Month: December 2013

The Best Meal I Ever Had

Due to my journalism training, I tend to stay away from grandiose statements such as the best place I’ve ever beenbecause unlike blog posts, it is very difficult to numerically list such abstract things in life, especially when you’ve been around the block a few times and you’re getting up there in age. When people ask me where I would like to live or who my favorite writer is, I’m often left sitting there speechless like some sort of imbecile. However, when someone asks me what the best meal I ever had was, I already know my answer before the question is out of their mouth.

If there is a Heaven, the rest of us will spend eternity enjoying the cooking of those with dark hair, loud voices, and beautiful accents – the Italians. When I studied abroad in Florence, Italy last fall, I could easily declare the dinner I ate each and every night the best meal I ever had. Because hell, let’s be serious, when you’re a beautiful Italian man dishing out red wines, limoncello, tiramasu, fresh bread, and every kind of pasta I have ever seen, it’s hard to not be overcome with dinner emotion. However, I didn’t know what I was talking about until I visited Acqua al 2 located on a narrow side street, Via della Vigna Vecchia, in the heart of Florence near the Duomo.

Study abroad students and Italian visitors in general are known for saying “Oh, you just have to go to this restaurant, best food I ever had, except hold on, can’t quite remember what it’s called….” but the blueberry steak at this place makes it a difficult restaurant to forget.

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My roommate Andrea and I visited Acqua al 2 on several occasions, however now looking back, I wish we had gone a lot more often. We started out sharing a dry house red wine with our freshly baked unsalted bread before moving onto the pumpkin pasta, one of the chef’s daily new creations. This pasta was coated with what appeared to be a red-orange vodka sauce, but instead, had been enveloped in this fall flavored pumpkin topping. The pasta sampler is another great option, giving you the chance to try basically whatever the chef feels like making, which is good enough for me.

Then, we moved onto the main course – the blueberry steak, a small lump of steak about the size of one’s fist that in size, does not measure up to the typical Florentine t-bone steak, however this tender and girthy piece of meat is also soaked in a thick blueberry sauce who’s deep taste and texture are only emboldened by the steak’s flavor. A steak sampler is also offered, which contains the blueberry steak, the balsamic steak, and a classic steak, however blueberry is really the way to go due to its oddness.

And then, finally, we would always cap the whole thing off with the dessert sampler, which contained a cookies and marshmallow cake, homemade tiramasu,  a vanilla and raspberry cheesecake, and, of course, cannolis.

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Great. Now I’m hungry and all I have to eat is damn Elio’s pizza.

Acqua al 2 also has another location located at 212 7th St SE, Washington, DC. You can call at (202) 525-4375 for more information. 

The Best Travel Words of Wisdom

All day long, myself, and many other travel bloggers alike, spew our pretty words to you about how Beautiful! Exciting! Extraordinary! a place is. We tell you about how Anything is possible! and The world is your oyster! However I, or anyone else, for that matter, am not the only one(s) with some useful travel words of wisdom. So, see here some of the best travel quotes in the business.

“Travel is the only buy that makes you richer.”

“Life is not a journey with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a ride.'”

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”

“We must take adventures to know where we truly belong.”

“Live the life you want. Let nothing stop you.”

“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.”

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

“To travel is to discover everyone is wrong about everywhere else.”

“The first condition to understanding a foreign country is to smell it.”

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”

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The Best Travel Jobs in the Business

Everytime I tell someone that I want to be a travel writer, they look at me like I just told them I want to be a Disney princess. The eyebrow raises and the slow smirks usually make me feel kind of crappy, and sometimes, if I’m down enough that day, the whole debacle makes me want to throw in the towel and say FINE! Just chain me to a desk for the next 43 years and we can call it a day. However, this feeling usually doesn’t last too long, because:

1. Forty-three years is a really long time

2. I would rather die

3. Within the next hour of any given task of any day, I am soon looking up itineraries/travel pictures/travel blogs/daydreaming/posting on this blog.

At the same time, have to remember (and we all can remember) that there are lots of awesome jobs out there for those of us with wings on our hearts. So next time your neighbor is trying to convince you that being a credit collector is sooo fun, and you’re wondering why the hell you bothered going to college in the first place, take a look at this list and remember that there is no reason at all that you have to throw in the towel and install that back protector on your swivel chair.

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1. Event Coordinators do the job that you used to do when you were 16 and your parents went away for the weekend (but not really) – they plan special events, like functions, shows, dinners, and festivals – for various organizations and corporations. Get yourself involved with a big name company and you could be the one flying around the world looking at huge venues, choosing the best entertainment, and shaking hands with well-connected people. The average salary in the United States isn’t the best ($39,000 – $56,000 depending on various sources) but hey, it beats being a travel writer. WOMP.

2. Cruise Line Workers also don’t exactly bring home the big bucks with their salaries of between $1000 and $4000 a month, but then again they spend their days on a cruise basking in the sun, meeting new people, and visiting beautiful destinations so what is there to complain about. Resorts such as Club Med offer their employees the opportunity to work at several of their destinations, giving them the chance to see the world. Plus, there is no background you “need” to have – tons jobs are available, such as server, shopkeeper, masseuse, entertainer, bartender, etc.

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Hopefully this doesn’t happen on your cruise

3. Tour Guides, who sometimes are the remnants of college history buffs, have the chance (with the proper background) to work and live in various cities all over the world, interact with international citizens, be out and about all day long, and be the ones to show people that “aha” moment. Even if you get burnt out by tour guide life, there are always more jobs behind the scenes coordinating logistics, finance, and finding that one lost old person.

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4. Archaeologists have the opportunity to travel to remote and unknown parts of the world, exploring that location’s history and artifacts with their trusty Masters degree. People in this career need to be good writers, meticulous, detail-oriented, patient, and not too squeamish in touching people’s old bones, garbage, and the like. To an archaeologist, everything is important. Not including the median annual salary of $53,000.

5. Athletic Recruiters used to spend their days playing college football and sitting at the local sports bar on Sundays, and now they live the dream, scouting the world for the next greatest talent. Professional sports organizations and colleges employ these recruiters to visit games and schools to find new athletes… giving you the opportunity to see the world and stay in fancy (and not-so-fancy) hotels in the meantime…. for $36,000 median a year.

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When The Clock Strikes Midnight

Each and every December we have all pondered the same, all-consuming question… where the hell am I gonna spend my New Year’s Eve?

There’s always the standard top “destinations”… the local bar, where you’ll pay top dollar for a poorly organized open bar, the big, bright club in the nearby city, or your best friend’s basement, reminiscent of the high school days. However, if you’re ready to grow up and really bring in the new year with a bang, then check out these real top destinations for December 31st.

1. Times Square in New York City 

With its glitz, glamour, and 12-foot sparkling sphere dropped from Times Square at the turn of midnight, it’s no secret that New York City is the new year’s capital of the world. Since 1907, over one million people have flocked to New York City per year to view a polytechnic lightshow, gawk at celebrity performances, and write down their hopes for the new year on the New Year’s Eve wishing wall.

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2. Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia

As the centerpiece for the city that can call itself one of the first to celebrate New Year’s Eve, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the spot for two fireworks displays set off from river barges and rooftops. Besides the staple fireworks, Sydney also creates an elaborate polytechnic lightshow setting the Harbour and the Opera House aflame. The night also includes aerial acrobatics, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking ceremony to cleanse the evil spirits of the past year, and an Acknowledgement of Country presentation, culminating in the magnificent Harbour of Light Parade.

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3. Edinburgh, Scotland 

It’s not surprising that the raging and rainy Scottish capital hosts a four-day celebration, Hogmany, in honor of New Year’s Eve. Each year, 250,000 thirsty people flock to the event to celebrate the centuries-old tradition. To start the party – I mean proceedings – a torchlight procession takes place which is then followed by a Ceilidh, or a traditional Celtic party accompanied by live music set across various stages throughout the city. When midnight hits, 4.5 tons of polytechnics set off to light the sky aflame. And it’s not over following whatever time you stumble into bed either – on New Year’s Day, hungover partygoers stick around for a dive into Loony Dock and dog-sledding across Hollyrood Park.

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4. Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada 

The party capital of the world would never miss a celebration like this. Each year, over 300,000 people head to the Strip to spend their night gambling, partying away the night with live music, and pyrotechnic displays in this massive street party. Every bar and nightclub in town turns up the prices for this raging celebration as people gather to glug champagne in the streets, kiss under the Bellagio’s dancing fountains, and win (and lose big) for the coming year.

Fireworks fill the Las Vegas sky New Years 2006.

5. Theme parks in Orlando, Florida 

No matter what park you head off to in Orlando, you’re guaranteed a good time in Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld, which are all open until 1:00 am. On the Universal Citywalk, live bands line the streets and partygoers can view the Times Square ball drop once the clocks strikes midnight. Perhaps one of the best plus-sides as choosing Orlando as your New Year’s Eve destination is that the party doesn’t start when the sun goes down – instead, spend the day viewing Cirque du Soleil performances, dance parties, rainbow confetti, and live entertainment from artist favorites.

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Information courtesy of Zoe Smith for Viator on HuffingtonPost.com