Tag Archives: travel

41 grados

41 Grados – Meal of a Lifetime

As someone who travels for food and books reservations before flights, whenever I tell my friends about my time at 41 Grados they pause a bit before asking more.  REALLY?  THAT GOOD?  I’VE NEVER HEARD OF IT! 41 Grados was started by the Adria brothers.  Ferran Adria started El Bulli and many of the techniques used in El Bulli serve as the foundation of 41 Grados. If you missed out on the infamous El Bulli olive, you can get it at 41 Grados and Tickets, the tapas bar that the Adrias opened (and in DC with Jose Andres).

Getting Reservations Both Tickets and 41 Grados are relatively difficult reservations so you’ll have to book a month in advance.  In both of my early Winter trips, 41 Grados would book up 2-3 weeks prior, but Tickets would book up instantly on the day reservations are released online.  Of course, you should always check back for cancellations, but you’re less likely to see that at 41 Grados because there is a 50 Euro deposit.

The Experience Incredible.  Albert and Ferran created an “experience” for lucky diners–inclusive of moving projected images and music as the Albert takes you around the world with food.  Depending how die hard you are–you’ll probably want the first seating’s courses;  If you sit through the the later seating, your dishes won’t line up with the music though I doubt anyone would have really noticed unless they asked! Likely you’ll sit there asking what items on the plate you can eat or not eat because all the food is presented in such a bizarre or fun way.  This probably goes without saying, but not only does every dish have a perfect presentation, it all was delicious!  I nearly forgot to note the cocktails that come with the tasting–frankly, I wonder why all cocktails aren’t as beautiful or wild as the ones at 41 Grados! Whether it is edible “leaves” and “pearls” or the perfectly branded ice cubes, you will probably leave impressed and excited about eating in a way you’ve never felt before. Go now! Nom.

 

Budapest – Should You Go?

Whenever Budapest comes up in conversation it seems the only thing people talk about is how beautiful it is.  SURPRISE!  Yes, the city has incredible architecture, but there are incredible buildings all over Europe that are so much closer.

Cons

1. It is REALLY expensive to fly there.  A one-way to Budapest can be an off-peak round trip to Paris.
2. For those who’ve barely made it to France or England, why would you go to Budapest first (and all those countries in between!)?
3. If you are a bottle service hunting young’n, you won’t really find that here–nouveau riche doesn’t exist in Budapest the way it does in New York.  You’ll mostly find “eurotrash” sorts of clubs or ruin pubs (which are so cool)

Pros

1. Just about all major hotel chains are well represented for those of you who only use points to travel. <<unlike Bucharest!>>
2. The food is dirt cheap!! …even to eat really well – try Bock Biztro (received a Bib Gourmand from Michelin).
3. You can rent a really comfortable apartment cheaply (I stayed in the centrally located Senator Apartments)
4. Drinking is pretty cheap and bizarrely fun in ruin pubs
5
. Okay, yes, the city is beautiful.  If you want a highlight tour, take the hop on hop off bus/boat tour!
6. It is full of geo-thermal springs and really great and affordable spas (try Magnolia Day Spa)
7. If you’ve exhausted all of Western Europe, this is a natural next stop that is different enough to still feel like an adventure.

Some photos from my trip!

 

The test of traveling alone

This is the first time I’ve travelled alone and from the time after I pulled the trigger and bought the tickets to arriving at El Prat in Barcelona, I severely psyched myself out. I probably planned too much with my gut fear that I’d waste a trip and do nothing, but at least it calmed my nerves about not knowing where to go.

I am realizing I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to be very active on this vacation, which is preventing me from completely relaxing. When I’m hanging out in my hotel, even now blogging, I can’t help but think I’m missing out on something! (Maybe this is the New Yorker in me).

I’ve never really even thought about a solo trip until my friend Lucie went to Paris alone and had a great time. The first few days feel very lonely, but I guess this could be a good exercise to force myself to reflect on things going on in my normal life at home. I wish I could hype it up on how great a solo vacation is, but actually I’m in the mopey sad stage of the trip and hope it gets easier.

One thing I’ve noticed is that whenever something that normally wouldn’t phase me goes wrong, it is definitely more difficult to make the backup plan alone without someone else to brainstorm. For instance, my apartment situation in Barcelona ended poorly and it would have been really nice to have someone there to help make the next decision. This happened to me a year ago except I had a friend with me so I knew I wasn’t alone! This is the down and dirty of traveling alone of course, and no one really walks you through this part. You really have to embrace that you and only you can control whether you have a good time or not. You can’t rely on someone else to plan Orr help decide your next meal and no one is there to confirm your thoughts. It’s really easy for people who haven’t done this before to tell you that it’ll build character, but I’m starting to second guess that whole concept.

Do you really need to suffer or go through that stress in order to appreciate the good things in life? I don’t think you do unless you are naive to all the great blessings you have. So actually yes, if you need perspective I can see how it is necessary to experience these things, but I wouldn’t self inflict it! But taking a step back, if you are the only one doing this to “build your character”, then you become the weirdo. What is “building character?” Being humble? Being self aware? Who gets to define character and why is it so important? Meh, it’s almost as good as when someone says “don’t take it personally”. What, should you just ignore and bottle it up? (If anyone wants to share their insight on this, I’m only starting to scratch the surface on it). Long tangent short, I don’t think you should travel alone unless you are really excited about it. I, however, took this trip because I didn’t feel like I had a better option (and yes, I am bitter about it).

I’m self aware enough to know I’m just taking the glass half empty and need to somehow retrain my brain to look at everything more positively, but human nature just isn’t so simple!

The Wanted Live – Olympic Torch Relay

In my last minute planning for London, one of my friends invited me out to a concert.  I had no idea what to expect.  House? Outdoor? Classical? Is Yo-Yo-Ma going to be there?  Okay, whatever, let’s go.

Whoops.  Turned out to be a British event open only to UK ticketmaster accounts, and for good reason.  All the performers were from Britain and aside from The Wanted, basically unknown to my naive American ears.  Dizzee Rascal, Katy B, Eliza Doolittle and Rizzle Kicks?

I have no idea what was going on.  I thought it was all weird except Katy B’s great Coca Cola song! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Apsr6MgKIzA