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!

Throwback Thursdays: Healing in Hong Kong

A few weeks after Hershey crossed the rainbow bridge, I told Hubs that there was no way in hell I wanted to be anywhere near Vienna when the one year anniversary mark hit. We looked around for a new place to visit and decided on Hong Kong. It was far away and didn’t resemble anything “European”. We left on Christmas day and flew with Turkish Airlines. This was before Austrian Airlines announced their new nonstop route from Vienna. I really didn’t care for Turkish Airlines and probably won’t fly them again.

Once in Hong Kong, it was like the breath of fresh air we desperately needed. We mainly went there to eat, take in the sights and heal. Hong Kong is very hilly and has lots of stairs. Thank goodness for the mid-level escalators in the center of the city.

The Hong Kong tram system is the only one left in the world that operates double decker trams exclusively. It was so charming and cool. We rode them every chance we got! Hubs and I also stood in line for Victoria Peak not knowing we already had the right tickets to jump to the front of the line. So when a family of four cut in front of us-I used some, ummm, choice words, loudly. Needless to say, they thought I was the crazy one. It was well worth it once we got to the top. The iconic views of  the Hong Kong skyline were amazing. Although extremely touristy, it’s a must-do.  If you decide to go to Victoria Peak, here’s a tip – use the bus instead of the tram to go up AND down the mountain.  Plus, the wait is much shorter both ways with the bus – and cheaper!

We also took advantage of going to a modern and “real” movie theater.  The American cinema company AMC exists there and paying the extra costs to be in the VIP room was well worth it. Like in most Asian cities, they jack up the air conditioning so high that you’re a popsicle by the time you leave. There were reclining leather seats with call buttons for an attendant to fetch you anything you wanted during the movie.

I didn’t find out until a day or two before the trip that there was a coffee shop named Hazel & Hershey in Hong Kong.  It was fate… I couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate Hershey’s life than this for the one year mark. They had really good matcha lattes and coffee; we went back a few days later for a second helping.

During our trip we also celebrated Hubs’ birthday. I surprised him with a buffet brunch at the Ritz Carlton on the 102th floor near the harbor on the Kowloon side. We had a special window table and the views were unsurpassed. The food was delicious, too. It was our last day in Hong Kong.

In many ways, this trip was healing for us. It doesn’t erase Hershey or the days leading up to his death, but it took away a lot of the pain associated with the time of year it happens to fall near. I know that Christmas and New Years will forever be bittersweet in our hearts.

London: Spring in Our Step

Living in Vienna has afforded me the opportunity to have a love affair with London. So much so, that I have returned on a number of occasions.  It’s a great metropolitan city that has things that Vienna doesn’t, such as: great shopping and a vast selection of international cuisines (which taste the way they should). A girlfriend and I planned to take advantage of both when we visited last weekend.

Emily and I arrived on a Friday night and had a “late night” snack at an Indian place right around the corner from our hotel near Earl’s Court. As we walked in, the place permeated in delicious scents. We were quickly seated and both decided to order thalis- it’s what the place is known for. It was a great and delectable start to our fun weekend!

I have been to London in the Winter, Fall and Summer and this is the first time in the Spring for both Emily and me. It’s a lovely time to go. The trees are in bloom and the weather is pleasant. So what did we do on a lovely spring afternoon in London? High tea of course! We decided to have afternoon tea at the first seating time, because if you’ve been to tea in London before,  you know it’s practically a meal in itself. It was so relaxing and filling.

After tea, we burned some calories shopping at Selfridges and checking out SoHo. We continued with our eating and shopping throughout the city the next day and hopped back on the plane to come home to our families. It was an amazingly fun trip and I can’t wait for more adventures with such a great friend.

 

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A Weekend in Berlin

Two months ago, a friend asked if I would be interested in going to Berlin for a Luke Bryan concert and without hesitation I said “Yes!” It was my first girl’s trip since we moved here a little over two years ago. I was very excited!

We left on Friday afternoon and came home last night (Sunday evening).  Overall, it was a short, but fun weekend. Since we’ve both been to Berlin, we didn’t see the need to hit any of the touristy sights. Instead, we went to the concert, had afternoon tea, walked around a farmer’s markets and Berlin’s famous shopping areas.  We even had a meal at a Paleo restaurant.  To top off our weekend, we had dessert at a famous chocolate shop before heading back to the airport to come home.

 

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