Travel

Italy, June 2018: A Stop In Crema

With an afternoon to kill before our flight out of Milan and having recently watched and appreciated the setting of Call Me By Your Name, we decided to visit the city of Crema. We hadn’t heard of the city before the film, and after visiting we were surprised to find such limited tourism-related information about the place (it doesn’t even have a WikiVoyage page!).

Italy, June 2018: A Stop In Crema

Italy, June 2018: Lake Como (& Lake Garda)

To get ourselves in the lake life groove on our way from the Dolomites to Lake Como, we stopped at Limone Sul Garda on Lake Garda. The town is quite popular, but most visitors stick to the lakefront. After strolling the lakeside promenade and watching the boats bob in the waves in the busy old port, we escaped the crowds by walking into the hills. We took a breath (and enjoyed the views) with visits to Chiesa di San Rocco and La Limonaia del Castel (where we learned about the town’s namesake). Lunch at quiet Al Veccio Fontec (ravioli with sage and butter, tiramisu) was relaxing and included what may have been the best tiramisu we’ve ever tasted!

Italy, June 2018: Lake Como (& Lake Garda)

Italy, June 2018: The Dolomites

Over the last few summers, we have really appreciated time in the Alps to reconnect with nature, breathe fresh air, and hike. This time around we shipped off to the Austrian-flavored province of South Tyrol in Italy; South Tyrol was previously part of Austria but annexed by Italy in the aftermath of WWI. (Note that the area is bi—and in some areas, tri—lingual. Most place names have German and Italian versions. We will mostly refer to the German names.) The Dolomites are a relatively unknown and inexpensive corner of the Alps, popular mostly with Italians, Austrians, and Germans and served as our home base for the first four nights of our trip.

Italy, June 2018: The Dolomites

Louisiana, June 2018: A Glimpse of New Orleans

When a good friend’s wedding brought us to New Orleans, we knew we had to extend the trip and visit one of America’s most unique cities. Britt was in the wedding, so we had only bits of time here and there to do our own thing, but over the course of 5 days we got a good glimpse of the Big Easy. 

Louisiana, June 2018: A Glimpse of New Orleans

Estonia, May 2018: Tallinn & Tartu Video Moments

Tallinn was full of picturesque streets to wonder and enjoy. Our long weekend there was nothing short of incredible and one we look back on fondly. (And, who would have thought there would have been such a vegetarian scene!) From taking in the views from the many platforms to being fascinated by the Creative City, Tallinn showed us its many personalities and kept us interested. And, as we continue to believe, taking trips to smaller cities or towns outside of a capital in a country is so important. It helps widen the view of a place and gives a whole other perspective of what the culture, people, and the environment are like. Tartu gave us just that for this city weekend escape in Estonia! With its quirky neighborhood filled with streets named after soup ingredients and its leaning art museum, it was a great place to spend a day. Estonia is quiet, wonderful, and a place we won't forget!

Estonia, May 2018: Tallinn & Tartu Video Moments

Estonia, May 2018: A Day In Tartu

In the spirit of seeing more of a country than just its capital city, we picked up a car in Tallinn and made the two-hour drive to Tartu for a day trip. Estonia’s second city, significantly smaller than Tallinn, is a university town in the southeast of the country just 30 miles (48 km) from Russia’s border.

Estonia, May 2018: A Day In Tartu

Estonia, May 2018: Tallinn

Estonia’s capital Tallinn is both on and off the tourist map. Many people haven’t heard of it, or if they have, they know little about it. But its old town is beautiful—one of the best-preserved in Europe—boasting pastel houses, attractive architecture, and cobblestone lanes. For these reasons, it’s a very popular stop on the Nordic/Baltic cruise trail, which means large crowds of people from mid-morning to late afternoon. The city reminded us of Berlin, Prague, Budapest, and Bratislava at different times and in some way has the best of each, though on a smaller scale. We were lucky enough to see the city amid unseasonably warm and sunny late May weather, and the city truly shined on this stage.

Estonia, May 2018: Tallinn

Wales, May 2018: Snowdonia National Park Video Moments

We have a habit of saying we want to go to all these places in the UK while we are living here but then not following through. It is easy to get caught up with hopping on a plane and heading south but there is so much natural beauty to be found just a drive away from London. Our weekend in Snowdonia got us back on track with that and helped us capture our love for the green countryside. It also restored a passion of hiking for us. We could not have had a better weekend with the sun shining down on us and Spring weather showing its charm. Hiking amongst the blue sky and stunning landscapes of Snowdonia was a by far a highlight of this year.

Wales, May 2018: Snowdonia National Park Video Moments

Wales, May 2018: A Weekend In Snowdonia National Park

In our effort to see more of the UK, Wales’ Snowdonia National Park, often cited as one of the UK’s most beautiful, seemed a natural next step. We always appreciate getting out of the city, breathing fresh air, and reconnecting with nature. Best yet, travel logistics were as easy as they could be as we picked up an Enterprise Car Club car just around the corner from our flat!

Wales, May 2018: A Weekend In Snowdonia National Park

Portugal, May 2018: Porto & Aveiro Video Moments

A four day weekend in the sunny riverside city of Porto was the perfect way to kick off some summer styled travel. Our love for Lisbon put Porto instantly on our list. It did not disappoint. The quirky (and hilly) city is full of character, hidden gems, views, tiles, and more. We enjoyed wandering around and stumbling upon its beauty. And, while there with some extra time to spare on our final day, it was an opportunity to finally see the famous neighborhood of Costa Nova in Aveiro. As we said in our post about the town, place like this can be miss-leading. You see a photo of a couple of striped houses and it makes you believe the whole town is full of them. Well, we can actually vouch for that! It was as playful, striped, and weird as one would hope. A great surprise ending to our long weekend away!

Portugal, May 2018: Porto & Aveiro Video Moments

Portugal, May 2018: A Day In Aveiro

There are some places that seem to pop up over and over again on social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. If you spend any time on travel-related accounts on these platforms, chances are you’ve seen the famous striped beachfront houses of Aveiro (specifically the Costa Nova neighborhood). Only an hour from Porto and with lots of time to kill on our last day before our late flight, we decided to rent a car and make the trip!

Portugal, May 2018: A Day In Aveiro

Portugal, May 2018: Four Days In Porto

After falling in love with Lisbon on our visit in 2016, we knew Portugal’s second city beckoned. So with a four-day weekend to spare in May and our skin craving some early summer sun, Porto was an obvious choice!

We stayed at Casa dos Lóios, a centrally-located boutique hotel with breakfast included. And getting there wasn’t a problem as Porto’s metro has a line extending from the city center to the airport. Visitors to Porto will quick realize how hilly the city is—bring comfortable shoes! Luckily there are stunning views seemingly around every corner awaiting those willing to wander.

Portugal, May 2018: Four Days In Porto

England, April 2018: A Weekend In The Cotswolds

Rico’s parents visited England’s Cotswolds, only a couple of hours’ drive from London, when they visited in the fall, and their positive reviews inspired us to escape the city this spring. We stayed in a cute hut on a farm and hung out with the resident dogs, cats, chickens and horses.

England, April 2018: A Weekend In The Cotswolds

Morocco, April 2018: Fez Video Moments

The final part of our Morocco trip brought us to Fez. After a long day of driving (roughly 8 hours) from the Sahara Desert, we finally made it and were greeted by the friendly Dar Seffarine. The last few days exploring Morocco were full of narrow lanes, getting lost, wandering the souks, and enjoying the beauty of Fez's medina. It was a wonderful ending to our time and made it all the more difficult to say goodbye to Morocco. Until next time!

Morocco, April 2018: Fez Video Moments

Morocco, April 2018: Marrakech To The Sahara Video Moments

For the second part of our trip to Morocco, we knew we wanted to head to the Sahara Desert for a night under the stars. Rather than going on a tour, we decided to rent a car to take it slowly on our own. With a few stops and overnight stays at Ait Benhaddou and Dades Gorge, we finally made it to the endless dunes. A night watching the sunset, listening to music by the fire, and looking up at the stars was the perfect way to spend some time in Morocco before heading on to Fez!

Morocco, April 2018: Marrakech To The Sahara Video Moments

Morocco, April 2018: Marrakech Video Moments

For our first long trip of the year, we decided it was time to get off the continent. Over the past years, Europe has become our comfort zone. It felt important to step out of that and begin venturing beyond. Having had Morocco on the list for awhile, it felt like the perfect place to start. Flying from London into Marrakech, we kicked off our trip. Marrakech was a beautiful and chaotic city that we fell in love with deeply. We knew we made the right choice once we settled in and began to understand the rhythm. From its busy streets to the serene courtyards, Marrakech offered plenty to see and do.

Morocco, April 2018: Marrakech Video Moments

Morocco, April 2018: Fez

We closed our ten-day trip to Morocco with three nights in Fez, one of the country’s other imperial cities. The medinas of Marrakech and Fez are quite different: Marrakech is shades of red and pink, flat, commercial, primed for tourism, and energetic but orderly, while Fez is shades of gray and beige, hilly, lived-in, less bothered with tourism, and chaotic in a very disorderly way. This isn’t to say Fez is off the tourist map—if anything, we felt like there were more large tour groups than in Marrakech, and Marrakech seemed to attract more independent travelers and also dealt better with dispersing the crowds.

Morocco, April 2018: Fez

Morocco, April 2018: Our Road Trip From Marrakech To The Sahara

The second stage of our Morocco trip was a road trip into the desert to spend a night in the Sahara. Driving from Marrakech to Merzouga—a village on the edge of the desert—straight through would take at least 10 hours, which wasn’t very appealing, especially since there are some noteworthy stops along the way. So we did the drive over three days, stopping for two nights before getting to our desert camp outside of Merzouga. On the 4th day, we drove 8 hours straight from Merzouga to Fez with only a few restroom and stretch breaks.

Morocco, April 2018: Our Road Trip From Marrakech To The Sahara

Morocco, April 2018: Marrakech

In our three years of travelling from London, we’ve more or less stuck to what we know: Europe. But more recently we’ve been itching for something different, especially as we started to feel complacent in our comfort zone. Our travels were missing some of the adventurous mystique they had in the beginning, when we didn’t really know what to expect or what we were doing. Britt had been thinking about Morocco for the past couple of years, and it seemed a reasonable first jump outside Europe and out of our comfort zone, so our first big trip of 2018 brought us to Morocco for 10 days—3 in Marrakech, 4 on the road to and from the Sahara, and 3 in Fez!

Morocco, April 2018: Marrakech

Austria, Winter 2018: Skiing In Alpbach Video Moments

This year we decided to finally learn to ski. After researching the best spots in Europe to go to learn, we landed upon the quaint Alpine town of Alpbach. Already in love with Austria from previous trips, it instantly felt like the perfect fit. Our first weekend in January, we took lessons and enjoyed finding our footing on skis. Then in March, we went off on our own. While we didn't make it onto the trails higher up into the mountains this year, we know that when we return around Christmas time we will finally be ready. It isn't easy to push yourself to learn new things as you get older but we are so glad we learned to ski and can say we now have a new hobby!

Austria, Winter 2018: Skiing In Alpbach Video Moments

Austria, Winter 2018: Skiing In Alpbach

Despite growing up mere hours from mountains in a part of the country that is blanketed in snow for much of the winter, neither of us picked up skiing or snowboarding. Britt went a handful of times when she was younger and Rico had literally never stepped foot into a binding. Over the last few years we’ve seen friends take ski trips to the Alps and something about that idea really appealed to us. We joked for a while that we should go to the mountains for a winter long weekend and learn how to ski, and at some point, that joke turned into a serious idea! We committed to giving it a try, asking our family for ski jackets, snow pants, gloves, and other gear for Christmas and booking a 4-day weekend in January.

Austria, Winter 2018: Skiing In Alpbach

Portugal, September 2017: The Algarve Video Moments

As the weather warms up here for spring in London, we were inspired to finally share more about our trip to Portugal's Algarve last September. It was a vacation filled with beach visits, strolls down cobblestone lanes, and good food. While we mentioned it didn't make the top of our list of places we have been, the Algarve is the spot to go to for some sun and relaxation. We enjoyed ending our 2017 travel season doing just that! If we ever make it back, Lagos or Salema will be calling our names.

Portugal, September 2017: The Algarve Video Moments

Portugal, September 2017: The Algarve, Barlavento (West)

Six of our 9 days in the Algarve were spent based in the central town of Albufeira. Though large parts of the town are quite modern and decidedly un-Portuguese (e.g., Irish pubs and sports bars), its central location and beautiful beach were factors in our decision to stay there. Luckily, our Airbnb was located in the quiet and traditional area immediately around Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Albufeira, where we spent evenings strolling the streets and walking down to the beach. We also dedicated two days fully as beach days. Our main dinner spot was Ricardo's Pizzaria (spaghetti Bolognese, spaghetti carbonara, ravioli, bruschetta, tiramisu)—also decidedly un-Portuguese!—and we made a few trips in the car out to Pastelaria Riviera for its large collection of cakes, cookies, and other sweet delights.

Portugal, September 2017: The Algarve, Barlavento (West)

Portugal, September 2017: The Algarve, Sotavento (East)

Portugal’s Algarve region is famous for its long, sandy beaches, dramatic coastal rock formations, and tasty food. Best yet, all of this can be enjoyed at a fraction of the price of nearby Spain, and certainly of France and Italy. The region has largely been developed for and caters to package tourism, especially from northern Europe, and this no doubt detracts from the area’s cultural appeal, but there is enough to see and experience for the Algarve to serve as a relatively inexpensive destination combining lazy beach days with stimulating nature and city adventures. We spent 9 days in the region and will cover our trip in two parts—first, the eastern half (dubbed Sotavento), then the western half (dubbed Barlavento).

Portugal, September 2017: The Algarve, Sotavento (East)