Leisurely Retreat on Lake Como (Part Three)

When in Italy, you must eat! And that we did. We were gluttons and could not turn down all that homemade pasta, gelato, pastries, fresh lake fish and other seafood we gorged on. We’re paying dearly for it now that we’re back.

Real Italian food is simple and usually has no more than five ingredients in their dishes. Anything more than that makes it questionable if it’s truly authentic.  Things like Fettuccini Alfredo and “Italian” dressing are examples of American inventions. I honestly didn’t know any differently until I visited Europe for the first time in 2008. My taste palette has certainly changed since then!

The food at our B&B was fantastic; the breakfasts were so so good.  One evening they offered a home-cooked four course meal and it turned out to be the best meal during this trip to Italy. We were spoiled. Our typical breakfast spread had omelettes, fresh vegetables and fruits from their garden, homemade olive oil harvested from their olive groves, homemade pastries and jams, cheeses, Italian cured meats, and yogurt made fresh every morning. It was a feast that filled our happy tummies until it was time to eat again.

Now, let me get to our best and favorite meal of our stay. The innkeepers offered a four course meal for all of their guests for a nominal fee, which is normal for an agriturismo in Italy. The lake fish caught fresh that morning to the homemade lasagna made with fresh noodles and herbs from the garden were so incredibly delicious. And even after our return, we’re still dreaming about it. Do yourself a favor and eat your way through Italy- you won’t regret it!

A Moment of Spontaneity

When an old high school friend contacted me via Facebook on Thursday saying that she and her husband were in Europe, the conversation went on about their itinerary and so on. When I mentioned it to Hubs around 7PM the next day, he asked where they would be this weekend, “Venice”, I said. Since Hubs has never been to Venice and my friend was this close, we quickly contacted our dog’s sitter to see if she would take him in last minute. Then, we scrambled to book a car and hotel room.  All within an hour on a Friday night. I told my friend that we would be making the roadtrip to see her! It turned out that I booked us at the same hotel as they were staying! How crazy was that?

We jumped into the car in the early hours of Saturday morning, dropped off our dog, and were on our merry way to Venice. It took us seven hours, but it was worth it to reconnect with an old friend and meet her other half. We had a wonderful time with them. The following morning, we got an early start to take in all the typical sights of Venice for Hubs, some shopping for me, had lunch, gelato and headed back home from Venice around 2pm in the afternoon, for another 7 hour drive.

Yes, it was a whirlwind trip over the weekend, but it was so much fun! Hubs and I have never done anything this spontaneous before. We are big planners and this was something completely new and exciting for us. Maybe it should become a habit?

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Baltic/Scandinavian Adventure: Stockholm

After much deliberation, Hubs and I figured the best way (and most economical) to experience some of the northern European cities was via a cruise. We had found an amazing itinerary that had THREE overnights. That’s not very common for cruises. We also added a few pre and post cruise nights in Stockholm and Copenhagen. The whole experience was incredible and I’m extremely grateful for the memories that Hubs and I continue to make with our travels.

Now, onto our first stop: Stockholm. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a gorgeous city but I didn’t exactly fall in love with it. It’s probably because we were there during record high temperatures. After dealing with an extremely hot and uncomfortable summer last year, we wanted to go up north to escape the heat this year.  There were also two other factors that left a bad taste in my mouth, but I won’t get into that. I’m so glad that we got to see all the touristy sights that Stockholm had to offer and more. Did you know that Stockholm has one of the prettiest subway systems? The art we found in some of the stations we explored was really cool and a nice reprieve from the heat. We also found an absolutely amazing sushi place and visited it twice!

 

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Tasty Tuesdays: Pure Living Cafe

After many great finds in the 7th district, it’s beginning to become one of my favorite areas to explore and hang out. It’s a very hipster and young part of town. When you walk into Pure Living Cafe in the 7th district of Vienna, it’s like walking into a place that could easily be the design love child of Rachel Ashwell and Martha Stewart. It’s the epitome of shabby chic. I immediately felt welcomed with the friendly staff and the huge assortment of goodies. For € 7 and some change, I got a big cup of melange (they serve it with whipped cream here) and a slice of Oreo cake. Both were excellent. I love how the pastries here in Vienna are not sickeningly sweet, compared to what you might find in the US. While enjoying my treats and a book, I noticed that they made milkshakes there, too. I immediately thought of Hubs and will be bring him back to try one. You may wonder what’s the big deal about milkshakes? It’s been hard to find someplace that makes a real ‘”American” milkshake, and just the thought of the possibility makes me so excited. I’ll be back to this amazingly cute cafe and may even become a regular, because I loved it that much!

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There are two locations:

Pure Living Cafe (7th district)
Neubaugasse 68

Pure Living Bakery (13th district- original location)
Altgasse 12

Mo. – Fr.: 9:30 – 19:00
Sa.: 10:00 – 18:00
So:13.00-18.00

Tasty Tuesdays: A Royal Bakery

Gerstner’s is a famous pastry shop here in Vienna and, therefore, can be a touristy place. It’s no surprise, since it’s situated between St Stephens Church and State Opera House. This bakery opened its doors in 1847 and has quite a bit of history behind it. At one point or another, it catered to the Austrian royal family and other events for dignitaries. In my opinion, their cakes are better than the other popular touristy places such as Demel and Cafe Central. I ordered a slice of “Birnen Schoko-Mousse” (Pear Chocolate Mousse), because I was curious about the flavor pairing. I know most people have an aversion to fruit and chocolate mixed together, but this concoction was quite delicious. It had the right amount of mousse and fruit, plus a nutty flavor too. It paired well with my usual melange.  This is a great place for people watching, but there were too many distractions for me to get into my book. An American couple sat next to me and I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation about how many boxes of chocolates they needed to buy for family and friends. The lady couldn’t stop raving about the sour cherry strudel, so that will be on my list for next time.

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Gerstner
Kärntner Straße 13-15
Mon-Sat 8:30 am – 8 pm
Sun 10 am – 6 pm