Coffee

Scenic Railway Oslo to Bergen Norway

We recently took the Oslo to Bergen Norway scenic railway. Some say it is one of the most scenic rail systems in the world. We started in Oslo Norway. The train went through Oslo suburbs and started it journey into the countryside. As it climbed the foothills, there was snow everywhere. After a while we were among beautiful lakes on both sides of the train. Then we ascended above the tree line and into a deep snow and mountain peak world. It was a wilderness but so peaceful. We chose Comfort+ Class, which gave us bigger and more comfortable seats for the journey and free coffee or tea.

Come ride the train with us in this YouTube video:

– George

Categories: Bergen, Coffee, Comfort+ Class, Europe, General Travel, Norway, Oslo, Oslo to Bergen Scenic Railway, snow, Snow, Tea, Trains, VLOG, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hotel Verdandi Oslo Norway

Hotel Verdandi is a wonderful small hotel in Oslo. It is about a 13-minute walk from the Central Train Station. As you exit the front of the station, you walk straight on a pedestrian walk way towards the Palace. The hotel is on the left about 2 blocks off the walkway. It is near the Palace, City Hall and the waterfront. There are restaurants along the pedestrian walkway as well as at the waterfront.

The rooms are nice, clean and the staff is friendly. The hotel gives a free breakfast at a restaurant across the street. It is a buffet including eggs, cheese, meats, fruit, breads and sweet rolls.

If you plan a trip to Oslo, this is a great hotel in a very convenient location to stay.

-George

Categories: Boats, Coffee, Eating, Europe, Food, Fruit, General Travel, Hotel Verdandi, Hotels, Norway, Oslo, Scandinavia, sea, Towns, Trains | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ibsens Hotel Copenhagen Denmark

We just returned from 3 wonderful weeks in Scandinavia. Our itinerary was:

  • flying into Frankfurt Germany for 3 nights
  • We then flew to Oslo Norway for 2 nights
  • Then we took the scenic train from Oslo to Bergen for 2 nights
  • We then flew from Bergen to Stockholm for 3 nights
  • We then took an overnight Viking cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki for 3 nights
  • We then flew from Helsinki to Copenhagen for 5 nights
  • We flew back to Frankfurt for 1 night to catch our flight home the next day

In Copenhagen Denmark we stayed at a remarkable hotel called the Ibsens. This VLOG is about this hotel, its staff and location. If you are planning a trip to Copenhagen, stay at the Ibsens for a great experience. Tell them I sent you.

There are two new playlists on my YouTube account:

  1. Scandinavia
  2. Denmark

This video is in both as well as my Hotels Playlist.

Enjoy the video:

-George

Categories: BLOG, Boats, Coffee, Copenhagen, Denmark, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Food, Ibsens Hotel, Metro Travel, Pastry, Romance, Scandinavia, Sweets, Towns, VLOG | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Breakfast in Italy

Breakfast is an important meal but Italians eat a light and sweet breakfast because they eat dinner so late. Hotels and B&Bs serve breakfasts of pastry, yogurt, meats and cheeses, rolls, and of course coffee or tea. If your hotel does not serve a free breakfast … DO NOT BUY ONE! go to the nearest bar and eat like all the other Italians. Order a coffee, espresso or cappuccino and a cornetto. Cornetti look like croissants but are softer. They come filled with cream, chocolate or jelly. Be an Italian while you are in Italy. I look forward to breakfast at a bar.

Some bars are PATISSERIES and have a huge selection of pastries and cakes. These are special experiences but can affect your waistline.

Join us in the YouTube video below as we show you the different breakfasts of Italy:

– Ciao
– George

Categories: Bars, BLOG, Bread, Cheese, Chocolate, Coffee, cornetto, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Pastry, Sweets, Traveling without a tour, VLOG, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to enjoy Italy Fully

Italy is a place most people love. They may like the big cities, the smaller villages, the towns their ancestors came from, the museums, the food, the wine or the people. I love it all. Italy is a special place. This is why I BLOG about it.

Italian Wine Regions

For my wife, Jo Anne, and I; we don’t believe in tours. We enjoy getting out with the Italians and seeing and tasting the real Italy. We plan trips to big cities so that we see all the important things but the smaller villages are often a spontaneous choice. We may be driving on the autostrada and see an interesting town high on a cliff side. We get off, use our GPS to locate the town and go explore it. We usually stop at a bar first for a coffee and maybe a pastry. These small villages are not hard to navigate but many do have a lot of stairs. Remember where you parked your car or use one of the many apps to find it.

Pisciotta D-Positano aea D-Positano fg San Marino bari_seaview Beaches near Rome 2 IMG_1839 IMG_3211

We also enjoy small European hotels but do pay for a private bath. These hotels are often run by a family that is friendly and helpful. We never stay at the large American resort hotels. They are expensive and the food is not real Italian. We try to eat where the Italians eat. We get local recommendations or find places on our walks. We never eat in touristy places. The food there is horrible. Most larger cities have discount tickets for the major museums and sites. If you are spending a few days, this can save you money but more importantly bypasses the long lines waiting to get in.

Lastly, explore your flight options to Italy carefully. Some flights with several stops appear to be very cheap. Each stop adds time to an already long trip and wears heavily on your body. Some of these flights go way out of your way adding double the flight time. One I saw was from Philadelphia to Rome. It went to Chicago and then to Moscow and finally back to Rome. Why?

American Airlines

George

 

Categories: Air Fares, Bars, City Passes, Coffee, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Flights, Food, General Travel, GPS, Italian, Italy, Mountain Towns, Planning a vacation, Regions of Italy, Romance, Small Towns, Stairs, Tour Groups, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Reasons I Love Italy

Italy has a special place in my heart. I am not Italian but I did a lot of work there. I gained a respect and a love for the country, the people, the food and the wine. Italians seem happy with there life. They know what is important. Their families, their life , their food & wine are all very important to them. They have to work but it is not a important part of their lives. Walk any Italian city (big or small) and you will see the elderly and the young walking. They enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables. They love their cooking especially mamma’s cooking. Their coffee, wine, gelato and bread are a tradition to them. You can here them argue about how good or bad the pasta is at a restaurant. It will never be mamma’s pasta.IMG_3189
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As I walk through a city, I smell the cooking. I see the people outside all around me. I hear the language and the passion with which it is spoken. This is the Italy I so love. People are very friendly here. Just say Buon Giorno to a stranger and watch the smile appear and you will get a Buon Giorno back. If you are trying to speak the language remember there are informal and polite forms of speaking. The young are becoming less formal but the elderly still require a stranger to speak formally.

  • Come Sta – How are you (formal)
  • Come Stai – How are you (informal)
  • Ciao – Hello (informal)
  • Buon Giorno – Hello (Literally Good Morning – Formal)

Be respectful, smile and enjoy all that your senses are experiencing. I even enjoy seeing Italian laundry out to dry. No I don’t have a laundry fetish! I enjoy the colors and shapes against a backdrop of old buildings. It is one of my favorite photo op. In Italy you can buy a dryer but most people prefer the clean scent of drying their clothes outside.

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In the morning I enjoy being in the local bar for coffee and a cornetto. You are submerged in a group of Italians, all talking and quickly drinking their coffee and eating a small cake or cornetto.

sfogliatella IMG_2059

Cornetto

As you leave after breakfast, you are again engulfed in Italian life on the streets. Listen and watch how they talk and communicate with each other. Enjoy the scooters speeding by you. Take in the smells as you pass a restaurant. Later stop in a bar, pizzeria or trattoria for lunch. Bars are famous for eating standing up. It costs more to take a table. You will see Italians eating Panini (sandwiches) and drinking a beer or glass of wine. Between about 2 pm and 4 pm watch the Italian Passeggiata (walk). Families and friends stroll together to enjoy each others company.

Vino Volo IMG_2067 IMG_3057IMG_2985IMG_3178IMG_3122pizza

After your afternoon walking or visiting museums, look for a large piazza. Life really explodes in the Italian piazzas. You will find lots of bars and restaurants here as well. Pick a non touristy place for dinner. I always look for one with mostly Italians and few or no foreigners. You will have to eat late to see Italians as no one eats dinner early in Italy.

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Evening is my favorite time to walk, watch and have a gelato.

IMG_2071 Nocciola Gelato

Life here is much less stressful. Enjoy what you have and what you are. Be Italian for a short while.

George

 

Categories: Bars, Beer, Bread, Coffee, Cooking, cornetto, Eating, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Fish, Fruit, Gelato, General Travel, Italian, Italian language, Italy, Pizza, Trottoria, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Walking Rome

When Jo Anne and I were in Rome (Jo’s first trip to Italy but I had been there many times), we wanted to really experience the city. There is no better way than walking! Rome has excellent metro and bus services that will get you anywhere you want but walking lets you be a Roman. You experience this great city first hand. All the important sites are walkable if you can walk a few miles.

We stayed centrally at Hotel Trevi just around the corner from the Trevi fountain. This is a hard hotel to find even with some cab drivers but worth a stay. It has been getting more popular and the price is going up. From Trevi fountain you can easily see:

  • Spanish Steps and shopping by the steps
  • Villa Borghese
  • Pantheon
  • Trastevere
  • Vatican City
  • Castel San Angelo
  • Forum
  • Old Rome
  • Coliseum
  • Piazza Navona
  • Basilica San Clemente

As you walk to these wonderful tourist attractions, take in the buildings, architecture, streets and people around you. Stop in a bar for a coffee or glass of wine. Hear the motorcycles and scooters all around you. Listen to the music of the Italian language. This is Rome! This is Italy! It must be enjoyed on the streets with the people.

Never stop in a tourist restaurant (any place very close to one of the above attractions). Seek out small family run trattoria that are full of locals enjoying their meal. People eat later in Italy than in the states (except large cities like New York).

Breakfast is usually at a bar on the run. You have a coffee and sweet roll or cake as you catch up on gossip and sports with friends. Lunch is at a pizzeria or trattoria and is taken around 1 or 2 pm. Dinner is much later around 8 or 9 in Rome. Farther south dinner can be as late as 11 pm. Restaurants will open for tourists around 7 or 7:30 pm. The terrible tourist only places stay open all day.

I love strolling these ancient streets, meeting modern-day Romans and partaking in their ancient customs. Let Rome take you away. Enjoy it fully. Don;t be afraid of it. There are pick-pockets everywhere but violent crime is very rare. As you return to your hotel, review what you did that day. Relive each important moment. These are memories you will enjoy for the rest of your life.

Be Romantic …

 

George

 

Categories: Bars, Coffee, Coliseum, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italian language, Italy, Metro Travel, Pantheon, Pastry, Pizza, Planning a vacation, Romance, Rome, Shopping, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fast Food when you Travel? Really?

International Cuisine is not fast food!. Many travelers look for McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and other American fast food chains when they travel. I have news for you, Fast Food is NOT cuisine! If you go to a foreign country and eat American Fast Food, you are missing out on the true gems of that country. Countries like Italy have unbelievably good food. It is NOT the same as Italian food in America. It is soooo much better. Go, see, experience and enjoy the food and wine.

American Fast Food

Fruits & vegetables in these countries are so fresh and ripe. You can smell them and the taste is so delicious. Fish is wild caught and meats are raised and fed properly. Everything tastes great the way it was intended to taste.

In addition to the raw ingredients, the recipes are old and delicious. In Italy you don’t find heavy sauces or a dish with 17 different ingredients. Dishes are simple and stand on the taste of the one or two main ingredients.

I suggest that you try different things when traveling in Italy. Even if you don’t think you like it. This is how you expand your taste buds. There is no better place in the world to do this than Italy.

My memories are of the bread, coffee, gelato, pasta, pastries, pizza, fish, truffles, buffalo mozzarella and wine of Italy.

Mangia … Mangia!

George

 

Categories: Bread, Buffalo Mozzarella, Coffee, Espresso, Europe, Fast Food, Fish, Food, Fruit, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Sweets, Truffles, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Typical Day in Italy

We typically get up and spend time on our balcony looking at the sea and mountains. Monte Stella is a beautiful cone-shaped mountain that protrudes through the clouds. Some days it is hidden by clouds and others it is right there. Our little town is below us on the hill. A train runs by often taking people from Naples to Sicily and back. Jo Anne takes a hundred pictures of this exquisite beauty.

We eventually get ourselves out and drive down to Casal Velino Marina for Breakfast. We have two favorite places: 1) Franco’s and 2) Isola Verde. Isola Verde has free WiFi so we can connect to the world and see what is happening. I order a Cafè (espresso) and Cornetto and Jo Anne orders a Cafè Americano and a piece of Torta (cake) for a few Euros.

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Cornetto

At Franco’s the selection is more exquisite. One of our favorite is sfogliatella.

sfogliatella

sfogliatella

As we sit and finish up with the internet, we plan our day. What city will we visit today? We then drive to our destination and start our tour/walk. At lunchtime we look for a small restaurant or a bar. Bars have great sandwiches and you can have a beer or wine. Small restaurants let you order a local dish and local wine.

After lunch we are back to touring, walking and climbing steps (lots of steps). We typically walk 5 to 8 miles a day and can climb as many flights of steps as 50. This helps work off lunch and maybe that afternoon gelato we can’t resist.

Sometimes we eat dinner locally or we may head back home and eat in one of our favorite local restaurants. Pasta, fish, pizza and other specialties are all prepared fresh and wonderfully. We get to talk with local people and maybe have dinner with friends.

Finally we head home to sit on our balcony with a glass of wine and reflect on Italy’s beauty and prepare for another day of the same encantment. We are blessed and lucky to have such a romantic place to call home!

George

 

Categories: Bars, Beer, Cafè, Casal Velino Marina, Coffee, cornetto, Dolce, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Exercise, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Ristorante, Romance, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Coffee in Italy

Coffee or caffè in Italy is a way of life. It is not guzzled in gallon sized mugs but sipped in small demitasse cups. It is what we call espresso. Italians love their caffè because it is not just a drink but a social activity. You meet friends and colleagues on the way to work and have a caffè. Their caffè is never bitter but it is strong and delicious. It is always drunk hot and quickly in a few sips.

Pavoni 2

Cafe Machine

Caffè is purchased at a bar. This is where Italians eat breakfast. Breakfast is a caffè and a pastry like a cornetto (croissant).

cornett02 cornetto1

Cornetto

This breakfast is fast and light. It is not as sweet as our pastries. It is not about sugar but taste. You never sit and drink 5 caffè in a row. You drink one and may return later for another and to meet a different set of friends.

I was doing consulting in Milan many years ago. I was working for a division of Olivetti. We met a 8 am to start our meeting. I put a schedule of what we wanted to achieve on the board. It took about half an hour. Then the president of the subdivision said, Let’s go to the bar! I thought, WOW they want to go to the bar at 8:30 in the morning? What I soon learned is that the bar is where you eat breakfast and more importantly get caffè. I was learning and enjoying life in Italy.

I never worry about getting breakfast with my hotel room. I know there is a bar on just about every corner. I can get the most delicious and light pastry and a great cup of caffè.

OK you want a big cup of coffee not so strong. No problem! You just ask for Caffè Americano. Cappuccino is very popular all over the world but no Italian would dream of ordering it after 11 am. There are Caffè coffee rules to be followed in Italy. There are also many types, with associated names, of coffee. My favorite name is Caffè Corretto (Coffee corrected – with liquor).

When in Italy go to a bar and have breakfast or lunch or gelato. It is not like bars elsewhere. They are family oriented and fun. I remember arriving in Rome one afternoon. I was tired and heading up the elevator of my hotel with my luggage. Two older American women got on with me. The one looked at me and asked, Are you American? I replied affirmative. They then asked where they could get something to eat before 7:30 pm. I said in Rome most places do not open until after 7:30. I suggested going to a bar. The one lady gave me a very stern look and said, Sonny, I have never been to a bar and I won’t start now. I had a good laugh and had to think, How unfortunately for them. They would never experience the simple delicious meals at a bar. Oh well you can not help everyone!

George

I will continue to do this BLOG while Jo Anne does her’s on southern Italy BLOG.

Categories: Bars, Cafè, Coffee, cornetto, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pastry, Sweets | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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