If I am going to eat something that isn’t healthy, I want it to be worth it. The following places all fit that description (in moderation of course). Here are my favorite gelato places in Barcelona:
Located in Eixample (near a bunch of other great places for food and drink), Delacrem serves up some high quality gelato. They serve their gelato out of covered containers as opposed to being displayed out in the open, which tends to be a sign of higher quality gelato. They will serve some excellent and unusual seasonal flavors. In the fall I had sweet potato and honey gelato paired with cinnamon apple gelato, and it was absolutely delicious. It is my favorite place to get gelato in Barcelona, and they have now also opened a second location in the city.
Gelaaati di Marco:
I had a good feeling about Gelaaati di Marco when I noticed the staff speaking Italian, and I wasn’t disappointed. They serve a bunch of tasty gelato flavors as well as other tasty Italian treats. Another perk of Gelaaati di Marco is they are open until midnight every night, so it is a great place to grab dessert after a late Catalonian dinner. Typically you will need to pay prior to getting served, so you will need to decide if you want any premium flavors or toppings, then pay, then order the flavors you want.
Swiit Ice Cream:
Like Gelaaati di Marco, Swiit (pronounced “sweet” in Catalan and in Spanish) is located in the Gothic Quarter. Also like Gelaaati di Marco, Swiit also sells absolutely delicious gelato. However, they are only open Tuesday to Sunday from 1-7pm. That being said, if you can stop by while there are open I would highly recommend it.
With locations in the Gothic Quarter and the Raval neighborhood, OGGI (which is an acronym for “Officina Gelato Gusto Italiano” and also means “today” in Italian) is another great gelato place. Like the places mentioned above, they use high quality ingredients to make excellent, authentic gelato. They also are an option for after dinner dessert, as they are open noon to midnight every night in the Gothic Quarter and are open till midnight Tuesdays to Saturdays in Raval. Their gelato is even Pope Francis approved.
Amorino has locations in a handful of cities throughout Europe, and they have three locations in Barcelona. They serve tasty gelato that is shaped into a gelato “flower.” They are also very easy to get to with locations on La Rambla and in the Arenas Mall (the old bull fighting ring) at Placa Espanya.
I have used the Hario grinder for over a year now, and here are my thoughts:
My Hario grinder is great to travel with, and it doesn’t take up a ton of space in my bag. Also, because it is manual I don’t have to worry about using adapters or using it in a place where I have electricity. As long as I have hot water and my AeroPress I can make high quality coffee anywhere in the world.
Coffee aficionados prefer a burr grinder to a blade grinder. Blade grinders can heat the coffee beans while they are being ground, which can alter the taste. Also, burr grinders tend to produce a more consistent grind.
I can adjust the size of the grind depending on the method I am using (cold brew, ArroPress, V60, etc.). I don’t need to worry about having a separate grinder for each method.
When compared against other grinders of equal quality, the Hario Mini Mill Grinder is very well priced. I purchased mine from Right Side Coffee in Castelldefels for about €30.
An electric grinder is going to grind coffee much faster than a manual one like my Hario grinder. Also, while the size is great for traveling, it can’t produce a large volume of grinds at once, and it can begin to start tiring out your forearms after a while. If you are planning on making coffee for many people at the same time there are better options. That being said, it is a great option when making coffee for one or two people while traveling.
Unfortunately the shape is not perfectly cylindrical, so I cannot fit it inside my AeroPress. However, this does keep it shorter and it still packs well and does not take up that much room in my bag.
Overall, the Hario Mini Mill Manual Coffee Grinder is a great option for travelers that enjoy a great cup of coffee. I have gotten a lot of use out of mine already and it is still working very well for me.
What I did and saw:
Old Turia Riverbed-
The Turia River is a symbol of Valencia that used to run through the city. It was then diverted and the old riverbed has been transformed into an expansive, impressive park. It is a great place to bike through, play sports, exercise, or just walk through.
City of Arts and Sciences-
Located in the old Turia riverbed is the City of Arts and Sciences. They are a series of impressive, beautiful buildings that house different art and science museums.
Les Falles is a festival that is put on every year in the city of Valencia. Impressive, satirical structures are built and displayed throughout the city before being burned at the end of the festival. Leading up to the burning there are children setting off firecrackers throughout the day, and bigger fireworks and some live music at night. While I was not able to see the structures burned, I was able to see the structures before they would burned and take in the festive atmosphere.
Torres de Serranos and Torres de Quart-
The Serranos Towers and the Quart Towers are two old city gates that are virtually all that is left of the old city walls of Valencia. During opening hours they are free to visit and go up, and they offer some great views of the city.
Valencia has some beautiful and historic architecture throughout the city. Their cathedral is even said to be a possible location of the Holy Grail. The bell tower attaches to the cathedral is know as “El Micalet” or “El Miguelete.” Although it was never finished, it is still a functioning bell tower. It also has a very affordable entry fee that allows visitors to climb the stairs to the top for some great views.
Free walking tour-
As I have mentioned before, I like doing free walking tours, and I think they are a great way to get context and recommendations on a new city. I usually prefer to do Sandemans tours, as I have found them to be great quality in the variety of cities they are available, but they unfortunately do not run tours in Valencia at the moment. However, there was a free walking tour that left from my hostel, so I was able to join that and it was very good.
Institut Valencia d’Art Modern-
The IVAM (Institut Valencia d'Art Modern) offers free admission on Sundays (as well as certain hours on Fridays and Saturdays). I thought it was a great musuem, and it is very interesting even for someone that is not a big art aficionado.
The Albufera is a massive freshwater lagoon in the Valencia area. It is believed to be the place where paella was invented. I decided to make a trip outside the city of Valencia with some friends to try some paella in its birthplace. However, the bus system was not running regularly, so it turned into more of an adventure than we had planned. I was able to try some paella at Restaurante la Albufera, and while it was good, I personally think some of the paella I had in the center of the city was better.
La Llotja de la Seda-
The Old Silk Exchange, or La Llotja de la Seda, was built in Valencia in the 15th century. It is free to enter and wander around the impressive building.
Gargoyles and graffiti-
Valencia has a lot of gargoyles on various buildings around the city, many of which displayed in "interesting" positions. There are a few different possible explanations for the uniquely positioned figures. Some believe that they are a form of worker protest against their bosses, while others believe the gargoyles are meant to signify the sins of humans. Whatever the real explanation is, they are worth keeping an eye out for. Valencia also has quite a bit of interesting graffiti that is worth keeping an eye out for as well.
Mercat Central and Mercat de Russafa-
Valencia has some great markets, and I was able to visit a couple of them. The central market, or Mercat Central, is a very large market set in a beautiful building. The Mercat de Russafa is housed in a less impressive space, but it has some high quality things inside. While I was in the Mercat de Russafa I visited Coffee Time Artisan Roasters for some craft coffee, and I also picked up some soap and spices inside the market.
Where I at and drank:
Restaurante El Forcat-
As mentioned above, paella was invented in the Valencia area. I had some incredibly tasty paella at Restaurante El Forcat in the city center near the Torres de Serranos. The service was also excellent, and if you go at lunchtime during the week the "Menu del Dia" is a great deal.
Bluebell Coffee Co-
Bluebell Coffee Co. is a great place to get coffee. I had my best cup of coffee in Valencia there, and they have some great food options as well. They even serve a craft beer made with their coffee.
Olhops Craft Beer House and H2OL Craft Beer Lab-
While wine is king in the Iberia region, Valencia does have a couple high quality spots for craft beer. There is even a place called Hop Cream that serves delicious ice cream made from craft beer.
If you are looking for a high quality cocktail in Valencia I would recommend Apotheke. Apotheke is a great speakeasy with a quality cocktail menu.
Mayan Coffees is another great coffee place in Valencia. While they don't have as many options on the menu as Bluebell, they do serve excellent coffee.
El Cafetin is a nice place to try the famous "Agua de Valencia."
Tasca El Botijo-
If you are looking for a local, well priced meal Tasca El Botijo in the Carmen neighborhood is a great option. The pâté I had there was excellent.
Horchateria Santa Catalina-
The horchata in Valencia is very different from the horchata in Mexico. Valencian horchata is a nut milk made from tigernuts, so it is not nearly as sweet as Mexican horchata. It is very popular in the city, and is typically served with some type of pastry that is dipped into it. Horchateria Santa Catalina is a great place to try it, but depending on the timing there could be a long wait for a table.
Gelateria La Romana-
If I am going to have something relatively unhealthy I want it to be worth it, and the gelato from Gelateria La Romana is. It is some of the best gelato I have had outside of Rome.
Where I stayed:
The River Hostel-
Positioned next to the old riverbed and in the old city area, the River Hostel had a very nice location. It was also very inexpensive (when not during Las Falles). There were privacy curtains, outlets, and lamps for all the dorm beds. Also, the staff gave some good recommendations for walking tours and bike rentals.
Urban Youth Hostel-
Urban Youth Hostel was a good place to stay overall. It was about a 20 minute walk to the City of Arts and Sciences, and about an hour walk to the old city. The lockers are a bit inconvenient if you are in one of the top bunks due to their positioning in the room, but there were roll down curtains, a shelf, and an outlet for each bed.
How I got around:
Both times I’ve visited Valencia I have gone via train from Barcelona. The train station in Valencia is a beautiful station that is situated next to the old bull fighting arena. As I mentioned earlier I tried to take the bus to the Albufera area, but the bus service did not turn out to be as dependable as the train service. While in the city I mostly walked to get around, and I also hiked through the old riverbed area.
My favorite thing:
I loved the festivities for Las Falles, and the paella I had at El Forcat was absolutely delicious. Also, I really like what had been done with the old riverbed area.
My least favorite thing:
While accommodation prices for most of the year can be relatively inexpensive in Valencia, around Las Falles time the accommodation will sell out far in advance and can get significantly more expensive.
For next time:
Next time in Valencia I would like to spend some time at the beach in Valencia, and I would also like to spend more time in the old riverbed area.
I have made some travel mistakes, and I thought I could share them in the hopes they are not repeated. Here are some of the travel mistakes I have made:
Not traveling sooner-
It wasn’t until the past few years that I really started traveling on a consistent basis. I had visited a handful of states and a couple countries, but I have seen more places in the last few years than the rest of my life put together. I would try to get other people to travel with me, but school and job commitments would usually get in the way. Also, I didn’t know how good hostels could be or about using credit card points and miles, so money was another obstacle. I also didn’t realize there were opportunities to do things like teach English as a foreign language in another country. I have met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences while traveling. I wish I would have begun traveling like this sooner.
Missing a flight-
When planning out my trip to the Montreal to catch a flight to Toronto, I glanced at my flight information to see when I needed to be at the airport. However, when I looked at the information I read the arrival time as the departure time. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was on the bus to the airport and tried to check in to my flight. Because it was too close to the departure time, the airline app would not allow me to check in, and I realized I was in trouble. Instead of arriving with plenty of time to get to my gate and relax, I arrived less than 30 minutes prior to takeoff and without a boarding pass. Fortunately I had Chase points I could use to book a new flight, and I could get some food in the lounge while waiting for that next flight. However, I could have used those points towards something else, and overall it was a little embarrassing. Now I make sure to double check flight times and use apps like Tripit that will remind me to check in and notify me of any changes.
Flying at odd hours-
There are some great deals to be had at certain hours of the day. However, many times the “price” I’ve paid doesn’t outweigh the money I save in booking these flights. Sometimes I have been so tired from missing a night of sleep that it throws off the next couple days of the trip. Also, transportation options after landing in a city can be limited to nonexistent at certain hours. I realize now that sleep is not only important to my health, but getting good sleep can also make a trip significantly better. This makes it worth it to me to spend a few extra points or dollars to be much more comfortable.
Buying denture glue-
When I was teaching English Camps in Italy with ACLE, I needed to buy some toothpaste. At that time my Italian was very, very basic. I knew just enough to get myself into trouble. I set off to the pharmacy in search of regular toothpaste. Using some words that I knew combined with hand motions and English words that the pharmacist knew, I tried to explain that I needed toothpaste. She brought me two tubes of something that resembled toothpaste, and asked if I wanted “regular” or “extra strength.” When she said they were the same price, I figured I would get extra strength to get a better clean for the same price. However I didn’t realize what she was actually asking until I opened the package in my hotel room later. What I had bought was extra strength denture glue and not toothpaste. Needless to say, I now know the Italian word for toothpaste is dentifricio.
Not keeping an eye on my phone-
Barcelona is an absolutely beautiful city, easy to get around, plenty of things to do, it is very well priced in relation to other major cities, and it has some great food and drink. It is also a safe city overall. However, it is notorious for petty theft and pick pockets. I had heard of some of my friends being pick pocketed in Barcelona, but Ididn't think it would happen to me. I assumed I would be able to tell when someone was trying to steal from me. One day when I was riding the metro, I put my phone into my back pocket while I was standing. The metro was relatively crowded as it was a Saturday afternoon in the center of the city. I felt someone bump into me and turned around to look. When I turned around the man who bumped into me had a frightened look on his face, so I figured I had an angry look on my face or he thought I was going to retaliate. I apologized to him and turned back around. It was until I reached the next metro stop that I realized my phone was gone and he was actually frightened because he’d thought I was onto him. By that time it was already too late. A few months later I had my phone stolen a second time while I was walking through the city. A man pushed into me under the guise of trying to desperately sell something to me. I put my hands up by my face to signal that I forgave him for bumping into me and signaling that I didn’t want to start a fight. However, he used this opportunity to take my phone out of my front jacket pocket, and by the time I realized he had taken it (about 30 seconds later) he was long gone. Having said this, I would still highly recommend visiting the city of Barcelona, I just take much more caution with my belongings. Now I use the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack and a Datsusara fanny pack (AKA bum bag) to help prevent future theft.
I have learned from these mistakes myself, and I hope this information helps you in your travels also.
I have had a Mizzen + Main shirt for a few years now and wanted to share my thoughts with you:
I don’t wear dress shirts very often, and one of the main reasons is I find them to be very uncomfortable. They usually feel stiff and constricting. However, my Mizzen + Main shirt feels super comfortable and moves with me. When I combine it with my Barbell dress pants it feels as comfortable as wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. Also, the moisture-wicking technology helps keep me dry when it is hot.
My Mizzen + Main shirt is great for travel because it is wrinkle resistant. When I know I will need to dress up on an upcoming trip, I will usually just roll up my Mizzen + Main shirt and stuff it into on of my packing cubes and throw it in my backpack. In the rare instance some wrinkles do show up on the shirt, I will hang it up in the bathroom while I shower and the steam will smooth them out.
I don’t have to worry about getting my Mizzen + Main shirt dry-cleaned because I can just throw it in any washing machine.
The biggest disadvantage of my Mizzen + Main shirt is the price. However, they do occasionally run sales on their shirts. If you contact me I can let you know when sales come up.
What I did and saw:
The Cologne Cathedral is one of the more impressive buildings I have ever been in. While I wouldn’t rank it above buildings like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, I would put it in the same ballpark. It is impressive both in its size and in its detail. Also, it was free to enter when I went.
Christmas Market (Heunarkt)-
Countries like Germany and Belgium have some excellent Christmas markets, and Cologne is no exception. I was in Cologne after Christmas Day, so the main Christmas market in Cologne in front of its famous cathedral was closed when I was there. However there were still other Christmas markets open in the city. One of the open markets was in the Heunarkt area, and it was a great Christmas market in its own right, complete with some great food, drink, and even an ice skating rink.
Schokoladenmuseum Köln (Lindt Chocolate Museum)-
Set in what looks like an enormous boat on the coast of the Rhein river, the Lindt Chocolate Museum in Cologne is a very interesting place to visit. The museum explores the history of chocolate, the various ways it is processed, and other things such as the economic and political implications of chocolate. There is even a climate controlled room with actual chocolate plants that you can enter. The entry fee includes a few samples, and I would suggest allowing time for them to make your custom chocolate bar that is available upon entry.
Where I ate and drank:
Brauerei zur Malzmühle-
Cologne is famous for making Kolsch, and Brauerei zur Malzmühle is a great place to try it. After I was seated the first thing I was told by the waitress (without having actually ordered anything yet) was, “Your drink is on its way, what would you like to eat?” The glasses were relatively small, and if my drink was ever empty, the glass would be taken, and full one would be brought to me, and a tally mark would be made in my coaster. This ensured that my drink was always cold and fresh. Additionally, the food was incredibly tasty.
Delirium Cafe Koln-
The Delirium Cafe in Cologne was located in the vicinity of the Heunarkt Christmas market. They have a great selection of different brews, and it is a cool place to relax and have a good conversation.
The Coffee Gang-
Although it is located slightly outside the center of the city, The Coffee Gang is worth a visit when in Cologne. They serve some great craft coffee, and they also offer some tasty food options.
Where I stayed:
Hotel NH Köln Altstadt-
I was able to use points to stay at Hotel NH Köln Altstadt for free. It was a very nice, clean, and comfortable place to stay. It was located very close to the coast of the Rhein and the Lindt Chocolate Museum.
How I got around:
I used the train to get in and out of town from the airport, and I walked to get around the city and take in the sites.
My favorite thing:
Cologne is a beautiful city, the Christmas market was great, and the Brauerei zur Malzmühle was a fun, unique experience. However, my favorite thing in Cologne was the impressive cathedral.
My least favorite thing:
My least favorite thing about my time in Cologne was the cold, rainy weather. Also, many of the good coffee shops are located outside of the city center
For next time:
Next time in Cologne it would be nice to try more of the food and drink in the city. Also, if I am able to be there during the Christmas season, it would be nice to be there while the Christmas market in front of the cathedral is open.
Europe has a handful of budget airlines that can allow travelers to visit a variety of different countries on the continent for cheap prices. However, these airlines can also come with some downsides. Here are my experiences flying with some European budget airlines:
I have flown Ryan Air quite a few times. Ryan Air is notorious for charging for every little thing. For example, they charge to check a bag as well as to carry on a bag, and charge for any seat selection. They do not offer any complimentary food or drink. They tend to use minor airports or minor terminals in major airports. For example, in the Barcelona area they fly out of terminal 2 in Barcelona (with EasyJet) or out of a small airport in Reus, a smaller city outside of Barcelona. Because they use many minor airports or minor terminals, I usually have go outside and take an airport bus to the plane on the runway and take stairs to the board the plane (as opposed to using a jet bridge to board the plane without going outside). While waiting for the bus the priority groups and non-priority boarding groups tend to get mixed up. For the most part my flights with Ryan Air have been on time. Because I usually want to carry a bag with me and sit next to the other people in my group, my ticket price with Ryan Air tends to be €10 or more higher than the listed price. However, this can still be much cheaper than a flight with another airline. If you know what you are getting into and are prepared, Ryan Air can be a good option.
EasyJet is another airline that will charge for virtually everything. However, unlike Ryan Air they do not charge to bring a regular size carry on, but they do charge if you also bring a smaller personal item. They are also the only airline that I have witnessed using the sizing box for bags to make sure they are within the size limits (many times people are ok taking bags that are slightly larger on other airlines). Like Ryan Air they charge for things like selecting seats and they do not offer complimentary food or drink. Most of the flights I have taken with EasyJet have been on time.
Vueling and Eurowings-
Vueling and Eurowings are budget airlines based in Catalonia and Germany, respectively, but they do not feel as stingy as Ryan Air or EasyJet. They allow a carry on bag as well as a personal item, but they do not offer complimentary food or drink. They do charge for selecting seats, but there is a chance you will be placed together with someone if the tickets are on the same reservation. Most of the flights I have taken with these airlines have been relatively on time.
Unlike the airlines mentioned previously, TAP serves complimentary food and drink on their flights. They also allow a carry on bag and a personal item. However, many on the flights I have taken with them have been delayed. I have even had a flight cancelled with them, and when they placed us flights the following day the people in my traveling group were split up into different flights. Fortunately there are laws in Europe that require airlines to provide compensation, although getting compensation was like pulling teeth. That being said, I finally did get my compensation, and the actually flight experience with TAP has been good.
When using any of these airlines I would suggest taking precautions like checking the airline website for the most up to date information related to different charges. Also, be careful to add any charges you will incur before deciding what the real price will be. And I would suggest taking precautions such as using electronic tickets whenever possible. Using an electronic ticket will also significantly decrease the chance a carry on bag will get weighed if it is close to (or over) the weight limit. All that being said, there are some great deals to be had on European budget airlines.
What I did and saw:
Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar-
The Basilica Señora del Pilar is a magnificent building, and in my opinion the number one site to see in Zaragoza. Inside, the "Pilar" can be touched for goodluck, and the artwork can be admired. Also, it is cheap and easy to go up the tower of the basilica, and it provides great views of the city, river, and surrounding area. Just outside the basilica is the very nice Plaza del Pilar.
Zaragoza Origami Museum (EMOZ)-
The "Escuela Museo Origami Zaragoza" is a very cool origami museum. They have some very impressive origami pieces on display, as well as some insight into the history of origami. It is very inexpensive to enter, and they also offer origami workshops.
Parque Grande José Antonio Labordeta-
The Parqu Grande José Antonio Labordeta is a large, beautiful park in Zaragoza. There is plenty of space to run, bike, or do other types of exercise. There are also many beautiful gardens, statues, and foutains.
Palacio de la Aljafería-
The Aljafería Palacio is an impressive medieval Moorish palace and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I took advantage of the free entry time on Sunday and explored the inside of the beautiful building. The palace was built in the 11th century and has since been restored. It is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are able to go during the free entry time!
There are some very nice bridges that cross the Ebro river in Zaragoza. The Puente de Piedra, Puente del Tercer Milenio, and Pabellón Puente are all worth checking out if you have time. However, the Pabellón Puente can only be currently seen from the outside as the inside is currently closed. As their names would suggest, the Puente de Piedra is an ancient stone bridge, but both the Puente del Tercer Milenio and Pabellón Puente were both built in 2008. The Puente de Piedra offers some nice views of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
Where I ate and drank:
Izakaya and El Angel del Pincho-
The sister restuarants El Angel del Pincho and Izakaya are both excellent tapas places. The menu at El Angel del Pincho isn't super extensive, but what they have is very tasty. Izakaya puts an asian spin on their tapas and serve up some tasty Bao.
"El Tubo" is an older area of the city of Zaragoza that contains some cool places to and drink. One of these places, Casa Lac, is slightly more expensive than some of the others (although still very well priced), but also very high quality. As it opened in 1825, it is one of the oldest restaurants in Spain, and has played host to important dinners over its history.
Taberna Ordio Minero, Hoppy, and Beer Corner-
Considering the relative size of the city of Zaragoza, as well as its wine culture, I was surprised and impressed by the craft beer offerings in the city. Taberna Ordio Minero, Hoppy, and Beer Corner all offer great options for quality drinks and some tasty food, both at good prices.
As chocolate has a long history in Zaragoza (it has been made there since the 16th century), the tourism department of Zaragoza offers a "Chocopass" that allows you to try specialties from five different places of your choice for just nine euros. The treats I tried were very tasty, but my favorite was from La Alacena de Aragón.
Café Botánico, La Bendita, La Clandestina, and Doña Hipólita-
Each of these cafes are nice spots to grab a small breakfast, or to sneak into for a break from the day and a snack.
El Criollo Coffee Store-
The best coffee I had in Zaragoza was at El Criollo. They are an historic spot that has been open since 1910. Due to this past and their location, the majority of drink offered are espresso based. However, I was served a very good Chemex, and their filter coffee drink are priced incredibly well also.
Where I stayed:
Albergue Zaragoza Hostel (Be Zaragoza Hostel)-
Be Zaragoza Hostel was fairly well located and allowed me to walk to see most of the sites I wanted to in the city. However, there were only two outlets in a ten bed dorm, and there were no shelves or curtains on the beds. Also, the staff weren't very helpful in terms of local trasport and area recommendations. There was an extra cost for bedsheets, while the basement common area seemed nice, there was also a charge to enter it. The breakfast was included but it was only cereal and milk. That being said, the price for a bed was relatively cheap, but I would probably stay somewhere else next time.
How I got around:
I arrived in Zaragoza by train from Barcelona. Once in the city I walked to get around and see the sites.
My favorite thing:
Zaragoza is much less crowded than other Iberian cities such as Lisbon, Madrid, and Barcelona. Also, the food and drink in the city is realtively well priced, especially when considering the quality. The Basilica Señora del Pilar is a magnificent building, and combined with going up the tower in my opinion it is the best thing to see and do in Zaragoza.
My least favorite thing:
Zaragoza does have a lot to offer, but it does not have everything large cities like London, Barcelona, Chicago, and Rome have to offer. That being said, it is a great place to spend a number of days in, and even after a long weekend there were still more things I wanted to see, do, eat, and drink there.
For next time:
Next time in Zaragoza I would like to visit the Monasterio de Piedra just outside the city. It is said to be the home of chocolate, and that the first Europeans to taste chocolate were the monks at this monastery. I would also be interested in checking out some other museums in Zaragoza such as the Zaragoza Museum and the Goya Museum.
Trip Advisor can be a nice tool to use when visiting a new city. As I mentioned in my post on making travel itineraries, TripAdvisor is one of the tools I will use. Here of some of the advantages and disadvantages of using Trip Advisor:
Trip Advisor gives a good idea of the main sites and things to do in a city. It is easy to check out what there is to do in a city you might be unfamiliar with. You can read reviews by people who have visited the sites to get an idea for a plan when visiting a new city.
Restaurants can be sorted by price and other categories. For example, you can sort by seafood or by Indian food, and you can search for fine dining or cheap restaurants. Trip Advisor will rank restaurants both overall and by category.
Trip Advisor has changed its format, apparently in an attempt to look and function more like Facebook. In my opinion this is a step in the wrong direction, and just makes the site come across as less organized. I think they should stick with what they do well and leave social media feeds to social media sites.
When using only Trip Advisor some great places can be missed, because unfortunately the majority is not always right. Also, while you can search by category, it is not always specific enough. For example, some coffee places might be rated highly for their pastries instead of their coffee. So someone looking for good coffee might end up at a place with below average coffee but good pastries (that they may not even want).
Some establishments have been known to pay for positive reviews of their establishment. They have also been found to pay employees to write fake negative reviews about competing establishments. Also, many restaurants seem to dislike Trip Advisor, and prefer to use word of mouth or other methods to grow their businesses.
I like to use trip advisor to get an idea of a place, but it is only one of a number of resources I use when planning a trip. Also, it is important to check the dates of reviews, because restaurant quality and menus can change over time so a review that is very old may be obsolete. However, using Trip Advisor can help when planning a trip to a new place.
What I did and saw:
Berlin Wall (East Side) Gallery-
Part of the infamous Berlin Wall still stands as a reminder of the past. It has become a popular place for graffiti artists, and there are some interesting works there. It is definitely worth checking out when visiting Berlin.
Sandemans Free Walking Tour-
As I have mentioned in previous posts, free walking tours are a great way to see a new city. They provide good context and some good recommendations when visiting a city.
Set on an island in the Spree River that runs through the city of Berlin, Museum Island houses some great museums, such as the Neues Museum. They offer single museum passes as well as whole island passes. I only had a day there, and I could have spent much longer there.
Topography of Terror-
Berlin has a number of free museums with the goal of educating people about the past, and the Topography of Terror museum is one of these. The hope is that through this education, we will keep from repeating past mistakes and atrocities.
Berlin, like many other German cities, has some great Christmas Markets. While some of them had closed for the season before I got there, some were still open, and they were great to visit.
Where I ate and drank:
I visited the Schlesisches Tor Burgermeister location underneath a train bridge. The unassuming place served me the best hamburger I have ever eaten. The burger, bread, and toppings are all high quality. There could be a wait during peak times, but when I was there they worked through the line relatively quickly.
Bone Berlin and Kaffee 9 (Markthalle Neun)-
Markthalle Neun is a great food market, with most of the places serving food to eat on site, but a few places selling ingredients to cook with back home. Bone Berlin serves great food for good prices. I tried the shakshuka, curry, and french toast (all with German twists to them). Located right by Bone Berlin in Markthalle Neun, Kaffee 9 serves up some really good craft coffee, with filter and espresso options.
Annelies is a great breakfast cafe. They serve good coffee and great food with excellent service (and a cool name too).
Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebap and Curry 36-
After hearing from multiple sources that Mustafa’s had amazing kebabs, I thought it was worth a try. However, there was a massive wait in line. While waiting in line I ate some curry wurst from nearby Curry 36. The curry wurst was good, but I preferred the curry wurst I had at Typisch (see below). Also, the kebab from Mustafa’s was very good, but not worth the wait in my opinion.
Typisch is a solid plane that I stopped at on my Sandemans walking tour. The curry wurst I had there was the my favorite curry wurst in Berlin.
Buck and Breck-
Hidden behind an unassuming store front, Buck and Breck is a cool, laid back speakeasy that serves high quality drinks.
Brewdog Berlin Mitte and Mikkeller-
While neither of them were started in Berlin, both Brewdog and Mikkeller have outposts in Berlin. They serve excellent craft beer and good food. The Jule Mælk I had at the Brewdog in Berlin is still one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted in my life.
The best cup of coffee I had in Berlin was at the Barn. The award winning serves up some good food options in addition to their excellent coffee.
Where I stayed:
Plus Berlin was a very nice play to stay. They even have a pool and sauna, but unfortunately I was unable to use them. They are only open from 10am-10pm everyday, and I usually would leave before 10am and not get back to the hostel until after 10pm.
How I got around:
I walked a good amount in Berlin to see the sites, but because it is such a large city, I also used the train to get around the city.
My favorite thing:
It was nice to be in Berlin during the festive Christmas season, the museums were interesting, and the food I ate was great. However, my favorite thing was the Jule Mælk I had at Brewdog.
My least favorite thing:
Due to the fact that Berlin is in a way two cities, it covers a very large area. Many sites and restaurants are very spaced out, and it can take a long time to get from place to place.
For next time:
As I said above, Berlin is a massive city, so there are still many things I want to do and try there. There are a couple more museums I would like to check out and quite a few more craft coffee places I would like to try.
My name is Billy. I am a personal trainer and teacher. I love traveling, and wanted to share some of my experiences. I hope to inspire you to see, taste, and experience more of the world. Feel free to take some of my recommendations for your own travels. I also blog about health and fitness at CustomizeMyWorkout.com/blog