Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Watch Wroclaw, Poland in Action

Want to see some of what Wroclaw has to offer? Check out these videos to get a glimpse into life here.

Invest In Wroclaw:

Travel Channel's Video:

Christmas, my favorite time of year:

Wroclaw's Christmas Market:

CNN: Capturing Poland's Postcard Beauty:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Buongiorno - Venice, Italy

Venice. A place we've had on our travel list for awhile. A place we wanted to see for ourselves.

We flew into Bologna because flights were cheap (thanks Ryan Air) and took the train from Bologna to Venice. 30 euro a ticket and 2 hours later - we arrived to the train station in Venice in the early afternoon. No map, no intention of getting a map - we head out to try to find our hotel near the Rialto Bridge.
Rialto Bridge
Since we've never been, we made the rookie mistake and stayed in the touristy area. The pro, easy to find our hotel - the con, easy to find yourself smoothed in tourists. Our recommendation would be to not let the location of a hotel in Venice detour you from staying there, the city is easy to walk and the best places truly are off the beaten path.

Our opinion of the city - if you are planning on honeymooning here - don't. It was on our list of potential places (we ended up in the Amalfi - much better choice) and we suggest not to because there are so many people, even in the off season - it loses the romantic mystery you dream of. It is better suited for anniversaries or your average European vacation.

That said, the concept of Venice is amazing. Endless canals and streets that go nowhere - yet everywhere. The best streets are the ones less traveled. On these streets you will find boat makers creating beautiful boats - not for the crowds but for the beauty of hand crafted boats. You will find families - enjoying an evening in their local square. You will find why people can fall in love with Venice.
Hand making boats off a side canal

Always a good idea to stop for a refreshment

Fresh fruit and veggie stands
People always say, when you go to Venice forget the map. I kind of agree - it is nice to know the different neighborhoods because each is different but at the same time, once in those neighborhoods - forget the map - get lost.

Our favorite night, we ended up with a bottle of wine, cheese, parma ham and fruit - sitting on a dock overlooking the Grand Canal. Perfecto. We tried lots of restaurants but this was by far our favorite meal out.  No other guests dining here, just two lovers watching the boats pass by - city lit up. Nothing beats watching the happenings of a city as you sit observing the motion of a place.

View from our private dock - wine & cheese with an amazing view

After dinner we walked to our view to see it up close - Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
We ended up coming across this really cute art gallery at the end of a little ally that night. Enrico Orlando Martina is the artist. He has amazing pieces and even came down to chat with us even though it was late. He showed us his different techniques and chatted with us awhile about Poland. If you can find it - I recommend paying his studio a visit: Calle Larga XXII Marzo 2081 San Marco, 30124 Venezia
To say it was our favorite place - it wasn't. There were too many people, a little too expensive and not sure it is the Venice it once was. But you will find the city is beautiful, the endless canals intriguing and to see a top travel destination with your own eyes - priceless.


Go. Form your own opinions. Maybe just stay away in the summer months.

The end of Venice
Travelers Tips: We weren't sure where to stay in Venice and ends up, the city really is easy to walk and the best parts really are in the less traveled areas. For us, our hotel was in an amazing central location just off the Rialto Bridge so able to find it no problem - but the price was also just right for our travel budget. All depends on what you are looking for so if you find a hotel off the main areas - consider it. However, if you find a hotel and it fits your ideal cost and amenities - but not sure of the location - as long as it is on the island of Venice - you should book it. Our next visit - we will stay further away from the central locations.

Also, if you are looking to save on costs taking the train, see the time difference between a local train and the fast train. We bought 2 tickets on the local train back - only added 45 minutes to our journey and saved a ton of money. 

The local train from Venice to Bologna

Our Two Cents:

Venice: Trattoria Bandierette: They could have cared less if we were there 
Venice: St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco): You have to see it - but don't have to spend much time here 
Venice: Grand Canal: Sit and absorb
Venice: Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto): Packed but Pretty
Venice: Al Merca: Cute place for a glass of wine and snack
Venice: Naranzaria: Can't get dinner till 7:30
Venice: Cantina Do Mori: Cute Wine and Tapas Bar

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Meet Pinkie

This past weekend, Chris and I went on a car trip: 4 countries, 3 days, 2 travelers = 1 great weekend in a very PINK car.

When we picked it up - it made us laugh so hard. Not only was it super pink, but it is fairly small (not that we need much space) and has very little pick up - and since I can't drive stick, Chris rocked the driver seat. Pinkie took us through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. More on the trip to come but had to share Pinkie.

Thanks Budget for renting us the pinkest car ever.

Travelers Tip: A lot of people will scare you about renting cars and driving in other countries. For longer distances - we tend to go with companies like Budget - for smaller trips, doesn't really matter. Just make sure to ask for a GPS that speaks English and if traveling outside the country - make sure it has maps for those countries. Some GPS' are only in country - we've learned the hard way  :) And most rental cars in Europe are stick shift - you can find automatics - you just might pay more and there are not as many of them so look to book earlier if possible.  We have never needed an international driver license in any country in Europe.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Greetings from Prague

Prague has proven to be a great weekend getaway for Chris and I. We love it. It's a short drive from Wroclaw - and because we've been there and seen that - we can fall into a relaxed weekend mode of walking, eating, drinking, taking photos, and just being in the moment.

Our theme for this weekend was - parks. Prague has some beautiful parks and places to sit and people watch while enjoying some wine and good conversation. Being fall time - it was amazing with all the oranges, reds, yellows - reflecting in the sun. We found ourselves wondering the city and enjoying every minute of it.

Some takeaways from the weekend: 4 more bottles of Srircha, authentic Mexican food & new friends. 

For Americans, we take our Mexican/Latin American food for granted. In the States, Mexican  ingredients are readily available - in Europe, not so much. And even if they have access to the ingredients, they don't understand how the flavors are supposed to work together. We found reviews on Las Adelitas Restaurante and gave it a shot. Glad we did. It was amazing. Not only will we go to Prague for Sriracha now, we will also go for Mexican. It was a fiesta for our mouths. Photos below to share our love of all things Mexican. Now to find only find plantains or yuca here...


Travelers Tips: Prague is a great city with lots to offer. While you will likely want to see the main sights - take some back ways to get there. You will likely find beautiful streets, quite areas along the river, and  hidden gems that aren't on the tourist map. Also, Prague food - like much of the area can be really heavy - there are lots of lighter fare options if you keep your eyes peeled - no need to go back home with some extra Prague ham stuck to your butt.

Our Two Cents: 

Prague: Monarch Wine Bar: $2.80 for a Glass of Wine - Yes, Please!
Prague: Hotel Rubicon: It is nothing more than a hotel room
Prague: U Fleku Restaurant and Brewery: Go for a good time - best with a group of people who like to drink 
Prague: Las Adelitas Restaurante & Tequila Bar: Finally find Authentic Mexican in Eastern Europe!