Does every good travel story start with a quest?
"Are you open?" It was nearly three in the afternoon, far too late for lunch and way too early for dinner. But I was starving. Starving! And the small, unassuming Italian restaurant which I had passed earlier in the day suddenly felt like just the ticket.
The older waitress shook her head emphatically from side to side. I pushed aside a micro-flash of confusion then nimbly skipped over the threshold. This was Bulgaria, where shaking your head "no" is actually a gesture for "yes", and catching on was easier said than done. Once inside, I was greeted by the mouthwatering smell of cinnamon, so bright and vibrant that I could only conclude that the restaurant was using its pizza ovens to make baked goods during their downtime.
The staff of Sofia's Restaurant Balito (ul. "Pozitano" 50, 1303 Pette Kyosheta) laughed when I inquired about what they were baking. I was smelling an air freshener! Perhaps I was more hungry than I realized or Bulgaria must make the best commercial scents in the world. Either way, I couldn't shake my craving, even after several courses of savory Italian delicacies. I knew I had to find the best apple pie in Sofia.
Legendary art, freshly baked pizza pockets, luscious gelato, and... Starbucks? How to experience Milan in one day when you're on a layover. Plus: The Milan airport hotel we loved!
On my first visit to Milan, I changed trains and spent my last precious lira (yep, it was a long time ago) on a soggy train station sandwich that was decidedly not good. I was unimpressed - and hungry.
One my second visit to Milan, I once again changed trains and spent way too many Euros on Burger King. Yes, BURGER KING. My least favourite fast food - and the last thing you want to eat in Italy.
But on my third visit to Milan, oh let me tell you about the third visit. It was filled with gelato so luscious it was downright profane. And dough. Soft, fluffy dough, fresh from the oven, with the cheese and tomato sauce so hot they were bubbling together in a happy stew. Then there was art, the kind of art that puts all the other art to shame. And - of course! - there was coffee.
After two false starts, I finally had my day in Milan. I arrived via an overnight flight from New York and I left the same day, on an overnight flight to Addis Ababa. It was all part of our epic round-the-world trip that required us to cash in all our frequent flyer points and embrace a world of short but sassy layovers. Though my time was short, I was ready to do Milan in one day - or, at the very least, do my version of it in one day.
Here's where we ate, what we did, and even where we stayed in Milan, plus practical advice on getting from Malpensa airport to Milan's central station.
These snug bookstores are well worth travelling to! Discover more than 30 of the world's cutest, coziest bookstores.
Is there anything that rivals a bookstore when it comes to that perfect combination of smooth paper, fragrant coffee, and superb people watching? I think not! Bookstores are such a snug, warm, homey way to settle into a new destination and learn what the locals are reading, drinking, and talking about. They're the perfect spot for when you want a quiet moment, yet also ideal when you want noise, hustle, and bustle. There's no other word for it: Bookstores are cozy.
Some of my best cozy travel memories are set in bookstores, like the rainy day I visited the now-closed Mainly Murder in Cork, Ireland, to get some recommendations for an on-the-road mystery. Or my frequent visits to the Maneno Bookshop in Lilongwe, Malawi, where I gorged on every available Jeffery Deaver thriller to help pass the time during quiet nights on the road. I'm not alone in my love of these cushy, intimate, cheerful spots either. Several of my travel blogging friends feel the exact same way about bookstores and they have kindly shared some of their personal recommendations for the best bookstores around the world.
So go turn on the kettle and get ready to settle in with a hot drink. Here are more than 30 cozy bookstores from around the world to inspire your next travel adventure.
Eating, touring, exploring, and ... going to the Post Office? Here's what you can do in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, is one of the world's great adventure travel destinations. Vic Falls arguably offers the most scenic and heart pounding zip-lining, bungee jumping, aerial adventures, and white water rafting in the world. For some travelers, this all takes place against a backdrop of incredible luxury - gorgeous, plush resorts, genteel and swanky cocktail bars overlooking the gorge, and elegant restaurants whose service recalls a bygone era of glamour and refinement.
I, however, experienced none of this in Victoria Falls.
I was far too terrified to take part in anything remotely adventurous and far too frugal to indulge in any luxury offerings. The truth is that Victoria Falls activities are a bit tricky for value-minded travelers like myself who are eager for cozy microadventures. There is a fair bit on offer for transcontinental backpackers eager for cheap hostels, beers, and thrills. There's also plenty for indulgent spenders to drop their money on. But when it comes to the modest-spending scaredy-cat (that would be yours truly....) figuring out what you can do in Victoria Falls can be a challenge. These 15 activities are a good place to start. The list includes both things I did personally as well as some that I haven't yet experienced but seem to fit the bill.
This Greenwich Village food tour made me feel at home in New York City - and it's filled with celebrity homes, haunts, and musical legends too!
I've been playing catch up on my relationship with New York City for a while now. Unbelievably, my first visit was only a few years ago in the form of a short layover at the beginning of our round the world trip (short, mind you, but impressive - we combined a library visit, a meal at a singing diner, and a movie-themed sightseeing bus tour all in a few hours!) My second visit - which coincided with our second round-the-world trip - brought another short layover, another lovely but brief bus tour, and (of course!) another meal at my favourite singing diner. With two layovers and two bus tours under my belt, I felt like I had seen a lot of classic New York but I hadn't actually experienced the city. I hadn't walked through a single neighbourhood. I didn't have a good sense of where things were in relationship to each other.
Bottom line, I hadn't really hit the streets for the proverbial pounding of the pavement to get my bearings. But was a Greenwich Village food tour what I needed in order to feel more settled in the city?
If you want to try llama trekking, Montana is the place to do it!
With soulful, chocolate brown eyes, silky soft hair, and a passion for food, nature, and daydreaming, Raffi sounds like the perfect man. And I can certainly attest to the fact that he is! Furthermore, legends about handsome, strong, capable Montana ranch men are indeed true... provided that you don't need all said men to actually be human. Raffi, after all, is a llama. Yes, you read that correctly. A llama! And a devilishly handsome one at that. We spent one blissful day together, sharing our hopes and dreams as we hiked up the side of a mountain. But I know that it's only a matter of time before another girl catches his eye. After all, if you're into llama trekking, Montana is the best place to be! Find out why this is one of the most memorable micro-adventures I've undertaken.
Bruges in a day? Yes, it's possible! Here's what to do if you're planning a short break and have one day in Bruges.
We LOVE Bruges! It is one of the most charming, the most romantic, and the most fun small cities in Europe. Indulging in short trips to Bruges in northern Belgium have been a highlight of our time in Europe and they've been the perfect relaxing interlude to otherwise busy trips. But what are the best things to do in Bruges, other than just walking around and eating chocolate (which, for the record, is a superb use of time)?
We've put together a Bruges one day itinerary of some of our favourite things. We've also reached out to some of the best travel bloggers we know to get their take on the best things to do in Bruges at night, their favourite restaurants and pubs, their top Bruges museums, suggestions on where to sleep and so much more. There is so much to see and do here!
Have we forgotten anything from the list? We want to hear what you love about this delightful city!
We have 21 suggestions for Ottawa travellers to discover the city's cozy side, one microadventure at a time.
I am not adventurous. Nope, not one bit. Sure, I talk a good game and occasionally do things which other people might consider a bit daunting, like walking across Victoria Falls Bridge or kayaking in the Saguenay Fjord, but I think we all know the truth. Deep down, I'll always be the girl who caused a commotion in the Athens Meat Market and braced for an attack from non-existent wild pigs in Hawaii. I'm scared of adventure and (...I like to think...) adventure is a bit scared of me. However, a conversation with a friend has completely re-framed things for me. I've been introduced to the world of microadventures!
The phrase microadventure has been popularized by Alastair Humphreys in his book Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes. The book describes a microadventure as something "close to home, cheap, simple, short and 100% guaranteed to refresh your life. A microadventure takes the spirit of a big adventure and squeezes it into a day or even a few hours."
Hang on a second. That sounds like what I do. That sounds like what I do ALL. THE. TIME. I like things that are cheap, simple, short, and refreshing (aka COZY things!). Could it be that I've been an adventurer - and a trendy adventurer at that! - all along? Since the spirit of Humphrey's microadventures focus on this close to home, here are my favourite microadventures to recommend to Ottawa travellers.
My cozy Dublin list reflects nearly 20 years of favourite special places and flavors.
Dublin is a cool city. I am not a cool person. And herein lies the root of my problem with it comes to recommending things to see and do in the Irish capital. I can't tell you a thing about hip bars, trendy music venues, or any of the amazing shops led by a new generation of makers and creators. I'm not much better when it comes to chic restaurants, festivals, or exhibits. Alas, people ask me for recommendations for their Dublin city breaks all the time. This autumn alone, two sets of dear friends are going there and I couldn't do much more but issue an impassioned plea for them to visit my favourite bakery. Not exactly cutting edge stuff.
But all of a sudden, I thought that, maybe, it might just be enough. After all, lots of people are eager to share why they think Dublin is cool. But who's talking about about what makes Dublin cozy? Me, that's who! Who says that little bakeries aren't the best part of a city, anyway?
At last, I'm ready to own my Dublin recommendations. Here are the cozy places, flavors, and spots that I visit again and again in Dublin. Better luck next time, hot clubs.
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