Tag Archives: travel

Italy Part 2: When In Rome

Hotel

We stayed at the Hotel Bernini Bristol, a 5-star hotel (very affordable!) in a central location close to popular site-seeing spots like the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. The view from our hotel window was spectacular. It looked out on to this center and fountain.

The hotel décor was so gorgeous we had to do an impromptu photoshoot right in the hotel lobby.

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Where to eat

Guida ballerino!

Guida ballerino! is a Michelin-star restaurant on the rooftop of Hotel Bernini. It’s one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. Definitely try the Squid Ink Tempura Scallops in coconut cream sauce and the lemon dessert with pastries.

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Ginger

Ginger serves super healthy foods and everything is made fresh with organic ingredients. Definitely try the meat plate. So. Freaking. Good.

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Ladurée

Who doesn’t love macarons?

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L’ Archetto

L’ Archetto is tucked away on a quiet street a few blocks away from the Trevi Fountain. I knew it was a legit Italian restaurant because nothing on the menu was in English. I ordered a seafood pasta and my friend ordered a pizza with prosciutto.

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What to do

Trevi Fountain

Legend says that if you have your back to the fountain and throw a coin over your left shoulder, you will return to Rome.  Another legend says that if a couple drinks from the “fountain of lovers” (to the left of the Trevi Fountain) they will be faithful to each other forever.

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Spanish Steps

Unfortunately it was closed for renovations, but it’s still gorgeous! It’s also close to a shopping area where I was able to stock up on authentic Italian pasta and truffle oil.

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Vatican Museum

I suggest you buy the tickets ahead of time online so you aren’t waiting in the long ass line. Yes, it’s that long of a line!

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Okay, so you’re not supposed to take pics of the Sistine Chapel but I just had to sneak a photo. 🙂
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My absolute favorite photo that I took in Italy. This is the exit staircase in the Vatican.

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Drink from the water fountain

Now, I would never drink from any water fountain back in the US. We saw a Roman drink from the fountain so we decided to try it ourselves. When in Rome, right? The water fountains all over Rome are safe to drink from and surprisingly very tasty. The water comes from the mountains outside of the city.

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Miscellaneous pics of Rome

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I had such a great time in Italy, but I was a little sad that I didn’t get to the see the Colosseum or the Pantheon. We were in Rome for such a short amount of time and couldn’t fit everything into our schedule. I did make my wish at the Trevi Fountain, so hopefully the legend is true and I’ll be able return to Rome some day.

See previous post Italy Part 1: Milan.

Best Gift Ideas For Travelers

We know the holiday season can be very hectic. Here are some ideas we came up to help make your shopping experience a little easier.

Universal Travel Adapter $25

The cool design makes it light-weight and easy to throw in the luggage. It’s color coded so you’ll know which country uses which piece, according to their map.

Portable Battery Charger $50

Travelers are always taking pictures and staying connected. Portable battery charging devices are perfect for when their phone runs out of juice. This Braven BRV-BANK portable charger can withstand rugged conditions and is water-resistant. It even has a nifty built-in Bluetooth feature for if they misplaces the device.  

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Travel Jacket $179

It isn’t just any travel jacket. This jacket has a built-in inflatable neck pillow, an eye mask, built in gloves, and pockets for almost everything, including your iPad. There is also a hoodie version available.

Raden Carry-on Suitcase $295

The Raden suitcase comes with a built-in phone charger and luggage scale. The Bluetooth feature ensures that she will never lose her luggage with its app. Comes in an array of fun colors.

Hershel Weekender Bag $60

Stylish and efficient. It even has a shoe compartment underneath.

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Anthony Bourdain Cookbook $23

When they aren’t on the go, they’ll enjoy these travel-inspired recipes. Hardcover copy is always better, by the way.

Scratch Map $19

To keep track of where they’ve been.

Luggage Scale $13

Super handy to avoid the overweight baggage fee.

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Noise Canceling Earbuds for Samsung/Android devices $130

World off, music on. Find Apple approved earbuds here.

Carry On Cocktail Kit $24

Cocktail Kit choices: Old Fashioned, Gin & Tonic, Moscow Mule, Champagne Cocktail, Bloody Mary, and Hot Toddy.

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and wander Dinex Mug $16

This insulted mug is perfect for when she wants to sip her coffee or tea and reminisce about her last adventure, or take it with her on her next adventure. It comes in blue, red, off-white, and black.

J Pillow Travel Pillow $28

Comfort at it’s best. This unique design keeps your head from falling forward.

Sony Alpha A5000 $350

The world’s lightest interchangeable lens camera. With its tiltable LCD screen, it’s perfect for selfies.

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Evian Facial Spray $15

It’s so important to drink water and stay hydrated on flights. Give your traveler an extra boost of hydration on their skin.

Packing Cubes $32

These cubes come in a pack of 3 in different sizes and it’s water and stain resistant.

Travel Points/Airline Gift Cards

Last, but definitely not the least. Any traveler will definitely appreciate this gift. Some airline gift cards never expire, so make sure you read the fine print.

Okay, so maybe this is my Christmas wish list. 😉 Do you have any gift ideas you’d like to share? Comment below. Happy shopping!

Featured photo by Flickr Contributor Phil Roeder

6 Reasons Global Entry is Worth It

In case you didn’t know, Global Entry is a travel program under the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. It is a service that allows expedited clearance for low-risk travelers to enter the United States.

Travelers with Global Entry head to a kiosk and slide their passports into the passport reader, look up at the camera, scan their fingerprints for verification, and then complete a customs declaration. The kiosk prints out a receipt and travelers bring it to a Customs and Border Protection officer at the exit. This whole process can take 10 minutes or less. Below are 6 reasons why you should join this club:

Saves Time

You get to skip the customs line which can take up to an hour of wait time. Ain’t nobody got time for that! You won’t need to fill out the declaration form the flight attendants pass out on the plane. You can just fill out the form in the kiosk.

You can also use Global Entry at certain International airports such as Abu Dhabi, the Bahamas, Dublin, and Toronto – just to name a few. See the complete list of airports with Global Entry kiosks.

Easy Online Application

The online application is extremely easy and takes about 10 minutes to fill out. The application asks for work history, so make sure you can account for all gaps if any. You will need your valid passport and another document, like your birth certificate.

Fast Interview

I waited longer in the waiting room than the time I spent in the actual appointment. The only documents you will need to bring are your passport and another form of Ids, such as a government-issued ID or license. They scan your fingerprints and take a picture of you, and then you are on your way. The only thing con is finding the next available date for the appointment. To share my experience, when I filled out my GOES application (Global Online Enrollment System) at the end of February, I got approved 5 days later. The closest airport to me is Boston, but the next available appointment date was in September! I searched for other nearby airports and was able to book an appointment in New York at John F. Kennedy airport the next month.

TSA PreCheck Included

TSA PreCheck is $85, so why not invest the extra $15 for both? You will get the benefits of both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry and on top of that, skip the regular security lines. Big win, there is no need to take off your shoes or take out your laptop or liquids from your suitcase. I’ve gone through TSA PreCheck lines without having to take off my hoodie or my hat.

It Could be free

Global Entry will cost you $100 and is good for five years. If you think about it, that’s ONLY $20 per year. Select credit cards such as The Platinum Card from American Express, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, and Citi Prestige Card will waive your Global Entry fee, so you can essentially get it for free.

Even Easier to Renew Online

You can renew as early as a year before your expiration date. You have to log back into your GOES account and update any new information or confirm that nothing has changed. You will also have to update where you have traveled to in the last five years. Renewal will cost you another $100, but if you are renewing, you will know by now that it is worth the money. For Citi Prestige Card holders, the card company will credit you $100 every five years for Global Entry, which means it’ll always be free. Most people who renew do not need to go in for another interview. In some cases, you may be asked to.

If we haven’t convinced you to get Global Entry yet, the next time you are standing in the Custom’s line for an hour waiting to get back into the country, we hope you’ll think about this article. 🙂

Photo by Flickr Contributor Anne Worner

Playlist Worthy: Jidenna – Little Bit More

Not only am I diggin’ Jidenna’s dapper style, but his music is off the hook! Every song he has put out is a banger for sure. Jidenna blesses us with another hit single, “Little Bit More”, that is climbing up the music charts.

Yesterday, Jidenna released a music video for this single, and I am loving the island vibes. In the dance-hall inspired song, he shows off his dance moves for his girl in his classy bright colored suits. I have this club anthem on repeat as I’m booking a one-way ticket to Jamaica!

Expect his upcoming album, Long Live the Chief to be out later this year in the fall.

Italy: Part 1 – Milan

For someone who loves to travel and travels often, I had the biggest fear of flying overseas. There was just something about flying over water for an extended period of time that scared the shit out of me.  A couple months ago, I decided to suck it up and bought tickets to Italy with my best friend. It was an eight hour flight, non-stop, on Emirates Airlines. The seats were bigger, there was more leg room, and the food was pretty good. There was a bigger and better selection of entertainment, compared to domestic flights, to keep me busy. It was not as bad as I imagined it to be and totally got over my fear. Hello, world!

My friend and I only had four days in Italy, but we made the most of our time there. The food was incredible and the Italians were so sweet to us. Everyone spoke English, so it was easy to navigate around. There were so many well dressed men and women! I mean – it makes sense – Milan is the fashion capital.

Climbing the steps of the Duomo di Milano was probably one of the highlights of Milan. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant on the top floor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II overlooking the Duomo. The Galleria is one of the oldest malls in the world. And, of course we had to try real Italian pasta and gelato.

Nobu is a well known Japanese restaurant with locations all around the U.S. and the world. My friend and I thought we’d be bougie and take it up a notch by eating at the Nobu in Milan. It’s located within the Emporio Armani Store. We chose the prix fixe menu; the sea bass sashimi was my favorite.

Before leaving to Rome, we had to try authentic Milanese food. I found this small mom and pop restaurant down an alley near the Expo. My friend ordered Milanese risotto with saffron and I ordered the grilled sea bass. The risotto was such a comfort food dish. The sea bass was so light and refreshing. It was such a simple recipe – just olive oil, lemon and herbs.

 

Stay tuned for Italy: Part 2 – Rome!

Taste Bud Worthy Recipe: Truffle Pasta

I still remember the moment I tried truffle for the first time. In the summer of 2011, I took a trip to New York City with some friends and we stumbled upon the restaurant, Delicatessen. I ordered a burger and truffle fries and I never looked back. Fries are not fries unless they are truffle fries! I’ve been obsessed with truffle ever since.

While I was in Rome with my friend, we stopped by a gourmet grocery store and I stocked up on as much Italian pasta my shopping basket would allow. In the corner of my eye, I spotted the shelf of black and white truffle in all forms possible. I knew I was in heaven. I had to fight the urge to max out my credit card with bottles and bottles of truffle oil.

Truffle is a fungi and the most expensive kind is found in Italy. It has a nutty flavor which makes sense since these mushrooms can be found where certain trees, like hazelnut, grow. The shopkeeper informed me that at the moment, a kilo (about the 2.2 lbs.) of white truffle goes for about €4,000 which is $4,500 US. I’m thinking I should get in to the truffle business! It is the most expensive food in the world because it is hard to find and it grows sporatically. Truffle hunters use special pigs and dogs to sniff out the mushrooms.

As soon as I got home from Italy, I couldn’t wait to use my truffle oil. I found this delicious, simple recipe: Pasta with Poached Eggs and Truffle Oil Recipe. Buon appetito!

My truffle pasta with a poached egg

 

Images courtesy of bbc.com and cookwithtom.com.