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Home / Europe / Switzerland / Switzerland| Quick Guide to Hiking Lac de Salanfe & Gorge du Dailley

Switzerland| Quick Guide to Hiking Lac de Salanfe & Gorge du Dailley

Updated: October 9, 2017
By: Ian Yacobucci
Lac de Salanfe (Salanfe Lake) Switzerland Borderless Travels

Marigny, CH – Lac de Salanfe (Salanfe Lake) Switzerland (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

If you hear about a hike from a local, you have good reason to do everything in your power to find it.  This is what brought me to Salanfe Lake and Dailley Gorge, two spectacular hikes that can fill a day, and are only superseded by the drive to find them.

Switzerland is the land of lush green forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains.  It is a place where the melody of cowbells crosses the alpine winds and views that each mountain vista unveils is often more impressive than the last.  For good reason it is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and the only way to experience its natural beauty is by walking through it.

Marigny, CH - Salanfe & Gorge du Dailley Hiking Map area (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Marigny, CH – Salanfe & Gorge du Dailley Hiking Map area (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

The easiest way to get to the Dailley Gorge and Salanfe Lake is to drive. Located just outside the city of Martigny is the mountain town of Salvan where the adventure begins.  At 912m with a population barely scraping past 1000, Salvan is the last stop before you aventure along the pencil thin switchback roads with dark cavernous tunnels built right into the rock leading to Van d’en Bas.

You can hike from Salvan to Van d’en Bas, but in the interest of making this a day trip it’s easier to just drive up and enjoy the adventure of navigating the alpine roads (wondering how buses and winter drivers do it).   

Before entering Van d’en Bas you’ll see a small parking area off to the left.  This is the first stop, and the easiest way to enjoy Dailley Gorge and its breathtaking Pissevache waterfalls that crash down its narrow cliffs.  Lined with elevated wooden bridges and stairs that lead down the gorge, each section revealing impressive engineering and  new views of the snowcapped Rhone Valley mountains towering above the horizon in the distance.  

For us, a 30 minute vertigo-inducing walk down the gorge was invigorating, and more than enough to enjoy everything Dailley Gorge had to offer.  Back at the car, after exploring Dailley Gorge, you’ll need to continue driving up to Van d’en Haute, a tiny hamlet of summer cottages, before the Lac de Salanfe hike begins.  Beyond the cottages is a small parking area before you reach the camp ground.  Here is where you’ll leave the car and begin your hike to the lake.

Van den Bas, CH - Gorge du Dailey overlooking Rohne Valley in the distance  (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Van den Bas, CH – Gorge du Dailey overlooking Rohne Valley in the distance (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

The hike to Salanfe Lake takes about an 1hr 15min and has two routes, one of stairs and another road-like path. Plan to arrive in the afternoon for a Swiss lunch at the lakeside Salanfe Inn while you take in the towering peaks of the surrounding mountains.  If you want to stay the night along Lake Salanfe the Auberge de Salanfe offers dormitory bunks and private rooms as well as a delectable assortment of traditional Swiss options at its restaurant.

Salanfe, CH - Swiss Lunch Goatheard's Rosti with Bacon - grated potato cakes topped with cheese & bacon along Lac de Salanfe (Ian Yacobucci\Borderless Travels)

Salanfe, CH – Swiss Lunch Goatheard’s Rosti with Bacon – grated potato cakes topped with cheese & bacon along Lac de Salanfe (Ian Yacobucci\Borderless Travels)

Not planning to ascend any of the big hikes surrounding the lakes my wife and I enjoyed an afternoon hike and traditional Swiss lunch, then opted to head back down the mountain to the comforts of a Martigny hotel rather stay the night at the Auberge.  However, from the lake sitting at 1950m, you can attempt a variety of other hikes to enjoy exceptional views of the lake and les Dents-du-Midi on a multi day visit with a stay at the inn.  

From here, it’s up to you how you want to plan your adventure to Lake Salanfe and Dailley Gorge but we hope enjoy it as much as we did!

Option: if you’d like to hike up to Dailley Gorge you can do so from Salvan where a hiking trail begins from behind l’Hotel de la Balance.

More: For more information about staying at the Auberge de Salanfe and hikes in the area check out their website http://www.salanfe.ch/en/

Manage to find these hikes and explore the lake and gorge?  Have another great hike in the Martigny\Montreux region?  Share your comments below and let us know that you thought!

Home / Europe / Italy / Italy Hotel Review| Il Boscareto Resort & Spa

Italy Hotel Review| Il Boscareto Resort & Spa

Updated: May 4, 2017
By: Ian Yacobucci
Piedmont Italy

Piedmont, IT – Looking across the Langhe hillsides on the terrace of Sunsi Bar at Il Boscareto Resort and Spa (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

There is a place in Northern Italy where rolling hills of lush green vineyards extend towards the horizon to meet a blue cloudless sky that rises to the heavens like the dome of a grand cathedral.

Looking out among the hilltops dotted with ancient villages of unhurried times, their medieval castle spires symbols of the regal powers that once reigned, it’s hard to believe that places like this still exist in the busied hurried world we live in.

It’s here in Piedmont, Italy, on a hilltop near one such town, that you’ll find Il Boscareto Resort & Spa; a place that blends the pastoral splendor of the Italian countryside with the modernaties of contemporary luxury.

Established in 2009 by Valentina Dogliani whose vision combined the lavish comforts of a luxury resort and spa with the magnificence of the Langhe countryside in Piedmont, Italy’s iconic wine region.

Location

Piedmont Vineyards

Piedmont, IT – Il Boscareto Hillside vineyards from the spa terrace (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Il Boscareto Resort and Spa is located next to Serralunga d’Alba in the Langhe region of Piedmont, Italy.  Easily accessible from Milan’s international airports, diving here takes roughly 1.5 to 2 hours of mostly highway driving with an exhilarating trip through the small hamlets of the Langhe countryside before your arrival.  It’s also a short drive away from Turin and Genoa for those who are in the area.  Be sure to make time for a local stop to sample local wine and some traditional cuisine.

What you get

Amenities –With immeasurable attention to detail the staff and services offered at Il Boscareto ensures visitors can leave their stresses behind and enshroud themselves in relaxation as soon as they step through the door.  Here the Michelin star restaurant, bar, and full service spa and wellness area overlook the surrounding countryside with access to a gym, pool, Finish sauna, Turkish bath, massage suites with the natural wonderment of the region.

Double Room Boscareto

Piedmont, IT – Double Room Suite Il Boscareto Resort and Spa (Ian Yacobucci/ Borderless Travels)

Of course, wifi, direct tv, and all other modern amenities are provided so you can stay connected while you enjoy the comfort of your stay.

Rooms – All of Il Boscareto’s 38 rooms are lavishly designed with detailed luxury that inspires visitors with large windows and patios to connect them with the natural beauty of the resorts surrounding vineyards.  Consideration to detail is seen everywhere from the silk walled textiles to the carefully orchestrated furniture that makes each room unique.

Breakfast – Nothing is more important to us then waking up to a hearty breakfast.  Every morning from 7:30 – 10:30 breakfast is served in Il Boscareto’s breakfast rotunda.  With organic juices (including blueberry!), yogurts, fresh croissants, bacon, eggs, local cheeses, fresh breads, fruits, vegetables, and morning deserts there is something for everyone.  For us, it was the view that made this breakfast location special, and of course the Italian coffee.

La Rei Restaurant

La Rei, named after one of the vineyard terraces that crisscross the hillsides around Il Boscareto, is a Michelin starred restaurant helmed by executive chef Pasquale Laera.  Hailing from Puglia and mentored by infamous Italian chef Antonio Cannavacciulo, Pasquale passionately works to inspire creative Italian dishes that arouse a visceral infusion of northern and southern Italian influence.

Sharing an aperitivo and a coffee Borderless Travels sat down to learn more about Pasquales inspiration.  Passionate about pushing culinary boundaries Pasquale gets inspiration from the natural beauty and splendor of the Piedmont region.  His influence from time spent at Michelin starred restaurants in Copenhagen and Japan also provoke his attention to detail, and with his team they create a tapestry of culinary pleasures well worth the visit.

Pre Desert

Piedmont, IT – Creative pre-desert designed by executive chef Pasquale Laera at Il Boscareto Resort and Spa restaurant La Rei (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Scorpion Fish

Piedmont, IT – Delicately orchestrated Scorpion fish, crusco peppers and spring onion entre from La Rei at Il Boscareto Resort and Spa (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Why you should stay

For a truly Italian experience that unites affordable luxury with impeccable service and spectacular surroundings Il Boscareto stays true to its ambition.  Piedmont’s Langhe is one of the world’s top wine producing regions with beauty beyond what you can experience any other way than visiting.

At Il Boscareto you can enjoy a Michelin stared meal, let the world melt away in relaxation at the spa, explore the medieval hamlets and vineyards of surrounding countryside, and experience the authentic Italy that defies stereotypes.

Hotel Cost: 200€  – 800€  (double to platinum suites)

5 Perks:

  • Lavish yet affordable luxury at a 5 Star hotel
  • A top resort and spa in Piedmont, Italy’s Langhe region
  • Michelin Star Restaurant with high quality cooking worth a stop at La Rei
  • Spectacular surroundings in one of Italy’s top wine regions
  • La Sovrana Spa because you deserve it

Il Boscareto Resort & Spa

http//:www.ilboscaretoresort.it

+39.0173.613036
info@ilboscaretoresort.it

Via Roddino, 21
12050 Serralunga d’Alba
Cuneo – Italy

Langhe Vineyards

Piedmont, IT – Overlooking Langhe regions vineyards from the grassy spa terrace of Il Boscareto Resort and Spa (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Spa View

Piedmont, IT – Il Boscareto Resort and Spa relaxation area and view from our double room (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Home / Europe / Austria / Vienna Hotel Review| Eco-friendly Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna

Vienna Hotel Review| Eco-friendly Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna

Updated: April 18, 2017
By: Ian Yacobucci
Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna double room

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna double room

Discover a secret oasis in the heart of Vienna. Designed to put people and the environment first, the Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna combines environmental sustainability with the comfort and affordability of an inner-city boutique hotel.

After a first stay in 2013 when my sister and I were travelling across Europe we were impressed that a hotel like the Boutique Hotel Stadhalle was attacking environmental issues head on by combining a sustainable hotel model with a natural environment and natural organic foods .  Now, in 2017 it appears that this innovate sustainable business model was ahead of it’s time, and today the Boutique Hotel Stadhalle Vienna is leading the environmental charge while providing a natural oasis in the centre of Vienna.

As the world’s first city hotel with a zero energy balance (meaning they produce the same amount of energy as they use) they reduce their ecological footprint as well as yours.

Not only do they offer the comfort and style of a boutique hotel, but their environmental initiatives help to make it affordable for all travelers, and offer perks to those who travel with the environment in mind.

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna Garden

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna Garden – Vienna Austria

They do this by offering discounts on rooms to those traveling to Vienna by bike or train as well as creating a self-sustainable energy efficient hotel.

The unique design uses solar and photovoltaic panels the energy required to run the hotel. By using rain water to tend the hotel garden and lavender rooftop, and well water to flush the toilets, they minimize their water consumption and help you to help the environment too.

With beautiful rooms that combine the traditional furniture of the old 19th century building with a stylish interior modern design, offering an incredible organic breakfast with every stay, and providing people with an escape from the city in the hotel garden, you won’t even notice that you’re at a completely self-sustainable hotel.

Location

The Boutique Hotel Stadthalle is located only a few minutes walk from Vienna’s Westbahnhof station. It literally take 15 minutes by tram or underground to get to Vienna’s museum district or the city centre making the highlights of Vienna easily accessible.

What you get

Amenities – Every room offers sleek stylish design that blends both modern and period furniture for a cozy comfortable interior. The comforts of the hotel also include televisions, satellite TV (in multiple languages), wifi, telephone services, hair dryers, and of course an apple a day (to keep the doctor away so don’t get sick while exploring Vienna).

Room – There are rooms to fit every budget, and each room offers the elegance and style of a modern boutique hotel. The rooms are comfortable and offer a range of single, double, superior or junior suites.

Those staying have a choice between rooms in the main building (the original site of a 19th century apartment building that was custom designed to create the first part of the hotel) or the passive house (the modern and stylish zero-balance environmentally sustainable part of the hotel).

Breakfast – The highlight of my time at the Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna was waking up to breakfast. Accompanied by the natural surroundings of the garden courtyard visitors are offered one of the best breakfasts in Vienna.

Along with organic and fair trade coffees Hotel Stadthalle presents patrons with an organic breakfast of local produce, breads, cheeses, fresh and dried fruits, nuts, yogurt, teas, eggs, juices and much more.  Starting each day with a hearty and healthy breakfast gave us the fuel we needed for long days exploring the grandeur of Vienna.

Why you should stay

Staying at the Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna is a great choice for people who want comfort, a calming natural setting in the centre of Vienna, and a lovely breakfast. Their environmental initiatives which include a zero-balance environmentally sustainable hotel that offers those who arrive by bike or train discounts are just the tip of the iceberg.

Not only is it located only a short train ride from all of Vienna’s most popular tourist sites, but the garden offers an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

If that isn’t reason enough; how about that organic breakfast?

Hotel Cost: 78 – 218 € (single, double, superior & junior suites)

5 Perks:

• Environmentally sustainable with a zero energy balance

• Minutes away from central Vienna and all major tourist sites

• Best organic/local breakfast in Vienna

• Comfortable and stylish energy efficient rooms

• Hotel garden

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna

http://www.hotelstadthalle.at

+43 1 9824272

office@htelstadthalle.at

Hackengasse 20 – 1150 Vienna

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna Breakfast

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna breakfast – Vienna, Austria

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna Double Room 1

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna double room – Vienna Austria

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna Double Room bathroom

Boutique Hotel Stadthalle Vienna Double Room bathroom – Vienna, Austria

Home / Europe / Spain / Nativity Poop | Who is Barcelona’s Poo Figurine?

Nativity Poop | Who is Barcelona’s Poo Figurine?

Updated: December 21, 2016
By: Chris Kosmopoulos
The shitter

A typical display at a random Barcelona souvenir shop. OK Apartment Flickr CCL

Anyone who’s walked along Las Ramblas or the winding streets of the Gothic neighborhood has undoubtedly had to take a double take at what they thought they saw but had to check again, just to make sure.

To their surprise, what they’re confronted with is a series of smiling figurines with pants around their ankles, taking a dump.

This is the beloved El Caganer, which translates to the Shitter in English.

Normally reserved as a cultural prop in Catalonian nativity scenes at Christmas, the Shitter is on display year-round in Barcelona gift shops, usually in the form of various celebrities that send tourists into fits of giggles and tug at their purse strings to take the perfect gifts for friends and coworkers back home: a defecating figurine that offers both a cultural artifact from their visit, and something quirky that the recipient will never use and keep in the bowels of their desk drawer until they quit or get fired.

The Shitter

Typical pooing figurines at a random Barcelona gift shop. OK Apartment Flickr CCL

El Caganer’s story

Manneken

Manneken Pis (the peeing boy) statue in Brussels that usually dressed up in something festive or like this; naked, holding his weenie. Jose Antonio Nava Flickr CCL

Originating as early as the 16th century, many theories regarding the Shitter have emerged to explain the prominent rise of something so bizarre and how it found its way to the nativity scene, but they all sound made up.

They range from a depiction of feeding the earth with fertility, to a leveling device through its use of famous persons as the Shitter, all lacking any kind of historical evidence or substance.

Whatever it is, it’s weird, but then again so is a glorified and celebrated fountain of a boy taking a pee in Belgium, but people flock to see the Manneken Pis without really questioning it.

So maybe the only thing to take away from this is that people are weird. That seems fitting, no?

Home / Europe / Spain / Spain| 4 Best Places to Get a Burger in Barcelona

Spain| 4 Best Places to Get a Burger in Barcelona

Updated: December 19, 2016
By: Chris Kosmopoulos
Bacoa

A juicy Bacoa burger with so much aioli, it’ll feel like you took a bath in garlic mayonnaise. Jorge Franganillo Flickr CCL

I know what you’re thinking. Why would I want a burger while I’m in Barcelona?

Why wouldn’t I opt for tapas (which is actually a way of dining and not a cuisine, but we’ll cover that at a later point) or some other deliciously stereotypical Spanish fare like paella?

It’s a fair question to ask, but while there are a lot of options for good authentic Spanish dishes, the truth is, they’re quite hard to come by in a city that’s saturated with restaurants to feed a starving tourist market.

Barcelona has become the third most visited city in the world with over 8 million visitors a year. With tourist hotspots in every pocket of the city, cafes and restaurants vie for the business of holiday-makers with fat wallets.

What it’s led to are restaurants with identical menus that serve sub-par food to unbeknownst tourists happy to be chomping on “tapas” such as croquettes. Unfortunately, in most places these croquettes are still frozen in the middle and bought at the supermarket around the corner for a euro a bag.

So, if you don’t have the resources to enjoy the luxury of one of Barcelona’s tried and tested 5-star restaurants, why not give their take on a classic a try?

Unlike their American counterparts, the best burgers here are constructed with Mediterranean components that serve as culinary staples in parts of the Iberian Peninsula.

I highlight the 4 best places to get a great burger and give you a rest from all that bottled gazpacho you’ve been enjoying.

1. Bacoa

With locations all over the city, this is the pioneer joint that kicked off the burger craze in Barcelona. Beyond the great cuts of meat they use as the base of their offer, it’s their homemade condiments that really steal the show.

Choose one of their recommended burgers or build your own, but the real appeal of Bacoa is their proprietary selection of gourmet kethcups and mayonnaise with their aioli and brava sauce as local favorites.

2. T-Burger Station

T-Burger

Barcelona, ES – T-Burger Station on Consell de cent, right off the Las Ramblas, Chris Kosmopolous Borderless Travels

The most American of this list, T-Burger Station can’t be left out simply due to the quality of their meat and the integrity with which it’s prepared.

Reminiscent of New York’s Shake Shack, T-Burger lets the beef speak for itself on a nice brioche bun accompanied by simple ingredients.

The best part of this burger found in Barcelona’s Eixample neighborhood is the way they let the fat render to a crisp, providing that crunchy contrast before getting the juice from their calculated lean to fatty meat ratio.

3. Timesburg

Timesburg Storefront

Great burgers, and if you ask nicely, I bet they’ll even make you a sangria. Kay Oswald Seidler Flickr CCL

Similar to Bacoa, Timesburg offers excellent beef with local in-house sauces that hispanicize their sandwiches.

Just as big and with all the options of their local competition, Timesburg is as safe a bet as any for an authentic Spanish or even Catalan (depending on the ingredients you choose) burger you can get.

4. Foc i Oli

Tucked away in a quant corner of Eixample, this small grill is always overflowing with locals grabbing a bite, which is a testament to its quality.

Other than its popularity, for an English speaker, its name is also quite an attention-grabber. Without knowing better, you’d think it’s a cheeky attempt at wordplay, but really, it just means fire and oil in Catalan.

With great burgers that provide a gourmet twist, the charm of the place is all about the ambience of their small location that makes it feel like a well-kept local secret.

Don’t think you’re diminishing your Spanish experience by opting for a burger instead of more traditional fare. You’ll be glad you visited any of these sites for a hybrid Hispano-American culinary experience. Then you can go back to eating all the frozen croquettes and sangria you desire.

Home / Europe / Greece / Life Abroad| Tour Greece like a local

Life Abroad| Tour Greece like a local

Updated: November 13, 2016
By: Danielle Aniceto
Paros Hotel View

Paros, GR – HOtel View overlooking Paros from my hotel (Danielle Aniceto/Borderless Travels)

In my life, fortune has come to me in the form of good friends. One of which was born and raised in Athens, Greece.  It is through her that I have had the much-appreciated privilege to fall in love with the birthplace of western philosophy over and over again.

Having a local tour you around a new country is probably the only way to really get a uniquely local experience and perspective; and I would suggest it in every city or country that you have friends willing to show you around.

However, for those who are not lucky enough to know a Greek with an excellent taste in food and culture, I have made you a list of my favorite spots in Greece.  I became familiar with these places over the years and I hope you’ll get a chance to experience them too.  I’ve also made sure to give you the best time to visit them because, everywhere in Greece can feel like a tourist hot spot if you’re there during peak times.

In other words, this is a tourist’s guide to Greece from a local perspective, complimentary of an honorary local who spent her life exploring Greece’s wonders.

Athens

Athens, GR – The city of Athens, Greece overlooking the Acropolis, the highest point in a city of millions (Danielle Aniceto/Borderless Travels)

A for Athens

A must see cocktail bar with a rooftop patio and a spectacular view of the Parthenon at night. If you can find somewhere to sit, you will be able to spend the night sipping cocktails while admiring an awe inspiring piece of ancient history. Despite how busy it can get, it still has great service. Someone dropped a glass while I was there and accidentally cut my foot and one of the waiters actually cleaned and bandaged my foot on the spot, talk about customer service.

Location: Miaouli 2 – 4, Athens 10554, Greece

Delphi

There are so many different ancient sites in Greece that for some it can seem a little repetitive. However, Delphi stands out among the ruins due to its rich history, mythological mystery, and location.  Located on Mount Parnassus in the south of mainland Greece, Delphi is a place of spectacular views.  The temple complex is truly impressive; just make sure you look up from walking up the ancient stairs built for Apollo to take a moment to breathe in the view. There are tons of sites on the way to Delphi as well, so think about renting a car for the day or look into a bus tour!

Paros

Full Moon Party

People enjoying the full moon beach party in Greece (Danielle Aniceto/Borderless Travels)

Many of us have a couple of islands in mind when we plan our trip to Greece such as Santorini or Mykonos, however a word of advice from a local is to avoid these islands if you can and find your own island paradise. Santorini is definitely home to the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen but it is also full of tourists, and trying to book a hotel last minute is almost impossible, especially on Mykonos. Paros is a great alternative, because the beaches are beautiful, the party scene is good and it won’t be as packed so you will be able to find a spot for your towel on the beach. Just remember to check the weather.

Full moon party on Mykonos

Although locals know when to avoid the islands, they also like to join in on some of the action. The Full Moon parties on Mykonos are where everyone wants to be.  Locals and tourists alike, however you need to plan and book your hotel room way in advance or else you won’t be able to join the locals party until sunrise.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as the old saying goes, which has no relevance in the sunny laid back atmosphere of Greece.  If you’re lucky enough to spend more than a couple of weeks there or are just stopping over for a few days you need to try to visit at least one of my recommendations because Greece is one of my favourite places on the planet and it can be yours too.

Home / Europe / France / Perfect Paris| Quintessentials for an artistic, cultural & culinary Parisian visit

Perfect Paris| Quintessentials for an artistic, cultural & culinary Parisian visit

Updated: June 1, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
Notre Dame de Paris

Paris, FR – Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral from across La Sienne on a dramatic March afternoon (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Don’t get bombarded with hundreds of ideas highlighting the best things to do in Paris, just ask yourself, “what is Paris known for?” If you answered art, food, architecture and French culture than this short list of ideas for your next Paris visit is all you need.

Typing “things to do in Paris” in any search engine will yield hundreds of ideas. You’ll find articles listing the best things to do in Paris, the top 10 things to do in Paris, the 20 ultimate things to do in Paris, 12 worst things to do in Paris, and of course the unrealistically long 101 things to do in Paris (not to mention the dozens of other “things to do in Paris” variations).

If you’re only in Paris for a few day’s than sifting through all that information just won’t do. Thankfully, this guide to Paris will sit you down for fantastic Parisian meal, help you find the best way to photograph and see the Eiffel tower, give you the must see Paris museum, while providing you with time to discover Paris on your own. 

Photograph the Eiffel tower & picnic at Champes de Mars at sunset

Eiffel Tower

Paris, FR – Eiffel Tower at sunset from Trocadero Gardens. Behind the tower is Champs de Mars where you can finish watching the sunset (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

A trip to Paris would not be whole without visiting the Eiffel tower, the iconic 300 meter wrought iron structure that might just be the most recognizable building in the world.   If you’re visiting Paris you’re bound to get there one way or another but some ways to visit the Eiffel tower are better than others.

Simply put, the best way to visit the Eiffel tower is from the Trocadero metro stop. As you exit the subway station at Trocadero you’ll be acquainted  with a full view of Les Jardins du Trocadero (Trocadero gardens) and it’s iconic fountain as the majestic and unmistakeable Eiffel Tower fills out the horizon.

The best time to visit the Eiffel tower is for sunset overlooking Les Jardins du Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower. At this time the Eiffel tower is front lit by the setting sun with a great view from the steps overlooking Trocadero Gardens and the tower itself. This is hands down the best place to get a photograph of the Eiffel Tower and the best time to do it!

If you plan ahead bring an evening snack, some wine, and a blanket because from Troccadero metro stop you can walk to the Eiffel tower then settle down in Champes de Mars (the large park the Eiffel Tower is located in) to enjoy the rest of the sunset while you sip some good French wine watching the day set over Paris.

Eat a Parisian meal at La Jacobine

In my quest to find the best French onion soup in Paris, a feat that would probably take a lifetime to discover, I found La Jacobine. Located down a narrow alleyway in the Odeon/Saint-Michel neighbourhood the quaint café atmosphere of La Jacobine lends itself to traditional Parisian flavours that are sure to excite your palate and bring you back more than once during your visit.   La Jacobine is a great place for a coffee and Parisian confection but even better for their salads, entrees, and of course their French onion soup.

The best time to visit La Jacobine is between 1pm-3pm to beat the lunch and dinner rushes. If you decide to come at a different time I suggest calling ahead or plan to wait a while, as there’s only select seating in this quintessential Parisian restaurant.

For a perfect day plan with a visit to La Jacobine, might I suggest an early morning visit to the Luvre before adventuring across La Sienne to Le Jacobin for a late afternoon lunch. It’s a great walk, just make sure you have something to hold you over while adventuring through the Louvre as you’ll want to get there early and spend at least a few hours.

La Jacobine Salad

Paris, FR – Salad at La Jacobine restaurant located down a quaint cobblestoned alley in Odeon/Saint-Michel neighbourhood (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Get cultured at Musée du Louvre

Like many Paris destinations the Louvre is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, and a must see if you’re visiting Paris. As you can probably expect, the line-ups to visit the Louvre are immense and often reach more than 100m in length. Yes, you read that correctly.

Louvre

Paris, FR – 11 am Louvre Line Up on a grey March day (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

So, how do you avoid long line-ups and ensure a great trip to the Louvre during your visit?  You do two things:

  1. Buy your tickets online ahead of time (9am is the best ticket time to purchase)
  2. Plan to arrive 30 minutes before it opens to use your 9am ticket

You should know that tickets are usable for the entire day so you can always go back. Getting there first thing in the morning is key because you can visit the more popular sections of the museum (the Mona Lisa and the more spectacular Wedding at Cana across from it) without huge throngs of tourists.

As I mentioned earlier, the best thing to do is to visit Musée du Louvre for the morning and early afternoon then head to La Jacobine for an incredible Parisian lunch!

Mona Lisa

Paris, FR – Mona Lisa at the Louvre (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Discover Impressionism at Musée d’Orsay

Le Musée D’Orsay is one of the greatest contemporary art museums I’ve ever been to. Forget the fact that it’s located in the impressive former Gare d’Orsey railway station, or that it hosts the worlds largest impressionist artwork collection. The Musée d’Orsay is a very well done museum in a cool building that’s impressive to just admire on it’s own.

The biggest mistake people make, and I’m one of them, is visiting the museum from the main floor and working your way up. Take my advice, start at the top on floor 5 (the impressionist gallery). Here you’ll get to explore the great impressionist works of Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Pissarro, Sisley and more. You’ll also get a great view overlooking the city of Paris from behind the buildings clock.

If you’re not arted out after exploring the greatest impressionist collection in the world there are lot’s of other exhibitions worth checking out as you work your way down. Just don’t burn yourself out by starting elsewhere before seeing the impressionist works.

The line up for this the museum d’Orsay is a lot faster and much less busy then the Louvre. You can still get tickets online to fast track, but the wait is usually a decent 30min regardless of what you do.

Walk along La Sienne & photo stop at Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral

Paris, FR – Notre Dame de Paris (Notre Dame Cathedral) from behind as we strolled along La Sienne (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Paris is an architectural marvel. Built along La Sienne, it’s wide boulevards and grandeur buildings are great for exploring by foot. Sure, you could splurge on a tourist filled boat ride down La Sienne, or even better you could meander at your own pace along the uncrowded riverside.

If you’re visiting Paris with a romantic partner walking is one of the most romantic things you can do in “the city of light”.  And while your exploring, be sure to pop into a café along your journey and watch the people of Paris mingle with daily life as you try to imagine what life living in one of the worlds greatest cities might be like.

Surely, you’ll need to stop of at the Notre Dame Cathedral, but my best advice is to take a quick picture and move along. If you’re really interested in going in, you can test your patience with the monstrous lines that rival that of the Louvre. To be honest, walking through the city is free, you’ll discover little shops and quaint eateries that you’ll never find online, and you can devote all your attention to the person you’re walking with.

Where to stay in Paris

Finding an affordable place to stay in Paris is hard. You’ll end up paying through the roof no matter what route you take. Thankfully, we found a great room (with breakfast) at the Median Porte de Versailles, right on the Paris metro line at Balard, giving us easy access to the entire city at an affordable rate (around 100€ per night for two). To be honest, we’ll definitely end up here again during our next stay in Paris because one visit to the “city of light” is impossible!

In the end, these are just the quintessential Paris attractions that made our most recent visit to the city a memorable one for my fiancée and I. These suggestions offer a reasonably priced way to experience Parisian food, art, and culture along with a little downtime too.

Whether you’re alone, with a friend, or a romantic partner Paris is a massive city with literally 101 things to do. Keeping that in mind, these ideas will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed looking for the best options of things to see and do in Paris, so you can concentrate on enjoying it.

Happy Travels,

Yak

 

Home / Europe / Belgium / Discover Belgium| How to get a fairytale experience ‘In Bruges’

Discover Belgium| How to get a fairytale experience ‘In Bruges’

Updated: May 11, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
Bruges

Bruges, BE – Spring Daffodils in March at the tranquil Begijnhof Beguinage of Bruges (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Welcome to Belgium the land of chocolate, waffles, and beer.  For most tourists, a visit to this small yet dynamic Western European country would not be complete without a stopover in it’s romance capital, Bruges.  Famously the location of the 2008 crime drama In Bruge, the city is nothing short of its description as “a fairytale”.  Yet for most tourists, visiting the city of Bruges is often a four hour mad dash of walking, eating, and drinking before returning back to Brussels.

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what I’d recommend you do, but with a little more time and some recommended sights.  If you’re like me, slowing down in Bruges will be relaxing and give you time to appreciate its architecture, quaint streets, Belgian beers, and serene parks. Bruges is a city where you should at least spend the night and unwind from busy travels.

Discover Bruges on foot

Start walking to nowhere in particular, because around every corner in Bruges is a photograph waiting to be taken.  Meandering through the narrow streets filled with artisan shops, bistros, and pubs is best way to discover the city of Bruges.  You don’t need a guide or trip advisor to tell you where to go.  Simply pick the local map (which you can get upon arrival at the train station) then visit Markt (Market Square) and Burg square before heading over to some of its famous churches and historic buildings.

As you amble through Bruges, put your map away for a while and get lost exploring the side streets and canals, you’ll always find your way back.  My recommendation would be to make time for the city parks of Astridpark and Minnewaterpark.  If you’ve been off visiting the metropolis cities of Europe the serenity you’ll find strolling along the riverside will fill you with appreciation.  Be sure to bring your camera and if you’re not a photographer simply tuck into a pub or two and try one of the 1600 beers Belgium has to offer.

Explore Belgian beer and eat at Cambrinus restaurant

Yes, Belgium boasts 1600 beers that are brewed within its borders.  That’s roughly four beers per day if you want to try them all in a year! One of the most popular places to sample Belgian beer in Bruges is Cambrinus.  This traditional Belgian restaurant boasts more than 400 Belgian beers and traditional food to acquaint your Belgian palate.

Cambrinus offers up a pub like atmosphere with wonderful traditional dishes such as Flemish onion soup with cheese and beer (I had this twice), and my personal favourite Flemish carbonades prepared with dark beer (a sumptuous stewed beef that goes nicely with a Trappist beer).

Cambrinus Restaurant

Belguim, BE – It was as delicious as it looks! Flemish Carbonades with a Trappist Beer at Cambrinus Restaurant (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Never heard of Trappist beer?  Picture this; only eleven Trappist beers exist in the world and six of them are from Belgium.  Brewed by monks in Trappist monasteries these beers are created following strict criteria.  In order for a beer to be labeled as a ‘Trappist’ beer the International Trappist Beer Association says it must be brewed within Trappist monastery walls by monks or supervised by them.  Secondly, the brewing of the beer must be secondary to the monastic practices and way of life.  And finally, the beer must not be brewed for profit.  Instead is should be brewed so as to cover the costs associated with monastic life and care of the monastery with left overs donated for charitable purposes.

Visit ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery

Of course, a trip to Belgium wouldn’t be complete without a brewery visit.  Luckily, within the city walls of Bruges you can find ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery.  Translated to half moon brewery in English, it’s the only beer brewed in within the city of Bruges.

Family brewed and run by the Maes family since the mid 1800’s a brewery tour here includes more than just a beer with your ticket entry.  Along with the usual brewery history, tour of the old techniques used in making the family recipes, and a freshly brewed beer pumped straight from the vat is a great view of Bruges from the roof of the brewery (so you don’t have to pay to go up the Markt tower).

Hopefully you’re lucky enough to get there during the seasonal brew of their Heritage beer, which is aged for a year in old oak casks from France.  Uniquely, every year the Half Moon breweries Heritage beer tastes different, since the barrels are used in the processing other liquors.

Bruges city view

Bruges, BE – City view of Bruges from the rooftop of Half Moon Brewery (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Capture a tranquil moment at Begijnhof (The Beguinage of Bruges)

After signing up for a brewery tour at ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery, with a half-hour to kill, my fiancee and I stumbled upon one of the most beautiful courtyard gardens we’d ever seen.  Surrounded by the quaint white facades of old-world buildings, with the sun streaming through the trees illuminating the daffodils and the shimmering off the brooke, it was as if we had left middle earth and entered Rivendell (shameless Lord of the Rings reference).

Later we discovered that this place was a convent dedicated to bequines who, according to UNESCO, are women who devote their lives to God and founded beguinages (convents) in order to fulfill both their spiritual and earthly needs.  To see the daffodilIs you’ll need to visit during the month of March and don’t forget to take some quiet time for reflection; it’s why places like this were created.

Sitting by the fire sipping a freshly brewed beer as you overlook a canal at Half Moon Brewery, wandering through the timeless fairytale streets and canals of Bruges, attempting to try every Belgian beer, or just sitting in the park watching the swans, it’s easy to lose yourself in the company of your partner, a few good friends, or even some new ones while, ‘In Bruges’.

Home / Europe / Netherlands / Best food in Amsterdam | Affordable High Class Dinner at The Dylan

Best food in Amsterdam | Affordable High Class Dinner at The Dylan

Updated: April 12, 2016
By: Ian Yacobucci
OCCO Bar & Brasserie

Amsterdam, NL – OCCO Bar & Brasserie The Dylan Amsterdam (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

This incredible meal served by Michelin starred Vinkeles’ Executive Chef Dennis Kuipers affordable for anyone looking at a fancy night out on the town. Sure, the Netherlands multicultural mecca of Amsterdam offers up hundreds of food choices for your night out, but none of them can boast a five star experience at €39.50 per person.

During the customary high tea hours from 3:30 – 5:30 The Dylan has thrown dust to the wind and said goodbye to tea and hello to wine. Yes, that’s right, each meal is served with four half glasses of wine along side amuse-bouches food pairings from their Michelin stared ‘Vinkeles’ team.

For those unacquainted with fine dining, a one star Michelin ranked restaurant means it’s classified as, “a very good restaurant in its category” by the worlds most famous restaurant ranking, and the Vinkeles team does not disappoint.

Served in The Dylan hotel’s stylishly cosmopolitan Brasserie OCCO, each titillating bite of food is matched to sommelier selected seasonal wines from across Europe. High Wine at The Dylan Amsterdam is more than just an afternoon of wine and food, it’s a gastronomical experience meticulously designed to match each season.

The Dylan Amsterdam

Amsterdam, NL – High Wine at The Dylan Amsterdam gin tonic mocktails (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

The elegant ambiance of the OCCO does not go unnoticed as you’re seated by it’s professional and friendly staff. Once you’re comfortable you’ll notice that creativity and ingenuity is always at the forefront of The Dylan’s creations, and experimenting at the bar is one way they keep things exciting. Might I suggest a virgin tonic mocktail with house-brewed gin for a starter as you take in the rustic setting and wait for your first pairing.

As the High Wine experience at The Dylan is seasonal, each carefully selected wine and it’s exceptionally complimented dish is often changing. For our menu, we enjoyed the following four exquisite pairings.

 High Wine at The Dylan Amsterdam

The Dylan

Amsterdam, NL – Cod beetroot and watercress High Wine at The Dylan Amsterdam (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

First Dish: Hamachi with marinated daikon, cucumber and sesame
Impression: cold refreshing yet savoury and full flavoured. Paired with a smooth and crisp white wine exclusive to The Dylan, this dish is something uniquely delicious and textured with crunch as the cucumber and daikon soothes the palate
Wine: Made for Friends, Weisburgunder, Pfalz, Germany
Winemaker: Alex Pflüger

Second Dish: Cod with red beetroot, celeriac and a watercress sauce
Impression: Matched with a sweet wine, the layers of sauce match the savoury cod that melts like butter as it soothes your palate while the crispy skin fills out the sweet beet and watercress sauce
Wine: Mourgues du Grés, Costieres de Nimes, Rhône, France

Third Dish: Chicken breast, corn, little jam, pancetta and tarragon sauce
Impressions: The wine, served at temperatures between red and white, embodies a peachy flavor created with a blend of Grecian grapes that remains full bodied, smooth, and sweet. Along with farmhouse chicken that’s unstoppably good because you can’t stop eating it – maybe because we were three glasses in – is a fun main with a unique use of popcorn.
Wine: Ladybird White, Pella, Greece
Winemaker: Ktima Ligas

High Wine The Dylan

Amsterdam, NL – Hamachi main High Wine The Dylan Amsterdam (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Dessert: Red cabbage tart with apple and Ceylon cinnamon ice-cream
Impressions: My mom would love something like this.  The tart has nice texture and flavor (not to sweet) that blends well with the sweet wine. With this dish, texture and temperature do not go unnoticed, everything is taken into consideration.
Wine: Seewinkel Spätlese, Sauvignon Blanc, Neusiedlersee, Austria
Winemaker: Weingut Tschida

After nearly two and a half hours of eating and drinking. My fiancé and I thoroughly enjoyed each exquisite dish paired perfectly to their wine. The variety and healthy portion of food left us feeling satisfied and ready for an evening stroll along the canals.

In the end, don’t let the miniature utensils deceive you when your treating yourself to High Wine at They Dylan; the pairings are layered with flavour and texture, the wines are unique and varied, the ambience is elegant and comfortable, and you’ll finish with the entire evening ahead of you.

For more information check out the OCCO Bar & Brasserie and High Wine at the Dylan Amsterdam

Home / Europe / Top 5 Things to Do In Dublin

Top 5 Things to Do In Dublin

Updated: November 23, 2015
By: Graeme Billinghurst
Guiness Brewery Dublin Ireland

DUBLIN, IR – Tourists at the Guiness Brewery (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

Dublin can move a mile a minute, but if you want to get the most out of your stay in Ireland’s capital, make sure to do these five things.

1.  Drink a pint of Guinness

If it’s not Ireland’s official drink, it probably should be. Guinness is a staple across the country, but is brewed and is most popular in Dublin. Whether you’ve decided to have one at the bar down the street from where you’re staying or overlooking the city on the 7th floor of the Guinness Storehouse, a pint of the black stuff will surely help you settle in.  If you want to further your Guinness experience, the Storehouse provides visitors with the option to become a certified Guinness pourer and will award you with a certificate to prove your expertise.

2.  Listen to live music

It seems that almost every bar and restaurant you walk into in Dublin has a local band playing music. If you don’t mind spending a pretty penny for a few drinks, heading to the Temple Bar District at night will guarantee you a chance to dance the night away with a mix of tourists and locals. While traditional Irish music is the most plentiful, rock and roll, acoustic sets and even rockabilly musicians will be somewhere around the corner.  Be ready to spend about 7-8€ a pint.  If you’re lucky enough to visit in mid July, the Longitude Music Festival has some fantastic headliners, many of whom like Hozier in 2015, are some of Ireland’s best-known acts.

Temple Bar Dublin Ireland Borderless Travels

DUBLIN, IR – The infamous Temple Bar in (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

3.  Talk to the locals

Irish people are known to be some of the friendliest people in the world and those in Dublin are no different.  One of the country’s famous sayings is “A hundred thousand welcomes” and this welcoming attitude is reflected throughout the city.  Locals are usually up for a conversation and if you catch them sitting down for a few pints in the bar, you’re likely to pick up some new vocabulary while deciphering exactly what they’re saying to you. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with an off the beaten path recommendation that could drastically improve the authenticity of your trip as well as a few new words like fech, craic, and what it means to be wrecked.

4.  Take a Free Walking Tour

Dublin is a very walkable city and with that in mind, a free walking tour can be the best way to see the sights. Companies such as Sandeman’s New Dublin Tours offer a comprehensive two and a half to three hour sightseeing tour to catch some of the buildings and neighbourhoods that make Dublin famous. Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral and the Temple Bar District are just a few of the stops made along the way. It must be noted that free isn’t always free as these tour guides depend on tips to make a living.  Although there’s no minimum, anything around 5-10€ is a common tip at the conclusion of the tour.

Trinity College Dublin Ireland

DUBLIN, IR – tourists and students exploring Trinity College (Ian Yacobucci/Borderless Travels)

5.  See the natural landscape

This might sound like a difficult task in a city as old as Dublin, but the village of Howth which is accessible by public transportation will give you a taste of what’s outside the city limits. Cliff faces, lighthouses and fishing boats are only a short walk from the village and make this peninsula a must see for anyone who only has a few days in Ireland and can’t make it out to the country or the coast. For those tourists interested in hiking and small town life, Howth is the perfect getaway from the busyness that is downtown Dublin.

Cliffs of Howth

DUBLIN, IR – The Cliffs of Howth overlooking Dublin (Graeme Billinghurst/Borderless Travels)