Quick Take: Verona

We visited Verona on our (now annual) Eurotrip in May 2017. Here is the quick take!

Visited: May, 2017
Days in Verona: 1
Travelled to Verona by: Car from Venice
Stayed at:
Giulietta e Romeo Hotel


Favourite restaurants: Formaggi e Salumi Gironda and Osteria Il Ciottolo
Favourite Sites: The Roman Theatre and Juliet’s House.
Tours: None.
Must See:
Duomo di Verona, Piazza delle Erbe, Corso Porta Borsari, Church of St Lorenzo, Castelvecchio, Lamberti Tower, Ponte Pietra, Piazza Bra, Arena di Verona, Roman Theatre, Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore, Scaligeri Family Tombs, Piazza da Signorini.
Must Do: 
This city is relatively small and really easy to walk around on your own in just a few hours.

 

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My 10 Year Anniversary with Rome

Thanks to those fun Facebook memories, I was reminded that July 3rd, 2007 I arrived in Rome for the first time.

I had traveled before. We traveled to the Caribbean often and I had spent a month in Ireland a few years before, but this trip was different.

I was traveling as a supervisor for a high school English credit (which just so happened to have my brother and cousin taking the class). The students had class during the day, and we spent our afternoons Rome-ing around.

That first day exploring we visited the Baths of the Diocletion, the Piazza della Republica and the Spanish Steps. I remember so vividly walking from the Baths to the Spanish Steps when it hit me – these were the roads that an ancient civilization walked on, these were the places they built. Here I was, thousands of years later, being in awe of all of it. That feeling of being in awe followed me each day – to the Vatican, through the Forum, to the Pantheon and on our day trip to Florence.

That month changed my life. I learned so much, about myself and this beautiful city. I grew as a person. I found a strength in me I didn’t know I had. It sparked a love of travel and need to continue exploring the world.

No matter where my travels take me, I always feel a calling back to the Eternal City.

Quick Take: Venice

We visited Venice on our (now annual) Eurotrip in May 2017. Here is the quick take!

Visited: May, 2017
Days in Venice: 3
Travelled to Venice by: Plane from Toronto
Stayed at:
Hotel Campiello

Favourite site: The Grand Canal!
Favourite restaurants: Trattoria alla Rivetta, Ristorante da Cherubino, Ristorante Antica Sacrestia
Other Great Spots: Dal Moro’s Fresh Pasta to Go, Bacaro Risorto
Venetian Specialties: Bigoli in salsa, Scampi with polenta, Bacalá mantecato, Polenta
Tours: Walks of Italy – Venice in a Day Tour
Must See & Do:
Piazza San Marco, St Mark’s Basilica, Grande Canal & Rialto Bridge, Fish Market, La Fenice Theatre, Mercato Rialto, Dodges Palace, Bridge of Sighs and take a Vaporetto ride. Gondola rides are fabulous, expensive but fun.
If you have time: Take a ride to the island of Burano and Murano.
Day trips: None.
Tips: Buy a Vaporetto day pass (good for 24 hours) to get around and see the sites from the water. Most dinner restaurants probably need a reservation (which you can mostly make online).

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Italy – May 2017 Update

Okay. I admit it. I was far too boastful in my trip planning. After thinking about it (logically and financially) we’ve made some changes to our trip.

Here’s the thing – as much as I love Italy (and I really do) there are some cities *cough*Venice*cough* that I want to go to once and feel as though I don’t need to go back. We also realized there was more we wanted to see and do in Emilia Romagna.

Here it goes:

Day 1: Land in Venice at 7:30am. Take a nap and stroll around.
Day 2: Venice tour day!
Day 3: Day trip from Venice to Burano.
Day 4: Drive to & tour Verona.
Day 5: Drive to Bologna, stopping at Parma.
Day 6: Bologna tour day!
Day 7: Day trip from Bologna to Modena.
Day 8: Train from Bologna to Rome!!
Days 9 & 10: Tour Roma.
Day 11: Fly home.

Last weekend we booked all of our accommodations so now it’s just time to plan our tours!!

If anyone has any recommendations or tips for these cities, please share!

Quick Take: Lisbon 2016

We visited Lisbon again on our (now annual) Eurotrip in 2016. Here is the quick take!

Visited: May, 2016
Days in Lisbon: 4.5
Travelled to Lisbon by: Plane from Barcelona
Stayed at:
 Airbnb

Favourite day:
Cascais!
Favourite restaurants: Bonjardim, Maria Catita and Cascas.
Favourite Squares: Praca do Comercio, Rossio Square.
Tours: None this time ’round, we just spent time at the beach.
Must Do: 
Visit each of the unique districts in Lisbon. Enjoy a Fado show. Stroll and enjoy the historic capital.

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Take a look at what we did during our trip to Lisbon in 2015!

Pizza & Gelato

It’s official!

We’re heading back to Italy this May for our 30th birthdays and 5 year wedding anniversary!

We have a very vague plan right now – fly into Venice and fly home from Rome. The idea is to road trip our way down and *finally* be reunited with Roma for the last few days. The countdown begins to all of the pizza & gelato… and Parmesan…and prosciutto…and *drool*…

Here is my wish list of stops:

~ Venice
~ Burano
~ Verona
~ Bellagio and Lake Como
~ Parma, Bologna and Modena
~ Golfo Paradiso
~ Maybe Florence
~ And finally, Rome.

Hopefully we can fit it all in! We will be going on our shortest trip to Europe so fingers crossed!!

Eating in Amsterdam

Before we left for Amsterdam I had heard some not so great things about the food. Being foodies, we thought we’d be resigned to eating frites with mayo the whole time but boy were we wrong!

Here are our favourite Amsterdam restaurants…

Haringhandel Jonk

Haringhandel Jonk is a street vendor selling incredible sandwiches and fish dishes (for next to nothing). Everything is fresh and so tasty! We stumbled upon it one day while walking and grabbed a sandwich. We sat down on a bench nearby and had to go back for seconds (and again, the next day).

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Cafe de Klos

Alex, our Dam Boat Guys tour guide, recommended Cafe de Klos and we went that very same night. Here’s a warning – it’s a small restaurant but they have a pub across the street to wait in. Delicious beer while waiting for incredible Amsterdam-style barbecue. I dream about the slow roasted lamb shoulder still!

Cafe Winkel

When we arrived in Amsterdam at 6am local time, exhausted because we didn’t sleep on the flight, our hotel recommended we walk over to Cafe Winkle for the best traditional Dutch apple pie. So we did, and we were not disappointed. The apple pie was perfect. Crust was phenomenal. Filling not too sweet. Whipped cream on the side was the perfect addition.

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Moeders

We love trying traditional & local food and were recommended Moeders by a local on Twitter. It took a few days to get a reservation but we were not disappointed! Everything we ate was so good! I had the asparagus soup to start, which was a special for the day. For dinner we had the Dutch Ricedish, which is a combination of all the Dutch specialties they serve, and every morsel was incredible.

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Intense Wanderlust for Roma

I feel a relatively strong feeling of wanderlust on the regular but it’s been a few months since a big trip (with not a whole lot planned for the near future) and I’m getting the itch again.

Add a dash of Rome craving from the book Roman Crazy (recommended to me by my friend Teresa) and that our trip to Italy next year might be delayed and I’ve got it bad. I’ve got the wanderlustin’ for Roma blues!

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So that I don’t go completely mad (and to feel like I’m doing some planning for something), I’ve started a list. Well, two.

The first, places & things I haven’t seen (yet) in Rome. Included so far is: the Pyramid of Cestius, the catacombs, the Baths of Diocletian, Ostia Antica and the neighbourhood of Testaccio.

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Secondly (and equally important) is restaurants and things to eat. We have our favourite restaurants but I would love to have carbonara at Trattoria da Danilo, anything at Eataly Rome, bucanti all’amatriciana and all the artichokes! Plus, I must be reunited with the beautiful Roman style pizza.

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What would you add to the list? Do you have a love on for a city the way I have for Rome?

Quick Take: Lecce

We visited Lecce on our South Italy Road Trip in 2014. Here is the quick take!

Visited: May, 2014
Days in Lecce: 3
Travelled to Lecce by: Car from Bari
Stayed at:
Palazzo Rollo

Favourite site:
Roman Ampitheatre.
Favourite restaurants: Trattoria Nonna Tetti where we first had fave e cicoria
Favourite Squares: Piazza del Duomo.
Must See:
Roman Ampitheatre, Triumphal Arch, Lecce Cathedral, the obelisk, Church of Santa Croce.
Day trips: Otranto, Santa Maria di Leuca, Gallipoli, Porto Cesareo.

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A Montreal Food Tour

One of the things we were most excited about during our road trip to Montreal was the food! Montreal is definitely a foodie town, and is known for some classics like poutine, smoked meat and the Montreal bagel. Before we left, we compiled a list of restaurants recommended to try the best of those three foods, as well as some other Montreal spots.

Poutine

Ah poutine – fresh french fries topped with cheese curd and gravy. A Canadian institution, and something Montreal is well known for.

Since we were only in Montreal for 48 hours (or so) we only had it the once at Frites Alores! a chain restaurant. We had a long list of places to try it (including Resto La Banquise and Nouveau Systeme) but we were stuck on time, it was raining and Frites Alores! was close by.

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I definitely wasn’t disappointed. I would have loved to try more places but, like I mentioned, we were short on time. I really wanted to get the lobster poutine at Garde Manger but we couldn’t get a reservation.

Smoked Meat

We HAD to eat at Schwartz’s Deli – it’s pretty much the most well known smoked meat sandwich place in the city. There’s almost always a line up (we got pretty lucky and only waited about 10 minutes at noon).

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Here’s the thing – the name is famous but the sandwiches aren’t amazing. I found they lacked flavour. The servers are trying to get you out quickly because of their never-ending line.

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We were also recommended to try Lester’s Deli (which we never got to). Overall, I’m glad we went – Schwartz’s is an institution. But next time, I’m going to try somewhere else.

Montreal Bagels

In Montreal, there are two competing bagel houses: Fairmount and St Viateur. We made it to both!

Fairmount

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This place was a hike (seriously, I recommend driving if you’re staying anywhere near Old Montreal). The line was fairly decent but quick moving. We got our two everything bagels with cream cheese and sat outside on a bench eating them.

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About half way through, I declared we must get a third (to split). Smoked salmon and cream cheese on a fresh Montreal bagel. Ah-mazing!!

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Overall, delicious. But (in my opinion) not as good as…

St Viateur

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These bagels we so delicious we got four dozen. St Viateur is a chain and has locations all over the city. We grabbed them on the way home and had a ridiculous and hilarious cream cheese explosion all over the car.

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The car smelled like bagels for a week. Not exactly a bad thing.

French Restaurants

As we were in Montreal, and frequently dream of our meals from Pairs, we had a list of recommended French restaurants including Chez Leveque and Tandem, but these are the two we ate at:

Le Pois Penche

A really delicious French bistro fairly close to our air bnb.

We started with oysters (freshly shucked at the bar) and escargot (excuse the poor photo quality, they were taken with my phone in a fairly dark restaurant).

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For our mains, my husband had the duck and I had the salmon.

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Everything was incredibly fresh and tasty. The table next to us had the “Prime Coupe” and said it was the best meal they ever ate.

La Maison du Magret

This meal was incredible. It completely blew my mind and palette. I was a little concerned because of the “all duck” menu, but figured worst case scenario I’d have the duck poutine.

No need!

We were both intrigued by the planche du canardaille – 5 tastes of duck, including duck salami, duck gizzard salad and more. Our server recommended we only get it “for one” if we intended to share and get something else from the menu each (which we did). While we waited we were brought a tasty amouse Boucher of duck topped with a pepper jelly. Wow! Delicious.

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Then came our planche du canardaille. We shared it (almost fighting over who got the last bite of everything). Each bite was so flavourful your mouth watered in anticipation of the next.

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On to our mains! I ordered the ravioli confit and my husband ordered the Magret de canard. This ravioli was so unique and beautifully prepared. Each piece stuffed with duck confit. The sauce was a mushroom cream and topped with cheese. My husbands duck was cooked perfectly with a delicious dipping sauce and a side of fries fried in duck fat.

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And now my mouth is watering! We had some incredible foodie adventures in Montreal and wouldn’t hesitate for a second to go back. In fact, I’d drive the six hours back just for the  planche du canardaille.