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.
Welcome to the Healthy Explorer Blog. If you like travel stories have a look around my blog and check out my podcast— maybe you'll find an extra spark for your own adventures.