In search of the ultimate travel coziness in Italy, we fell in love with Orvieto - oh, and Orvieto wine too!
Is there anything cozier than stumbling into a delightfully snug wine bar with a full roaring fire at the end of a long travel day? Perhaps the only thing better is when said wine bar also doubles as a spectacular restaurant - and is owned by one of the kindest families you've ever met. This very scenario was our introduction to Orvieto wine, food, and family - and it set a new bar for hospitality, not just for all other Italian towns but indeed everywhere we travel.
Here's what made Orvieto such a wonderfully cozy destination for us, including our beloved wine bar and our new favourite hotel, lovingly decorated by local artists.
We're retracing some of our favourite travel memories along Oahu's North Shore.
The North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii's most populated island, is one of the world's most famous surfing spots. But I am one of the world's most famous wimps - how is it possible that I fell head over heels in love with such a daredevil destination?
Sometimes opposites really DO attract. I've been telling people by word of mouth just how much I love the North Shore for years now. It was one of the very first trips Ryan and I ever made together and we often get asked for recommendations. How can it be that we've never written it all down? So here it is - a story of love at first sight, sandy feet, gourmet treats, and a little bit of everything for everyone.
All roads really DO lead to - and from- Rome.
Julius Ceasar, Saint Peter, Spartacus, and now the team from Turnipseed Travel.... there's been more than a few legends who've walked, rode, and peddled their way down the Appian Way. This ancient highway, nearly 400 miles of engineering marvel, connected Rome with southern Italy and the sea, forming a critical trade and communications link with Greece and Egypt.
Considered the world's first super highway, everyone who was anyone traveled along the Appian Way, along with over two thousand years of worth of anonymous citizens too. We were happy to start our first day in Rome by following in their footsteps!
In Bern, Switzerland, hidden bargains and worthwhile treats await. That's a formula even Einstein would approve of!
What's your idea of a great bargain or splurge in Switzerland? Maybe chocolate from a hidden store followed up with a custom Swiss watch? Or a hike through the Alps before rounding out the day with some chic apres-ski? All good ideas, but Switzerland is a country that beckons you to dig deeper, look beyond the stereotypes, and explore the unexpected.
This is especially true of Bern, home to the seat of the Swiss government. It's smaller and less flashy than other Swiss cities and is often underrated by many as a result. But not by me! Bern has had a special place in my heart from my very first trip - and I was eager to discover it once more from a new perspective and with a new budget.
Move aside, buffets. Under Nonna Antonella's guidance, bruschetta is anything but basic.
One of the first big trips Ryan and I did together was a two week adventure through the American Southwest, with plenty of time in Las Vegas. We were so excited to check out the city's legendary casino buffet scene that we even invested in the "Buffet of Buffets" all you can eat package. I hadn't made it halfway through our 24 hour pass before I tapped out. Can someone please pass the vegetables!?
While Vegas is a more extreme example, I experience the same conflict on every trip; my desire to indulge is constantly fighting with my will to survive and avoid scurvy. As such, I constantly have an eye out for a mythical perfect dish that manages to be both decadent and nutritious, enthralling my senses without destroying my stomach.
In Rome - in its own way, the original Las Vegas, a swirling, enchanting, hedonistic kind of town - I found exactly what I was looking for with humble bruschetta. And with our very own "nonna" (a real Roman grandmother and expert home cook) by our side for an evening, we couldn't go wrong. Nonna Antonella was dishing out recipes AND great advice!
Chef Mehra took us behind the scenes and into the tandoori room at his prized restaurant.
Most chefs are notoriously tight lipped when it comes to sharing their culinary secrets but Chef Nitin Mehra of Ottawa's East India Company couldn't spill the beans even if he wanted to. The exact recipe for his restaurant's famous garam masala is a secret guarded so tightly that there's only one person on earth who knows the exact formula - his mother. Technically, it's not even her recipe. She inherited it from Chef Mehra's great grandmother on the day she passed away.
If you get goosebumps just thinking of how close that recipe came to being forever lost, you're not alone. Talking with Chef Mehra gave me amazing insight into the careful crafts of the culinary world, the passion and discipline that are poured into every sauce, and the role that family, tradition, community, and care play into making good food taste great.
Here's what's making December a happy month for me.
We are having such a nice December - the weather is absolutely amazing. We have had virtually no snow and warm, warm temperatures. It was the perfect night when we went to Parliament Hill after Travel Massive for the opening night of Lights Across Canada. This is a wonderful light show featuring winter motifs and animals that is projected on the front of the Parliament building and it's the most charming thing in the world.
Here's what's making August a happy month for me.
It's a bee barn!
How cute is this wee wooden barn? Outfitted with drilled wood and bamboo tubes, it's perfect for bees in need of short term accommodations. I absolutely feel in love with it when I saw it!
We found our bee barn at Coyle's Country Store near Tillsonburg, Ontario but crafty readers can likely make their own with scrap wood and bamboo. To give the bees extra encouragement to use it, we placed it low on our fence, at flower level, where the bees are likely to linger. Next up for us: I want to get a Toad Abode, since we had a toad sighting in our garden just last week!
Here's what's making April a happy month for me.
Planning an amazing retreat.
What do you get when combine a conference, a retreat, and a vacation - and a group of bloggers? Why, it's Blogcation Retreat! I'm so excited to be one of the organizers for this amazing event and I can't wait to see everyone who comes out to participate at the end of May (and I hope to see some of you there!) You can sign up at blogcationretreat.com.
Cheap and cheesy movies.
Wedding Ringer, you delivered. House Bunny, you never get old. Rainbow Cinemas, bless you and your $2 Tuesdays.
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