Will travel for food…

Photo via Bon Appétit

It’s no secret that I love to travel, and when I do travel somewhere, it’s usually because of the food!  I have a weakness for Spanish tapas, but I’ll eat just about anything!  A real bonus when traveling is when your hotel can also feed you well!  Bon Appétit just released their 2014 list of Food Lover’s Hotels.  Check it out here.  Now, where should we go first and who’s coming with me?

What’s your favorite foodie hotel?

Spruce Street Harbor Park is a must-see!

Spruce Street Harbor Park, Philly’s newest pop-up park along the Delaware River Front is the ideal summer oasis.  Located at the Penn’s Landing Marina along Columbus Blvd (next to the Hyatt), the park offers a boardwalk, urban beach, floating restaurant/bar, lily pad garden, hammock lounge, games for the kiddos and more.  Open daily from 11 am-1 am through August 31, it’s a summer must-see.  We checked it out over the weekend, and while the temperatures soared into the high 80’s, I was more than content sipping my Yards Saison lounging in the shade, taking it all in.


The Blue Anchor, a floating, pop-up restaurant, managed by the Garces Group, offers a selection of burgers, a salad, fries, desserts and cocktails.  The food is just okay, definitely not up to par with typical Garces fare.  It’s certainly not the highlight of the experience, but will hit the spot, paired with one of the many Yards varieties available on draft next door at the beer station.  Side note: adding to the charm of the maritime history of the park, all of the concession stands are converted shipping containers.

Image via Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

Kudos to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation for a job well done!  While we still have a lot to aspire to – to reach the grandeur of pop-up parks and events that our big brother 90 miles to the north puts on, it’s a step in the right direction for the Delaware River Waterfront and Philadelphians everywhere!

World’s Largest Outdoor Art Gallery

(Photo by David Graham)

Planning a trip to Philadelphia this summer?  Put down the cheesesteak and step away from the Liberty Bell.  Save some time to see  some of the hidden gems that await you in the City of Brotherly Love.   Started in 1984, the Mural Arts Program began as a way to eradicate the graffiti crisis plaguing the city.  Fast forward 30 years and the Mural Arts Program has overseen the creation of over 3,800 pieces of art painted on sides of buildings. 2,000 are still viewable by the public, making this collection the “World’s Largest Outdoor Art Gallery.”

(Photo by Jack Ramsdale)

Support the city-wide initiative and the mission that “art ignites change” by purchasing a ticket to one of many tours offered.  Experience these magnificent masterpieces by trolley, on foot, or on the unique Love Letter Train Tour where you can “view 50 romantic murals from the elevated train line and platforms on this one-of-a-kind subway tour.”

(Photo by Adam Wallacavage)

(Photo by Tom Crane)

Tribute to Frank Guarrera
(Photo by Jack Ramsdale)

As they say around here, “you’re gonna love the arts in Philadelphia.”

Vacation fantasies

In a previous post I mention my husband, the travel planning extraordinaire.  While he manages the logistics of our travel adventures, I spend my time drooling over photos of exotic locations and luxury hotels that I hope to visit at some point in my life.  Maybe I’m late to the party, but have you checked out the Mr. & Mrs. Smith website?  It’s a collection of best-in-class boutique and luxury hotels from all over the globe.  They help to take the guesswork out of finding a truly exceptional vacation by “touring the world’s most stylish and unique hotels, from New York to New Zealand, London to Los Angeles and everywhere in between.”  These hotels truly are amazing and while there are some that carry a hefty price tag, there are a substantial number that are affordable considering the amenities.  I love these…

This just looks oh, so California cool.  The Charlie // Los Angeles, CA

Southern charm and sweet tea, yes please!  Zero George Street // Charleston, SC

Super-chic Caribbean vacay.  Hotel Christopher // St. Barths

I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get any better than Provence, so I’m told!  Le Couvent des Minimes Hôtel & Spa // Provence, France

Italians know how to live well!  Capri Tiberio Palace // Capri, Italy

Where would you like to go?


Date night

Philadelphia boasts numerous offbeat indoor/outdoor events and activities all spring/summer long.  With so much going on in this city, you’d think it would be easy to plan the perfect date.  Just the other day I Googled “date ideas in Philadelphia” and I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed with the results.  Some of the search results were just plain lame, while others on the opposite end of the spectrum, seemed like grand affairs.  As a general rule, I believe a good date involves food/drinks/fun (and not necessarily in that order).  Here are 5 date ideas that involve just the right amount of planning – not too lame and not too over-the-top.  Oh, and did I mention these ideas are friendly on the wallet as well (bonus)!

1.  Cheesesteaks & Garage

If you live in this city, contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually eat cheesesteaks on a regular basis.  Spend your evening in South Philly at two of Passyunk’s finest – Pat’s King of Steaks and Garage.  Pick up a “wiz wit” and head over to Garage where they happily allow you to BYO cheesesteak.  Garage has a great beer list, loud music and skee ball and a pool table.  That’s right, they have skee ball, enough said.

Pat’s King of Steaks // 1237 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia
Garage // 1231 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia

2.  BYOB & Beers

Modo Mio is a casual, regional Italian BYOB offering up the Turista menu, 4 courses for just $35.  After dinner, head down the street to Frankford Hall and grab a few German brews while you lounge in their outdoor beer garden.

Modo Mio // 161 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia
Frankford Hall // 1210 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia

3.  Cook/La Cucina at the Market

Cook by Audrey Claire and La Cucina at the Market offer cooking demos and dinner to eager Philadelphia phoodies.  Both are on the pricier side and can be difficult to secure as they tend to sell out super fast.  This date requires more advance notice than the others but are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

Cook //  253 S 20th St, Philadelphia
La Cucina at the Market  // Reading Terminal Market, 51 N 12th St, Philadelphia

4.  Dim Sum & Karaoke

In Chinatown you’ll find 2 hot spots perfect for a group date.  First, BYO to Dim Sum Garden and indulge in loads of freshly made dumplings.  Side note: Do not miss their signature soup dumplings…nom, nom!  After dinner, and presumably a few drinks, you’ll be ready to belt out some tunes at Yakitori Boy.  If you make advance reservations, you can affordably reserve a private karaoke room for 6 guests and showcase your best Celine Dion!

Dim Sum Garden // 1020 Race St, Philadelphia
Yakitori Boy //  211 N 11th St, Philadelphia

5.  Mini Golf & Radicchio


Head over to Franklin Square in Old City and battle it out on the mini golf course.  A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, right?   Afterwards, head a few blocks north to Radicchio Cafe, a cozy BYOB that serves up a mean grilled calamari salad (pictured).

Franklin Square Mini Golf // N 6th & Race St, Philadelphia
Radicchio Cafe // 402 Wood St, Philadelphia (4th & Vine)

What’s your favorite date night in Philly?

International food rules even Bourdain abides by


Did anyone see the new Bourdain episode this week?  The one where he meets up with Zamir in Russia and they throw back shot after shot of vodka together?  Bourdain, who has no reservations (pun intended) about drinking may not just be obliging drinking buddy Zamir.  Turns out, it’s very bad etiquette to turn down (or mix) vodka in Russia.  Want to know other fascinating etiquette tips that will save you from awkward situations and potentially help you make friends?  Check out these 15 international travel etiquette tips from CNN, published by Budget Travel.

1.  In Thailand, don’t put food in your mouth with a fork.

2.  In Japan, never stick your chopsticks upright in your rice.

3.  In the Middle East, India and parts of Africa, don’t eat with your left hand.

4.  At a traditional feast in Georgia, it’s rude to sip your wine.

5.  In Mexico, never eat tacos with a fork and knife.

6.  In Italy, only drink a cappuccino before noon.

7.  In Britain, always pass the port to the left — and remember the Bishop of Norwich.

8.  In France, don’t eat your bread as an appetizer before the meal.

9.  In China, don’t flip the fish.

10.  In Italy, don’t ask for parmesan for your pizza — or any other time it’s not explicitly offered.

11.  Don’t eat anything, even fries, with your hands at a meal in Chile.

12.  In Korea, if an older person offers you a drink, lift your glass to receive it with both hands.

13.  Never mix — or turn down — vodka in Russia.

14.  When drinking coffee with Bedouins in the Middle East, shake the cup at the end.

15.  In Brazil, play your tokens wisely.

Read the full article here, for the insightful back story on each of these rules.



Come fly with me


I love to travel and strangely enough, in our relationship my husband is the travel planner.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend getaway or an international escapade, he always takes charge of planning the trip.  He spends countless hours researching flights, scouting hotels and reading about the destination.  I can’t complain, I’m just happy to tag along and revel in the fruits of his labor.


We’re in the early stages of planning a getaway in the fall.  I just came across an old New York Times article that measured the effect vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts.  A bunch of researchers from the Netherlands determined that “the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation.”  “Vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.”  Hmmm, it may be time to rethink my travel strategy.

In an attempt to help with the travel planning, I did a little research on when to book a flight to get the best price.

Best time to book your travel //
I found an interesting study conducted by CheapAir.com.  They examined flight booking patterns over the last year and concluded that for domestic travel, “the best time to book a flight is 54 days in advance, on average.” They “also found that booking too early or too late could cause you to pay more than you have to and that the ‘prime booking window,’ where the best fares are available, usually ranges from 29 to 104 days before departure.” 

There are some exceptions to this general rule, including international travel – it has its own set of magic numbers.  It’s recommended that you book your flight much earlier than 54 days in advance.  CheapAir.com recommends the following advance notice for common international travel destinations:

Europe: 151 days before your trip
The Caribbean: 101 days before your trip
Mexico: 89 days before your trip
Latin America: 80 days before your trip
Asia: 129 days before your trip
Africa: 166 days before your trip

Do you have any experience with this?  What secret airline tricks have you discovered?