Robot Restaurant Tokyo

Play Robot Restaurant video to be wowed

Tokyo feels a world apart from the rest of the country, and from Earth in general. The city is wonderfully weird and inspirationally insane. Diving into the city’s lively Shinjuku neighborhood at night will probably be the closest you come to interstellar travel. Welcome to planet Crazy!

After exploring the city’s ever-clinking Pachinko parlors, kooky Harajuku culture and anime emporiums, we were looking for the piece de resistance of crazy Tokyo experiences. Resistance was futile. There was no way we could escape the gravitational force of Tokyo’s insane Robot Restaurant, a futuristic electro-cabaret featuring a very distinct air of Disneyland meets Blade Runner. Merely approaching the restaurant, makes it clear that this is something different. Continue…

Happy Birthday Tony!

Tony's birthday

Happy 47th birdday, Tony! How does it feel to have spent the last ten years traveling the world? Obviously, you’ve made some new friends along the way. Enjoy the love! 🙂

Madrid Highlights

Madrid in spring

Twenty-first century Madrid positively surprised us. Before Tony and I met, we visited Madrid independently in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and we both left the city NOT loving it. While Tony got robbed in the ChamartĂ­n train station (and had to deal with the aftermath including a screaming match with an embassy official who refused to help a stranded 19-year old), I passed through the same railway station and found the city to look dull and grey through my dusty train window. Coming back 25 years later, however, completely restored our faith in what must be one of Spain’s most livable cities.

During our 3-week stay in Madrid, we saw the city in a very different light. The rough edges seemed to have softened and the city parks and art museums were everything but dull and grey. To give you an idea how to find some color, excitement and fun, and make the most of your time, we have compiled some of our most enjoyable activities in Madrid. Continue…

Luxury Yurt Camping in Lanzarote

Hit play to start glamping

As we drive north from Arrecife to the small coastal village of Arrieta, we immediately notice how different Lanzarote looks from the other Canary Islands we have visited. Most obvious is the lack of high-rise buildings and huge tourist complexes. The black scorched land along the coast is dotted with small white-washed villages and traditional windmills. We marvel at the bizarre landscape of terraced cones, squat craters, and soil that shimmers with onyx hues of the volcanic spectrum. It seems like a spectacular location for our glamping experience at Lanzarote Retreats. Continue…

Tokyo Food Tours

Tokyo Food Tours

Japan had been on our bucket list for a while, but the actual decision to come here was made in the spur of a moment. “I want to go to Japan and eat,” Tony said one afternoon after an uninspired meal. No sooner did he utter these words than I booked us a flight to Tokyo, sushi wonderland and foodie capital for many travelers. After having spent five years in Asia, we considered ourselves relative experts on Asian cuisine. Obviously, all we had to do was walk the capital’s busy streets and fill our bellies with exotic delicacies. Or so we thought.

It turns out that Japan is a whole different kettle of fish. With a population of over 13 million, metropolitan Tokyo seems to have almost as many restaurants, food stalls and izakayas as it has people. Yes, there is such a thing as too many options. What should you have for lunch? A Michelin-starred bento plate or green tea soba noodles? How about yamaimo or fugu? Oh, that’s right – one can make you sick, the other can potentially kill you. Add to that language difficulties and chokingly high prices, and you find yourself Continue…

Lisbon Oceanarium

Click play to start the video

One of Lisbon’s number one Tripadvisor attractions is the Oceanário de Lisboa, an architectural statement in the futuristic Parque das Nações on the Tagus River. The highly conceptual building houses the city’s cutting-edge aquarium designed by architect Peter Chermayeff. Its centerpiece, a massive cylindrical tank holding 100 species, serves as the heart of this aquarium experience.

As visitors circle the 5-million-liter saltwater tank on two different viewing floors, their perspectives constantly shift. They can be eye-to-eye with a school of mackerel floating at the top, or get a close-up look of a bottom-dwelling leopard shark on the sandy floor. The pre-designed path around the aquarium also passes through many smaller side exhibits representing marine habitats from the North Atlantic, the temperate Pacific, the tropical Indian, and the Antarctic Continue…

Lisbon Food Tours

Enjoying Lisbon's Food Tours

Portuguese food is a topic Tony and I knew very little about. Although we had encountered variations of Portuguese dishes in former colonies such as Macau, Brazil and the Indian regions of Goa and Diu, not much seemed familiar as we made our way through the narrow streets of Lisbon’s old town. Local specialties were advertised at every corner: Pastel de BelĂ©m, pata negra ham, bacalhau or vinho verde. But where to start?

Our awesome experience with various food tours in Rome had taught us that it’s sometimes better (and easier) to leave it up to the experts. Why fight it, right? So just as we did in Italy, we sought out the advice of local gourmands. In order to get a good understanding of what authentic Portuguese cuisine was really like, we chose three different foodie activities in Lisbon: a food walking tour, a wine tasting, and a cooking class. As fast as you can say “salada de bacalhau com grĂŁo de bico”, we were on our way to becoming experts. Continue…

Happy Birthday Tony!

Tony's birthday!

Happy 46th birthday, Tony! This year, I can give you the biggest gift of all. You’ve had the immense pleasure of spending half of your life with me. You’re welcome!

Rome off the Beaten Path

Giant foot in the Capitoline Museums

With over 10 million tourists a year, Rome is the third most visited city in Europe after London and Paris. And for good reason. It is a treasure trove of ancient monuments, history and art. Unfortunately, Rome is also one of those cities with a disproportionate focus on a handful of obvious sights such as the Colosseum or St. Peter’s Basilica. But what makes Rome so fantastic is not just the classics, it’s the sum of everything that lies in between.

Finding the not-so-obvious, however, can be quite a daunting task. Many of Rome’s lesser-known attractions are literally underground. But if you make the effort to look beyond the well-trodden trail, you’ll be surprised what you discover. After first introducing our Classic Rome Highlights in a previous post, here are some of our favorite off-the-beaten-path attractions in and around Rome to get you started. Continue…

Rome for Curious Foodies

Shopping at Volpetti

I don’t think it’s a secret that Tony and I love to eat. As bloggers, we cover all aspects of travel, but food is definitely one of our favorite topics. Needless to say, Rome was an obvious place for a little food-venture. Our research on local specialties had us drooling all over our keyboards. Stuffed zucchini flowers, truffled pecorino, and Roman Jewish-style artichokes were just a few treats we wanted to try. We couldn’t wait to start eating.

As it turns out, navigating Rome’s labyrinth of restaurants and food markets was a lot more challenging than you might expect. The city is gigantic, very touristy, and much of the center is plagued by mediocre, overpriced tourist fare. So where could we get our specialty cheeses, an authentic home-cooked meal, or the best gelato? Obviously, we didn’t want to spend our good money on bad food. So we did what any sensible blogger would do: we sought professional help. Continue…