To warm the place up, we turned on the oven. A nice surprise was waiting for us: a whole roasted chicken carcass picked clean. I did not love that motel in Lovington.
Best hotel/hostel experience: Two words: Conrad Tokyo. That place is nuts! My husband and I had a 24-hour layover in Tokyo on our way home from New Zealand, so we decided to splurge on an awesome hotel. We fell out of our bus from Narita looking like a North Face ad only to see a line of luxury cars in front of us. The cheapest one probably cost $150k. We were treated like royalty, even though we looked like we’d been sleeping on the streets.
Favorite family vacation: Family vacations in my family always seemed to involve Colorado. Going to Wolf Creek Ski Resort in Pagosa Springs was my favorite as it was the first time I got to ski. My mom and dad took turns teaching me. I was little, probably 4th grade, and I just remember lots of laughs and falls. Bonus points are awarded for my big brother and I not killing each other.
Must-have packing item: I’m assuming that the iPhone and my DSLR are a given, right? Ok. I have to pack my noise-cancelling headphones. I don’t care how short a trip is, those things are coming with me. My time on a plane is one of reflection, and reflecting is hard to do with a crying babies and drunk talkers prying their way into my brain. Yes, noise-cancelling headphones are worth their weight in gold.
Most unbelievable travel experience: I was hit on by a drunk Russian man on my way to Singapore. And when I say, “hit on” I don’t mean in the “hey, baby” kind of way. He literally popped me on the head with his hand twice. After a few F-bombs by me and a butt chewing by the flight attendant, I was left alone. You can read the whole account here.
Favorite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment: In April I wrote a controversial post entitled, “I Hate Cruises”. I knew it’d stir the pot, but what I didn’t know is that it would land me an interview on BBC’s morning show called, “World Update”. There I was with my Texas twang speaking to the world about my disdain for cruising. That was certainly unbelievable. You can read more about the experience and listen to the interview here.
Place you can’t wait to return to: Based on my first answer, I’m sure you know what I’ll say to this question. I spent nearly a month in New Zealand and didn’t even scratch the surface of what I wanted to do. I want to hit the white beaches of the far North Island and hike more on the West Coast of the South Island. And Queenstown still has my heart. I need to get it back pronto!
Place you can’t be paid to return to: If I never go back to Yantai, China it will be too soon. Yantai was my first exposure to China, and I spent a month there a few years ago. I’m glad I went, but that’s about it. I’m not really eager to go back to China period. Now, Hong Kong is a different story.
Any exciting trips coming up?: Well, I headed to Vegas for a little (read: A LOT) blackjack in August. September takes me to Spain for the TBEX conference (Travel Bloggers Exchange). I’m going to squeeze in some football during October, and in November, I’m off to Europe again. You see, I won this little ol’ writing competition sponsored by Go with Oh. I’m off to explore Prague, Italy, Barcelona, and Paris with my travel partner in crime, Lola.
Dream vacation: I’d like to have a giant house, complete with staff, in Bali or Thailand. It’d have an infinity pool and be right on a secluded beach. Along with my husband, I’d invite my most fun-loving travel friends, and we’d spend our time doing as much or as little as we wanted.
Favorite tourist attraction: I was awe-struck by St. Peter’s Basilica, and this is coming from a Protestant. The fact that I’d just hung out with the pope, combined with the Scavi Tour I took, might have had a hand in my over-the-top reaction. The history, art, and pure beauty struck a chord with me. And climbing to the very top of the cupola? That almost killed me. It was so worth it, though.
Favorite “I’m trying not to look like a tourist” attraction: My family and I were in Cozumel recently, and we wanted to get off the main road, the one that’s full of stores selling vanilla, sombreros, and shot glasses with naked women on them. In Spanish, my husband asked where we could find a good place to eat and shop. We were told that 4-5 blocks off the main road was Mercado Municipal. That’s where we found the real Mexico, not the one designed for stupid tourists. We ate with the locals and found souvenirs for 25% less. Of course, it helps to know some Spanish.
Favorite travel photo:
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
We’re always looking for our next jetsetter! Call us, beep us, if you wanna reach us. And if you know what that line’s from, you might go into Jetsetter Hall of Fame. That’s not a thing, but we’d make it one for you. Seriously, it’s a pretty obscure reference.
the romantic & the wino
We’re Instagram junkies, so this caught our attention: What the Instagram Backlash Says About the Future of Media
Making it our mission to gain access to all of these. 14 of the Most Awesome Airline Lounges
Delicious food photography: European Food Markets
We’re counting down the days until we get to see Ryan Lochte in all his Olympic glory, so naturally anything with this type of headline gets our attention. Are You a Travel Olympian?
As promised, next week we’re revealing our identities in honor of the Lazy Travelers’ first birthday. Until then, we’re posting pictures of our behinds. You know, just to keep you in suspense. Enjoy!
The red-headed romantic in Paris
the romantic & the wino
It’s jetsetter day! This week’s jetsetter is Erin of The World Wanderer and it’s hard for us not to be seriously jealous of her next trip. In July/August, Erin is off on her first solo trip (!) to Africa, hitting up Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Egypt, where she’ll meet up with her boyfriend for a tour of Cairo and Luxor. I mean, honestly.
We strongly recommend catching up on Erin’s past adventures on her blog, and following along on her safari adventure via twitter!
Favorite Place: I honestly love everywhere I’ve been, but if I have to choose one place, I would have to say Croatia. My grandfather was born there, so when we visit, we stay in the house he was born in. It’s very “Under the Tuscan Sun,” with an old house full of surprises, like moths and scorpions, but uncovering the history is what I love most. The town he’s from is tiny, only eight people live there year round, with a church, cemetery, and a convenience store that’s open a few hours morning and evening. There are trucks that deliver wine, fruit, and vegetables a few times a week, and the town feels far from civilization. While there, we sit and drink wine, eat fresh food, and relax. Add in the pebbled beach down the block and swimming in the Adriatic, and you have absolute paradise.
More importantly, favorite meal: Growing up right outside of New York City, I have to say that even though I’ve traveled all around, it’s hard for me to say that the food anywhere else is better than the food here. I couldn’t pick just one, so I have chosen two sandwiches, and both are from restaurants in Brooklyn. First, is the turkey leg sandwich from Henry Public in Cobble Hill. Pulled turkey meat topped with fried onions and served on Texas toast, there’s really no better meal for lunch.
The moment you caught the travel bug: I think I was born with it. Growing up, my parents would always take us on trips, even if they were local, and I loved learning about the world I lived in. Then, in high school, we took our first trip to Ireland together, and I think that’s when really I realized that I wanted to see the world. Since then, I’ve taken any opportunity I could to travel and haven’t looked back.
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling?: I’ve never been in any real danger while traveling, but I do remember feeling on edge in Vietnam, especially in Ho Chi Minh City. Everyone we met told us that they had been robbed at some point during their stay. Luckily, out of my group of five girls, we all left the country with all of our possessions.
Best hotel/hostel experience: My friends and I stayed at the Novotel in Nha Trang, Vietnam, and everyone on their staff went above and beyond to make our stay enjoyable. But, what set it apart from any other hotel experience is the service they provided when we needed a bus home back to Ho Chi Minh City. Not realizing that the week we were there was also a school holiday week for Vietnamese children, most buses were all booked up, and those that weren’t began filling up quickly. Unfortunately, we needed to be on a bus by a certain day to catch a plane home. When the staff realized this, they called their friends and did everything they could to get us tickets for a bus. They even went as far as to have someone motorbike our tickets over to us, so that we wouldn’t have to go to the ticket office, and after the stress of finding a bus, this was definitely a relief.
Favorite family vacation: The summer my family spent three and a half weeks in Europe. We visited family in Ireland, flew to Germany, drove through Austria and Slovenia to get to Croatia to visit more family, drove to Italy, then back up to Germany, and flew back to Ireland to visit family. It was one adventure that I will never forget.
Must-have packing item: Wipes. You can clean your face, your feet, and freshen up when you feel disgusting or can’t shower for a few days.
Most unbelievable travel experience: Seeing Brussels in 24 hours with no sleep. My friend, Lara, and I headed straight from the pub in Dublin to the airport, barely sleeping on the journey. Then we only had a very limited amount of time in Brussels before heading to Amsterdam, but there was lots for us to see. With the help of the friends we were visiting, we managed to see a good amount of the city and had enough time to sample plenty of Belgian beer.
Favorite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment: While in Chiang Mai, we went off-roading, elephant trekking, and white water rafting, but the most unbelievable experience was tiger petting. We visited Tiger Kingdom, signed our waivers, and then entered the cages with the tigers. I’ve never been more terrified in my life. But, I do love getting out of my comfort zone and this definitely did the trick. I still can’t believe I did it!
Place you can’t be paid to return to: I don’t really know if there is one, but, there is one place I didn’t really love…Germany. Everyone I meet thinks that I’m crazy, but Munich didn’t do the trick for me. I would, however, like to give it another chance at some point.
Any exciting trips coming up?: Yes! I will be heading to Africa for four weeks at the end of July. I’m starting off at Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side and then going down through Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, and eventually up to Egypt. It’s a much different trip than I’m used to, but I’ve been waiting to get to Africa for as long as I can remember, so I’m very excited.
Favorite tourist attraction: Probably the Eiffel Tower. I waited years to see it and fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I’m still waiting to go back to see it again.
We have a feeling that when we finally make it to Scandinavia, we’re going to fall in love. Stockholm For Everyone: Four Attractions For All Sorts in Scandinavia’s Capital City
We probably would have enjoyed our 47 field trips to the battlefields in middle & high school a lot more on horseback. Gettysburg on horseback takes riders back in time
CANNOT GET OVER THESE PHOTOS. Postcards from Turkey
Our tip: buy a bottle of wine, find a spot outside with a view, and get drunk instead. Rick Steves: How to avoid long lines in Europe
Our hometown has painted donkeys hiding all over the place! Photo Essay: The Bears of Berlin
the romantic & the wino
I mean, this alone is enough to make us wish we were famous. What Travel Goodies the Celebs Got in the $62,000 Oscars Gift Bags
The handiest! Kilometers will get you, ask the hubs. Good driving tips in Europe
We continue to think that this is so very strange. Is this seat taken? Airlines add ‘social seating’ programs
the romantic & the wino