All posts filed under: Europe

Mad for MAD

Prime people watching in Retiro park. Apparently it is illegal for people to go shirtless in the city, but I didn’t see any arrests out in the lake. Ah, España. You and your tapas and late bedtimes. Last weekend I popped into Madrid for a few days to catch up with a friend from school and unexpectedly also indulge in some solid brunch. Let me tell you, the neighborhood to be is Malasaña. Street art, coffee, more coffee and boutiques tucked in here and there. If you can deal with expats of the Instagramming and gossiping variety, a few places I would recommend for a java jolt in this hood are: Toma Café. Major props for the witty postcards, the cold brew and the ’90s pop playlist they had goin’ on. Federal. Aussie inspired. Flat whites and vegan smoothies galore. Beware people at the communal table stealing your avocado toast (true story). La Bicicleta. A real coffee shop, like the laptop/work kind of place. A wonderful mixture of couches and segregated seating for people who want to type …

Too Little Time in Too Cool a City: A-Dam

Sooo…when can I move in? Last weekend I fed the travel bug again and took advantage of the super cheap flights that can get you pretty much anywhere around Europe as long as you don’t mind feeling like a cow before slaughter and only packing in a carry on. Maybe I’ll make a ranking one day of all these airlines that I have experienced over here. Anyways, Transavia wasn’t that bad. They were all wearing shamrock green and it was amusing to listen to Dutch. After a solid couple hour delay on the runway because of a thunderstorm, we arrived late into Amsterdam and a little bit all over the place to our Airbnb in the Jordaan neighborhood. I will take a brief time out here and say that Lene, our host, was far and away the kindest and cutest of them all. She reminded me of a feather who happened to be wearing Nike shoes. A couple days before our trip, she took the time to send a list of 27 (27!) things to do, …

An Inspiring Week in Berlin

The humorous work of one Señor Albert Pinyas. I only remember his last name because he made a joke in one of his pieces about his girlfriend’s name (Ana) and the Spanish word for pineapple (anana or in some cases, piña). Ok, I’ll move on from being so punny… Lemme tell you straight up: Berlin is the real deal. Not so expensive (shhh, don’t everyone go there at once because then the opposite will be true), oozing creativity, vegans, a little bit of grunginess, galleries and coffee shops all over the place, big (I mean really big) sidewalks…  FYI: I was there for a week-long study trip (read: I didn’t have control over the agenda) with a focus on meeting food communicators, activists and artists and we spent most of our time bumbling around in Mitte, Kreuzberg and Friedrichschain. Below are some highlights. I don’t know if these guys actually accept visits to their brewery and even if you did want to go, you have to walk down an abandoned road and hope you’re not …

36 Hours in Munich

Surfers in an urban park. That’s a new one. Leave it to the Germans to find a way. So I’m back from a week in Germany. I had previously only spent a few (yet very comfortable) hours at the Frankfurt Airport, so I was looking forward to getting up close and personal with Deutschland. And lemme tell you, I loved it. Some of the reasons were quite silly but just so refreshing after living in a small town in Italy. These include: individuals who speak perfect English, clean buses and trains that are easy to navigate and muesli. Did I mention efficiency? After somewhat of a tumultuous departure (hooray for airlines that charge 30 euro for tickets, boo for how rude they are and how much the plane reminds you of being an animal in a feedlot), my travel companion Urmila and I made it to Munich. I am a firm believer in the NYT 36 Hours column, but this was our chance to design and execute our own version. At the suggestion of a friend, we booked an …

Andalucia Part 2: Granada

Gorgeous doors and mosaics abound in Palacio Nazaries within the Alhambra.  Granada is only about a 3 hour drive from Sevilla (together with Cordoba they form a little triangle) so we cruised on over there for a few more days of Mudejar style buildings and tapas. The most interesting thing to me about the Alcazar in Sevilla, the Mezquita/Catedral in Cordoba and also the Alhambra in Granada is how much the Christian rulers kept of the Moorish style architecture when they rose to power. We saw several rooms inside the Alhambra where Arabic script reading “there is no God besides Allah” still lined the walls…and where Christians held regular masses. Either they didn’t know what was going on or they were just exceptionally tolerant. Regardless, they left beautiful rooms and courtyards like this one intact for visitors like me to see today. How nice of them. Granada is an interesting city in the sense that the Alhambra is up on a hill (it was a palace/fortress, after all), the “downtown” is one big boulevard and then …

Semana Santa in Sevilla

First bullfight of 2015. Apparently the hashtag was #tardedetoros. More below. Gotta love predominantly Catholic countries for giving you a week off from school. When I was in Argentina, I also enjoyed a week off for Semana Santa, or Holy Week. In that case, it was also a non-spring “Spring Break” given that I was living in the Southern Hemisphere. But I digress. I have been itching to get over to Andalucía ever especially since visiting Morocco back in November. From mosaics to the doors to the Arabic script to the courtyards to the overall Mudejar style…something just fascinates me. Mostly the geometry and the colors more than anything. My parents and I arrived in Sevilla on Friday evening–just in time to catch one of the evening processions. Over the course of the week, more than 60 floats organized by local brotherhoods pass through the streets. Some weigh more than a couple of tons and they are carried by teams of guys who train for several months late at night. I didn’t remember enough from my Sunday school days to …

Lyon: The Food Capital of France

I don’t speak French so I’m not quite sure what I purchased inside Les Halles. I went for the “judge a book by its cover” method and it turned out pretty ok. So, this trip was a while ago now (scusa), but I did indeed cross the border and go to France. By car. We went under a tunnel connecting the two countries. There was no passport check. I did not drive. The weather was a little bit less than desirable, but that didn’t stop the triumphant trio (I’m working on a name with the same zing as dynamic duo but applying to three individuals) from having a wonderful weekend together. First, I will let y’all in on my new go-to weekend travel consultant: the NYT 36 Hours column. If you are arriving somewhere on a Friday evening, want to have a nice dinner and a drink, get cultured the next day, walk around, again eat well and drink well, and then maybe have a market excursion on Sunday morning, this is a wonderful guide. Also, The …