A few days of cheap beer in Prague!

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When were we there
5 days, July 24 – July 28

Where did we go
✈️ Flight from Paris to Prague
🏨 Hotel Josef
Good location but kinda meh.

Highlights

  • Apple Museum
  • Cheap beer
  • Hemingways bar
  • Lunch at La Bottega (amazing hamburger)

We were disappointed by Prague. By far, it was the most touristy place we’ve been. The main square was PACKED with tourists from all over the world. You couldn’t walk anywhere without bumping into someone.

We did a walking tour of the city, which was great to learn the history. Our tour guide mentioned that two of the “most disappointing touristy spots in Europe” are in Prague.

The things that draw people to Prague are kinda lame. The great astrological clock sucks. The castle isn’t a castle. The beer is cheap but not that great.

It felt like Prague was looking for its identity, and it was turning to others for inspiration, “we have beer and castles too!”

I’m sure other parts of the Czech Republic are amazing, and I want to visit more of the area, but Prague itself can easily be skipped.

La Vie en Rose

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We had a great time exploring Paris, and then driving through wine country. We ate well and drank the best wine of our lives.

When were we there
23 days, July 2 – July 24

Where did we go
✈️ Flight from Athens to Paris
🏡 Airbnb in Paris
Really great apartment in Le Marais.
🚗 Drove to Saumur (Loire Valley)
🏨 Hotel St Pierre in Loire
Great hotel in the center of town right next to the church. Saumur is a perfect jumping off point for wine tasting through the Loire Valley.
🚗 Drove to Bordeaux
🏨 Hotel Burdigala
Nice modern hotel just outside of the city center.
🚗 Drove to Beaune (Burgundy)
🏨 Hotel Le Cep
We did one night here. Small and outdated, I wouldn’t go back.
🏡 Airbnb in Beaune
AMAZING apartment just a 3 minute walk to the center of town.
🚗 Drove to Reims (Champagne)
🏨 Hotel L’Assiette Champenoise
Super fancy hotel, free champagne when we arrived, 3 star michelin restaurant on site. But it’s far from town.

Highlights

Paris

  • Selfie with Mona at the Louvre
  • Versailles
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Euro cup semifinal win against Germany
  • Catacombs

Wine country

  • Sparking wine in Loire (awesome and cheap!)
  • Eurocup finals loss against Portugal 😦
  • Second growth wineries in Bordeaux
  • Exploring St Emillion
  • Michelin star restaurants in Beaune!
  • Tasting at Chateau de Pommard. Tasted 8 wines, some old vintages, all for free!
  • Tasting lunch at Olivier Leflaive
  • Dinner at Le Millennia
  • Visiting small family run houses in Champagne
  • Dinner at A Lallement (3 michelin star restaurant)
  • Driving around France. Great roads, super fun

We knew France was a place we wanted to spend a lot of time. The wine. The food. The wine! We had been to France before for short stops, but this time we wanted to settle in. While I can’t say we really settled (we moved around a lot) we did spend about 3 weeks in total between Paris and wine country. And it was amazing.

Paris was great, but nothing surprising. Delicious food, great wine. We are definitely seeing a trend where even “difficult” places to travel like France and Japan are becoming super easy. Tourism is leading to more english speaker sand menus. Whether that’s good or bad is up to the reader.

As we moved through wine country, we saw so many different styles of wine and so many different attitudes from the wineries. We went in expecting some snobbiness, but it was interesting for sure.

Loire: lots of lesser known producers making GREAT wine. They aren’t premiere cru, but still very high quality. They are generally lesser known. We had great reds for $5 and sparklings for $8. You can walk in to any place for a free tasting.

Bordeaux: super snobby. You must have a reservation, and they book up months in advance. Most small wineries don’t cater to tourists at all, and prefer French speaking industry folks. A friend gave me some great advice: email all the wineries. ALL OF THEM. It took some time but we got some killer reservations: Château Lascombes, Château Rauzan-Gassies, and Château Léoville Poyferré. Also some wineries in St Emillion which is an easier to taste.

Burgundy: we thought Burgundy would be the MOST snobby since the wine is SO expensive (but we love it). That didn’t turn out to be true! While most places still required a reservation, they were very accommodating if you called even a day in advance. Also, there were tons of michelin restaurants including many in wineries with wine tasting lunches that were cheap. BLOWN AWAY.

Champagne: Absolutely amazing. We had heard about “small houses” vs “big houses” but didn’t really know what that meant until we showed up.

I thought small houses meant places like what Kate and I optimize for in Napa. More personal service. What we discovered is at a totally different level. We were literally *in the winemaker’s house*. These houses looked like normal houses from the street, but they had vines in the back and a cellar underground.

At each tasting, we were literally the only people there. The winemaker gave us a personal tour, told us their story, and shared their wine with us. It was an experience I’ve never had before (also, free!).

Our favorite tasting was at Guiborat. The winery is run by a husband and wife. they employee 3 people, have a 5 year old son, work 5 days per week, and produce 25k bottles per year. Fifth generation wine makers, and the grandmother still lives on the property. The wife said she was nervous when she first met her husband, “what if I don’t like his champagne?”

We love champagne. Very dry, mineral driven, yeasty, toasty, briochey, with very little sugar. It’s not common in California at all. Houses are making sweeter champagnes for the older generation, but the young folks (like us!) prefer the more dry, natural wines.

Blown away by the wine making in France, the people, the food, the roads, and everything else about this amazing country.

History and paradise in Greece

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Greece is now one of our favorite places in the world. It has amazing history in Athens, and incredible islands where you can go and relax. Great food and cheap!

When were we there
13 days, June 20 – July 2

Where did we go
✈️ Flight from Istanbul to Athens
🏨 Grecotel Pallas Athena
Nice, simple hotel in the center of town. Easy to walk to everything.
✈️ Flight from Athens to Santorini
🏨 Altana Traditional Suites
AWESOME little hotel in Imerovigli, a small town between the touristy spots. Awesome suites with private balconies and awesome views. Owned by identical twin brothers who are great and very knowledgeable.
⛴ Ferry from Santorini to Paros
🏨 Poseiden of Paros
Another GREAT hotel. Right on the Golden Beach in Paros. Amazing pool. One of the best restaurants ever. We ate 8 meals there in 3 days and loved EVERYTHING.
⛴ Ferry from Paros to Athens

Highlights

Athens

  • The Acropolis & Acropolis Museum
  • Archeological Museum
  • Byzantine Museum

Santorini

  • Hike to Oia
  • Wine tasting
  • Boat ride and snorkeling
  • Drinking Yellow Donkey

Paros

  • Chilling in the pool
  • Chilling at the beach
  • Eating food at our hotel
  • Drinking Volkan Grey

Absolutely blown away by Greece. Every day was a new and different adventure in history, food, and relaxation :).

Athens is busy, of course, but it’s worth it because the Acropolis is incredible and the city has some of the best museums we’ve ever been to.

After Paros we went to Santorini, one of the most popular islands in Greece. It far exceeded my expectations. People will tell you it’s touristy, and it can be. But here’s the secret: don’t stay in one of the touristy areas! There was a ton to see and do: wine tasting, hiking, caldera cruise, unique beaches, and much more thanks to the crazy volcanic landscape. We hiked much of the caldera along the Santorini cliff, one of the best hikes we’ve ever done.

Santorini is a place tourists often “see” in a day. I’m glad we had some time to explore the towns and get away from the crowds. In particular, we loved our hotel in Santorini (Altana Suites). The owners are identical twin brothers and they are the nicest guys in the entire world. Free hugs on the way out.

After Santorini we headed to Paros. Paros reminds me of Cabo: incredible beaches, beautiful resorts, great food, and CHEAP. Our sea view suite was <$100! Europeans are lucky.

If you’re looking for your next vacation spot, Athens plus the Greek islands is a great combination of history, sites, and leisure.