Amsterdam. Chilled real hard

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When were we there
6 days, September 19-24

Where did we go
🚄 Train from Brussels to Amsterdam
🏡 Airbnb. The only one we left because it sucked!
🏨 Okura Hotel
Cool Japanese style hotel

Highlights

  • Heineken Experience
  • Anne Frank House
  • Walking tour
  • Van Gogh Museum

Amsterdam is a beautiful city with a lot of culture and history. We loved being able to spend the day in museums and walking around the city, and then spend the evenings eating and drinking.

Brussels. Another Chimay please

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When were we there
5 days, September 15-19

Where did we go
🚄 Train from London to Brussels
🏨 The Dominican Hotel
Modern hotel in great location

Highlights

  • Walking tour
  • Beer tour
  • Awesome dinner at Kokob (Ethiopian restaurant)

We loved Belgium. We had great food and lots of great beer. Very young and high energy city. Not much to see, but that’s ok :).

While we were there, the city had a “car free Sunday”: cars are banned in the city, so everyone was out walking and biking. It was awesome.

Visiting the Queen of England

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When were we there
9 days, September 7-September 15

Where did we go
✈️ Flight from Milan to Manchester
🏡 Stayed with family in Manchester
🚄 Train from Manchester to London
🏨 The Westbourne Hyde Park
Really nice brand new hotel. Great layout!
🏨 K+K Hotel George London
Disappointing hotel. Small rooms, tiny gym

Highlights

  • Visiting family
  • Day trip to Durham (Durham Castle and Angel of the North)
  • Dinner at Sachin’s restaurant
  • British Museum
  • The London Eye

We made a stop in England to visit family. From Manchester we made a day trip to Newcastle, where Sachin’s Indian Restaurant is! It was a crazy experience to visit this place we hadn’t been back to in over 30 years, and tell the staff that I was *the* Sachin. It’s one of the best restaurants in town and everyone was super nice! The food was great and the wine list was 👍🏾.

In London we had a great time with Kate’s parents, eating and drinking our way through town. What a great city!

Italy, La Bella Vita

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Please pass the Brunello!

When were we there
23 days, August 16 – September 7

Where did we go
✈️ Flight from Buffalo to Milan
🏨 NH Collection Milano President
🚄 Train from Milan to Monterosso al Mare (Cinque Terre)
🏨 Hotel Margherita
🚗 Drove from Monterosso to Modena
🏡 Airbnb in Modena
🚗 Drove from Modena to Florence
🏡 Airbnb in Florence
🚗 Drove from Florence to Montalcino
🏡 Airbnb in Montalcino
Awesome Airbnb! Hard to find (especially the first time) down many small narrow streets, but amazing. Managed by very knowledgeable and friendly woman.
🚗 Drove from Montalcino to Rome
🏡 Airbnb in Rome
Great spot near the Colosseum!

Highlights

  • The Last Supper
  • Lake Como (didn’t see Clooney)
  • Hike in Monterosso
  • Lunch at Osteria Francescana in Modena
  • Ferrari and Lamborghini museums
  • Florence museums
  • Wine tasting in Tuscany – Brunello de Montalcino!
  • Food and general vibe of Montalcino
  • Civita di Bagnoregio, cool town that you can only get to across a small walking bridge
  • Colosseum
  • St Peters Cathedral
  • Pantheon
  • Pompeii
  • Food and general vibe in Rome!

We had been to Italy before, but never together. We were excited to visit Rome, Florence, and Milan to see the incredible sites and museums there. But what we *really* had our hearts set on was to spend time in the country, eating great food and drinking lots of wine.

In the cities: we started in Milan because our flight landed there, but we weren’t very impressed. We saw The Last Supper, which was great, and saw the Duomo, which is impressive, but otherwise the city didn’t have a ton going on. We took a day trip to Lake Como which was beautiful, but no Clooney sightings.

Cinque Terre is a cool seaside area with lots of locals, great beaches, and amazing hiking Modena was amazing. A small town with the best restaurant in the world. We had a spectacular four hour meal there. Wow. Everyone loves Florence, for good reason. It’s a beautiful city with a ton of great museums and culture. Rome has less of a good reputation but we loved it. Very young, high energy. We thought Rome had the best food of all the cities. We also did a day trip to Pompeii from Rome.

But again, it was the countryside that wow’d us. We drove from Modena to Florence, Florence to Montalcino, and Montalcino to Rome. Along the way we could stop at small towns and see the local culture. Go to Parma for parmesan cheese, Bologna for pasta bolognese, etc. Each town has it’s own speciality and claim to fame.

Driving in Italy is the way to go. Yes, drivers are aggressive, but if you ignore them and drive your own speed you will be fine. The roads are incredible, beautiful and fun.

We stayed in Montalcino for a few days, a town we picked somewhat randomly among a list of 10 in the region. We loved it. Our airbnb was an amazing cottage in the hills. Montalcino is the region that makes Brunello, the wine that is now our favorite Italian wine. From Montalcino we could easily visit other towns like Montepulciano.

Even after 3 weeks in Italy, I was ready for more.