TRAVEL BLOG

France Travel Guide for Foodies: 5 Essential Dishes to Try

If you’re planning a trip to France, there’s certainly plenty of incredible things to see and do.

From the famous Eiffel Tower to impressive museums and deeply rich culture, your France travel excursion will provide you with memories to last a lifetime.

When you’re ready to explore this gorgeous country, make sure you check out these five essential dishes to try. Food is an amazing way to really experience the culture and richness of your destination.

Read on for a list of five unforgettable French cuisine options every traveler should experience.

1. Foie Gras

This is a classic, quintessential French dish. Although steeped in controversy, it’s certainly something that every visitor should try at least once. Of course, you should always know where and what to eat wherever you travel. 

Often served during the holidays, foie gras is a traditional dish that involves the process of fattening geese for a delectable liver-based dish. This meal can be traced back almost as far as French culture can go.

When eating foie gras, be sure to include something savory like a piece of brioche bread. You can also dress it up with some onion spread or a dab of fig jam for a true culinary adventure. 

Foie gras is prepared in a number of ways including sauteed, steamed, and even fried. You might also find it served cold, so it really is a matter of personal preference. Be aware that this dish is notoriously expensive at most restaurants. 

2. The Classic Baguette

In terms of iconic food, nothing says French quite like a fresh, delicious baguette. This staple can be dressed up any way you like or eat it plain to really get a taste of its freshness.

When choosing a baguette, look for pointed ends. This indicates that your baguette was made by hand, which is the best way to get a true taste of real French food and culture.

A good baguette will have a golden-brown crust and should sound hollow inside when you lightly tap it. Inside you’ll find lovely holes, which gives the baguette its chewy, soft center. 

Bread and pastries are a staple of French culture, so explore as many bakeries as you can. You’ll be in awe of the incredible selection there including croissants, sweet pastries, and a variety of bread (including the baguette, of course).

3. Ratatouille 

When you hear the name ratatouille, your first thought probably goes to the charming animated film. The truth is, this dish has been widely recognized as a French staple since the region of Provence was established.

The dish consists of stewed vegetables that are served as a side dish or a main meal. It might also be used as a stuffing inside other dishes like crepes or omelets.

An assortment of vegetables is cut and cooked in a shallow pan with a bit of fat, then baked in the oven in a dish. Typically, ratatouille consists of several layers of different vegetables.

The most common veggies you’ll find in this dish include garlic, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, and an assortment of savory herbs. Pair it with a piece of fresh bread and some meat, and you’ll be satisfied for the entire day.

4. Souffle

When you think of French travel, you likely think of the word souffle. This is a classic French dish, and it was originally made exclusively in a savory format.

The term souffle comes from the French verb “to blow out” which makes sense since it features a lightweight texture that literally rises when cooked. This airy dish is egg-based and can be dated back as far as the 18th century.

The savory version of souffle can be created using a wide array of ingredients, and it’s usually eaten as a breakfast staple. You can also find it in dessert form, and the chocolate version is the most popular.

A true French chocolate souffle has a crispy chocolate crust filled with gooey creamy chocolate in the center. Top it with powdered sugar, and you’ve got a match made in dessert heaven.

5. Coq au Vin

This classic French dish became an instant hit thanks to the famous chef Juia Child. In fact, it quickly became one of her signature dishes, capturing the imagination of chefs all over the world.

When in France, you need to try this incredible meal, especially if you love layers of rich flavor. The dish starts with a braised chicken covered in wine, mushroom, and super-salty bacon or pork called lardons.

Other layers of flavor include chopped onions and garlic with a hint of brandy or red wine for the more adventurous. Be sure to find a restaurant that prides itself in braising this tender dish with local wines for a truly authentic French experience.

The key to a delicious coq au vin is its slow, simmering process. After the cooking is complete, you have an extremely tender dish combined with layers of bold flavor for a memorable dining experience. 

France Travel: Exploring with Your Tastebuds

From traditional baguettes to multi-layered ratatouille, the French certainly have plenty to offer fans of culinary delights. When you experience France travel, be sure to include some or all of these dishes on your list.

Trying new foods is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the culture. Besides, you might just discover a new favorite along the way or get inspired to make something yourself when you return home.

Why wait? Book your trip to France today and enjoy some of the amazing cuisine the country has to offer.

New York Bucket List: 9 Essential Things to Do in the Big Apple

Imagine tall buildings that touch the sky. Being near multiple historic landmarks. Seeing a whole city light up with sparkling lights and funky signs.

That’s the unique beauty of New York. It’s an iconic city bursting with culture and a huge variety of wonderful sights. There are so many things to do, it’s worthy of its very own bucket list.

Next time you’re planning a vacation in the Big Apple, make sure to bring along a bucket list. It’ll help guide you towards everything that interests you most.

Not sure what to put on your own New York bucket list? Keep reading for some inspiration!

1. See the Statue of Liberty

One of America’s most iconic figures, the Statue of Liberty is a sight everyone needs to see at least once in their life. Many of us have seen it in various movies but there’s nothing quite like seeing it in person.

There’s also an entire museum dedicated to the history behind this grand statue. It’s a great family activity that melds together fun memories with an interesting history lesson!

2. Spin Around on a Magical Carousel

Having a unique experience should be on every bucket list. The SeaGlass Carousel is unlike any other carousel around and is a great deal of fun at the same time.

Gone are the traditional colorful horses with striped poles reaching into the ceiling. This one focuses on underwater creatures made of fiberglass. Each one has its own design based off real-life fish, and they have an intricate iridescent sheen.

While on the ride, underwater sounds echo around you as lights shift from above. It feels like you’re transported somewhere deep in the sea on some grand adventure.

The best part is that, instead of going around in the same circle, all of the fiberglass fish take intertwining paths around the area. It makes the whole ride far more interesting for all age groups.

3. Watch a Show on Broadway

There’s so much talent collected in every single Broadway show. Chances are good that there’s at least one Broadway show you’ve always wanted to see.

It’s an amazing experience that you can’t quite replicate anyway else. The sheer amount of love that goes into every production will blow you away.

The best part about New York is that, if you’re unable to get to a Broadway show, there are a lot of other options available. From diners with singing waitresses to smaller musical shows, this is the city that has it all for those of us who love a good musical. 

4. Meet Winnie the Pooh

It’s not often we have the chance to meet our childhood heroes.

But here in New York, Winnie the Pooh and all of his friends sit and wait in the Public Library. Everyone has the chance to meet the stuffed toys that inspired those beautiful tales of friendship and discovery. Seeing the well-loved toys never fail to bring a smile.

It makes for a wonderful family vacation for anyone who grew up reading and watching all of those adventures with Pooh Bear.

5. Explore the New York Botanical Garden

The name alone doesn’t do this magical place any justice. It’s far more than a simple garden. It’s more of a work of art, cultivated and designed to give visitors a one-of-a-kind experience.

The cool thing is that one visit to the Botanical Garden isn’t quite like the last visit. The designs change from one season to the next, each with their own theme.

There are so many intricate plants and flowers to see, you could spend an entire week admiring the patterns and textures all around you.

6. Marvel at 17th Century New York

New York is full of different historic sights, ranging from Edgar Allen Poe’s home to candy shops from the ’50s.

But none is quite as impressive as the preserved sections of 17th century New York. Along a street in lower Manhattan, small glassed off sections of old New York still remain. Found during a 1975 excavation, these historic findings have been preserved ever since.

It’s startling to see a bustling and modern city around you, and then look through the glass and see how it once looked hundreds of years ago. 

7. Check Out the Ghostbusters Firehouse

Who better to call upon than the original Ghostbusters Firehouse? This iconic building still stands tall and proud in New York. If you’re a big fan of the movies then there’s no way you can miss seeing it.

For an even more in-depth look, sometimes the firefighters working inside are available to give a tour of the building. They’ll also show off different melted odds and ends they found while putting out fires throughout all of New York.

When you visit, remember that they’re a working firehouse. Sometimes they’ll need to cut a tour short or won’t have the time to start it at all.

8. Get Creative at the Museum of Modern Arts

Museums are always a great way to get a burst of culture and history. At the Museum of Modern Arts, you’ll see a building filled with sights you’ve never seen before. Instead of focusing on the classics of old, this museum gives you a taste of modern innovation and creativity.

With multiple levels to explore, all full of countless exhibits and galleries, you can indulge in artistic expression for a long time.

9. Have Some Fun At Coney Island

Looking for something a little more exciting to put on your bucket list? Check out the rides and attractions at Coney Island.

This special little island is full of classic amusement park rides such as the daring old Cyclone. It’s also home to intriguing sights like the Freakshow. 

While you’re there, don’t forget to try a Coney Island hot dog. These hot dogs are an iconic part of the island and you don’t want to miss them!

Don’t Wait to Check These Activities Off Your New York Bucket List

Now that you’ve got your New York bucket list situated, it’s time to get up and start tackling the items on it. There’s no time like the present to indulge yourself with a little vacation. You could even take your family with you for the ultimate memorable experience.

And with so many amazing things to do and see, a trip to New York is one you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Ready to get going? Check out the next available flight!

How to Plan a Trip to Japan on a Budget

A trip to Japan costs an average of $1455 per week, excluding flights.

Obviously, not everyone can spend that amount of money on a one-week trip. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

If Japan is your dream destination but the budget has always been too tight, you can start thinking about what you’re going to pack.

With this guide, you’ll find out how you can go on your trip to Japan without spending a fortune by following simple traveling tips.

Keep reading!

Transportation

Public transportation is one of the things that costs more in Japan.

But since the country is so big, you’ll have no choice but to spend some bucks on it. 

The first thing you should know is that taxis and Uber are a no-no. They are both too expensive. You should take the train, metro and/or buses instead.

Another useful tip: Unless you speak Japanese, buy your tickets online. Many machines at the stations don’t have an English translation.

Book Your Flight for the Low Season

You might be tempted to book your flight for Spring or Autumn when cherry blossoms appear and you get to see Japan just like you’ve always seen it in movies. 

Don’t fall into the temptation and book it for June. It’s the rainy season (which makes it the low season), but you’ll see that it doesn’t really rain that much.

Get a Japan Rail Pass

A 7-day Japan Rail Pass costs ¥29,110 (~$269).

It’s a lot, we know, but trust us when we say that getting this pass is simply a no-brainer.

Since the individual tickets for most public transportation are so expensive, you’ll make up that $269 dollars in no time and, in the end, you’ll end up saving money.

Plus, this pass allows you to travel across the entire country, so you won’t need any extra tickets.

Walk

We don’t mean between cities, of course.

But in each city, you can save up a lot if you simply walk around. Plus, you get to see a lot more, stop whenever and wherever you want, and get some extra exercise during your trip.

So turn on Google Maps and go on your walking adventure.

Food

Any sushi aficionado who goes to Japan needs to try the real thing. It’s a must.

But apart from that one moment of indulgence, Japanese food doesn’t have to be expensive. You just have to know where to go.

Eat at Fast Food Restaurants

Forget what you know about fast food.

In Japan, fast food restaurants serve miso soup, dumplings, bowls of noodles, tea, and other delicious treats.

You can eat for as cheap as ¥130 (~$1.20) or for ¥600 (~$5,50) if you’re feeling a bit fancy.

Eat at “Sushi Kaiten”

A “Sushi Kaiten” is a sushi train restaurant.

Plates of sushi go around and each plate has a specific color according to the price. Some plates cost a mere ¥100 (~$0,90), so this is definitely an affordable option.

Get Takeaway from Grocery Stores

Another cheap option is to buy bento boxes at grocery stores. This might not sound that appealing but one look at these boxes and you’ll change your mind instantly.

Whether you’re a sushi person or you prefer a nice bowl of noodles, you’ll find freshly made takeaway food for as cheap as ¥130 (~$1.20).

Cook

Mosts Japanese hostels have a kitchen, so if you have the chance, cook some of your meals.

Buying ingredients at the convenience store isn’t expensive, except for fresh fruits and vegetables, so you might have to stay away from those for a while.

Accommodation

Japanese hotels are expensive, so you can cross them off the list for this budget-friendly trip.

The good news is that there are a lot of other options for accommodation. Some are even free!

Work for Accommodation

Some hostels in Japan let you stay for free in exchange for a few hours of work (usually cleaning).

If you’re staying for a long time – like two or three months – this is an excellent choice, since you’ll still have plenty of time to explore.

Stay at a Capsule Hotel

If you don’t mind staying in a small place, capsule hotels are a great accommodation option. You’ll have an outlet, a light and sometimes a TV in your capsule and the average price per night is ¥2,700 (~$25).

The bathroom and common areas are shared.

Some internet cafés also have private cubicles where you can spend the night and they’re even cheaper than hotels.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is one of the most wallet-friendly options no matter where you’re going.

If you’re okay with staying at someone else’s place, you’ll spend $0 on accommodation. And there’s another plus: if you stay with a local you’ll get to experience the culture in a whole different level.

Attractions

A lot of museums, temples, and other attractions are very cheap and some are even free to visit.

So you shouldn’t need to spend that much money on the cultural part of your trip to start with. However, we do have one tip to make this cheap aspect even cheaper.

Get a Grutt Pass

The Tokyo Museum Grutt Pass 2019 costs ¥2,200 (~$20,33) and it gives you free entry and discounts to 95 touristic attractions: 46 art galleries, 39 museums, 6 gardens, 3 zoos, and 1 aquarium.

It’s valid for 2 months starting on the day you buy it and it can only be used once on each facility. 

You can buy this pass at any of the 95 facilities it includes.

Enjoy Your Trip to Japan!

See? With some flexibility, Japan can become a perfectly affordable destination.

You don’t need to have a luxury trip in order to experience the amazing Japanese culture. So follow these tips, book your trip to Japan and cross it from your bucket list of places to visit.

Book your hotel with us and you can save up to 80%. Go check our special prices!

The 10 Best Places for Family Vacation

What are the best places for family vacation? That’s a question that is lingering in the minds of many parents across the country as they prepare for summer.

Whether considering going outside the country or spending this summer traveling the United States, there are hundreds of places that will give you a great summer and even winter experience.

The Best Places for Family Vacation in the United States

1. Grand Canyon 

This is one of the country’s natural wonders that you can never ignore. You don’t have to miss the trail this summer as Grand Canyon National Park will be celebrating its 100th birthday as a national park and you need to be part of these celebrations.

However, that should not be the only thing that you can do in Grand Canyon. Stunning scenery and a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway is spectacular and brings an unforgettable experience to the large number of families who visits this region every year. 

2. Gatlinburg, Tennessee 

Gatlinburg is a dream for any outdoor lover. With 900 miles of hiking trails, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and biking, Gatlinburg could be the best place for a family vacation.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is another reason you should try Tennessee this holiday. You can as well try Gatlinburg’s arts and crafts of the local community while at the same time shopping for goods from local artisans.

Besides the natural features, there are a variety of lodgings and restaurants to taste the local foods and spend the night. 

3. St. Louis Missouri 

St. Louis, Missouri, is a wonderful tourist destination and a place where families can spend their vacations.

Some of the standout family features in this region include the Purina Farms, where dog-loving children can enjoy animal barnyards and dog agility shows. For art activities, families can consider the Saint Louis Art Museum. Some of the events in this facility include a 30-foot high Ferris wheel, huge ball bit, and 10-story slide among others.

You can also stop by at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard where you will get thick custard shakes, so thick that they can be served upside down. 

4. Winter Park, Colorado 

If you’re thinking about Colorado, Winter Park could be the best family vacation, which is great during the summer and winter. Families have an opportunity to enjoy horseback riding, biking, hiking, and zip lining, among others.

There is also Colorado’s longest alpine slide, which could be memorable to the kids. If Winter Park does not quench the thirst of your family’s vacation, Durango, Colorado, family destinations could be a bonus to the members of the family, especially those who are enthusiastic on lake fishing. 

5. San Diego, California 

California has some of the most exotic family destinations around the country.

One of the fascinating places to visit is San Diego, which has tons of family activities such as 70 miles of beaches, water parks, theme parks, and kid-friendly museums.

There are hundreds of hotels which are known to provide amenities and activities that are specifically designed for kids. Some San Diego hotels offer treasure hunts on the beach, mermaid lessons, and allow kids to take part in art and crafts. These are enough activities to keep your kids busy and allow you to enjoy some precious time with other members of the family. 

The Best Places for Family Vacation Outside the United States

6. Lisbon, Portugal 

If your kids are enthusiastic about Brazilian culture, they can get it in Lisbon without flying further south. This is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe and characterized by Portuguese culture and old structures that will give you a hint of the Vasco da Gama history.

You can explore cheap and scenic tour of the city with castles, different neighborhoods, and palaces. You and your family will get some sand bath in hot coastal beaches of the Mediterranean while at the same time enjoying some citrus fruits. 

7. Vienna, Austria 

You may want to spend your vacation in one of the smallest countries in Eastern Europe. Austria, and specifically Vienna, which is the capital, offers some breathtaking experience and affordable stops for families.

Cycling and walking tours in Vienna are in plenty, and you can easily access other family activities in the city. Some of the standouts features to enjoy in Vienna include; the world’s oldest zoo, Tiergarten Schoenbrunn, Madame Tussauds Museum, and giant Ferris Wheel, among others. 

8. Bali, Indonesia 

Bali is a budget-friendly Asian destination where families can enjoy a vacation like no other. This is a country with a history, and it would be essential to visit Sumatra, historically known for the 2004 tsunami.

Visiting during the summer is the best time as you will be avoiding heavy rains and storm. Some of the family activities to enjoy here include glass bottom boat rides, snorkeling, whitewater rafting, and rice paddy walks, among others. 

9. Phuket, Thailand 

With family-friendly accommodations, Phuket is an ultimate family vacation destination, especially for the families who want to experience the South Asia climate and topography.

With tens of islands and Phuket being the largest, Thailand is a dream family vacation location for many families. Some of the family activities to enjoy include lake fishing, kayaking, and snorkeling stops. 

10. East Africa 

If you are interested in a game drive, the big five, the Rift-Valley, hot water springs, mountain climbing, and coastal beaches, East Africa has everything to offer.

With warm sun throughout the year, East Africa has remained a top family vacation for many families in the United States and Europe. If you like bumpy game drive and the Masaai, East Africa should be your ultimate destination this summer. 

Are You Ready for a Family Adventure?

These are some of the best places for family vacation in the United States and other parts of the world. In any of these places, you will have a great experience.

However, distance, economic conditions, and cultural prevalence are different. It would be essential to consider a family vacation in a place that fits your budget while at the same time, meeting your cultural expectations. 

Ready to book a flight or hotel for your next trip? Search with us for the best prices.

Top Travel Tips – Russia

If you are looking for a rich cultural vacation experience, then Russia would make a superb vacation destination. Russia is a massive country. It is actually twice the size of the USA. The culture in Russia is also very different to that of the United States, and as you may expect there is a lot to see and do, much more than you will ever be able to cover in a single holiday.

Russia has a rich history as a superpower, however they have gone through a lot of political changes and upheaval in the past few decades. All this makes Russia a fascinating country with a rich history and a unique culture, well worth visiting.

Travelers should be aware that there are a lot of problems with health and public infrastructure in certain parts of Russia, so it is best to assume, for example, that tap water is not safe to drink.

You don’t have to look very far to get satisfying answers about your travel questions for traveling to Russia. One excellent online resource is The U.S. State Department website. You will find great information and helpful tips for travel in Russia, such as the visa requirements for entering the country and more. Naturally, you cannot enter the country unless you have the proper documents such as a passport and visa. So be sure to comply with the visa requirements. It is an essential part of your Russia vacation planning. One important tip for travel in Russia is this. It could actually take at least two weeks to get your visa, so you need to plan properly. Failure to do so could mean that you may have to cancel your travel plans if your visa does not arrive on time. On the other hand, if you plan well and apply for your visa weeks in advance, you can get all the necessary travel documents in a timely fashion. Another important tip you need to know before going to Russia is that taxis in Russia very seldom use meters. You will need to negotiate with the taxi driver in advance. Failure to do this could result in a conflict or exorbitant fees, so bear this in mind.

Safety In Russia

While Russia is an interesting country with a lot of magnificent sights to see, there are some safety problems ‘ thieves are common, and there is a relatively high amount of violent crime. Some areas are safer than others, so it is a good idea to research the places you plan to visit before you leave, and take basic precautions such as keeping valuables out of sight and not carrying large amounts of cash.

Russia is a wonderful country with a rich heritage and some wonderful cultural institutions. The ballet companies are amazing, and there are some very good museums that everyone should try to visit while they are in the country.

Where to Eat in Rome During Holidays

There is a widely held misconception that during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, Rome’s restaurants shut down and people who don’t have the luxury of eating at home are left to scavenge for food wherever they can get it. While one should expect some venues to be closed and many to embrace limited hours and prix fixe menus, visitors to Rome can eat very well during the holidays. It just requires a bit of planning.

To partake in the traditional Christmas Eve fish feast, head to Il Sanlorenzo, the best place in central Rome to find fresh, local and relatively sustainable fish. Il Sanlorenzo is open at lunch and dinner on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

A short stroll away on via dei Giubbonari, Roscioli will be open for lunch only on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve.

For fine dining options, try Metamorfosi, which will be open at dinner on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day, Pipero al Rex, which will be open at lunch and dinner on December 24, 25, 31, and at lunch only on January 1, or All’Oro, which will be open throughout the holidays.

For Roman fare, Cesare al Casaletto will be open for lunch only on December 25th, 26th and January 1st. Near the Vatican, Romeo will be open for lunch only on December 24 and for lunch and dinner on December 31. Flavio al Velavevodetto will be open for lunch on December 24, 25 and 31. Also in Testaccio, La Torricella is open for lunch on December 24. It is open December 24 for lunch, December 25 at lunch and dinner, and for lunch and dinner on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

For international cusine, try Mesob, which will be open throughout the holidays

A special event will take place at Vino Roma on December 25th at 6:00pm; Hande Leimer is offering a Christmas edition of her new tasting type Wine & Cheese Dinner, with an even more interesting wine selection. For booking and details, visit the Vino Roma site.

For craft beer check out Birra + in Pigneto, which will always be open, but will close at 8:30pm on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve, and Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa’ in Trastevere, which will be open from the late afternoon every day this holiday season. These two watering holes are the only places on the list where reservations are not accepted and no food is served.

It is also worth noting that most Kosher restaurants in the Ghetto will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

You can get the portable version of this list by purchasing my app “Katie Parla’s Rome”, details here and be sure to call all venues in advance before turing up. While the aforementioned openings have been confirmed multiple times, non si sa mai (you never know what can happen!). Buone feste!