Where to Eat in Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City Beach

I was recently asked where we were headed next. My answer…No where! And I was excited about it! This weather is what Michiganders endure 6 months of winter for! It is finally going to be beach weather and we have some of the best beaches and beach towns (I may be a bit biased.) Okay, so I’m not exactly going to stay put. Truthfully, I am going to take every opportunity to hit up the lakeshore and road trip it up north. We just had our very own family tradition of our “unofficial first weekend of summer” in Traverse City. Here is where we ate:

Traverse City Blue Tractor restaurant

In town, we chose Blue Tractor. It was a few blocks off of the main drag but worth the walk. The atmosphere was kid-friendly, with a very cute kids menu. My kids lasted for over an hour for lunch here, which is actually saying quite a bit. Originally a saloon, the fare is traditional American and quite tasty.

Cherry Republic Traverse City Michigan

If you have time (or even if you don’t), I’d recommend that you meander downtown to pop into Cherry Republic to pick up some dark chocolate covered cherries or dried cherries or cherry salsa (you get the idea). You can even take care of all of your Christmas gifts right at the store. Or, you can wine taste. Or,  eat at the cafe in back or sample all of the wonderful offerings or let your kids burn off some energy in the cherry pit (I must admit that I was somewhat relieved that they had replaced the real cherry pits with red play balls). The possibilities are endless. 

Traverse City Mission Table

Traverse City Jolly Pumpkin

Out on Old Mission Peninsula, we almost always make a beeline for Mission Table or Jolly Pumpkin (they are on the same property). The food is delicious! For a more formal setting, gourmet food, and views of the west bay, Mission Table is the perfect culinary experience. With children and/or for a more casual woodsy setting, Jolly Pumpkin is your spot. 

Traverse City Boathouse restaurant

Traverse City Boathouse Sunset

We typically go to the Boathouse (also on Old Mission Peninsula) by ourselves, but eventually will invite our children along. Again, the view of the west bay are stunning. There is also a small sandy beach and docks to watch the boats coming in. The food is very nicely plated and tastes delicious. 

Traverse City Bonobo Winery

While on the peninsula, you might as well stop by Bonobo Winery to glimpse the vineyards and bay in the background. On a trip here last year, we showed up with 4 adults and 5 children and were immediately told it was absolutely fine. We sampled the wine and the kids played Scrabble (I think that maybe two of them could spell but they still had fun with this novel game). It was amazing. I am not typically a Chardonnay drinker, but theirs is definitely worth a try and a bottle for home.

All in all, a fabulous weekend! In fact, it was so great that I had to chase down our 4 year old across a public and then private beach (the kid is fast) because he didn’t want to leave. If you don’t already have Traverse City on your itinerary for the summer and/or autumn months, you definitely should add it. And here is a pin in case any/all of these restaurants sound like your cup of tea (or glass of Chardonnay).

Where to Eat in Traverse City

 

Island Travel Interviews- Indonesia, Take 1

Hello again! This week is exciting!!! We are going to a part of the world we haven’t visited yet… Indonesia! Thankfully, Chantell from Travel For Your Life and Rain from Words and Wanderlust are here to provide some insight and lovely pictures. Let begin our journey in Bali…

What Is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?

Chantell Glenville – www.TravelForYourLife.com

Which Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

Bali in Indonesia because it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve traveled a lot and been to a lot of islands (two years in Asia will do that!) but there was something about Bali that just stole my heart.

Island Travel Bali
Photo Credit- Travel For Your Life

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

To allow enough time to see a variety of the different locations in Bali, and have some time to chill on the beach, I’d suggest at least 2 weeks. There’s a lot to do in Bali from climbing volcanoes, to white water rafting to surfing to scuba diving and more.

What Was Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Travels to This Island?

The people and attitude is really what makes Bali for me. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and the whole island has an extremely laid back feel to it.

My favourite days I’ve spent on Bali are definitely those where friends and I have just gone exploring. You have to drive a scooter to get anywhere in Bali so it’s really easy to go off at the last minute on an adventure and see something new.  

Island Travel Indonesia Bali
Photo Credit- Travel For Your Life

What Is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

My favourite thing to see in Bali is Water Blow in Nusa Dua. Nusa Dua is the resort area of Bali but even if you have no interest in going to a resort it’s worth taking a trip there just to see Water Blow. It’s a rock formation where the water comes in from the sea and literally “blows” up in the air in these wonderful plumes of white water. It’s mesmerising to watch.

I’m also a massive fan of surfing and Bali is a surfer’s paradise. I’d definitely recommend not missing out on the waves while visiting. There’s surf for everyone from complete beginners to advanced level in Bali.

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

The local food in Bali is amazing and so cheap ($1.50 to $3 for a meal). I love the local dish called “Nasi Campur” which is where you’re given a bowl of rice and then get to pick from a variety of meat, veggies and tofu to go with it.

For western meals, you can’t beat the salad bar at Watercress in Seminyak.

What Surprised You About this Island?

It’s much more developed that a lot of the other islands I’ve been to in Asia. You can absolutely still get off the beaten track in Bali and get out into huge expanses of countryside however the fact that it’s more developed also means you have access to everything you could need. For me it’s the perfect balance of tropical beach life without feeling a little bit Robinson Crusoe stranded.

Island Travel Bali Indonesia
Photo Credit- Travel For Your Life

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

Definitely try to learn how to drive a scooter first. It will make your life so much easier. The island is small so if you learn how to drive you don’t have to worry too much about where you decide to base yourself as it’s quick and easy to get between everywhere by bike.

Any time you walk down roads with market stalls you will get asked A LOT if you’d like to buy something or would like a taxi. Learning how to say “no, thank you” will make those journeys a much more pleasant experience. The short version of “No, thank you” in Indonesia is “Tidak, ma kasih” which is pronounced “TEE-dak, mah KAH-see”. There are a number of free apps that give good intros to Indonesia as well so if you want to take it a step further it’s well worth trying them out.

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article? 

Absolutely, you can read more in the “Where to go in Bali” section of my blog which has the route I’d suggest taking around the island and the key activities to do in each area. I’m also more than happy to answer any specific questions about the island in the comments below or via my email: hello@travelforyourlife.com

 

And now for Padar Island, Flores…

What Is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?

My name is Rain Campanilla, sole storyteller for Words and Wanderlust (www.wordsandwanderlust.com)

Which Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

Padar Island, Flores, Indonesia

I was born in an archipelago with more than 7000 islands. But I have not seen anything as photogenic and as arresting, in home country and anywhere else in the world, as Pulau Padar.

Island Travel Indonesia Flores
Photo Credit- Words and Wanderlust

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

Padar belongs to a group of islands in Labuan Bajo, Flores Indonesia. Padar itself is small and uninhabited, so a day trip would do. But if wanting to explore more of Flores, 3 days to a week (or longer if you are keen for slow travel) would be good.

What Is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

The Ministry of Tourism in Indonesia invited me along with other travel influencers from all over Southeast Asia for an aptly named, Trip of Wonders, fam tour.

We scaled Padar very early one morning, on the last leg of our 12-day trip— a hell of an icing to one very smashing cake.

What Is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

Scale the summit.

Some, thinking that anywhere else in the island was already photogenic enough anyway, have made this costly mistake.

The view above is worth the heat, humidity, and the difficulty (steep with loose rocks) of the trail.

Upon descent, swim and snorkel in the surrounding waterscape.

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

There are a number of restaurants in the town centre of Labuan Bajo. But if you are looking for a million-dollar view over beer and food, Paradise Bar is the perfect place!

What Surprised You About this Island?

The island is very underrated, but is probably the best in Indonesia.

In fact, it was a struggle writing about the island because a part of me wanted to keep the secret to myself.

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

Labuan Bajo (main town) is best reached by plane from Bali.

It is recommended that you’d bring enough cash. However, whenever you can, pay by card for big purchases (ie., accommodation, activities etc.) so you can save your cash for smaller expenses such as food and tips.

Book accommodations in advance as the island is small and the handful of accommodation options are peppered with long-stay guests (ie., scuba divers)

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

Yes. http://wordsandwanderlust.com/trip-wonders-labuan-bajo/

I don’t know about you, but the information and photos have me sold. Fortunately, I already pin all of my interviews on this Pinterest Board, and in case you would like to do the same, here you are….

Island Travel Indonesia Padar Bali
Photo Credit- Pixabay

**This post may contain affiliate links meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation if you click and buy. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Where to Stay in Denver: Hotel Teatro

Hotel Teatro Denver Colorado

I cannot stay enough good things about Hotel Teatro. We usually go for the larger hotels (you know, the hotels with the massive Christmas trees in their lobbies in December) but will without a doubt stay at Hotel Teatro on all future trips to Denver. The staff was incredibly friendly, helpful, and professional while still providing a relaxed and calm environment. The location was also very convenient, especially if you plan to take advantage of Larimer Square’s decadent restaurant scene (which we did and you can read about here), walk to Union Station, head out to a Colorado Rockies game, or enjoy a performance at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. You can also walk to mostly mainstream shopping on the 16th Street Mall or boutiques in Larimer Square. But back to the hotel…

Hotel Teatro Denver Colorado

When entering the hotel, you walk up a slight incline to be greeted by a console table filled with wonderful old treasures and an old bike that must have seen fabulous rides around Denver. The design incorporates the old world charm of the original 1911 Denver Tramway Building as it has transformed into this beautiful hotel with modern amenities. 

Hotel Teatro Denver Colorado

To the right is the front desk and lobby. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I could have spent the entire trip in the lobby. I don’t even feel as though it should be referred to as a “lobby” because it felt more like I was lounging in someone’s very, very nice library, complete with a cafe and wooden Connect Four game.

Hotel Teatro Denver Colorado

There was so much to see on the floor to ceiling shelves without it feeling like an antique store. The furniture was stylish and comfortable. I did ask for the name of the designer who had created such a spectacular setting, and the hosts behind the desk readily answered my questions, showing equal enjoyment in our design discussion. (It was designed by Studio Frank, in case you were wondering 😉 .) Just look at those coffered ceilings!

Hotel Teatro Denver Colorado

To the right of the entrance was Nickel, a long restaurant complete with an outdoor space. Again, the service was incredible, not too stuffy, not too casual. The charcuterie that we ordered was almost too beautiful to eat. We did, however, manage to try the food, and, of course, it was delicious. My husband even asked for some olives and our server readily snuck some from the bar for him. I really cannot say enough good things about our experience with the staff at Nickel and Hotel Teatro.

Hotel Teatro Denver Colorado

Doors were always opened for us. The hotel provided a complimentary car service to take guests wherever they needed to be within a 2-mile radius. Bikes were also available and running routes suggested.

The rooms were cozy, clean, and comfortable. Ours came complete with a green velvet sofa and I noticed various colored sofas throughout the hotel, which was a fun touch. On our next visit to Denver, we will, without a doubt, stay at Hotel Teatro. Did I already mention that? But back to the lobby…

Hotel Teatro Denver Colorado

I highly recommend you keep this hotel in mind for the next time you visit Denver. Coincidentally, I have a pin for that.

Hotel Teatro Denver Colorado

** This is not a sponsored post and I have not received any compensation from Hotel Teatro or Nickel. I just really liked the place enough to write about it 🙂 This post may, however, contain affiliate links meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation if you click and buy. Thank you!

Island Travel Interviews- Caribbean, Take 5

Hi all! This week, I’ve decided to take us back to the Caribbean. I just can’t seem to stay away! This time, we’ll be visiting Curacao with Margarita from Downshifting PRO and St. Lucia with Christina and Adam from Our Sweet Adventures.

Since we are fresh off of the beautiful buildings in Hvar, Croatia, from a couple of weeks ago, let’s continue the trend with gorgeous Curacao. (If you missed the post on Hvar, you can catch up here.)

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?

Margarita Ibbott from DownshiftingPRO – FAMILY + TRAVEL + LIFE

Which Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

Curacao – Part of the ABC Caribbean Islands (Aruba, Bonair & Curacao). I was in Curacao in December and I was charmed by the beauty of the beaches. This was my first solo trip and I would recommend it highly as it was very safe.

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?
One week would be good but 10 days may be better if you want to switch resorts as I did. Well worth the packing and moving around!

What was Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?
My favourite part of the Island was Kenapa Grandi Beach. About a 60-75 minutes from Willemstad (the capital of Curacao), it is easy to get to and has amenities. It was beautiful, not crowed and pristine.

Caribbean Island Travel Curacao
Photo Credit- Margarita Ibbott @Downshifting PRO

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?
You can do anything you want: sail, jetski, golf, go to clubs, dine out, go to museums. It has it all. That being said, I would not miss a photo tour of Willemstad. The colourful buildings and interesting architecture provides wonderful photo opps! I would not miss the Kura Hulanda Musem which features the history of slavery in the Caribbean.

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?
My favourite restaurant was Jaanchi’s it is a local place off the beaten path but the owner is a character. Jaanchi gifts you with a souvenir (a small cloth pouch) and he asks you to buy a lottery ticket and send him a portion of the winnings- when you win of course! It was charming and funny but I think he was serious 😉

Photo Credit- Margarita Ibbot @Downshifting PRO

What Surprised You About this Island?
It’s size. It is very manageable and you can easily drive tip to tip in about 2 + hours but you are going to want to stop and take in some of the views, have so great food and lounge on a beach or two (or three).

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

It is best to rent a car. Driving is very easy and safe and the roads are fairly good. Just download the Curacao Google map to your phone or tablet beforehand. You can get to different places fairly easily with a car. Why rent a car? Taxis have a monopoly on transportation (so no hotel shuttles to/from the airport) and they can be pricey!

I have two different stays to suggest: If you want a private, European-style of hotel stay at the more remote Papagayo Hotel and Beach Resort. It has a wonderful beach, great restaurant and is just lovely but out of the downtown area. If you want to stay right in town, I preferred the Renaissance Resort and Casino. Attached to the RIF Fort (an entertainment district located in an old fort), you have access to restaurants, bars, boutiques and daily entertainment is right beside the hotel. The breakfast buffet was to die for!

Although the currency is the Antilles Gilder, you can also pay with American dollars just about anywhere that you go. I also used my credit card easily and the exchange was reasonable. I did not bother converting to Gilders, I just tipped any service personnel in American dollars.

Photo Credit- Margarita Ibbott @Downshifting PRO

There were a few unique museums that I would strongly recommend: Kura Hulanda is an entire historical district that has been lovingly restored. It has a lovely hotel (that I would also recommend), a small restaurant area, and the Kura Hulanda Museum. It is a historical and cultural museum that documents the slave trade and its importance to Curacao. There are very interesting artifacts and it is curated magnificently.

I also had a quick visit to the oldest Synagogue in the northern hemisphere. The curator was a wonderful woman that showed me both the museums and the synagogue (the floor is sand, one of only a handful of synagogues that have this feature).

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

I have a series of posts. The links are within my answers to both the blog, YouTube videos and Trip Advisor reviews.

 

I have heard such wonderful things about St. Lucia but have never been. I’m excited to learn more about this fabulous island from Christina and Adam.

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?
Christina and Adam of Our Sweet Adventures

Which Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?
Saint Lucia. We picked this island for our honeymoon because it had everything we wanted – seclusion, great beaches, lots of adventurous activities, and a low chance of getting hit by hurricanes (we went during hurricane season).

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?
At least 5 – 6 nights. Allotting for travel time/adjusting, one day of pure relaxation, and the rest for exploring.

Caribbean Island Travel St. Lucia
Photo Credit- Our Sweet Adventures

What Is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

There are too many to choose from! Hiking the Gros Piton was a favorite moment because we knocked off two things on our bucket list in one day. When we reached the top, not only did we have incredible views, but we hiked the highest point of the island and were as high as the clouds! Feeling the clouds touch our skins was an amazing feeling.

“Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

Definitely the mud bath at Sulphur Springs. Spreading mud on each other for our honeymoon was a lot of fun. Then we washed the mud off in the hot springs. When we got out we looked 12 years younger!
Other activities to do at Saint Lucia are:
Snorkeling
Sailing
Jungle Biking
Botanical Garden Tour
Zip lining through the jungle

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?
We ate at Jade Mountain Club everyday because we had an all-inclusive program with the Jade Mountain Resort. The food was incredible and prepared by a James Beard Award winning chef. Some of our favorite dishes were: fresh ceviche, nutella french toast, seared scallops with coconut rice and Saint Lucian tiramisu.

Caribbean Island Travel St. Lucia
Photo Credit- Our Sweet Adventures

What Surprised You About this Island?
The locals would work all their life then retire to become a police officer or firefighter because there was very little crime and fire. In fact, we saw a police officer in uniform at a bar….drinking beer!

Caribbean Island Travel St. Lucia
Photo Credit- Our Sweet Adventures

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

Definitely stay at a resort that is all-inclusive, offers transportation, and includes excursions in the package. This is an island for both relaxation and a lot of adventure. The common language is English. The currency used is Eastern Caribbean Dollar, but USD is readily accepted throughout the island. Credit cards are acceptable, but in more local areas it is best to bring cash just in case.

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article? 

Yes, of course! We would love to gain more readers and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask us in the comments or contact page.

https://oursweetadventures.com/2017/04/13/our-favorite-activities-to-do-in-saint-lucia/

Many thanks to Downshifting PRO and Our Sweet Adventures!

Want to save this for later? Here is the pin…

Caribbean Island Travel
Photo Credit- Pixabay

** Please note that this post may contain affiliate links meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation if you click and purchase. Thank you!

  

 

Travel Capsule- Spring Styles

I have been intrigued with the Capsule Wardrobe concept for some time. While not all the way there yet, I figured that a TRAVEL capsule wardrobe was a good place to begin. I was also thrilled to collaborate with local business, Lee and Birch. Store manager, Elizabeth, met with me and helped guide me in selecting 11 pieces that could be combined to create so many different outfit combinations. She was fabulous, as has been all of the staff when I have shopped there on previous occasions. If you are local, stop in. (They also have locations in Rockford, Michigan and Grand Haven, Michigan.) If you aren’t local, you can still check them out online at www.leeandbirch.com.

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Here are the pieces we chose and a bit about each outfit. Oh, and as a side note, there is a lot me in this post- sorry! Fortunately, one of my good friends was taking the photos, which was also handy and hilarious and included statements such as “that’s a fake smile- let’s do another one” and “here, wear my bracelet- you need a little sparkle.” ❤️ 

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

We decided on a tank for piece #1 of the capsule. Spring is unpredictable, but you do get those warm (sometimes even hot) days. I’m not that fun or spicy (as a flight attendance once called me- I’m the opposite), but this tank is just the right amount of fun for me. Elizabeth also recommended some cropped Paige jeans. The are great and do not stretch out, which is perfect for travel because, let’s face it, there isn’t ever a washer or dryer around when you need it. 

#1: Saturday, Please Stay Tank– https://leeandbirch.com/products/saturday-please-stay-tank

#2: Paige Jeans– https://leeandbirch.com/products/verdugo-crop-edie

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

This would actually be a great outfit for the plane too- just add a trendy jacket and you are good to go.

#3: Roper Jacket- In Store Exclusive (stop in or call for details)

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Or, if you want to be even more stylish, you could pair a white tee with this beautiful kimono. A white tee is a risk (that’s what Shout wipes are for) but also a staple in a Spring Capsule wardrobe. And this kimono…well…just look at it. 

Maybe the mornings are chilly and the afternoons warm up. Then, you can easily swap the jeans for these silky, soft, and stylish shorts. If I didn’t live in Michigan where it can rain on Monday, snow on Tuesday, and be in the 70’s by Saturday in the springtime, I would live in these shorts.

#4: White Tee– https://leeandbirch.com/collections/tops/T-Shirt

#5: Kimono- https://leeandbirch.com/products/monarch-carmen

#6: Ruffle Shorts– https://leeandbirch.com/products/ruffle-waist-short

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

If it’s a little chillier or you don’t trust yourself traveling with white, this shirt is another option to pair with the kimono. Not only does it pair well with the jeans and kimono but it is full of surprises, making it casual enough for site seeing but fun enough for dinner, too. The neckline and sleeve length make this shirt a classic choice. But then there are the slits up the side. They lay over each other but with movement, glide open, giving you the option to put a basic camisole underneath or perhaps something fancier or nothing at all if you are really trying to keep the capsule minimal. 

#7: Baseball Tee– https://leeandbirch.com/collections/tops/T-Shirt

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

While we are talking dinner, it’s always good to be prepared for a nicer night out. Herein comes this LBD. It is light enough that it is perfect for the spring and summer months (and won’t take up any room in the suitcase). Even if you aren’t going anywhere, you may want to check this one out.

#8: LBD- https://leeandbirch.com/collections/dresses-skirts/Dress 

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

What about going to museums or meeting friends for lunch? We have you covered there too. This dress is perfect and, as with most outfits, can be dressed up or down depending on shoe and jewelry choice. The bottom is a wrap. Before you count yourself out because wraps are usually a little irritating, there is a built in skirt/slip underneath, so you can move freely without constantly adjusting. Genius. You could also throw the jean jacket on (in the following picture) if it is cold or you are worried about the air conditioning (as I always am).

#9: Hester Dress- https://leeandbirch.com/products/hester-dress

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

 

Planning to spend a day shopping or checking out art galleries? There is an ensemble for that too. This ruched skirt is very comfortable and easy to take a stroll in. Again, it can be paired with the White Tee from above and this jean jacket. Done and Done.

#10: Ruched Skirt- https://leeandbirch.com/products/ruched-skirt

#11Jean Jacket- https://leeandbirch.com/products/maddox-jacket-sunwashed

Many thanks to Lee and Birch for this collaboration! Here is a pin in case you feel like shopping later this week or passing the info along to husbands and children for Mother’s Day. 

 

Spring Travel Capsule Wardrobe

**This is not a sponsored post or ad. I am not receiving anything from Lee and Birch, aside from having a fun Wednesday and receiving guidance putting this capsule together. 

 

Where to Eat in Denver

I was recently able to check a box on my Bucket List (if you missed it, here is the complete-ish list) as we headed out to Colorado. My husband and I spent 4 days in this city with a beautiful backdrop of mountains. We spent all of our time in the city, although next time, I would like to head for the mountains just to try something new. My husband was able to join me for dinner a few nights, and it was wonderful. We actually had a conversation over dinner instead of wrestling kids back to the table. We did not have a bad meal… In fact, we had several downright delicious dinners. Warning: the majority of our favorite foods and shopping occurred in Larimer Square. It was only about 3 blocks from our hotel, but I would have walked miles if needed to get to this fabulous little corner of Denver. Colorful flags fly in the wind over the street while the sun casts square shadows on the warm pavement below and strings and strings of lights crisscross over the road. It really does feel magical. And the restaurants…

Where to Eat in Denver

Corridor 44- Corridor 44 is a restaurant in Larimer Square and the menu looks fabulous. We took advantage of the happy hour. The champagne cocktail list is impressive. It appeared as though many of the drinks were traditional but rather than add club soda, bubbly was substituted. Yes- you read that correctly.  I don’t even like champagne (yes, you read that correctly, too), but I loved this restaurant.

Dining and Drinking in DenverDining and Drinking in Denver

Cru- Well, we couldn’t go on a trip and not end up at chain, albeit a very quaint and fancy one with only four additional city locations… Sooooo… that doesn’t really count, right?! Regardless, the dinner was delicious and we enjoyed the small sitting area outside on the square. I would highly recommend the Scottish Salmon. We also shared a Shiraz flight that was fabulous.

Osteria Marco- Yes, another fantastic restaurant in the same square. When we walked in, I was immediately impressed with the tiled hostess station. Because it was rainy, we ate in the restaurant downstairs flanked by bottles and bottles of wine on all sides. The food was again amazing. Seriously, some of the best. You can choose from full meals, panini, and pizza.

Where to Eat in DenverWhere to Eat in Denver

Terminal Bar- We did leave Larimer Square one afternoon to check out Union Station. The building itself was incredibly impressive. It is a working train station complete with restaurants, benches, work tables, a book store, a flower stand, and a hotel. The scene is well worth checking out. We ate at the Terminal Bar and again were impressed. The craft beer selection in Denver is amazing and we had fun trying a couple new brews. (Side note: we are not wine snobs- not even close. However, when it comes to beer… we admittedly are. When you are from Beer City, USA, you tend to get spoiled with good beer without even knowing it. Denver crafters, you also do a nice job- we were impressed.)

Dining in Denver

 

Hotel Teatro- I cannot say enough good things about this hotel (and will say even more in a separate post, so stay tuned), but for now, I will stick to the food. We sat outside and had the most wonderful charcuterie while watching all of the people going home from work or going out to eat or doing whatever you do on a weekday at 5:30pm in Denver. Inside, the restaurant and bar are beautifully decorated. While we didn’t eat a meal at the Nickel (which is regrettable), I did pop inside to take a picture and noticed a delicious-looking Bloody Mary bar. Next time…

Where to Eat in Denver

Dining and Drinking in Denver

Want to save this for the next time you dine and drink in Denver? Here’s a pin 🙂

Where to Eat in Denver

**This post may contain affiliate links meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

Island Travel Interviews- European Islands, Take 2

Have you gotten a sense that there is very little rhyme or reason to the course we are traveling on this island interview journey? This week, we are headed back to the European Islands with Wayfaring with Wagner and Finding Upendi for the Island Travel Interviews focusing on the Croatian Island of Hvar and the Spanish Canary Islands (La Palma to be specific).

Let’s Begin with fellow native Michigander, Jordan fromWayfaring with Wagner, as she assists us in discovering Hvar.

Name and Blog Name/URL

Hi! My name is Jordan and I curate the blog “Wayfaring With Wagner.” Like Marta, I’m from Michigan (Traverse City) but now live full time in Hamburg, Germany.

What Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

When I think of paradise, I think of the island of Hvar. This island off the coast of Croatia is my favorite island in the entire world. Hvar is great because although it is a bit more remote (2+ hour ferry ride), it is not impossible to get there. I find that the island has the perfect mix of culture, history, relaxation, beaches, and delicious food!

Photo Credit- Wayfaring with Wagner

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

To properly see the island, I’d recommend at least 4-5 days. I stayed on the island for only 3 days and really regret not having a bit more time in order to see everything!

Photo Credit- Wayfaring with Wagner

What is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Trip to This Island?

My favorite memory from Hvar was the road trip I did one day around the entire island. This allowed me to see the old fishing villages, lavender fields, vineyards, agricultural fields (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), rolling hills, tucked away churches, and an immense amount of beauty. Definitely rent a car, go out exploring, and purposely get lost!

Photo Credit- Wayfaring with Wagner

“Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

It is hard to choose just one “can’t miss” activity but if you have the time, drive (or climb) up Fortress Fortica Španjola at sunset. You will get the most amazing view of Hvar Town (yes, the main town is named “Hvar Town”), the harbor, and the Adriatic Sea.

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

To be honest, I mostly ate at small, locally owned restaurants. Nothing really stood out to me because I also don’t eat seafood (the island’s staple food) so I can’t be a good resource! Definitely try some of the local wine grown and produced on Hvar. Croatian wine is cheap, yummy, and totally underrated!

Photo Credit- Wayfaring with Wagner

What Surprised You About this Island?

I was most surprised by how much there is to do on the island and the history surrounding the island. Although Hvar is now part of present-day Croatia, the first inhabitants arrived on the island around 3,500 BC! The island was initially colonized by the Greeks around 400 BC but passed between the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Slavic tribes, Republic of Venice, Kingdom of Hungary, Habsburg Monarchy, French Empire under Napoleon, Italy, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Communist Yugoslavia, and finally modern-day Croatia. Like I mentioned above, the agricultural fields are a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the formation of them and water collection system devised by the Greeks thousands of years ago. This system is still used today! I am amazed by how much culture and history fits on one island and the legacies, architecture, traditions, food, crops, and techniques left behind from each subsequent era.

Photo Credit- Wayfaring with Wagner

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

In terms of getting to the island, ferries leave multiple times a day from Split, Croatia (a great city that I recommend spending a few days visiting either before or after your trip to Hvar). Make sure to check the schedule because ferries are VERY limited in the low season (high season starts in May and ends in either September or October).

Photo Credit- Wayfaring with Wagner

Deciding where to stay really depends on what type of traveler you are. I wanted a relaxing environment and opted for the quiet but gorgeous town of Stari Grad (literally translates to “Old Town”). However, if you want more of a party scene, head to Hvar Town.

It is imperative that you rent a car on the island (don’t bring a car over, just rent it on the island!). The bus connections only run a few times a day and you’re really missing a lot of the island if you only stick to bus routes. Car rentals are really cheap and easily available. If coming during the high season, book a car ahead of time.

While Croatia is part of the EU, it is not yet part of Schengen which means that it doesn’t count towards your 90 visa-free Schengen days (this is relevant for Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Japanese, etc. Really any country that is allowed 90 visa-free days in the Schengen zone). Because it doesn’t count towards your 90 days in Schengen, you get an additional 90 days just for Croatia. However, Croatia is expected to join Schengen soon so make sure to check ahead of time. Also, Croatia hasn’t adopted the Euro yet. The local Croatian currency is the Croatian kuna (1 USD = 7 kuna, 1 Euro = 7.5 kuna, 1 CAD = 5.25 kuna).

Just a small fact about the beaches on Hvar – most of the beaches are stony/rocky. There are still plenty of places to sunbathe and relax! However, if you’re expecting sandy beaches, they’re quite sparse (I think there is only one or two located on Hvar) so don’t be disappointed.

Photo Credit- Wayfaring with Wagner

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

Here is my photo diary of Stari Grad: https://www.wayfaringwithwagner.com/heavenly-hvar-island-stari-grad-croatia/

Next Up… the Canary Islands with Silvia from Finding Upendi.

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?


Silvia Galvan – Finding Upendi (www.findingupendi.com)
 


What Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?



I’ll be talking about La Palma, one of the seven Canary Islands. I feel like everybody knows the Canary Islands as a sunny cheap destination full of resorts, but most people are completely unaware there is a lot of unspoiled natural beauty as well, especially in the western islands, which include La Palma. In fact, the whole island is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve.
 


European Islands La Palma
Photo Credit- Finding Upendi

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?



That depends on what you are interested in doing. There are two types of visits: for those that are willing to rent a car and go roadtripping, or for those interested in hiking around the island. If you are roadtripping you can easily make it a daytrip from Tenerife and get a feel for the island, but to actually get to see the island properly I’d say a minimum of three days is required. If on the other hand you are interested in hiking, I’d recommend a mimum of four days, up to seven.
 


What Is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Travels to This Island?



That would definitely have to be our visit to Los Tilos. Stopping at Los Tilos wasn’t part of our plan, but we had some spare time before driving to the airport and decided to make a quick stop, which turned out to be the best decision we made during the whole trip. A sub-tropical laurel forest, it is a representation of what makes La Palma such a beautiful island – the steep and abrupt mountains covered in a very dense green. We spent less than an hour there, but after wandering into a small tunnel found ourselves admiring a waterfall in the middle of the forest all alone. That’s the thing about La Palma – it’s full of hidden surprises around every corner! I can only imagine what some of the areas only accessible on foot could be hiding…
 


European Islands La Palma
Photo Credit- Finding Upendi

What Is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

 

I’d have to say that a visit to the National Park of La Caldera de Taburiente is a must. This National Park protects what’s basically a 10-km wide crater, with it’s highest point at 2000 metres. The landscape as well as the views are absolutely breathtaking. It is at this highest point that you will also find the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, which containes some of the world’s biggest telescopes, as well as being the best observatory on the northern hemisphere after Hawaii. This is precisely why stargazing is a very popular activity in La Palma, and astronomy-tourism is on the rise. The best activity though is hiking – the landscapes are just begging to be explored on foot, and there are hiking routes across the whole island that have recently been revamped and are all properly sign-posted. If you are neither into star-gazing nor hiking, there are also some pretty good swimming spots, as well as whale and dolphin-watching opportunities.



Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

 

The local food is absolutely delicious and I’ve never had a bad experience so I’d say anywhere is good. The only thing would be that there are extensive areas of the island without any towns, so it’d be wise to plan ahead. The capital, as well as some of the biggest towns, like Los Llanos, would be the ones with the biggest amount of places to eat. Tazacorte as well, although not very big, has a nice promenade lined up with loads of restaurants by the sea.



What Surprised You About this Island?

 

The absolute and sheer beauty – it is simply amazing, and very different from the other islands! Even though it is volcanic, it is not as dry as the other islands but rather covered in a beautiful layer of green forests, as well as natural volcanic pools. It is heaven for nature-lovers!

European Islands La Palma
Photo Credit- Finding Upendi

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g.,where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

 The island remains relatively untouched by tourism (although hiking tourism is booming at the moment), which means it might not be the easiest of islands to visit and might require a little bit of planning! For starters, the airport is very small (and hard to access actually, so it is not uncommon for flights to get delayed due to bad weather) and there aren’t a lot of flights with the exception of flights from Tenerife. There’s a new direct flight from London with Easyjet, so it has recently become a lot easier to visit! Also, the local language is Spanish and I would not expect the locals to be able to speak English, with the exception of restaurants and hotel staff. If anything, you might stand a better chance of finding German-speaking people, given that most of the tourists they receive are German. As for moving around, as I previously mentioned, you really only have two choices – either rent a car or do it on foot.

The best advice I could give is to just go for it, get out and explore the island – no matter where you decide to go or do, I haven’t met a single person yet who hasn’t loved La Palma!



If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?



I wrote an article last year covering a one-day roadtrip itinerary of the island which can be found at: http://findingupendi.com/one-day-roadtripping-in-la-palma/

Many thanks to Wayfaring with Wagner and Finding Upendi! 

Here is a pin so you have these beautiful islands at your fingertips.

European Islands
Photo Credit Pixabay

Did you miss the other European Islands we have explored? Check them out here.

Interested in Caribbean or USA or Philippine Islands? I have you covered there too.

**Please note that this post may contain affiliate links meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.

Top 5 Travel Hacks

Hi all! I feel like it’s been awhile. It’s just incredibly wonderful to feel the spring sun and watch the beautiful flowers in bloom. Also, we’ve been out traveling twice in the last month… that along with birthdays, school plays, soccer, yard work, shooting hoops in the driveway too late past bedtime… you know how the springtime awakening goes… Since packing (and unpacking) have been fresh on my mind lately, I thought that a few travel hacks were in order.

I try to be a no stress traveler. The whole point of going on a trip is to relax and explore. That said there are a few travel hacks that make life easier and don’t require too much planning ahead.  I have also narrowed it down to my top five. While there are plenty of travel hack articles out there,  most of them have lost me at “top 25.” Who has time to read 25 hacks when you are trying to get ready for a trip?

#1  Take a photo of the information plaques while out sightseeing.  This hack came from my sister-in-law and is my favorite hack of them all. We all think we are going to remember our pictures in the details (or even where we took the picture), but there is so much to see that the details often get lost. Having a picture of the info from a historic monument or the name of the restaurant you loved helps when you are sharing pictures with family and friends. Or perhaps, you are just in awe of the architecture (or chasing down your energetic young ones) and don’t have time to read all of the history behind the site. Your picture allows you to read the plaque later that day in the quiet of your hotel room.

#2  Plastic Gallon Bags. Not good for the environment (so obviously try to reuse them as much as possible) but great for packing. This hack is especially useful if you are sharing a suitcase with your children. I put an outfit for each day in a plastic bag and also have one for toiletries, pajamas, and swimsuits. This helps alleviate the drama of them tearing through the suit case to choose an outfit or find a swimsuit and disrupting the order with which I so carefully (most of the time) packed it.

#3  Blue Apron. I love it. I would use it every week if I were able to. However, Blue Apron is a once-a-month kind of thing at our house. As such, I always reserve an order for the week we return.  We will undoubtedly be making several trips to the grocery store, but it is nice to avoid having to plan at least one meal a day until the bags are unpacked and the laundry is done.

#4 An Empty Stainless Steel Water Bottle. (My redemption for using plastic bags.)  The water bottles are great for filling up at the airport once you have passed through security. This can save you quite a bit of money in the long run. I also like having the water bottle at our hotel. If the water tastes funny or we are not supposed to drink it, I can always take my water bottle down to the fitness center to fill it up for the day.

#5 Take a Photo of Your Row/Level at the Airport Parking Garage. Haha- yes, our phones are full of random signs. However, this again is extremely helpful. When in a rush to make our flight (as we undoubtedly always are), we always take  a quick snap and are grateful we have when we return from our trips with our heads in the clouds and sleepy children. 

There you have it- 5 quick, no-stress, no-plan travel hacks. What about you? Do you have any travel hacks that you implement regularly? Planning to stay put and enjoy all that spring and summer have to offer? Me too… but here’s the pin for next February 😉

 

**This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

 

 

Island Travel Interviews- Philippines, Take Two

This week we return to the beautiful Philippines Islands with The Vlog Expedition and April and Summer. Please join me as I learn about the islands of Camiguin and Malapascua.

Let’s start with The Vlog Expedition and Camiguin.

Photo Credit- The Vlog Expedition

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?

Violette & Antoine – The Vlog Expedition www.vlogexpedition.com

Which Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

I chose to talk about Camiguin Island in the Philippines. It is located in Northern Mindanao, a region of the Philippines that most countries’ travel advisories advise not to go to because of some very localised conflicts. It is a shame because Camiguin Island is a true hidden gem in a very touristy country, and a safe destination.

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

From 2 to 4 days or more depending on how you enjoy it !

What is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Travels to This Island?

The incredible sunset seen from the ferry, the ride to White Island, our amazing resort and the snorkeling around the Sunken Cemetery – best snorkeling in my life!

Photo Credit- The Vlog Expedition

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

The 2 main activities are the boat trip to White Island and snorkeling in the Sunken Cemetery where you’ll see massive clams and plenty of clownfish. But as the island is quite mountainous there are many hiking trails and waterfalls to see, and also zip lining if you have time!

Photo Credit- The Vlog Expedition

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

The restaurant of our resort, Bahay Bakasiyunan sa Camiguin Resort, served us amazing food, especially great fish, and the setting is simply magical.

What Surprised You About this Island?

Camiguin Island has 7 volcanoes and one is active. The nature and sceneries are different from the rest of the Philippines, it felt like being in Jurassic Park!

Photo Credit- The Vlog Expedition

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

The easiest (not the cheapest) way is to fly from Cebu directly to Camiguin. A cheaper but longer way is to fly to Cagayan de Oro (they offer now international flights), then a bus to Balingoan, and finally ferry to Camiguin Island. A longer but more interesting trip in my opinion! Once you’re there you can easily rent a scooter or arrange a tour with your accommodation.

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article?

Antoine and I make interactive vlogs : videos in which you can access extra content (360° video, info, photos, etc…) by clicking whenever invited to, within the video. We want to create an immersive experience for our viewers to explore the places we visit just like they were there with us. You can experience the episode about Camiguin Island on our website : https://goo.gl/CjNs4Z

Here are our links:

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/vlogexpedition

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/violettetravelphoto

Twitter : https://twitter.com/vlogexpedition

Snapchat : @vlogexpedition

Next Up is April and Summer with Malapascua Island!

Photo Credit- April and Summer

What is Your Name and Blog Name/URL?

Name: April Fuentes

Blog Name: April and Summer / www.aprilandsummer.com

Which Island Will You Be Talking About and Why Did You Choose This Island?

Malapascua Island (Cebu, Philippines)

This island is a mini version of the famous Boracay Island.

It is so peaceful and beautiful with white sand beach, lush palm trees, colorful coral gardens perfect for your snorkeling adventure, and an interesting dive site with sharks swimming around.

Photo Credit- April and Summer

How Many Days Would You Recommend Staying on This Island?

I recommend staying here for 5-6 days since the transfer time is really long.

It usually takes 4-5 hours by bus plus 30 minutes by boat to finally reach this little paradise.

What is Your Favorite Thing About/Memory From Your Travels to This Island?

The last time I went to this island was with my boyfriend.

It was super fun that we decided to extend our stay but because it was a peak season, all hotels were booked so we ended up sleeping on beach chairs in front of the beach.

It was so cold and we woke up seeing people walking around which is kind of embarrassing but definitely a funny and memorable experience for us.

What is Your “Can’t Miss” Activity on the Island? What activities/opportunities does this island provide?

Diving!

You shouldn’t miss Monad Shoal, the most famous dive site in this island which is half an hour away by boat. 

It promises close encounters with Thresher Sharks before sunrise, and if you’re lucky enough, you may also see Manta Rays and Hammerhead Sharks.

Best Restaurant/Place to Eat?

Dine at Ocean Vida Restaurant!

You will love the food and the relaxing feeling of eating right in front of the beach.

What Surprised You About this Island?

Dogs!

We were surprised to be greeted by a lot of them when we set foot on the island. 

Any Travel Advice for those considering this island as a destination (e.g., where to stay, ease of getting there, how best to get around, language, money)?

Getting there:

Getting to Malapascua takes long hours so better catch the earliest bus at 12 midnight from Cebu North Terminal to Maya Port where you’ll be riding a boat for another 30 minutes to the island.

You can also take a cab but most drivers would ask for a much higher fixed price since it’s hard to get passengers back to the city.

Diving:

If you plan to go to Monad Shoal for a possible diving adventure with Thresher sharks, better start off early as they follow a first-come, first-served policy.

If my readers want to hear more about your island, do you have a link to your full article? 

Yes!

http://aprilandsummer.com/malapascua-the-little-boracay-of-cebu/

 

Thanks so much to The Vlog Expedition and April and Summer! I will be pining (and pinning) about these islands. If you are in the same boat ;-), here is a pin.

Photo Credit- Pixabay

*Please note that this post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!