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One Week in London Itinerary

10 Dec

Day 1, Tuesday:  

Leave for London in AM.  Arrive in London in PM.

Day 2, Wednesday:

Walk around London

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Day 3, Thursday:

Walk around London (again)

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Day 4, Friday:  

Trip to Paris for the day.  Booked Eurostar and Hop On Hop Off bus through Evan Evans Sightseeing Tours (Note: booking through a tourist agency was way cheaper for us than booking the Eurostar alone.  However, we also only booked the night before when Eurostar prices were really high).  We also bought metro cards when we arrived.   The Hop On Hop Off bus takes over two hours so to skip a lot of the delay we utilized the metro to get to a lot of the sites.

Some of the sites we visited include:  the Eiffel Tour (we didn’t go up), Le Louvre (we went inside and ran straight for the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa), Catedrale Notre Dame de Paris (we walked inside), Arc de Triomphe (walked underneath it), Opera National de Paris (only the outside), and we had lunch on the Champs-Elysses.   The absolute highlight of our trip was seeing the Eiffel Tour at night.  We had crepes and wine while watching the Eiffel Tour sparkle (at night, the  Eiffel Tour sparkles the first five minutes of every hour – after that, the lights are just the normal, beautiful lights).      Also, the best viewing spot is outside of Trocedero station.

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Extra Helpful Tips: (1) I would not attempt to go see the Catacombs if you only have one day.  It seems like the wait is hours any time you go.   (2) If you are planning this day trip in advance, book your Eiffel Tour fast pass tickets online.  We booked our day trip the night before so the Eiffel Tour tickets were already sold out. (3) Wear comfortable walking shoes.  If you are only doing a day trip, you will walk a lot!

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Saturday, October 26:

9am Train to Cambridge.  Arrived at 10am.  Walked around Cambridge, UK.  Visited John’s College and King’s College.  Had lunch near the river.  Shopped at the markets.

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We were back in London by 3pm.  When we got back to London we went straight for the NFL rally in Trafalgar Square (one of the reasons we were in London was for the NFL game that Sunday).  Afterwards, we walked around Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, and then we went to Covent Garden for cookies and macaroons.

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For dinner we went to Brick Lane for Indian food and then afterwards we went to a speakeasy – Callooh Callay.

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Sunday, October 27: 

For breakfast we ate at Up Market near Brick Lane (HIGHLY recommend).  Afterwards, we shopped at Up Market and at Spitalsfield Market.

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In the late afternoon we headed to Wembley for the NFL game (Jaguars vs. 49ers).  When that game was over, we went to Sports Bar & Grill at Victoria Station to watch more American football games.  At the very end of the night, we returned back to Buckingham Palace to take pictures at night.

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Monday, October 28:

We spent the morning walking around London some more: going inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, seeing the financial district, etc.  In the early afternoon we left London and arrived home in the evening.

Enjoy London (and Paris)! 

A few hours in Florence

15 Feb

Matt and I only spent two evenings in Florence.  We arrived on a Tuesday night, spent Wednesday exploring Tuscany, and then had another evening in Florence before leaving early Thursday morning.  From our short time period there, the following are my Florence recommendations:

  • Take a ride on the carousel at Piazza della Republica

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  • Eat, eat and eat.  It’s Italy so you have to eat, eat and eat!   We went to two restaurants while in Florence.  I  HIGHLY recommend Ristorante del Fagioli (see first picture below), but remember to bring cash.  They do not take credit cards.  The food was amazing.  We also ate at the place where the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore worked in Florence, Pizzeria Napoletana O’Vesuvio (see second picture below).  Matt loved this place.  I think I just picked the wrong pizza.

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  • See where Michelangelo’s David originally stood outside the  Palazzo della Signoria and where there is now a replica

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  • See the Duoma

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  • See and shop on Ponte Vecchio (the bridge in the photo below)

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There is obviously a ton more to do in Florence if you are there during the daytime.  If we had been there during the daytime, my top picks would have been:
  • Climb the Duoma’s dome
  • Bike to Piazzale Michelangelo for the terrific views
  • Walk through the Uffizi Gallery
  • See the original David at the Galleria dell’Accademia

Enjoy Florence!

A Couple Days in Venice

17 Jan

Matt and I spent a couple days in Venice in November 2012.  Venice is a MUST DO sometime in your life.  It is incredible.  Venice is made up of 144 islands.  We spent our two days there just walking, walking and walking.  We tried to explore as many islands as possible.  Below are some of our recommendations:

  • Eat, eat and eat!  We loved dinner at Hosteria Al Vecio Bragosso (see picture below).

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  • Take a ride in a gondola.  MUST MUST MUST.  

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  • Visit the Venetian/Jewish Ghetto.  There is a very interesting history that can be read about here.

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  • Drink Prosecco and eat tiramisu near Piazza San Marco.  It is totally touristy and over priced, but the area is so romantic and iconic.

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Have a great trip to Venice!

Please post your recommendations in the comments section below.

One Day in Tuscany

10 Jan

Matt and I spent one day exploring Tuscany with a tour we booked through Viator.  It was my favorite day in Italy.  I HIGHLY recommend this tour.  The tour picks up in Florence and starts with an hour in Siena.  Siena is a UNESCO world heritage site and is known for its medieval architecture and its annual horse race called the Palio.  We toured the main church (see picture of inside the church below) and shopped in the main plaza.

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After Siena we had a wonderful lunch at an organic farm.  We had the most scrumptious garlic bread and pasta topped off with an all you can drink wine tasting.

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After lunch we went to San Giovanni.  The architecture and town were incredible.  I felt like I was walking through a real Renaissance town.  We spent about an hour there.  Matt and I hiked to the top where you can see an incredible landscape.  We then went to what is said to be the best gelato place in the world.  I believe the place was called Dondoli Gelataria.

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Our last major stop was in Pisa.  I am sure you can imagine what we did: we climbed the Leaning Tour of Pisa.  I recommend getting advanced tickets so you don’t have to wait in line.  This is a MUST DO.

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The day ends around 7pm in Florence, Italy.

Enjoy Tuscany!

Best of Istanbul (Turkey)

4 Jul

Here are my recommendations for Istanbul:

  • Go to a Turkish bath
  • Eat lots of great Turkish food
  • Walk through the Basilica Cistern

Enjoy Istanbul!

Best of Cappadocia (Turkey)

1 Jul
Here are some of my MUST DOs of Cappadocia (Turkey):
  • Stay in a cave
  • Visit an underground city
  • Buy an original Turkish plate
  • Eat lots and lots of Turkish food

 Enjoy Turkey!

Around the World Embassy Tour

9 May

Last Saturday, Erika, Stacia and I hit up Embassy Row in Washington, DC, for the Around the World Embassy Tour, which was part of Passport DC. Here are some of my comments about the embassies that we visited:

Brazil:  The Capoeira was entertaining.  The ambassador’s residence was beautiful.  Disappointed by the lack of food and drinks especially for a country that has such great food and drinks.

 Turkey:  Great art and booths about the different areas of the country and Northern Cyprus.  Wine tasting was not so great, but appreciated.  There were some food samples that were ok.

Japan:  Cool exhibits, such as the tsunami exhibit.

Chad:  You kind of just walk in and then walk out.  Super small space, but interesting to learn about a less familiar country.

Cote d’Ivoire:  We were treated like queens at this embassy.  The financial attache took a picture of us with guys dressed in traditional outfits.  We were given a good size plate of food.

Belize:  Not impressed.  Food for sale. No entertainment when we were there.  I think/hope they were still getting set up.

Indonesia:  Beautiful building.  The stairwell took our breathe away.

Mozambique:  Good info.  I really want to go to this country.

Peru:  Free drinks.  Food outside looked good, but they were charging.  Llamas were adorable.  This is a great embassy to visit.

Rwanda:  Supposedly great coffee (they ran out by the time we got there).  Beautiful brochure.  Not much to the embassy.

Venezuela:  GREAT juice!  The guava juice was amazing.  There was a tour, then juice outside, then music, then a tourism room.  Great set up.

Australia:  Best overall experience.  Got fake tattoos.  Did a wine tasting (great wine).  Tried some good cheese.  Saw some lizards.  Great exhibits.

Don’t forget that THIS SATURDAY is Shortcut to Europe: European Union Embassies’ Open House!  I hope to see you out there!

A Trip to Flanders (Belgium) by Marc

3 Mar
Photo is from Wikipedia

Flanders is the Dutch speaking region in Belgium. Located next to The Netherlands, Germany, France and Luxembourg. Belgium’s most famous cities are Brussels, Antwerp and Bruges.

The best time to visit Flanders is certainly in the summer. Winters get cold, but not extreme.  You DO have to visit the city of Bruges with the world famous historical centre. Bruges is one of the oldest cities in the world with lots of canal. Bruges was founded in the 12th century and was a world leader in the weaving industry.


Right now Bruges gets over 2 millions tourist a year from all over the World.  DO eat some famous Belgian waffles in the city center.  If you are over 18 you can try a Belgian beer like Jupiler, Leffe, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and, if you are not drunk yet, you should try a Duvel.

Bruges is more than just old buildings, it also has a great night life with lots of cozy bars and night clubs. One of better clubs is located in Zomergem: the name is Kokorico.

Want to see more posts by guest bloggers?  Check out the Guest Bloggers page.

Venice Repost

27 Feb

Great post about Venice by Graham Walker. Check it out!

Graham Walker

If you’re overwhelmed by the crowds and claustrophobia of Venice in August, escape to the three islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello in the Venice lagoon and experience each of the islands’ own unique charm. Murano is famous for its glassmaking, Burano for its lace and Torcello for its once glorious past and now its tranquillity.

It is only a short hop on the Alilaguna riverboat to Murano, 1.5 kms north of Venice, but the journey there is both refreshing and exhilarating. Visit the famous glass factory of Fornace and watch centuries’ old skills transform molten glass into intricate pieces of art. Wander effortlessly along the harbour front or visit the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato, which is famous for its mosaics. Stroll past the glass museum at the Palazzo Giustinian or just sit and relax by the waterfront watching the brightly painted boats glide out into the…

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Prague Sites: Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock

16 Feb

Interested in traveling to Prague? Check out LBatykefer’s Blog “Live Laugh Love Linda” at http://livelaughlovelinda.wordpress.com.

Live Laugh Love Linda

Old Town Prague has some of the most interesting sites in the historic city, including the Astronomical Clock, Powder Tower, St. Nicholas Church and the Tyn Church.

The Astronomical Clock is one of the coolest sites I’ve seen on my travels!  The clock actually adorns the South face of the City Hall, where hundreds of people gather in front of medieval clock at every hour to witness the 12 apostles move across the window above the astronomical dial while other symbolic sculptures move around it.  Meanwhile trumpeters stand at the top of the City Hall towers announcing the hour to those in the square – answering trumpeters who are stationed at the tops of the Prague Castle walls.

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